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Indefensible Spending

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Posted on Jun 1, 2008
fighter plane
AP photo / LM Otero

The Joint Strike Fighter program is expected to cost taxpayers $300 billion. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, who penned an infamous Defense Department memo, is seen above hawking the plane.

By Robert Scheer

This Op-Ed was originally published in The Los Angeles Times.

What should be the most important issue in this election is one that is rarely, if ever, addressed: Why is U.S. military spending at the highest point, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than at any time since the end of World War II? Why, without a sophisticated military opponent in sight, is the United States spending trillions of dollars on the development of high-tech weapons systems that lost their purpose with the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago?

You wouldn’t know it from the most-exhausting-ever presidential primary campaigns, but the 2009 defense budget commits the United States to spending more (again, in real dollars) to defeat a ragtag band of terrorists than it spent at the height of the Cold War fighting the Soviet superpower and what we alleged were its surrogates in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2008 set a post-World War II record at $625 billion, and that does not include more than $100 billion in other federal budget expenditures for homeland security, nuclear weapons and so-called black budget—or covert—operations.

And what are we spending all this money on? We are talking high-tech war toys designed to fight a Cold War enemy that no longer exists, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, with its estimated total price tag of $300 billion, and Virginia-class submarines at $2.5 billion each. Who cares that the terrorists lack submarines for the Navy to battle deep in the ocean, for which the Virginia-class submarine was designed?

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Then there are the F-22 Raptor jet fighters that no longer fill a credible military purpose but will take $65 billion out of taxpayers’ pockets. The Raptor includes stealth technology and elaborate electronics designed to counter threatened leaps in Soviet war-fighting capability. In 2005, Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, wrote that the Raptor “is the most unnecessary weapon system being built by the Pentagon.”

Since President Bush’s first year in office, according to the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Department has doubled its future planned investment in those ultra-pricey weapons from $790 billion to $1.6 trillion.

When pressed on why the massive weapons arsenal we already possess, which was credited with intimidating the Soviet Union into surrender, isn’t sufficient to keep the peace in a suddenly unipolar world, defense hawks sometimes cite what they claim is an emerging threat from China. “The Chinese are designing new classes of submarines with increased capabilities,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). “If we do not move to produce two submarines a year as soon as possible, we are in serious danger of falling behind.”

That is nonsense. China is not even a serious regional power, as the Pentagon’s 2007 report to Congress makes clear: “The intelligence community estimates China will take until the end of this decade or later to produce a modern force capable of defeating a moderate-size adversary.” The report noted that “China’s military is focused on assuring the capability to prevent Taiwan independence,” but this last week the military threat to Taiwan gave way to a historic peace opening, with the first visit by the head of Taiwan’s ruling party to the mainland since the 1949 revolution.

Oh, and here’s another thing. Those Virginia-class submarines that Lieberman says are so important to our national security and for which he lobbied so hard? General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Co. has received multibillion-dollar contracts to build them. The company is based in Connecticut, suggesting that the real goal here was to find an enemy—any enemy—that would justify spending U.S. tax dollars on weapons produced in his home state.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has been on a madcap spending spree on wars and weapons having little, if anything, to do with combating terrorism, nothing to do with the imaginary threat from China and everything to do with sustaining an enormously bloated defense industry threatened with extinction because of the demise of the communist enemy. The fact is, the end of the Cold War was a welcome development for everyone except for those in the military-industrial complex whose profits and jobs, as President Eisenhower famously warned, are rooted in every congressional district.

As President George H.W. Bush noted in his 1992 State of the Union address, “communism died this year,” and, he promised, “we can stop making the sacrifices we had to make when we had an avowed enemy that was a superpower. Now we can look homeward even more and set right what needs to be set right.” Toward that end, he ordered his secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, to initiate a 30% cut in defense spending. Gloom and doom in the military-industrial complex was palpable.

But then came what defense industry lobbyists and their many allies on both sides of the aisle in Congress came to treat as the gift of 9/11, offering dramatic imagery of a new global enemy. Fortunately for those who profit from a permanent war economy, few in government or the media were inclined to challenge the enemy bait-and-switch game that unfolded. The defense industry and the Pentagon bureaucracy that services it were all too happy to accept whatever war they could embrace, even if the new “global war on terrorism” that President George W. Bush launched was to be fought against an enemy armed primarily with weapons that could be purchased for a few dollars at Home Depot.

The Soviets had developed the most modern arsenals, and the 9/11 hijackers were armed with box cutters, so how could we justify spending more to defeat al-Qaida than we ever did to combat the communist enemy? That is the third-rail issue that politicians and the media dread touching because of the national security hysteria generated after the 9/11 attacks. Yet no presidential candidate can be serious about cutting the federal debt, improving education, holding down taxes or paying for any of the other things that the candidates of both parties promise without cutting military spending.

Without slashing the inflated military budget, the next president, who will inherit at least a $400-billion current-accounts deficit along with debt service on seven years of profligate military spending, will not be able to finance any of the domestic reforms that both the surviving Republican candidate and his two Democratic opponents advocate.

Maybe one can make a case that it is appropriate that more than half of the discretionary funds in the 2009 budget go to defense, and all the other federal programs for science, education, infrastructure, global warming and nonmilitary international programs compete for the rest. But isn’t it bizarre that the biggest peacetime military budget in U.S. history—35% higher than when Bush came into office and larger than the military budgets of all other nations combined—is not even discussed in the current presidential contest?

