Do You Ever Wonder Why Americans Can’t Have Nice Things

Chinese workers building a high-speed railroad

All the recrimination-filled reporting and commentary about how fast Afghanistan fell to the Taliban after President Joe Biden made the courageous decision to finish withdrawing our troops misses a much more important story.

This story concerns why Americans can’t have nice things anymore while our main economic competitor China does and is investing in a lucrative and influential future.

It’s the story of jettisoning the sensible Powell Doctrine of asking if war is quickly winnable before rushing into military action in favor of chronic combat. Endless war creates enormous fortunes for investors in the military-industrial complex, enabled by jingoistic political cowardice in Washington.

For two decades our elected leaders foolishly spent our money trying to impose democracy at the point of a rifle in a country with no democratic culture or tradition…

To date, U.S. taxpayers have spent about $2.3 trillion on an undeclared war that cost 2,448 American troops their lives avenging about the same number of lives lost on 9/11/2001. More than 100,000 Afghans died in the 20-year war…

The total ultimate Afghan war bill? More than $6.4 trillion, according to the Cost of War Project at Brown University. That’s more than $100,000 for the iconic family of four.

Please read Johnston’s rant in its entirety. Someone has to explain this arrogance, ignorance and futility to American taxpayers and, believe me, that someone won’t be speaking on behalf of the Democrats or Republicans treasured 2-party system.

The latest trick from Congress to payback the military contractors who own them

Click to enlargeKatherine Tully McManus
A clot of military contractor lobbyists in the halls of Congress

…During an election year especially, the relationship between the defense industry and key congressional authorizers of funds can be almost seamless, resulting in a taxpayer-funded spending spree. That was particularly underscored by the House’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was literally swarmed by defense industry lobbyists throughout the over 16-hour marathon session.

Unfortunately the committee largely failed to consider opportunities for savings to increase effectiveness. The Project On Government Oversight joined a coalition of groups across the political spectrum to propose $38.6 billion in potential savings. The one notable saving the committee adopted was to cut the blimp that got loose last fall, named the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System…

Instead, the committee passed a disturbing war-spending gimmick. The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which is supposed to support our troops fighting overseas, has regularly been used as a slush fund for Congress and the Pentagon to pay for favorite programs. But this year, for the first time, funding requested to fight our current wars has been taken hostage to boost Pentagon spending. Specifically, the bill purposely underfunds the OCO account by $18 billion in order to increase spending for additional weapon systems in the base budget (which, by the way, the Pentagon hasn’t asked for), hoping to trigger the need for the next President to ask for an additional supplemental bill to make up the shortfall around April, when this funding would run out.

So in this case not only has OCO been shifted by Congress to fund items that should be in the base budget, but the House is hoping to manufacture a war-spending crisis by purposely providing less than the Department of Defense says it needs in order to force even more Pentagon spending. It sounds complicated because it’s supposed to be.

This is outrageous and irresponsible. Those arguing for increased Pentagon spending have appropriately decried readiness shortfalls on numerous occasions. They’re wrong about the true cause of the readiness shortfalls, though, which is waste and mismanagement that only increases with a larger budget topline. “The solution to that loss is not to throw more money at the Pentagon—it’s to make the Pentagon a better steward of the trillions of dollars it already has,”…Lt. Col. Danny Davis recently wrote in The National Interest…

Let’s be clear about who stands to win and who stands to lose. The likely winners are the defense industry—who get rewarded for their campaign contributions with more funding for their overpriced weapon systems—and their lobbyists, pictured above standing outside the markup room. The likely losers are the troops and taxpayers — the people who don’t have the time or resources to stake out Congress to get their way.

RTFA if you want more details about this hustle. On one hand, conservative creeps who love to brag about cutting the cost of governance will brag about budget reduction. On the other, the same hypocrites plan to reward the military-industrial complex which owns a significant portion of their genes and genitals – with added sales and profits from crap no sensible military needs or wants.

Not that the Pentagon fits into any reasonable definition of sensible military.

Lobbyist ends up where he belongs – behind bars!

Paul Magliocchetti, the once-powerful lobbyist whose PMA Group collapsed after being raided by federal agents two years ago, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Friday for his role in one of the largest schemes to evade limits on campaign donations ever uncovered.

A federal judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, T. S. Ellis III, also sentenced Mr. Magliocchetti to two years of supervised release and fined him $75,000…

Lanny A. Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, vowed to “continue to bring to justice those who hide the source of campaign funds and thus damage the integrity of our election process.”

“Paul Magliocchetti spent half of a decade gaming the system,” Mr. Breuer said. “He concocted a massive scheme to secretly funnel money to political campaigns — all so that he could gain wealth and prestige. As today’s sentence makes clear, he must now pay a price.”

We have a Supreme Court stacked in favor of exactly the same crooked corporations Magliocchettii worked for. It ain’t going to get easier.

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