Here We Go Again!

The US has started many useless wars and our Dear Supreme Leader Trump has just decided we have not had enough war…so why not just start another drawn out affair?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The U.S. is committing itself to a long-term stabilization mission in a chronically unstable country. The mission involves training and equipping the local government forces to fight against jihadi insurgents and won’t end until those local forces are capable of fighting on their own. Unfortunately, recruitment is low and the training is slow going, in part because the local U.S.-backed government is weak and commands little public support. Under the pretext of fighting international terrorism, the U.S. is taking on a group that poses little direct threat to the United States, is being drawn into local conflicts unrelated to its ostensible mission, and risks creating more radicalization through civilian casualties.

It could be Iraq or Afghanistan (or substitute communist for jihadi and it could be any number of Cold War proxy conflicts), but in this case it’s Somalia.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/trump-somalia-executive-order-military-national-emergency.html

We have Iraq, Syria, Yemen and now an extension of our commitment to Somalia……of goody….HERE WE GO AGAIN!

When will the American people hit their saturation point for war?  We keep allowing these “leaders” (I use the term loosely) to send our citizens into wars that serve no purpose other than making profits for some and death for others…..

Why is this?

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Tax Day=Pay Day

Today is when most Americans learn if they owe or get a trefund from the IRS…..the tax reforms of 2017 screwed many Americans out of their deductions…..but as usual corporations get a pay day…..

M-IC will be the big winners on Tax Day……

In tax season, most of us think more about getting our forms in on time—and getting our refunds—than about where our tax dollars actually go.

It’s probably no surprise that a significant portion—24 cents out of every dollar—of your taxes go to the military. But where those dollars go from there should be a national scandal.

Out of those 24 cents, just 5 cents go to our troops. But 12 cents go to corporate military contractors.

For a country that claims to celebrate our troops, with holidays and yellow ribbons and patriotic displays of the flag, we sure don’t put our money where our mouth is. Every year for tax day, my organization looks at where our tax dollars go. And every year, far more money goes to Pentagon contractors than to our troops.

All told, the average taxpayer handed over $1,704 to Pentagon contractors last year, compared to $683 for military pay, housing, and other benefits (except military health care, which has its own agency). Still, the taxes we pay for military contractors are more than twice as much as the average contribution for veterans’ health and benefits ($833).

 
Me?  I broke even this year….I was lucky…..most Americans will not be that fortunate.
 
Little do we know…..nothing good has come out of these tax cuts…….especially for the revenue of the nation…..
 
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And believe it or not……the Trump tax cuts are popular only with the uber rich….go figure……

Multiple polls show a majority of Americans don’t think they got a tax cut at all — even though independent analyses show they did. And only around a third of the country approves of the legislation itself, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by Congress at the end of 2017.

So as Trump moves closer to full-time reelection mode later this year, he will have to battle a stark reality: While his personal rating on the economy remains high, his signature legislative achievement is widely viewed as a political dud, one that has drawn special anger in places with high state and local taxes and pricey housing markets where deductions were limited to reduce the overall cost of the tax plan.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/15/donald-trump-tax-cuts-unpopular-1273469

Not to worry……this all comes around again next year.

 

Closing Thought For A Saturday

Veterans get screwed again!

The VA has been getting some bad press lately and unfortunately it just got worse.

A US Office of Special Counsel report based on complaints from three whistleblowers was sent to President Trump Wednesday, exposing scheduling and staffing issues at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis that led to a delay in medical care for veterans. While the center says it has since remedied those issues, one such delay led to a mistake called “unconscionable”: A veteran didn’t receive the at-home care he needed, and ended up losing his leg as a result, per the Indianapolis Star. The report details what happened in June 2017 after the veteran was discharged from the center following treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis and an ulcerated foot abscess. Someone was supposed to come to his home to change his bandages; when that assistance got delayed, his foot became infected, leading to an amputation below the knee.

“It is unconscionable that after serving his country, a veteran lost his limb not on the battlefield, but because of mistakes made by the agency entrusted to take care of him,” special counsel Henry J. Kerner says in his letter. Department of Veterans Affairs investigators found the unnamed chief and assistant chief of social work services at the center had told social workers to stop entering home consults into patient records because they felt it was “outside the social workers’ scope of practice.” In a letter last August sent to Kerner and seen by Task & Purpose, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie agreed with the investigators’ findings, noting the alleged issues led to a “system breakdown.” A rep for the VA center told the Star they’ll address the special counsel’s report in a statement

This goes to Trump? Will he read it? Will he do something to fix the VA? Or will he do what he always does…..NOTHING?

