The new defense bill is a monstrosity

If you thought that the defense budget was completely out-of-control and couldn't get any worse, think again. The new, "totally bipartisan" defense bill is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with our political system.
The reasons are too numerous to count, so I'll just stick to the highlights.

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But Democrats on the left flank of the party argue that the compromise signs away important restrictions on Trump’s war-making powers included in the House version of the bill, where an amendment backed by progressives would have prohibited the Trump administration from using any funds to launch an unauthorized, offensive war against Iran.

The compromise also stripped out a measure long backed by California Democrat Ro Khanna that would have prohibited U.S. military support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and one from New Jersey Democrat Tom Malinowski that would have banned the sale of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In a joint statement, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Khanna, who is Sanders’s campaign chair, called the National Defense Authorization Act “a bill of astonishing moral cowardice,” and said that Congress should not pass the compromise version.

Good thing Pelosi is in charge of the House.
Vote Blue No Matter Who, amirite? /s

But wait, because it gets worse.

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The legislation also would create a chief of space operations for the Space Force who would report to the Air Force secretary and would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

We can't afford to feed and house poor children, but we got a Space Force!
USA!USA!

Let's not stop there, because it continues to get worse.

A Senate panel on Wednesday advanced a sanctions bill targeting Turkey over its offensive in Syria and its purchase of a Russian missile defense system.

In response, Turkey is prepared to take serious measures.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a statement that Ankara may insist that the US leave Incirlik air base if Washington goes ahead with the sanctions it has threatened in response to Turkey's purchase of S-400 missiles.

"We will assess the worst-case scenario and make a decision. If the US imposes sanctions against Turkey, then the issue of the Incirlik and Kurecik bases may be on the agenda," Cavusoglu said.

So Congress is prepared to effectively break Turkey's alliance with NATO, because they bought a Russian anti-missile system instead of an American one. Good job Congress!

And yet this bill can still get worse.

The US House and Senate agreed on Monday (9 December) a defence bill that would force Donald Trump’s administration to impose sanctions on companies involved in the Russian-sponsored gas pipelines Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream.

Turkstream is already completed. Nord Stream 2 is 80% complete. So these sanctions can't stop either pipeline.
Thus all they can do is sanction major European companies for work that they've already done, and thus starting a new trade war with the EU.

Good job Congress. You managed to get everything wrong.

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Comments

Sounds like this just creates another executive position in DoD. I'd say "useless executive" but that would be redundant.

Re Turkey and NATO: Don't most of us regard NATO as obsolete anyway?

I agree 100% with Sanders on this (and most other issues).

I'd rather see a total ban on Saudi sales and Saudi personnel having access to defense facilities.
EDIT: Should be 100%! Somehow the "1" got lost totally changing the meaning. mea culpa

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We are so screwed.

Roy Blakeley's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness It is a functioning agent of US imperialism. It should have been disbanded 20 years ago. However, extending the point you made, what is bad for NATO is usually good for humanity.

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@The Voice In the Wilderness

Re Turkey and NATO: Don't most of us regard NATO as obsolete anyway?

But this is the most stupid way of doing it.

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@gjohnsit
I'd like to see a formal dissolution, full of political back-patting speeches about how wonderful NATO was and how it did the job, tyada,yada,yada... but you Europeans are on your own now!

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We are so screwed.

MUST Impeach Trump to save our democracy! I couldn't help myself, I saw that basic headline on an opinion piece in the NYT today from Thomas Friedman, a man who's never met a war, or a warmonger, he doesn't love.

Yesterday a friend told me her boss asked her if she's watching the hearings and she said no, just a distraction, etc. He asked her why she doesn't love America.... The stupid, it burns.

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

Oh, almost forgot. T'was us, we the sleepers.
Nobody asked me, but is it possible to spend that
$22 billion increase on some domestic programs?
It's pitchfork time folks.

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Roy Blakeley's picture

@QMS That's $2000+ for every person in the US. Think of the good it could do.

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ggersh's picture

and the centrist D's are pretty much the cause

resistance to the empire is a bug not a feature

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“Awesome! I always wondered what it was like to live during the times of the Civil War, Spanish Flu, Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, & the Dust Bowl. Not all at once mind you, but ya know, ‘beggars/choosers” and all.”

@ggersh
you too can own the world!
Some assembly required.
Batteries not included.
Small parts may choke children.
No warranties implied or stolen.
Void where prohibited.

