You are hereBlogs / davidswanson's blog

davidswanson's blog


Panetta's Weak Case for Potential Military Weakness

Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call "Secretary of War," makes a weak case.  Panetta considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget.  But consider the budger from which that is to be cut.  It includes, each year, about $545 billion for the "base" military budget, at least $200 billion extra each year for wars (Panetta uses Afghanistan and Libya as reasons not to cut spending, and Congress has never yet appropriated a dime for Libya), $71 billion for "Homeland" security, $19 billion for nuclear weapons, $8 billion for a miscellaneous Pentagon slush fund, $53 billion (that we know of) for spying and secret operations agencies, $129 billion for veterans, $18 billion for military "aid" and other foreign affairs, $68 billion for pensions, $185 billion for debt interest, and additional major budgets for the State Department and U.S.A.I.D. (Panetta has also cited the State Dept. as a concern.) 

In other words, we're talking about subtracting $35 billion from well over a trillion.  That's a cut of less than 3.5 percent. 

China spends about $114 billion per year on its military.  No other nation spends anything remotely close to that.  Let's generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China's budget to double it to $228 billion.  And let's assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because . . . well, just because we're we and they're they.  Now we're at $456 billion.  How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as "doomsday"?  Is the danger here really and truly to the people of this country?  Or is it the threat to the profits of the weapons makers that has Panetta panicking?  Does that motivation also explain the Pentagon's desire to cut benefits to troops rather than weaponry?

Richard Clarke Is Being Too Nice to George Tenet

Former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism Richard Clarke suggests that former CIA Director George Tenet blocked the sharing of information within the government on two members of al Qaeda in the United States, information that Clarke believes could have prevented 911. The CIA admits it knew about the two future hijackers but claims the Director was not informed.

"In early 2000, a number of more junior personnel (including FBI agents on detail to CIA) did see travel information on individuals who later became hijackers but the significance of the data was not adequately recognized at the time."

Virginia Militarized

By David Swanson with Shepherd Johnson

The U.S. military is a permanent and pervasive presence in Virginia. Were the state of Virginia to ban participation in wars of aggression, weapons sales to brutal dictatorships, and the manufacture of aggressive and illegal weapons, the Military Industrial Complex would be obliged to help itself to many billions of public dollars just to cover the cost of moving operations to the other 49 states or abroad.

The Pentagon and all of its surrounding weapons corporation headquarters are in Virginia. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lives in Quarters Six at Fort Myer in Arlington. The Army and Air Force chiefs of staff live on "Generals Row," also in Fort Myer.

Norfolk is home to the world's largest naval base. NATO is there too. And through this month, so is the United States Joint Forces Command.

Bunny Greenhouse Is Coming to Charlottesville

Bunny GreenhouseBunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse is a former procurement executive and chief contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 2004-2005 she revealed waste and fraud in secret no-bid contracts for Halliburton in Iraq. She was demoted and marginalized in retribution. In 2011 a U.S. District Court awarded her $970,000 in restitution.

Greenhouse will be speaking in Charlottesville with over 20 other speakers on the Military Industrial Complex at 50.  To attend, you need to register here: http://MIC50.org

Time Magazine broke the Bunny Greenhouse story in 2004: PDF, followed by CBS, the Guardian, NPR, NBC, AP, and everyone else.  Here's a transcript of one of Greenhouse's presentations testifying before Congress.  Here's Greenhouse's recent appearance on Democracy Now!

Greenhouse is back in the news because she has finally been awarded compensation, and she believes the corruption she came into conflict with is alive and well.  "My story is in the news," she told me last week, "but there are many good people who are leaving the government because somebody cannot tolerate their honesty and their desire to see things done right.  I know at some point we are going to get this military-civil relationship right.  It may not be in my lifetime, but sometime I know we are."

Maybe this conference can be the start of that: http://MIC50.org

As if to emphasize the problem Greenhouse points to, today's Charlottesville Daily Progress carries a front-page AP aticle reporting that the 12 members to which Congress has been reduced for the Super Congress that will determine budgetary priorities for years to come consists of senators and representatives from the states with the biggest military contractors: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co., and Boeing Co. 

