I've been debating the ratio of military spending to the discretionary budget with people on FireDogLake who just refuse to accept the facts. Have I dived off the deep end? Are my arguments bogus? I see this as a critically important issue. "Defense" spending isn't just "high"; it comprises $7 dollars out of every $8 dollars (about 88%) the US Congress has control over. Please let me know whether you consider the following arguments credible.
To get the ratio of military spending to the total discretionary budget is a simple division problem. All we need is good information for the numerator (military spending) and good information for the denominator (the discretionary budget).
For starters, let’s hear from someone named Christopher Hellman. Who is that, you ask? Here’s a brief excerpt from his bio:
Christopher Hellman is the Military Policy Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation where his work focuses on national security spending, military planning and policy, base closures, major weapons systems, trends in the defense industry, global military spending, and homeland security.
Prior to joining the Center, Hellman spent six years as a Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Defense Information. He also worked for two years as a military budget specialist at Physicians for Social Responsibility. Previously, Hellman spent ten years on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer working on national security and foreign policy issues.
Question raised by this Alternet article.
1. Who convened the mayors call?
Was it the White House ? Was it the FBI ? Homeland Security ?
2. Was there an attempt to control press coverage?
Why was it that ONLY certain NYC papers had any news ? And why was the coverage biased and blasphemous of OWS ?
3. What, if any, was the role of the White House?
Why no response from Obama and the White House ? Why no response from anyone to speak of, in congress.
4. Was the Department of Homeland Security involved in the raids?
What part (if any) did they play in all of this ?
5. What, if any, was the role of the FBI?
There are rumors that the FBI had a lot to do with how the police responded. What was their part ?
6. Where are the libertarians?
Where are these constitution loving people who make such a big deal out of gun rights and states rights etc. ? And I have a question of my own.
Why does this whole situation remind me of Tiananmen Square or some Soviet Block country circa 1966 ?
I have been involved with electronics and radio for as long as I can remember. And in computer software and networking for about half that long. My first part time job was as a service technician at a local radio and TV sales and service shop. One of the many things one learns fairly early on is to see how each component relates to and effects each part of the circuit or how each piece of computer code effects the system as a whole. And to take that into consideration when diagnosing and effecting any repairs and.or modification.
Any minor change can have a profound effect on the entire system and sometimes in ways not initially anticipated. This was especially true of solid state electronics where the shorting out of one transistor could cause a cascading failure up the line.
With this in mind I began to think about and analyze the short term and long term impacts of various progressive goals on the country and economy as a whole at this point in time.
Lets take a look at a couple of progressive ideals and see how they would impact the economy both in the long therm and the short term.
If there was ever any question in the minds of America who calls the shots, this should settle it.
Monday morning, the OWS crew announced a new plan of action:
Protesters hope to shut down Wall Street on Thursday -- home to the New York Stock Exchange -- by holding a street carnival to mark the two-month anniversary of their campaign against economic inequality.
Protest organizers acknowledged that the "day of action" could be the group's most provocative yet, and could lead to mass arrests and further strain relations with city authorities.
"I think we're certainly going into this with our eyes wide open, but (the march is) to provoke ideas and discussion, not to provoke any violent reactions," said Occupy Wall Street spokesman Ed Needham.
"I think it is very difficult to do a day of action and not expect some sort of reaction from the (authorities)," he said.
Well, it turns out ... it might be difficult to PLAN your day of action and not expect some sort of reaction from the (authorties). By the first hour of Tuesday morning, planners had all sorts of other logistical headaches with which to fill their time.
"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else." - George Carlin
As one lady put it on an episode of Bill Mahr "You cannot separate class from race in America. The preponderance of black people in this country are disproportionately poor." Not only that those in power - those with the money - do not care about those who are poor. And in fact they hate the very idea of those much less well of than them getting anything from the government IE taxes that they pay. Especially those who are minorities. And it really does not matter one bit what they call themselves politically either.
