Tanks for Nothing

By Bill Maher

There are a few really key objects that explain why the 20th century worked out like it did: The cyclotron, the small pox vaccine, the invention of black people and sex in the late 50s. And the tank. I just want to say, right up front, hooray for tanks. The British invented them, the Germans perfected them, and Arabs still can't win a war with them, even against other Arabs. No matter how many they have. It’s actually weird. How hard can it be? It's like American Indians never coming up with the wheel.  

And the best tank ever made is the M1 Abrams. It's got a 1500 horsepower Textron gas turbine engine and a 120 MM smoothbore cannon from the good (German) people at Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH. It weighs almost seventy tons, just like Rush Limbaugh, and can still do 45 mph on level ground, just like Paul Ryan. That said, the tank is a shitty welfare program.

In the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden said: 
"The military says we need a smaller, leaner Army. We need more special forces. ...We don’t need more M1 tanks. What we need is more UAVs."

And he's obviously right, except the M1 is made in Ohio -- the Valley of Elah for this entire election. And that's why Romney, Ryan and their ads, automated phone calls and surrogates are hammering away, like history's best tank is basically Terri Schiavo and Obama wants to yank its feeding tube.

"When you say…that we don't need any more Lima-built M1 tanks, what we are doing is we're projecting weakness, and when we project weakness abroad our enemies become more brazen!" -- Paul Ryan, in Ohio

"We need M1 tanks because they're part of the greatest military on the face of the earth. They will ensure that we have a military second to none so that we can keep the peace. We need M1 tanks!" -- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman

Here's the thing. The Army doesn't want any more M1s. We're getting a remodeled tank in 2017, and Obama would like to shut the M1 factory down and save $3 billion between now and then. This would cost 800 jobs.  

Here's the other thing. It doesn't matter what the Army wants, Congress keeps voting to make more M1s. Last year, over Army objections, the defense appropriations bill included $255 million for 42 more M1s, basically to keep the factory open. So it's welfare, plain and simple. $255 million for 800 jobs building 42 tanks for no one.

Part of the problem is the M1 is too good. We never need to replace them.  In the first Gulf War nine were damaged beyond repair. In the entire second Gulf War, we lost eighty.

Now we have 2,300 M1s deployed around the world. And three thousand (3000) more right here in California, sitting there, row-on-row, at the Sierra Army Depot.  

Enough to retake Iraq 37 times.

Hey, just a day’s drive up the I-5. Who wants to go?