If you have any doubt where that will lead if left to its own devices, or if you know darn well what such a committee is designed to do and you want to change the course we're on, you need to be a part of this conference.  Reserve your spot: http://MIC50.org

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

The Military: Closer to You Than Your Family

Two blocks from my house in a nondescript little building on the edge of our residential neighborhood is an office with a small sign reading "DVBIC of Charlottesville" which turns out to mean "Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center."

Now, I'm in favor of caring for people with brain injuries.  Heck, I wish we had universal comprehensive health coverage like other countries do.  But it disturbs me how difficult it is in this country to get any distance away from the military.  It's almost certainly closer to you than your relatives' homes.

The Divided Left

The Satan Sandwich budget deal seems to have been left lying on the table in some television green rooms. Dylan Ratigan has begun cursing both political parties, even while still fantasizing about the President saving us. Keith Olbermann and Al Gore want a Tahrir Square in Washington, even while ignoring the actual preparations for it that are going on. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, who are part of those preparations, were permitted onto CNN momentarily -- only to be informed that they should calm down about the wealth gap since poor people "even have refrigerators!" (The refrigerators are empty, but they look good in the kitchen!)

This Can't Be Good for Verifiable Voting in Ohio

Politico:

"Obama’s high command has even studied President Bush’s 2004 takedown of Sen. John F. Kerry, a senior campaign adviser told POLITICO, for clues on how a president with middling approval ratings can defeat a challenger."

Military Industrial Complex at 50 - A National Conference in Charlottesville, Va.

A Conference on Moving Money from the Military to Human Needs -- http://micat50cville.org

Reserve your spot to attend this conference now!  The fees increase after September 1st: Register.


Over 20 speakers will lead the discussion, planning, and organizing.  Speakers will include retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, author Bruce Levine, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former Pentagon desk officer Karen Kwiatkowski, author Robert Jensen, international affairs analyst Helena Cobban, retired CIA officer Ray McGovern, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space Bruce Gagnon, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee Shahid Buttar, author and West Point graduate Paul Chappell, and many more.  See additional speakers and agenda.

In Charlottesville, as around the country, increasingly the best place to look for a job is in the military-weapons-logistics-spying-reconstruction industry.  There were 161 military contractors in Charlottesville taking in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government between 2000 to 2010.  And the trend is ever upward, the budget "crisis" notwithstanding.

This flood of money creates jobs less efficiently than investment in most other industries or even tax cuts.  We are putting over half of every dollar of federal income tax and borrowing into the military.  We could cut this by 85% and still be the top-spending nation in the world militarily.  Meanwhile we are failing to invest in infrastructure, green energy, education, housing, jobs, and care for our young, old, and ill.  The current trend will ruin us economically, as well as in terms of civil liberties, representative government, environmental destruction, social cohesion, hostile blowback, and weapons proliferation.  Reining in the MIC has become a matter of survival.

We can and must turn this around!

Reserve your spot to attend this conference now!  The fees increase after September 1st: Register.

The low registration fees (just $30 or $15 for students) are made possible by sponsorships and donations from those who are able.

Sponsor this conference as an organization or an individual.

Volunteer
to help before or during the conference.

Offer a guestroom in your Charlottesville home for one of our speakers or another participant from out of town.

Coming from out of town? 

WHEN:  September 16-18, 2011

WHERE:

  • Friday, September 16, 2011, at the Haven, 112 W Market Street, Charlottesville, Va. Map
  • Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, 2011, at The Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College, 501 County Road 338, Charlottesville, Va. 22902-7589. Map.
     

Learn more:
http://micat50cville.org

Podcast: Coy Barefoot and David Swanson

Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 8-8-11 David Swanson
Best-selling author David Swanson joins Coy to breakdown the national problems facing the economy.

LISTEN HERE.

National Conference in Charlottesville: The Military Industrial Complex at 50

Click this image to visit the conference website, see the agenda and speakers, and register to attend:

Sign Up Now for Low Rate to Attend in September!

