If They Had Real Guts, They'd Tax Us For This Troop Buildup

Les AuCoin

So the hawks circling Obama will get their escalation in Afghanistan. God save us!

It galls me how these people pose as Brave Thinkers Who (Alone) Understand The Dangerous World We Live In:

I say to them: if the troop surge so vital to our security, show real political spine and support something that would separate patriots from posers – a $30 billion surtax to cover the cost of a troop surge. (Best estimate: $1 million per soldier per year.)

The surtax’s proponent, Rep. Dave Obey, makes the sound point that if national health insurance reform and other domestic priorities have had to be “deficit neutral” (yes, they have!), so should this military adventure.

But don’t expect a lot of takers.

In the years I observed DC’s military hawks and deficit hawks (usually the same birds), they lose their tail feathers when the question is — Gasp! Raising taxes! — or making the military live on a pay-as-you-go-basis.

Take war-supporter Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He said just the other day:

“The government can’t keep spending money it doesn’t have. Thousand-page bills that spend too much, borrow too much and tax too much are wrong . . .”

Okay, McConnell, suck it up. We’re at war; tax us! Or do you come by your patriotism on the cheap, content to let military families and future generations bear the sacrifice for this war? (If so, you’re not really against deficit spending; you just oppose government steps to help the old, the young, the middle class and poor — anything that doesn’t shoot bullets.)

Which at lot of us have known all the time.

I’m not going to discuss in detail for the moment the nagging fact that Obama’s decision — to be announced Tuesday — isn’t, for most of us, “change we can believe in.”

Or that the Obama Administration, like the Clinton Administration before it, seems to have decided that it will not at any cost let Republicans “get to the right” of it on national defense issues.

And for the most part, I’m leaving aside the fact that Obama’s troop surge, to be announced on Tuesday, will stretch the overstretched National Guard and reserves whose members are already losing their homes to foreclosure because of repeated mobilizations and leave the U.S. essentially without a reserve.

Or that — even if we could “secure” Afghanistan — we would simply shove the illusive al Qaeda into Yemen, or Somalia, or elsewhere.

Time for that later.

For now, it’s worth remembering former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s warning about a troop surge. In an essay in The Washington Post last September, he wrote:

“The Sept. 11 commission pointed out that the attacks were as much about failures of our intelligence and security systems as about the terrorists’ success. The U.S. response, engaging in two wars, was a 20th-century reaction to 21st-century realities. These wars have cost more than 5,100 American lives; more than 35,000 have been wounded; a trillion dollars has been spent, with billions more departing our Treasury each month. We forgot all the lessons of Vietnam and the preceding history. No country today has the power to impose its will and values on other nations.”

Hagel referred to a taped conversation between Lyndon Johnson and U.S. Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. LBJ is there, on tape, telling Russell that we cannot not win in Vietnam but that he did not want to pull out and be the first American president to lose a war. [Text of phone conversation here.]

And so the Vietnam war went on … and on … to its inglorious end. And with it, a Democratic president who had yearned to remake American society.

What did the man say about those who failed to learn the lessons of history?

When my wife, Sue, and I stumped across Ohio for Obama in the last month of the 2008 election, this was decidedly not our idea of the Change We Need.

Nor is this a military build-up we can believe in.

By Les AuCoin, U.S. Congressman (ret.)
(D-OR)

The Les AuCoin Blog

Comments

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    If Congress would (a) adopt a tax package to pay for the war on a current basis, and (b) adopt a draft so that the burden of national service does not fall on the poor and those desperate (and stupid) enough to do ANYTHING to pay for college, this war would have ended 2 years ago.

    I am looking for a publisher for my new recruiting poster:

    WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE?

    COME KILL ARABS FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS

    IF YOU SURVIVE

    WE PAY 60 PERCENT OF YOUR TUITION!

    GO USA!

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Carl Levin and Nancy Pelosi are both talking about a war tax. I wouldn't be surprised if the Dems don't insist on it.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Okay, McConnell, suck it up. We’re at war; tax us! Or do you come by your patriotism on the cheap, content to let military families bear the sacrifice for this war? (If so, you’re not really against deficit spending; you just oppose government steps to help the old, the young, the middle class and poor — anything that doesn’t shoot bullets.)"

    So, what else is new? Politicians in the White House and Congress have been saying anything that came and comes into their minds tailored to fit the travesty of the moment regardless of whatever volume of hypocrisy and double-speak might be involved. Same with the charlatans on radio and television, but let's not give them all the blame. This nation still has a (officially at least) democratic-republican form of government, but the people who are supposed to be its citizens have mostly gone AWOL taking on the mantel of being Republicans and Democrats instead of being republicans and democrats. If they attain some semblance of action it is mostly being gullible enough to believe and regurgitating the crap that is fed them. And our troops are supposed to be sacrificing their lives to keep these people safe? In my book, not the smartest thing to do.

