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Posted on Mar 8, 2011
AP / Reed Saxon

The Boeing Co. building in El Segundo, Calif.

By Bill Boyarsky

El Segundo Boulevard, near the Southern California beaches, represents the heart and soul of the military-industrial complex. On either side of the boulevard—its streets mostly barren of pedestrians—are the offices and plants of companies locked in permanent embrace with Washington. War and space activities fuel them. Their campaign contributions and lobbying spending fuel Congress.

I drove to the boulevard, which runs through the city of El Segundo, last week for a column on the June special election in the 36th Congressional District, which extends along the coast southwest of Los Angeles. The election is to fill the seat of Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, a military-industrial complex supporter and a power in intelligence and defense policy, who resigned to take over the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. With a liberal, anti-war candidate, Marcy Winograd, in the race, this is likely to be the year’s first national electoral test of support for the Afghanistan War.

After my visit to Harman’s district, I checked on the companies located there, consulting the invaluable Open Secrets.org website of the Center for Responsive Politics.

It showed for 2010: Boeing, $17.89 million for lobbying, $2.80 million in campaign contributions; Lockheed Martin, $12.77 million for lobbying, $2.66 million in campaign contributions; Raytheon, $7.18 million for lobbying, $2.17 million in campaign contributions. Across the boulevard from Raytheon is the big Los Angeles Air Force Base, where engineers design space systems. Raytheon works hand in hand with them on projects such as a space tracking and surveillance system to detect incoming missiles. The “Star Wars” program still lives, long after President Ronald Reagan proposed his Strategic Defense Initiative.

I don’t expect Marcy Winograd to be trolling El Segundo Boulevard for contributions. The industry supported Harman, and she signaled her favorite in the campaign by inviting Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn to join her in hearing President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an industry favorite, and a bunch of local Democrats are supporting Hahn. Another Democratic candidate is Debra Bowen, the current secretary of state. 

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It looks as though Winograd has a tough fight in this, her third try for the seat. “We need to bring our troops home,” she said. We met for coffee late in the afternoon after she had completed her day teaching at Crenshaw High School, a predominantly African-American and Latino school in a working-class Los Angeles neighborhood. Almost 80 percent of the students are in government-subsidized lunch programs.

“The larger issue is that we have to transition to a new economy. Why can’t we give out huge sums to build a mass transit system? If there were the same amount of dollars to build a rapid transit system that we spend on weapons systems, what would you prefer? How many weapons do you need?”

She discussed the war and weapons in terms of her students, who are facing post-graduation unemployment. Many of her students tell her they will join the military service. “They tell me [that by doing so] ‘I’ll get a job, I’ll get benefits,’ ” she said.

Winograd is talking about a war that has become part of the background noise of American life. The Afghanistan War has slipped off the charts in the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism survey of how much coverage is given to major events. We’re like the British of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, going about their business while volunteer soldiers were dying in a futile effort to subdue Afghanistan. It’s necessary to go to sources other than the mainstream media on most days to find out about a war that may claim the lives of some of Winograd’s Crenshaw students.

An invaluable source is the new book “The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan” by Bing West, an ex-Marine combat officer in Vietnam and former Reagan administration defense official, now 70 years old, who slogged through patrols and firefights, up mountains and into canals with much younger men to learn on the ground about the futility of the Afghanistan War.

He had been with a battalion assigned to clear guerrillas out of a town called Barge Matal that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai needed for support in his phony re-election campaign. Killed in the effort was a squad leader, Eric Lindstrom, who had recently helped a nearly dead West, suffering from cholera, to a rescue helicopter. Describing his time recovering in a hospital with a wounded soldier who had been with Lindstrom, West wrote: “When you lose somebody, you wonder about the mission. You need a faith or a cause to compensate for loss. Jake and I were pretty damned mad about the lack of cause. What made Barge Matal worthwhile? What were American soldiers doing in unnamed mountains, fighting tribes forgotten by time and history, while the bastards that murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 were protected in the country next door? What was accomplished in such a lost place? Why did Eric die where no sensible infantry should have been sent?”

These are the questions that Marcy Winograd and other peace candidates should ask. They are not being addressed in Washington and only occasionally raised in the news media. And these questions certainly won’t be asked by the corporate bosses on El Segundo Boulevard or other stops along the military-industrial trail—now extending to the East and South—where products are made for use in Afghanistan.


