Special coverage in the Trump Era

From Public Citizen's Corporate Presidency site: "44 Trump administration officials have close ties to the Koch brothers and their network of political groups, particularly Vice President Mike Pence, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney."

Dark Money author Jane Mayer on The Dangers of President Pence, New Yorker, Oct. 23 issue on-line

Can Time Inc. Survive the Kochs? November 28, 2017 By
..."This year, among the Kochs’ aims is to spend a projected four hundred million dollars in contributions from themselves and a small group of allied conservative donors they have assembled, to insure Republican victories in the 2018 midterm elections. Ordinarily, political reporters for Time magazine would chronicle this blatant attempt by the Kochs and their allies to buy political influence in the coming election cycle. Will they feel as free to do so now?"...

"Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America" see: our site, and George Monbiot's essay on this key book by historian Nancy MacLean.

Full interview with The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer March 29, 2017, Democracy Now! about her article, "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer Exploited America’s Populist Insurgency."

Democracy Now! Special Broadcast from the Women's March on Washington

The Economics of Happiness -- new version

Local Futures offers a free, shortened version of its award-winning documentary film The Economics of Happiness. This 19-minute abridged version "brings us voices of hope of in a time of crisis." www.localfutures.org.

What's New?

February 02, 2018

Huge Military Budgets Make Us Broke, Not Safe

Miriam Pemberton writes: "The president and his party are now looking to add somewhere between $30 and $70 billion more in military spending to their budget for next year — on top of the increases for this year. Democrats seem willing to go along, with a few caveats.
Nobody seems worried anymore about adding to the financial hole we just dug for ourselves and our children with $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich."

Huge Military Budgets Make Us Broke, Not Safe

"Backing down from nuclear war would make us a lot safer than piling more money into the Pentagon."

By Miriam Pemberton, January 31, 2018, Foreign Policy in Focus, originally published in OtherWords

Excerpt:   ..."Nobody seems worried anymore about adding to the financial hole we just dug for ourselves and our children with $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich.

It’s true that the military needs predictability, which has been hobbled by politicians who can’t get it together to pass a real budget. Every enterprise, except maybe improv comedy, does. But it’s not true that the military needs more money.

The portrait of a “starved” military, which Trump and his secretary of defense like to complain about, airbrushes out a few facts.

We’re now spending more on the military, adjusted for inflation, than at any time since World War II — including during the Reagan and George W. Bush buildups. We spend more than the next eight countries put together.

Worse still, the military can’t even say what it’s actually spending — it’s still the only federal agency that can’t pass an audit. The brass says they’ll really try this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Trusting the Pentagon to rein in its own waste hasn’t worked. Back in 2015, the Pentagon’s own commissioned report found $125 billion in administrative waste that could be cut over five years. But then they simply buried the report.

Here’s what we really need to feel safer: Leaders who are working to reduce nuclear tensions rather than rev them up.

Instead, in addition to firing off scary tweets, Trump repeated calls in his State of the Union to “modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal,” to the tune of $1.7 trillion. Why? The 4,000 nukes we currently have — enough to destroy the entire planet — seem like an adequate deterrent.

Leaders are meanwhile working on designs for new “lower yield” nukes, envisioning them as tools for “limited” nuclear war. That makes nuclear war seem more feasible, and therefore more likely. Feeling safer yet?

And they want to build up the arsenal of conventional weapons, mostly to counter China. But China is expanding its influence around the world not mainly through military spending — its military budget is only a third of ours — but through its civilian investments.

As the U.S. retreats from providing development aid, China is filling the vacuum. As the U.S. cuts off its previous investments in clean energy technology, China has become the solar panel provider to the world.

Our new security strategy, by the way, has also airbrushed out climate change. A military that previously identified climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to national security” is now barred by the administration from talking about it at all.

While we contemplate spending money we don’t have for weapons we don’t need, the urgency of this threat continues to grow."


Miriam Pemberton is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, writing and speaking on demilitarization issues for its Foreign Policy In Focus project. She has recently published a report, “Military vs. Climate Security: Mapping the Shift from the Bush Years to the Obama Era,” a follow-up to her other publication, “The Budgets Compared: Military vs. Climate Security.” Miriam also leads a group that produces the annual “Unified Security Budget for the United States.” Formerly she was editor, researcher and finally director of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.