    Let me recommend a book for anyone interested in or concerned about the wars we are getting into. It is Politics of War by Walter Karp. The book deals with American involvement in the Spanish-American and First World wars, but much of the politics applies to any other war this nation has been involved in. I read it when Bush II and Cheney were rigging the war on Iraq. There was so much in common with the wars in the book it was possible to just change the names and the dates and they could have been interchangeable. If you can't get the book at Powell's, Alibris dot com has several copies starting at $1.99. You won't get a better bargain if you are interested in politics and war.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    I’ll see your $30 Billion surtax and raise you a mandatory DRAFT for all citizens, no deferments, no exemptions.

    Let’s see how eager BHO and his cronies are to spill the blood of the best and the brightest when it includes their own.

  • mlw (unverified)
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    Having deployed thrice now, I do find it rather amusing how conservatives who have largely never served in the military and who vigorously oppose war taxes talk about how patriotic they are. I've noticed that they don't tend to like veteran's preferences in the workplace, or paying for VA benefits, either. I once had an elected Republican boss say, in open court, that I should not be allowed to serve in the Reserves. And no one called him on it.

  • mike ozanich (unverified)
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    We have no real reason to be fighting this "war". If the war hawks are into this let's re-start the draft and block all deferments like Bush/Cheney got. Let them all serve like me. Tax the very rich and make them go to war.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Men never do evil so fully and so happily as when they do it for conscience's sake." Pascal

    Perhaps we should require all members of whatever administration might be installed in the White House and Congress to assign a son, daughter, nephew, niece, brother or sister to serve in the enlisted ranks in the front lines of any war they approve. That would bring an end to wars. There are a few with questionable sanity to take such a step, but it is unlikely they would get a quorum.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Bill, do you suppose having a VP whose son served overseas had any impact on this debate?

    Officers are in danger in combat, not just enlisted.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Bill, do you suppose having a VP whose son served overseas had any impact on this debate?

    Officers are in danger in combat, not just enlisted. "

    I believe Joe Biden's son is working in a legal office in a relatively safe location in Iraq burnishing his resume to run for the Senate in 2010 or 2012.

    Try reading Betraying Our Troops by Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman and you will soon learn that the number of enlisted personnel greatly outnumbered the officers in harm's way. Enlisted personnel always appear to be predominant in the ranks of the wounded when photo ops are arranged in military hospitals.

    "Though the object of being a Great Power is to be able to fight a Great War, the only way of remaining a Great Power is not to fight one." A.J.P. Taylor, British historian.

    Involvement in World War II may have brought the United States to the status of a Great Power, but it has been downhill ever since, especially with Vietnam.

  • Geoffrey Ludt (unverified)
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    As far as funding goes, why not war bonds? With regards to whether or not Obama's surge (if u look at the time line, it's really more of a drip) is the right decision, I trust he has made the decision in concert with the Generals that won Iraq when Bush was President, if so, we should support him.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Greg, there's a good chance you will survive. We have "force protection" contractors. We have mercenaries that do the real fighting, so that the troupe can look at their jobs just like the cop on the beat. Watch a minor police call these days. Body armor, gun pointed at your head from behind a car door as you offer eyewitness testimony, uninvolved. The message for years has been that it's just another job, and anything will get twisted around, as need be, to eliminate ever reasonable risk- to the cop- in every situation.

    The time to protest this was when an M1 Abrams tank used its main battery against a hotel full of journalists, from 1/2 mile away, because they "were endangered by small arms fire", back when the US first invaded. The message was clear. These aren't troops, they're cops. Since then hundreds have died at checkpoints because they didn't cowtow properly. Now those hired enforcers have been recycled back into local police forces.

    None of all that is about guts. This whole action is gutless. But again, this was a foregone conclusion when we decided not to make the human tax explicit, i.e., have a draft. Yeah, if they had real guts they'd tax it and have a draft. And if we had real guts those that implemented a brutal, colonial policy for pay would not be comfy in their homes at night. But then, this is the US, and we aren't like that, are we?

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    Ludt, we already have war bonds. We just don't call 'em that. We call 'em T-Bills. Those are the bonds that fund the debt of the United States, including war debt. Even war debt has to be paid back.

    The point that Les is making is that we shouldn't fund an elective war on the backs of our children.

    (Besides, I thought we won the war already? Aren't we friendly with the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan? Let's go home already.)

  • (Show?)

    And so the Vietnam war went on … and on … to its inglorious end. And with it, a Democratic president who had yearned to remake American society.

    ...and also with it, a generation of progressive dominance on the American stage. Vietnam set the stage for the Nixon->Reagan->Bush era, in which Democrats had brief victories, but our politics was dominated by the conservative worldview.

    I believe that we're headed into a new era of progressive dominance, but there's no guarantee.

  • (Show?)

    In the years I observed DC’s military hawks and deficit hawks (usually the same birds), they lose their tail feathers when the question is — Gasp! Raising taxes! — or making the military live on a pay-as-you-go-basis.

    I'm all for deficit-funded military action when we're suddenly, surprisingly at war. When someone's shooting at you, you don't check your bank balance to see if you can afford to shoot back.

    But when we choose to engage in a voluntary, elective war, we ought to fund it like any other policy priority.

