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Paul B Farrell's America's Outrageous War Economy
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:42 pm    Post subject: Paul B Farrell's America's Outrageous War Economy Reply with quote

OK, I feel mostly fear and disgust after reading this so just had to share:

PAUL B. FARRELL
'America's Outrageous War Economy!'
Pentagon can't find $2.3 trillion, wasting trillions on 'national defense'
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Yes, America's economy is a war economy. Not a "manufacturing" economy. Not an "agricultural" economy. Nor a "service" economy. Not even a "consumer" economy.
Seriously, I looked into your eyes, America, saw deep into your soul. So let's get honest and officially call it "America's Outrageous War Economy." Admit it: we secretly love our war economy. And that's the answer to Jim Grant's thought-provoking question last month in the Wall Street Journal -- "Why No Outrage?"

There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war. We love "America's Outrageous War Economy."
Americans passively zone out playing video war games. We nod at 90-second news clips of Afghan war casualties and collateral damage in Georgia. We laugh at Jon Stewart's dark comedic news and Ben Stiller's new war spoof "Tropic Thunder" ... all the while silently, by default, we're cheering on our leaders as they aggressively expand "America's Outrageous War Economy," a relentless machine that needs a steady diet of war after war, feeding on itself, consuming our values, always on the edge of self-destruction.

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Why else are Americans so eager and willing to surrender 54% of their tax dollars to a war machine, which consumes 47% of the world's total military budgets?
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Why are there more civilian mercenaries working for no-bid private war contractors than the total number of enlisted military in Iraq (180,000 to 160,000), at an added cost to taxpayers in excess of $200 billion and climbing daily?
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Why do we shake our collective heads "yes" when our commander-in-chief proudly tells us he is a "war president;" and his party's presidential candidate chants "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," as if "war" is a celebrity hit song?
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Why do our spineless Democrats let an incompetent, blundering executive branch hide hundreds of billions of war costs in sneaky "supplemental appropriations" that are more crooked than Enron's off-balance-sheet deals?
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Why have Washington's 537 elected leaders turned the governance of the American economy over to 42,000 greedy self-interest lobbyists?
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And why earlier this year did our "support-our-troops" "war president" resist a new GI Bill because, as he said, his military might quit and go to college rather than re-enlist in his war; now we continue paying the Pentagon's warriors huge $100,000-plus bonuses to re-up so they can keep expanding "America's Outrageous War Economy?" Why? Because we secretly love war!

We've lost our moral compass: The contrast between today's leaders and the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 shocks our conscience. Today war greed trumps morals. During the Revolutionary War our leaders risked their lives and fortunes; many lost both.
Today it's the opposite: Too often our leaders' main goal is not public service but a ticket to building a personal fortune in the new "America's Outrageous War Economy," often by simply becoming a high-priced lobbyist.
Ultimately, the price of our greed may be the fulfillment of Kevin Phillips' warning in "Wealth and Democracy:" "Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out."
'National defense' a propaganda slogan selling a war economy?
But wait, you ask: Isn't our $1.4 trillion war budget essential for "national defense" and "homeland security?" Don't we have to protect ourselves?
Sorry folks, but our leaders have degraded those honored principles to advertising slogans. They're little more than flag-waving excuses used by neocon war hawks to disguise the buildup of private fortunes in "America's Outrageous War Economy."
America may be a ticking time bomb, but we are threatened more by enemies within than external terrorists, by ideological fanatics on the left and the right. Most of all, we are under attack by our elected leaders who are motivated more by pure greed than ideology. They terrorize us, brainwashing us into passively letting them steal our money to finance "America's Outrageous War Economy," the ultimate "black hole" of corruption and trickle-up economics.
You think I'm kidding? I'm maybe too harsh? Sorry but others are far more brutal. Listen to the ideologies and realities eating at America's soul.
1. Our toxic 'war within' is threatening America's soul
How powerful is the Pentagon's war machine? Trillions in dollars. But worse yet: Their mindset is now locked deep in our DNA, in our collective conscience, in America's soul. Our love of war is enshrined in the writings of neocon war hawks like Norman Podoretz, who warns the Iraq War was the launching of "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism," a reminder that we could be occupying Iraq for a hundred years. His WW IV also reminded us of the coming apocalyptic end-of-days "war of civilizations" predicted by religious leaders in both Christian and Islamic worlds two years ago.
In contrast, this ideology has been challenged in works like Craig Unger's "American Armageddon: How the Delusions of the Neoconservatives and the Christian Right Triggered the Descent of America -- and Still Imperil Our Future."
Unfortunately, neither threat can be dismissed as "all in our minds" nor as merely ideological rhetoric. Trillions of tax dollars are in fact being spent to keep the Pentagon war machine aggressively planning and expanding wars decades in advance, including spending billions on propaganda brainwashing naïve Americans into co-signing "America's Outrageous War Economy." Yes, they really love war, but that "love" is toxic for America's soul.
2. America's war economy financed on blank checks to greedy
Read Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes' "$3 Trillion War." They show how our government's deceitful leaders are secretly hiding the real long-term costs of the Iraq War, which was originally sold to the American taxpayer with a $50 billion price tag and funded out of oil revenues.
But add in all the lifetime veterans' health benefits, equipment placement costs, increased homeland security and interest on new federal debt, and suddenly taxpayers got a $3 trillion war tab!
3. America's war economy has no idea where its money goes
Read Portfolio magazine's special report "The Pentagon's $1 Trillion Problem." The Pentagon's 2007 budget of $440 billion included $16 billion to operate and upgrade its financial system. Unfortunately "the defense department has spent billions to fix its antiquated financial systems [but] still has no idea where its money goes."
And it gets worse: Back "in 2000, Defense's inspector general told Congress that his auditors stopped counting after finding $2.3 trillion in unsupported entries." Yikes, our war machine has no records for $2.3 trillion! How can we trust anything they say?
4. America's war economy is totally 'unmanageable'
For decades Washington has been waving that "national defense" flag, to force the public into supporting "America's Outrageous War Economy." Read John Alic's "Trillions for Military Technology: How the Pentagon Innovates and Why It Costs So Much."
A former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment staffer, he explains why weapon systems cost the Pentagon so much, "why it takes decades to get them into production even as innovation in the civilian economy becomes ever more frenetic and why some of those weapons don't work very well despite expenditures of many billions of dollars," and how "the internal politics of the armed services make weapons acquisition almost unmanageable." Yes, the Pentagon wastes trillions planning its wars well in advance.
Comments? Tell us: What will it take to wake up America, get citizens, investors, anybody mad at "America's Outrageous War Economy?"
Why don't you rebel? Will the outrage come too late?
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LLB