But it's not just those who we refer to as the 1% who are responsible. They have lap dogs to do their bidding as well. The so called professionals. The doctors and lawyers and executives and college professors and engineers and software house computer programmers etc. All very OK with the systems the way it is. All perfectly willing to support and kiss the rear ends of these 1%.
How many of them do we see at OWS ? What Ward Churchill called "Little Eichmanns" . These people are just as responsible as their masters for the injustice and inequality since they are willing to support it for their own personal agendas. To many call themselves liberal but are in name only. All too willing to throw those who they feel are beneath them under the bus so long as their 401Ks do not take a hit and their corporate masters keep them on until retirement. People are calling what we have an Oligarchy. I prefer to call it tyranny of the rich.
When I see these people out there with the unemployed and homeless and poor, then I will see something really positive. Until such time, these corporate lap dogs are as much the enemy as their CEO bosses.
Jonah Lehrer has a piece up at Wired asking “Does Inequality Make Us Unhappy?” He cites a Caltech experiment that attempts to construct two groups of subjects who are randomly assigned either a ‘poor’ or ‘rich’ status by choosing ping-pong balls out of a hat marked accordingly. The ‘rich’ ball-pickers were each immediately given fifty bucks, the ‘poor’ ball-pickers…zilch; it served to drive the point about their wealth disparity home immediately. ;o)
Al Jazera has posted an opinion piece highlighting some recent political moves in Iran. Iran, as you may recall, is the nation which neoconservatives and Israel have been really, really hoping to drop bombs on for pretty much my entire life. It seems as if Khamenei has decided allowing the people to elect their president directly is problematic. Thus he has set in motion constitutional and policy changes to end the practice.
a series of public manoeuvres by prominent conservatives shed light on long-standing (and until recently, private) project put in place by Ayatollah Khamenei - which has now been completed. Most recently, conservative parliamentarian, Mohammad Dehghan, followed the Supreme Leader's comments by announcing that Khamenei's expert committee has already finished amending the constitution. Thus, barring an unforeseen change of heart by Supreme Leader Khamenei, the Islamic Republic will no longer hold elections for a directly elected president.
While I don't think there is a reason to go to war with Iran, it is also pretty clear that calling the governmental system of Iran any thing like a constitutional-based system that allows for the will of it's people in government is a total crock. With clearly-against-the-will-of-the-citizenry economic policies and austerity measures currently sweeping the globe, I think this argument can probably be extended to most Western nations by this point ... but that's a different issue all together.
While is was catching up on some of the sites I like to go to from time to time, I came upon a post from Zero Hedge on why investors should be putting their money into precious metals. It was the usual stuff one would expect to find. Until I go to the end. This one was the text of an interview with one Turd Ferguson by Chris Martenson. This last bit really hit the nail on the head though.
The last thing I would add to that, Chris, and one that's challenging, and I'm sure you've seen this too in working with your subscribers is where we are headed is unlike anywhere where we've been, at least in recent memory. I mean, there may be some octogenarians out there that remember what it was like before the Great Depression and during the Great Depression and before World War II. But it's a world like that where we're headed to. All I've ever known, all my friends and family, even my parents really have ever known is this hegemonic United States that was the world power, and provided the world's reserve currency. And we could print as much as we wanted to, and then export the inflation to all the other poor staff that had to – took our dollar. And so we bought their cheap stuff. And those days are over, and it's a really hard concept. If you haven't had personal experience with something else, it's a really hard concept to get your arms around. That we're not always – that the United States isn't going to be this huge economic and military superpower.
This is the crux of it, I think. There are few people alive now who really know what it's like when nearly everybody was dirt poor. When living like what tambershell described in here diary Be silent [this post on FDL was removed for some reason] was what a lot of people lived like during the depression of the 1930s. We have generations now who know nothing except this world of anything goes capitalism and have no way of imagining anything different. What it's was like to go from being comfortably well off to living like an animal because it's the only way they could live. And the pity of it all is that even these people seem to believe that all they need to do is to horde gold and what not and they will be OK.
