Category Archives: Pentagon

Memory Hole: Militarized Police Edition

I’m glad the Ferguson protests have sparked a debate about our militarized police. When I first heard the reports I immediately thought of this post I did back in March 2008. Though the post was ostensibly about CBS’ “60 Minutes” journalistic failure, the point relevant here is that the Pentagon had developed a crowd-control device called the “Active Denial System” which, thanks to blasted government bureaucracy, had yet to be deployed. Even though “60 Minutes” — and the Pentagon — were just certain we needed to use this new weapon in Iraq, of all places. Can you imagine!

But the Pentagon tipped its hand in its promotional video, which did not show this fancy new weapon used in a foreign land. Nope, it showed the Active Denial System deployed on anti-war protesters here at home.

From the post:

The “Active Denial System” is a non-lethal “ray gun” which zaps its target with super high-frequency radio waves. In other words, it’s a crowd control device. Gee, now I wonder how the government would use something like that?

Perhaps we have a little clue in the Pentagon’s demonstration video, which they aired as part of last night’s segment. The clip shows a group of people carrying signs that read “Love For All,” “End The War” and “World Peace.”

Coming soon to a police department near you? I can only imagine.

From gun loonz carting military assault rifles at Walmart and Kroger to armored vehicles manned by local police departments, the lesson is clear: Be careful what weapons of war you choose, taxpayers. They will soon appear in your own backyards.

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Wait I Thought Socialized Medicine Was EVIL

Oh, the irony:

Troops provide free medical care in KY, TN

July 28, 2013 18:35 EDT

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — Licensed medical professionals serving in the military are on a mission to provide free medical care to residents in western Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Paducah Sun reports (http://bit.ly/15ppIjQ ) that a program called Innovative Readiness Training provides medical screening, non-emergency medical treatment, minor lab tests, optometry exams and free glasses.

Services also include prescription assistance services, educational information and dental exams.

The program wrapped up a deployment in Martin, Tenn., on July 17. More than 3,200 patients received services ranging from general health and optical care to oral care in Martin.

The program will begin taking patients Aug. 5 in Mayfield, Ky. The mission also will visit Hayti, Mo., Dyersburg, Tenn., and Blytheville, Ark.

The mission is part of a partnership with the Delta Regional Authority and the Department of Defense.

First of all, yay. This service is really needed in this part of the country, so good on them.

Second of all, if you’re out there waving misspelled signs about the evils of socialized medicine while cheering free healthcare provided by the most socialized agency of the U.S. government then I have a cup of STFU with your name on it. Seriously, y’all: yesterday at the grocery store I saw a car plastered with Tea Party bumper stickers (“Don’t Tread On Me,” “Liberty And Freedom!,” “End Socialism,” “Abolish The IRS,” etc. etc. along with a lovely U.S. Army specialty license plate. I didn’t think it was possible for that much stupid to fit on the back of one vehicle.)

Thirdly, if this is your solution to the nation’s healthcare crisis, then you are out of ideas and need to get to the back of the line and shut up.

Fourthly, if you can’t at least admit that “the best healthcare system in the world” wouldn’t have stuff like this going on somewhere every weekend, then you shouldn’t be crafting healthcare policy:

Sampson was one of an estimated 3,000 uninsured or under insured patients who lined up for hours — even days — to receive free medical, dental and eye care at the 14th annual Remote Area Medical clinic at the Wise County Fairgrounds in far Southwest Virginia.

The three-day event draws thousands every year from the coalfields of Appalachia for charity health care and is staffed by a small army of nearly 2,000 volunteers.

Sampson, 47, from Hiltons , arrived Saturday with her boyfriend, his son and a friend and slept overnight in a compact Kia Sephia so they could be seen Sunday. They waited in line more than eight hours Saturday just to wake up and be back at 5 a.m. Sunday.

The best healthcare in the world ain’t worth a fart in the breeze if the people who need it can’t access it. And there is no way on earth you can convince me that a compassionate, “Christian” nation would treat its sick and poor this way.