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject: Yes...to all of the above Reply with quote

I know I'm a bleeding heart liberal, but the article pretty much states my thoughts on the matter. The infrastructure could be entirely rebuilt, rail travel put on a par with European rail programs, and the poor that could have been helped with all the money we've thrown down the Iraqi rat hole sickens me. Yesterday I met a guy at Starbucks - both of us were supposed to have been working, but we struck up a conversation when he saw my Kindle - and we had a two hour conversation, with much of the focus on just this topic. He was far more center than I am, but we pretty much agreed on this.
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LisaW



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

December 22, 2002
FREEDOM

When I was a little kid, I asked my dad about an image I had seen of really huge numbers of prisoners being marched to their execution in a forest clearing, guarded by perhaps five or ten men with rifles. I wanted to know why they didn't just rush the guards. I mean, it's one thing if they were heading to another miserable day at work camp, but these people were being led off to be killed, and they knew it. I mean, for God's sake, what did they have to lose?

I was six. My dad looked at me. He had served in the latter days of WW2 in Europe as a U.S. Army intelligence officer. No parachuting onto the decks of enemy U-Boats at night to steal Enigma machines -- just unexceptional, unheroic, 2nd Lieutenant grunt work. He'd been to the camps though, seen some horrible things. When I asked him why they didn't fight back or run for the woods, he said, without any arrogance or contempt or jingoism, "I don't know Billy, I can't figure that one out myself." Then there was a long moment. "But I can't imagine Americans just walking off like that, either."

Now when he said he couldn't imagine Americans marching off to their deaths, he meant, obviously, Americans like the ones he knew. Kids who grew up hunting, kids who got a BB gun for their fifth birthday -- tough, adventurous, American kids whose mom's never gave a second thought to them shooting their eye out with a Red Ryder air rifle.

Now before we go any further, I want to be crystal clear about something: I don't believe for an instant in any genetic nonsense about slave races or nations of pure-bred heroes. That's a deadly trap, and the end result of such thinking is a place on the watchtower machine-gunning starving prisoners. But humans are the most successful species this planet has seen, not for being ferocious or fast or strong or even intelligent, but for their malleability. Humans can, and do, adapt to anything. It is their culture that determines what is in their hearts.

Consider the case of Jews in Germany, during the 1930s. Here was a people who had been so tormented and persecuted and psychologically beaten down that they had come to believe the outrageous slander that they were guests in their own country. Behind their shuttered doors at night, they created cocoons of astonishing culture and beauty, a symphony of violins and cellos and poetry and literature. They were far over-represented in occupations we rightly esteem as among the most noble of our species: surgeons, musicians, teachers and scientists.

By any measure of human decency, these were the people that should have been helping to lead a ravaged Germany back to respect and prosperity. Yet they were massacred in their millions by brutes and sadists who sent millions to their deaths while listening to symphonies.

If it is possible to write a clearer lesson on human nature, then I cannot imagine it, nor can I imagine the amount of blood it will take to convince people unwilling to look reality in the face; that reality being that compassion, culture, law and philosophy are precious, rare and acquired habits that must be defended with force against people who understand nothing but force. The great failure and staggering tragedy of European Jews is that they could not accept that some of their neighbors were not as decent, humane and educated as they were. A culture that learned to survive by turning inward simply never was willing to face the reality of what they were up against; namely, that hoping for compassion and humanity from the likes of the Nazis was akin to reading poetry to a hurricane. This denial -- and that is the only word for it -- is, in the final horrible analysis, a form of arrogance, almost: the refusal to see things for what they are. A people of astonishing internal beauty simply could not look into the face of such ugliness without turning away. And now they are dead.

And there are many intelligent, enlightened, gentle and good-hearted people today who believe exactly the same thing. If we let this moral blindness continue to gain ground, then they will get us all killed, too. And then who will put their boot on humanity's neck for the next thousand years?

I recently visited a website that featured a picture of Star Trek's Mr. Spock, with the caption: My hero! Someone who thinks his way out of trouble! The implication, of course, is that force and violence are universally to be rejected and despised as unworthy of thinking people (or Vulcans).

Well bucko, Spock carried a phaser as well as a tricorder, and he used it when he had to. If the Star Trek future represents a hope for our species at its most reasonable and open-minded best, it would be well to remember that the Enterprise carried a hell of a lot of photon torpedoes because the cause of human decency cannot be advanced if all the decent humans lie dead.