And this is the grave danger that we now face.
WWII not only saved us from the depression it most likely saved us from a bloody revolution as well. We have absolutely nothing to save us this time.
With Greece still edging toward the financial abyss despite all the political maturations. Now Italy - as has been predicted - is now hurling toward the inevitable default. Even though Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's promise to step down. Now Barclays says Italy is finished as well. Courtesy of Zero Hedge.
Euphoria may have returned briefly courtesy of yet another promise for a resignation that will likely not be effectuated for weeks or months, if at all, and already someone has done the math on what the events in the past several days reveal for Italy. That someone is Barcalys, the math is not pretty, and the conclusion is that "Italy is now mathematically beyond point of no return."
Summary from Barclays Capital inst sales:
1 ) At this point, it seems Italy is now mathematically beyond point of no return
2 ) While reforms are necessary, in and of itself not be enough to prevent crisis
3 ) Reason? Simple math--growth and austerity not enough to offset cost of debt
4 ) On our ests, yields above 5.5% is inflection point where game is over
5 ) The danger:high rates reinforce stability concerns, leading to higher rates
6 ) and deeper conviction of a self sustaining credit event and eventual default
7 ) We think decisions at eurozone summit is step forward but EFSF not adequate
8 ) Time has run out--policy reforms not sufficient to break neg mkt dynamics
9 ) Investors do not have the patience to wait for austerity, growth to work
10 ) And rate of change in negatives not enuff to offset slow drip of positives
11 ) Conclusion: We think ECB needs to step up to the plate, print and buy bonds
12 ) At the moment ECB remains unwilling to be lender last resort on scale needed
13 ) But frankly will have hand forced by market given massive systemic risk
The whole report [PDF] is available here. And now Reuters is reporting that both France an Germany are talking (how seriously I don't know) about a break up of the Eurozone to contan only them and a few others who are still financially stable.
In the latest WSJ/NBC News poll, 76% of Americans agree that:
The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.
To put the 76% agreement figure in context: 81% of Americans agree that Elvis is dead.
And 60% strongly agree with this message, that is pretty much the core platform of the Occupy movement.
Who said the American people were divided?
We tend to throw around a lot of diatribe concerning conservatives these days. But lets us examine who or what we are actually dealing with. David Roberts in Grist does a pretty good break down in his current piece.
Yesterday I sketched the sort of personality type most likely to identify as conservative: those who prefer stability to change, order to complexity, familiarity to novelty, and conformity to creativity. This sort of personality type is drawn to clear lines separating in-groups from out-groups, highly aware of social hierarchies, suspicious of change, and strongly inclined toward system justification, i.e., seeing the prevailing socioeconomic regime as worthy and desirable I often think that the actions and rhetoric of today's conservative politicians are easier to make sense of at this level, the level of temperament and worldview, than at the level of stated principles and policy proposals. Seeing through this lens can help make sense of a lot of stuff that otherwise looks hypocritical or absurd. In particular, it can help make sense of the political fight over climate change and clean energy.
Now what sort of personality does the author attribute to today's conservative ?
Being generally caught up in the pass-time of pondering the various occupy movements, I decided to check in and see if anything interesting was afoot in the Spokane/CDA factions. Spokane got themselves a spiffy new website with a feel not entirely unlike that of a punk rock band. And if anyone can figure anything useful from the Occupy CDA facebook page ... well, you are one step ahead of myself.
On the Occupy Spokane facebook page, Kymberly Skiver makes a superficially-trenchant-yet-boorishly-redundant-by-now observation. But she manages to frame it in such a way that begs an interesting question.
Assuming the OWS folks responded to pressure and established a leadership with concrete demands ... who, exactly, would represent the "powers that be" in this phantom negotiation and higher dialog that a lack of "coherent" structure on the part of OWS is theoretically preventing? With whom will OWS leaders discuss the issues in a formal-style negotiation that could plausibly promise delivery on the "1%" side of any pact that would be made?