That is because politicians from both parties are complicit in the waste of taxpayer dollars on weapons systems that deliver jobs to their home districts and profits to their defense industry campaign contributors. It is a disease of our political system predicted by two of our great wartime generals-turned-president. First was George Washington, warning in his farewell address that once a nation embarks on the path of imperial adventure, the irrationality of false patriotic appeals would trump reason. What better time to recall Washington’s historic caution to the nation “to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

In Eisenhower’s farewell address, he warned that “in the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

There is no better evidence of the prescience of Washington and Eisenhower than the fact that the most obscenely bloated military budget in U.S. history is not an issue in the current presidential campaign. Sadly, defense spending has become enshrined in our political system as a totem to be worshiped rather than a policy program to be critically examined.

Robert Scheer is the author, most recently, of “The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America,” to be published this week by Twelve Books.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By cyrena, June 5, 2008 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the tip on the Sanchez book.

Meantime, do we really wanna call this a ‘confused’ pep talk, or should we call it what it is, which is a rerun of Hitler and Stalin?

George Bush is out of his mind.

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By PatrickHenry, June 5, 2008 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

Ron Paul isn’t for run away military spending, in fact he is the most fiscally responsible of all the candidates and is known for it amongst his peers in congress.

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By Michael Gass, June 4, 2008 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ron,

It’s called “shielding”.

A nuclear submarine wasn’t built by a smaller company, and, certainly doesn’t have lax shielding.

Also, keep in mind, that some of the tools I used when I was active duty, are now in the Smithsonian.

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By cann4ing, June 4, 2008 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

Max, your observations track those made by Seymour Melman in 1970 in “Pentagon Capitalism” when he observed that the state-controlled Pentagon system directed a major portion of the nation’s resources into “parasitic growth”—that is products that do not enter the marketplace and cannot be used for future production.  He contrasted this “with productive growth growth: producing goods or serves that can be used for futher production or for the present level of living.  Thus, a printing press or a loom multiplies its worth.”

For Melman, it was not enough to simply focus on how many billions of dollars were being expended on the military and its increasingly sophisticated weapons systems.  His concern focused on the degree to which expanding Pentagon investment into R & D depleted scientific and engineering talent from the civilian sector.  “The concentration of skilled brains and hands…on parasitic growth explains why there is deterioration in many facets of life….”

16 years later, Gore Vidal observed, “The Pentagon is like a black hole; what goes in is forever lost to us, and no new wealth is created.”

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By Max Shields, June 4, 2008 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

I would add that “defense” jobs are make work jobs. They are cotton candy in terms of the nutrition needed for a vibrant local economy. When a locality is economically tied to defense contracts, they are dependent on a meaningless infusion of funding that does not create a sustainable or innovative economy.

The submarine building industry is a perfect case in point. And yes, these jobs could be converted, but we need the congressional “leadership” to support alternatives to the defense pork they keep marching off and bringing back like good little doggies. Rep. Markey of Mass. seems to be moving in that direction. Citizens are hooked to the “economics” of defense spending.

So, along with Mr. Sheer’s excellent article, I would simply add that defense spending creates a deepening hole in the many district economies throughout the nation. It is a “false” economy built on fear and chauvinistic glorification and nothing else.

It is the crippling colonization of empire.

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By Rod Adams, June 3, 2008 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

Ironically, there is a portion of DOD that operates powerful vehicles that need no routine oil supplies. Our submarines and aircraft carriers run for decades without new fuel and without emitting greenhouse gases. The principal raw ingredient for that miracle is also the key ingredient in fearsome weapons. Did you know that for the past fifteen years, fully ten percent of the electricity in the US has been created by turning former Soviet weapons material into commercial nuclear fuel?

With some careful thinking it is possible to see a way clear to a prosperous, growing economy that can provide excellent peacetime jobs to many of the same people who are now employed in the defense equipment manufacturing industry. They can be hired by nuclear energy companies to produce the necessary high tech machines and to convert weapons into materials that will allow us to break our oil addiction.

Unfortunately, the real hurdle to achieving that goal is that many of the people who recognize the dangers of the military industrial complex have a huge blind spot when it comes to peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Eisenhower was not only correct when he warned against turning over too much of government to the MIC, but he was also correct when he created the Atoms for Peace program and pledged that the United States had a “determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma—to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.”

That visionary leader, who knew more about the horrors of war than any of the presidents, congressmen and senators who followed him, pointed out a reasonable path for the future. One reason that it has not yet been achieved is that the people who like the way things are, with a deep dependence on fossil fuels and the war fighting machine that they support and justify have enlisted an army of unwitting volunteers in their battle to monopolize the power of the atom. They have turned many of you into foot soldiers against the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Quite frankly, I see a minimal role in Eisenhower’s Atomic vision for most of the people involved in defense industry sales and management, but I would have no sorrows about seeing them in retraining programs or retired to the golf course.

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By Joe Sixpack, June 3, 2008 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

The Republicans choose to see it as ‘weakness’ if America isn’t continually building better bombs and bombers. They then hammer the dems over the head with that line of BS.