To the many who scorn the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution as the dangerous plaything of illiterate, mindless oafs who enjoy loud noises, let me simply refer you to that great unbiased and incorruptible teacher: History.

Ask yourselves why intellectual elites so love totalitarian states where people are unarmed and dependent sheep. Look at the examples of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Saddam, and the horrors they have inflicted at will on their own people. And when contemplating your ever-so-sophisticated foreign policy, ask yourselves what compassionate and non-violent options you are left with when facing a determined, heartless bastard like Hitler, Napoleon, Ghengis Khan or Attila.

Some say that the time for real evil like that has finally gone. I hope you are right, I really do. I don't want to go fight those bastards; I'd rather barbeque and watch the Gators. I'm sure the Jews in 1930 Germany thought such things could never happen again, not in the heart of European culture and civilization. I'm sure every bound and beaten musician, surgeon, philosopher and painter being lined up at the side of a ditch thought exactly that.

Freedom is preserved by free people. Our 40th President wrote that "no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."

I believe gun ownership is the truest form of freedom, and here's why: It says you are your own person, responsible for your own actions. You are, in other words, expected to behave as an adult. It says, furthermore, that you should not be collectively punished for the misdeeds of others. In fact, those that abuse this freedom by committing crimes are thought of and dealt with much more harshly by gun owners, as a rule, than Hollywood celebrities, precisely because a free person understands the responsibility that comes with freedom.

This, to my mind, is the fundamental difference between the Europeans and the U.S.: We trust the people. We fought wars and lost untold husbands and brothers and sons because of this single most basic belief: Trust the people. Trust them with freedom. Trust them to spend their own money. Trust them to do the right thing. Trust them to defend themselves. To the degree that government can help, great -- but TRUST THE PEOPLE.

We as a nation suffer an appalling number of handgun-related deaths each year -- perhaps 11,000 of them. The number is not important; each is a personal tragedy and those lives can never be replaced.

If we attempt to reduce this horrible number by banning handguns, we are taking away the property of a person who has broken no laws, by a government whose legitimacy is determined by a document that specifically allows that property, namely guns.

Destroy that trust by punishing the innocent, by pulling a plank from the Bill of Rights, and the contract between the government and the people falls apart. Once the Second Amendment goes, the First will soon follow, because if some unelected elite determines that the people can't be trusted with dangerous guns, then it's just a matter of time until they decide they can't be trusted with dangerous ideas, either. Dangerous ideas have killed many millions more people than dangerous handguns -- listen to the voices from the Gulag, the death camps, and all the blood-soaked killing fields through history.

The Framers, in their wisdom, put the 2nd Amendment there to give teeth to the revolutionary, unheard-of idea that the power rests with We The People. They did not depend on good will or promises. They made sure that when push came to shove, we'd be the ones doing the pushing and shoving, not the folks in Washington. And by the way, gun rights supporters are frequently mocked when they say it deters foreign invasion -- after all, come on, grow up, be realistic: Who's nuts enough to invade America? Exactly. It's unthinkable. Good. 2nd Amendment Mission 1 accomplished.

But back to the undeniable domestic cost: when confronted with the idea of banning handguns to reduce this horrible toll, many handgun defenders are tempted to point to the numbers killed on the highways each year -- perhaps four times that number -- and ask why we don't ban cars as well.

The logical response is that bans on travel -- cars, airplanes, etc. -- are a false analogy compared to banning guns, because cars have a clear benefit while guns don't do anything other than kill what they are aimed at.

While that is exactly true, I think it misses the point, which to me is simply this: we'd never ban automobile travel to avoid thousands of highway deaths. It's clearly not worth it in both economic and personal freedom terms. We choose, reluctantly, and with many a lost loved one in mind, to keep on driving.

Here is my dry-eyed, cold-hearted, sad conclusion: I believe that the freedom, convenience and economic viability provided by the automobile is worth the 40,000 lives we lose to automotive deaths each year -- a number made more horrible by the fact that perhaps 40% are related to drunk driving and are therefore preventable.

By the same calculation, I accept that the freedoms entrusted to the people of the United States are worth the 11,000 lives we lose to gun violence each year.

I wish I could make both those numbers go away. I will support any reasonable campaign to make them as low as possible.

But understand this: 11,000 handgun deaths a year, over four years is very roughly 50,000 killed. In Nazi Germany, an unarmed population was unable to resist the abduction and murder of 6,000,000 people in a similar period: a number 120 times higher. Throw in the midnight murders of the Soviets, the Chinese, the various and sundry African and South American genocides and purges and political assassinations and that number grows to many hundreds, if not several thousand times more killings in unarmed populations.

Visualize this to fully appreciate the point. Imagine the Superbowl. Every player on the field is a handgun victim. All the people in the stands are the victims who were unable to resist with handguns. Those are historical facts.

I, myself, am willing to pay that price as a society -- knowing full well that I or a loved one may be part of that terrible invoice. I wish it was lower. Obviously, I wish it didn't exist at all. But any rational look into the world shows us places where the numbers of innocents murdered by their own governments in unarmed nations are far, far higher.

Of course, many societies have far lower numbers. Japan is a fine example. I'm sure if the United States had 2000 years of a culture whose prize assets were conformity and submission, then our numbers would be a lot lower. Alas, we are not that society. Thank God, we are not that society.

It is abundantly clear that the rate of handgun murders in the United States is not uniform. Very large murder rates can be observed in small, exceedingly violent populations of every race in this country, and these rates seem to be more related to issues of income, education and living conditions. Certainly guns are freely available in areas where our murder rates are appallingly high. They are also found in very large numbers in communities where handgun crime is virtually nonexistent.