The Adventures Of “Space Command”

That title sounds like one of the Fabulous Thunderbirds episodes or maybe a chapter in the saga of G.I. Joe….whatever……

IST is one of the few blogs or sites that is taking this whole Space Force thing seriously…..I have written many posts on this issue…..

https://lobotero.com/2019/02/21/space-where-no-one-hears-you-scream/

https://lobotero.com/2019/03/08/space-command-or-space-force/

The wheels have been set in progress for the development of a US Space Force…..

President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-4, directing the Department of Defense to draft a legislative proposal to establish a Space Force by 2020 as a sixth branch of the armed services under the Department of the Air Force — similar to how the Marine Corps is its own military service under the Department of the Navy. The directive makes clear this is an interim step toward eventual full independence for the Space Force: “As the United States Space Force matures, and as national security requires, it will become necessary to create a separate military department, to be known as the Department of the Space Force.”

Organizational design theory predicts several worrisome outcomes of a Space Force created either as a separate service or an independent department. The granting of independence to the U.S. Air Force in 1947 and the establishment of U.S. Special Operations Command in 1987 share striking similarities with the Space Force debate in terms of the general security environment and the specific re-organizing proposals. In each case, unique mission sets were differentiated at the highest levels — that is, they were insulated from outside control and elevated within the organization.

Slowly but slowly Trump is expanding our presence in space……Trump is hedging his bets in case Congress does not give into his desire…..

The Trump administration may not ultimately get to create the highly-anticipated Space Force — that will fall on congressional shoulders — but the White House has made strides in expanding the U.S. military’s role beyond the Earth’s atmosphere anyway.

Per CNN, defense officials confirmed on Tuesday that four star Air Force general, John Raymond, will head up the newly established U.S. Space Command.

https://theweek.com/speedreads/831494/trump-administration-slowly-building-military-presence-space-without-space-force

I have always pointed out the cost to taxpayers for this decision……and it continues to grow…..

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Wednesday said his pitch to skeptical lawmakers on the need for a U.S. Space Force is that the Pentagon needs to move fast to keep up with pacing threats from Russia and China in space.

But could the sixth military branch eventually grow to better execute its purpose?

Speaking to audiences during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C., Shanahan said he envisions “15,000 to 20,000” individuals defending and protecting U.S. interests in the domain. In its fiscal 2020 budget proposal, the Pentagon said the branch will have 15,000 people, making it the smallest of any service.

While the Space Force will not need roughly $12.9 billion over five years to resource personnel and infrastructure for the branch like the Air Force originally proposed, Shanahan said the $2 billion over the same timeframe proposed to Congress is a “parametric estimate,” meaning one that uses historical cost information and analysis of previous conditions to arrive at a figure.

https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2019/03/20/cost-manning-space-force-may-grow-shanahan-says.html

I have posted on this earlier…..China and US in a race for space domination……

Fifty years after the first moon landing, an American triumph that gripped the world, China marked the start of 2019 with its own lunar achievement. Chang’e-4, a Chinese probe, landed on the far side of the moon in early January, broadcasting – for the first time in human history – images of the cratered surface that faces away from Earth.

Chang’e-4 has been billed as a friendly explorer, the latest step in humanity’s mission to better understand and exploit the universe around us. But space exploration has always been about power. Beijing’s lunar feat represents the latest development in the space race between China and the United States – a conflict that will be “important to modern warfare,” according to a US Defense Intelligence Agency report released in January that identified China as a “threat”. The Chinese foreign ministry responded by calling the report “reckless” and “totally groundless,” insisting that China “opposes militarisation and an arms race in space.”

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-america-space-race

All this “urgency” for a Space “unit”….could this be another war prep by the US?

Staying ahead of space trends – from satellite manufacture to new launch options – is daunting. Six trends – at least – are at work. To what exact end they vector is unclear, but watching is important. These trends will affect American investment in space, national security, our modern standards of living, and our wider economy.

First, heavy satellites are getting heavier, as more capability is attached to each satellite. Capabilities are commercial to national security, communications to climate prediction, crisis response to territorial protection, real-time analysis to event anticipation.

https://defensemaven.io/warriormaven/future-weapons/how-america-is-revving-up-preparations-for-massive-space-war-2rtXpfBedUejXD-YlCidxA/

All this talk about a Space Force……will it be legal according to international treaties?  Of course Trump can do what he always does disregard any treaties he does not like…..stay tuned I will be posting on “Space Law” soon.  (There are laws about space….believe it or not….)

Shades Of S.D.I. (Star Wars)

I read something the other day that made me think of the old Reagan Star Wars plan (the S.D.I.)…….but what was it?

In case you are too young to remember the plan……


Now that I have explained what I was thinking….how about the article that promoted all this contemplation….

India on Wednesday destroyed a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test that puts the country in the space “super league”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

He said India would be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite missile after the United States, Russia and China.

“A while ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite at a low-earth orbit. I congratulate all scientists who have made this possible and made India a much stronger nation,” Modi said in a rare televised address to the nation weeks before the national elections scheduled to be held in April and May.

