Category Archives: war economy

Rotten Cotton

[UPDATE]:

Oh, apparently we just can’t take a joke:

Republican aides were taken aback by what they thought was a lighthearted attempt to signal to Iran and the public that Congress should have a role in the ongoing nuclear discussions. Two GOP aides separately described their letter as a “cheeky” reminder of the congressional branch’s prerogatives.

“The administration has no sense of humor when it comes to how weakly they have been handling these negotiations,” said a top GOP Senate aide.

Interfering with foreign policy negotiations, hilARious!

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Well you could have knocked me over with a feather:

In an open letter organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., 47 Senate Republicans today warned the leaders of Iran that any nuclear deal reached with President Barack Obama could expire as soon as he leaves office.

Tomorrow, 24 hours later, Cotton will appear at an “Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution” event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.

The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.

This is my shocked face:

shocked

Seriously, Republicans. Have you ever met a war you didn’t like? I guess as long as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Booz Allen Hamilton are filling the campaign coffers, the answer to that would be no.

And major kudos to Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker, who refused to sign the letter. They’re probably getting slammed from the Neocon wing of the party, which means there will be red meat thrown on another issue, no doubt. But on this they are correct.

Look, elections have consequences. And every time Republicans hold the reins of power, the militarism and warmongering heat up. If you don’t want war, don’t vote Republican. Simple as that.

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Filed under defense, Iran, Republican Party, Republicans, Sen. Bob Coker, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Senate, war economy

War On Christmas

I’ll admit it, when my local news gleefully reported that fighter jets would accompany Santa’s sleigh this year in the traditional “NORAD tracker,” I was pretty outraged. Silly thing, I know: it’s Santa Claus, who gives a shit. But I do, because it’s for kids, and glorifying war to kids is revolting.

Honestly, I’m so offended by the constant rah-rah pro-military BS which has infiltrated every aspect of American life. This was the last straw. Why does Santa Claus need fighter jets, anyway? Mr. Beale joked it was to make it through Syrian airspace so he could bring presents to kids in Israel. Apparently everyone else decided it was Russia.

So I was relieved to learn that I wasn’t the only person ticked off by this glorification of weapons of war to children. In fact, quite a few children’s advocates were offended.

And now NORAD says what people thought were missiles were actually “fuel tanks.” Er, okie dokie.

I know y’all wouldn’t believe it but it does take a lot for me to go over the edge. I do stand and politely clap during the military salute at hockey games, despite the wretched Lee Greenwood track. But I put my foot down when they played an Army video of, I shit you not, bombs dropping on buildings. This was displayed on the JumboTron before a game one year, accompanied by a loud rock and roll track. Seeing small children with no clue what that represented cheering along turned my stomach. I called the operations office of the hockey team the next day and we never saw anything like that again.

“Support the troops” does not mean glorifying war. And by all means, this “back door recruiting” to kids is alarming. It’s no different than using Joe Camel to sell tobacco to children.

Knock it off, America.

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Filed under Holidays, war economy, War On Christmas

The News Is Different When You’re On Vacation

DSCN4621

Somewhere not too far from where the above photo was taken there is an organic olive oil farm for sale. Cheap, too, as these things go — under $1 million. In my dreams I win the lottery and say goodbye to Nashville and start my organic olive oil operation, all sustainable, off-grid, and solar-powered.

I know a lot of you will see this picture and think, “Ick. Too scorched.” This is the landscape I grew up with, though, and to me it’s the prettiest place on earth. And if the nation is going to get embroiled in another military adventure in the Middle East, what better place to hole up than an organic, sustainable, off-grid, solar-powered olive oil ranch? Y’all come. Harvest is in November. Democommie, you can even bring Buddy.

So, I don’t confess to be any genius about Syria, or what Russia and China have to do with it, or any of the larger issues involved. I don’t have a private Joint Chiefs to advise me. I am reflexively anti-war, but I trust President Obama in a way that I didn’t trust President Bush, in part because of the massive Neocon-War-Machine-Halliburton-Blackwater-Big Oil rip-off behind the Bush-Cheney-Rummy cabal. That said, I remain reflexively anti-war, always.

As I sip my chardonnay from a vacation la-la land, I have to say: watching the war dialogue this time — a tad more than 10 years after the Iraq invasion — is an amazing thing to see. Remember when the media lost its collective mind? Remember when we were told, ad nauseum, that Saddam Hussein “gassed his own people”, and so an invasion was justified? Remember when not supporting/trusting the president’s war judgement was tantamount to treason? My, what some distance from 9/11 brings.

I heard today that Britain’s Parliament has voted against military involvement in Syria. Are we going to dump English breakfast tea in the gutters? Will English muffins be renamed “Freedom Muffins” in the Congressional cafeteria? No? Why not?

Just curious: is this reticence to rush to war because we’ve learned some lessons after the Iraq debacle? Or is this just more reflexive If-Obama-Wants-It-We’re-Against-It stuff from the GOP?

These are interesting times, indeed. The United States is now a major oil producer, for the first time in decades. It’s safe to say, oil embargoes are not the threat they once were. Surely that plays into the mix, yes?

I am reflexively anti-war, always. I’m also on vacation and haven’t been watching the news 24/7 as I usually do. From the snippets I’ve received, I’m not hearing “let’s invade/occupy” from the President. I’m hearing, “let’s take action.” I’d like to know more what that means.

