In the name of a questionable transparency - ie: if there's not much you can do about something you don't like, is it better to know about it anyway? - it seems the Defense Department publishes daily reports on the contracts it awards and their estimated costs. Thus, on Jan. 14, it authorized spending over $800 million on an array of military equipment, supplies and support services. It tightened (relatively) its belt on Jan.15 when it spent just under $300 million, perhaps feeling the pinch from the House's passage that day of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that includes just $572 billion for defense, down considerably from what was requested. Our current military budget is said to be larger than the next largest 29 countries' military budgets combined, so bloated that even the Washington Post calls it "staggering" and so much more than our old ally the U.K. that Robert Gates warned this week they may no longer be able to play with the big boys/guns if they keep cutting their defense budget. One must ask, again, how much is enough? Especially given that credit unions are now offering low-interest classroom supply loans to desperate teachers trying to buy erasers and paper within a school budget decimated to make way for...you get the picture. With an array of appalling facts, charts and graphs to illustrate the many other socially useful purposes to which our current blood money could be put.