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"Shrinking government" in American political discourse has, for decades now, meant the following. We enlarge the government's budget through taxation and penalties on working people and through borrowing and printing money. We not only tax the wealthy and corporations less, but we massively subsidize them with public funds. We move away from taxes and fees meant to limit the damage greed can do to the world, and we defund regulation of and law enforcement against the oligarchy. We transfer an ever greater share of the budget to the military. We expand the domestic and international surveillance-police states while merging the two. This, again, we call "shrinking government."
If Snoopy had ever pointed out to Charlie Brown that Lucy was just going to yank the football away again at the last second, Charlie would have only heard barking.
I hope all the good people chattering away about how cutting Social Security would be political suicide, and therefore won't happen, can hear more than barking in the following.
In the best case scenario, and least likely outcome, the Super Congress will fail to produce a plan or to pass one through the actual Congress. In that case, the backup disaster plan will kick in and deem itself passed automatically. Those who had voted against setting up this deal will claim innocence. The others will claim that their only other choice had been Armageddon.
The Military Industrial Complex at 50 is adding speakers and participants.
The lowest rate for registering ends September 1st, so register now:
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Mr. Naiman edits the Just Foreign Policy daily news summary and writes on U.S. foreign policy at Huffington Post. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East.
Dave Norris is the Mayor of Charlottesville. He was the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge until June 2011. Norris has been employed as Executive Director of PACEM, the Associate Director of Madison House, the Interim Director of PHAR (the Public Housing Association of Residents, and the former Chairman of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
David Swanson, author of War is a Lie, discusses “The Military Industrial Complex at 50” national conference in Charlottesville, VA from September 16-18; the paltry defense spending cuts decried by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as a “doomsday mechanism” that will endanger national security; how Swanson helped turn former Congressman Bill Delahunt against the wars; and Paul Krugman’s half-serious plan to boost the economy by preparing for an alien invasion.
MP3 here. (12:54)
David Swanson is Co-Founder of WarIsACrime.org (formerly After Downing Street), creator of ProsecuteBushCheney.org, Washington Director of Democrats.com and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, the Backbone Campaign, Voters for Peace and the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution. He was the press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and worked three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
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?
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."
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.
Bunnatine (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.
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 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!)
"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."
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.
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
- 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.
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:
Each show is on line for three months.
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.
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.
P.S. The conference is open to the general public, so please forward widely.
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.
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
Time 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: ____%
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: ____%
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.
"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?
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.
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…
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:
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.