…and continuing from the last two posts for today…
Along with Andrew Bacevich, Howard Zinn, and Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch.com, Chalmers Johnson is one of my favourite American critics of American empire. In an article that is being reproduced across a range of sites, Johnson argues in “We Have the Bailout Money–We’re Spending It on War” (The Nation, Sep. 29, 2008), that sums just as large have been pumped into the war in Iraq, without as much public protest:
In fact, we dole out similar amounts of money every year in the form of payoffs to the armed services, the military-industrial complex and powerful senators and representatives allied with the Pentagon.
On Wednesday, September 24, right in the middle of the fight over billions of taxpayer dollars slated to bail out Wall Street, the House of Representatives passed a $612 billion defense authorization bill for 2009 without a murmur of public protest or any meaningful press comment at all….
Not only was there no significant media coverage of this latest appropriation, there have been no signs of even the slightest urge to inquire into the relationship between our bloated military, our staggering weapons expenditures, our extravagantly expensive failed wars abroad and the financial catastrophe on Wall Street.
Support the troops has of course functioned, as always, as a silencing mechanism — even on this blog some rushed to defend the career choices of impoverished members of the American working class in taking up arms against foreigners who never attacked them, without questioning why they will not just as quickly take up arms against their “fellow citizens” who attack them in myriad ways on a daily basis. They never answered the question of why others who are jobless seem to not consider the option of making a living at the expense of the lives and deaths of Iraqis. But then again, what would I know, I am no patriot, let alone an American patriot.
The only Congressional “commentary” on the size of our military outlay was the usual pompous drivel about how a failure to vote for the defense authorization bill would betray our troops. The aged Senator John Warner of Virginia, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, implored his Republican colleagues to vote for the bill “out of respect for military personnel.” He seems to be unaware that these troops are actually volunteers, not draftees, and that they joined the armed forces as a matter of career choice, rather than because the nation demanded such a sacrifice from them.
John Nichols writing in “An Appropriately Populist Anti-Bailout Rant” (The Nation, Sep. 28, 2008) tell us: “Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich responded appropriately Sunday, when House and Senate leaders announced early a bipartisan agreement for a variation on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion (plus-plus-plus) bailout plan Wall Street.” This is what Kucinich had to say on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday:
The $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, is driven by fear not fact. This is too much money in too a short a time going to too few people while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren’t we having hearings on the plan we have just received? Why aren’t we questioning the underlying premise of the need for a bailout with taxpayers’ money? Why have we not considered any alternatives other than to give $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren’t we asking Wall Street to clean up its own mess? Why aren’t we passing new laws to stop the speculation, which triggered this? Why aren’t we putting up new regulatory structures to protect investors? How do we even value the $700 billion in toxic assets?
Why aren’t we helping homeowners directly with their debt burden? Why aren’t we helping American families faced with bankruptcy. Why aren’t we reducing debt for Main Street instead of Wall Street? Isn’t it time for fundamental change in our debt based monetary system, so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the United States Congress or the board of directors of Goldman Sachs? Wall Street is a place of bears and bulls. It is not smart to force taxpayers to dance with bears or to follow closely behind the bulls.
Excellent questions. Once again, you know what means: they won’t get answered.
Speaking of protests on Wall Street, here is a video by Laura Hanna of The Nation, interviewing some protesters:
See more videos at VideoNation