How Congress Profits from Never ending War - Bill Young objects to the money being taken away from the Army’s Humvee program. Never mind that the Army has more Humvees than it wants. They are manufactured by AM General, which happens to be Young’s third-largest campaign contributor…
WHY ARE WE STILL AT WAR? FOLLOW THE MONEY….
In his opening statement, Gates (before Congress on March 2, 2011) fervently appealed for funds requested by Gen. David Petraeus for equipment to protect troops in Afghanistan. The money has been held up because it would be taken from a project benefiting a major contributor to the committee chairman, Bill Young, R-FL.
“Mr. Chairman, our troops need this force-protection equipment, and they need it now,” Gates pleaded. “Every day that goes by without this equipment, the lives of our troops are at greater risk.” He urged action “today” on the funds, admonishing: “We should not put American lives at risk to protect specific programs or contractors.”
The State Department’s inspector general says bomb-sniffing dogs used in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t being tested properly and may not be able to detect explosives. The inspector general said its review found that the companies hired to supply and train the dogs weren’t testing them for the most commonly encountered explosives, increasing the chance of a dog missing a bomb in a vehicle or luggage. The companies also used expired or contaminated materials for the scent tests. That [also] puts U.S. lives at risk. (The Sun 10/09/2010 AP)
Gates warned that the military would “face a crisis” if Congress continues to fund the government with short-term spending resolutions, or if it enacts the spending bill recently passed by House Republicans. (L.A. Times 3/6/2011) Gates said it would leave the military unable “to properly carry out its mission, maintain readiness and prepare for the future.” But the members of Congress could not function at such a high level of thought.
Secretary of Defense Gates couldn’t get the lawmakers to agree to his urgent request to shift $1.2 billion in Pentagon funds to protect soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan. He had asked for the money a month previously, but Young’s committee hadn’t acted because Young objects to the money being taken away from the Army’s Humvee program. Never mind that the Army has more Humvees than it wants. They are manufactured by AM General, which happens to be Young’s third-largest campaign contributor. Its executives have funneled him more than $80,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gates told Young that his delay was putting lives at risk, but the gentlemen from AM General was unmoved.
In the twelve hapless years of the present millennium, we have looked on as three great bubbles of consensus vanity have inflated and burst, each with consequences more dire than the last.
First there was the “New Economy,” a millennial fever dream predicated on the twin ideas of a people’s stock market and an eternal silicon prosperity; it collapsed eventually under the weight of its own fatuousness.
Second was the war in Iraq, an endeavor whose launch depended for its success on the turpitude of virtually every class of elite in Washington, particularly the tough-minded men of the media; an enterprise that destroyed the country it aimed to save and that helped to bankrupt our nation as well.
And then, Wall Street blew up the global economy. Empowered by bank deregulation and regulatory capture, Wall Street enlisted those tough-minded men of the media again to sell the world on the idea that financial innovations were making the global economy more stable by the minute. Central banks puffed an asset bubble like the world had never seen before, even if every journalist worth his byline was obliged to deny its existence until it was too late.
These episodes were costly and even disastrous, and after each one had run its course and duly exploded, I expected some sort of day of reckoning for their promoters. And, indeed, the last two disasters combined to force the Republican Party from its stranglehold on American government—for a time.
But what rankles now is our failure, after each of these disasters, to come to terms with how we were played. Each separate catastrophe should have been followed by a wave of apologies and resignations; taken together— and given that a good percentage of the pundit corps signed on to two or even three of these idiotic storylines—themy mandated mass firings in the newsrooms and op-ed pages of the nation. Quicker than you could say “Ahmed Chalabi,” an entire generation of newsroom fools should have lost their jobs.
But that’s not what happened. Plenty of journalists have been pushed out of late, but the ones responsible for deluding the public are not among them.
read more - “Too Smart to Fail” by Thomas Frank
1, The American Family Association, for example, has been fruitlessly waging a pathetic and ill-conceived boycott war on Walgreens for having the audacity to have its cashiers wish its diverse customers “Happy Holidays” upon checking out.
