Aerospace lobbyists, military in satirist Buckley's cross hairs

In 2011, Boeing, the aerospace and defense behemoth, spent $15.9 million on lobbying, according to its federal disclosure reports. Big as that number is, it could be construed as thrifty. In 2010, Boeing spent $17.9 million.

And what exactly did Boeing want for all its access? Good luck telling from those disclosure reports.

In its fourth-quarter filing for 2011, Boeing makes reference to U.S. relations with about a dozen countries including Sri Lanka, China, Azerbaijan and lists a host of defense-related items. But aside from highlighting Congress’ dopey infatuation with acronyms, the list is cryptic with a dash of creepy: “Rare Earths Supply Chain Technology and Resources Transformation (RESTART) Act of 2011 … Military Aircraft Applications from Commercial Derivatives … Prompt Global Strike.”

Prompt Global Strike?

Gulp.

For a political satirist, this kind of setting is an invitation to play. In his novel “They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?”(Twelve, 352 pp., $25.99), Christopher Buckley, the best going at poking fun at our political culture and foibles, accepts the invitation, to delightful effect.

“Bird” McIntyre, a richly compensated lobbyist for aerospace giant Groepping-Sprunt (love the name), is tasked, in Bird’s words, to go rustle up some anti-China sentiment, the better to make Groepping-Sprunt’s case for a big boost in military spending.

The storyline includes plots, real or imagined, to assassinate the Dalai Lama; weapon systems, real or imagined, that could do wonderful, awful things; pilfered urine; an unstable subatomic particle; and creative use of satellite technology.

I’d tell you more, but why ruin the fun? Suffice it to say that Buckley does sendups of stereotypes of China, think tanks, intelligence operations, neocons, media spin, pop culture, Civil War re-enactors, the compulsion to quote Sun-tzu and equestrian chic.

For years now, Buckley has been one of the country’s finest lampoon artists. What Carl Hiaasen does with the sleaze and swamps of Florida, Buckley does with our nation’s capital or, as he calls it, “Gomorrah-on-the-Potomac.” The only thing more twisted than his plots are his characters, and to top it off, he treats readers to splendid wordplay along the way.

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(1) Aerospace lobbyists, military in satirist Buckley's cross hairs
URL: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/books/2018380890_br08buckley.html?syndication=rss



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