NDAA 2020


by anthony freda

Now seriously, wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it the NOAA (National Offense Authorization Act)?  Perhaps Scratch for War, Inc. or Payola for Pentagon Planet?  Especially given this list by the late, great, William Blum who left us on Dec. 9, 2018.  Among many other books, he’d written America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy; The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, blogged ‘the anti-Empire Report’

United States bombings of other countries, William Blum

“The above was written in 1994, before the wanton destruction generated by the bombing of Yugoslavia, another in a long list of countries the United States has bombarded since the end of World War II, which is presented below.

  • Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
  • Guatemala 1954
  • Indonesia 1958
  • Cuba 1959-1961
  • Guatemala 1960
  • Congo 1964
  • Laos 1964-73
  • Vietnam 1961-73
  • Cambodia 1969-70
  • Guatemala 1967-69
  • Grenada 1983
  • Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
  • Libya 1986
  • El Salvador 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1980s
  • Iran 1987
  • Panama 1989
  • Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
  • Kuwait 1991
  • Somalia 1993
  • Bosnia 1994, 1995
  • Sudan 1998
  • Afghanistan 1998
  • Yugoslavia 1999
  • Yemen 2002
  • Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
  • Iraq 2003-2015
  • Afghanistan 2001-2015
  • Pakistan 2007-2015
  • Somalia 2007-8, 2011
  • Yemen 2009, 2011
  • Libya 2011, 2015
  • Syria 2014-2016

He’d included a ‘Plus’ list as well.

Another of Blum’s lists:

Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’; Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)

But let’s go play Duopoly Dialing for Dollars!

‘House Democrats ratify $733 billion for US military’, Patrick Martin
15 July 2019, wsws.org

“By a near-party-line vote Friday, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act, providing $733 billion for the Pentagon, with the bulk of the spending directed toward preparing the US military for future wars with China and Russia.

Not a single Republican House member voted for the bill, which passed 220–197, because they objected to a series of “progressive” amendments incorporated into the NDAA to ensure a top-heavy Democratic vote for the overall legislation.”

All of these amendments will be stripped out of the bill in the House-Senate Conference Committee, which will now ensue. The resulting military authorization bill will come back to the House as unamendable “must pass” legislation, which most “progressive” Democrats will claim they have no choice but to support.

The eight Democrats who voted against the bill included four newly elected representatives who have been frequent targets of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley—and four other liberals—Mark Pocan, Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer and Adriano Espaillat.

The amendments approved included one barring President Trump from waging war on Iran without congressional approval. A similar amendment has already been defeated in the Senate.”

“Others on the wish list include repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the legal basis for the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq; a one-year prohibition for using US military funds to support the Saudi-led war in Yemen; a provision blocking the deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons on US submarines; another barring the transfer of new prisoners to the Guantanamo Bay prison; reinstatement of eligibility for military service of transgendered soldiers; and a ban on the use of Defense Department funds to build Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border or to house people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

From govtrack.us:

‘This was a vote to pass H.R. 2500 in the House. The federal budget process occurs in two stages: appropriations and authorizations. This is an authorization bill, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used. (It does not set overall spending limits, however, which are the subject of appropriations bills.) Authorizations are typically made for single fiscal years (October 1 through September 30 of the next year) but are often renewed in subsequent law.’

The votes, the ‘Ideology of Votes’, and ‘Statistically notable votes’ are on the page.

“The Senate version passed on June 27, 2019

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (Republican from Oklahoma) expressed satisfaction with the House action, even though he is opposed to nearly all the liberal amendments. Praising his Democratic counterpart Adam Smith, he said, “We both have the commitment. We’ve got to get a bill.” He explained, “The main thing that I wanted out of the House was to get something out of the House into conference, and then we can go to work.”

Martin writes that back-channel talks continue between Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration regarding legislation to either raise or waive caps on spending for the Pentagon and domestic social spending set by the 2011 deficit reduction law scheduled to take effect once again on October 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year.

“More significant were the amendments that the Democratic leadership successfully blocked, especially one to reduce the overall funding level by $16.8 billion. This was voted down by an overwhelming 307–115 margin, with about half of the House Democrats voting to reject the amendment. The final “debate” in the House-Senate Conference Committee will thus be between the Senate figure of $750 billion, the largest amount ever allocated to the Pentagon, and the House figure of $733 billion, the second largest such amount.”