Doesn't that tell us that there is something deeper at work here? Could it be, perhaps, that the problem is not with the number of guns in this country but rather in the hearts of those who we allow to wield them, repeatedly? Could it really be as simple as apprehending, and punishing, those that would do harm to innocents and to civilization? Rather than banning guns, should we not attack the moral rot that infests these small, violent populations of every color who put such horrible numbers at our feet?

Assume for a moment you could vaporize every gun on the planet. Would crime go away? Or would ruthless, physically strong gangs of young men be essentially able to roam free and predate at will?

The history of civilization shows time and time again how decent, sophisticated city dwellers amass wealth through cooperation and the division of labor -- only to be victimized by ruthless gangs of raping, looting cutthroats who couldn't make a fruit basket, sweeping down on them, murdering them and carting away the loot, to return a few years later, forever, ad infinitum. Vikings, Mongols, desperadoes of every stripe -- they are a cancer on humanity, but there they are and there they have always been.

If civilization is worth having -- and it is -- then it has to be defended, because the restraining virtues of justice, compassion and respect for laws are products of that civilizing force and completely unknown to those who would do it harm.

Therefore, since I believe in this civilization, in its laws, science, art and medicine, I believe we must be prepared to defend it against what I feel no embarrassment for calling the Forces of Darkness. Those forces could be raiders on horseback, jackbooted Nazi murderers, ecstatic human bombs, or some kid blowing away a shopkeeper.

For the gun-ban argument to be convincing, you'd have to show me a time before shopkeepers were blown away, hacked away, pelted away or whatever the case may be. You would have to show me a time in history before the invention of the firearm, when crime and raiding and looting did not exist, when murders and rapes did not exist. We may lose 11,000 people to handguns a year. How many would we lose without any handguns, if murderers and rapists roamed free of fear, ignoring reprisal from citizens or police? I don't know. You don't know either. Maybe it's a lot fewer people, and maybe, in a world where strength and ruthlessness trump all, it would be a far higher one.

You may argue that only the police should be allowed to carry guns. Consider this carefully. Do we really want to create an unelected subculture that views itself as so elite and virtuous as to be the only ones worthy of such power, trust and authority? Have we not clearly seen the type of people drawn to such exclusive positions of authority, and the attitudes and arrogance it promotes?

Furthermore, I can't see any moral distinction between a policeman and a law-abiding citizen. Policemen are drawn from the ranks of law-abiding citizens. They are not bred in hydroponics tanks. They are expected to show restraint and use their weapon as a last resort. Millions upon millions of citizens, a crowd more vast than entire armies of police, do exactly this every day.

If all of these horrors had sprung up as a result of the invention of the handgun I'd be right there beside those calling for their destruction.

But clearly, this is not the case. In our cowboy past we used to say that "God created Man, but Sam Colt made them equal." This is simple enough to understand. It means that a villager, let's say a schoolteacher, can defeat a human predator who may have spent his entire life practicing the art of war. Firearms are what tipped the balance toward civilization by eliminating a lifetime spent studying swordplay or spear play or pointed-stick play. The bad guys have always used weapons and they always will. The simple truth about guns is that they are damn effective and even easier to operate. They level the playing field to the point where a woman has a chance against a gang of thugs or a police officer can control a brawl.

I don't see how vaporizing all the guns in the world would remove crime or violence -- history shows these have always been with us and show no signs of responding favorably to well-reasoned arguments or harsh language. I wish it were not true. I wish the IRS did not exist either, but there it is.

Criminals, and criminal regimes ranging from The Brow-Ridged Hairy People That Live Among the Distant Mountains all the way through history to the Nazis and the Soviets, have and will conspire to take by force what they cannot produce on their own. These people must be stopped. The genius of the 2nd Amendment is that it realizes that these people could be anybody -- including the U.S. Army. That is why this power, like the other powers, is vested in the people. Nowhere else in the world is this the case. You can make a solid argument that the United States is, by almost any measure, the most prosperous, successful nation in history. I'm not claiming this is because every American sleeps with a gun under the pillow -- the vast majority do not. I do claim it is the result of a document that puts faith and trust in the people -- trusts them with government, with freedom, and with the means of self-defense. You cannot remove that lynchpin of trust without collapsing the entire structure. Many observers of America never fully understand what we believe in our bones, namely, that the government doesn't tell us what we can do -- WE tell THOSE bastards just how far they can go.

Of course, all of this is completely whimsical, because, like nuclear weapons, guns are HERE and they are not going to go away. You cannot just vaporize them. Honest people might be compelled to turn in their weapons; criminals clearly will not. So what do you propose? Forget the moral high ground of gun ownership. Again a simple truth, often maligned but demonstrably dead-on accurate: When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

The American Revolution surely is unique in the sense that its ringleaders -- Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, etc -- were men of property, wealth and prestige; in other words, men with something to lose. Compare this to any other revolution in history, where the ringleaders were outsiders; plotters staring in through the windows of prosperity, powerless. The Russian Revolution, French Revolution, etc -- these were joined by desperate people fighting mind-numbing poverty and severe political repression.

And yet the Founding Fathers were men who were as well-off as any men on earth at the time, and furthermore, any of them could have been (and were) political leaders under His Majesty's government. The average colonial farmer likewise led a life far more comfortable than those of his cousins in Europe, to say nothing of Asia or Africa.

For all practical intents and purposes, these people had absolutely nothing to gain, and everything in the world to lose, by taking on the greatest military force the world had ever known. Why would they do this? What possible motivation could well-off, comfortable people have? Militarily, they seemed certain to lose, and they knew before they started -- and Patrick Henry made that abundantly clear -- that they would be hanged as common criminals if they failed.

