Saturday, November 28, 2009

Enough Turkey Talk - Time To Get Serious Again

I read this today at I was so impressed with it that I had to pass it along. Rather than paraphrase, I present it as written. No links. No graphics...just a damned good article.

Friday, Nov 27, 2009 18:01 PST
How dare you criticize wasteful defense spending!

So you think it's only terrorist-appeasing lefties who are down on Pentagon profligacy? Think again
By David Sirota

Pop quiz -- name the political leader who said the following:

"We must be willing to pull the plug before sinking more dollars into weapons that do not provide what our warriors need."

Now name the leader who said this:

"(W)e cannot track $2.3 trillion in (Pentagon spending) ... We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion ... There are those who will oppose every effort to save taxpayers' money ... Well, fine, if there's to be a struggle, so be it."

I'm willing to bet many self-described "conservatives" guessed Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich. I would make that wager based on the enraged response to my recent column about government data showing that our waste-ridden, $600-billion-a-year defense budget will cost about seven times more than the healthcare legislation currently before Congress.

In e-mails, letters and Web site comments, right-wingers didn't vent anger at Pentagon profligacy, but at the criticism of Pentagon profligacy -- as if brazenly throwing away billions on outdated weapons systems and obsolete military programs is now a "conservative" value. Notably, the vitriol didn't include contrary numbers disproving the figures I referenced (none exists) -- the responses just used Fox News-ish slogans like "the cost of freedom" to deride all criticism of Pentagon spending as unpatriotic ultraliberalism.

Of course, if that's true, then Stephen Colbert's refrain that "reality has a well-known liberal bias" is now less a laugh line than a devastatingly accurate commentary on the deranged terms of America's political discourse. I say that because here are some objective, nonpartisan, non-ideological facts:

* The 2010 Pentagon budget means "every man, woman and child in the United States will spend more than $2,700 on (defense) programs and agencies next year," reports the Cato Institute. "By way of comparison, the average Japanese spends less than $330; the average German about $520; China's per capita spending is less than $100."

* "(The Pentagon budget) dwarfs the combined defense budgets of U.S. allies and potential U.S. enemies alike," reports Hearst Newspapers.

* "President (Obama) is on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since World War II," reports National Journal's Government Executive magazine.

* In 2000, the Pentagon admitted it has lost -- yes, lost -- $2.3 trillion. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a subsequent Department of Defense study said it was only $1 trillion. To put such numbers in perspective, contemplate what those sums could finance. $1 trillion, for instance, could pay the total cost of universal healthcare for the long haul. $2.3 trillion would cover universal healthcare plus the bank bailout plus the stimulus package.

Obviously -- obviously! -- these points are no cause for alarm and certainly no cause for defense spending reductions, right? All they must prove is that the archconservative Cato Institute, William Randolph Hearst's newspaper chain, National Journal employees and Pentagon officials are secretly America-hating liberals. And -- obviously! -- so are two of the most aggressive neoconservative hawks ever to hold government office, Sen. John McCain and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. After all, they’re the ones who issued those scathing statements about wasteful defense spending in the pop quiz above. That means they’re actually terrorist-appeasing lefties, right?

Really, how could anyone other than traitorous communists see the data and then consider backing the mildest Pentagon spending cuts? I mean, come on -- in a country whose paranoid conservative movement now makes a dead-serious ideology out of Stephen Colbert wisecracks, how dare any red-blooded American even think of pondering basic budgetary facts?

© 2009


Lou said...

It's a dangerous road when one can't criticise obvious waste without being called unpatriotic.

jadedj said...

Lou---Especially when the idiots who make these claims don't even realize that it is against THEIR interest. Very maddening.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

There are issues with our military, but the bottom line is that we need to support our troops. I would rather see some true support and spending right now than gimmicks and debate.

the walking man said...

I knew the first quote having seem McCain deliver it on the floor of the senate. The funny thing is the conservative movement is trying to live up to the ideal of Reagan...another (history tells us) failed conservative presidency.

Criticizing the waste in the pentagon (or any other agency of the state) is NOT unpatriotic it is though un-nationalistic.

Holte Ender said...

Criticizing Pentagon spending is like criticizing the sunrise, no matter what you say, it's still going to happen.

The Military Industrial Complex continues to bend us over.

jadedj said...

Bucko---I don't consider criticism of defense wastfulness as NOT supporting our troops. Believe me, as a veteran of an unpopular era, I know about non-support, and this is not non-support.

wm---I second that.

Holte---That is the damnable is not going to go away.

Jon said...

seems to me that the right and left are just two sides of the one coin... coin ($$$) being the operative word...

wonder whose pulling the strings, cause it's damn sure not the people that get elected

jadedj said...

Jon---Greed pulls the strings.

mo.stoneskin said...

I suspect over here that the cost per person is barely 50p a year. Or something like that. But $2700 sounds excessive to say the least.

Tom Harper said...

All right, enough of this leftwing peacenik handwringing. These annual $4 billion cost overruns are keeping our nation safe. Notice we haven't had any terrorist attacks since we started giving the Pentagon (and Halliburton) everything they've asked for, no questions asked.

The Military Industrial Complex is sacred. It says so in the Bible.

jadedj said...

mo---makes me wish my antecedents hadn't taken up arms against Great Britain! Not to mention the better sitcoms.

Tom---Yeah, the Gospel according to the bottom line.

Punch said...

it is a runaway train

jadedj said...

Punch---Engineered by bums.

Mr. Charleston said...

Waited a while to wade in on this one. Wanted to see how many "patriotic" morons would respond in defense of defense.

To begin with, the figures quoted in the article are way conservative. They don't take into account the billions of dollars outsourced to "private" industry by the defense department. The economic engine of the runaway train. The reason the Brits, and every other country in the "free" world, can spend so little on defense is because they don't have to. Don't worry, any sign of rage against the empire and "Here come ole Flat Top" to the rescue. Shit, we can carry on two personal wars all by ourselves.

Secondly, anyone who has ever served in the military should know what a giant circle-jerk the whole thing is. The U.S. defense department, and now, U.S. law enforcement, is the most bloated, wasteful and hurtful organization on earth.

Over Thanksgiving I ran into one of my cousins who was pissed because his son, who had recently joined the Marines, hadn't been sent to Iraq yet. Incredulous, I said, "You want him to go to battle?" His response, "Hell yes, he wants to go, his comrades are dying over there."

Misguided patriotism and religion will fuck us up every time.

becomingkate said...

Hey jj!

jadedj said...

Kate---How you doing kiddo?

Liberality said...

madness takes it toll ;)

jadedj said...

Mr. C---Sorry I somehow skipped over your comment. I couldn't have said it better myself. As to your cousin, I conclude that HE has never been to war, because anyone who has knows the truth, and the lies of it all.

Liberality---and propagates itself.

Anonymous said...

JJ, on a recent Charlie Rose (last Tuesday), Charlie had a panel of pundits discussing Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

One of the guests was Rachel Maddow, who, when the discussion turned to the fact that the two wars are not financed by new taxes, but by more borrowing, which increases the deficit, had this to say (transcript):

It is remarkable that it’s become a new form of fiscal conservatism to think that things can be paid for by borrowing and must be paid for only through borrowing as long as we call them national security things.

But anything else that’s not a national security factor can’t be added to the deficit because everybody is so concerned about their fiscal conservative credentials.

Nobody at the table picked up on that comment.

jadedj said...

Elizabeth---Actually, I saw that. I am not too sure they didn't pick up on it, so much as ignored it.

The disturbing part is, we are borrowing from the Chinese. They own us at this point.