Lila Garrett hosts CONNECT THE DOTS with Bob Filner, David Swanson, Jeff Norman

Listen on Monday 7-8 a.m. PT: http://kpfk.org


Democratic Congressman Bob Filner:  Why after 10 yrs of fighting for the progressive agenda in Congress is he leaving to run for Mayor of San Diego?
 
Author David Swanson:  What chilling cuts can we expect from in the Debt Ceiling Deal?  Is a major depression inevitable?  Is the movement  to challenge Obama in the Primary gaining momentum?  
 
Jeff Norman Exec Dir of Veteran Project describes the shut out of homeless vets from their own facility by the Veteran’s Administration. Is that facility being privatized?

KPFK 90.7 FM in LA;  98.7 Santa Barbara; 93.7 San Diego;
99.5 China Beach

Airs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.
To pod cast or download the broadcast use this link:
http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/index.php?shokey=ctd
Each show is on line for three months.

Truman Lied, Hundreds of Thousands Died

On August 6, 1945, President Harry S Truman announced: "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T.  It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British 'Grand Slam' which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare."

When Truman lied to America that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city full of civilians, people no doubt wanted to believe him. Who would want the shame of belonging to the nation that commits a whole new kind of atrocity? (Will naming lower Manhattan "ground zero" erase the guilt?)  And when we learned the truth, we wanted and still want desperately to believe that war is peace, that violence is salvation, that our government dropped nuclear bombs in order to save lives, or at least to save American lives.

Come to the Conference on the Constitutional Convention

I'm excited to be speaking at an important conference upcoming at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass.  I'd like to invite you to attend (at no charge).   It's called the Conference on the Constitutional Convention, and more info can be found at http://conconcon.org

From both the Right and the Left, citizens are increasingly coming to recognize that our Republic does not work as our Framers intended.  Reform of any kind is stalled by those who profit from the status quo.

The Framers created the Article V Constitutional Convention as a way to escape captured government: If two-thirds of the state legislatures pass resolutions calling for a convention, then all sides will have the opportunity to argue for the changes they believe will restore or advance our Republic. Any amendment proposed must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states to become law.

On September 24th and 25th, people from across America and across the political spectrum will convene at Harvard University to discuss the advisability and feasibility of organizing towards a Constitutional Convention.

The conference's lead organizers include proponents and opponents of an Article V convention and we actively encourage the participation of those who support a convention, those who are ambivalent, and those who oppose holding a convention at all.  The conference is sponsored by Harvard, the left-leaning Change Congress, and the right-leaning Tea Party Patriots; it's being co-chaired by Change Congress's Larry Lessig and the Tea Party Patriots' Mark Meckler.  You can review the agenda and register -- for free for the time being -- at http://conconcon.org

Thanks so much, and we hope to see you in September.

--David Swanson

P.S. The conference is open to the general public, so please forward widely.

Enormous Cuts in Military Spending? Read the Fine Print

In this age of austerity, all the politicians are talking about the need for spending cuts. But when it comes to shared burdens and slashed budgets, don’t expect the Pentagon to start holding bake sales, despite what you may have heard about reductions to its obscenely bloated funding.

Three Strikes Against the Empire

October2011: Three Strikes Against the Empire

Joint Solidarity Statement by the October2011 Movement, the National Catholic Worker Gathering and SOA Watch South Florida/ SouthCom Watch

Grassroots resistance actions are being coordinated around the country in early October. Three efforts in particular share common cause:

  • The October2011 Movement in Washington, DC to decry the start of the eleventh year of war on the people of Afghanistan and the onset of the federal austerity budget, and to stand up to corporate rule and militarism;
  • The National Catholic Worker Movement and Nevada Desert Experience to demonstrate at Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada where armed drone aircraft are headquartered and controlled on their "hunter-killer" missions around the world, and at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS, formerly the Nevada Test Site) where various experiments are conducted which perpetuate the US nuclear arsenal;
  • School of the Americas Watch South Florida / SouthCom Watch to march to the new headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom) outside of Miami, Florida, which is responsible for all U.S. military operations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Our struggles are interconnected and we organize in solidarity with each other.