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inarguably, constitute a clear and present danger to the USA, its people, and the world at large.

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Orwell: Where's the omelette?

@jim p
So even if Bernie or Tulsi become President, the Parties will unite against them.

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We are so screwed.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
But that's not a reason to not support them

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edg's picture

Having a cool Space Force means we are no longer just the USA. We are the USAU - United States of America and the Universe. To Infinity and Beyond!!

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ppnortney's picture

I totally disagree with a lot of Tom Luongo's politics but do like his analyses on some subjects. This article had some interesting takes.

It is Merkel, Macron and Zelensky that need something from Putin. Germany and France want Russia to rejoin Europe as a full partner. Both are setting the stage to lift the worst of the sanctions next year.

Putin and Russia are pursuing their own ends and are happy to resolve the issues outstanding iwith Europe — gas transit, sanctions, the conflict in the Donbass, NATO encroachment, etc. — but only on terms deemed acceptable to them.

Otherwise they will continue stitching Central Asia together with pipelines, power plants and railways to open up trade and commerce. All of that growth will be lost to Europe if they continue to hold Russia, Iran and Turkey at arm’s length because of fear of pissing off the U.S.

Ukraine was supposed to fall into the EU’s lap, including Crimea, bottling Russia up permanently. Then they could slowly strangle the Russian economy through monopsony leverage over the gas pipelines into Europe.

So, if anything, Putin will hold out for everything at this point, since he knows Merkel and Macron deal from weak hands. Zelensky is simply a pawn trapped between them and the U.S. inside his own country.

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The smaller the mind the greater the conceit. --Aesop

@ppnortney
I do think that peaceful trade would get them more than resurrecting the Soviet Union, but that is Putin's dream.

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We are so screwed.

CB's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

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snoopydawg's picture

@CB

I wondered if I read it wrong.

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"It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process."

Hillary: "I'd be president today if Comey, Bernie, Bros and Putin hadn't stolen it from me."

CB's picture

@snoopydawg
that tells me Putin wants to resurrect the Soviet Union.

“Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.” ― Vladimir Putin

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snoopydawg's picture

@CB

I see that type of comment quite frequently on DK, but didn't think I'd see it here. Mind boggling to say the least.

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"It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process."

Hillary: "I'd be president today if Comey, Bernie, Bros and Putin hadn't stolen it from me."

wendy davis's picture

@CB

all this 'revanchist russia' rubbish is the equivalent of 'iran wants nuclear bombs!'.

or: #BigSlurpHegemonicKoolaid

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@CB
That trade was better than military conquest.

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We are so screwed.

CB's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
the US engineered coup in Ukraine was because the President, Viktor Yanukovych, was going to accept full membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States with special trade terms advantageous to Ukraine.

The US propaganda machine was then set in motion to demonize Putin and Russia and blame them for the conflict.

Press statements and replies to journalists’ questions
May 7, 2014 The Kremlin, Moscow
...
Vladimir Putin: First, the idea that Russia holds the key to resolving the problem is a trick thought up by our Western partners and does not have any grounds in reality. No sooner do our colleagues in Europe or the US drive the situation into a dead end, they always say that Moscow holds the keys to a solution and put all the responsibility on us.

The responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine now lies with the people who carried out an anti-constitutional seizure of power, a coup d’etat, and with those who supported these actions and gave them financial, political, information and other kinds of support and pushed the situation to the tragic events that took place in Odessa. It’s quite simply blood-chilling to watch the footage of those events.

Russia will take every necessary step of course and do everything within its power to settle the situation. I can understand the people in southeast Ukraine, who say that if others can do what they like in Kiev, carry out a coup d’etat, take up arms and seize government buildings, police stations and military garrisons, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to defend their interests and lawful rights?

As for whether proposed measures suit Russia or not, we are not a party to this conflict; the parties to the conflict are in Ukraine itself. We were told repeatedly that our forces by the Ukrainian border were a source of concern. We have withdrawn our forces and they are now not on the Ukrainian border but are carrying out their regular exercises at the test grounds. This can be easily verified using modern intelligence techniques, including from space, where everything can be seen. We helped to secure the OSCE military observers’ release and I think also made a contribution to defusing the situation.
...

At this time, Ukraine's largest trading partner remains Russia with China as close second. Ukraine's economy has tanked and it's people are leaving. Europe has no need for anything Ukraine produces other than a steady supply of cheap labor (even that is slowing due to high immigration from Africa and the Middle East).

