The Watering Hole; Thursday April 7 2016; Wage Peace, Not War part II — “Defense” Budget;

“We’re run by people that don’t get it. I don’t know, it’s a lack of street smarts,
it’s a lack of intelligence, to be honest with you, but it’s just a horrible situation.”
(Donald Trump)

A revolting statistic: The US military outspends the next 13 top-spending nations combined.

Military spending, WaPo

(▲Courtesy Washington Post▲)

Not sure why it is, really, but stats like that MAKE ME MAD!!! Can anyone come up with a better and more efficient means for a nation to piss away its wealth and sustenance than blowing the better part of a trillion dollars on its war machine? What exactly has that philosophy bought us US since, say, Sept 2 1945, aka the end of the last truly defensive war in which the US (necessarily) engaged? What’s been our gain in Korea? Vietnam? Grenada? Panama? Bosnia? Kuwait? Afghanistan? Iraq? And today, Syria? How many global “friends” have we acquired courtesy of our military adventurism? None? How many enemies have we made? Lots? To what end?

Are we safer now? Is the M.I.C. better off?

The answers to those last two questions are, of course, NO and YES, resp.; and therein lies the rub: it’s the MONEY, stupid.

Here in Amurkkka we loves us some military. Cuz there’s MONEY in it, dontcha know! OK, so there’s also wanton death, destruction, murder, insanity, etc., but what the hell, the MONEY trumps all of that, right? Right. So we continue on our wayward path of always spending more, more, more! on war (aka, to the uninformed, “Defense”) than the rest of the civilized world COMBINED! — and we leave nothing but death, destruction, and insanity  — and hatred of us — in our wake even as we accomplish only what the billionaires want most: more MONEY handed them by we the people. Conclusion: as a nation, we ain’t worth — to the rest of the world — much more than the powder it would take to blow US all to hell.

No worries, though; I have an idea. 🙂

We currently spend $711 Billion per year on what we call “defense.” The world’s second biggest spender on “defense” is our (arch enemy?) China who spends, according to the chart up top, around $145 Billion (make it $146B for easy figuring). Suppose we, US, would agree, in the interest of global sanity, to spend no more than that on our war machine. That would leave $711B minus $146B, or $565B that could be invested elsewhere, maybe even on PEACEful enterprises!

Wow.

Think of it. More than half-a-TRILLION bucks left over! Half a trillion bucks once allocated for ‘defense’ but no longer wasted on bombs and bullets and stuff. Is it really necessary that our “leaders” forever continue to presume that their own reality must remain focused on and be governed by that line from Herman Wouk’s masterful tome The Winds of War, words attributed to Adolf Hitler?

“. . . I have never stopped building planes, planes, planes, U-boats, U-boats, U-boats! . . . I have piled bombs, bombs, bombs, tanks, tanks, tanks to the sky! It has been a wasteful, staggering burden on my people, but what other language have great states ever understood? It is out of a sense of strength that I have offered peace! I Have been rejected and scorned . . .”

That’s an able summation of what’s defined the US “defense” prescription for the last 70 years at least, but a quick look around serves to dismiss the thesis that a great state and its sense of strength can collectively serve to support peace anywhere among us before its leader(s) become rejected and scorned. So why do we continue to follow that self-destructive path? Why do we so love war? What’s so wrong with peace and with caring for others? What is it that forces us to insist on the always-failed military non-solution?

Simple. It’s the MONEY.

So, OK, we in the US currently piss away budget $711 Billion annually for “defense,” and a handful of “important” people (see Dick Cheney, e.g.) get rich off the process even as millions around the world suffer and/or die in result. That essentially spells out, seems to me, what could be described as an able summation of a genuinely nasty setup and policy.