    And if a war - especially an elective one - has dragged on for nearly a decade, it's well past time to figure out how to pay for it.

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    Sounds like someone is spending time with the blog over Thxgiving and recalling his inner progressive. Welcome back, Kari!

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    I think President Obama has done an extremely cowardly thing here: It is easier to go on getting our young people killed than to have the courage to stand up to the hawks and say, "Enough." Then we get the line about finishing the job. What job are we talking about? It is all too reminiscent of how President Obama caved into Big Pharma before healthcare reform even started. Another troubling act of status quo expediency and cowardice. Perhaps Obama fears for his own safety if he confronts these corporate behemoths that exist on war. That's certainly not a farfetched notion. But sending a young person to the mountains of Afghanistan, to make life easier for yourself back in Washington, is not exactly a profile in courage. And you know that reference is valid.

  • (Show?)

    Kari:"I'm all for deficit-funded military action when we're suddenly, surprisingly at war. When someone's shooting at you, you don't check your bank balance to see if you can afford to shoot back."

    I agree with you, Kari, and I know you're not suggesting otherwise. Aside from real time emergencies, when our political masters launch a major premeditated military adventure ("to defend our way of life," as one of my Facebook correspondents stated this morning), then the stakes are high enough to hike up our taxes to finance the effort. (And to restore the draft!)

    Those who invoke "Clear and Present Danger To Our Way Of Life" to justify a massive military buildup--but refuse to couple it with equivalent personal sacrifice--betray their callowness at best and duplicity at worst.

    It's a slick and unbalanced political equation: sacrifice for thee--no skin in the game for me.

  • (Show?)

    We are currently campaigning to get Measures 66 & 67 passed to provide $733 million in support for needed public programs in Oregon. Oregon has about 1.25% of the national population. Oregon's share of paying for the additional troops in Afghanistan at $30 billion per year would be $375 million per year.

    Looking at total troops cost in Afghanistan, assuming an increase from 68,000 to 100,000 troops at $1 million each, of $100 billion per year, Oregon's share would be $1.25 billion per year.

    Even if the US raised these funds, there are lots of other allocations of those funds that would make us safer and more secure, now and in the future. Rather than burning the money up abroad, the US could invest it at home and provide jobs while doing so. For each soldier abroad at $1 million, 20 workers at home could be employed for $50,000 each.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Did anyone watch "WW2 in HD" on the History Channel? It had actual film footage from all over the globe about how unimaginably horrible WW2 really was. My initial reaction was to loathe Hollywood for the job they did repackaging everything into nice war movies that made sense. Little witty asides on the beach in "The Longest Day." The glory in "The Battle of the Bulge" but without the insanity and gruesomeness. My parents both served in Europe during WW2 - my Mom was in the Red Cross - and I better understood why they were so reluctant to discuss what had happened and what they had seen. That's the problem with war. The people who really know, don't feel like talking about it.

      My point is that we have been stuck on Vietnam as the Afghanistan analogy -
    

    and God knows there's something to that. But what hit me watching the WW2 stuff was the lessons of Iwo Jima. It's tiny - 8 square miles and the name means "Sulfur Island." Our feelings about this battle were formed by movies like "The Sands of Iwo Jima" but it was so much worse than anything we could have imagined. The battle lasted from February 19 to March 26, 1945 and there were more American casualties there than on the first day of the Invasion of Normandy. The reason it was so tough was that we were facing a heavily dug in enemy that was ideologically programmed to fight to the death. The initial invasion was pretty smooth but it took weeks to go from one mountain cave or tunnel to another killing off the entrenched soldiers left behind - at a great cost to us and of course to the enemy: The Japanese dead were around 21,000 out of 22,000.

     I'm not suggesting the Taliban or whomever you'd fight in Afghanistan is that ferocious but these aren't mercenaries either. They are fighting in a homeland/religious way and they are dug in - not in jungles, but in mountains.
    
      Think of Afghanistan as a giant island in time. For thousands of years those mountains have been picked over for caves - not including the manmade stuff that foreign countries like the United States built.
    
       Finishing the job as President Obama has said, would involve going through there with the meticulous, time-consuming detail that we used on Iwo Jima. By the way, one of the many tunnels we found on that island was 800 yards long with dozens of entrances. There were 11 miles of tunnels. Counting the natural formations, Afghanistan probably has thousands.
    
      The reason we lost so many men at Iwo Jima is that we had to have it. The island was absolutely vital to the war effort for its two airstrips to attack Japan. Even then, a PR campaign was launched to appease outraged citizens based on the men who raised the flag in the famous "Flags of Our Fathers" picture. The men toured the States reassuring the people that  it had all been worth it.
    
      Afghanistan is not as focused, is it?
    

    What do we need it for? The heroin? The goal is not that well defined but it involves bombing our way into hearts and minds. This basic nation-building thing is extremely difficult, if not hopeless. And we're fighting an enemy that's dug in like the Japanese on Iwo Jima. Only this is a big country - not some little island.