The only thing of value for the US is their resources - soil and oil. These are the resources that have now been opened up for sale to the "highest" bidder in rigged auctions. I call it what it is, pillaging by foreign corporations.

The ordinary Ukrainian will see little of the massive profits to be made for this kind of "trade".

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@The Voice In the Wilderness nonsense? Why repeat it without thinking?
Why would the Russian Establishment want to take on a major war to get responsibility for poorer populations, who themselves would be troublesome? Go through the record and you’ll find Russia rose to top Monster Abroad in 2012 after Putin’s proposition that the former Soviet Nations fold with the EU into a single economic unit.

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Orwell: Where's the omelette?

@jim p
The Russian (and Ukrainian) states were founded by Viking invaders. The Czars were always attacking Poland and the Eastern European states.
Putin subverted the Russian Constitution to become the perptual dictator. Look at the ridiculous vote totals he gets. Do you really think that Putin doesn't cheat? Not even FDR got 90% of the vote.
Putin was a KGB general. Not a nice thing to have on your resume.

Far from being a democratically elected leader, Putin has subverted Russian democracy.

Yes, the "official" story is that Crimea and Eastern Ukraine were taken over by "volunteers" without the approval of the Kremlin or local commanders. These "volunteers" took their weapons including tanks with them. And, supposedly, the Russian Army did nothing about this blatant mutiny. Yeah, sure!

What if American "volunteers" took their tanks from Fort Bliss and annexed Northern Mexico? Would the President and Pentagon say "Oh, well, boys will be boys. We had nothing to do with it"? The fact that those "volunteers" who supposedly went AWOL with their combat equipment were not attacked and the survivors taken into custody says it all.

I don't have links. I don't save links to offer up to doubters, but in his early electoral years Putin decried the dissolution of the Soviet Union and said that the Ukraine, Lithuania, Belaruss and such were integral parts of Russia and should not be independant.

Putin has not done "election interference" as Democrats claim. Trump is not "Putin's puppet". But Putin is not a nice guy that just wants to live peaceably with his neighbors.
Neither is Xi.

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We are so screwed.

TheOtherMaven's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

Without links or other backing, your statements are nothing more than your opinion, worth as much or as little as someone mouthing off in the barroom.

The history of Europe, in general, is a history of warfare - one or another nation making war on other(s) for one or another reason. It's not a specifically "Russian" vice. (Nor is it exclusively European - the Huns, Mongols and Turks attacked from outside Europe.)

France as we know it was founded by invading Germanic tribes. Want to blame the Germans? (The French do, but that's a matter of injured national pride.)

England has had invasion after invasion after invasion - Doggerlanders, Picts, Brythons, Romans, Anglo-Saxons (and Jutes), Normans, etc. (Even, once or twice, an invasion led by homegrown aspirants with forces raised abroad.)

As for Putin's popularity - when you actually listen to your people and do things that benefit them, of course you're going to be popular. (No one has tried that in the US for at least the last fifty years.)

(You're not just misinformed about Crimea, you're DISinformed. They VOTED to rejoin Russia - there was no "invasion", no "land grab", not even an "insurrection". Their choice, their business. NOT OURS!!!)

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

CB's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
with your statements that I don't know where to start.

First of all, your statement:

Putin subverted the Russian Constitution to become the perptual dictator

tells me you don't have the slightest fucking clue of what you are talking about.

The Russian Constitution was mostly written by USAID and American controlled Russian oligarchs in 1993. Washington wanted to ensure that the Russian president had full power because they assumed they would be able to control who became president in the future (just as they controlled their puppet Yeltsin).

Constitution of Russia
...
US Agency for International Development, also known as USAID (banned in Russia since 2012) drafted main concepts of the Constitution. Misleading wordings of certain sentences introduced concepts that very few countries have, including priority of international laws over domestic laws (15.4), right of overseas ownership of natural resources (9.2), ban for the government to be guided by a national ideology (13.2) and other concepts that deminish national sovereignty.[2]
...
The Constitution of the Russian Federation specifies that the President is the Russian head of state, setting domestic and foreign policy and representing Russian both within the country and internationally [Article 80][6]. While the original constitution stipulated a four-year term and a maximum of two terms in succession, the current constitution decrees a six-year term. The four-year term was in effect while Vladimir Putin served his first and second terms; with the two-term limit, he was barred from the presidency in 2008. Instead, he served as Prime Minister while Dmitry Medvedev served as president for four years. Putin was re-elected to his third term in 2012; with the six-year term, he was elected to his fourth term in 2018. Article 81 specifies the method of election, including a secret ballot; Articles 82 - 93 detail powers, responsibilities, and limitations of the presidency. The constitution provides for a 'strong presidency'; not only is the president the "Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation"[7], the president also has the power to dissolve the State Duma.[8]
...

