He flopped his wings and raised a whoop. ‘Come here!’
he says, ‘Come here, everybody; hang’d if this fool hasn’t
been trying to fill up a house with acorns!’
Reading this–Secretary of Defense Announces How He’ll Waste $582 Billion–made me think of this:
If you have never read Jim Baker’s Blue Jay Yarn, there is no better introduction than having it read to you by Walter Brennan.
Although the more I think about it, the more I see differences between a blue jay trying to fill a cabin with acorns and whatever crazy Call of Duty-inspired schemes the Pentagon is seeking to fund with billions and billions of taxpayer dollars. The blue jay was operating in good faith. Not sure I can say the same about Ash Carter, or whoever sits at his desk at any given moment.
Creating enemies who are periodically capable of spectacular acts of cruelty, but who present no significant (‘existential’) threat, then fighting that enemy, in a war you announce at the beginning cannot possibly have an end point. That seems more like a racket–a way to guarantee that the contracts keep rolling–than an earnest attempt to win. Winning the war on terror would be the worst thing for the Pentagon budget.
I expect to hear absolutely nothing about the $582 billion budget presented by Ash Carter from the GOP debates, except demands that it be larger still, but am a bit disappointed, if not surprised, that the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination are not talking about reducing it.
I honestly was not going to go there when I started writing this piece, but a quick search on Sanders and “military budget” lead me, indirectly, to a David Swanson piece laying out Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s vision for dramatically reducing military spending. Everything Stein says is spot on, and her proposals–to reduce military spending by half, mainly by shutting down military bases abroad, and reducing the nuclear arsenal–are rational and considered. What reasonable person could object?
My enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders is substantial, but not unconditional. I can understand why he would avoid confrontation on military spending because he prioritizes his domestic agenda. But a sizable percentage of the funds to finance his single payer and free college proposals could be found in the bloated, wasteful Pentagon budget, if only he were bold enough to go there.
But this is a good time to remember that Stein was arrested in 2012 for trying to attend a Presidential debate, as was Ralph Nader a dozen years previously.
So … back to Mark Twain …
“You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure–
but he’s got feathers on him, and don’t belong to no church,
perhaps; but otherwise he is just as much human as you be.
And I’ll tell you for why. A jay’s gifts, and instincts,
and feelings, and interests, cover the whole ground.
A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a Congressman.
A jay will lie, a jay will steal, a jay will deceive,
a jay will betray; and four times out of five, a jay
will go back on his solemnest promise.”