Few Americans—thanks to our fine history instruction these days—know what the Credit Mobilier scandal was. From 1864 to 1867, a company called Credit Mobilier was created by executives of the Union Pacific Railroad. It was a railroad construction company that overcharged on construction costs and manipulated contracts. Its founder was Thomas Durant, and the company worked with American Congressmen, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi... Oh, sorry, Schuyler Colfax and Congressman Oakes Ames who were given low-price stock options and payouts in return for no federal oversight of the company and for subsidies and favorable regulations that would otherwise lower costs.
A tip to the New York Sun exposed the scandal in 1872, Democrat James Brooks and Republican James Patterson were threatened with expulsion from Congress, but a total of 13 members of Congress were investigated by two House committees and one Senate committee. In the end, Ames and Brooks were merely censured, and none of the rest were punished.
Shocked! Shocked, I tell ya!
Fast forward to the Ukraine War. The U.S. Congress and President Joe (Rutabaga) Biden can’t wait to send more money and more weapons to Ukraine. Is it really out of their concern for “democracy?” One can expect no serious investigation of these monies or of any of the weapons. What type of weapons, you ask? I received a private message from someone working with a defense contractor in question. The current push is from contractors to “sell” Ukraine (paid for by dollars we lend them) high-tier/upscale defensive systems. (Think a multi-million dollar missile system designed to defeat a fourth-generation fighter as opposed to a low-tech but effective anti-aircraft gun.) “Wouldn’t we want to defeat the fighters?” you ask. We would except the problem the Ukrainians face is more from $20,000 suicide drones from Iran, not from state-of-the-art Russian airplanes.
You can see Credit Mobilier in action: congressmen and senators have (perhaps through shell companies, firewalls, or relatives) investments in defense contractors and subcontractors; these companies see uber-high-dollar systems (again, paid for by the U.S. taxpayers); then stock prices rise, and dividends are paid! And we aren’t even getting into out-and-out kickbacks—but those would only be exposed by investigations that will never come.
Do you think it surprising, then, that “pro-defense” senators such as Tom Cotton support keeping pro-Uke-war Mitch McConnell—who just announced that the most important agenda item for Senate Republicans is . . . you guessed it, the war in Ukraine? At least in the 1870s, the House and Senate had enough honorable people to investigate the scandal.
Don’t hold your breath.