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By Uncle B, August 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pan-Eurasian Empire, based on clean Thorium fueled LFTR reactor technologies not even published in English, about to stun the Western World! U.S. laughed at electric bullet train technology, now, nuclear-electricity from pebble bed gas reactors, from Thorium fueled CANDU reactors, from Thorium fueled LFTR reactors is providing the driving force for bullet train networks, and their associated human infrastructures, and are to be daisy chained Pan-Eurasia in an economic revival even the wildest imaginations in U.S. cannot concieve! Even a tunnel from Alaska to Russia is possible! All, Oil free! All Asian!
U.S, remains “Stuck on Stupid” Gasoline engine driven, they are the most inefficent, most expensive way to go! Euro-diesels commonly used else-where, are a full, measurable, 40 % more efficient!
America insists on Uranium fueled reactors that “manufacture” un-natural, homocidal, plutonium and non-dispsable waste products as they ceate energy. It is these, plutonium and waste products that prove this methedology far to dangerous for humanity at Fuckoshima, right now.

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By LocalHero, May 12, 2011 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

The author tries to paint Bing West (“The Wrong War:
Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan”) as some
sort of peace-nik but that’s far from the truth. He
stated recently on Jon Stewart’s show that, instead of
Afghanistan, we should be pouring our troops, gunships
& drones into Pakistan and Iran (for starters). He’s a
big fan of war, just not the one we are currently
fighting in Afghanistan.

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By fatty, March 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

you dont want world peace trust me it would be one goverment for all the world and its looming over our heads. you will regret ever wishing you could sit down and settle it at a table. tribulation is coming.

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By fatty, March 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

u dont want world peace trust me it would be one goverment for all the world and its looming over our heads. u will regret ever wishing u cpuld sit down and settle it at a table. tribulation is coming.

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By fatty, March 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

u dont want world peace trust me it would be one goverment for all the world and its looming over our heads. u will regret ever wishing u cpuld sit down and settle it at a table. tribulation is coming

Report this

By fatty, March 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

u dont want world peace trust me it would be one goverment for all the world and its looming over our heads. u will regret ever wishing u cpuld sit down and settle it at a table tribulation is coming

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By Jim Yell, March 11, 2011 at 11:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of course the graft in military spending is much higher than that for more useful endeavors. The jobs that are generated by military industrial spending could be replaced by jobs for improving and repairing America and would produce much better results. It would even generate real work and income instead of the terrible waste and death attendant with military spending. Of course the right wing would get the vapors over constructive spending for the community as a whole, but if free enterprise can only gear itself up to steal billions thru manipulation and none work, why wouldn’t a social program saving families look good to everyone, except of course the over priveleged?

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By john crandell, March 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment

What’s not to admire about the Libyans willingness to take it to the streets against
their despot tyrant?

And what’s not more disgusting than both the Bush and Obama administrations
deluding the American people about supposed freedom for Iraqi and Afghani
citizens and said citizens of both countries surely not willing to fight for such a
thing?

Terror is just and only that, whether it be from a fanatic, from a drone, a B-52, he
who pulls the trigger or pushes the button. One believes in spiritual dogmas and
the other - the dogma of price stability.

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By TAO Walker, March 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment

So while some here stump (from a safe distance) for pushing this all-too-willing schoolteacher in-front-of the military/industrial juggernaut (or more likely they’d be throwing her under it), it seems fair to ask whether any of ‘em are willing to do without even a few of their own favorite comforts and CONveniences to deprive the damned thing of even a little of the degenerate “energy” it runs-on.  It’s like that old joke:  “Why don’t you and him fight….while we hold your coats?”

It’s no wonder theamericanpeople are drowning in Daddy Bush’s “deep doo-doo.”

HokaHey!

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By gerard, March 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

PS: As to how to bridge the gap between “Disaster Capitalism” and the future (if any)—my feeling is that teachers of Economics and writers like Paul Krugman need to come together on this and make some suggestions, on sthe basis of their professional responsibility.  How can this come about?  Maybe if people looked up their addresses and wrote with suggestions and statements of urgency ...
  There just has to be some way, with all the methods of communication we have at hand, to reach people with whom we don’t ordinarily connect, to prod them into freeing themselves from being slaves to old paradigms, and come up with practical suggestions that would have more clout because it comes from “professionals”.  Why not?

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By gerard, March 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Occasionally you can run onto some video on YouTube that has been carefully prepared, indicating some of the future possibilities of humankind.  One example (hour long but very interesting to (educated) people, is “Zeitgeist:  Moving Forward” by Peter Joseph, official release 2011.
  Technocratic, but probably that’s what’s in the cards, if anything.  How to get from here to there is of course not spelled out as nobody knows how to do it.  But it does give some hopeful motivation for finding a way or ways.

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By fastarfunding, March 10, 2011 at 3:25 am Link to this comment

Thanks for your information.The larger issue is that we have to transition to a new economy. Why can’t we give out huge sums to build a mass transit system? If there were the same amount of dollars to build a rapid transit system that we spend on weapons systems. Factoring Company.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, March 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm Link to this comment

Very eye opening indeed… where is today’s Eisenhower?