This is the sign of a broken system, not a functioning one. I read stories like this and I know I’m supposed to get the warm fuzzies, aww ain’t it sweet this medical student is volunteering his time! Yes, it’s sweet, good for him, good for all of them. Thank God for them. But dammit, people! He shouldn’t have to!

It shouldn’t have to be this way!

Get a damn clue.

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Filed under healthcare, Pentagon

A Tale Of Two Federal Budget Items

Wow, to hear House Republicans these days, the food stamp program called SNAP is rife with fraud and corruption, has grown too big and is adding to the budget deficit. It must die.

Meanwhile, the same people overwhelmingly supported a new defense bill which, while offering some good protections to victims of sexual assault, also was padded with lots of extra spending. Such as:

The bill also restricts the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, funds construction of a new East Coast missile defense site and gives the Pentagon $5 billion more than requested for the war in Afghanistan.

Well isn’t that peachy! Sequester, semeshter! Because we all know the Pentagon is never, ever corrupt, fraud never happens, and the Pentagon would never add to our budget deficit. Hey, empires are expensive, y’all! :

huffpo-20120208-militaryspendingUS

What a bunch of fiscal phonies. Guess they’re going to force Senate Democrats to vote against this, so they can run those lovely ads accusing such-and-such liberal of voting against helping sexual assault victims in the military. I can hear it now: “They accuse us of waging a war on women, but look what Senator McLefty CommieHippie did!”

Assholes. Two can play at that game. Look who took food out of the mouth of a hungry child so they can continue to fund wars and killing? And you call yourselves Christians? For shame.

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Filed under budget, Congress, defense, deficit, food, Pentagon, Republican Party

$700 Toilet Seats

Hey guess what, everybody! Someone found $900 million worth of stuff in the Pentagon’s sofa cushions:

The Army program charged with keeping thousands of eight-wheeled Strykers running over the past decade had its eye so much on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that it neglected to keep its books.

It accumulated nearly $900 million worth of Stryker replacement parts – most of them in an Auburn warehouse – with much of the gear becoming outdated even as the military continued to order more equipment, according to a Defense Department Inspector General report released late last year.

Take, for instance, the $57 million worth of obsolete infrared equipment the Army has not installed in Strykers since 2007. It lingered at the Stryker warehouse until the Inspector General called attention to it last year.

Or, the 9,179 small replacement gears called pinions the Army bought as a temporary fix for a Stryker suspension problem that surfaced between 2007 and 2009. The Army took care of the root malfunction in 2010, but kept buying pinions.

It needed only 15 of the gears. The 9,164 extra pinions are worth $572,000, the Inspector General reported.

Yes, Republicans. Do tell me how we can’t possibly cut the Pentagon budget without “endangering the homeland.” I’m all ears. And while you’re at it, remind me how food stamps and Head Start are budget-busters but the Pentagon ordering hundreds of millions of dollars of parts it can’t even use is not.

The Stryker inventory is purchased from major defense contractor General Dynamics, which has a no-bid contract. They, of course, had no comment. Of interest:

The military had awarded General Dynamics a no-bid contract that promised to reimburse its expenses for maintaining the Strykers while adding a fee, giving the company little incentive to control costs.

Yes, that would be wrong. Because freedom and SHUT UP.

BTW I find it amusing that the article quotes Lexington Institute “defense analyst” Daniel Goure, who is quoted as saying of the error,

“This is truly much ado about nothing” he said. “It’s essentially miscommunication.”

