Earth to Bacon: Obama Beats McCain With Defense Money

Our very own James A. Bacon wrote a blog about a week ago predicting tough times for Hampton Roads.

Although Jim claims to be independent, that’s BS. We really know where his sympathies lie. Basically, Jim believes that an Obama win will be bad for Tidewater. He wrote:

“I’m not making a partisan statement or casting a value judgment here. My point is not to dredge up the rights and wrongs of U.S. foreign and military policy. I’m simply observing that the Elephant Clan, for better or worse, funnels more money into the military than does the Donkey Clan. Commuities dependent upon military spending, such as Hampton Roads, fare better during Elephant Clan administrations.”

Well, that’s a very simple, pat and intuitive piece of analysis.

Maybe too simple, pat and intuitive.

The Virginian-Pilot reports today that Obama is outstripping McCain in defense contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama has received $870,165 to McCain’s $647.313.

What? After all, McCain’s an Annapolis grad, career Navy, former aviator and Vietnam POW. Obama has zero military experience.

According to military analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, Obama and McCain really aren’t that far apart on defense issues after you extract Iraq. Both candidates are targetting excess defense spending for weapons systems we don’t need. If our threats are going to be Islamic insurgents, do we need ultra high performance F-22 Raptors, unless, of course, Putin starts a serious conflict or gives Sukhoi 35s to Hugo Chavez?

So, it looks like Hampton Roads will be in some jeopardy, regardless of who wins Tuesday. Thompson, hwoever, believes that jobs at Northrup Grumman are safe.

So, Jim Bacon is half right. He’s correct that defense will take a hit; but he’s wrong with assuming that it will be a worse under Obama. Military contractors obviously don’t think so. Once again, we’re seeing this campaign turn old chesnuts, particularly those of the Republican variety, on their heads.

And, please, Jim, can we drop this “Donkey Clan” and “Elephant Clan” crap? We need to cleanse the world of all-too-cute Risse-speak.

Peter Galuszka

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16 responses to “Earth to Bacon: Obama Beats McCain With Defense Money”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Please define a 'defense contribution'.

    Is it a contribution from a person employed by a Defense firm?

    Corporations can't make donations.

    Do the illegal foreign contributions (like those from Gaza) to Barack Hussein Obama count as defense contributions for Hamas? Or Hezbollah?

    Barney Franks (not the candidate but part of the ruling party in Congress) said Dems would work to cut defense by 25%.

    BHO said he would cut 'untested' missile defense. I'll bet JSM would go ahead with missile defense R&D. That will make a difference when we get nuked.

  2. Groveton Avatar


    Executives in defense related corporartions make donations to whoever they think will win. And it has appeared that Obama will win for quite some time. I think it's a real stretch to assume the political contributions in the hundreds of thousands of dollars represent a statistically significant difference in assumed policies.

    Obama (and the Democrats) will cut defense spending more than McCain (and the Democrats – it's Democrats in Congress either way).

    Iraq has become something fo a non-issue going forward. Not looking back – the war itself was a major republicn policy blunder. But looking forward … the surge is working, the insurgents are running out of gas and the people of Iraq are now willing to do what's necessary to get both the insurgents and the Americans out of their country. Obama was right about starting the war, McCain was right about the surge and we'll be largely out in 16 months regardless of who wins. Obama's better credential is his superior understanding of Afghanistan – which has become the real issue.

    On the "de-funding" of things like Raptors – you have got to be kidding me!! America's ability to gain almost immediate air superiority and dominate a shooting war is the whole point of the our defense policy (or, at least, it should be). If you want to save money – get our troops out of Korea, Germany, etc. Let those countries spend the money they have to build the defense we need. And NATO may be the biggest alliance but it is far from the only alliance. We have dozens of wierd defense alliances constructed in the days of the cold war. Almost all of them should be unwound. And … if we weren't horribly addicted to foreign oil (regardless of the price) we'd need fewer carrier task forces and ships. So, I'd like to see a serious plan for alternate energy development. This is one of the things that most angers me about Obama's recent campaign. I understand that he'll raise taxes. I'll be among those paying higher taxes. Fine. I had hoped he would use the extra money to put the US on a more fiscally responsible footing (vis-a-vis the deficit). I had hoped he would fund serious R&D around alternate energy. But that's not really his plan. His plan is to institutionalize welfare through the IRS. And that's a nearly fatal flaw in his candidacy. He's out buying votes with promises of "free money" and that's not a change we need.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I’m just quoting the Pilot. My understanding is that the defense sector gives via its employees or PACs.