Of course, the answer is, they did it to be free. And they did it to make the rest of their nation -- the poor, the disenfranchised -- free as well. And it is clear as crystal from their collective writings that they took that risk to make Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore and the rest of us in their unseen posterity free, too. They could look down the dim, moonlit riverbanks of the future and see a society worthy of their sacrifice and determination. They knew that God, (or for me, chance perhaps) had put them together in a time and place where bold, courageous action, followed by much suffering, doubt, blood and fear could, perhaps, unleash in mankind an energy source the likes of which they could not imagine.

So for me, a child of that bet -- that guess, that commitment, that roll of the dice -- for me, I owe them the defense of that freedom, and I will do my poor mite to pass it on as best I can. These men pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor. They pledged that to me. I owe them. I do not have the right to take away someone else's freedom and property -- it is offensive to me to even contemplate it. Of course, if someone breaks the freedom/responsibility covenant by committing a crime, then all bets are off. To that extent, I view handgun murderers not just as criminals, but as traitors as well.

I hate seeing our kids get shot on the street, I hate it, I hate it. But that is the cost of freedom. People get horribly killed on Spring Break road trips to Florida at age 18. They're driving drunk. We could prevent them from going. We would save lives. Enron and MCI steal like the worst characters from Dickens, taking people's Christmas dinners so they can have gold plated faucets. We could regulate more, make things harder for the millions of honest businesses that build and trade honorably each day. The day may come when someone flies a Cessna into a stadium. We can ban the airplanes. Ditto for pleasure boats. We can ban and confiscate and regulate to our hearts content, and we will undoubtedly save many, many innocent lives by doing so. All for the price of a little freedom.

I believe we should punish the perpetrators. I will not agree to restrict the freedoms of the vast numbers of people who abide by the concomitant responsibility and live lives of honesty and decency.

And there is more than the physical restriction of freedoms: There is the slow erosion of self-reliance, self-confidence and self-determination among a nation. The more your government restricts your options, the more you psychologically look to government to keep you safe, fed, clothed, housed and sustained.

There is a word for people who are fed, clothed, housed and sustained fully by others, and that word is SLAVES.

If Congress were occupied by angels and Michael sat in a throne of glory in the Oval Office, I would listen to what they said for my own greater good. But I have noticed that no government is made of angels, and that many seem to be exclusively staffed by members of the opposite persuasion. So who determines how much freedom we trade for how much security? People do. People are not unknown to place their own interests above those of others. There is even a vanishing remote chance that Jean Cretien has at some point perhaps put personal interest above those of his constituents.

The real genius of the Founding Fathers was that these great and good men had the foresight and the courage to look into their own darker motives, and construct a system that prevents the accumulation of power.

The Constitution they created could only be torn up by force of arms. And that is why the Founders left that power in the hands of the people, who together can never be cowed by relatively small numbers of thugs holding the only guns.

As PJ O'Rourke points out, the U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner's manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world's most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free. Smarter people than me may disagree with that document -- I'm for not touching a comma.

So as a proud son of those brave men, I'll take freedom -- all of it -- and because I accept the benefits of those freedoms, I'll solemnly take the responsibilities as well. I may someday lose a child on a trip to Spring Break, but I'll never lock them in the basement to keep them safe. And I'll accept the fact that living in Los Angeles puts me at risk for being shot to death because I feel the freedom is worth it. I breathe that freedom every day, and hey, we all gotta go sometime. I'll continue to fly experimental airplanes because I am careful, meticulous, precise and responsible, and yet the day may come when I am out of altitude, out of airspeed, and out of ideas all at the same time. Oh well. I have seen and done things up there that you cannot imagine and I cannot describe. Freedom.

Our failures and disgraces cruelly remind us that we, like every other government, are composed of fallible men and women with no divine ability to read the future or foresee all outcomes. But these failures are failures of action, action borne of confidence and a belief in our way of life, and come all the more painful for their contrast to the everyday standards to which we hold ourselves as a people and a nation. For it is an undeniable fact that no great nation in history has held a shadow of our measure of power, and yet exercised it with such restraint, nor does any time in the bloody history of warfare reflect a people so magnanimous in victory against enemies sworn to their murder and destruction. From our first hour, we have been, and remain, the beacon of hope and freedom for a world desperate and longing for such an example, and we can measure our success in building such a place by the numbers of those who are literally dying in an attempt to come and be part of it.

Our ancestors made their choice and here we are. I respect anyone's right to choose differently. I only speak up to defend the choice we Americans made as a deeply spiritual one, borne of reflection and danger and a spectacular triumph against all odds. I cannot stand idly by to hear people denounce our freedoms as the dimwitted macho posturing of a mob of illiterate uncultured idiots who are so vulgar and uncouth as to still believe in Hollywood myths manufactured for our simple, complacent, unsophisticated nature.

From the Revolution until today, the choice for full freedom with all its accompanying excesses and failures is a profoundly well-reasoned, moral and ethical choice, and the result has been national and personal success unparalleled in the history of this world.

I am deeply proud to be a member of such a magnificent group of people. I hope to God I can give back as much as I owe.
Posted by Proteus at December 22, 2002 9:47 PM

http://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000013.html
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LizE



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=iraq+for+sale&hl=en&sitesearch=#

Hope that works. It's a link to a Robert Greenwald documentary called "Iraq for Sale" that details some of the abuses of contractors in Iraq. It's over an hour but well worth the time. His website is iraqforsale.org
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LizA



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wherever did the idea come from that Germany was "unarmed" and hence "defenceless" against the Nazi? It's simply not true, there were plenty of arms around which incidentially contributed to the raise of national sozialism and fascism (paramilitary groups, civil war, coups... ).