Goure appears all over the mainstream press with regularity. You’ll see him quoted in the New York Times and he’s on NPR, Fox and NBC, to name a few. As he was in this story, Goure is always identified merely as a “defense analyst with the Lexington Institute.” First of all, he’s a vice president, not a mere “analyst.” And then, of ocurse, no one ever bothers to mention that Goure worked in the Bush Administration Defense Department, was part of the PNAC study group that gave us the glorious Iraq War, and that the Lexington Institute is another one of those free-market, the-Constitution-is-cemented-in-the-18th-Century far-right talking point factories which has taken such extreme positions as advocating we withdraw from NATO. Furthermore, the Lexington Institute is funded by the same defense contractors that its “analysts” are always defending in the press (indeed, Lexington Institute founder James Courter was a lobbyist for such defense contractors as Lockheed Martin and SRI International.) So, y’know, just your average military industrial complex neocon.

This $900 million “no big deal” is proof of the grift and graft you get when the for-profit private sector bellies up to the government sugar tit. But again, it’s no big deal! Only $900 million! Quit yer whining! (By the way, that’s 90 times more than what we give Big Bird.)

Fiscal phonies.

By the way, we only needed 15 pinions but somehow managed to buy 9,179 of them? And nobody noticed? Shouldn’t there be some kind of Congressional investigation?

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Filed under budget, military contractors, Pentagon

Let’s Not And Say We Did

Sen. Lindsay Graham unwittingly makes the anti-war crowd’s point:

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., translated Cheney’s argument that defense spending is “not a spigot you can turn on and turn off, that you need to keep money flowing in a predictable way so you can plan for the next war.

Ah, yes! We must “plan for the next war”! This is what we call the Permanent War Economy. Because if we didn’t “plan for the next war,” then what? What other options might be at our disposal the next time some uneducated people from a rudimentary Third World country terrorize the nation armed only with boxcutters? Amazing to think of the possibilities.

Indeed, this was the entire point of Rachel Maddow’s excellent book, Drift. If we’re constantly planning for the next war then war becomes inevitable. This was not what the founders of our nation intended — far from it.

In Drift, Maddow writes of Thomas Jefferson’s opposition to standing armies thusly:

“Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon,” he warned Congress in his sixth annual presidential message, “we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take place.”

Of course, America’s history is not one of being on a permanent war footing, as Maddow notes. Far from it. We didn’t plan for World War II — World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars,” remember? Consumers sacrificed, industries were nationalized, men signed up for the armed services, Rosie The Riveter went to the factory, Mom canned produce from the victory garden, families bought war bonds, and Hollywood went to work churning out the propaganda. In less than four years it was all over. Amazing, isn’t it? Our soldiers returned victorious and we rewarded them with an incredibly generous thank-you: the GI Bill offered low-interest mortgages, business loans, tuition and living expenses for those wishing to go to college or vocational school, unemployment compensation, and more.

Fast forward to 2008, and we have Republicans like Sen. John McCain and Pres. George W. Bush opposing a new GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans because it “will hurt the military’s efforts to retain its troops.”

Yes of course. Because you don’t stand down in the Permanent War Economy. Wars never end. Occupations never end. We must feed the beast. We must give people an incentive to sign up for military service, and removing other viable options for employment and opportunity are a great way to go about that. In the Permanent War Economy, we must keep “planning for the next war.” The cycle never ends.

Or does it? Alternately, we can take Graham and Cheney at their word and realize what they’re really saying: war is a choice. We really don’t need to “plan for the next war.” Our military is already 10 bazillion times bigger than that of every other nation on earth combined. Can’t we just say we’re done and call it a day?

Instead of planning for the next war, why don’t we:

• Plan to be global leaders in alternative energy via that “Apollo project for green energy” we’re always hearing about;

• Plan to feed and educate every one of our citizens;

• Plan to cure cancer, which as we all know isn’t just one disease but thousands of diseases;

• Plan to create a network of bullet trains around the nation so you can go from, say, Los Angeles to Las Vegas or San Francisco in an hour and a half;

• Bring high-speed internet to every rural community in the country;

• Cut the population of stray dogs and cats in this country by 75%;

• Jet packs. Dammit, shouldn’t we have our jet packs by now?

Those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. I just think there’s a bunch of better stuff we could be planning for besides the next war.

