Category Archives: War

We Don’t Need No Edumacation

How a government prioritizes spending of the tax money it collects from its citizenry says a lot about the values of the people controlling that government.

Beginning next week in Germany, for instance, all universities will be free of charge, as the last German state charging tuition abandoned those fees.

“Tuition fees are socially unjust,” Hamburg Senator Dorothee Stapelfeldt told a reporter for The Australian. “They particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

Meanwhile, here in Texas, which has seen an oil and gas boom of epic proportions of late and a corresponding state tax windfall, receiving an education at a state university costs an average of $21,978 a year – or about $88,000 per bachelor’s degree if your son or daughter can make it in four years.

That’s a handy trick for a family in Texas where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the per capita income is less than $26,000 and more than 17% of the population lives in poverty. ‘Course, Texas is in 49th place among all states in spending per secondary education student, which in itself gives you a pretty clear idea about education and comparative values and all, right pardner?

Also posted in Education, Government

Let The Good Times Roll

Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go!
There’s plenty good money to be made,
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade.
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong!
Country Joe & The Fish, “Vietnam Song”

Who says war, what is it good for? Not Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman or General Dynamics! When the President announces a war with all weapon systems and no boots on the ground (those 1,600 “advisers” in Iraq and Syria only wear sandals), that means good times for America’s military-industrial complex.

Huh, how ’bout this? President Obama announces a jet-and-missile slamfest against angry jihadist oil refineries, and presto! All the giant publicly traded U.S. defense contractors miraculously hit their all-time high stock prices on pretty much the same day. Yeah, you could’ve hugged tight onto your S&P 500 Index mutual fund, enjoying a return so far this year of a whopping 2.2%. Or you could have bought into the above four weapons makers and be ahead of the game by 19% so far this year.

And if raining death down upon angry enemies is good for the military-industrial complex, it’s great for members of Congress of both parties, too! Because an industry so dependant upon government contracts is a grateful industry willing to share its largess with those who authorize government spending.

Out-of-control federal budget deficits? Pentagon spending cuts? Nyah – that was yesterday’s sound byte.

Also posted in Be Afraid, Corporate, Government, Verbatim


→ “As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” – President Barak Obama, Sept. 10, 2014

→ “I say that today, we had a hearing, and there was testimony from the counterterrorism people and the Department of Homeland Security. There is Twitter traffic right now and Facebook traffic, where they are urging attacks on the United States of America. And there is a great concern that our southern border and our northern border is porous and that they will be coming across.” – Sen. John McCain, Sept. 11, 2014

→ “I actually think we’re going to end up with small American special operations forces active in this broad theater, both Iraq and Syria. I don’t think you get American maneuver units on the ground, though… I do think we get to about 5,000 by the end of the year.” – former CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, Sept. 14, 2014

→ “We’re fighting a terrorist army, not an organization. It’s going to take an army to beat an army. And this idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy.” – Sen. Lindsey Graham, five minutes later, Sept. 14, 2014

→ “The reality is they’re not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So there will be boots on the ground, if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.” – former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, early morning, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “In the case of our contributions in Iraq right now the airmen are very much in a combat role. The folks on the ground are very much in a combat advisory role. They are not participating in direct combat. There is no intention for them to do so. I’ve mentioned, though, that if I found that circumstance evolving that I would, of course, change my recommendation.” – Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, late morning, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “We’re faced with people who are going to keep changing, keep evolving, keep learning. My guess is this will be a 50-year campaign. And as they become more horrible and the threat becomes more real, it will ramp up in intensity. It will ramp up in toughness. And ultimately, it will be a worldwide campaign because that’s where they are. You will have no choice. There are over 10,000 terrorists from over 50 countries currently in the ISIS arena, the Islamic State’s arena. That’s how big the movement is.” – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, early afternoon, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “Our numbers have increased in Vietnam because the aggression of others has increased in Vietnam. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation.” – former President Lyndon B. Johnson, Feb. 23, 1966

→ “No amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants. It is my firm belief that the responsible course of action – for the United States, for Iraq, and for our troops – is to oppose this reckless escalation and to pursue a new policy… When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience, is over.” – not-yet President Barak Obama, Jan. 30, 2007

Also posted in Be Afraid, Politics, Verbatim

The War On Anger

Congratulations to both the Obama Administration and the Cheney-McCain war hawks, I guess. They have been successful, according to the latest polls, in whipping up enough fear in the brains of average Americans that now the public mostly supports doing something military to stamp out the newest version of terror, now a.k.a. ISIS.

The president last night of course declared he has legal authority to use fighter jets and drones to chase a concept called terror pretty much wherever he chooses. Run-of-the-mill legal scholars disagree, but since the Republican neocons are, as always, foaming at the mouth for more manly military intervention everywhere, it’s a cinch, as always, that there will be no congressional challenge to yet another Executive Branch military overreach.

So the circle is completed and Obama becomes the same man he replaced as president a few years ago by running on a platform of ending endless war. President Obama assures this latest foray will involve no “combat boots on the ground,” although some 1,400 soldier types already have been sent over and you can bet this number will escalate and escalate, if my memory serves (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq I).

As for the air strikes President Obama now has authorized himself to order up in Iraq and Syria and wherever, it turns out many of them already are being undertaken with the purpose of destroying major weapons we left behind in the hands of the Iraqi army, who abandoned them, pooped their collective pants and ran away in the face of ISIS militia. If you count the original cost of the tanks, armoured vehicles, Howitzer cannons and the like that we (you know, the taxpayers) paid for in the first place, which we now must pay to have destroyed, these air strikes carry a taxpayer price tag of from about $1.5 million up to more than $12 million apiece.

That is certainly a fine thing if you happen to be sitting on top of a pile of Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Northrop Grumann stock, but it sucks for the rest of America, which has yet to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, and now faces the prospect of economic fall-out from yet another unfunded war without any defined endgame.

I guess this aspect is what gets me the most: These guys (the last two presidents and the Neocon Pack) work the citizenry up into a froth of fear (often without any basis whatsoever, I might add), then propel us into what amounts to full-on war, regardless of which weasel words they use to describe it. And they never seem to have a plan for ending the thing. It’s almost as if they don’t want to ever end the thing, almost as if they all were sitting on piles of Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Northrop Grumann stock, or campaign contributions.

What if we referred to what the U.S. is doing in more accurate terms? We have not declared war on “terror.” We have declared war on an emotion. We have declared war on anger. These jihadist groups have one thing in common, at least: They are so angry at American policy that they seem willing to go to any lengths to hurt us.

It turns out that a lot of this anger has been built up inside people whose family members may have, for instance, been blown up as corollary damage in drone strikes or military actions that the Bush Jr. or Obama administrations authorized themselves to conduct over the past few years.

So how do American Neocons respond to this newer anger? Why, by ramping up air strikes around cities and towns full of innocent civilians who through no fault of their own found their territory controlled by ISIS.

In other words, we are taking action pretty much guaranteed to create more angry militants than now exist, apparently guaranteeing the need for us to blow up more angry militants, with sufficient corollary damage to create even more angry militants. This is what happens when you declare war on an emotion such as anger, or on a concept such as terror.

In truth, the drug cartels of Mexico and South America have and continue to pose something closer to a terrorist threat to U.S. citizens than does ISIS, the beheading of two American journalists notwithstanding.

And meanwhile, while we tie up our military assets battling anger in the Mideast, who is left to stop Putin as he methodically steals back all the countries that broke away from the totalitarian old Soviet Union? NATO and the Europeans? Not bloody likely, sports fans.

“Well,” as Oliver Hardy once said to Stan Laurel, “here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”

Also posted in Be Afraid, Government