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Gary Horton: The Buck now stops

Posted: January 22, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 22, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Energizer Bunnies keep going and going and going – and for a time, it looked like Buck McKeon would be equally perpetual in motion to those furry little drumbeaters. The man is after all, 75, and still beating war drums while running circles around most of us. Yet now it seems that both Buck the man, and his underlying message of perpetual militarism may be running down, with time well deserved for some R and R away from the military industrial complex.

Buck McKeon is no ordinary, run of the mill congressman. A true people person, Buck first earned honest chops in church service, then on the Hart School Board, then as a founding member of the SCV City Council, and also as its first mayor. Opportunity later called further afield, and Buck made a successful play for Congress in 1992, where he’s successfully squatted in this Republican gerrymandered district ever since.

One hopes that 21 years in Congress would net special dispensations or Bridges to Nowhere or other gilded trinkets of public works. Indeed, Buck brought home a 16 oz. pack of bacon worth 9 million dollars for our long overdue Cross Valley Connector, and also used his considerable influence to help kill the Elsmere Canyon mega-dump.

Yes, SCV newbies, before the scary Mega-mine was the scary Mega-dump, and it appears the SCV is at perpetual risk of giant out-of-town conglomerates using our valley basin as one sort of pit or hole. Next at bat? Little doubt the topic will be fracking our old abandoned oil wells, risking our already risky water supply. To our loss, McKeon won’t be here anymore to fight that battle with his decades of congressional leverage. That said, the next time we vote we’d best be thinking about who cares more about people than oil if we have any chance of maintaining sufferable water in the decades to come.

Twenty-one years ago, Buck showed up to Congress just as serial adulterer Newt Gingrich was whipping up America into an earlier partisan frenzy with his infamous and somewhat comical “Contract with America.” Buck lost me way back then, when the Republicans indeed took the House, but subsequently failed to pass the 12-year term limit promise contained in their Contract. Who would have thought these silver-tongued servants weren’t serious about voting themselves out of perpetually renewing gilded jobs? So, Buck blew off the term limits and hung on for 10 more years, during which, he ascended to one of the most powerful positions in Congress – Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Buck has now seen more money pass through his hands than most other nations combined will ever see, period. Spending 600 billion dollars a year, Buck wields influence far beyond his, or anyone else’s wildest imagination from back in his School Board days. “Only in America” could a story like this happen, for better or worse, and depending on your view, it’s absolutely true.

Buck’s chairmanship has served our district well, if running guns is your preferred cup of capitalistic tea. We live in a district populated by nearly as many arms manufacturers as voters, and if you live in the 25th and you’re not retired or on welfare, you’re likely working at Northrop or Lockheed or a company providing associated services.

So, our 25th has certainly gotten the manufacturing representation stockholders crave - if not exactly the government we deserve.

I bumped into a funny picture on the web. The caption read, “Wouldn’t it be a great if politicians had to wear the logos of the companies that fund them?” The picture showed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wearing a blazer covered with the logos of AIG, Citi, Pfizer, Shell, DuPont, etc., looking rather like a NASCAR driver adorned in logos. But while the NASCAR guys look cool, this concept was stomach-turning.

Buck has entertained a long list of military donors over the years and I’d have to think his logo-adorned jacket would pretty weigh him down quite low. But this might be less Buck’s fault than ours: Why do we still allow corporate money in politics and act perpetually surprised when politicians put business lobbies before people, time and again, decade after decade? We make these rules. Politicians like Buck simply play by the rules on the court.

Well beyond our Cross Valley Connector or Elsmere Dump campaign, Buck McKeon will likely go down as the Last Cold Warrior - the staunch, give no ground booster of war preparedness and perpetual militarism. While others see signs of peace, Buck perceives threats at every corner - and has no reluctance in shelling 600 billion a year of deficit spending containing these ever-engaged but never defeated threats.

We can’t say whether Buck will be remembered as eminently insightful in the face of grave danger, or just one more good man tricked and manipulated by a powerful military industrial establishment for war profiteering.

History will answer that, and until the future unfolds, with its risks and wars and even peace, we won’t know if Buck’s crowning achievement as Armed Services Chair was for good and saved our skins, or for trillions more squandered on trumped up enemies like so many war trillions squandered before him.

These chips will fall. One thing for certain: Buck acted consistent with his conscious 110 percent as he perceived the world from his own unique slice of our nation’s culture and timeframe.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


OldReliable: Posted: January 22, 2014 7:37 a.m.

Seems a rather whiney laden piece from left winger Horton. Time wasted reading this diatribe...

17trillion: Posted: January 22, 2014 8:12 a.m.

I didn't think it was too whiney, especially from Gary. BTW Gary, still waiting for how much scraps you pay your people versus Boeing and for you to describe your defined pension plan for them.

Indy: Posted: January 22, 2014 3:15 p.m.

Glad to see Buck retire . . . his strategy that ‘bullets are the solution’ to every problem is finally coming to an end.

The harm, however, he’s perpetuated with continuing to spend unconscionable amounts of tax dollars on defense will the a legacy killer for him as people realize the damage done by spending important dollars on weapon systems that destroy versus address the economic drivers effecting the social unrest globally.

The only real problem with his retiring is what RNC clone will be get for his replacement . . .

technologist: Posted: January 22, 2014 3:45 p.m.