I found this gem while perusing the video logs on youboob for the speech.

This is quite inspiring:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wOT0Ik7it1w

Where is today’s Charlie Chaplin?

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By RenZo, March 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Sorry about the double posting. I reloaded five times and it wasn’t there….. I re-uploaded, voilà, it is there twice.

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By RenZo, March 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

I would steer you to the speech of Eisenhower in 1952, now referred to as the “Cross of Iron” Speech which is a moving reminder of what we could buy with the money we pour on the Military Industrial Complex.
The reason we do it is MONEY, no other. Specifically it is the money stolen from us by the weapons (et alia) manufacturers, the money that pays their lobbyists, the money that buys our “representatives’” votes & loyalties, the money we let them take endlessly, decade after decade after decade…
Our name is on each drone, each bomb, each bullet, and belongs in each obituary of each peasant, each mother, each baby we kill. Eventually, and eternally morally, we each and every one are responsible for the death, destruction and mayhem we rain upon the world with war. We will have to pay some day. It is, after all, being done in our name.

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By RenZo, March 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

I would steer you to the speech of Eisenhower in 1952, now referred to as the “Cross of Iron” Speech which is a moving reminder of what we could buy with the money we pour on the Military Industrial Complex.
The reason we do it is MONEY, no other. Specifically it is the money stolen from us by the weapons (et alia) manufacturers, the money that pays their lobbyists, the money that buys our “representatives’” votes & loyalties, the money we let them take endlessly, decade after decade after decade…
Our name is on each drone, each bomb, each bullet, and belongs in each obituary of each peasant, each mother, each baby we kill. Eventually, and eternally morally, we each and every one are responsible for the death, destruction and mayhem we rain upon the world with war. We will have to pay some day. It is, after all, all being done in our name.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, March 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Here here…. it bothers me when my nephews want to play with play guns, and do mock war scenarios…. just like I did when I was a kid ( G.I. Joe anyone? )...

Need to encourage them away from the mainstream programming gently, lovingly and replace that poor mentality with artistic outlets like music, art, writing, speaking, creating, discovering… instead of waring.

God Bless those saps who know how to manipulate the masses to chaos… you are going to need the Lord’s blessings..

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By RenZo, March 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

One more thing (oh no) - youngsters raised in the presence of almost continuous foreign “wars” will not be able to conceive of how society functions without them. As always and everytime, it is up to the elders to set the tone of morality and declare WAR to be anathema, disgusting, wrong and completely totally untenable.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, March 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Thanks RenZo, very insightful.

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By RenZo, March 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

It is not only counter-intuitive, but moreover surrealistic, that Americans do not realize that Afghanistan(-Pakistan) is the Jaws of Asia. The wars of imperialism for millenia have foundered there. Yet we continue to send our children there to die mostly out of pure skeletal ignorance (or is it stupidity) about the world we live in, its history and its physical (and exhaustible) nature. The remedy must be resolution of the ignorance. Change the educational system, and save America (and maybe the world).

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By Caligrown78, March 9, 2011 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

It’s a crying shame that some of the only jobs our ill-prepared youth will be able to get upon graduation is killing people in other countries.  This country has gotten so far out of whack that I often wonder where the hell it is I live.  I can’t believe that we as Americans have gotten so lazy & distarcted that we can’t even come together long enough to stand up & get in the streets.  The divide & conquere strategy has obviously worked beautifully.  If Winogard actually wins that will be a huge victory & hopefully we can get more people elected to office that are finally ready to stop this madness. Tupac once said in a song “we got money for wars but can’t feed the poor// they say there ain’t no hope for the youth then the truth is there ain’t no hope for the future” We need to give our children some hope & spend our money here in our country so that our youth can have more choices than going to war & helping make some other fat cat rich, some other fat cot who’s children & reletives will never have imagine going to war.  Time to wake up people. It’s time for us to stop this left/ right, red/ blue, liberal/ conservative crap and realize that we are all in this together.

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By MD, March 9, 2011 at 2:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Go Marci! You are the real deal. Not some sell out hack like Harman. I wish I lived
in your district but I will give what money I can, help in any way I can. It’s time to
start pushing back against the machine that is killing us all.

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By john crandell, March 9, 2011 at 2:23 am Link to this comment

FUCK this war for and of - Triangulation, internal American stance and politics
and nothing more. To hell with Lyndon Baines Obama!

Tom Friedman’s piece in the Sunday N.Y. Times was like LBJ losing Walter Cronkite in ‘68.