      The conclusion has to be that the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea. Sure, if we could accomplish what we set out to accomplish, it would be worth it. But we don't even really know what the goal is.
      And one look at the topography suggests we're not going to sweep through there and accomplish anything.
     Afghanistan is a disaster, and President Obama is making a big mistake to throw more American troops at it.
    
  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "I trust he has made the decision in concert with the Generals that won Iraq when Bush was President, if so, we should support him."

    There are two problems, GL, with your point:

    First, the war on Iraq was illegal so the "Generals (and Admirals) that won Iraq" were all war criminals with a lot in common with the Defendants in the Major War Figures Trial at Nuremberg.

    Second, it is difficult to understand your claim that the generals won Iraq. Iraq is an albatross around our economic neck playing a big role in our economic troubles and hastening the decline and fall of the American empire. This is like some young stud bragging about getting laid only to find out he came down with syphilis. How many billions does it cost the American taxpayer each day to maintain our military forces in and around Iraq? How many thousands of young American men and women were killed and maimed in Iraq? Just the Americans. I suspect you don't care about the Iraqis. How many young men went to Iraq and have returned suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and will do so for years to come if it doesn't cause them to bring the pain to an end by committing suicide as hundreds, maybe thousands, have already done? How are we going to pay the two to three trillion dollars it has been estimated the war on Iraq will eventually cost us?

    Now, Afghanistan has the potential of making the empire transition from "decline" to "fall."

    May I suggest GL that you high tail it down to the recruiting office and enlist in this great Crusade you seem to believe in?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "What do we need it for? The heroin?"

    How about the pipeline and hegemony?

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden, Keeping a pipeline secure in a country like that is a pipe dream and the only hegemony that will come out of our war in Afghanistan will be China's. I think the model that's closest to what will happen is the graveyard of empires, illustrated by the Soviet Union. Incidentally, the Soviet Union was also run by rich criminal oligarchs who caused the country to implode economically while the military overreached. So it's a lot like here.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Thank God that AuCoin is retired.

    We went into Afghanistan for altruistic reasons post 9/11. It was the right thing to do. that an ADD riddled President got us into Iraq is not the fault of the soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan from several different countries.

    We wrecked the place by expelling the terrorist leadership that had taken over and was running the country. It is our moral responsibility to fix it and leave ithe country better than when we started bombing the hell out of them. Additional troops may well be necessary. However, I would support the build up by:

    Cutting NATO troop levels in Europe

    Leaving Okinawa and Japan

    Cutting troop level along the DMZ in Korea.

    Huge cuts in Iraq

    Our President has gone from starry eyed campaigner, Mr. Change We Can Believe In, to leader of the Free World. His eyes are now a little more open to cause & effect. Issues and consequence.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Did anyone watch "WW2 in HD" on the History Channel? It had actual film footage from all over the globe about how unimaginably horrible WW2 really was."

    It is not only from World War II that we can and should learn lessons.

    Lewis Lapham, when he was writing the Notebook commentaries for Harper's magazine quoted the following from Barbara Tuchman in the October 2002 issue when Congress was getting set to support Bush 2's blunder in Iraq:

    "Misgovernment is of four kinds, often in combination. They are: 1) tyranny or oppression, of which history provides so many well-known examples that they do not need citing; 2) excessive ambition, such as Athens' attempted conquest of Sicily in the Peloponnesian War, Philip II's of England via the Armada, Germany's twice-attempted rule of Europe by a self-conceived master race, Japan's bid for an empire of Asia; 3) incompetence or decadence, as in the case of the late Roman empire, the last Romanovs and the last imperial dynasty of China; and finally 4) folly or perversity."

    In his commentary, - The Road to Babylon: Searching for targets in Iraq - Lapham illustrates lessons that should have been learned from the Peloponnesian War.

    Given the fact that our current crop of "The Best and the Brightest" and a large portion of the American people appear to have learned little or nothing from the Vietnam tragedy, perhaps it is too much to expect them to have learned anything from ancient history - even if events in the past have a way of repeating themselves in different forms.

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    Posted by: Kurt Chapman | Nov 26, 2009 12:26:31 PM

    Thank God that AuCoin is retired.

    We went into Afghanistan for altruistic reasons post 9/11. It was the right thing to do. that an ADD riddled President got us into Iraq

    This is the #1 cognitive model mismatch, the bad assumption that makes it seem like we live in a democracy. Shrub did it. Assumption: Obama can undo it. I'm reminded of the SNL skit where Reagan is acting addled in a public appearance, then when everyone leaves he springs into action, removes a picture to reveal a strategic map, and starts planning something. But never get out of the boat. Damn straight. Douglas Adams had it spot on, the President doesn't have power, his job is to distract from the power. Obama seems more interested in living the corollary, "you can't be President with a whole brain".

    You don't control- you don't even have a channel open to the interests calling the shots. You were thrown a bone. You get a nice progressive-looking candidate. You don't get change, though. You can hope for change.

    Actually, I'm shocked. I would think your scepto-meter was set higher than that, as you seem pretty progressive.