I’m also hearing more questioning than I heard in the run-up to Iraq. I’m seeing a news media behave a tad more responsibly. I observe these things and am glad that we’re not so gung-ho for war, but really questioning the motives behind all of it.

I probably shouldn’t look these gift horses in the mouth. I probably should retire to my olive ranch and just breathe deep and go about my business.

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Filed under peace, travel, war economy, War On Terror

Pigs At The Trough, Etc.

A whistleblower lawsuit has been filed against private defense contractor Jorge Scientific, described in the link as a “billion dollar government contractor.” According to the lawsuit, Jorge’s Kabul, Afghanistan operation indulged in such flagrant and gross misconduct, it placed the U.S. mission in Afghanistan at risk.

What kind of misconduct? Take it away:

For example, they indiscriminately fired weapons and possessed grenades (legally prohibited for government contractors), and drunken Jorge supervisors tossed live ammunition into house party bonfires causing the bullets to explode and destroy property. In one case, an errant bullet struck a Jorge employee near his eye and exploding bullets regularly found their way into the nearby civilian community causing Afghani civilian and military neighbors to complain – Jorge ignored those complaints.

Oooh that’s bad. But you know, not that bad, right? Wrong:

According to court documents alcohol abuse at the Villa was so prevalent, that in an inebriated and oxycodone induced state, Sullivan once placed a loaded gun in the mouth of an Islamic Jorge employee and called him “my nigga.” Another documented incident shows a Jorge executive drunk with a firearm snagged in his waist belt and disparaging “f…ing Arabs.” In another incident, two Jorge employees driving home drunk from a bar ended up in a ditch, clearly violating local customs and Islamic codes which prohibit alcohol consumption and driving under the influence.

Naturally, these alcohol-and-oxy parties were paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. And then we have this alleged incident, which is so bad you almost want to laugh:

In yet another incident captured on video, Jorge’s security manager for the entire country of Afghanistan was so intoxicated he was choking on his own vomit. When one of the relators tried to retrieve the medic from his bedroom to provide treatment, the relator found the medic himself intoxicated and drugged on ketamine to the point of incoherence, unresponsive with a syringe and a bag of horse tranquilizer on the floor and blood trickling from the medic’s arm.

Man I hope some of that video ends up on YouTube.

If these were military personnel there would be courts-martial and the like. But they’re not. They’re private contractors, and they’re going to keep feeding at the trough. Any repercussions will be swept under the rug. The company will change its name and land itself another cushy security contract, while Republicans continue to sell the idea that cutting our defense budget puts the country at risk.

Your tax dollars at work.

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Filed under Afghanistan War, defense, privatization, war economy

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.

10 Comments

Filed under defense, peace, Pentagon, war economy

>Because Our Other Wars Are Going So Well

>I can’t pretend to speak knowledgeably about what’s happening in Libya right now. I just know when I hear we’re dropping milion-dollar bombs on a poor country while our infrastructure crumbles and we tell teachers and kids they must sacrifice so we can give millionaires tax cuts… well, something has gone horribly wrong.

I know lots of liberals on The Twittah say this is the right thing to do. I heard Howard Dean on Thom Hartmann’s show last week say we couldn’t sit by and let those fighting for democracy get slaughtered by Qaddafi. But of course we are standing by while those fighting for democracy in Yemen and Bahrain are slaughtered by their regimes, so there goes that claim.

All of this just seems so media-created. It’s hard not to watch the breathless coverage of bombs bursting in air and the ghastly-green night-vision images and not remember the media’s wicked stiffy for carnage in Iraq. It’s a sickness, and I don’t have the cure.

One of the best things I’ve read on Libya is at Pastor Shuck’s place. This is yet another oil war, he says, another burp after our global petroleum feast. The pantry is about empty but instead of using what time and resources we have left to grow new food, we decide to bully anyone else who comes near the pantry door.

This, in the same week that Japan suffers a nuclear meltdown, while a 100-mile long oil slick has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Oh great diviner Pat Robertson, what could the Almighty be trying to tell us? Pray tell, what?

I’m just tired of it, I really am. Is our default solution for every problem to drop bombs? (And by “our” I mean the West, not just America.) Call me a tree-hugging DFH spouting crazy liberal stuff like “war is not the answer,” I’m just feeling like we’re in a tailspin and I’d rather we devote our energy to getting off the oil tit. Three trillion dollars wasted in Iraq would have been more than enough money to put a solar panel on every roof in America, upgrade the electrical grid, and put an electric car and charger in every garage.

I mean, I know that’s not the final answer but it would have been a start, and for crying out loud we have to start somewhere. Maybe someday we’ll have the hydrogen fuel cell thing figured out, or we’ll be masters of efficiency, hell maybe we’ll have figured out a way around the Laws of Thermodynamics. The point is, we don’t need to have the entire puzzle figured out to start putting the first pieces together.

We have to start somewhere. We have to make those first steps. Fighting wars to preserve a dying industry and a doomed way of life just strikes me as the kind of thing kids will read about 100 years from now and wonder, “Gee how could they have been so stupid?”

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Filed under alternative energy, Libya, peak oil, war economy

>Permanent War Economy Redux

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

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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