  4. pencilneck Avatar

    Gooze, to suggest that Bacon is some right-wing ideologue straight out of your central casting world is unbelieveable chutzpah.

    Have you ever disagreed with someone without casting aspersions on him?

    We love you for presenting your reflexive far-left viewpoint, but I for one consider you almost hateful in your disdain for those who disagree with you.

  5. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    FYI, the polls of troops and retirees show active duty troops – all branches are roughly (going from my memory) 68:32 McCain:Obama and retirees are 72:28 McCain:Obama.

    The Obama support is largely from Blacks. Hispanics in the service break for McCain.

  6. Don Harrison Avatar
    Don Harrison

    Pencilneck: I hope you are equally as thoughtful and publicly passionate when John McCain and his surrogates try to paint Obama out as a Marxist, a terrorist, a socialist and whatever else they are throwing at the wall. Please tell me you are. Because to suggest that Obama is some left-wing ideologue ready to leave the world defenseless, and Hampton Roads jobless, would be unbelievable chutzpah.

  7. Anonymous Avatar


    You are wrong. I have great respect for Jim Bacon and it’s too bad when you can’t tell teasing from ideology.

    Peter Galuszka

  8. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Grovetn is right.
    Defunding the Raptors is nuts, just look at the battle of Midway.


  9. If the Raptors are, in fact, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), not only do they add significant new capabilities but they cost much less than a traditional aircraft with a well-compensated.. heavily (and expensively-trained) pilot.

    ALL vehicles – with a comprehensive set of sensors & weaponry – land, sea, air will navigate autonomously from now on… only a question of time as to how fast the technology matures.

    but spending for Defense is like spending for any purpose in that the argument can and will always be made that more money gets you "more", "better", "sooner", "quicker", etc.

    You can apply the philosophy equally well to schools, highways, health care, .. including your own home… and personal situation.

    but in the end – you must perform triage – prioritization – balance the budget.

    We need to agree – as a nation – on just how much we want/should ….NEED to spend on Defense other than "as much as we possibly can to blunt..every conceivable threat that can be envisioned".

    I get pretty frustrated when I hear discussion that Medicare or Social Security will 'bankrupt' the country… at the same time… words to the effect that " we are putting our country at risk if we keep cutting Defense" – this from a country that spends more than any other country in the world even most of them combined – fully 50% of it's budget (if you count military retirement costs)…

    Let's the military expects deem what is the most important items to expend funds on – but insist on some budgetary common sense on the total funding also.

  10. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Peter (Gooze), I think Groveton has it right when he notes that defense industry executives are donating to Obama not out of the belief that Obama will spend more on the military than McCain would, but out of a hope that their contributions will help them maintain access during what is shaping up as a long time in the wilderness. When Barney Frank and his buddies start carving up the defense budget, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Martin Marietta and all the rest will be going, “Cut his system… No, cut his!” They’ll need access to the political decision makers more than ever.

    In other words… Business as usual.

    (I also agree with Groveton, amazingly enough, on the need to review outdated treaties. Really, why are we still defending South Korea. The SK’s can’t defend themselves? C’mon. And how about the Europeans? As long as we’re willing to do the job for them, of course, they’ll be happy to be free riders. If we pull out of Europe, they might bestir themselves to make the effort to mount a credible military defense.)

    Pencilneck, I appreciate your standing up for me. But Peter and I are old friends. We go back a long way. We give each other a lot of abuse. Neither of us take it personally. In fact, the more he torques up the rhetoric, the more I know he’s cackling madly behind his keyboard in amusement.

    As for his demented, left-wing ideas, that’s another matter — Take him down!

    Peter, I find it amusing that you’re defending Obama on the grounds that he’ll spend more money on defense than McCain. I wonder how many other Obama fans share your expectation. Not Barney Frank, that’s for sure!