    America will have a decent President when most Hollywood movies aren't hagiographies of a "great man", real or imagined. It's a role. Women can be great men too. (That's why we're stuck with Oprah. She was the only actress in the last 50 years to play a part in a big budget movie where the great person wasn't a "great man").

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Welcome to Blue Oregon, Anita. Well said.

  • Bob Nisbet (unverified)
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    I used to say the same thing about Bush / Iraq. You want your war so bad? Tax us for it and see how popular it would be! Now Obama is doing the same thing in Afghanistan. In some liberal ways Obama is different from Bush, but often they are not far apart. I hate to say it, but sometimes I call Obama the Black Bush. Too bad that web site name is already taken. I wish 3rd parties had a fighting chance in our country.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "I wish 3rd parties had a fighting chance in our country."

    If people would quit voting for the lesser of two evils a third party might have a chance over time.

  • Patrick Story (unverified)
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    About Joe Biden and his son in the service--I understand that in the ongoing meetings, Biden has been against the escalation.

    About Obama's next step--if the horrible, irredeemable historic mistake of escalation in Afghanistan that is forecast in the leaks turns out to be true, Obama, like Palin, should resign from office and hit the book tour--he's an excellent writer--and let Vice-President Biden stand up to the military-industrial complex. Biden has the leadership skills that Obama so sorely lacks.

  • LT (unverified)
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    " wish 3rd parties had a fighting chance in our country."

    Bob, which 3rd party elections have you worked on?

    Some of the best alternate candidates (I was involved in John B. Anderson for President and Brent Thompson for US Senate) did not come from long-standing 3rd parties. As I recall, the party they represented when they ran did not exist 10 years later.

    Did you vote for Measure 65 to make some Oregon elections nonpartisan?

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
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    Re: "Perhaps Obama fears for his own safety if he confronts these corporate behemoths that exist on war."

    This is one of those conspiracy theories that refuse to go away. The Dear Leader would do the right thing if he weren't being threatened by [pick one: Free Masons/Jews/United Nations/Neo-conservatives/etc].

    If Obama can't do the right thing, then he should get out of the kitchen. Of course, as even Kari would admit, Obama's positions were readily apparent to anyone who could read/think before the election, so I don't buy into the notion that he has suddenly become a militarist/corporatist. He always was a militarist/corporatist.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "About Obama's next step--if the horrible, irredeemable historic mistake of escalation in Afghanistan that is forecast in the leaks turns out to be true, Obama, like Palin, should resign from office and hit the book tour--he's an excellent writer--and let Vice-President Biden stand up to the military-industrial complex. Biden has the leadership skills that Obama so sorely lacks."

    What difference would it make if Biden replaced Obama? They are both fuglemen for Corporate Amerika. Biden was one of the leading Democrats who helped shred the deregulation of banks that brought about the current financial crisis. He was also a leader among the Democrats to help make the illegal war on Iraq a bi-partisan crime against humanity. Although, not much has been heard of his role in the health care reform charade, it is a good bet he is doing his duty taking care of the health(?) insurance corporations.

    One of the more revealing Biden moments came on a Sunday morning talk show when polls showed that many Americans had forgotten the lies they believed when they first supported the war on Iraq and were now having doubts about the war and the Bush Administration. Biden's proposal? To have the liar-in-chief go on television and explain to the American people what it was all about.

    "As I recall, the party they represented when they ran did not exist 10 years later. "

    Americans, in general, have a number of problems including an inability to remember many historical events that happened more than a week or two ago unless they have some prurient interest. Another is a need for instant gratification. If they could get over these two, and others, this nation might make another step in growing up and come up with an alternate to tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.

    The beauty of the American political system, however, is that if you don't like the performance of the president who stands on stage in front of the curtain, there will be another audition every four years offering a replacement who might have a more enduring appeal. Choosing the operators behind the curtain is limited to the people actually running the show.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Wrench Monkey, I brought up the deal President Obama made with Big Pharma before healthcare reform started - a deal made behind closed doors that barely nicked what these companies make, and actually sweetened certain aspects of their business. You say Obama's positions were readily apparent before the elections. Here's a quote from candidate Obama that sort of says you're full of it: "I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies -- they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies."

       Back to you.
    
  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Another is a need for instant gratification."

    There is an exception to this point. Conservatives set up an agenda to play a more dominant role after Goldwater went down in 1964. It took them 30 years to take over Congress. The more apparent differences between the right and the left are that the right has more money and more determination.

  • Patrick Story (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden, You are not the first progressive to get so burned out that you are contributing cynicism and paralysis. I hope you can take a break, reflect and regroup, and come back refreshed for the struggle that needs your help.

  • ashamed_obama_voter (unverified)
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    "and come back refreshed for the struggle that needs your help"

    since when does struggle mean capitulation and crony capitalism? this administration has shat on the progressives who naively supported them.

  • (Show?)

    If we are fighting a true war of necessity, then both taxes to fund it and a draft to fight it should be required. If we aren't willing to do at least one or the other, how important can the war actually be?

    (Personally, I think winning this war is damn important; unlike the invasion of Iraq which would have been more credible as an invasion of Saudi Arabia where 19 out of 20 9/11 perpetrators came from, lest we forget.)

