I Might as Well Just Quote Him Verbatim

23 06 2010


(My favorite frequent commenter on New York Times columns, that is.)

Here he is responding to a column by Maureen Dowd which said, essentially, that US policy in Afghanistan  is a mess:

Phil in the mountains of Kyushu
June 23rd, 2010
12:48 am
Yes, it’s “complete incoherence.”

But if you put things in perspective, no surprise here.

The U.S. got smacked up in the tar baby because of three reasons that al Qaeda cited as provocations against Islam. Two of those three (and maybe the third) directly came from U.S. corporate “interests” run amuck — 1) having the U.S. prop up dictatorships that oppress their people — and 2) having the U.S. expand military aid, secret police training, and bases and arms to succor the despots. And all this just for U.S. corporate “interests” (oil, of course, and construction, and finance — all interlocked, along with the usual military-industrial mix).

No surprise at the “complete incoherence” here, as you put it. Subservience to the sociopathic corporate elite is total in the U.S. The Congress is bought. The prez is naive. The Supreme Court outright rules for the de-personalized anonymities wielding corporate monies — “life” based on no humans, no waters, no land, but on counting profits, neutering all the world for exploitation, ledgering stats and gains and costs — the whole, sick corporate “ethos.” It leads to the cynical amorality of loopy-casinoed Wall Street. It leads to the cynical amorality of BP casually dipping into extinction events. It’s all totally sick — and pervasive, and continuous, and strangling of all non-corporate “life.”

And, well, whaddaya know: this malady, this disease, has its own “coherence” after all — just check into any biz or law school to see it being taught.

I consider this to be pretty good, very intense writing.
But I am sad that writing on public policy issues, no matter how good, it is,  is always trumped by money in the USA of today. I still have hope, however, because I know that the money trump card can eventually lose its power. Shifts of deeply-rooted cultural assumptions, often begun by writers of various sorts,  occur slowly, yet can eventually defeat great wealth arrayed on the side of an outmoded ideal.
It took almost 100 years* from the first judicial decision in England limiting the rights of slaveholders, to the emancipation of the slaves in the USA. But they WERE emancipated in the end, despite the great power of the slaveholding Southerners’ money.
Maybe in another hundred years the rule of the USA by huge corporations will have led to so many economic  crimes  being committed against the American people that the rule of our New Corporate Aristocrats will be similarly sluffed off.


21 09 2009


The story of the recent cancellation of the F-22 fighter plane:


This weapons system was conceived in the 1980s during the Cold War to go up against the finest fighters the militaristic Soviet Union could create. It was a plane built to achieve air supremacy in a major conventional war between large, technologically-sophisticated nations with huge military budgets.

The Soviet Union went away in 1991. We took delivery on the first of these planes in 2003. Congress recently capped procurement of the planes at 187 units after a big fight.

Here’s how much the F-22 cost the USA, all told:

“By the time all 183 fighters have been purchased, $34 billion will have been spent on actual procurement, resulting in a total program cost of $62 billion or about $339 million per aircraft. The incremental cost for one additional F-22 is around $138 million;[18] decreasing with larger volumes.[16]”

Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-22_Raptor

Who needs universal health care? We have super-duper fighter planes!


8 09 2009

Conservatives haven’t given up trying to kill the remnants of the New Deal and the Great Society–i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare (what’s left of it), Food Stamps, and maybe even unemployment compensation.

In the coming 20 or so years, as the baby boomers (one of whom I am) age and die, Conservatives can be expected to step up that struggle, since only people boomer age and older remember the kinder world America was before the Reagan Age.

And when we consider that everyone who turned, say, 15, in 1980 when Regan was elected is 44 now, those conservatives might succeed handily. I believe that most people absorb their basic political assumptions around the time they develop favorite songs — and then remain loyal to them for a lifetime.

The best way to kill all those New Deal and Great Society programs, of course, is to pretend to be a pragmatist and declare that we can’t afford them. Here’s one of the first such  shots over the New Deal’s bow:


And here are the three liberal arguments in response (which ought to work but may not, given the aforementioned loyalty humans have to stuff imbibed as teenagers):

1. It’s Republicans — largely that last, most inept President — who have been the most wasteful:




2. Hey, why don’t  we cut that huge military budget first?


(The US military budget is now about 1/2 of all the military spending in the world combined.)

and, finally, liberals should make the following point, which would be unanswerable but for the existence of the strange doctrine of American exceptionalism:

3. How come all the major European countries can have lots more benefits for their people then the USA does, and they don’t build up huge deficits?

See my earlier post, “Is it True What They Say About Sweden”, here:



The answer to liberals’ question number 3 is implied in question number 2, about our mad continuation of the military spending that our government, and especially conservatives, justified during the Cold War as necessary to deter the Evil Empire…

…and then just kept up, unabated, for some strange reason, indefinitely.

Even if we need a strong army to fight in Afghanistan and future similar places full of Muslims who hate us, we don’t need all those super weapons we bought to deter the Soviet Union from launching a nuclear war or a conventional State v. State war. These are two very different kinds of war, requiring different approaches. Fighting irregular troops like the Taliban requires boots on the ground, and only enough air power to maintain control of the air, which is pretty easy when dealing with folks who don’t have an airforce. We don’t need a new line up of super-duper and super-expensive airplanes, missiles, etc., every few years.

But hey, we need to keep those defense contractors fat and happy, right?