“It’s true!” bellowed the AFA. “At Walgreens, they advertise ‘Holiday Candy,’ ‘Holiday Gift Tags,’ ‘Holiday Gift Wrap,’ ‘Holiday Decor,’ ‘Holiday Accessories,’ ‘Holiday Nuts and Snacks’ and ‘Holiday Hats and Stockings.’ But no Christmas! In total, Walgreens used the term ‘holiday’ 36 times, rather than using ‘Christmas.’”
Apparently some entry-level schmuck at the AFA had to spend his days totaling the number of “holiday” salutations instead of, perhaps, devising strategies that help spread cheer to impoverished families.
2, Wal-mart banning “Merry Christmas” greeting
Not to insinuate that I would ever defend WalMart, but the War on Christmas creates strange allies. For example, in 2005 a woman sent an irate email to Walmart after one of its employees was wishing her “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” thus begging the question: who are these morons and where do they find the time to engage in such totally frivolous nonsense? Naturally, the dyspeptic woman received a mild response, saying that “Christmas traditions are rooted in Siberian shamanism and Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide world”. That’s right–WalMart reached a lucid conclusion based upon historical facts and verifiable ethnos. Despite a planned boycott by the Catholic League, Walmart continues to have its cashiers greet customers with “Happy Holidays”. Oh, and the employee who sent the reasonable email was fired.
3, A Hospital bans Christmas CD for mentioning Jesus
It seems the Royal Edinburgh Hospital refused to distribute a CD of Christmas songs in its shop because evidently some of the songs mentioned Jesus. But much like with everything that comes out of the mouths of the right, it wasn’t true. After all, the first casuality of war is the truth. According to the Guardian, not only was the CD not banned, “it was actually made available at a hospital carol service that had mysteriously evaded the health authority’s attempts to stamp out Christmas.” To quote Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry, “oops”.
4, The John Birch Society
It’s not a state secret that the John Birch Society is a group made up of filthy rich oligarchs and plutocrats whose wealth comes from happening to be the spoiled offspring of workaholics. It’s members, including the Koch brothers, have spent hordes of cash to prevent regulation of industry and legislation that seeks to benefit the middle-class. So it’s not especially surprising that in 1959, the John Birch Society warned America that it was under attack. So convinced this impending anti-Christmas menace, they distributed a pamphlet called “There Goes Christmas” , as well as an essay by Hubert Kregeloh saying that the “Godless” United Nations was planning to take the meaning out of Christmas, so that the Communists would win. It is now the year 2011, the Reds are dead, and the UN didn’t ban Christmas in American department stores. Again, “oops”.
5, Fox News and Right Wing websites declare Pilgrims would be outraged by today’s anti-Christmas treatment
Ah, always save the best the last. In its typical factless, inflammatory fashion, the fembots (or foxbots) and mannequins over at Fox News Fox continue to manipulate the history of Christmas celebration in America . For example, Laura Ingraham actually argued that the Pilgrims came to this country to celebrate Christmas. Not to burst the fantastically factless fox news bubble, but history clearly shows that the Pilgrims, oppressive and rigid as they were, actually banned Christmas in Boston and it wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas was declared a federal holiday. But leave it to Fox News to completely and utterly get it wrong!
On September 30th this year a congressional investigation that began in the last year of the Bush administration ended, the evidence in the investigation has been sealed until 2031 but they came to the following conclusions:
Pegs waste, fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan at >$30 billion
Sees threat of more waste in unsustainable projects
Faults both government officials and contractors
Offers 15 recommendations for contracting reform
In a time when we see people in the US complaining that their tax dollars are being spent on “poor people who are too lazy to work”, abortions, birth control, or health care for said “lazy poor people”, why is there not more outrage over things like this?
Literally billions of dollars in fraud, but the issue of the day still remains, “We don’t want our hard earned money given to poor people who refuse to get a job.”
It’s shit like this America.