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Filed under defense, peace, Pentagon, war economy

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Q: What’s the difference between a single mother on welfare and the F-35 fighter jet?
A: The welfare mom actually works:

August 5, 2011 (by Lieven Dewitte) – For the third time in less than a year, the Pentagon has grounded all F-35 joint strike fighters because of a mechanical problem. The F-35s thus join the F-22 Raptors in stand down mode.

All flight and ground operations for the Joint Strike Fighter were ceased after the integrated power package (IPP) on a U.S. Air Force variant test aircraft failed on August 2nd during a ground maintenance run at Edwards Air Force Base.

The 20 operational test and training aircraft were parked and will stay that way until engineers and technicians can find why a power system that starts and cools the aircraft failed during an engine ground test Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Flight and ground tests could potentially be suspended for a few weeks.

Heh. No wonder they call the F-35 the jet that ate the Pentagon. From last May:

The Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and many foreign partners plan to buy thousands of the fighter-attack jets over the next two decades to replace a variety of aging aircraft, but the development schedule of the stealthy fighter has slipped five years to 2018 and the projected cost to the Pentagon for 2,457 aircraft has ballooned to $385 billion, making it by far the most expensive weapons program in history.

The Government Accountability Office reported that although Pentagon management of the program is improving, developers have only completely verified 4 percent of the F-35’s capabilities. The program received another blow this week when the Senate Armed Services Committee learned that the Pentagon will likely have to spend $1 trillion over the next 50 years to operate and maintain the fleet of F-35s. Evidently reeling from sticker shock, Sen. John McCain demanded that “we at least begin considering alternatives.” But is it too late to prevent the F-35 program from devouring the Pentagon’s future procurement budgets?

That’s a rhetorical question, right? There’s always money for war, you idiots!

After the painful debt ceiling political theater we just endured, though, this is a hard pill to swallow. I just can’t believe we’re cutting programs vital to people’s health and welfare while sinking hundreds of billions of dollars into the bottomless pit that is the Pentagon. And yes, this truly is a black hole:

Air Force officials themselves may now doubt the wisdom of the size of the commitment to the F-35. According to a recent Aviation Week story, Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton placed new emphasis on the importance of the Air Force’s next-generation long-range bomber. With procurement funds sure to be tight in the decade ahead, Conaton hinted that the Air Force may have to raid the F-35’s future budgets in order to help pay for the new bomber.

Ah well, nothing to see here, let’s move along to the next trillion dollar bomber program! Bygones!

You know what’s funny? President Obama has already pledged to cut $400 billion from defense, while Leon Panetta has said anything over $350 billion would be tragic. So I guess that means we’ve agreed on $385 billion, the cost of this one failing program, hmm? You wanna bet?

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Filed under budget, defense, deficit, Pentagon

I’ll Take Things It Shouldn’t Take 30 Years To Do, Alex

Waaaaay back in 1990 a law was passed that required the Dept. of Defense to get its books in order so we can do a full financial audit, and yet even though their deadline isn’t until 2017 it seems they won’t be making that deadline. That would be 27 years to do a financial audit of the Pentagon.

And they can’t do it.

Whew. Okie dokie, well thank goodness we have a bipartisan group of Senators who have a little problem with that :

“Based on the findings of today’s FIAR Plan, it appears unlikely that the Department of Defense will be able to meet that 2017 requirement,” they said in the statement, obtained by POLITICO.

“Today’s report by the DOD’s comptroller shows that while a few small agencies within the department have reached the required financial audit level, the vast majority of the department had not,” the statement said.

“Further, while the report shows that DOD has a fairly complete road-map of how the Army, Navy, Air Force and other defense agencies will each reach the auditability requirement by 2017, implementation of these goals faces major challenges.”

Past GAO reports have found a high risk for waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement at the Pentagon. The senators want their new GAO report in time for a hearing on the subject in July.

Okay I get that the Pentagon is huge and might need a little more time to get itself audit-ready than, say, your typical ice cream stand. But 27 years? Areyoukiddingme?

But don’t worry!