    Obey's bill deserves to a fair hearing, and to pass.

    Democrats bristle at being known as "tax and spend" legislators but THAT is precisely the correct order to do things in order to fund government: tax, then spend. The Republican preference to "borrow and squander" or "borrow and reapportion" (which most accurately describes what they do) while never bringing down expenditures, is the real cause of our current debt and most of our nation's ills.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "...contributing cynicism and paralysis."

    Perhaps one person's cynicism and paralysis is another's realism.

    Would you care to cite a point to support your position and risk my refuting it with a fact or reasonable deduction?

  • Willy Socket (unverified)
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    Posted by: ashamed_obama_voter | Nov 28, 2009 8:25:13 AM

    "and come back refreshed for the struggle that needs your help"

    since when does struggle mean capitulation and crony capitalism? this administration has shat on the progressives who naively supported them.

    "Don't blame me, I voted for...er, OK. Blame me."

    So true.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "... this administration has shat on the progressives ..."

    Cases in point

  • Matt Marulla (unverified)
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    And this blog, present company excepted. What is the deal with the spam? Can't manage to delete it, but when a regular contributor makes a humorous response to it, that comment is immediately deleted and the IP address banned. What the fuck is that about?

    It's the same as with the administration and the troop buildups. An outright enemy has to be treated with respect and caution, but your best friends are where you dump your big pile of dog shite!

    I suggest that progressives adopt a cowpie as their logo.

  • Matt Marulla (unverified)
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    This blog certainly follows suit.

    Unable to deal with link spammers unlike every other blog in the world, some regulars take to using those ads as a source of humor. But you won't see that, because some idiot editor managed to delete every one of the humorous responses, while preserving the original spam!

    Proof positive that the Democratic Party loves to shit on progressives. If a Dem regular had done that , it would get a comment. A right winger working for Sean, on assignment...no problem. But a progressive...delete the material and ban the IP address! You have "Trial Lawyers" on 8 threads and you ban MY ip address for making a joke about it? This is the sad, sorry lot that is the Democratic Party of America. You can also see how effective your actions are. What a bunch of goddamned hacks!

    It's time for progressives to get in the streets, and let the country see how shabbily Dems treat progressives. As for the editor that bothered to delete 7 humorous posts about spam, without touching the 30+ link spammers is was about, the delete key works both ways. Keep on with hack politics, and you will be hacked into oblivion. You made it obvious what you would do a year ago and a small group of us took the opportunity to make sure we had someone inside MM.

    This is not a coincidence people. Not only has the Democratic Party shat on progressives, it has been their conscious policy since the middle of the summer of 2008 to do so.

    This is too much. I propose that progressive start making normal posts on the wrong topics. They've refused any civil interaction for too long. They can start now, or see what it feels like.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Sure, I could support a tax specific to the Afghanistan buildup. Of course it would need a half-life considerably under the telephone tax enacted to fund the Spanish american War....:-)

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    (Best estimate: $1 million per soldier per year.)

    So that's, what, potentially $100,000 per person in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan? Of course, it just wouldn't be a pissing contest, if we just handed them the money. That's real guts!

    And double "Hey, dickhead"! That was a funny piece of parody! Would you rather we click on the spam? WTF deleting the funny bits and leaving the spam?!? You left FIVE drug ads to delete the sarcasm. Do you just worship commercialism? Man, if right wing radio wasn't pushing the envelope, there would be no way to tell the parties apart!

  • Ted (unverified)
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    45 comments later... LET ME BE THE FIRST TO SAY...

    If "they" (I assume you mean Obama's administration and Congress) had any real guts, "they" would have the courage to assemble on Capitol Hill immediately and either make a formal declaration of war, pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, or get the f#@k out and stop wasting lives and treasure on what is an illegal war according to our own Constitution.

    Show me one Dem or Rep congressman who will stand up there and explain to the American people how the authorization for use of force following 9/11 really meant an open ended allowance for the most financially expensive war in history--one that has now lasted the length of both WWI and WWII combined.

    Let's see Obama have the guts to call Congress to Capitol Hill and make an argument for a formal declaration of war, knowing what we know now about WMD and Saddam Hussein and 9/11. No Constitutional declaration of war? No war! No war tax! No more Americans or innocent foreign casualties!

  • Anita Berber (unverified)
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    Unfortunately oil execs decided we would be "in the Gulf for the next 50 years" (Cheney speech from 1998), and they trump all the aforementioned.

    You don't have to drive. Give the damn thang away or admit that you think this is worth it. The hypocrisy isn't limited to Capitol Hill! I agree 100%, Ted. It's just that the same dithering can be observed at every level. Let's have everyone do as you propose, get real, and get on with life!

    Reality is t.a.'s migration from "out of Iraq now" through "Obama knows best" to "sending my kid off to war". Reread those posts and concentrate on the venom leveled at the people that were saying exactly this, every step of the way.

    We're still trolls, "incredibly disrespectful", naive and anti-social. Yeah, whatever. We're also right.

