Excellent commentary with a lot of good points included. One of the most important made here is the effect unrealistic psychological fear created by sensationalist media has had on nearly everyone. It definitely can’t be stressed enough when debating the reality of these issues.
As the Unites States has exited one war and is winding down another, it appears people are now ready to make some changes in the amount of money going to the defense department. National Journal reported the results of a study showing roughly three-quarters of the respondents, whether living in red or blue districts, want defense cuts. The priorities in where the cuts should come from show a slight difference in what people from these districts want:
Blue-district voters wanted bigger cuts to missile defense, long perceived as a Republican-favored program, but “respondents in red districts were a bit more ready to cut health care benefits for military families and retirees,” which require government spending.
On the surface, this seems slightly callous toward the red districts but the amounts to be cut from the actual report should be noted, particularly on health care. Red districts want $7.4 billion cut while blue districts want $6.6 billion, which is certainly a significant amount from both sides. We should note this does not divide the results into party differences but by which way the district leans so we should not make definitive assumptions about this being a party-line difference. However, we can make some inferences from this info about who wants to cut what and where in the defense budget.
The clear difference here is the interest on one side to cut more from programs (that are debatable in terms of success) and the other side to cut more from people, many of which have an obvious need for the health care provided. Are we really seeing the right coming out in favor of cutting more from the veterans themselves while constantly trying to symbolically honor them at every opportunity instead of cutting questionable programs? (Well, yes.)
There is little question the future of defense is in more technology and less actual people. Drones are a perfect example and obviously the advances in technology are moving quickly. But the question should be asked whether we have reached a point where cuts in veterans’ health care can and should be made now. Coming off two wars with many physically and psychologically wounded soldiers it seems hard to believe we are there at this point. This would mean a cut in health care for veterans at a critical time when the economy is weak and the likelihood they can absorb that cut is smaller. Are our priorities truly in the right place?
An interesting take on former criminals getting air time on television over people who may know more details about the issues being discussed. Worth the read to see something people in the Unites States have more and more begun to overlook.
It was concluded today Countrywide Financial, one of the most egregious criminals of the housing bubble crisis, was using its tools to buy influence with members of Congress.
Countrywide was offering discounted loans and other perks to Congress members and other officials in order to benefit its business interests.
To put it simply, they were bribing elected officials. And they were doing this to continue the business practices they knew were bad for the country in the long run but made them huge profits in the short run. Which, in the interests of pure capitalism, is totally fine because the market will correct itself. The majority of us just have to suffer while that recovery happens and while a tiny minority reap the rewards of their horrible measures. (Note: if you read the article, good luck finding any punishments being handed out to the people who benefited from this.)
Clear and obvious government corruption like this needs a check and balance. The problem is the people who benefit from this corruption (and this corruption) are the same people who make the laws so they aren’t exactly looking to take away their own perks too quickly. Which is why we need a change in the interests of democracy.
We need to implement ballot initiatives and referendums on the federal level in order to check this type of bribery. Congress is never going to do this themselves or, if they do, it will not be effective enough to truly stop the flow of money to themselves and their friends. We don’t even need the initiatives to effect other factors outside of Congressional behavior. It could simply be for the people to check the actions of the members of Congress.
And let’s admit one reality to this. The corruption is really bipartisan. Everyone can throw out names of people in the party they oppose who have been caught (and likely not punished) for ridiculous moral violations pertaining to money in politics but every rational person knows this is a problem on both sides. And since it’s a problem on both sides, not reelecting someone implicated in these cases is not really a solution to stop this. As of now, we are just simply electing someone else who is likely to make the same decisions when it comes to money and allowing wealthy donors to buy their votes.
The federal initiatives and referendums are truly needed to police the corruption in politics and this is a great way to expand the power of democracy in the U.S. Again, we could even limit their use to covering Congressional behavior and corruption if people are too scared to expand it to all issues, although it seems rather anti-democratic to take that approach. (Public recalls would probably be a bad idea considering the circus politics would turn into and also since the Founding Fathers saw the danger in this type of instability for a few reasons.) Regardless, we need laws to stop criminal behavior in Congress and we are without a doubt kidding ourselves if we expect the benefactors of this situation to make these changes.
This is a must read from F.A.I.R. for everyone. It is a call to arms for those concerned with the state of the media in America today.
Such an important issue in terms of the war in Afghanistan has been solved by just saying “sorry.” But in this election year, Obama could not say such because, according to many Americans, he would look weak if he were to apologize to a Muslim nation.
It’s like when Mitt Romney says during campaign speeches that he would never apologize for America.
The IMF is now warning the United States not to implement drastic spending cuts in the face of such a slow economic recovery. In other words, stay away from the austerity programs that have gotten European countries in so much trouble financially. This means bad news for Obama since the economy is not going to recovery very quickly (but will continue a recovery). And this is even worse news for Romney since his proposed cuts in spending will only make matters worse for the U.S. and world economy (hence the IMF’s concern with what we are projecting to do). The question now becomes will our leaders listen to the experts this time or will their advice be ignored in the interest of winning votes despite the awful forecast for those measures?
According to this article in the NYT, the U.S. is increasing it’s military presence in the Persian Gulf mainly in an effort to deter the Iranians from closing (i.e., mining) the Strait of Hormuz.
This is a very risky action in the Gulf and hopefully it will amount to nothing. But this military build-up, like the article states, could be misinterpreted by the Iranian government and military, and set off a clash between the two forces.
Another issue at stake, as the article states, is that this movement of our Navy is also a sign to the Israelis that we are prepared to make a military strike if sanctions do not deter Iranians from enriching uranium.
But what underlines the Israel issue are two things: Israel military actions are always an overkill and also how can we expect Iranians not to develop nuclear weapons when their main rival, Israel, possesses over 250.
We have seen in the past overkill by the Israelis in their military actions in the occupied territories, e.g., killing civilians in Gaza in efforts to kill Hamas leaders; and through the actions of Moussad, e.g., murdering political party members and Iranian nuclear scientists internationally with no regard to the countries where these assassinations took place.
They have no limits to their actions for they know they have the U.S. in their back pockets. The U.S. supports Israel unconditionally because they are so important to our military interests in the Middle East region, i.e., if something occurs in the Middle East militarily, we can use Israel as a staging ground in the interest of maintaining our need for oil.
So what we have now is a metaphor that I came up with. Israel is like the little brother of the baddest kid on the block. The little brother can do whatever he wants, no matter how outrageous, for he knows that his big brother will beat-up whoever attacks him. So the rest of the kids on the block can do nothing to stop his actions no matter how egregious.
I, like nearly every American, am worried about Iranians having nuclear weapons due to the fact they are so anti-American. But yet it seems so hypocritical to say that one nation in the region can have atom bombs while another cannot. So, in a perfect world, we should rid Israel of their nuclear missiles and make the Middle East nuclear bomb-free.
Here’s a great article by Steven Pearlstein analyzing the phenomenon of outsourcing of American jobs and how it benefits both consumers and investors even though it destroy lives.