In the progress report submitted Monday, Defense Department comptroller Robert F. Hale said audit readiness has been a goal for many years but has been difficult to achieve because of the department’s size and complexity.

Hale said American taxpayers should understand that “although the department does not yet meet commercial audit standards, their tax dollars are being managed responsibly.”

Ha ha ha! Nothing to see here, move along! Don’t worry, be happy! Government should operate like a business! Blargeddy blargh!

For example, by all means do not investigate Darpa:

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) asked for the inquiry after news reports that Darpa handed out $1.75 million in contracts to a company owned in part by agency director Regina Dugan and her relatives. What’s more, Dugan is owed $250,000 by her family firm, RedXDefense. POGO wants to verify that Dugan had nothing to do with the contracts, and to determine if “any Darpa employee” dealing with the company knew of its connections to the woman at the top.

In a letter to the Pentagon inspector general written on Monday, Danielle Brian, POGO’s executive director, calls for an investigation that goes beyond Dugan, who recused herself from any dealings with RedXDefense upon becoming director.

Brian cites recent comments from Kaigham “Ken” Gabriel, Dugan’s deputy, calling financial conflicts “prevalent” at the agency, since Darpa’s highly technical work requires it to recruit talent from many of the firms and researchers who bid on its contracts.

“We urge the DoD IG to immediately pursue an audit to ensure that Darpa selects and awards grants and contracts with integrity,” Brian writes in the letter to Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell. Perhaps “more  stringent measures” are needed to prevent potential conflicts of interest.

POGO also questions just how closely the Pentagon oversees Darpa. The Pentagon inspector general’s office hasn’t audited the agency’s contracting methods since 1997.

I realize $1.75 million is small potatoes but it’s also the tip of the iceberg. The point is: fraud and waste are endemic throughout the Pentagon, not just in things like $700 toilet seats and building fighter jet engines the Pentagon doesn’t even want but some Senator needs the factory to stay open or they’ll face a tough reelection campaign.

No, this is the kind of shit that goes on under our noses while everyone has hissy fits over the “Muslim Brotherhood” donating to NPR. I wonder if any Breitbart acolytes have considered dressing up as pimped-out Raytheon execs seeking research money to finish work on their invisibility cloak and time travel machine? Of course not! Because in right-wing land, every penny spent on the Pentagon is honorable. There’s never any such thing as “government waste” when the Dept. of Defense does it.

With that in mind, this bit from the Politico article amused me:

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are divided between those who want to include deep defense cuts in any debt reduction plan and those concerned about the impact of such cuts on national security.

That’s hilarious. Yeah, you know, when your country spends at least five times more on defense than any other nation in the world, I’d say you’ve got nothing to worry about.

I really find it hard to believe that any Republican doesn’t think there’s waste and corruption at the Dept. of Defense. There’s a vast river of tax money flowing through the Pentagon, and you can bet your sweet bippy there are greedy, corrupt assholes trying to get their hands on it. But since the Pentagon still isn’t audit-ready after 27 years, I guess we’ll never know.

Instead, let’s talk about how the budget deficit is forcing us to kill Medicare and Social Security.

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>A Funny Definition Of Victory, Part 2

>The last time the government shut down, the time Newt Gingrich did it, I actually worked for the federal government at a national recreation area. That was interesting, to say the least.

Government shutdowns suck on a lot of levels, though one thing they do accomplish is make people aware of all the things our government does, things which should be obvious but which people are ridiculously oblivious to nonetheless. I’m thinking of the lady I saw on the news who was shocked to discover that the national Civil War battlefield she planned to visit today would be closed if a deal couldn’t be reached.

I mean, duh. But that attitude is extremely common. I remember way back when telling my dad I was off work and he’s like “Why?” And I’m like, “The government shut down, you know …” and he kept saying, “you’re affected by that? Really? YOU? I had no idea!”

Le sigh. So, government shutdowns can be a teachable moment for a lot of mainstream Americans who take government for granted.

