Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

02 October, 2008

The Trillion Dollars You Aren't Hearing Much About

With all the hoopla about the bailout package for the banking industry, I've seen very little attention paid to the fact that last week the House passed a $612 billion defense authorization bill. Remember all those Democrats who ran on an anti-war platform back in 2006? Well, the vote was 392-39 which means a whole crap load of them thought it was a good idea to keep our ventures in Iraq & Afghanistan going with an immediate outlay of $68.6 billion with more to follow in the form of supplementary funding. And the $612 billion here doesn't account for money spent in the name of national security in departments other than Defense. Energy, the CIA, and other organizations get defense lucre too which prompts folks like Chalmers Johnson to estimate total defense outlays somewhere above the $1 trillion mark.

And why do we need to place a radar installation in the Czech Republic?

The military authorization bill would also fully fund the request for a radar site in the Czech Republic, opening the door for the next U.S. administration to begin building a European missile defense system. That project has been a source of tension in the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Russia. Moscow opposes the deployment of U.S. military assets so close to its borders.

Does the Cuban Missile Crisis ring a bell? We didn't find it amusing for the Soviet Union to put their missiles within spitting distance of Florida and so I can't imagine the Russians would be very keen on having ours in close proximity to Moscow.

No one is going to argue with giving our men and women in uniform a pay raise, but then there's those $5 billion in pork.

This is a massive amount of money that goes to project American military power around the globe and to sustain the Carter Doctrine and such appropriations are made year in and year out with little public comment.

I had two conversations about politics this morning before I made it to work and both were with Obama supporters. (I even asked one of them is she'd heard about the defense bill. She hadn't.) Frustrated, I told each of them that I thought McCain and Obama were scumbags. To be sure, Obama is less scumbaggy, but a scumbag nonetheless. My interlocutors were taken aback but at least the second of them understood that Obama is not the be-all-end-all of anything.

Everyday I encounter Obama supporters who think him some kind of big daddy who, if he were to be elected, would make everything OK again, that he's the definition of altruism and would make the fundamental changes they sought. Well, I call bullshit on that. I also call bullshit on this notion that the president is the only member of government who can affect positive change. I just want to grab some of these people, put them in headlocks, and start giving them noogies while saying, "Hello! McFly!" Stop investing Obama with all this capacity for change because presidents don't do that kind of stuff unless they're pressured to do so. Johnson wouldn't have signed any civil rights legislation if it weren't for a whole movement pushing for change. And a move towards renewable energy isn't going to happen under the watch of a president of a major party that receives millions of dollars from interests who don't want that to happen unless Joe and Jane Six-Pack start agitating for it. Plus the Executive Branch has to contend with this thing called Congress. (At least it should.) It never ceases to amaze me how the brains of otherwise intelligent people seem to shut down when faced with having to deal with something beyond a simple binary opposition of Obama v. McCain. The good side gets one guy and the bad side gets one guy and that's about as complicated as most people can get when it comes to politics. Never mind that Congress controls the purse strings and never mind that Congressional committees determine what legislation gets to make it to a vote. It's just so much easier to invest all your hopes in one figure and his attendant slogans instead of tackling the reality that your fate, as far as the government's role, is in the hands of many people and competing interests.

In short, I don't see a President Obama rocking the boat much, if at all. I do see him wanting to maintain our bloated defense budget, increasing the size of the armed forces, and sending troops into Pakistan. Yes he can!
|| Palmer, 12:48 PM

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