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
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    Bill McDonald: If what you're arguing is that, in addition to signaling his intentions of continuing Bush foreign policy, bailouts for the rich, increased military spending, refusal to hold war criminals to account, etc., he also has outright lied about things like open discussion of health care issues, then I agree with you.

    However, as Zarathustra and others have noted, the essential agreement between the two hegemon political parties is and was then unmistakable for anyone who was not mystically deranged.

  • Friends of the Aggadors (unverified)
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    What force protection contractors are to Iraq, the CIA is to Afghanistan. This is the war they've always wanted. From the Walker debacle, when they created a prisoners' revolt en masse by lighting, then dousing captives, to their getting the Heroin flowing again, reversing progress made by the Taliban, it is their sandbox. American soldiers are just another species of pawn to them.

    “The CIA is a state-sponsored terrorists association. You don’t look at people as human beings. They are nothing but pieces on the chessboard.” — Verne Lyon, former CIA agent

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Wrench Monkey, My comment throughout the campaign was, "I just want to be disappointed by someone I like this time." Nobody I know was deluded about the state of democracy in America. We knew the powers that be had a death grip on the two parties. Watching Pelosi and company retake Congress in 2006 using the anti-war movement, and then proceed to roll over for one Bush request after another was all the proof anyone needed.

    But your argument that Obama was destined to act like he has, is not 100% true. Slim as it might have been, there was a chance that he would take office and use the power of the People to affect progressive change. Nobody takes the words of a campaign to heart, so there was a possibility that this could have worked out.
     The other factor was, what the hell did we have to lose? Why not keep some hope because if  we were wrong we'd know about it soon enough anyway.
      I resent the notion of some wide-eyed liberal idealists finding out what disappointment can be for the first time.
    
      We didn't just need a great leader. We had to have one. We didn't get one and there is a significant chance that the United States will crumble. Certainly the dollar is heading down the toilet.
    
      I still haven't given up yet, though.
    

    I still believe if this thing gets nasty enough, the American People will wake up and demand more out of President Obama. He is smart. The politicians do respond if public anger gets big enough. Remember the Dubai Port Security Deal?

       All that's happened is one of last best hopes turns out to be a typical politician. Damn good candidate - same old sell-out as a leader. But we still have some options left. We still could force both parties to end these crazy wars, and fight off corporate control.
    

    That's a remote possibility too but it's all we've got left. What are we supposed to do? Sit around and wait for President Dick Cheney to take office?

  • rw (unverified)
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    Ahem, ummmm.... can we please stop parroting, "blud an' trayshure" please? Ever since NPR uttered that many weeks ago it has become this trite slogan. Use your own words, make up something that comes directly from YOUR head. It's always more entertaining to read.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Bill McD: You've caught on to the hypocrisy of our political parties, but the flaw in your position is that you appear to be indulging in wishful thinking.

    Obama is owned by a plutocratic oligarchy, and there are very few things he is free to change. He is certainly intelligent, but he made a Faustian bargain with the American oligarchs who are as moral as their counterparts in Russia. When Binyamin Netanyahu essentially told Obama to go fly a kite over the settlements in Israel's occupied territories, he should have been humiliated. But that appears to be part of the deal. Play the role and content yourself with the presidential seal on your pajamas.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Bill's new most favorite chocolate sprinkle: "hegemony, hegemony, hegemony."

    Yum.

  • rw (unverified)
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    This cracks me up. Out of curiousity, looked at McDonald's website. Guess who they have NEVER put money aside for in specified scholarships? I don't have to say it. Guess who they HAVE put many thousands aside especially for? I really really don't have to say it.

    Man. Them storytellers have it right. We have utterly disappeared. We are forgotten and ignored. Thank goodness now McD's sees fit to open their doors to all kinds of students now. So maybe one or two of us can slip through, eh? Sheesh. It's like people cannot get their heads around the most simple statistical analysis - it's not numbers, it's percentages.

  • rw (unverified)
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    [that was an off-topic rant, lacking a freestyle thread to post it on!]

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden, What do you recommend we do? Wishful thinking implies that's where it ends. I still try to participate in the national dialogue. I haven't given up. I do believe Obama is better than McCain and Moosehead. I don't see giving up as a viable option even if all the signs suggest it is over. Look, I don't care how tuned in you think you are. You're just another guy who sees part of the picture. There are millions who probably seem naive and out of touch to you but there are those who are much farther out there who would call you a gate-keeper for even participating on a blog like this. Nobody should cop a superiority attitude about their political awareness quotient. It's not going to help convince anyone. But I am curious: If you know so much, what do you recommend we do?

  • rw (unverified)
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    Speaking of taxes, I just read in Street Roots that we are one of the VERY few states that tax households officially below the poverty line, and we tax our families just above that line nearly the most of any state in the nation.

    Is SR a reliable source? They seemed to have a solid citation...

