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The Tragedy of the American Military
The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.
I. Chickenhawk Nation
If I were writing such a history now, I would call it Chickenhawk Nation, based on the derisive term for those eager to go to war, as long as someone else is going. It would be the story of a country willing to do anything for its military except take it seriously. As a result, what happens to all institutions that escape serious external scrutiny and engagement has happened to our military. Outsiders treat it both too reverently and too cavalierly, as if regarding its members as heroes makes up for committing them to unending, unwinnable missions and denying them anything like the political mindshare we give to other major public undertakings, from medical care to public education to environmental rules. The tone and level of public debate on those issues is hardly encouraging. But for democracies, messy debates are less damaging in the long run than letting important functions run on autopilot, as our military essentially does now. A chickenhawk nation is more likely to keep going to war, and to keep losing, than one that wrestles with long-term questions of effectiveness............
“Political engineering,” a term popularized by a young Pentagon analyst named Chuck Spinney in the 1970s, is pork-barrel politics on the grandest scale. Cost overruns sound bad if someone else is getting the extra money. They can be good if they are creating business for your company or jobs in your congressional district. Political engineering is the art of spreading a military project to as many congressional districts as possible, and thus maximizing the number of members of Congress who feel that if they cut off funding, they’d be hurting themselves.
A $10 million parts contract in one congressional district builds one representative’s support. Two $5 million contracts in two districts are twice as good, and better all around would be three contracts at $3 million apiece. Every participant in the military-contracting process understands this logic: the prime contractors who parcel out supply deals around the country, the military’s procurement officers who divide work among contractors, the politicians who vote up or down on the results. In the late 1980s, a coalition of so-called cheap hawks in Congress tried to cut funding for the B-2 bomber. They got nowhere after it became clear that work for the project was being carried out in 46 states and no fewer than 383 congressional districts (of 435 total). The difference between then and now is that in 1989, Northrop, the main contractor for the plane, had to release previously classified data to demonstrate how broadly the dollars were being spread.
If more members of Congress or the business and media elite had had children in uniform, the United States would probably not have gone to war in Iraq.
Key takeaway from a very long & very revealing piece:
A man who worked for decades overseeing Pentagon contracts told me this past summer, “The system is based on lies and self-interest, purely toward the end of keeping money moving.” What kept the system running, he said, was that “the services get their budgets, the contractors get their deals, the congressmen get jobs in their districts, and no one who’s not part of the deal bothers to find out what is going on.”
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 08:50 PM (9 replies)
According to Giuliani, de Blasio had brought it on himself by speaking out about the way police treated black communities.
"When I reflect on all the police officers turning their back, I don't know, I guess as an ex-mayor, I feel uncomfortable about that, you turn your back on the mayor," Giuliani explained. "On the other hand, I think at this point I have to say, he's bringing it on himself. He should have apologized."
Giuliani admitted that the "feeling" de Blasio had created about the NYPD had not contributed to the recent murder of two officers, but he said that the mayor had made people think that "police officers are in the main racist."
De Blasio has spoken out about how he felt that he had to give his his biracial son, Dante, special instructions about hot to behave during encounters with police because of his skin color. But Giuliani said that white children were also given the same instructions by their parents.
"We're not talking about the South in the 1960s. We're talking about guys that grew up next to an Asian kid, next to a black kid, next to a white kid. Everybody's familiar with it, we all play football with each other," Giuliani insisted. "This is not what he has allowed to be created when he made all those statements about his son."
video & more:
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 02:01 PM (7 replies)
Did the FBI Put Millions of Lives at Risk?
Sun Dec 28th, 2014 at 09:03:58 AM EST
According to CNN, the FBI may have misled the president about who was responsible for hacking into Sony’s computers:
Sure, North Korea’s government despises the movie “The Interview.”
But when its propagandists say it did not hack Sony Pictures before the original release date of the flick that satirizes dictator Kim Jong-un, they might just be telling the truth.
Some U.S. cyber experts say the evidence the FBI has presented to attempt to incriminate hackers working for the communist regime is not enough to pin the blame on Pyongyang.
“It’s clear to us, based on both forensic and other evidence we’ve collected, that unequivocally they are not responsible for orchestrating or initiating the attack on Sony,” said Sam Glines, who runs the cybersecurity company Norse.
The FBI has said that code in the malware used by a group called “Guardians of Peace” (GoP) in the attack on Sony is similar to code used by North Korea in other attacks.
But that code was leaked a long time ago, experts say. Any hacker anywhere in the world could have used it.
.....a few rather important facts:
1. Has nuclear weapons.
2. Has a leader who appears to be insane.
3. Has a paranoid and bellicose military.
4. Patrols a Demilitarized Zone that separates it from tens of thousands of American soldiers.
5. Has a war doctrine that depends on attacking first and destroying Seoul, the capital of South Korea with a population of ten million people.
Under these circumstances, it would seem just a tad irresponsible to wrongly accuse the North Koreans of committing a cyberattack and then to knock out their ears and eyes so that they cannot know if they are about to experience a military invasion. Something like that could lead the North Koreans to panic and launch an attack of their own, possibly including a nuclear weapon.