Can we get along with the military might we have long enough to fix a few roads around here? Maybe spend a few bucks on developing a decent electric car?

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By Rod Adams, June 3, 2008 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

Michael:

There are plenty of people who never had any exposure who share your problem. One of my classmates, a career nuclear submariner, has 9 children. I have two and only tried twice without protection.

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By cann4ing, June 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

Ron Paul opposes the war in Iraq, but he does not oppose run-away military spending.

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By PatrickHenry, June 3, 2008 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

Where’s the peace dividend?

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By Rod Adams, June 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

Actually there were three. You forgot Ron Paul.

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By ocjim, June 3, 2008 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

Let’s take this obscene spending of our money and put it in perspective. Let’s look at an issue that could mean the end of human beings in our world. For anyone who reads and thinks, global warming could bring the end of human beings by early next century. It will cause a lot of pain and suffering to life in this century.

Just last year the International Energy Agency predicted that the world would have to invest $22 trillion in alternative electricity generation technology to meet the target of more than halving atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (major contributor to greenhouse gases) by 2050.

Now this estimate includes many different alternatives, including nuclear energy, solar energy, and geothermal energy, just to name a few. But anyway ten years of our Pentagon and Homeland Security budget would pay for one-third of that for the whole world.

How’s that for stupidity?

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By John Hanks, June 3, 2008 at 11:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They are based on anger and fear - mainly fear.  War is ultimately about mental and moral cowardice leading to an inevitable physical cowardice.  (No I don’t just blame the military (at least they pass intelligence tests).  I blame the uneducated crooks who are always trying to steal some advantage.

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By cann4ing, June 3, 2008 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

There were only two presidential candidates who were willing to directly challenge the military-industrial complex, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, and the corporate media made sure that they were marginalized and shunted aside.

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By GW=MCHammered, June 3, 2008 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your friendly, full service Disaster Entrepreneurs.
We do the bombing AND the re-building.
Somebody has to help these poor people!

FROM:
http://www.myspace.com/johncusack

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By cyrena, June 3, 2008 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Rod Adams, thank you for this post.

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By Ndele, June 3, 2008 at 8:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Overspending on defense is a bad thing, yes, but as one poster below points out, it cannot explain the wars.

Do not blame these crazy wars on your defense industry, because Reagan did not take the US to war on such a gargantuan scale, but he presided over a massive buildup of the military, keeping defense contractors busy and rich.

If Bush only wanted a big, expensive defense buildup, he could do it without embarking on actual wars of any great magnitude. This is easy to do, since the defense contractors provide jobs in a many congressional districts, and Americans are used to paying for a big military without actually being at war.

No: to explain Bush’s wars, you have to look at his mentality, his ideology, and that of the neoconservatives who advise and inspire him. Look at the latest book by General Sanchez, describing Bush’s stark raving insane murderous militarism:

During a videoconference with his national security team and generals, Sanchez writes, Bush launched into what he described as a “confused” pep talk:
“Kick ass!” he quotes the president as saying. “If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.” “There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/01/AR2008060101961_2.html?nav=rss_print/asection

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By Joe Sixpack, June 3, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

From my perch I see trouble right here in River City. Trouble with a T as in Two neverending wars. We have a massive outlay of treasure for the GWOT and the WOD (War on Drugs) and that money could be much better spent. The Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) and the Stealth Fighter (F-22) are replacing two of the best fighters ever made. The F-16 is cheap and effective by compaison, but is getting long in the tooth. The F-15 remains the only fighter aircraft produced in large numbers to never have suffered an air-to-air shootdown. That’s a pretty good airplane. In the right hands any jet fighter can defeat a lesser airman. The training our flight crews receive is the best in the world. I question the need to replace the F-16 and F-15 with anything close to the same number of F-35s and F-22s.

We should stop the War on Drugs in the conventional sense and use a percentage of that budget for more drug treatment and eduction efforts. Stop treating users as criminals and focus on defeating a medical condition instead of massive and ineffective inderdiction efforts.

The US is being bled dry by the effort in Iraq. Let them solve their own problems now. Lets send an army of diplomats who can help achieve a lasting peace in that region.

Let’s spend some serious money on R & D to create the world’s best electric cars instead of the world’s best nuclear attack submarines for a little while. I think we can comfortably cruise for a while with existing technology, don’t you think?

Can we please focus on eliminating the nuclear weapons stockpiles? Is there a rational person in the universe who would actually authorize their use for anything short of a nuclear second-strike? If that’s the case then why even bother? If it makes you sleep better at night keep the current fleet of ballistic missle subs in place as a silent and deadly deterrent. Why in the hell do we need nuclear gravity bombs in the mult-megaton yeilds? Why do we need a thousand ICBMs taking up valuble farm land? Why do we stockpile nuclear land mines and depthcarges and torpedos? I see the benefit of having a handfull of B-2 Spirit bombers, but do we need a new generation of cruise missles that were originally designed to replace the penetration manned bombers?

Let’s cut the fat people. We’re a superpower. We won the cold war. We’ll likely never face another adversary with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Let’s get leaner and more mission orientated.

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By Michael Gass, June 3, 2008 at 3:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have to second that thought process:  it should be avoided at all cost.

When you allow small contractors (companies) to play with radiation, you get the results you expect.