“The budgetary impact of the 2011 law, the September 30 deadline for passage of 12 appropriations bills for various federal departments and agencies, and the impending breach of the federal debt ceiling—now estimated by the Treasury to take place in early September—mean that the Democratic Party will soon be called upon to take actions that will further expose its pretensions to be fighting Trump or defending the interests of working people. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi & co. will be ratifying higher military spending and further cuts in domestic social programs, while refusing to use the financial crunch as leverage against Trump’s vicious attacks on immigrants and more broadly on democratic rights.”

But this was my favorite chuckle-worthy news:

“The conference committee is nearly certain to side with the Senate version, which passed by a huge bipartisan majority, 86–8, with six of the seven Democratic senators running for president being absent from the vote because they were campaigning.”

The Senate version S. 1790: votes, notable votes, not voting, etc. and those not voting. Because hey, it’s only the gargantuan Military Appropriations bill!  Strategic absences or so very busy campaigning, can’t hop on a plane, Senators, Congresspeople?

Meanwhile, from David Swanson: ‘Military Bill Amended for the Better: This Pig Has Really, Really Good Lipstick’, David Swanson, World BEYOND War, July 14, 2019

Heh; sorry, but you’ll have to click through for his Pig Lipsticked artwork, it’s seriously hard for me to look at for long, but funny as hell for a few moments. 

“The latest U.S. House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is beyond global in scope and not the least bit defensive, offended Donald Trump’s desire for limitless power and spending in dozens of ways detailed by the people he employs to write things longer than tweets — and that was before it was amended. And the amendments are shockingly good.

If you’re going to pass a stinker of a bill, piling several hundred billion more dollars into a criminal enterprise that endangers us, devastates the natural environment, diverts funding away from enterprises that could save and radically improve billions of lives, promotes bigotry and violence, and generates refugees who can then be blamed for it, the least awful way to do so would be with the following amendments. But, bear in mind, these have been passed by the House and not the Senate, and unless people find out they exist and raise absolute hell about keeping them in, the House will strip them out in deference to the Senate, the President, the campaign funders, or all three.”

Swanson’s list of ‘shockingly good’ amendments is much longer than Patrick Martin’s, but nowhere does he mention that the Senate version will likely rule in the conference committee meetings.

“We should keep in mind that some of these amendments would outlaw things that are already illegal, and that President Trump will have little reason to comply with any amendments that make it into law, given the practice established by Bush-Obama of erasing selected portions of laws with signing statements, and given Nancy Pelosi’s commitment not to impeach.

We should also keep in mind that a pig will always remain a pig.”

I know I’ve used it before, and had borrowed it from John Wight lamenting NATO’s continued and epically toxic existence.  “The cogent analysis of Roman imperialism provided by political economist Joseph Schumpeter in the second decade of the 20th century:

There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest—why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs. They were enemies who only waited to fall on the Roman people.


by anthony freda

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

piece i hadn't included was this:

"Assuming the NDAA passes on time, it would mark the 60th consecutive year that Congress has accomplished that feat. For all the media chatter about gridlock and supposedly unbridgeable differences between the Democrats and Republicans in Washington, the two capitalist parties are united in insuring the vital interests of American imperialism. They can squabble mightily about comparatively small amounts of money while rubber-stamping three-quarters of a trillion dollars to sustain the biggest and most lethal military machine in world history."

isn't the math close to this? amerika's military machine expenditures equals the next three nations' most expensive by costs? boy, what a crap sentence. can't think how to phrase it better, sorry.

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Big Al's picture

@wendy davis argue about fake differences, the people might catch on and it would get pretty boring. In the end however, the show goes on.

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

rather than 'let's go dialing for duopoly dollars!' i'd first typed: "On with the show!" the image i'd had was a circus Big Top, clowns, elephants, donkeys, and high-wire acts.

it's all so elmer gantry/edward bernays, isn't it? more dada-esque freda art: (back in the days at my.fdl he'd send me all his new stuff:

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Pluto's Republic's picture

There's really no place to go with it. All the exits are blocked. Looks like we're going to ride this elevator all the way to the bottom.

