NSA Surveillance Continues – A Green Trail Through a Blue State

by J. Richard Marra

MapLight[1] recently exposed the money trail from the US military-security-industrial complex to the campaign coffers of Connecticut Democratic members of Congress. Those who voted against ending the NSA’s brazen violation of the Fourth Amendment[2] shamelessly skipped down a money trail to a tune orchestrated by their corporate donors. Those corporate interests shoveled 122% more loot into the campaigns of Congress members in both parties who opposed the amendment, than who favored it.

Nutmegger’s, proud of their Liberal politics and Yankee stubborn independence, might puzzle over the apparent duplicity of three-fifths of their Congressional representation. Connecticut Congresspeople rattle on about their war-mongering and authoritarian Republican colleagues. Yet the three senior Connecticut Democrats continue to pander to corporate interests and the burgeoning national-military security state of their Black and blue President. A Congressional “largesse gap” is emerging, mirroring the income gap between the now-famous “1 Percenters” and the rest of us. Among the Nutmeggers in the current Congress, the “60%” (Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney and John Larson), garnered $239,450 from groups opposing the amendment. The “40%”  (Elizabeth Esty and Jim Himes) received a measly $32,750 – a whopping 631% advantage to their opponents. Connecticut’s stunning out-performance of the US lobbying market should alone silence the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s whining allegations concerning Connecticut’s “business unfriendliness.”

The schism within the Connecticut contingent is not surprising. Machiavellians warn of an unscrupulous turn of character that can emerge during years of schmoozing with successively more corrupting capitalist regimes in Washington. On the other hand, Nutmeggers appreciate that the greenhorn Esty is enjoying the ephemeral luxury of being allowed to behave like the nearly extinct Liberal. Closer to home, all three senior Congresspeople have significant defense and security businesses in their districts.  Esty maintains a strong middle-class political orientation, with much her fifth district far from submarine and fighter-plane manufacturing sites. Finally, Jim Himes represents Connecticut’s “Gold Coast,” previously working for Goldman Sachs and serving as a Vice President in the Neo-liberal Enterprise Foundation. He remains a Wall Street sycophant who has nothing to lose by voting against the interests of the defense lobby.

It is indisputable that corporate giants such as General Dynamics, United Technologies and Pratt and Whitney continue to wield a nearly irresistible economic and political influence. A 2012 report by the Defense Technology Initiative reminds us that, “The defense industry is a major contributor to the economy of New England and to each of its six states. In 2011, New England vendors received nearly $34 billion in Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contracts, an 85 percent increase to the region since 2003. In total, New England captured about 9 percent of U.S. defense and homeland security contracts in 2011. Connecticut plays a particularly strong role within the regional defense industry.”[3]

When they next consider voting choices, Nutmegger’s would be well served to remember that the two-party capitalist political system does not provide meaningful alternatives to the policies of the wealthy corporate elite. This is because America is crisscrossed with green trails, all flooding capital from bulging coffers of the oligarchy into comfortable bourgeois lifestyles of our public “servants.” Perhaps voters will speculate about a world where they could, and would, make crucial decisions for themselves, democratically. Certainly, the continuing rightward lurch of the Democratic Party and its constitutional-lawyer President deserves skepticism concerning their Liberal claim.  Perhaps many will reevaluate their reliance on Liberal and Progressive politicians to drag America kicking and screaming from the many debacles it currently enjoys. The fissure among Connecticut Congresspeople is a symptom of the routine corporate-government collusion that supports the US military-security-industrial complex. It reminds us of what is lacking: a determination of social policy centered upon people, not profit.

[1] Donna Shaw, “House Members Voting to Continue NSA’s Dragnet Surveillance Received Twice as Much From Defense Contractors,” MapLight, July 23, 2013, http://maplight.org.

[2] House Amendment 214 to H.R. 2397, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014.

[3] “The New England Defense Industry: Current Profile and Economic Significance,” Defense Technology Initiative, November 2012, http://www.defensetech.net.


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