Think about it: Bush simply banned the press from covering the arrival of coffins
at Dover. Mr. and Mrs. Obama done did quite the opposite, used the arrival of one
particular planeload of flag wrapped coffins, turned it into a pompous media
event. WATCHING IT MADE ME WANT TO VOMIT!

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By Psychobabbler, March 9, 2011 at 2:04 am Link to this comment

Killing generates economic activity in America.

Surf is up!

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, March 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm Link to this comment

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a huge sink-hole swallow-up that strip of real estate?

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By Troy WestLA, March 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Every Democrat is saying they are anti-war nowadays, but Winograd is the only one I think would actually stand up and fight to end it once in Washington. We allowed Harman, who supported these wars and the whole military-industrial complex, to represent this district way too long. We should make a statement that this is not what the people of our community are all about. If this is the year’s ‘first national electoral test’ on support for war, we all need to vote for Marcy! That will show them that we don’t need their stinking wars!

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By Antonie Churg, March 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for the poignant and nuanced article. Marcy Winograd is a peace activist and teacher who knows that poor kids tend to become “economic conscripts” who resort to the military for a roof over their heads.  But the alternatives to this dangerous (and immoral) war are by no means unrealistic: $100 billion is spent on Afghanistan alone.  $100 billion dollars is enough to give ten million high school graduates ten thousand dollars each. The US military budget is about $900 billion.  A few hundred billion could be diverted, eh?  One just has to figure out which military programs are best converted to productive ones, and the jobs will follow. I live in the district and try to help Winograd go to Washington to sell her “Jobs Not Wars” agenda.

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By brianrouth, March 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

I think this might be of interest http://vimeo.com/20715539

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By SEEK TRUTH, March 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment

In 1952 the Korean War was still killing off thousands of American and Korean soldiers. I was 17-years old and about to graduate from High-School; several of my fellow classmates were 18 and draft age. They all decided to enlist in the Airforce or Navy to minimize the chance of becoming cannon foder. At that time I asked my Social Studies Teacher why civilized educated people couldn’t set down at a table and resolve their diferences. Her reply was a shrug of a shoulder and changing the subject.

It seems to me that not much has changed in 59-years. I still have the same question and I am still geting the same response, but now the answers are from our Government representives.

Think of the trillions of dollars that have been wasted and the millions of lives lost or forever ruined because no one wants to answer my question.

I fear for my grand and great-grand-children’s future. There is very little light at the end of life’s-tunnel.

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By gerard, March 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

Why?  We know the answer.  They know the answer. Everybody knows the answer. JOBS. A way to earn a living—and then some!  A way for lots of people to support lots of families with a weekly, monthly paycheck, a bank account, health insurance, a house, food, clothing, sprees to Walmart or Saks. To “make the wheels of capitalism go round.”
  Stop the military-industrial machinery and the entire dream disappears.  And nobody seems to have the guts to try to replace the machinery with a less diabolical system.  It’s as simple—and as complex—as that.  But as long as you can keep most of the people believing that there is no other system possible, it grinds on, and who cares if lots of people get killed—as long as it isn’t me or mine.
  That’s the insanely stupid idea that keeps it going. The entire country is waiting perilously, at the end of its rope, for somebody with the brains and guts to introduce a way to change the system.
What about American Entrepreneurs for Peace?  Or
Amalgamated High Rollers United Against Planetary Extinction?  Fat chance?

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By David Boyajian, March 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Bill & Truthdig:

The highly controversial (some would say scandal-ridden) Jane Harman has just gotten a job as director/president of the Congressionally-created, 1/3 taxpayer-funded, Woodrow Wilson Center in DC.

Do you know about the scandals at the Wilson Center?

Please read on and click (or copy/paste) the links.

A scathing letter written by Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) to his former colleague, Lee Hamilton (whom Harman is replacing), due to the WWC’s giving an undeserved award to the Turkish Foreign Minister in June:

http://ackerman.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=186§iontree=4,186&itemid=1029

A Wilson family descendant, Donald Wilson Bush (President of the Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation) blasts the Wilson Center (“Pawn for the Wrong President”):
 
http://keghart.com/DWBush_Pawn
 
Claudia Rosett takes the Wilson Center to task (“What Kind of Washington Fools Would Honor Turkey’s Foreign Minister?”):

http://pajamasmedia.com/claudiarosett/what-kind-of-washington-fools-would-honor-turkeys-foreign-minister/?

Two investigative reports:

“The Selling of the Woodrow Wilson Center” (October 2010)

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/10/02/the-selling-of-the-woodrow-wilson-center/all/1

“The Woodrow Wilson Center Desecrates its Namesake’s Legacy and Violates its Congressional Mandate” (May 2010):

http://www.countercurrents.org/boyajian060510.htm

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