That said, I was not like Mike Pence leading the Teanutties in a chant of “Shut it down!” No, as I said, government shutdowns suck on a lot of levels, trust me, I know. They are a failure of our politics and a failure of democracy. If our government is forced to shut down over something like a budget impasse, it does not speak very highly of our system or our leaders.

So I’m glad we have a reprieve. But for crying out loud, please let’s not call this last-minute deal a victory. This is a tragedy, and it should be stated as such. Because I’m sorry, I just don’t see these things as wins:

1) $17 BILLION IN CHIMPS — WE SPREAD OUT THE CUTS ACROSS OTHER PARTS OF THE BUDGET. We insisted that meeting in the middle on cuts would require looking beyond domestic discretionary spending—and we prevailed. More than half—or $17 billion—of the final round of spending cuts came from changes in mandatory programs, or CHIMPs. The emphasis on this part of the budget staved off severe cuts to key domestic programs like education, clean energy, and medical research.

2.) $3B IN PENTAGON SAVINGS — WE PROVED DoD WASTE SHOULD NOT BE SPARED. We won the argument that waste at the Pentagon should not be immune from spending cuts. The final agreement eliminates nearly $3 billion in unnecessary Pentagon spending that was contained in H.R. 1. These reductions are supported by Secretary Gates.

3) TITLE X PRESERVED — WE FOUGHT OFF ATTACKS ON WOMEN’S HEALTH. We fended off their highest priority among the riders by nixing their proposal to gut Title X funds that provide cancer screenings and other preventative health services for women. The Republicans’ overreach on this rider in the final days dramatically weakened their hand.

Yes, well, my uterus thanks you. But I’m sorry … $3 billion in Pentagon waste while cutting $17 billion in Social Security and Medicare spending? That’s, what, basically that one redundant fighter jet engine that was already axed? I mean, really? That’s all the waste you can find at the Pentagon? Are they still giving $50 million to NASCAR? Just wondering.

I bring this up because last week David Sirota noted that the one-week continuing resolution would set our bloated Pentagon budget for the year, while leaving the rest of the budget open to negotiation. This means the burden of all that deficit-reducing everyone is yammering about will be borne by social programs. Or, as Sirota wrote:

….an even larger and more disproportionate amount of budget cuts will be focused almost exclusively on the relatively small portion of the discretionary budget that funds social programs.

Because there’s always money for war.

This is how Democrats cut deals with Republicans, and even worse they are trying to sell this to us as a win. And don’t give me that crap about fighting for women’s health when the deal that was struck banned locally-funded abortions in D.C. I guess some uteruses are more equal than others.

No, nothing pisses me off more than when Democrats try to sell me a shit sandwich. This happened last summer when the FMAP extension was passed by cutting food stamp benefits.

This shit happens all the time. The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 — the settlement to 75,000 black farmers discriminated again in the case known as Pigford II — was paid for in part with cuts to WIC funding.

Democrats need to realize that robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a “win” for liberals. And some of us actually are paying attention to this stuff.

So am I glad the government has not shut down (yet)? Hell yeah. But am I pissed the Pentagon budget got trimmed by a measley $3 billion and is now off-limits? You betcha.

When polls show Americans a) vastly underestimate how much we spend on defense, and b) support cutting the defense budget anyway, one has to wonder what the hell the Democrats in Washington are thinking. Maybe they’re too scared of looking “weak on defense” and like “cheese eating surrender monkeys” and like they “don’t support the troops” and all the other mean stuff the right will say about them. But guess what: they say that shit anyway!

So I guess we’ll just keep on being asked to accept winning these small battles while losing war after war, over and over again, until the end of time. I guess we’re supposed to be happy with that.

I dunno, doesn’t sound like a win to me.

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>Permanent War Economy Redux

>[UPDATE]: Wow sure glad we’re sending them $60 billion in weapons!