The nonviolent resistance actions in Washington, DC will start on October 6, 2011, on the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Thousands of people have pledged to gather on that day, to nonviolently resist the corporate machine by occupying Freedom Plaza to demand that America's resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. Nonviolent direct actions at the NNSS and at Creech AFB are going to take place on October 9 at the culmination of the 3 day Catholic Worker gathering, also being coordinated with the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space's annual Keep Space for Peace Week, October 1 to 8. The march on the U.S. Southern Command, with the intention to close it down and to reclaim the sacred land for the peoples of the Americas, will also take place on October 9, 2011.

These actions are united in the effort to build a world in which the values of justice, cooperation, and respect for the earth are upheld. We believe that people power and grassroots organizing are essential for achieving lasting socio-political change.

October2011 Movement, october2011.org
Margaret Flowers, 202-688-2444 / 518-543-6920
Pete Perry, 202-631-0974

National Catholic Worker Gathering, www.lvcw.org
John or Katie, Las Vegas Catholic Worker, 702-647-0728
Jim or Megan, Nevada Desert Experience, 702-646-4814

SOA Watch South Florida / SouthCom Watch, SOAW.org/southcom
Linda Belgrave, 305-801-8245
Ray Del Papa, 754-423-0051


How would you spend the federal budget?

budgetTime to take out the good ol' fashioned paper and pen and create your budget. As George Lakoff once wrote, a budget is a value document. So enter numbers based on your values. When you're done, scroll down to compare your budget with the one governing United States federal spending.

Directions: Enter a percentage of the budget that you would spend on each of these six broad categories.  (If you're feeling industrious, fill in each little line item.)  Make sure the total equals 100%.

FRIENDLY FOREIGN RELATIONS____%

Economic development aid to select foreign countries, medical aid to poor nations, and development aid to poor nations, the Peace Corps, and disaster relief abroad: ____%
State Department: ____%
United Nations, peacekeeping, weapons nonproliferation: ____%

HOSTILE FOREIGN RELATIONS____%

Military and Homeland Security Department and military "aid" to other nations: ____%
Current wars: ____%
Veterans' benefits: ____%

SUSTAINABLE POLICIES____%

Job training, mass transit, and a jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure and mass transit: ____%
Management of public lands: ____%
Pollution control and Renewable energy research: ____%
Subsidies to small farmers: ____%

EDUCATION AND RESEARCH____%

Elementary and secondary education, and higher education, and special education for students with disabilities: ____%
Medical research: ____%
Scientific research: ____%
Nasa: ____%

BASIC GOVERNANCE____%

Law enforcement and federal prisons: ____%
Housing for the poor and elderly: ____%
Paying off national debt: ____%

BIG AGRICULTURE AND BIG TRANSPORTATION____%

Airports and railroads and highways: ____%
Subsidies to big agriculture: ____%______

______

Now compare what you did with what the White House projects for 2015.

Stop Hoping! Start Changing!

"Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment." -Friedrich Nietzsche

Had enough hope yet?

Had enough waiting, praying, expecting, wishing you actually believed it but pretending you just might, anticipating the let-down, taking in the impact of disappointment, betrayal, humiliation, and powerlessness, and finally, time after time, smashing your forehead into a concrete wall that had always been standing there as big as day?

Had enough of a steadily growing military, more wars than ever before, assassination as an instrument of national policy, the stripping away of civil liberties, and nothing to show for it but a prize that Henry Kissinger got too?

Who Should Challenge Obama in 2012?

The majority of U.S. citizens favor protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; taxing the rich; cutting military spending; and protecting the environment. We don't have a candidate . . . yet. Potential candidates supported on this site will be notified and encouraged to run.

Debt Is A Crisis

What if the imminent banging of Uncle Sam's skull into the looming debt ceiling isn't a crisis, but the very concept of debt is?  The debt ceiling has been lifted numerous times without fanfare or fainting spells.  All we face this week is a fabricated opportunity to gut social programs and trusts under the guise of a phony crisis and a discourse constricted to exclude taxation of the wealthy or cuts to the war machine.