    To address Don Harrison’s point, I don’t think there are any grounds to suggest that Obama will leave America defenseless. But there are ample grounds to think that he will finance his domestic initiatives in part by de-funding the military. (And not without reason. In the current economic environment, the military simply cannot have everything it wants.)

  11. re: …"need to review outdated treaties"

    it's no secret why we have our military deployed on foreign soil….

    it came about through necessity of WWII and the Cold War – but in some respects, today, it's not about defending allies as much as it is being able to project force.

    Without those bases – we'd have extremely long supply & logistics chains… thus weakening our ability to project force – i.e a shorter spear with a less sharp tip.

    Sure..we can send an Aircraft carrier group to rain down shock and awe dazzle.. but in the end – boots on the ground require a land base AND a way to deploy heavy ground-based stuff.

    So our bases in Germany and SK (and other places) are key components of a worldwide military logistics network – from which we can effectively take down the bad guys if and when…

    the point is.. this does not come free.. it's very, very expensive… and I think the real cost is not the fancy weapons but personnel.

    Having enough "boots on the ground" is ungodly expensive and for all the talk about cutting folks taxes – these costs REQUIRE significant taxes so the argument that Republicans will "cut your taxes and let you keep more of your hard-earned money" runs counter to and treats taxes for the military as not a legitimate part of the "keep more of your hard earned money" blathering.

    You only get to keep more of your hard earned money – if the idea is that the taxes would be spent on something other than the military – apparently – because the amount of money needed by the military is, itself, not treated as part of the actual budget (you know the one that says we all owe about 30K in debt)….

    but hey.. who cares .. we're just going to burn that credit card up .. and let our kids pay it off…

    I still have a hard time reconciling the Republican ethic of "personal responsibility" with national budget – irresponsibility.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Jimbo Bacon,
    I appreciate your comments. But if you think Barney Frank is going to gut defense, think again. As head of Financial Services he’s going to have his hands full re-regulating finance and making sure that investment poo-bahs don’t use the $700 billion bailout to pad their bonuses.

    Peter Galuszka

    PS; To Pencilneck. Bacon can be right mean when he wants to be. He can make me seem like a nice guy.

  13. Groveton Avatar

    I had an interesting day yesterday. Since I am going to be in California next week I had to vote by absentee ballot. So, off I went to the North Government Center of Fairfax County in Reston to vote. I knew things would be tough when I couldn’t find a spot to park and parked in the county library lot across the street. I got to the center and saw the line extending out of the building, into the parking lot and around a corner. I got in line. I spent th next 2:30 standing in line to vote.

    The entire problem came down to a very simple bottleneck. Since this was absentee balloting, the people at the center did not have the official voting rolls for the three districts in Fairfax County. So, two people called the districts and asked for the names of the people hoping to vote. Behind them 5 voting machines stood largely unused. The fact that this bottleneck – which could have been solved by a junior high school student – existed is a testament to the hopeless incompetence of government. They could have had more phones. They could have had copies of the rolls. They could have had a computer system instaead of phones. Finally, I got through the line and to the voting machines to vote. And … I had to wait again. In Reston, there were three machines set up for the 8th District, two for the 10th district and one for the 11th district. During the time I was in the room nobody used the 8th district machines. In fairness, I was only in the actual voting room for about 10 minutes so maybe I just saw an anomoly. But the 8th district is down in Mt Vernon which is a long way from Reston so – maybe not.

    The people in line were all very friendly, well behaved and polite despite the 2 1/2 hour wait. I was very proud of my fellow residents of Fairfax County for their willingness to wait in order to vote and their good humored forebearance of obvious incompetence. As I was leaving the voting place there was a camera crew from a local NBC station. I decided to break the unspoken good humor by yelling “This is Tim Kaine’s Virginia in action” and pointing at the still existing long line. I don’t know exactly who to blame for the line but I never miss a chance to cast aspersions at Tim Kaine.