As long as the money is flowing and is accepted for purchases, the US remains the greatest existential threat to humanity and the planet itself.

For some reason the absurdity of the evil reminds me of cosplay at Comic Con.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
wendy davis's picture

@Pluto's Republic

even never having been to Comic Con. the utter absurdity was exactly what made me try to have some yucks over it all.

but no, Pluto! amerika exports democracy! on a more serious note: think andre vltcheks': 'when a nation bullies the world, sooner or later...'

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wendy davis's picture

let this be tonight's closing song. we can at least dance and be joyous once in a while we watch this toxic empire make war on the world, can't we? titi! tula! ; )

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wendy davis's picture

but as i've said before: USians say they don't want more war, but pollsters always fail to ask how important to them that is. (not that a pollster can't design questions to elicit whatever results he/she wants: push polls.) to me war/imperialism is at the top of my list, as it's always been the genesis of every other evil this nation perpetrates not only on the world, but on everyday citizens.

two comments, ten thumbs. well, maybe as sam husseini notes, there are just too many other distractions here, as in the mainstream media, but both of these two.

perceived victimhood is free advertising, as well; such a this blink-worthy news:

“Queens district attorney hopeful Tiffany Cabán far outperformed Melinda Katz in the latest campaign fundraising period — and far outspent her on legal fees amid their fierce recount fight.

Insurgent Democrat Cabán pulled in $207,437 between July 2 and July 12. She spent $85,000 on lawyers — including $40,000 for Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, the firm of her high-powered election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder.

Katz, the Queens Democratic Party candidate, collected just $36,000 during the same period. She spent much more — $325,000 — though all but $50,000 of that went to consulting firms Red Horse and Connective Strategies Inc. for past campaign expenses.

Some $18,780 raised by Cabán came from 620 people with Queens addresses. Nearly 30% of Cabán’s haul poured in from big donors, most of whom live outside of New York.
Patty Quillin, the wife of Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings, gave $20,000
during the filing period. Quillin, who is listed in Board of Elections filings as living in California, had previously donated $35,000 to Cabán’s campaign.

Another Californian, Mark Heising, the founder of investment firm Medley Partners, gave $20,000 to Cabán. Heising’s wife, Liz, is the daughter of retired hedge fund billionaire James Simons, a major contributor to Democratic party political action committees nationwide.

Barrie Nichols, a U.S. Virgin Islands resident and the controller of a Houston-based venture capital firm, contributed $20,000.
In addition to the $40,000 for Goldfeder’s firm, Cabán paid $30,000 to election lawyer Renée Paradis, who previously worked for Bernie Sanders. Two other law firms were paid a total of $15,000 for helping with the recount."

oh, and some TX dem (al green?) just filed articles impeachment against trump. for what? being Putin's puppet? for his war crimes? no: his racism.

thanks, big al and pluto's republic for caring enough to comment, and to those who rec'd this, as well.

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Big Al's picture

@wendy davis I feel ya, why I don't write much anymore. I've referenced "follow the bouncing red ball" numerous times to illustrate how we're basically controlled by the mainstream news narrative. I've seen a number of polls where war isn't even on the damn thing, let alone imperialism, which many on the left feel is too long a word to use, the people just won't get it. We can see how much it means when 80% are for or against the Bush wars depending on whether they're democrats or republicans and 80% were for or against Obama's war with reverse numbers. And of course, everything is painted thru the duopoly prism.

Like Rage against the Machine so angrily said,

"They use force to make you do what the deciders have decided you must do".

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

'...let alone imperialism, which many on the left feel is too long a word to use'

thanks for that, and 'follow the bouncing red ball' (gads, my papa loved mitch miller's pre-karaoke show). it is weird that 'fascism' depends on 'whose fascism', from obomba to boss tweet, isn't it? well, no it's not, in the end. just how it is.

thanks for feelin' me, amigo, and for 'They use force to make you do what the deciders have decided you must do'.

war isn't really hell, as 99% of USians and candidates only talk of 'amerika's blood and treasure lost in X war/s. not the victims of this war machine so much. sigh.