If the FBI misinformed the president about the strength of their evidence, they just risked getting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people killed.
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 12:14 PM (8 replies)
Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches
Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York
“The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”
According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.
In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.
“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.
“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 11:57 AM (0 replies)
Have some doubts about the NYPD's "let's turn into the Westboro Baptist Church" strategy?
List of groups who stage protests at funerals:
- Westboro Baptist Church
- New York Police Department
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 11:44 AM (4 replies)
A study by Rob Wielgus, director of Washington State University’s Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, and Kaylie A. Peebles has concluded that lethal removal of wolves caught or suspected of killing livestock may actually increase how many sheep and cattle wolves may eat the following year. That's counter-intuitive, as Wielgus readily concedes, but, he told Sarah Jane Keller at High Country News in early December: “I analyzed it like 50 times, with different statisticians and layers and layers of peer review because the results are kind of astounding:”
People have long assumed that fewer wolves lead to fewer depredations on sheep or cattle. And wildlife managers often say that lethal removal can be a salve for vitriol toward wolves, by providing a short-term solution for the harmed livestock producers, and by showing that states are actively managing the animals. It’s part of the reason some states allow wolf hunting, and why Washington, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all lethally remove wolves that harm livestock. In 2013 the later three states killed 202 wolves for control purposes, or 8 percent of the population in all four states.
But when Wielgus and his coauthor looked at 25 years of data on lethal wolf control and livestock depredations from Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana they found that killing one wolf increases the odds of sheep depredation by 4 percent the following year. For cattle, it increased the odds by 5 to 6 percent.
Wielgus suspects the answer may be found in wolf social dynamics. The animals may compensate for losing part of their pack by increasing reproduction and thus, the need to hunt for those new pups. Or wolves may become less efficient hunters in smaller groups and turn to dining on livestock. “I think the take home point is that social behavior and social systems of these large carnivores, pack dynamics, territory, all of that is a very important element to how wolves interact with their environment,” says John Pierce, chief wildlife scientist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “As we move forward in wolf management we should carefully be studying that and don’t assume a linear relationship (between wolf removal and depredation).”
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 10:48 AM (4 replies)
There is ONE in Every crowd!
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 10:17 AM (20 replies)
Nashville police chief shares message, responds to questions:
A Christmas Message for the MNPD from Chief Steve Anderson
To All Employees:
Overwhelmingly, in comments that have been directed to me, the public is supportive of your actions. Obviously, some have expressed disagreement. Most have stated their disapproval in a well thought out and rational manner. Their thoughts should be respected and given consideration.
However, as in any similar issue, there is a fringe, generally about 5 percent, on either end of the approval spectrum that have very strong views. It is readily apparent that their thought processes are driven, not by what has occurred during the demonstration, but more by the social positions taken by the demonstrators. Clearly, they are more angry at the thoughts expressed by the demonstrators than how the demonstrations are being conducted. While I respect their right to take that position, we cannot allow those views to be a part of our decision making process. Decisions need to be made with a view toward what is best for all of Nashville.
Below is my reply to one such email I received. I have removed the name and other identifying information from the email in order to respect the privacy of the individual.
Again, the Nashville public is very proud of you and the work you have done over the last years. The confidence and support of the public is continually and loudly expressed to both me and the Mayor at any time we are out in the public. Thank you for making this a very impressive police department--another thing we can celebrate during this holiday season.
I wish you and your family well during the holidays and I am predicting, thanks to the work that you do day in and day out, that we will have another very successful year.
I wanted to send you this email to express my frustration and outrage at how the situation of these protesters is being handled in Nashville. The first night protesters marched here after the incidents in Ferguson they never should have been allowed to shut down the interstate. Instead of at least threatening to arrest them, they were served coffee and hot chocolate. I don't feel that is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. It sends a message that they can do whatever they want and will be rewarded. Then, this past week, more protesters march around downtown for 3 or more hours and once again, no arrests, and it took THP to keep them from getting on the interstate again. Saturday night, marching and "die ins" at Opry Mills mall. How long are we going to allow these people to disrupt our city?
I have a son who I have raised to respect police officers and other authority figures, but if he comes to me today and asks "Why are the police allowing this?" I wouldn't have a good answer. If any other group of people wanted to march around the streets they would have to get a permit weeks or months in advance, and I know it's not possible to get a permit to obstruct traffic and walk on the interstate.
Please understand I am not trying to disrespect you or your department, I just want myself and my family to feel that our city is safe, and right now we don't feel that way. Is this going to be allowed to continue until someone gets hurt? Protection of the city should be coming from MNPD, not THP. I also understand that you get direction from the mayor's office, but these actions are putting the department at disharmony from the majority of the citizens. At some point you are going to have to answer this question to yourself - "Am I following or giving orders that help or hurt the community?" In closing, if these recent actions have been due to pressure from the mayor's office, please reach out to the people of Nashville, there are many who will gladly contact the mayor's office as well.