I really really hate hate hate the inapropriate comparisons between the third reich and gun control in America. The idea that "had the jews had weapons it would never have happened" is purely speculative. The topic is way to complex to be hijacked like that.

Overall, there is a deep feeling of hybris in that text. "It could never happen in America?" Hybris, pure and simple. It can happen everywhere. Under the right (wrong) conditions, every society can lose its moral grounding. Each and every one.
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Cora



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well said, LizA.

I really wish people would educate themselves about the Weimar Republic and Third Reich before writing/reposting texts like the one above.

There was no general gun ban in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Indeed, many of today's shooting and hunting clubs, Kyffhäuser societies and the like - which are the primary owners of privately owned guns in Germany today - go back to the Third Reich or even before. In their current incarnation, these clubs are mostly harmless elderly people who use occasional target shooting as an excuse for boozing and partying, and their guns are kept securely on the club premises. Shooting club members used to be able to keep their weapons at home, but the law was changed after the deranged kid of a shooting club member used his dad's guns to first shoot his sister and then take potshots at passers-by, wounding and even killing a few.

More dangerously, the Weimar Republic had plenty of paramilitary organisation of all political stripes, societies of WWI veterans and the like, many of whom were armed, staged coups (the Weimar Republic experienced more than a dozen attempted uprisings and coups in its fifteen year history), committed political murders, all of which served to destabilize the democratic Weimar Republic government and eventually aided Hitler's rise to power (and of course, Hitler had also been prominently involved in an attempted coup in 1923). Mind you, the people involved in all those uprisings and coups, whether originating from the left or right, all thought they were doing the right thing and protecting the state from what they perceived to be a corrupt system.

And tempting though it may be to believe, gun ownership would not have saved German or other European Jews from deportation and death. First of all, hard as it may be to believe today, many actually showed up for deportation willingly, because they did not know or want to know what would happen to them. As for those who resisted, shooting at the officers who came to take them away would have maybe rid the world of a few Gestapo officers, but it would also have brought on more armed soldiers or police forces, until in the end they would have been dead or taken. Even concentrated uprisings like the one in the Warsaw ghetto were crushed by the sheer weight of numbers of Nazi soldiers.

And what all this has to do with the exploding costs of the Iraq war I have no idea. Except that the Weimar Republic is a very good example of the economic and political problems that an all-out war economy (of the Second Empire) can wreck on a country, since the early years of the Weimar Republic were plagued by rampant inflation due to the enormous costs and debts of WWI.
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really, I have so much to say that I am afraid I am going to be incoherent. First, I didn't read the article as being anti all military -- I read it as being for control of our own military. We must, of course, with the world we live in have a form of defense. I would agree that that military must even be aggressive in forming technologies. I am all for spending money on saving soldiers lives. But there is a difference between spending what is needed and wasting. I lived near a large contractor for many years and believe me, the discussions on how the company overcharged the government were a source of much laughter among the middle management folks there I knew. I don't think there is anything wrong with managing the money we spend on ALL government programs, this one included.

The article from Lisa W. did not seem to include some pretty important, imo, facts regarding some of our wars. For starters, the founding fathers did not intend, initially, to break away from England. And Patrick Henry was concerned primarily with exactly what my article was talking about -- the economics of running a government. We didn't want no taxation, we wanted no taxation without representation. We had grievances and we wanted them addressed fairly. More, we wanted a say in what was happening with the money England was taxing us for. We went to war not so much for our freedom but for our rights as already free Englishmen, which we felt we were being denied.

Winston Churchill wrote entire books on why WWII did not need to happen, most of them revolving around the ridiculous fact that Europe wanted to punish Germany for the first war and the punishment resulted in the second. A LOT of what happened can be laid at the door of rampant unemployment and hunger in Germany. The Nazi's did a lot of recruiting at soup kitchens, something we should all keep in mind. As for what happened to the Jews in Germany, I don't think being armed would have helped. In fact, I think it might have hurt. Would the rest of the world have seen them as victims if they had killed the people who came to get them? Or would it have looked simply like a civil war? It was horrible. It should never have happened but frankly, the heart of it lay in all of us tolerating bigotry, not in people not having handguns or rifles. Put a soldier with a machine gun against someone with a handgun or rifle (what most people who own guns have) and the soldier will win.

What bothers me most is something that often gets forgotten in all the talks of this particular war -- we are being double billed for the darn thing. We pay with our oil money (which often funds the enemy) and we pay with our tax dollars. Why not circumvent the double payment? Why not use my tax dollars to figure out how I can stop sending oil money over seas? I am not saying this to save our environment (not that that's a bad thing) or anything along those lines. Just to be practical. It makes sound sense for a country to be rely on internal resources rather than external ones. During WWII we were the chief supplier of oil in the world. Let's regain that status -- not with oil maybe but with some other source of energy that lands us back in control of that necessary resource.

Finally, I feel I need to defend the Japanese. This statement really stuck out to me "Japan is a fine example. I'm sure if the United States had 2000 years of a culture whose prize assets were conformity and submission, then our numbers would be a lot lower. Alas, we are not that society. Thank God, we are not that society." Look at the size of Japan. Look at the size of us. Pretty huge difference in our favor and yet they gave us quite a whooping when they felt like it, didn't they? In fact, we had to resort to an absolute horror of a weapon to stop them. And they were fighting China at the same time! I don't think implying that they are mindless robots incapable of real thought is quite fair. They've put their 2,000 yrs. to some pretty good use from where I am sitting and haven't just sat there conforming and submitting.