I recommend a few simple changes; here’s a quick summary:

  1. Reserve $146 billion for “defense” in order to keep us on par with China.
  2. Of the (annual!) remaining $565 Billion, we can begin by allocating $100 Billion (annually!) to assist and provide for the needs of refugees who are fleeing the explosive (thanks mainly to US) Middle East — Syria, Iraq, etc.
  3. Of the remaining $465 billion, allocate $75 Billion (annually!) to assist and support refugees(?) from Central America and Mexico, also to enable each and all to obtain legal assistance that enables them to apply for and gain US citizenship, should they so desire.
  4. $390 billion remains. How about $100 Billion (annually!) to be invested in the maintenance and rebuilding of infrastructure here at home?
  5. Of the $290 Billion remaining, $75 billion could be invested (annually!) in anti-poverty programs/initiatives in cities and states everywhere across the country.
  6. Next, apply $100 Billion (annually!) on scientific program(s) designed and developed to help SOLVE the human-caused global climate change dilemma/crisis, both here at home and around the world.
  7. Invest $75 Billion (annually!) wherever needed in domestic Public Education.
  8. Invest $35 Billion (annually!) in a rejuvenated Peace Corps, dedicated to helping the needy in countries everywhere.
  9. And finally, use the remaining $5 Billion (annually!) to pay the salaries and office costs required by those who will work endlessly to devise the mechanisms of forever CLOSING and inverting the tax loopholes that benefit Corporations and billionaires everywhere!

There. A skeletonized recommendation of the means to relieve this country of its never-ending (annualized) planes, planes, planes, bombs, bombs, bombs, tanks, tanks, tanks piled to the sky (!.!.!.) philosophy, and to erect in its place a series of well-financed (each and every year!!) programs that will benefit people both at home and the world over; programs that will reduce (rather than accelerate) hatred of the US by people both at home and the world over. Consider all of this to be the latest incarnation of the

WAGE PEACE, NOT WAR!

domestic and global MOVEMENT!

Or —

We can go the other way, elect Donald Trump as our President, and wallow in the swill that his tremendous acumen on all such matters has already suggested:

I know how to fix it, so easy, that aspect of it. And even, you know, the nuclear.
I am doing so good on nuclear by people that are fair. What’s happening now is
we’re paying for the world’s — we’re like the world’s policeman but they don’t
pay us for it. We lose a fortune on the military. You know, our military budget is
phenomenally higher than any other budget but it’s not for us, we’re protecting
everybody else and we lose a fortune.

(Donald Trump)

Nice choice, right?

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Sunday Roast: Another year gone; what have we learned?

I know I’ve posted this video a few times over the years, in one form or another, but I’m posting it again.

Why?  That’s a good question.  I’m glad you asked.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling especially pessimistic or cynical these days, but I’m thinking that we haven’t learned anything over the past year.  Maybe it’s just that the United States is absolutely fucking bonkers right now, and I’m having trouble seeing the good in the world; or maybe we’re at a critical turning point, and, much like correcting a naughty child, the behavior gets much worse before it starts getting better.

I hope it’s both, and I hope the “getting better” part starts happening soon.

This is the last Sunday Roast of the year — What do you think?

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 22 2015; In Memoriam: J.F. Fogerty

“. . . the heart within them screamed for all-out war!
Like vultures robbed of their young,
the agony sends them frenzied,
soaring high from the nest, round and
round they wheel, they row their wings,
stroke upon churning thrashing stroke,
but all the labor, the bed of pain,
the young are lost forever.”
Agamemnon (by Aeschylus)

Seventy-three years ago today, this day, October 22, 1942, a man died. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC, 35 years old, and was ‘lost forever‘ to the world when he was killed in action somewhere in the South Pacific. Fogerty was a relatively early American victim of the Second World War’s mass carnage, and his remains were among the first interred in Pu’owaina, today known as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu Hawaii.

In the late summer of 1992, I visited Hawaii and spent a couple of hours wandering the confines of Pu’owaina. “Pu’owaina” is a long extinct volcanic crater on the island of Oahu. When one looks outward from its makai rim, the field of view includes Diamond Head, the city of Honolulu, Pear Harbor, and the vast sprawl of the Pacific beyond. The opposite view (ma’uka) tends to focus not on the distant Ko’olau mountains, but instead on the floor of the crater and the thousands of foot-stone grave markers that lie embedded in the lush grass, just below the ascending white marble stairs and columns which define the aptly named Garden Of The Missing.