I am an ex-military Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech (and have 19 total years from active duty, civilian contracting, and law enforcement doing that job).

I was 18 years old using the old Golden Portable X-Ray unit.  The company assured the military that the REM count of the unit was safe.  I am now 40 years old.  I have no children other than my step-daughter from my wife’s previous marriage (and no, I haven’t been celibate for 22 years).

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By Rod Adams, June 3, 2008 at 1:47 am Link to this comment

I have been a member of the military industrial complex since 1977. I continue to serve, though I am not particularly happy about certain choices that are made each day.

For the past 7 years, I have served inside the Beltway in a series of staff officer positions. I only mention that so that people understand that my thoughts are at least somewhat informed.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I took a break in the middle of my career. After 13 years of active duty, I accepted a commission in the Naval Reserves and started a tiny company focused on an invention designed to replace oil burning engines for ships, small cities, developing countries and island nations. During the period from 1993-1996, the price of the competition dropped continuously to the point where there was no way to attract any attention from customers or investors. For the next 3 years, I worked as the general manager in a small plastic product factory making toys, medical supplies, cooking supplies, and pleasure boat parts. We were in a very competitive industry, but I was proud of the fact that we tripled sales of our “made in the USA” products during the three years I was in the job.

Since 1999, I have been back on active duty and watched as my country moved further and further away from the principles embodied in the founding documents - the ones that I have sworn to uphold and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I have watched as the Navy leadership has chosen ineffective and poorly designed new weapons systems and expensive contractors over sailors - believe it or not, the active force in the Navy has shrunk by more than 50,000 people in the past 7 years.

I have also been involved in countless water cooler type conversations in a number of DC office buildings about “why we fight” and about energy, the basic ingredient of a modern society. One of the frustrations is that even my colleagues do not recognize that the Navy has within its organization the knowledge of a solid way to break our oil addiction.

We operate ships and submarines that run for decades without any new fuel. We know how to build and operate nuclear power plants safely, though, like everything else that the Navy builds they are not particularly inexpensive. Based on my manufacturing experience, I am certain that there are many ways to refine the designs and processes to drive out enough cost so that the nuclear fission based machines are overwhelmingly superior to any fossil fuel based alternative.

Not only are our submarines examples of the fact that fission can drive vessels and supply power, but they should also make people who think recognize that fission must be pretty clean and safe. After all, our submarines operate underwater, completely sealed from the environment with 100-150 people living constantly within a few hundred feet of the power plant.

Of course, the idea that uranium and thorium could potentially replace oil is extremely threatening to the powers that be. The really ironic part of this story is the fact that those powers have helped to convince many anti defense and liberal people that fission is something to be avoided at all costs. Hmmm.

Rod Adams
Editor, Atomic Insights
Host, The Atomic Show Podcast
Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.

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By J. Mezure Carter, June 3, 2008 at 12:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I totally agree that the military-industrial complex is eating away at the very substance of our society, but I need to pose some questions about the meaning of the United States’s place in the world.  On the surface the country looks like a power, especially when we regard its superior fire power, but let us take a minute to look at that supposed power.  Even though we have existed as a nation for more than 230 years, as an ex-colony of several European countries, this nation still remains embroiled in continuous service to those colonial powers.  Yes Britain and France have naval ships navigating the seas, but the US spent billions of dollars on a navy that plies the seven seas protecting the merchant ships of every country on earth.  Witness the speed that the US naval vessels arrived in Burma. They were so near because the navy is the leading component of our policing force.  Now here are my questions.  If we are so powerful, why do we spend our taxes protecting the goods that are manufactured in other countries?  If we are so powerful, why do we undermine our own territory–infrastructure, air and water—by spending needed money on a pointless war?  What true empire would become indebted to a cause that could lead to its own demise?  What truly powerful nation plays policemen, protecting the other powerful nations of the world?  Do we take on these responsibilities because we are a powerful nation or do we take them on because we are serving powerful nations?  We can honor 1776 and tell ourselves that we fought a revolution that made us free, but freedom will never be achieved as long as we continue to act like a colony.

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By denk, June 2, 2008 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment

its war on tyranny now.

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By John Hanks, June 2, 2008 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They used the military and all of its’ false alarms to bankrupt the government and deny everyone their pensions and other forms of financial security.  Grover Norquist had the same idea here.  Get rid of all the useful Federal spending which hires the middle class.  Then, when you get rid of the middle class their economic supports, you can reduce a desperate people to abject poverty and its slavery.

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By Louise, June 2, 2008 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

I received an alert from democrat.com, with a link to a petition. The link has expired, because the comment period open to the public ended on March 20, 2008. Interesting how little effort the powers that be, in this case the BLM make to let us know there are hearings on important issues regarding OUR land, Because the public land under the Canyon Lands and Red Rock country are FEDERAL, so they belong to us.

