Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This is (One Big Reason) Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Well, it's official.
The president* (as Pierce likes to call him, complete with the Maris Asterisk) signed the "John S. McCain, Jr. National Defense Authorization Act". Unsurprisingly, this monster is loaded with goodies for the armed forces, completely in keeping with the GOP-standard line about how We the People are headed for another Pearl Harbor because we just don't have enough things that can kill people and blow shit up.
(Oh, and apparently there's some pretty appalling idiocy in there handing out pork to GOP pals)
Some of this largesse seems to have some utility - apparently the USN really does have some issues with operational numbers - but the whole thing is just another uptick in the ridiculous "let's-throw-money-at-guns" Washington Rules idiocy that is unquestioned in D.C. and in the public press.

Nobody outside the usual dirty hippies of the Left is asking why the hell, in a remarkably Great-Power-untroubled world, We the People need all this stuff.

And, of course, nobody - no legislators, no cable talking news heads, no cabinet officers, certainly not the man in the Oval Office - is questioning or, perhaps, even wondering, why so much of this stuff will end up chasing raggedy-assed villagers around the mountains of Central Asia or the Horn of Africa or the islets of the Philippine archipelago in an endless pursuit of ideology and resentment grown of the death and destruction caused by last year's blowing-shit-up money.

Somehow poor people getting medical care, or building new highways and bridges, or replacing antiquated power plants with new technologies, are just "not affordable". But all this deadly bling? Hell, yeah! Let's throw MORE money at it!

All this would be a hell of a nonsensical way to spend the public coin even if we weren't in the process of handing our wealthiest citizens a massive tax break. But now?

And, yet, what seems to be the biggest single source of public outrage about this bloated monstrosity of a "defense" spending bill is that somehow the guy with the pen failed to tongue-bath the guy that the monstrosity was named for.


Update 8/15: And to remind us again that presidential "signing statements" are one of the most pernicious anti-republican bits of claptrap floating around the Swamp, Comrade President sneaks in a bit of backhander to his pal Pootie:
Included in the bill is "...a ban on spending military funds on “any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea,” the Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014 in an incursion considered illegal by the United States. He said he would treat the provision and similar ones as “consistent with the president’s exclusive constitutional authorities as commander in chief and as the sole representative of the nation in foreign affairs.”
"Faithfully execute the laws"? Of course not. That's for the Little People.

And Congress, paper-trained by years of deference to Executive power, and cowardice in exercising their duties as the representatives of We the People, will do nothing but cringe, assuming they even bother to react to this.

This isn't even a Left or Right issue. The Chief Executive's job is to execute; execute the laws as written. If he's got a problem with that he needs to get his party to change the laws in Congress, or rely on the judiciary to strike them down. That We the People accept these nonsensical pronouncements is another symptom of the deep rot that has set into our putative Republic.

But, mind you, engaged and intelligent citizens of a vital republic wouldn't have voted in the millions for a tangerine-hued real-estate grifter that lies like a cow shits - endlessly and everywhere. Or for a party the promises to hurt the vast majority of them. A subtle reminder; if your "No. 1 motivating factor is Second Amendment issues" you are a goddamn moron who should not be trusted with the franchise, let alone a firearm.

But this is your republic, America. This is why We can't have nice things.


  1. I notice the Grifter-in-Chief found time to water down the ban on ZTE that was in the Congressional version of the NDAA. Musn't lose that half a Billion in Chinese financing for a Trump themed luxury hotel, golf course, spa, and country club in Beautiful Java:


    "Congress added a bipartisan provision to the NDAA bill to reinstate the overall ban on ZTE, but Republicans, urged on by the White House, had removed it from the final version of the bill that Trump signed."


  2. Christ, they're not even pretending anymore.

    I keep coming back to the question I asked earlier; unless you're in on the grift, or making over half a million a year, what the hell is in it for you to vote for these people?

    I mean...the Left may not be a prize, but there's still SOME sense of public weal and responsibility there. The Right has gone - and has been for some time - full on gonzo, bull-goose looney. It's all QAnon, all the way down. Fantastic Islamophobic paranoia. Open pandering to plutocracy. Tongue-bathing religious nuts who want to push everyone not heterosexually Caucasian out into the wastelands. Cut down trees and drill, baby, drill.

    Given how amazingly pigheaded We the People are being about anthropogenic climate change and the appalling environmental, political, and social disasters that's going to cause I don't have a hell of a lot of hope for homo sapiens in general. But it would seem like simple commonsense that if you have a choice between voting for the person who may not be framing your house the way you'd like it, and the person who's going to set fire to it and burn it to the ground, there's no real "choice" there.

    But apparently there's enough people who think there is to put the rest of us into the dumpster with them.

  3. To me it's basically SSDD.

    There is one benefit to this legislation since it's the first in over a decade to be completed before the FY and therefor the first time in a very long time that the military will not have to deal with part-year funding via CR's. We've been doing CR's for longer than most currently serving people have been in the service.

    During my stint in the civil service supporting a reserve unit, dealing with CR's was probably the most frustrating and disruptive I faced and at least for this coming year my successors can actually plan for and fund training.

    As far as the allocation of our national treasure goes in general, I would just go back to the fundamentals - what kind of foreign policy do we want/need; how does the military fit into that vision; what set of capabilities are required to meet those goals; and how much will it cost to develop and maintain those capabilities?

    Like so many other areas, military spending is unmoored from a larger strategy, even what passes for strategy these days, which are mostly platitudes. There are a lot of arguments about how we should spend more or less without much thought about why or what capabilities do we really need. So personally, I'm much less concerned about the total amount of military spending than I am on how it is spent and for what purpose.

    1. Ill be the first to agree on the CR problem. If there's any upside to this monster at all, it's that.

      That said...I think you should think about WHY this is SSDD.

      Your issue is that spending isn't tied to "strategy". But why, given the sheer volume of largesse involved, should it be? EVERYbody is getting some pie, why bother asking about the baking? The only time, or reason, I can think of that the U.S. government has rationed military spending over the past century is 1) in wartime, and 2) when military spending was so limited as to make hard choices necessary.

      So I think this is a chicken/egg thing. If you have no geopolitical objectives other than global generational war fantasies then you end up throwing money at weapons and soldiers. If you throw enough money at weapons and soldiers you don't have to stop and think about whether that's a good idea, or if there might be a better way to spend that money.

  4. When I was a young man during my first year in uniform there was no NDAA. It soon caught up. But was generally less than two dozen pages.

    This year it was 800 pages. And some of those 800 pages have nothing to do with National Defense. There is a bit of non-military pork appended by congress critters.

    But it still needs an appropriations bill, which won't come until later.

  5. McCain act...

    Money we don't have

    For things we don't need

    So we can fight wars that won't happen

    with enemies who would wreck us if we even thought about it

    To provide jobs

    For Senator's


    I think we need to be a bit more realistic about what this shit fest is really about...pork.

    And nothing says, "BACON IS ON THE TABLE!" like military spending on things the military doesn't want, and will end up in Arizona with all the other Special Order items the Senator's said would keep them safe in their jobs.

    I mean, keep America safe.

    Sorry, forgot the talking point.