Overall, the entire of Pu’owaina.is a somber place, one where visitors speak in hushed voice as they listen to the messages which emanate — in silence — from the hallowed ground. What struck me the hardest during my silent wander through the first rows of foot-stones was a single detail on a single marker — and especially the irony implicit. A month or two later and safely back on the mainland, I still and often found myself reflecting upon that marker and the ironic detail that had first gathered my attention. And so it was that 23 years ago, on this date, I wrote the following . . .

JOHN FRANCIS, R.I.P
Reflection after fifty years

John Francis was a soldier.
2nd Lt., United States Marines.
B. February 17, 1907.
D. October 22, 1942.
So reads the foot-stone which lies in shadow of marble pillars,
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
Honolulu.

1942,
Anno Domini,
The year John Francis died
Dawned in fateful aftermath of Date of Infamy
And saw the world engulfed in war.
Young men across the globe heeded call to arms
Not knowing of their fate
Though each and all feared the worst.
As private prayers pursed their lips
Battles raged In Europe, Asia, and across the Pacific –
And everywhere, young men fell into the dark abyss
Of deathly silence –
‘Last full measure of devotion’ now complete,
Souls freed.

John Francis went to war in 1942 –
A Massachusetts Patriot
Descended of those who gave up all to leave their homeland
To seek a better life in a place far removed from what they knew –
A place removed from war.
And when the call to arms was issued
He was ready
To climb aboard a ship and sail
Toward battles already raging.
His duty, he knew, was to lead the fight –
To keep the flame of free men alive atop the pyre
Of human hope.
He didn’t know his fate, of course.
Such things are not written in advance for men to read.

John Francis fought the valiant fight until that fateful day –
October 22, 1942,
Anno Domini.
When then there came another call –
This time from his God.

And
Then
John Francis died.

John Francis was interred with honors due
The fallen,
Beneath the Emerald grass of Hawaii
In a somber place – a place which makes the living beg
The question and ask their God or gods –
Why?
Fifty millions dead –
Why?
Perhaps we’ll never know.

I found myself staring at the foot-stone of John Francis.
It was in an early row of graves, close to the ascending stairs.
The marble columns and the Garden of the Missing
Gleamed above the grass of the cemetery.
I lingered there, humbled,
Recalling things, histories,
And ironies.

For on the day John Francis died
Another life began, a full half-world away –
There was a birth, you see –
And the newborn heard no gunshots as he took his first breath.
Nor was he able to wonder if John Francis had heard the noise –
The summons of his God –
Which claimed his last
Breath.

John Francis shares a date with me –
His final day upon this earth
Was my first.
And after fifty years had passed I promised him –
As I stood in sunshine, free of war, alive
Upon his grave –
That I would ne’er forget
His sacrifice.

John Francis
Fogerty.

R.I.P.

Those were my thoughts a near quarter century ago. Today, on the seventy-third anniversary of John Francis Fogerty’s untimely death, I still find myself wondering if there will ever come a time in human history when a child might be born on a day where no one will die — anywhere — in yet another war. I wonder also, has there ever been, across the entire span of human existence on this earth, a single day when a birth anywhere was not coincident with a wartime death?

Aeschylus’ Agamemnon spoke of the situation circa 480 B.C.E., and sadly those words still, to this day, perfectly describe the consequences of mankind’s greatest failure: his never-ending propensity to engage in yet one more war . . .

“Dear gods, set me free from all the pain,
from the watch I keep . . .

“I mustn’t sleep, no — . . .

“I sob for all that’s come to the house. So badly
managed now. Men die and things go down.
Oh for a blessed end to all our pain,
some godsend burning through the dark.”

Amen.

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