As far as the tar-sand is concerned, that information is available from several sources, including the BLM. And check out tar sands in Canada. Sorry, apparently truthdig doesn’t want me linking oil stuff (?) “post blackballed”

Numerous sites provide pro and con info on tar sand oil, but the one absolute that comes out of all of them is how much more it costs to develop. So this “solution” for America is in no way going to reduce the cost of oil. You are correct, wind and sun and a few smart engineers need to be on line. By the way, I’m not an engineer. Just a curious snoop. [amazing how many questions people will answer if you just ask]

As far as Utah goes, there are many people there who do not want to see this happen. But there are probably more who think they’ll all get rich, so think it’s just dandy. What can I say. people hear $ and they lose all reason. And we must remember the ones who want it are the same folks who think we’re winning in Iraq. Of course they wont get rich. But the State will take in some revenue from sites being drilled on State land. Cant wait to hear the deer hunters scream a few years from now when they discover the oil activity has seriously depleted the herds.

[In Utah you know, the schools close for three days so everybody can go kill bambi.]

Oh and lets not even go where the fishermen go! Especially when they discover down the road the fish are gone. All I can say is they better not damage Dinosaur Land!

I was incorrect when I said “the energy dept is working to open up the beautiful Canyon Lands and Red Rock country in Southeast Utah for oil exploration.” Should have said the environmental [you know, the ones who “protect” our public lands] dept. Put down the wrong department.

The whole thing is now under the purview of the Bureau of Land Management. Another “public” servant.

Leases on public land are rarely held privately, except by the railroads [another word with mental association to the bush’s] the individual farmers who have mineral rights sign before they read. The funny thing is, oil companies will pay whatever a farmer demands. But most farmers never demand, and who’s gonna let them know they can? Certainly not the oil companies ... duh. By the way, that little bit of information was given me directly from the mouth of an oil company exec.

This development will cost far more than it will pay off. While the numbers sound significant, the way we use oil they aren’t. But the evil empire wants to make sure their associates make every last nickel they can before the empire collapses.

Oil Wildcatters rarely throw money away, so they have a sugar daddy with deep pockets and you can bet the sugar daddy is counting heavily on tax subsidies to offset any losses.

Factor in the timeframe to find, get to and develop this stuff and we’re looking at a decade down the road. But hey! When did anyone with dollar signs where their eyeballs should be think about a silly thing like that?

So what was the decision following the comment period. Don’t know ... cant find it, although I’m sure it’s there if you have the lock-box access they demand. My computer froze twice while I was trying to create one. [maybe you’ll have better luck] Must be the DDSAG [Damn Dumb Secret Agent Guys] who I am sure actually aren’t responsible because I don’t think they’re smart enough. I probably cant because I’m not recognized as having the authority too.

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By webbedouin, June 2, 2008 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

First off, the defense industry has positioned itself in each & every district so that the local representative can always bring jobs home by supporting needless spending.

However, there is one very important money laundering scheme in the works that provides defense contractors with endless treasury dollars to fund the campaigns of politicians.  Here is how it works:

We provide 3 billion dollars in aid to Israel each year.  Israel must spend 60% of that total, 1.8 billion dollars on “defense” weaponry.  Now, 99% of that 1.8 billion, 1.782 billion dollars must be spent on American defense contractors.  They get the goods for free and the defense contractors get the 1.782 billion dollars worth of aid to Israel!!! 

These American defense contractors then contribute greatly to congressional candidates to keep the merry go round going.  AIPAC does everything they can to keep the merry go round going.  Israel sells surplus weaponry on the black market.

The entire cycle is nothing more than a transfer of US taxpayers dollars from the treasury, to Israel, to defense contractors to politicians.  Everybody keeps a piece of the action and nobody will tell you why we spend so very much on defense…

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By Marc Schlee, June 2, 2008 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

FREE YOURSELVES


DIRECT DEMOCRACY

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By PatrickHenry, June 2, 2008 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

The roads suck, bridges are unpainted, the infrastructure looks old and rusted (rustic). 

The money spent on Electric Boat dinosaurs could be better spent.

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By cyrena, June 2, 2008 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Ah Geeze Louise. Can’t we just settle for the absolute collapse of the economy? I mean, at least we’re already part way adjusted to that.

Meantime, is there anyway we can stop the assault on the Canyon Lands and Red Rock country? (and thanks for the explanation on how that’s done, along with the ‘recovery’) I mean, once they start that, that cuts the population survival rate even more. It’s not like we aren’t also running out of water.

And why can’t they use the WIND and the WATER in the Canyon Lands to make the energy, instead of digging it all up for oil? Gee mennie! Do we need to send them all to the Netherlands to learn how to build windmills and damns? You must have some Engineering experience after all of those years…never mind the degree. (Your explanation about the heavy sand mining is convincing enough for me…you’re hired if you want the job).

Maybe my nephew can be one of your assistants. He’s supposed to know some of this stuff himself by January. At least his parents are sure hoping so…they’ve been in the education poor house for a while now. So, I’m convinced that there must be enough folks in this country to figure this stuff out!

Meantime, I’d be willing to join a protest to halt this destrution of our property in Utah, but I know they don’t have any qualms about running over middle-aged women with the bulldozers. So, we’ll have to think of something else.

Anybody got any ideas?

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By troublesum, June 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

These huge defense budgets are a way of impounding federal funds that could otherwise be spent on human services.  War is another way.  The cost of the war in Iraq is more than $100 billion per year and is expected to be about 2$ trillion (including its hidden costs) before it is over.  Republicans support this kind of reckless spending because a lot of it goes to their favorite corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel.  Nixon claimed the right to impound any spending approved by congress (he wanted line-item veto power but couldn’t get it) but the supreme court overruled him.  Republicans had to come up with another way to stop the growth of spending on human services and so we have these astronomical appropriations for war and defense.