— Howard Zinn (via cultureofresistance)
Denying the very existence of an entire class of citizens? That’s waging some very real warfare against them.
There hasn’t been any organized, explicitly class-based violence in this country for generations, so what, exactly, does “class warfare” really mean? Is it just an empty political catch-phrase?
The American Right has decided that returning the tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans from what it was during the Bush years (which, incidentally, featured the slowest job growth under any president in our history, at 0.45 percent per year) to what they forked over during the Clinton years (when job growth happened to average 1.6 percent per year) is the epitome of class warfare. Sure, it would leave top earners with a tax rate 10 percentage points below what they were paying after Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, but that’s the conservative definition of “eating the rich” these days.
I recently offered a less Orwellian definition, arguing that real class warfare is when those who have already achieved a good deal of prosperity pull the ladder up behind them by attacking the very things that once allowed working people to move up and join the ranks of the middle class.
But there’s another way of looking at “class war”: habitually vilifying the unfortunate; claiming that their plight is a manifestation of some personal flaw or cultural deficiency. Conservatives wage this form of class warfare virtually every day, consigning millions of people who are down on their luck to some subhuman underclass.
The six ways from The article
- Registering the Poor to Vote is ‘UnAmerican’
- Unemployment Benefits Have Created a ‘Nation of Slackers’
- You Can’t Really Be Poor if You Have a Color TV!
- Food-Stamps: ‘A Fossil That Repeats All the Errors of the War on Poverty’
- ‘The Main Causes of Child Poverty Are Low Levels of Parental Work and the Absence of Fathers.’
- Taxing Working People Less Than the Rich Is ‘Perverse’
Ryan’s Dirty Trailer: Seven Billion In Cuts Proposed to Defense Spending, Republicans Lose Their Shit
Looks like the Republicans are still sour that they weren’t the ones to nab Osama Bin Laden, because they’re grasping at the flimsiest of straws to attack Democrats on national security these days. (That or their corporate overlords are paying them overtime to say the dumbest things.)
The latest: Calling seven billion in potential defense cuts “Armageddon” or “a national security crisis”.
As much as I love Mother Jones it infuriates me that I don’t see major networks calling bullshit on the idiotic statements that senators and Pentagon officials make over necessary defense spending cuts that probably won’t even materialize anyway. Cutting a paltry seven billion dollars from a trillion dollar budget is hardly “the knowing destruction of the US military”, as the distinguished blowhard Jon Kyl hyperbolized. I will give Defense Secretary Panetta a little credit for stating the obvious: “We must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred or well-spent, and more of everything is simply not sustainable”.
Per Mother Jones:In theory, the debt deal will cut discretionary security spending by $7 billion over the next two years. How would those cuts impact the Pentagon? The Pentagon’s base operating budget typically runs between $500 and 600 billion a year. $7 billion is roughly the cost of 3 submarines, or 20 fighter jets, or one-fifth of one KBR contract in Iraq. In other words, chump change. And that’s if the cuts actually come from the DOD. According to the text of the debt bill (PDF), it’s up to Congress to decide what parts of the total security and defense budget—which includes the Veterans Administration, Homeland Security, international affairs, and nuclear weapons—actually take a hit. One thing that won’t take a hit is the funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is specifically preserved in the bill.
The White House and Congressional leaders insist that the debt compromise will slash $350 billion from the Pentagon over the next 10 years. Additionally, if Congress doesn’t cut another $1.2 trillion across the board by December, a “trigger” in the bill is supposed to kick in, reducing the defense budget by another $500 to 600 billion.
But those hard numbers aren’t spelled out in the bill. “The actual amount will be decided by Congress in the future,” Wheeler says. And there’s no guarantee that Congress, particularly Rep. McKeon and his pork-loving Armed Services Committee members, will take any cuts out of the Pentagon’s hide. The bill “is classic Washington Kabuki theater,” Gordon Adams, a political science professor who worked as a security budget expert for the Clinton White House, tells Foreign Policy. “The whole deal is designed to be opaque about the things you really want to know, such as how much defense will be cut.”