“This is a big moment for India. Something that all of us should be proud of. We are not just capable to defend on land, water and air, but now also in space,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV website.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/india-shoots-satellite-joining-space-super-league-modi-190327071419578.html

There is history behind these attempts….

The United States performed the first anti-satellite tests in 1959, when satellites themselves were rare and new.

Bold Orion, designed as a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile re-purposed to attack satellites, was launched from a bomber and passed close enough to the Explorer 6 satellite for it to have been destroyed if the missile had been armed.

The Soviet Union performed similar tests around the same time. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it tested a weapon that could be launched in orbit, approach enemy satellites and destroy them with an explosive charge, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit research and advocacy organization.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-satellite-tests-factbox-idUSKCN1R80UW

And all those people that protested against the Reagan program, the SDI, only thought we had won a decisive victory when the program was abandoned (or so we thought)…..

It is time for a renewed push to make some things in space illegal…..maybe not this but then there is a plan for a Space Force for the US……there should be guidelines and laws governing and practice.

Foreign Policy Today

The title sounds like a PBS Special for a Sunday Night….

As an analyst of foreign policy I am always interested in what candidates have to offer….and these days I am not too thrilled with our current leader…..his foreign policy seems a bit amateurish and infantile…..

In the last 60+ years our foreign policy can be labelled a “liberal” foreign policy…..and in that time the hypocrisy of our policies have come to light….

Former US vice-president Joe Biden asserted at the 2019 Munich Security Conference that ‘this too shall pass’, referring to the Trump administration’s challenges to the transatlantic alliance structure and US commitment to multilateralism. Unfortunately, any assumption that America’s commitment to global engagement will revert to the status quo ante in 2021 if President Donald Trump is not re-elected belies the growing polarization in US public opinion about America’s role in the world.

This partisan divide in Americans’ sentiment pre-dated Trump’s election and is likely to continue whatever the outcome of the next US presidential election. Americans have long held ambivalent feelings about their relationship with the rest of the world. Many are descendants of people who turned their backs on their homelands to seek a better life in the New World. Thomas Jefferson’s admonition against ‘entangling alliances’ was a mantra taken up by isolationists in the first half of the 20th century who argued against early US entry into both world wars.

https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/us-foreign-policy-will-continue-divide-americans-beyond-2020#

If anyone else were president, the “liberals” would be celebrating. After all, pulling American soldiers out of a couple of failing, endless wars seems like a “win” for progressives. Heck, if Obama did it there might be a ticker-tape parade down Broadway. And there should be. The intervention in Syria is increasingly aimless, dangerous and lacks an end state. Afghanistan is an unwinnable war – America’s longest – and about to end in outright military defeat. Getting out now and salvaging so much national blood and treasure ought to be a progressive dream. There’s only one problem: Donald Trump. Specifically, that it was Trump who gave the order to begin the troop withdrawals.

Lost in the haze of their pathological hatred of President Trump, the majority of mainstream liberal pundits and politicians can’t, for the life of them, see the good sense in extracting the troops from a couple Mideast quagmires. That or they can see the positives, but, in their obsessive compulsion to smear the president, choose politics over country. It’s probably a bit of both. That’s how tribally partisan American political discourse has become. And, how reflexively hawkish and interventionist today’s mainstream Democrats now are. Whither the left-wing antiwar movement? Well, except for a few diehards out there, the movement seems to have been buried long ago with George McGovern.

https://original.antiwar.com/danny_sjursen/2019/01/07/hypocrisy-without-bounds-the-tragedy-of-liberal-foreign-policy/

Then we elected Trump and in the beginning I was with him on some of his foreign policy issues but that quickly went down the toilet after he was elected and his true self came to light……

Those anticipating that President Donald Trump would spend a considerable part of his State of the Union address on foreign policy likely came away disappointed. With the exceptions of his bragging about the U.S. military being stronger and better than ever before, killing one of the al-Qaeda operatives who planned the USS Cole attack over 18 years ago, and condemning Nicolás Maduro-style socialism, Trump was noticeably subdued on events beyond America’s shores.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Trump administration’s favorite target, was portrayed as led by depraved fanatics intent on committing murder and mayhem throughout the Middle East. Russia—a country that has caused Trump all sorts of political trouble in Washington—was called out for violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Chinese President Xi Jinping was described as a friend while his government was excoriated as a predatory economic behemoth that has sapped America of its wealth, killed its manufacturing sector, stolen its intellectual capital, and decimated its blue-collar workforce. And Trump minced no words when briefly talking about Venezuela’s Maduro, who has plundered a once wealthy Latin American nation.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trumps-new-era-on-foreign-policy/

Keep in mind the above link is a conserv link and in as such can be a bit neocon in content…..