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By August West, June 2, 2008 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

That would be Grover Norquist.

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By Michael Gass, June 2, 2008 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment

cyrena,

Yes, my father was “lucky”.  He was able to keep his job.  At times, keeping that job required my parents moving to another state, my father working at another plant.

I’m not disagreeing that the U.S. is screwed because we never seriously invested in alternative energy sources; we are.  I’m not disagreeing that the new “toys” aren’t going to be used to fight over the last remaining oil; they will.

I simply disagreed that the current workers in the MIC industry could find jobs in the green industry.  They won’t.  Many are too old, not trained in the skills needed, and no company is going to hire a late 40’s/50’s individual that they have to train.

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By Louise, June 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

GWOT (Global War On Terror) Terrorists, al-qaeda, bin-laden, 20 guys with box cutters and 9/11 are all creations of a few select madmen.

The inevitable product of inbreeding by second, third and forth generation inbreeds, who have one fundamental thing in common. Greed and NO moral fiber. Oooops! Guess that’s two.

So we can reduce most all the horror in the modern world down to a few inbreeds with two major personality defects.

People who work for defense contractors work for defense contractors because they need a job. People who run for political office, the ones who actually rely on actual votes, know if they take the jobs away they lose the votes. And mega corporations heavily populated at the top by members of aforementioned greedy amoral inbreeds are well aware of this fact.

Were it not for the need to test their new toys, there never would be a new war. Not even for oil. Bush clearly identified himself as 23 ounces short of a quart, so the aforementioned, took that as an excellent opportunity to create new corps, and new toys and new wars and here we are. And the placement by self of Cheney as VP was no accident. Cheney is not one of the favored inbreeds. He’s just as greedy and just as amoral, but he has the singular quality of simply being insane. Kinda like Rumsfeld.

Now we all know how we have been lied to and misled, and thanks to McClellan so does everyone else. And we all know corps who own publishers who own media helped the lies along. But what we don’t know and possibly never will is how to get out of this mess.

Would be nice if going green could make it happen, but I fear green, like everything else when you have inbred madmen and the criminally insane in charge, will become a foul shade of drab once the associate’s of the greedy and amoral figure out a way to own that too. And make no mistake they will try.

So maybe, as scary as it is, in the final analysis the only thing that will bring their evil empire down will be the absolute collapse of our economy. In fact if you listen to the rumblings and rumors I suspect they, better than we, know that. Why else would MSM sit silent while they set up the mechanism for ongoing bailouts for badly managed banks going bust?

And one other thought. Right now the energy dept is working to open up the beautiful Canyon Lands and Red Rock country in Southeast Utah for oil exploration.

Now what most folks don’t know is the deposits of oil in those parts of the continental US still un-pumped are mostly tar sands.

Oil from tar sands is a dirty business. It’s heavy and costly and often requires a type of development comparable to open pit mining. No “cute” little grasshoppers here and there. Nu-uh. Just growing gaping holes.

Oh and following the “recovery” which requires vast amounts of water, left quite unusable by the way, there are huge volumes of “sand” which also has to be put ... somewhere ...

And if we allow this to happen you can bet next weeks shrinking pay check it’s just a hop skip and jump until it’s happening in every pretty place you can think of. Maybe your back yard.

And lest you think oh well you can make money if they dig on your property, don’t count on it. The oil people have been quietly going around for decades leasing oil rights. Leases that are automatically renewable at the discretion of the lessee, who probably made a one time payment of $50 for the right.

So if the war in Iraq was for oil, that was the short term goal. The long term goal was to tighten up supply so the knuckleheads back home would beg the government to rape the national terrain! Something the aforementioned generational inbreeds are very good at. Especially if there’s a profit in it for them. War toys was just one more of many great side-benefits.

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By Chisinau, June 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is more blame-shifting to protect Israel. Going to war is not needed as a weapons-building stimulus, as Reagan showed.

Reagan talked up the Soviet “threat” and so got Congress to spend vast sums on toys for the military, which kept the military/industrialists happy and their workers employed. He managed to do this without getting us into a big war on anything like the scale of Iraq.

I’m not saying this was good (I hated Reagan with a passion). But isn’t it better than what Bush is doing?

Reagan is proof that you don’t have to have a major ongoing war to have a big military buildup that benefits the weapons makers. And if Bush just wanted to keep the weapons makers happy, he could do the same.

So it looks to me like blaming the war on the military industrial complex is a rather bogus charge, just like the “war for oil” shibboleth.

We don’t need to go to war for oil, and we didn’t need to go to war to keep weapons makers busy. We went to war for Israel, and the other things are incidental to that basic fact.

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By Resada, June 2, 2008 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Because thats the Republican way. Small government, BIG DEFENSE BUDGET. Which Repub was it that said he believed government should be “small enough to drown in a bathtub”? They believe in making money, and big Pentagon budgets.