You know, I love my country. I really do. But I feel it can stand up under some criticism. I don't think questioning it will cause some house of cards to fall down around me. We're better and stronger than that.

maggie b.
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Kass



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Um...does anyone really think that one guy with a handgun could hold off a troop of our military if our government became (more of) a military dictatorship? I don't. I don't even think one guy with a grenade launcer could hold them off. So what the hell makes this guy think that gun ownership will magically keep everyone free for? Your rifle or handgun will not hold off organized military force, or make them not come after you if they're ordered to. Nor will it deter criminals, because here's a tip: criminals don't think they'll get caught. Not by you, not by the police, not by anyone.
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LisaW



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LizA wrote:
Wherever did the idea come from that Germany was "unarmed" and hence "defenceless" against the Nazi? It's simply not true, there were plenty of arms around which incidentially contributed to the raise of national sozialism and fascism (paramilitary groups, civil war, coups... ).

I really really hate hate hate the inapropriate comparisons between the third reich and gun control in America. The idea that "had the jews had weapons it would never have happened" is purely speculative. The topic is way to complex to be hijacked like that.

Overall, there is a deep feeling of hybris in that text. "It could never happen in America?" Hybris, pure and simple. It can happen everywhere. Under the right (wrong) conditions, every society can lose its moral grounding. Each and every one.



Because someone wrote a tract you liked about Freedom of Arms in Nazi Germany, you immediately take that point. How about words from people who actually lived it?

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/2007/02/steve-halbrook-has-very-interesting-law.html

Quote:

henry dam said...

living during Nazi era i remember the remark Hitler made that Germany has finally achieved total control of the Reichs citizenry, that while stamping his foot and slapping his thigh.the fifth column in Norway that had a gun registry gave the list to the ss who confiscated the guns . If you didnt have the gun you were shot. incadently the SS shot all of the fifth columnists



Yes, Germany citizens had guns ... but that class was not everyone living in Germany, born in Germany, who had considered themselves a citizen. Only the right citizens had the right ... and among the wrong citizens were the Jews.


http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/law_review_articles/nazism.nra.pdf

Quote:

II. “THE PEOPLE” OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT
Professor Bernard E. Harcourt took the lead with his article
On Gun Registration, the NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws:
Exploding the Gun Culture Wars (A Call to Historians).4 While we
differ on how to characterize the Nazi regime’s policies,5 at the
outset it should be stated that Professor Harcourt has
contributed to an understanding of the subject merely by his
willingness to address it. He has issued a welcome call to
historians to face a topic in Holocaust studies that has been
assiduously avoided or neglected.
Professor Harcourt began by pointing to and disputing this
author’s statements6 that totalitarian regimes disarm their
subjects so as to prevent resistance,7 that German firearms laws
played a prominent role in disarming Jews,8 and that Germany
had no equivalent to the Second Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution.9 The Second Amendment provides: “A well
regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
infringed.”10
Recognition of a right such as this anywhere in the world in
any historical epoch must acknowledge that “the people” must
mean the peaceable populace at large without regard to race,
religion, or creed. However, Professor Harcourt embraces
American neo-Nazi William L. Pierce, who asserts, “German
firearms legislation under Hitler, far from banning private
ownership, actually facilitated the keeping and bearing of arms
by German citizens . . . .”11 Harcourt asks, “How is it, you may
ask, that I . . . would end up agreeing with a white supremacist
leader of the National Alliance and National Vanguard?”12
Harcourt further concluded that “the Nazis were relatively more
pro-gun than the predecessor Weimar Republic . . . .”13
If the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and
bear Arms”14 is the postulate, the above reference to the “German citizen,” or more accurately under the Third Reich,
the incredibly shrinking “German citizen,” has little bearing on
the meaning of “the people” at large. As argued in this author’s
article that prompted Professor Harcourt’s reply, immediately
upon coming to power in 1933, the Nazis disarmed and arrested
their political opponents, invariably labeling them
“Communists.”15 By the time of Reichskristallnacht (Night of
Broken Glass) in November 1938, the Nazis had all but
completed the disarming of the German Jews, preparing the way
for the Holocaust.


Nazi Germany rose, in part, because of the harsh treatment / punishment of the country and hence the people of Germany after WWI. When a wheel barrow of marks wouldn't buy a loaf of bread, when your children are starving, you'll grab anything that looks like a redemption. That's how Hitler rose .... and, like any totalitarian government, it was by the restriction of arms, how it survived until the world brought it under control.
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dick



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My head is spinning. Is this thread about the probably unnecessary and tremendous cost of the Irag war, or is it about gun control again?

Would the fact that we, as citizens, can bear arms keep some ambitious fellow or group from taking control of the U.S.? Probably not, but the fact that we can own and carry arms--and the size of the territory the States encompass--would probably make it very difficult for that fellow or that group to keep control everywhere, I think.
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LLB



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:39 am    Post subject: Corporate Fascism Reply with quote

This is probably way out there, but I think we're moving in the direction of corporate fascism in this country. Our laws are written by corporate lobbyists, corporations are given no-bid contracts in the millions, in fighting the war in Iraq, private corporate armies have their own rules of engagement that go beyond what our own military are constitutionally allowed. A war economy, to me, is simply a symptom of that. It's extreme, and as scary as the fact that I also believe we are a nation in decline (some historians say that when a nation or empire hires mercenaries to fight for them, it's a sure sign - ie, Rome). And I see it beyond the war; it's in our lack of infrastructure, educational failings, and moving backward in terms of science rather than forward.