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Bill McD: What can we do? There is so much that needs to be done with so little time and resources that we can only do our limited best. There is so much dishonesty and hypocrisy out there it seems to me opposing those elements is a good place to start by countering them in line with one of my favorite pieces of literature - "The Emperor's New Suit" (aka "The Naked Emperor") by Hans Christian Andersen. That also demands on our part that we be as well-informed as we can be and to think as independently as we can, which practically demands non-affiliation with any political party. But we can't achieve much by just knocking down false idols. We also need to support people and organizations that are in line with our philosophy. And, remember we are in it for the long haul. It strikes me, overall, you are on the right track.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "There is so much dishonesty and hypocrisy out there it seems to me opposing those elements is a good place to start by countering them in line with one of my favorite pieces of literature - "The Emperor's New Suit" (aka "The Naked Emperor") by Hans Christian Andersen."

    One of many to oppose: Glenn Beck: the renegade running the opposition to Obama.

    This article refers to another by the historian Richard Hofstadter - "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" A long read but worth the effort.

  • (Show?)

    rw, I'm with you on the "blood and treasure" crap, but where ya been? It's been around a lot longer than "weeks".

  • Robert Collins (unverified)
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    I think we are still paying for the Spanish American war. There's a surcharge on your phone bill.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Bill McD: In my comment above, I should have noted that I'm in no position to be self-righteous about wishful thinking. I was guilty of that much longer than I should have been. Same for believing that overall the people running the country were basically decent. I, however, started paying more attention when Ronald Reagan became governor of California and president of the U.S.. The blindfold finally was ripped off when I purchased what was probably my best bargain in political books - the Walter Karp retrospective published by Franklin Square Press, a division of Harper's magazine. A reading of articles by I. F. "Izzy" Stone made sure the blindfold would not be replaced. Karp and Stone were journalists in the mid-1900s, but much of what they wrote remains relevant.

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
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    Bill McDonald said, "Slim as it might have been, there was a chance that he would take office and use the power of the People to affect progressive change."

    Adolph Reed, Jr. was correct when he said prior to the election (Where Obamaism Seems to be Going), "And there's no reason, other than the will to believe, to expect that Obama would be any better [than McCain], and it's entirely likely that in some ways - including those bearing on racial justice - he'll be worse, again by moving the boundaries of thinkable liberalism that much farther to the right."

    Reed further said, "What makes the Dems every four years 'better' is always something that the hacks and yuppies are likely to imagine getting if they win, and their disgusting moralizing about the imperative to vote for their 'lesser evil'...means 'I may get what's important for me, but you have to recognize that what you need is naïve or impractical' -- is all about bullying the rest of us into believing we have an obligation to vote for what's good for them."

    And no, seeing Obama for what he is does not spell "giving up". In fact, it is the only possible beginning of a true populist/progressive movement.

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    I remember that Reed article; my own fave quote out of it was:

    This is where I don't give two shits for the liberals' criticism of Bush's foreign policy: they don't mind imperialism; they just want a more efficiently and rationally managed one.
  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Gary Leupp on It's Obama's War Now for a pipeline.

    And Robert Parry on How the War Hawks Caged Obama

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    And no, seeing Obama for what he is does not spell "giving up". In fact, it is the only possible beginning of a true populist/progressive movement.

    Indeed, the standard answer to our call to mobilize more protest now has been, first, let's elect Obama, then, let's give him time. Let's be clear. Obama is not a zero on this. He is a negative. He has bought the oil execs another 18 months. He OWES us.

    Progressive/populists need to take to the streets like a mafioso collecting a long past due gambling debt and let him know that if he don't pay up, and like now, something is going to get broken. Normalcy at least. I find the average American's sense of normalcy in our colonial escapades to be far more obscene than the power machinations our "leaders" engage in.

    "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it's obscene!" - Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    ""We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it's obscene!" - Kurtz, Apocalypse Now"We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it's obscene!" - Kurtz, Apocalypse Now"

    Typical of the hypocrisy that is rampant in politics and the war department (aka DoD) from the oligarchs down to the rank and file.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I was going to reply with another quote, but then the next looked as good, and the next, so, I settled at that. It really brings home the parallel to this very moment in Afghanistan.

    * Oh man, the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.

    * No wonder Kurtz put a weed up Command's ass. The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away.
    
    * It's a way we had over here with living with ourselves. We cut 'em in half with a machine gun and give 'em a Band-Aid. It was a lie. And the more I saw them, the more I hated lies.
    

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "If They Had Real Guts, They'd Tax Us For This Troop Buildup"

    Instead of taxing us, the government should tax the people in favor of this war and escalation. There would then be a U-turn for most pro-war types.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    BTW, Dan, thanks for the link to that excellent paper!

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    Even a moderate-Dem commentator such as Bill Press was moved to say, during his talk program following Obama's escalation speech, that the speech could've been given by George W. Bush or Rudy Giuliani.

    Blithely throwing out the 9/11 reference, without even bothering to delve into the details of who allegedly committed those attacks and from what location they were planned. It wasn't Afghans or Afghanistan.

    <h2>It was an historic day. The honeymoon is over for Obama, with all but the ardent followers who treat Dems vs. GOP as if it were the Civil War football game, rather than this being about actually changing things.</h2>

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