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By marlene share, June 2, 2008 at 11:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As someone who works in the financial world, it doesn’t take a mathematician/economist to know the main reason our economy is in such trouble is this damn war.  If the media had more Bob Scheers who would keep putting these facts and numbers before the public, perhaps Americans would stand up and demand an end to this spending, even if some of their reasons may be less than altruistic.  Not even considering the horror of lives lost, if ending the war meant more education, health care, jobs, people not losing their homes, road repairs and maintenance and so on and so forth, “independent” citizens would join forces to demand an end to this ludicrous spending.  Thanks, Bob.

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By AT, June 2, 2008 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, the Cheney-Bush made sure of that. Firt, used the FBI to muzzle free speech. Then made sure that those culprits are not prosecute by taking over the Justice Department and apointed lackeys like Ashcroft (as pure as driven ideology), and Gonzales(he’s my attorney so anything i ordered him to do is lawyer-client privilege), so the FBI went scotfree and Ashcroft smell like a rose(I was ill and Rove forced me to do it but I resisted).

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By cyrena, June 2, 2008 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

Well Michael, your father was more fortunate than a lot of others in keeping his job for as long as he did.

Both my biological father as well as my step father retired from the defense industry..one from McDonald Douglas, and the other from Lockheed. They were fortunate as well, although my biological father didn’t live long enough afterwards to enjoy much of it.

Meantime, things have changed drastically, and even my own lengthy career in the commercial airline industry was cut short, minus the retirement that most folks my age had come to expect after putting in so many years on a job.

A cousin my same age retired after 20 years in the airforce, (same job as your dad) and he’s been hired and then laid off by 3 airlines in the past 8 years since he did. (at least he has his military pension).

I guess my point is to say that these people are STILL losing their jobs, and those jobs are NOT being replaced.

Since 2000, my own industry has lost well over 1/4 million and THOSE jobs have not been replaced. (nor are they even counted any more in the unemployment statistics). Can some of them be ‘retrained’? Yeah, a few I suppose. But in all honesty, there isn’t much that unemployed pilots or dispatchers can be ‘retrained’ for. (I’m working on it, but hey…)

Pretty much the same can be said for aircraft mechanics and anything else to do with the commercial airline industry. (noting that several carriers have gone out of business lately…can’t afford the gas).

Now things might have been a little different if we’d considered an electric rail system in place of all of those monster airplanes. But…we didn’t. And when anyone ever came up with an idea for anything that didn’t use OIL, they’ve been bought off by the OIL industry, which has fed the defense industry, which is why we’ve consumed more of the stuff than all the rest of the world combined, for the past 60 years at least.

And now…it’s run out, and the only use for all of the war toys, is to fight for the last few remaining drops of it, and destroy even more of the globe in the process. When those few remaining drops are gone, I guess we’ll just all sit around and nibble on those submarines and fighter jets. We won’t have any jobs, and we won’t be able to go anywhere, since nobody has bothered to consider an alternative transportation system that doesn’t require tons of OIL to operate.

So, it worked out well for your dad, and even mine. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the majority of the population that had hoped to live as long.

In short, the US has been in a decline for a while now, but that decline has speeded up rapidly in the past decade, and we’re pretty well screwed, unless we come up with a new system, and real fast. The defense industy is going to have to convert itself to the green industy, whether they want to or not, so what our parents generation claims they couldn’t do, (retrain for other jobs) is what the current generation HAS to do.

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By AT, June 2, 2008 at 10:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Congress gave the president a budget, does he have to adhere by it? Bush has raised the national debt ceiling from 8.5 trillions to 10.5 trillion dollars and spent the money accordingly? Where does the law allowed the president to do this? Is there actually such a law ?bush has amassed 2.5 trilions(2,5000,000,000,000.00) dollars since taken office.

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By DavePA, June 2, 2008 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I always ask myself “....therefore, what?” after a good article.  So, what is the answer?  Who is the leader that can sell this arguement?  You are preaching to the choir (including me).  Who is going to make the next step?  Seriously, people will not be easily swayed to cut defense.  We are stuck in a rut and it’s painful to watch.

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By tyler, June 2, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

don’t kid yourselves people, the obscene spending is not to fight ‘the next’ war on terror, it is to become the terror.  those in power can feel the winds of change, and they’re not ready to let go.  i worry that martial law is going to be a reality much sooner than anyone would even fathom.

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By Michael Gass, June 2, 2008 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

cyrena,

Yes, there can be a new system created in the green industry, but, it won’t KEEP these same “people” (ie, people who currently work for the MIC) employed.  Sorry, but it’s a sad fact.

My father retired from the Navy after 20 years of being an aircraft mechanic.  He started work for McDonnell-Douglas (before it was bought out by Boeing) working on MIC contracted projects.  He helped build the F-18/A Hornet.

Now, what do you think would have happened to him if his job was cut (and, McDonnell-Douglas cut many people during his time with them) in favor of green industry?  He would have been in his late 40’s to ‘50’s.  He wouldn’t have been “retrained” to do green work.  He would have simply just been out of a good paying job, just like everyone else.

Yes, we can create a NEW system.  Yes, the NEW college graduates can be a part of it.  But, the myth that the older individuals involved currently in the MIC contract process (I’m talking the average employee) will suddenly find new jobs is just that; a myth.

I sat and watched “Why We Fight” with my father (who ultimately retired from Boeing).  He flat said, “If I hadn’t of been a part of it, I’d say it was BS… but I was… and it’s not”.