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@wendy davis "stand" that no one survived and I was a teenager before I heard someone ask "what about the Indians?".
Damn I felt stupid, and rightfully so especially when I was finally exposed to Dee Brown's 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee', then 'Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow' and 'Creek Mary's Blood'.
That wasn't what I heard about in school or by movies, or anywhere else for that matter.

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wendy davis's picture

@aliasalias

in the US still keep kids ignorant of any first american truths, they sure did when our chirren were in school, and one is adopted ute mtn. ute. 'the pilgrims were so grateful they invited the savages to the first thanksgiving dinner!'

even colleges tend to ban courses in actual native genocide, especially in AZ. but hey, wounded knee was finally designated as a national memorial, courtesy of this awesome fellow. also one at sand creek, may chivington and his brethren be roasting in hell (an even more grisly tale). i can't vouch for the wiki piece, as i don't have time to read it.

(cree) buffy sainte marie used the massacre as a metaphor for so much of what came later, and is still coming, of course. i used to know which senators of whom she speaks, and one was a very tall blonde man, but dang if i can recall his name.

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Big Al's picture

@wendy davis once and titled it, "Would you Sacrifice a Half Million Kids for Medicare for All?", referring to the democrats penchant for supporting US imperialism but offering imperial rewards to the masses in exchange. It has to be about imperialism, we've seen up close and personal what the empire does that isn't necessarily labeled or recognized as war.

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

to all you've written, brother.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@wendy davis

....but as i've said before: USians say they don't want more war, but pollsters always fail to ask how important to them that is. (not that a pollster can't design questions to elicit whatever results he/she wants: push polls.) to me war/imperialism is at the top of my list, as [war has] always been the genesis of every other evil this nation perpetrates not only on the world, but on everyday citizens.

I have been tuned in to, and frustrated by, this phenomenon for as long as I can remember. The internet really highlights this logic disconnect for data-sifter types like you and me, because the Internet makes it easy to see the awareness disconnect in a big-data way (if one cares to dwell on it). This dichotomy pops up on the war issue all the time — but then, Americans, even in this forum, are being gaslighted about the US wars 24-hours a day. It's exhausting. I was glad to see your list of US bombings today. That list just never gets old. Amiright?

For me, the War issue is always fresh. But, I'm obsessed. I don't write about it much, but I read about it a lot. When I do write about it, I tend to leapfrog over descriptions of the "now, normalized US war crimes" and twist the narrative instead, usually focusing on the coming blowback, the unintended consequences, and the repercussions for the homeland. It's as if Tokyo Rose were writing it. Heh. I do that not just for my own self-indulgent pleasure. The war topic seems to demands an odd-ball angle to get past the manufactured firewall in the American psyche. The deep state nazis in the IC have successfully pickled the war neuroreceptors in the brains of Americans, using a toxic brine of threat and fear. Even the most unjust and horrendous atrocity committed by the US military against innocent civilians leaves American audiences completely unmoved and distracted.

On another note, I think you've inspired me to publish an odd-angle war piece I've been working on.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
wendy davis's picture

@Pluto's Republic

you've blown me away with your comment and its thesis. i do so wish mne eyes and brain weren't so exhausted already; i fear i'll have to return on the morrow to do it justice. but for now:

oh, i hope you'll publish the odd-angle war essay you've been working on. those of us anti-war, anti-imperialist need allies both here and online in general. how great it is to see that you've agreed with my construct for so long, srsly, ad that you've been equally frustrated by it. i wish i were as adept as you are to write (as tokyo rose, lol) from a different angle. perhaps that allows you to be heard better? i rarely feel gentle on my expressions of the issue, myself' maybe i alienate readers? but i've blogged FP and anti-war, anti-imperialsm since my days at josh marshall's TPM reader diaries days, and hadn't felt the need to hold my temper, nor my critiques.

but the forever wars now normalized can cause folks here and in the online world to yawn, if i take your meaning. peace marches? who goes to deecee but the usual suspects, and the ruling class doesn't pay any attention, nor does the media. ah, phooey, pluto, i just hit the wall. perhaps my incoherence is showing.

for a closing song...let me consider. okay, this. love to all, and good night. dream well if you can, if not, at least instructively.

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wendy davis's picture

on candidates, electeds,

and the NDAA & the AUFM at dissident voice.

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