————————-

Just heard NBC’s financial spokes bubblebot extoll the economic bonanza which this deal represents:

The Obama administration is set to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to $60 billion, the largest U.S. arms deal ever, and is in talks with the kingdom about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more.

The administration plans to tout the $60 billion package as a major job creator—supporting at least 75,000 jobs, according to company estimates—and sees the sale of advanced fighter jets and military helicopters to key Middle Eastern ally Riyadh as part of a broader policy aimed at shoring up Arab allies against Iran.

Huzzah. Well, it’s good to know America still manufactures something!

Who wants to guess how this will end? Like this? America is a twilight empire. All we know how to do is build bombers for oppressive Middle Eastern regimes. Our only export is war. I know the corporate news media wants us to clap louder at the “75,000 jobs created” (really? Really? Did you check the numbers on that or are you just repeating the press release?) and my Democratic president is going to extoll the economic win this represents for people who are out of work. But I’m calling bullshit.

Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

For shame, America. For shame. These things never end well, people. One of these days we will learn our lesson. You don’t build an economy on war. You don’t arm a dictatorship in an unstable region of the world. You don’t plant these seeds and expect to reap anything other than a bitter harvest down the road.

I wish America still made things that benefitted the human race, instead of destroyed it. Sadly, when you are an empire in twilight, the simplest most logical things are beyond anyone’s capabilities.

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Filed under Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, war economy

>Because There’s Always Money For War

>I love how everyone talks about cutting federal spending especially on things like healthcare and unemployment benefits, but there’s always money for war:

The House on Thursday voted to keep funding a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, defying the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Gates has repeatedly threatened that he would personally recommend that President Barack Obama veto any defense bill containing funding for an engine made by General Electric-Rolls Royce that the Pentagon does not want. The Office of Management and Budget on Thursday followed up with its own veto threat in a statement of administration policy. 


Both GE-Rolls Royce and primary engine maker Pratt & Whitney mounted vigorous lobbying campaigns in recent weeks aligning congressional supporters on each side. But when the House cast a vote on an amendment to strike funding for the second engine, the supporters of a second engine prevailed by a vote of 231-193.

The Pentagon doesn’t want this engine but Congress is going to make sure it gets built anyway. Of course they will. The Penatgon, as Rep. Jim Cooper pointed out a year or so ago, has become a de facto hometown jobs program. Didn’t Eisenhower warn us about this a generation ago?

Never mind. Congress will continue to mouth platitudes about cutting the deficit while refusing to touch the second largest item in the Federal budget:

At over $700 billion this year, total military spending rivals Social Security as the largest item in the federal budget. We are spending more than at any time since World War II, yet our principal enemy has no multi-million person army, no air force, no navy, no sophisticated anti-aircraft systems – in short, none of the kinds of weapons our arsenal is best designed to fight against. And of that $700 billion per year, the vast bulk – over $500 billion – goes towards the Pentagon’s base budget, not the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A forthcoming report from the Sustainable Defense Task Force  – a group of defense and budget experts convened with the encouragement of Rep. Barney Frank – presents a menu of options for making cuts in the Pentagon budget without undermining our basic security. Look for details within the next two weeks.

There are plenty of savings to be had from eliminating unneeded weapons systems and cutting waste, fraud and abuse, but it is important to note that any substantial reduction in Pentagon spending will have to involve reducing U.S. global commitments. We can’t and shouldn’t continue to structure our forces as if they should be able to go anywhere and do anything. This is directly relevant to the new National Security Strategy.

$700 billion year, much of it devoted to weapons for fighting the Cold War which, last I checked, St. Ronnie won for us over 20 years ago. This makes no sense.

Time to turn our swords into plowshares. Instead of spending $485 million to build an engine the Pentagon says it doesn’t want, why can’t these workers be retrained and factories retrofitted to build things this country does want: things that are even more important to our national security than weapons for a war no one is fighting anymore? Things like components for wind turbines and solar panels and parts for electric vehicles and the like?

Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again? It boggles the mind.

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Filed under alternative energy, budget, Pentagon