    I’d say from my 150 minutes with fellow voters that the Republicans are in for a long night. In 2000 I also voted by absentee ballot. I stood in a 30 minute line that was basically a white mens’ business club meeting. I remember talking to the people in line about various restaurants in Silicon Valley. Everybody who cared to comment said they were voting for Bush. This year had a very different look and feel. It was a much more diverse crowd. I heard several people talking and they were saying that this was the first US election in which they could vote. They were not 18, they we naturalized citizens. The Fairfax County Democrats had a table and handed out “sample ballots” with check marks next to the Democratic Parties. When they walked up and down the line asking if the people wanted a sample ballot I thought it was pretty cheesy of them to then hand out a ballot with check marks next to the Democrats. But people happily took the sample ballots and those who did commented said they would vote for Obama. However, judging by those in line, the political operatives were easily more gullible and simple-minded than the voters.

    I’ll be in California at dinner (in San Francisco) when the election results start to become clear. That will be interesting indeed.

    But, to all on the Rebellion – please vote. Even if you are going to vote for ….

  14. anyone who thinks the Dems are going to “gut” defense is being just plain silly…

    Cuts? Yes.

    Cutting it by 1/2? no way. Not even most Dems would support that.

    What the issue is.. will the Dems continue to lavish obscene amounts of money …justified to hunt down every last malcontent that threatens harm to the U.S. as advocated by some of our xenophobic folks on the right…. well … there may actually be some “review” of things.. but given the R’s current record of spending like Drunken sailors on the Navy and other services.. without regard to our long-term debt..

    that would not be a bad thing..

    but the idea that the Dems are going to “gut” our defense and leaves us “defenseless” against our enemies is just plain demagoguing ….. IMHO.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry Gross,
    I agree that some of the treaties need to be reassessed, but it could be that some are still needed.

    Example: I’m not sure it would be a good idea to extract U.S. troops from South Korea unless you know for certain that the North is more stable and less hostile. They still could make hash out of Seoul and really screw up the world economy.

    As for NATO, good question. As someone who grew up in the Cold War, I understood why NATO existed and when I reported from the USSR in the Cold War I REALLY understood why we needed NATO. But now? Maybe to hold a resurgent Russia in check. But how far should we go? Ukraine and Georgia as members?

    The new president, likely Obama, will have to have a major reassessment of all of this.

    As for the Raptor, my understanding is that it is a high-performance, manned stealthy jet fighter. It is not a UAV. I saw one at an airshow recently at NAS Oceana and it appeared capable of doing things like a flying saucer, such as practically standing still and zooming away. It was designed about 20 years ago to counter Soviet planes but the threat has changed.

    Peter Galuszka

  16. you are correct. The Raptor is an advanced manned fighter….

    … some of it's missions can now be done better and cheaper by UAVs.

    Thinks of UAVs are much more than pilotless aircraft in a conventional sense.

    UAVs can be model airplane sized… and can be flow in "swarms" each carrying sensors… and the ability to dispatch them on multiple coordinated surveilence missions in places and at speeds that the Raptors cannot go and cannot stay without being more easily detected just for it's sheer size difference.

    AS far as SK is concerned… they've got a ton of people over there. more than enough to train and equip to do … what our forces might do.. which is to fight a holding action until reinforcements can show up.

    The same could be true as most existing American military bases on foreign soil.

    The reason we have all of these bases is because we believe that it is imperative that we – the US maintain a world-wide presence – in part – because we want our own bases that can function as functional nodes for a worldwide supply & logistics network.

    Because we want to maintain these bases around the world – we have to staff them with personnel.. and each of them must have a full contingent of air, sea and land weaponry for protection and to assist/support military missions.

    I'm not arguing that we don't need them but rather how much size/scope is needed … and to recognize.. that taxes for pilots and planes and humvees is no more or less in terms of tax policy than spending that same money on some other government-funded stuff that might benefit citizens in other ways.. like a more independent energy capability… health care for small business employees.. which would remove a significant obstacle to the formation of more small businesses.

    In other words – we PAYS our money and we MAKES our choices…

    but spending money on defense instead of other stuff DOES have a cost… it's not free.. and it take money from folks instead of letting then keep "more of it for themselves" as regularily trumpheted by our supply-sider folks.

    Be able to put boots-on-the-ground 24/7 worldwide is not cheap nor tax-free.

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