Your ridiculous comments on Crimea are not worth responding to.

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snoopydawg's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

Russia has always tried war to conquer Europe.

So then can you tell us what country Russia is warring in right now trying to conquer Europe? And no Crimea doesn't count. And if you think that Russia invaded Ukraine after our coup then I am sure you can back that up with links too?

The Russian (and Ukrainian) states were founded by Viking invaders. The Czars were always attacking Poland and the Eastern European states.

I may be wrong here, but I don't think RUSSIA existed back then. That would have been the USSR.

Far from being a democratically elected leader, Putin has subverted Russian democracy.

Groan. More anti Russia talking points. Putin won the election with 70% of the votes and it was a cleaner election than the previous one he won because he had kicked out the US NGOs that interfered with that one. And bad, bad Vlad is so bad that he decreased the military budget by 10% so that he could deal with the poverty levels that were made worse after we partied in Russia during the Clinton administration.

Russia was invited in to Syria too btw. We just went in balls blazing to remove another elected leader because he and his people were

sitting on our resources.

The rest of your comment I just don't words for. Besides, WTF?

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"It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process."

Hillary: "I'd be president today if Comey, Bernie, Bros and Putin hadn't stolen it from me."

TheOtherMaven's picture

@snoopydawg

Voice said: The Russian (and Ukrainian) states were founded by Viking invaders. The Czars were always attacking Poland and the Eastern European states.

snoopydawg replied: I may be wrong here, but I don't think RUSSIA existed back then. That would have been the USSR.

Both wrong in different ways. Various Eastern European and Scandinavian states attacked Russia at least as often as the other way around. "Russia" as a single national entity was a relatively late development, as was referring to the ruler as "Czar". It was probably Ivan III (1440-1505) who made himself "czar of all the Russias" (it wasn't his official title; he still officially called himself a "Grand Prince"). Ivan IV "Grozny" (the Terrible or the Fearsome), Ivan III's grandson, was the first to style himself officially Czar - and he was also, partly through his own uncontrollable temper, the last of Rurik's line. (Ivan IV was, incidentally, a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I, who was not mild-mannered herself.)

The USSR didn't exist until 1922.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

CB's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
and Putin's role in it, I suggest you watch the following.

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@The Voice In the Wilderness

Russia has always tried war to conquer Europe.

The Russian armies only marched as far as Germany twice in all of history:

1) when they were at war with Napoleon, and Prussia and Austria asked for their armies.

2) WWII, when the Nazis devastated the Soviet Union first and Stalin had to make sure that they were destroyed.

Don't buy the propaganda.

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Cassiodorus's picture

next time they tell you "we can't afford Medicare for All/ College for All"...

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"Scab of a nation, driven insane" -- Frank Zappa

Sometimes it seems the only reason we have a military is to enforce corporate interests. We only have a government to enforce corporate interests. We only have a diplomatic corp to enforce corporate interests. We only have a tax system to enforce corporate interests. With the rise of multinational corporations able to influence multiple governments on both sides of agreements no wonder our country looks to us like an insane asylum run by the inmates.

P.S. Short Form: Communist China is our biggest, most favored trading partner. It only has one political party. Just like us. Socialist Bernie Sanders is the real enemy.

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@Snode government at all to simply enforce corporate profits. That is ALL our government is doing now and it's been doing that for a long time, if not from inception. And while we all pay for that, these corporate giants are not only rewarded but worshipped by far too many people in this country. I remember asking my boss once when I worked in a corporate tax department who she'd rather pay taxes, the corporation or her. Got no answer of course but I did see a tiny remote spark of comprehension there, but that went away very, very quickly. I was essentially asking her to take a quick look at just who benefits from our government and that is a resounding no-no even if I had not worked in a tax department. Asking Americans to really look at that will almost always get a highly negative reaction of course, after all it points out just how little control any of us truly have on just what our government does or who it governs for. Americans do not like to be reminded of that so boldly as you've laid out here, even though most know somewhere deep in their American Gut just how true that is.

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur