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CLUSTERBALL: James Bond and the Petraeus Affair

 

By John Grant


Using one of those overarching dramatic titles we have come to expect in mainstream media news coverage, John Stewart summed up the Petraeus story as “Band of Boners.” It's the sort of thing that may be inevitable when so much power is given so much free reign by so much secrecy.

Witch Hunting in Kansas: Anti-Abortion Pols Pile on to Attack Doctor Who Aided Tiller in Keeping Abortion Available

 

By Michael Caddell


… [Dr. Ann Kristin] Neuhaus wishes that she'd skipped the hearing.
 

ColdType November Now Online

 
In the November issue of COLDTYPE MAGAZINE

STILL WAITIN': a Short Film on Who Owns the Vietnam War, by TCBH!'s John Grant and the Viet War Commemoration Correction Project

 

Still Waitin’

 

A short film produced by

The Vietnam War Commemoration CORRECTION Project

 

To see the film, please go to:  www.ThisCantBeHappening.net

Abortion and War

I'd like to quote for you some of the very best bits of William Blum's new book, "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy," but I'd end up quoting most of the book and the entire chapter on capitalism.  So you're just going to have to get your own copy.

But let me quote one little section for you here.  Blum reviews state laws requiring that women considering abortions be told that they are about to end a human life.  Regardless of your view of such laws, Blum thinks it is worth noting that no such information is provided to women or men when they sign up to join the U.S. military.  So, he proposes requiring that each would-be recruit be read this statement:

"The United States is at war [this statement is always factually correct].  You will likely be sent to a battlefield where you will be expected to do your best to terminate the lives of whole, separate, unique, living human beings you know nothing about and who have never done you or your country any harm.  You may in the process lose an arm or a leg.  Or your life.  If you come home alive and with all your body parts intact, there's a good chance you will be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Do not expect the government to provide you particularly good care for that, or any care at all.  In any case, you may wind up physically abusing your spouse and children and/or others, killing various individuals, abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and having an increased risk of suicide ideation or suicide.  No matter how bad a condition you may be in, the government may send you back to the battlefield for another tour of duty.  They call this 'stop-loss.'  And don't ever ask any of your officers what we're fighting for.  Even the generals don't know.  In fact, the generals especially don't know.  They would never have reached their high position if they had been able to go beyond the propaganda we're all fed, the same propaganda that has influenced you to come to this office."

A while back I made a video along these same lines:


Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan Explain the Past Four Years

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan are touring the country with a new book that everyone should have and read.  "The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope" is a history of the Obama Years in the form of a thematically organized collection of columns -- columns that grew out of the reporting done by the most useful show on our airwaves: Democracy Now!

How quickly we forget, or even never knew, this recent history -- history that will never make it into school-approved history books.  Reading this book, I was reminded of watching, for the first time, the movie Fahrenheit 911 by Michael Moore who wrote this book's introduction.  That movie recounted basic facts about recent years, many of them familiar to anyone who'd been paying attention, and yet the information came as a shock to most moviegoers.  This book would come as a shock to most readers.

A column from November 10, 2010, included in the book, begins, "If a volcano kills civilians in Indonesia, it's news.  When the government does the killing, sadly, it's just business as usual, especially if an American president tacitly endorses the killing, as President Barack Obama just did with his visit to Indonesia."  Who recalls that episode now?  Who remembers the crises that jump in and out of our media: the cruelties imposed on Honduras or Haiti?  This book brings together a full four years and moves us to ask where each story has now gone.

Here we read a history of teasing:  There's going to be accountability for foreclosure fraud very soon.  No, really.  Any day now.  Any month now.  We've launched a new study into, um, an investigation of a review procedure capability program.  No, seriously. Investigations are underway into the crimes of Rupert Murdoch.  Really, we mean it.

Too many of these columns end with references to pretended federal efforts of law enforcement that were never heard from again.  There is no doubt an office somewhere in the FBI in which people are paid to calculate the ideal timing for pretending to pursue justice in one cause or another, and the ideal timing for switching over to silence and forgetting.  But it all looks laughable and offensive if you read four years' worth of it all strung together.

This book encourages placing events in context and practices that habit.  "Just before this Sunday's election in Haiti," Goodman and Moynihan wrote on March 23, 2011, "President Rene Preval gave Aristide the diplomatic passport he had long promised him.  Earlier, on January 19, then U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley tweeted, referring to Aristide: 'today Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past.'  [Aristide's wife] Mildred was incensed.  She said the U.S. had been saying that since they forced him out of the country.  Sitting in a plane a few minutes before landing in Haiti, she repeated the words of an African leader who criticized abuses of colonial powers by saying, 'I would stop talking about the past, if it weren't so present.'"

Part of the recent history reviewed here is the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.  As our government/media work to rewrite those stories, Goodman and Moynihan remind us of the days when people in Cairo held up a sign that read "To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It's over!"  This collection takes us through the occupy movement and numerous other stories that are ongoing and developing, serving as an ideal primer for those now getting or staying involved. 

The current crisis in Syria, for its coverage of which Democracy Now has been criticized, is too new and does not appear in the book.

Enough is included in this book for disturbing patterns to emerge without comment from the authors.  Here, for example, are four years of empty threats to our government from our people.  Many have probably forgotten Bill McKibben's statement in August 2001: "Our hope is to send a Richter 8 tremor through the political system on the day Barack Obama says no to Big Oil and reminds us all why we were so happy when he got elected.  The tar sands pipeline is his test."  Apparently there was no plan for what to do on the day (after day after day) on which Obama did not remind them why they were so happy.  There was no contingency plan for his failing the test.  There was no comprehension of how this guaranteed that he would choose to fail the test.  And there is now forgetfulness of the growing ludicrousness of past promises and past pseudo-threats to power.  Move the goal posts.  Declare a new showdown.  Avoid reading this book.

The themes of the book include many that never entered the recent Obama-Romney debates.  Among them: race, and the death penalty.  The themes of the book are not presented in isolation, but in interconnectedness.  A Chicago police officer, Jon Burge, goes on a torture spree. "Where did it all begin?" ask Goodman and Moynihan.  "One thing is clear: In 1968-69, Burge was an MP at the U.S. Army's Dong Tam camp in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, where captured suspected Viet Cong soldiers were allegedly interrogated with electric, hand-cranked field telephones supplying shocks.  Torture techniques similar to this were rampant under Burge's command in Chicago."  On October 6, 2010, Goodman and Moynihan wrote:

"News broke last week that the U.S. government purposely exposed hundreds of men in Guatemala to syphilis in ghoulish medical experiments conducted during the late 1940s.  As soon as the story got out, President Barack Obama phoned President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala to apologize.  Colom called the experiments 'an incredible violation of human rights.'  Colom also says his government is studying whether it can bring the case to international court. … Ironically, the Guatemala study began in 1946, the same year as the Nuremberg tribunals, the first of which tried Nazi doctors accused of conducting heinous experiments on concentration-camp prisoners.  Half of those accused were put to death."

Numerous such connections are pointed out in the book or inevitably arise in the reader's mind.  The U.S. Supreme Court in the Troy Davis case finds it constitutional to kill an innocent person.  President Obama creates a drone program the serves primarily to do that very thing on a large scale. 

While the Occupy movement would not have existed as a national phenomenon without the corporate media, Democracy Now was there first and stayed with it longer.  Getting more people to watch Democracy Now must be an easier thing that getting the corporate media to favor the dismantling of corporate power.  Goodman and Moynihan, who barely sleep, and who are driven by the urgent moral need to confront the horrors the corporate media rarely notices, are on their way to a town near you.  Welcome them.

Police Assault Whistle-Blowers in Their Ranks

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Two police lieutenants face a similar criminal charge but one gets a slap on the wrist while the other is fired.

One of these two police supervisors is an officer with a distinguished record of exposing corruption and misconduct.

Guess which of those two veteran police officers received the harsher punishment?

A Nation Armed to the Teeth but Living in Fear

 

By Dave Lindorff


A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.


Game Meant to Oppose War on Iran Builds in Pro-War Propaganda

Veterans For Peace supports the abolition of war.  We therefore have mixed feelings about opposition to a particular war when that opposition supports the institution of war making as an acceptable tool of public policy, and when the opposition builds into its assumptions much of the propaganda it should be exposing.

PBS and Iran's "Nuclear Weapons"

NewsHour botches basic fact about Iran dispute


In an October 22 discussion of the foreign policy presidential debate, the PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown stated that "Iran's nuclear weapons program has been a particular flash point."

A few weeks earlier (10/5/12) on the NewsHour, Ray Suarez said that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez had

continued to thwart American efforts on a range of international issues, such as Washington's attempt to convince Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to halt his country's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

As most people following this story should know, there is no intelligence that shows Iran has a nuclear weapons program. The country has long denied the accusation, and regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to turn up evidence that Iran's enriched uranium is being diverted for use in a weapon (Extra!, 1/12).

Some governments claim otherwise, but journalists are supposed to convey the evidence that is available--not to make claims that are unsupported by the facts. If there was one clear lesson from the Iraq War, it was that reporters need to carefully distinguish between what is known for certain and what some government leaders claim.

There have been questions about the NewsHour's Iran reporting before (FAIR Blog, 1/10/12). On January 9 the broadcast reported that Iran's denial that it is pursuing a nuclear weapon was "disputed by the U.S. and its allies." The show turned to a clip from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to bolster that point -- but edited out the part of his statement in which he said, "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." A NewsHour editor agreed (FAIR Blog, 1/1712) that "it would have been better had we not lopped off the first part of the Panetta quote."

Unfortunately, these recent examples suggest that the show is still being careless about how it reports the facts about Iran.

ACTION:
Tell the PBS NewsHour to correct its assertions that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

CONTACT:
PBS NewsHour
onlineda2@newshour.org

Dubious Reports About Fidel Castro's Health

 

Dubious Reports About Fidel Castro's Health

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Responding in longer form to erroneous reports of his death, Mark Twain was quoted saying, "Reports of my death death were greatly exaggerated."

 

THE MORAL EQUIVALENT OF NUREMBERG

By Robert C. Koehler

My favorite quote was from the British government spokesperson, who assured us: “All ammunition used by UK armed forces falls within international humanitarian law and is consistent with the Geneva Convention.”

Tears come to my eyes as I think about the kindness of coalition bullets, the empathy of coalition bombs — unlike, I’m certain, the ammo used by terrorists, which is cruel, which hates our way of life and wants only to destroy it.

Late Senator Arlen Specter Spoke in Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Much is rightly made of the ‘maverick’ character of former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Arlen Specter in obituaries and other media coverage since his recent death.

That maverick streak certainly animated Specter’s December 2010 Farewell Speech from the Senate where he criticized the lack of civility currently rampant in that body plus assailed both political parties for perpetuating legislative gridlock and abuses of Senate rules.

Debate #2: Is that All There Is?

 

By Dan DeWalt


Tuesday's Presidential debate spoke volumes about the sorry state of politics today. Granted, both contenders gave a good show: Obama was back on his game and Romney did his best to sound like Ronald Reagan. The pundits have been given a lovely hopper of fodder to hold them for a week or so. It has been agreed that Americans only care for a spectacle, so this debate will be analyzed and judged the same way any theatrical event gets reviewed by the critics.


Children under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.


Infomercials for Despots

 

Infomercials for Despots

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Sanitizing news and suppressing what's most important is bad enough. Imagine compounding it by producing infomercials for despots. CNN stands accused. More on that below.

 

It's well known that Western major media represent wealth and power interests. Fox New is a Republican party house organ. It also reflects Rupert Murdoch's worldview.

The Good American

"The Good American: A Situation Report for Citizens" by B. Sidney Smith is well worth reading, and you can read it in an hour.  This is more the length of an article than a book, and you could read it in the same time in which you could read a lengthy review by me that wouldn't do it justice. 

Smith summarizes brilliantly the state of U.S. society; the role our government/military plays in the world; the ways our televisions and advertising and elections keep us ignorant, distracted, obedient, and pacified; the degree to which ours has become an unequal class society; the looming environmental catastrophe we face (or should face up to); and -- a little less brilliantly -- what we can do about it. 

I could quote many excellent paragraphs or quibble with the points I disagree on.  But fundamentally this is an outstanding pamphlet that should be spread around like Tom Paine's was.  I can't think of a better, more concise explanation for your average American of what sort of mess we're in.  It's a shame that Smith follows his analysis with a final chapter that walks right up to the edge of demanding creative nonviolent activism and then tells the reader -- exactly as would Obama or Romney: "Now go vote."

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

Tube World is the first children's book by David Swanson, author of several nonfiction adult books. The illustrations for Tube World are by Shane Burke.

Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning?  Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds?  Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school?  Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day?  You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.

Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow?  Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip?  Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast?  If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know.  And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.

Buy the PDF, EPUB (iPad, Nook, etc.), or MOBI (Kindle) from Ebookit.

The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.

Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,

(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)

Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,

Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.

Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.

Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

Advance Praise for Tube World:

“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley

“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis

“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie

About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper.  You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com

Ralph Nader's 6 favorite books

The former presidential candidate and consumer advocate devours books on history and politics
The Week

Six-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is the author of a new book, The Seventeen Solutions, about mending America's social and economic bruises.

Six-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is the author of a new book, The Seventeen Solutions, about mending America's social and economic bruises.

Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained by Arthur D. Robbins (Acropolis, $35). This is the sleeper book of 2012. Engaging, historical, eye-opening, agitating, and imaginative, it challenges us all to be included in "the true meaning of democracy" — shorn of myths and false history. 

My 70 Years in the Labor Movement by Harry Kelber (Labor Educator Press, $25). Kelber is 98 years young and still this nation's most ardent champion of democratically run labor unions, a hair shirt to the AFL-CIO. His account of labor struggles in modern American history features stories that shock and inspire. 

Government Is Good by Douglas J. Amy (Dog Ear, $20). Amy, who teaches at Mount Holyoke College, tells the compelling story of what government can be like at its best and what government can't be when anti-government propaganda campaigns take hold. He's the creator of the website GovernmentIsGood.com. 

When the World Outlawed War by David Swanson (self-published, $15). Did you know that in the 1920s war was outlawed by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which is still on the books? It was championed by Frank Kellogg, Calvin Coolidge's secretary of state, who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Read Swanson's book and you'll be astounded and shamed by the peaceful vigor of some of our forebears. 

Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank (AK Press, $17). This collection of essays comes from the political Left, and its critiques are more accurate than what the Romneyites are hurling at the president. Hopeless indirectly asks, whatever happened to liberals/progressives as a demanding political force?

Billionaires & Ballot Bandits by Greg Palast (Seven Stories, $15). Amazing are the ways some people have to steal votes, block voters, cover up the tracks. Even as the Electoral College allows a few states to swing the results in our presidential elections, these travesties go uninvestigated and unprosecuted. It's as if they are just games the two parties play against one another. Read this and be alert.

 Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has six times been a candidate for president. His new book, The Seventeen Solutions, lays out his prescription for curing America's social and economic ills.

Drone Opposition Breaks Through the Corporate Media Ceiling

Americans ignore 'great risks,' travel to Pakistan to protest US drone strikes
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/05/14241712-americans-ignore-great-risks-travel-to-pakistan-to-protest-us-drone-strikes
NBC News

American activists in Pakistan to protest U.S. drone strikes
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/05/world/asia/pakistan-us-drone-protest/index.html
CNN

CODEPINK to Protest Drones in Pakistan
http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2012/10/05/americans-in-pakistan-to-protest-us-drone-strikes
US News

American protestors join Pakistan protest against drone attacks to 'apologise on behalf of those with a conscience'
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2213409/Code-Pink-campaign-U-S-drone-attacks-Pakistan-Imran-Khan-leads-peace-march.html
The Daily Mail Online

Imran Khan braves march into Pakistan's Taliban heartland
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/imran-khan-braves-march-into-pakistans-taliban-heartland-8198400.html
The Independent

The folly of drone attacks and U.S. strategy
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/04/opinion/pakistan-drone-attacks-akbar/index.html
CNN

US Peace Activists Challenge Ambassador in Pakistan About Drones
http://www.commondreams.org/video/2012/10/05
Common Dreams

Delegation of American Activists Confronts US Drone Strike Policy in Pakistan
http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/10/04/delegation-of-american-activists-confronts-us-drone-strike-policy-in-pakistan/
FireDogLake

Americans Press U.S. Ambassador for End to Drone Strikes in Pakistan, and the Ambassador Responds
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/americans-press-us-ambass_b_1941919.html
The Huffington Post

Power of Pink: women hungry for drone protest
http://www.smh.com.au/world/power-of-pink-women-hungry-for-drone-protest-20121005-274lm.html
The Sydney Morning Herald

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

An Urgent Call for RTTV to schedule alternative Third-Party Presidential Debates!

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a simple answer to the refusal of the Two Party-Controlled Presidential Debate Commission's refusal to include third party candidates in its three debates: An alternative televised debate that would include the third party candidates, and that would air right after the corrupt and largely meaningless debate between Obama and Romney ends.

How Hawkish Are Americans?

By Lawrence S. Wittner

Dr. Lawrence S. Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is "Working for Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual” (University of Tennessee Press).


U.S. Army gunner during a mission in Afghanistan. Credit: Flickr/Zoriah.

In the midst of a nationwide election campaign in which many politicians trumpet their support for the buildup and employment of U.S. military power around the world, the American public’s disagreement with such measures is quite remarkable. Indeed, many signs point to the fact that most Americans want to avoid new wars, reduce military spending, and support international cooperation.

The latest evidence along these lines is a nationwide opinion survey just released as a report (Foreign Policy in the New Millennium) by the highly-respected Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Conducted in late May and early June 2012, the survey resulted in some striking findings.

One is that most Americans are quite disillusioned with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of the past decade. Asked about these conflicts, 67 percent of respondents said they had not been worth fighting. Indeed, 69 percent said that, despite the war in Afghanistan, the United States was no safer from terrorism.

Israel is not Calling the Shots in this US Election

 

By Dave Lindorff


Netanyahu blinked.


That’s the takeaway from the goofy address by the right-wing, Cheltenham,PA-raised, MIT-educated Israeli prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday.

Attacking American Sovereign Soil Diminishes the Rights of Religion

 


 


by Walter Brasch


 


The terrorists who attacked the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the attacks were retaliation for the publication on You Tube of an anti-Muslim film. That YouTube video was a 14-minute trailer for a one-hour film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that was not only a vicious bigoted attack against Islam but also of no artistic merit.  


 One of the extremist political parties in Egypt plucked the trailer from obscurity and used it as part of a newscast, inflaming the people of Egypt, who mounted a demonstration against the U.S. embassy. Within a week, the trailer had more than 10 million hits on YouTube.

The Birthday of Occupy

 

By Charles M. Young


Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on motor scooter?


A Sea Change in US-Israeli Relations?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The situation in the Middle East has reached a dangerous point, to be sure, but there are also signs that a sea change may be taking place here in the US which could herald a whole new relationship between the US, Israel and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.


The Military Spending Cut Scare

The fearmongering is on.  Here's a typical article, this one from the only daily newspaper in my hometown:

"Defense spending could face large loss from federal cuts

"Charlottesville and Albemarle County could see a potential loss of $46.5 million in defense-related spending if federally mandated cuts, which are slated to start next year, come to fruition."

There are several ways in which this is misleading.  First, "defense" here means military, whether or not defensive.  Second, "cuts" in Washington-talk includes reductions in a budget from one year to the next, OR reductions from a desired dream-budget to a less-desired budget, even one that is an increase over last year's.  For the past 13 years, military spending has grown to levels not seen since World War II. It's over half of federal discretionary spending, and as much as the rest of the world combined.  The Pentagon's budget grew each year George W. Bush was president and the first three years that Barack Obama was president.  It is being cut by 2.6% this year, not the 9% used to calculate a portion of that $46.5 million figure.  If the mandated cuts mentioned above go through, the Pentagon will still be spending next year more than it did in 2006 at the height of the war on Iraq.

In addition, military contractors have been bringing in more federal dollars while cutting jobs.  They employed fewer people in 2011 with bigger contracts than in 2006 with smaller ones.  So the logic of bigger contracts = more jobs is essentially a bucket of hope and change.

And the Pentagon's base budget is less than half of total military spending. It's necessary to add in war spending (over $80 billion nationally this year), nuclear weapons spending through the Department of Energy, military operations through the State Department, USAID, and the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, etc., to get the real total. The Pentagon also has $83 billion in unobligated balances it can draw on.

The war industries in the United States are also by no means limited to the U.S. government.  U.S. weapons makers brought in $66.3 billion last year from foreign governments.  Many of those governments, like our own, are engaged in horrendous human rights abuses, but as long as we're being sociopathic about job creation, there's no reason to leave this out.

The article continues:

"The figures - compiled by the Center for Security Policy and the Coalition for the Common Defense, conservative-leaning Washington, D.C.-based think tanks - are based on publicly available information on Department of Defense contracts compiled and made available online through the Federal Procurement Data System website.

"The coalition describes itself as a group of individuals and local and national organizations 'committed to the Constitutional imperative to provide for the common defense and returning the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing its national security.'"

Never mind that the Constitution was written to include the creation of armies in times of war, not the permanent maintenance of a military industrial complex as a jobs program.  The above is how the two groups pushing the "news" in this article describe themselves.  How would a journalist describe them?  Well, as long as they're promoting military spending, it seems most relevant and significant to describe the ways in which they benefit from that spending.

The Center for Security Policy has a board of advisors packed with weapons makers executives and lobbyists from such disinterested parties as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, Raytheon, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard.  The Coalition for the Common Defense has been maneuvering the anti-spending Tea Party behind massive military spending. Hence the Constitution-talk.  But the "Coalition" isn't run by Constitutional scholars.  It's dominated by weapons company lobbyists, including the Aerospace Industry Association, which represents Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, and other military industry corporations.  The Aerospace Industry Association spends over $2 million a year lobbying our government in Washignton.  Much of that money ends up being spent on luxurious lobbyist lifestyles in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.  Never forget the danger of the loss of that source of job creation should Congress simply and unquestioningly take direction from the weapons makers.

The article goes on:

"The data is reported by fiscal year and does not include grants or loans.

"From 2000-2011, more than 14,000 Virginia businesses provided defense-related goods and services, according to a state level report prepared by for Common Defense.

"Based on fiscal year 2011 defense contract date, the estimated reduction in Albemarle County in 2013 would be $43.25 million; in the city, the reduction would be an estimated $3.25 million.

"Earlier this year, defense budgets were cut by about $487 billion, an average of a 9 percent cut over a decade. In addition, the reports reflect the impact of sequestration, a 2011 mandate for about $500 billion more in defense spending reductions from 2013-2021, which averages to about an overall 18 percent cut in defense spending."

Here it's worth pausing to note that the $487 billion figure has been multiplied by 10.  It's a figure "over a decade."  Divided by 10 it would be $48.7 billion "over a year."  Or, it could be multiplied by 100 to give us $4,870 billion "over a century."  The reasons to talk about the decade are two.  First, it sounds bigger that way.  Second, by loading the later years heavily, politicians can claim to be making big cuts while actually passing those cuts on to future politicians who may not make them.  While all the news articles deal with cuts "over a decade," Congress actually only passes budgets for a year at a time.

"Published earlier this year, the reports indicate the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions would see the most severe losses if the cuts are fully implemented, while the state overall could lose $7.24 billion in earnings and more than 122,000 jobs.

“'There’s no question that Virginia will be the most impacted,' Christine Brim, chief operating officer of the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Progress. 'Virginia has the largest amount of defense spending. This is, without a doubt, the state that is the most impacted.'

"Furthermore, Brim said the effects go beyond just the financial to the core of Virginia’s identity, history and culture as a state important to America’s defense, character traits that still hold true today."

Here's Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine claiming that one in three Virginians depends directly on military spending.  These claims are almost certainly exaggerated. They are for Albemarle County.  The county's website says: "The economy of Albemarle County is vital and growing. The predominant economic sectors are services, manufacturing, education, retail, tourism, trade,  care & social assistance, technical & professional services and agriculture. The County of Albemarle's labor force is roughly 53,000 and its unemployment rate of 2.6% is consistently lower than the state and national averages." 

"However, Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said the state does not yet have any estimates for the effect of sequestration in Virginia.

“'With so many variables involved, there is no firm number to delineate that impact on the commonwealth or any particular area,' Caldwell said by email.

"Rep. Robert Hurt, R-5th, called the looming cuts 'devastating' for his district, which encompasses most of the Charlottesville region.

“'The White House and the Senate must join with the House [of Representatives] in addressing this impending crisis so we can keep our military men and women adequately equipped, protect jobs across the 5th District and the Commonwealth, and reduce our national debt in a responsible manner,” Hurt said in a statement."

A few points missed in the above: First, refusing to cut military spending does the opposite of reducing the national debt.  Second, military spending is the least cost-efficient way to produce jobs.  It produces fewer jobs than spending on infrastructure, green energy, education, or even tax cuts for working people.  So, if the goal is to save money while producing jobs, military spending is exactly the place to cut.  Third, there is absolutely no evidence that "adequate equipment" is what's on the chopping block here.  Hurt makes it sound like putting the U.S. navy on Jeju Island, South Korea, against the passionate will of the people there, is being done not to threaten China but as an act of philanthropy for U.S. sailors.

"House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, whose 7th District encompasses portions of the Charlottesville region, issued an even more sharply worded statement on his website, calling the planned cuts a 'dangerous threat' and urging President Obama and Senate Democrats 'to take serious action to prevent these arbitrary, devastating cuts from taking place.'"

Did he offer any evidence for those sharp words?

"While Brim acknowledged the need and desire to cut federal spending, she said gutting the defense budget would derail America’s recovery from the recession.

"That’s because conflict would interrupt trade and commerce and 'there would be nothing more costly than having our trade routes disrupted,' she said."

Now this is a new one.  Unless we continue to borrow money from China with which to build up our military presence all over the globe, including in every location strategically helpful in cutting off China's trade routes, our trade routes will be disrupted.  What trade routes?!  Can she name one?  Conflict, indeed, dirupts peaceful activity.  But conflict comes from war spending.  War spending and war preparation spending does not reduce conflict.

"Local leaders, however, were more measured in their assessment of the effect of the cuts on the local economy.

“'While our area would be affected by any change in federal spending, the overall impact would be minimal given that defense spending constitutes a small percentage of our overall economy,' Chris Engel, Charlottesville’s economic development director said by email.

"Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin said recent reaffirmations of the county’s AAA bond rating in spite of potential defense-related reductions is an indicator of confidence and stability in the local economy.

“'However, we are home to several major federal installations and associated defense contractors who are valued and important partners in our economy, so we are concerned about funding uncertainty,' Catlin said by email.

"And if the spending cuts do come to pass, Engel expressed confidence that the region’s economy would persevere. 'I think our business community has proven itself to be very adaptable in the past and this could be another instance where that trait will be needed,' Engel said."

If these last paragraphs had come first, this would not have been a bad article at all.

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