I then read an article that says that Americans want a less aggressive foreign policy….really?

For decades, American foreign policy has rested on a consensus view about the United States’ role in the world. In an international order where there is one unrivaled superpower, foreign policy experts agree that U.S. soldiers and taxpayer dollars are essential for preserving global stability. But that is an assumption that is not necessarily shared by the American public, based on the findings of a new study Worlds Apart: U.S. Foreign Policy and American Public Opinion, conducted by the Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF), an organization I serve as Board President.

No matter what party they claim allegiance to, Americans favor a foreign policy that resists entanglements abroad, the survey found—and it’s not limited to conservative libertarians on the right and liberal pacifists on the left. In every age group polled, respondents exhibited a waning appetite for the obligations and impositions of imperial governance.

http://time.com/5532307/worlds-apart-foreign-policy-public-opinion-poll-eurasia/

I am NOT sure I agree with that conclusion. Why? I do not believe that most Americans have a grip on foreign policy beyond their favorite news channel…..

Another look at this survey…….https://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/americans-want-greater-restraint-in-foreign-policy/

I disagree because of the public acceptance of the many many wars we are currently fight…..

It seems the only people that are fighting against all these wars are the people that had to fight them….our veterans….https://truthout.org/articles/veterans-demand-congress-end-the-forever-wars/

We need to find a way to educate the voter on our foreign policy….for as long as they stay uninformed the military can run rough shod over their decisions and as long as the MSM works as the propaganda arm of our polices we will stay in a forever war.

What we need is a Progressive foreign policy….

The 2020 election will not turn on global issues of – and more’s the pity. After all, thanks to decades upon decades of accumulating executive power in an increasingly imperial presidency, it is in foreign affairs that the commander-in-chief possesses near dictatorial power. Conversely, in domestic policy, a hostile Congress can – just ask Barry Obama – effectively block most of a president’s agenda.

Still, the vast majority of Americans don’t give a hoot about issues of war, peace, and international diplomacy. Why should they care? It’s not as though anything is asked of them as citizens. By cynically ditching the draft, Tricky Dick Nixon took the wind out of the sails of current and future antiwar movements, and permanently cleaved a gap between the U.S. people and their military. Mothers no longer lose sleep over their teenage sons serving their country and they – along with the rest of the family – quit caring about foreign policy. Such it is, and so it will be, that the 2020 presidential election is likely to be decided by “kitchen-table” affairs like healthcare, immigration, race, and taxes.

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2019/03/25/still-waiting-2020-fever-and-the-quest-for-a-progressive-foreign-policy/

Turn The Page!

 

Pentagon And The “Great Wall”

Just as the other Great Wall was erected to keep “invaders” out our Dear Supreme Leader is trying to erect one of his own (something he can point to as a material accomplishment of a weak presidency)…..

And where will the president try to slip cash out to pay for this worthless endeavor?

The Pentagon always has more money than it knows what to do with…..

The Pentagon has a list of $6.8 billion worth of construction projects it could choose to take money from in order to build President Trump’s border wall, according to a list belatedly provided to Congress on Monday.

But officials have yet to even decide how much Defense Department money they’ll use toward the wall, and so they haven’t decided which projects on the target list would actually be affected.

The Pentagon also said Congress can make sure none of the projects suffer by passing an increase in military construction money for 2020, allowing the government to go back and replenish the accounts Mr. Trump wants to drain for his border wall.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/18/pentagon-lays-out-68b-projects-cut-border-wall/

Several projects would be delayed if the Pentagon has to shoulder the cuts to pay for Trump’s “Great Wall”……

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday forwarded to Congress the list of construction projects the Pentagon could delay to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

The projects range across the country and around the world, from an air traffic control tower in Alabama to fuel tanks in Australia, according to the 21-page document.

“Decisions have not yet been made concerning which border barrier projects will be funded” under the president’s authority, according to the Pentagon memo attached to the list.

Democrats pounced on the list and Trump’s emergency declaration as a political stunt.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/18/pentagon-project-list-shows-congress-how-could-pay-trumps-wall/3204758002/

On a side note…the Pentagon plans to cut $31 billion from its budget (seriously?)…….

The U.S. Army‘s fiscal 2020 budget, which will be made public in mid-March, will cut $31.5 billion from existing programs to ensure that the service’s top priorities of readiness and modernization remain on track, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday.

Army senior leadership just wrapped up its version of “night court,” a time-consuming and tedious process in which top generals went through each program to find extra money for the service’s six modernization priorities and to fund efforts to increase the readiness levels of brigade combat teams, McCarthy told an audience at an Association of the United States Army breakfast.

 
It is always fun to see what the Pentagon does for they know that the Congress will shove lots of taxpayer money up their butts and tell they to play pretty.
 
This is all so much BS….