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By Expat, June 2, 2008 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

One can also watch it for free on the I-net.  Here’s a link;
http://freedocumentaries.org/theatre.php?filmid=93&id=920&wh=800x520

Nothing really new at this point but worth the watch.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, June 2, 2008 at 5:48 am Link to this comment

As a Life Long REAL Democrat- Not that BS Oxymoron ‘Reagan Democrat’ shit they are trying to claim ANY Dem is or has EVER been (covert operatives disguised in Blue- the members of the DLC and about 1/2 of the Others who are just waiting to get their application accepted for Indoctination and BENEFITS eligiblity- Pelosi,Reid , Levin…)
I lay the down fall of Our countries economic and ideological status at the feet of the Co Conspirators in Both Houses and those Criminals who are currently sitting on SCOTUS!
It is Time to Prosecute ALL Corp Whores who have committed Treason, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity for DECADES!
I am ready to not only run them out- but Imprison and Punish every last one of them for these Highest of Crimes- To the fullest extent of the Law. In fact let’s not recind some of the most heinous of ‘Laws’ and ‘techinques’ they have enacted so THEY may Benefit from their Own Atrocities!

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By hippy pam, June 2, 2008 at 5:30 am Link to this comment

“his ipmperial HIGH*SS-emperor BULLSH*T”  wants ALL HIS BUDDIES to have money[i.e. halliburton etc]....And maybe-just maybe “shrub and co.” can hold on to enough POWER to RULE THE WORLD…

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By cyrena, June 2, 2008 at 4:27 am Link to this comment

I was going to mention this myself Michael, and I’ll still look around for the link to the complete piece.

But yes, these folks DO plan on engaging in oil wars, and both China and Russia are among the oil deficit powers, as are we. The primary target for the moment and the near future is the same one that has existed since the beginning of time…Africa. China is already in that fight, and the Imperialists of the Corporate US state aren’t about to let them have any of it. That’s why the war toys.

To spend this same money on developing renewal energy sources would do the same thing that it would have done 40 years ago. It would have prevented these oil barons from becoming the power control of the world.

However, the same system that you claim keeps all of these folks employed, (and politicians in office) can be created to come up with renewable energy sources. The OIL industy has kept that from happening for over 4 decades, believing that oil would last forever, and they could continue to make obscene profits on it, and they have. But only because they’ve used their power to thwart any alternatives.

I don’t think that’s going to continue. We’re wise to it now, and unlike GW and his cronies who don’t care what happens after their lifetimes, there are too many others who DO.

So, while you can keep thinking about whether the “last run’ occurs in your life time or not, (it will)others who plan to be around longer than us are looking for alternatives to prevent their own extinction, after the ‘last run’.

The submarine and fighter jet money is going to have to be used for that.(call ‘em green corps if you want) Dick Cheney and his buds might be disappointed, but that’s the way it is.

That will have to become the new reason for ‘why we fight’...to get off of oil dependence, even though it will mean fighting right here, to rid ourselves of the MIC and all of the other corporate entities that have bled us out.

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By badlawdog, June 1, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

The argument that the defense budget can’t be cut because of the loss of defense related jobs (tactfully) scattered throughout congressional districts, is bogus. There is a systemic attack in the works here, and these weapons will be used on the american minorities corralled into tight poverty/crime zone through metro areas after the collapse, which is being engineered on purpose. The outer “white” suburban rings are closest to the “white” farmers in the rural areas (being empowered w/ a wealth transfer system called farm subsidies). The large build-up of weapons will be used by the outer rings to contain the “fringe” elements after food distribution ceases and they begin to starve. Think Katrina times a thousand. All roads/bridges out of the inner cities will be blocked, power and water treatment plants shut down, cell towers inoperable. They’ll probably leave the TV on so the suckers won’t miss the soaps…

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By i,Q, June 1, 2008 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

Forget about education, infrastructure and green collar jobs…

Have you seen these new toys?

[GWB impression]: They’re awesome! Heh heh.

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By Michael Gass, June 1, 2008 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

There is a DVD out for rent (and purchase) called “Why We Fight”.  It chronicles the Military Industrial Complex.  I suggest it to everyone.

Second, you are correct that Al-Qaeda doesn’t have submarines, but, China and Russia have them.  As peak oil for OPEC approaches, the world will engage in oil wars (Iraq was just the beginning). 

The F-35, the missile shield parked on Russia’s doorstep, the “enduring” bases in Iraq, the new submarines… all of it… is to do 2 things; 1) to fight Russia AND China simultaneously (and have a chance to win), and 2) contractors keep plants in a state to make ONE component for a system (add that this means they have plants in tens of states so that if ONE contract fails to be funded NUMEROUS congressmen/senators must tell their voters how they lost jobs).

Yes, America has been gearing up for the “last run” for decades… but since OPEC will hit peak oil in the next 10-40 years, the “last run” may well occur in my lifetime.

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JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, June 1, 2008 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment

That no matter how right you are about this, no matter how much—on the surface—Americans “cluck-cluck” about the incredible expenditures on the military and the neglect of other imperatives—like education and health, which do much more to produce a superior country—there is something about being the baddest-ass on the block, the country with all the firepower, that really appeals to Americans.  I’m not sure it’s possible to change that, even in the face of the demonstrable madness of it all.

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