But what if more deficit spending isn't a safe answer?  I am completely aware that those who want to ruin this country by defunding everything but Wall Street and wars are opposed to deficit spending.  I am familiar with the notion that the Great Depression required deficit spending in order to boost the real economy, after which the government's books could be more readily put in order.  I don't imagine that a nation is the same thing as a household or any such simpletonian hooey.  And yet…

If Bush or Giuliani Had Been Stoltenberg

The murder spree in Norway was apparently the work of a Norwegian, not a group of foreigners, and for various other reasons the comparison is not exact.  Nonetheless, it's tempting to wonder how many people would still be alive today if George W. Bush or Rudy Giuliani had spoken after the 9-11 attacks as Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg just did. 

 

You'll recall that Bush immediately spoke of a "war against terrorism," claimed to have been attacked for being a beacon of freedom, announced that we were all filled with anger, and decreed that we would make no distinction between terrorists and "those who harbored them."  "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" he promised.

 

Now take a 60-second tour of an alternative universe by substituting "the United States" for "Norway" in Stoltenberg's remarks:

 

Even Birds Have Withdrawn From Afghanistan

Comparing the brain sizes of migratory birds and U.S. presidents may not help explain this one.  Birds have been avoiding Afghanistan for some years now.  Afghans with higher educations have been leaving for decades.  War profiteers, and occupation profiteers, and "reconstruction" profiteers seem to know their way out.  But imperial rulers, whether British or Soviet or U.S., seem utterly incapable of withdrawing other people's kids from Afghan wars until no other option remains.

 

Afghan Judges Accuse U.S. of War Crimes

I recently sat down for 90 minutes to speak with six Afghan judges, all of them women, and an English-Dari interpreter, a man.  They spoke to me as individuals.  They aren't preparing any investigations or indictments.  The relevance of their being judges is that they know the law.  They've studied international law, and they were visiting the United States to learn about our legal and political systems.  They believe the United States is guilty of war crimes.

 

I was the one who raised the subject.  I pointed to Italian convictions of CIA agents for kidnapping, Spanish investigations of U.S. officials for torture, etc., and asked what these judges' views were on international law violations, universal jurisdiction, and what appear to be clear crimes committed by the United States in Afghanistan.

 

Salon.com Censors Criticism of Israel and Democrats

Salon.com deleted these paragraphs:

After witnessing Israel's brutal assault of Gaza in 2008, many peace activists also joined the movement for human right and justice in Israel and Palestine, engaging in campaigns to boycott and divest from the occupation, organizing boats and caravans to break through the crippling blockade of Gaza, providing support to non-violent actions against home demolitions and the “apartheid wall” in the West Bank, and challenging the stranglehold that pro-Israel lobbies have on U.S. policy.

Finally, we have been busy trying to insert the anti-war message in the broader movements for social and economic justice. While our message is sometimes rebuffed or marginalized in activities closely linked to the Democratic Party, at every major rally for jobs, civil rights or corporate responsibility, you’ll find anti-war activists.

from this article. Was there some good reason for this?  Was one of the paragraphs just to accompany the other that Salon.com really didn't want?  Or did it really not want both of them? 

This "editing" job goes some way toward answering the question under discussion: why is the peace movement held back?

Our Schools Look Like Our Government

A government that works for Wall Street and a war machine will sooner or later create schools that work for the same ends.

Here's a vicious cycle: rather than funding good schools, we fund the military and its recruiters.  Then we lower the qualifications for teachers as long as the applicants have participated in wars.  We funnel the same "Troops to Teachers" applicants into "public charter schools" too, even though we're paying them public dollars.  And we move the whole program from the Department of Education to the Department of "Defense".  That was President Barack Obama's idea.  Do you like it?  Pretty creative, huh?  One step ahead of those teapartiers!

Balance the Budget on the Backs of Billionaires

By David Swanson, RootsAction.org

The wealthiest nation on earth is not actually obliged to starve our senior citizens.  We don't need a military 670% more expensive than the next largest one on earth.  We don't need to fund health insurance corporations instead of healthcare.  And we don't need tax breaks for billionaires.  In fact, we don't need billionaires.  That's the message RootsAction is taking to Congress.

Informed Activist

Support WarIsACrime



Donate.








Tweet your Congress critters here.


Advertise on this site!




Facebook      Twitter





Our Stores:























Movie Memorabilia.



The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.