FERGUSON: A coup by any other name

July 12, 2013 

Like the other 650,000 Department of Defense workers who are affected by the sequestration-driven furloughs, I’ll be staying home from work today without pay. Unless Congress decides to show us some mercy our pay will be reduced by 20 percent for the rest of the fiscal year.

And if we continue on the path we’re on now, things will be much worse for federal employees next year. Even if they furloughed all of us for the maximum 22 days the law allows the DOD would still be way over its projected budget for next year. Instead of furloughs, next year there could be layoffs. Massive layoffs. I’ve seen estimates that say 100,000 active duty, civilian and contract workers could lose their jobs because of the projected budget cuts.

As of now, though, there doesn’t seem to be much sign that anyone in Congress is motivated to do anything about the sequestration cuts despite the fact that military officials have made it clear they have dangerously impeded their ability to carry out their mission and protect our nation. Congress apparently has more important business to attend to right now.

For example, they are currently embroiled in a fight over whether or not we should carry out a scheduled $1.5 billion payout in aid to Egypt in light of the fact that the military has seized control of the government.

Apparently there is a law that would prevent us from giving the Egyptians aid if what has happened over there could be classified as a military coup of a legitimately elected government, so those who support giving them the money are finding creative ways to frame the situation so that it’s classified as, well, something else.

Yes my fellow Americans, that’s right -- your government can’t be bothered to address its funding shortfall to keep its own military in good working order but quite a few of your congressional representatives are hard at work ensuring that we send $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars to a foreign government that is in complete disarray.

Interestingly enough, about three-fourths of the Egyptian aid would go toward the purchase of military hardware. I wonder who they buy those arms from. Could it be American defense contractors who make generous donations toward certain congressional representatives? Please forgive me if my cynicism is showing.

One of my favorite quotes in support of continuing American taxpayer support to the Egyptian military came from Speaker John Boehner, who praised the Egyptian military for doing “what they had to do in terms of replacing the elected president.”

Okay, Mr. Speaker, one question for you -- what exactly does a democratically-elected president have to do before that country’s military should replace him? I just wonder what the guidelines are for something like that. Is the speaker setting us up for something to happen down the road in our own country?

You think I’m kidding, and for the most part, I am, but I think it’s worth noting that Republicans for some time have been making noise about President Obama’s tendency to engage in “extra-legal” activities in order to make end-runs around the contentious, do-nothing Congress he’s saddled with.

The military ousted that guy in Egypt largely because he was consolidating power for his radical Islamic group and bending the law as necessary to force the country along the path he and his cronies wanted it to be on. So the military “did what they had to do.” Could something like that ever happen here?

I don’t think so. Apparently the military is sort of an independent force in Egypt that is obviously not under civilian control, but here the military is an integrated part of our gigantic government infrastructure. We don’t see a dime in funding unless Congress gives its blessing, and lately we are seeing a lot less dimes.

Our military is not going to rescue us from our inept government. We’ll have to do that ourselves by electing better people and demanding that they do a better job for us.

Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at fergcolumn@hotmail.com or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.

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