Happy Sunday, everyone. Wink
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LisaW



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject: Re: Corporate Fascism Reply with quote

LLB wrote:
This is probably way out there, but I think we're moving in the direction of corporate fascism in this country. Our laws are written by corporate lobbyists, corporations are given no-bid contracts in the millions, in fighting the war in Iraq, private corporate armies have their own rules of engagement that go beyond what our own military are constitutionally allowed. A war economy, to me, is simply a symptom of that. It's extreme, and as scary as the fact that I also believe we are a nation in decline (some historians say that when a nation or empire hires mercenaries to fight for them, it's a sure sign - ie, Rome). And I see it beyond the war; it's in our lack of infrastructure, educational failings, and moving backward in terms of science rather than forward.

Happy Sunday, everyone. Wink


I'll agree with a great deal of what you have written. The best cure is for everyone to look at the low rates Congress gets when rated by the public ... except then almost everyone says "Well, except MY congressman/senator is good!" Nope. For Congress to have the ratings it does, the majority of Congress can't be good for the country. The senior senator of my state is of my party ... and I'll either vote against or not vote for the position at all, and every chance I get to tell him of my displeasure with his work.

Now, as to a "war" economy. Unfortunately, like it or not, we are at war. Not with a country, per se, but with a ideology that would find our choice of reading material an abomination. I'd love it if "we could all just get along" but it's not happening. One of the reasons for the high cost of ramping up, now, is because the previous president did a lot to decimate our military. We don't have "mercenaries" fighting for us ... the contractors are in some case doing the grunt work so our ground forces don't have to (cooking, camp set up, etc). As to the other contractors, many times they are providing security not just for our politicians and diplomats where ever, but for other countries, as well. The [i]reputable[i] ones are made up of former US military ... and usually former Special Forces, and are generally vetted heavily by people who know them, their work ethics, etc. And, in the case of the hated Halliburton ... yeah, they've been given "no quote contracts" -- but check out who all did so. President William J. Clinton is on that list. Of course, seems a bit silly to go through a RFP and RFQ when there is only one organization actually doing what you asked. Have they been perfect? Of course not ... but if you don't like the job they are doing, suggest someone else to do the required work .....

This and several other threads are a mishmash ... but until you can keep Russia from attacking Georgia (or, if you are of that bend, Georgia from attacking Russia ... uh, yeah, right), Mugabe from decimating his own people, get rid of the Colombian drug runners, stop those working under a jihad to kill us and take away our way of life, you have to be very, very vigilant and prepared to protect -- either ourselves or others. The idea that the bigger guy is better prepared to win is many times enough to keep from having to prove it -- no sense poking that stick if the pokee bites, hard. And, until someone shows me someone better (and I'm pretty familiar with most of the major peoples and attitudes we have on this Earth now), I'd rather have the USA's attitudes in place than anyone else's.

"Dr. McCoy: Spock, I've found that evil usually triumphs...unless good is very, very careful."
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
My head is spinning. Is this thread about the probably unnecessary and tremendous cost of the Irag war, or is it about gun control again?


I thought I posted about the former but it seems like we are talking about the latter. Not sure how that came about.

dick wrote:
Would the fact that we, as citizens, can bear arms keep some ambitious fellow or group from taking control of the U.S.? Probably not, but the fact that we can own and carry arms--and the size of the territory the States encompass--would probably make it very difficult for that fellow or that group to keep control everywhere, I think.


Interesting point. I think we could cause a lot of problems but I don't think it would make all that much difference against armed forces. But would anyone really try to take over the US without massive bombing? I wouldn't. What use would handguns be against that?

maggie b.
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KarenS



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Until Republican Joe and Republican Jane become concerned about our war economy there will be no outrage. Until it starts to affect them in their pocketbooks, affect them by seeing their children going off to war, affect them by seeing America going into decline it just won't matter to them.

In a lot of ways, there are two Americas. One group is outraged while the other says it's really ok to be at war. The latter group believes we have to protect our way of life so it's ok to wage war in order to have safety and security. Since that's what matters to them. So we sell fear. You watch TV and it tells us the world and America are a fearful place and we must protect ourselves. Buy that gun, go to war, stay safe.


As long as we stay on our present course of an oil-based economy, wars will be the result. The need to control that last drop of oil will be ever present. Instead of trying to wean us off of oil, the oil companies and the present administration are wedded to fighting where ever there are oil deposits in the earth. This is all about greed. Billions in profits for the oil companies and the other companies that provide war equipment to the military.

This is also the schism in who supports the two presidential nominees. Obama supporters tend to be "can-do" types who believe in a better, more improved America. Let's find new technology so we can wean us from oil which will create a new vibrant economy. While McCain supporters tend to be "patriotic" types who believe we must keep America safe. Interesting dichotomy between the two groups so which will prevail? Future versus status-quo.
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dick



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would too, MaggieB, but, as a famous general--I think it was Macarthur once stated--bombs and such may win the battles, but it's the foot soldiers who must hold the ground after the battles are over...if there's any left to hold, that is.

As for the Georgia/Russia thing: From my point of view, the president of that little country--can't spell his name--is an idiot, like a flea biting an elephant and being surprised about getting flicked away. And he managed, while doing so, to embroil the U.S. and Europe in a situation nobody wanted. What, for example, do you think would happen were Cuba to try to annex Key West or Guantanamo? Reason tells me the Russian move should have been no surprise to anyone, just as the U.S.'s would not be in the scenario I questioned above.
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