Sincerely, ________ __________
(Reply to Email)
While I certainly appreciate your offer to intercede on my behalf with our Mayor, you should know that the Mayor has not issued any order, directive or instruction on the matter with which you take issue. All decisions concerning the police department's reaction to the recent demonstrations have been made within the police department and approved by me. Therefore, any reasons or rationale supporting your proposal as what would be the best approach for all of Nashville, and not just a method of utilizing the police department to enforce a personal agenda, should be directed to me.
In that your thoughts deserve consideration, I will attempt to address some of the issues you have raised:
• Has consideration been given as to whether the response of the police department "help or hurt the community."
It is our view that every decision made within the police department should be made with the community in mind. Obviously, there are some matters in which we have no discretion. On matters in which we do have discretion, careful consideration is given as to the best course of action, always with the welfare of the general public in mind.
That has been the consideration on this issue. Certainly, in comparing the outcome here in Nashville with what has occurred in some other cities, the results speak for themselves. I stand on the decisions that have been made.
• "These actions are putting the department at disharmony from the majority of the citizens."
While I don't doubt that you sincerely believe that your thoughts represent the majority of citizens, I would ask you to consider the following before you chisel those thoughts in stone.
As imperfect humans, we have a tendency to limit our association with other persons to those persons who are most like us. Unfortunately, there is even more of a human tendency to stay within our comfort zone by further narrowing those associations to those persons who share our thoughts and opinions. By doing this we can avoid giving consideration to thoughts and ideas different than our own. This would make us uncomfortable. By considering only the thoughts and ideas we are in agreement with, we stay in our comfort zone. Our own biases get reinforced and reflected back at us leaving no room for any opinion but our own. By doing this, we often convince ourselves that the majority of the world shares opinion and that anyone with another opinion is, obviously, wrong.
It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don't agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter. We can still disagree and maintain our opinions, but we can now do so knowing that the issue has been given consideration from all four sides. Or, if we truly give fair consideration to all points of view, we may need to swallow our pride and amend our original thoughts.
And, it is only by giving consideration to the thoughts of all persons, even those that disagree with us, that we can have an understanding as to what constitutes a majority.
• "I just want myself and my family to feel that our city is safe, and right now we don't feel that way."
I have to admit, I am somewhat puzzled by this announcement. None of the demonstrators in this city have in any way exhibited any propensity for violence or indicated, even verbally, that they would harm anyone. I can understand how you may feel that your ideologies have been questioned but I am not aware of any occurrence that would give reason for someone to feel physically threatened.
• "I have a son who I have raised to respect police officers and other authority figures, but if he comes to me today and asks "Why are the police allowing this?" I wouldn't have a good answer."
It is somewhat perplexing when children are injected into the conversation as an attempt to bolster a position or as an attempt to thwart the position of another. While this is not the type of conversation I ordinarily engage in, here are some thoughts you may find useful as you talk with your son.
First, it is laudable that you are teaching your son respect for the police and other authority figures. However, a better lesson might be that it is the government the police serve that should be respected. The police are merely a representative of a government formed by the people for the people—for all people. Being respectful of the government would mean being respectful of all persons, no matter what their views.
Later, it might be good to point out that the government needs to be, and is, somewhat flexible, especially in situations where there are minor violations of law. A government that had zero tolerance for even minor infractions would prove unworkable in short order.
Although this is unlikely, given your zero tolerance stance, suppose that, by accident or perhaps inattention, you found yourself going 40 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone and that you were stopped by a police officer. Then, after making assurances that licenses were in order and that there were no outstanding warrants, the officer asked you not to speed again and did not issue a citation, but merely sent you on your way.
As you have suggested, a question may come to you from the back seat, "How can I respect the police if they will not enforce the law?" In the event this does occur, here are some facts that might help you answer that question.
In the year 2013, our officers made over four hundred thousand vehicle stops, mostly for traffic violations. A citation was issued in only about one in six of those stops. Five of the six received warnings. This is the police exercising discretion for minor violations of the law. Few, if any, persons would argue that the police should have no discretion.
This is an explanation you might give your son. Take into account, however, that the innocence of children can produce the most profound and probing questions. They often see the world in a very clear and precise manner, their eyes unclouded by the biases life gives us. This could produce the next question. "If you believe that the police should enforce the law at all times, why didn't you insist that the officer write you a ticket?"
I don't have a suggestion as to how that should be answered.
I do know, however, that this is a very diverse city. Nashville, and all of America, will be even more diverse when your son becomes an adult. Certainly, tolerance, respect and consideration for the views of all persons would be valuable attributes for him to take into adulthood.
Mr. ______, thank you for taking the time to express your position on this matter. I assure that your thoughts will be given all due consideration. We will continue, however, to make decisions, on this and all matters, that take into account what is best for all of Nashville.
Chief of Police
Posted by kpete | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 09:43 AM (33 replies)
Police in Connecticut Hand out Toys on Armored Bearcat
Posted by kpete | Sat Dec 27, 2014, 04:40 PM (1 replies)