Doesn't it just burn your toast that you won't be able to elect a "Progressive" Social Democrat to replace McKeon, Indy?

nolocalsordogs: Posted: January 22, 2014 7:07 p.m.

The BBC did a story at the end of last year about Buck and the various drone manufacturers who each give him 1 million a year for signing government contracts purchasing drones. When he retires does he get to keep all of the money?

kilt1iron: Posted: January 22, 2014 8:05 p.m.

Mr. Bitters writes to amuse the LIV (Low Information Voter).

Stay classy, "troP ot draH" -- and prepare your next dreamsicle piece for the clueless masses. smh

ricketzz: Posted: January 23, 2014 6:20 a.m.

McKeon is the master of spreading the welfare so broadly that it is virtually impossible to simply cancel a program. They build the most expensive parts first and if you propose killing a system they whine about all the wasted money.

The mercenary military is a massive drain on our treasury and our psyche; let the oil companies do their own killing.

OldReliable: Posted: January 23, 2014 6:57 a.m.

Ricketzzz, off your meds again?

technologist: Posted: January 23, 2014 11:54 a.m.

"They build the most expensive parts first and if you propose killing a system they whine about all the wasted money."

Hmm…CA "High Speed" Rail?

ricketzz: Posted: January 24, 2014 6:26 a.m.

Old Reliable: Is that another attempt to be clever? I take anti-anxiety medicine because [characters] like you make me apprehensive about the future of humans. If I was "off my meds" I'd say something mean; now I just offer weak pity.

The subject was Howard P.'s procedures for contracting boondoggles; not my brain chemistry. The Pentagon spends more money on charity than any other Big Government program. That is the subject when discussing the [not] soon [enough] departed Representative McKeon.

OldReliable: Posted: January 24, 2014 6:49 a.m.

Pentagon Spending = Charity. Now that's ridiculous!

17trillion: Posted: January 24, 2014 10:28 a.m.


I'm loath to defend Ricketzz, but he is right. We spend money on weapons systems the military doesn't even want. If that isn't corporate charity, I don't know what is.

You can't be a conservative without acknowledging that there is a boatload of fat in the DOD budget, just like every other department.

CaptGene: Posted: January 24, 2014 11:38 a.m.

I'll go out on a limb here and say that there are not a majority of conservatives here that liked Buck. Between his coziness with military contractors and his wife siphoning money from his campaign into their personal pockets the guy has proven to be a dem in republican clothing.

I only wish he was leaving in handcuffs.

SkeetMan: Posted: January 24, 2014 2:03 p.m.

Thirteen posts and not a single comment on Mr. Horton's most salient observation, that this valley is a prime candidate for fracking to breathe new life into those exhausted wells. If y'all think an open pit was going to ruin your way of life, wait till they start fracking under your backyard. Of course Brian Baker is probably already doing a dance but the rest of us know better. Good point Gary, you are a seer!

Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 24, 2014 4:10 p.m.

There is no question that in the last 100 years plus, the man who best understood the truth about the "military-industrial" complex was five star General and former President Dwight Eisenhower.

His comments of 53 years ago that our country should beware of the influence "whether sought or unsought" of this perpetual welfare grab, ring true today for all who would and should listen.

Several years ago, President Eisenhower's granddaughter, who served as a curator of his records revealed a fascinating fact about what her grandfather wrote in the original draft of his profound speech.

The original draft referred to the "military-industrial-CONGRESSIONAL" complex as being the entity to be feared.

It is unfortunate for our country that Buck McKeon paid so little attention to Eisenhower.

Indy: Posted: January 25, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Here’s a good read on fracking:

technologist: Posted: January 25, 2014 4:19 p.m.

That's not a source of objective information, Indy.

ricketzz: Posted: January 26, 2014 5:52 a.m.

You wouldn't know objective information if it spit in yer eye, Technologist. The article is very in depth and quite objective. (When you are "right", the unembellished truth speaks for you. When you are wrong you have to pick very carefully from the half-truths and innuendo pile).

technologist: Posted: January 26, 2014 2:26 p.m.

That's a risible bit of projection, ricketzz. What is it about ideologue's inability to discern bias? They only see it in others while denying their own.

Advocacy from a specific perspective in their own words:

Earthworks' Mission

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.

Earthworks stands for clean water, healthy communities and corporate accountability. We’re working for solutions that protect both the Earth’s resources as well as our communities.

Consider them on the polar opposite of this advocacy web site:

I’m a former television meteorologist who spent 25 years on the air and who also operates a weather technology and content business, as well as continues daily forecasting on radio, just for fun.

While I have a skeptical view of certain climate issues, I consider myself “green” in many ways, and I promote the idea of energy savings and alternate energy generation. Unlike many who just talk about it, I’ve put a 10KW solar array on my home, a second one on my new home this past summer of 2012. See photos below.

See how that works? I recognize that the Watts Up With That? web site advocates AGW skepticism but you, Indy, et al are unwilling to be equally objective about Earthworks, Skeptical Science, etc.

ricketzz: Posted: January 31, 2014 5:55 a.m.

The Earthworks article is very matter of fact and in depth. Where else will you get a list of the ingredients in the fracking fluid? Big Oil says the ingredients are "proprietary" and the govt lets them get away with non-disclosure.

Read the article. Remember it when you hear the happy NatGas going through the pipe to the furnace.

The hottest year in human history was 2010. That is a fact. The heat is on.

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