Saturday, February 13, 2016

Obama's Budget Swan Song: Quadruple Budget For U.S. Military In Europe

As liberals and so-called progressives in the U.S. duke it out over whether to nominate the candidate with the prettiest words or the prettiest bank account, their current president has released his final, lame duck budget request. Graphed above, it couldn't be more clear what the biggest priority continues to be: the Pentagon and its contractors. 

How can liberals and so-called progressives continue to support spending over half of discretionary funds on killing innocents abroad? The Obama administration dropped 23,144 bombs on Muslim civilians in 2015 alone. While still emitting pretty words on a daily basis.

As the economy tanks yet again with millions homeless, hungry or still un- and underemployed from the '08 crash, why would it be a priority to quadruple funding for U.S. weapons and military bases in Europe?

Thanks to the analysts at National Priorities Project for the pie chart above and for their examination of yet another guns over butter budget request from this "progressive" president:
The budget maintains the status quo, with more than half of discretionary funding (the funding Congress allocates each year during its budget process) reserved for the Pentagon and spending on nuclear weapons and related items. Total Pentagon and related spending in the request amounts to nearly $623 billion, including the Pentagon budget, nuclear weapons and aid to foreign militaries [my note: e.g. Israel]. The budget provides $583 billion for the Pentagon alone in 2017, a $2 billion increase over 2016. 
  • A $59 billion 2017 Pentagon slush fund, or Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding – a fund that began as an Iraq and Afghanistan war fund and has since morphed into a Pentagon petty cash jar, and which permits the Pentagon to bust through legislated budget caps;
  • Just $7.5 billion, less than two percent of the Pentagon’s total budget, for fighting ISIS, making clear that even real terrorist threats are often cynically used to secure billions in unrelated Pentagon funding;
  • Quadrupled funding, or $3.4 billion, for the European Reassurance Initiative, recommitting the United States to military involvement in a conflict where our ability to make a positive difference is highly questionable.
What continues to perplex and amaze me is that the people who support Obama and who will likely support any candidate with a D after his or her name are, for the most part, educated. They've studied world history. They've examined, in high school or college, the brutal end of societies who overspent on wars of aggression while crushing dissenting voices at home.

Why can they not recognize the U.S. going down this same path again? They fall all over themselves with enthusiasm for possible future presidents with equally abysmal records on funding wars all over the planet. Most of these same people would tell you they are concerned about the environment, worried about climate change, and pessimistic about the future of commons like water, air and soil being pillaged for corporate profit.

What do they not get about the Pentagon being the biggest consumer of fossil fuels of any organization on the planet?

In the end I explain it by another history lesson, on the power of propaganda. Information management's real strength is not in selling you lies but in narrowing your vision down to a tiny peephole that blocks out most of reality. Televised sports contests are the eye candy of a sinister plot to render the populace as uninformed as possible. It is working brilliantly, for the most part.
Matt Cowan / Getty Images
I have mad respect for BeyoncĂ©'s introduction of political truth at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show this year. It's also the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers, and in the current atmosphere of police violence without accountability that gave rise to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, that matters.

But who snuck into the Super Bowl with news that the U.S. is heating up a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia? That ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Taleban are a) supported and often funded by the U.S. and allies Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and b) continue to succeed at recruiting new jihadis because you funded 23,144 opportunities for them to develop a virulent hatred of the U.S. in 2015 alone? 

I'll gird my loins now for the barrage of abuse I'll trigger by sharing news that I'll be supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein for president. Her platform would drastically cut the Pentagon budget (in half, still not enough for my tastes, but I do support a living wage and healthcare for military personnel plus cleaning up all those toxic sites the military has created) and actually fully fund environmental stewardship, public education, and universal health care.

The liberals and "progressives" will scorn me for not choosing the "less evil" of two sides in the false dichotomy of corporate government. They will say if the demagogue with the bad hair or the one that looks like Count Dracula win, it will be my fault.

There are a lot of things I like about living in Maine, and here's one of them: we have a whopping three electoral votes. No national election is going to be determined by the voters of my state under the rigged system known as the electoral college. 

So, you can vote your conscience in Maine -- if you can still hear it calling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Green Party has no chance to win .. any vote cast for Stein will be symbolic only. This is the first I have ever heard of her whereas I know plenty about all of the present scrambling-to-be candidates. With all the hoopla and carnival atmosphere leading to the Primary .. I don't think Independents are going to get much recognition in this Presidential race.