What Obama Did While You Were Watching Elections by David Swanson

Barack Obama - Second Term Flare-Ups

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy
February 11, 2016

Pass the popcorn! Wait till I tweet this! Did you see the look on his face?

Ain’t elections exciting? We just can’t get enough of them, which could be why we’ve stretched them out to a couple of years each, even though a small crowd of Super Delegates and a couple of state officials with computer skills could quite conceivably decide the whole thing anyway.

Through the course of this marvelous election thus far I’ve been trying to get any human being to ask any candidate to provide just the most very basic outline of the sort of budget they would propose if president, or at least some hint at the single item in the budget that takes up more than half of it. Do they think military spending should go up, go down, or stay right where it is?

Who knows! Aren’t elections wonderful?

I’d even settle for the stupid “gotcha” question in which we find out if any of the candidates knows, even roughly, what percentage of the budget military spending is now.

Why is this topic, although seemingly central, scrupulously avoided?

  • The candidates all, more or less, agree.
  • None of the candidates brings it up.
  • Nobody in Congress, not even the “progressive” caucus, brings it up.
  • Nobody in the corporate media brings it up.
  • The corporate media outlets see war profiteers as customers who buy ads.
  • The corporate media outlets see war profiteers in the mirror as parts of their corporate families.
  • The fact that the military costs money conflicts with the basic premise of U.S. politics which is that one party wants to spend money on socialistic nonsense while the other party wants to stop spending money and build a bigger military.

Those seem like the obvious answers, but here’s another. While you’re being entertained by the election, President Obama is proposing a bigger military than ever. Not only is U.S. military spending extremely high by historical standards, but looking at the biggest piece of military spending, which is the budget of the Department of so-called Defense, that department’s annual “Green Book” makes clear that it has seen higher spending under President Barack Obama than ever before in history.

Check out the new budget proposal from the President who distracted millions of people from horrendous Bush-Cheney actions with his “peace” talk as a candidate eight years ago. He wants to increase the base Do”D” budget, both the discretionary and the mandatory parts. He wants to increase the extra slush fund of unaccountable money for the Do”D” on top of that. This pot used to be named for wars, but wars have gotten so numerous and embarrassing that it’s now called “Overseas Contingency Operations.”

When it comes to nuclear weapons, Obama wants to increase spending, but when it comes to other miscellaneous extras for the military, he also wants to increase that. Military retirement spending, on the other hand, he’d like to see go up, while the Veterans Administration spending he proposes to raise. Money for fueling ISIS by fighting it, Obama wants raised by 50%. On increasing hostility with Russia through a military buildup on its border, Obama wants a 400% spending boost. In one analysis, military spending would jump from $997.2 billion this year to $1.04 trillion next year under this proposal.

That’s a bit awkward, considering the shade it throws on any piddly little project that does make it into election debates and reporting. The smallest fraction of military spending could pay for the major projects that Senator Bernie Sanders will be endlessly attacked for proposing to raise taxes for.

It’s also awkward for the whole Republican/Hillary discussion of how to become more militarized, unlike that pacifist in the White House.

And, of course, it’s always awkward to point out that events just go on happening in the world rather than pausing out of respect for some inanity just uttered by Marco Rubio.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

From the archives:

Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders Is Not a Socialist + The Stimulator: #BernedOut

Stein VS Sanders by David Swanson

Chris Hedges and Vijay Prashad: The Militarism of US Diplomacy

Jill Stein: US Pursuing Regime Change in Iraq, Syria, Aiming For Iran

Gareth Porter: Democratic Primary Candidates Defining Moment on Foreign Policy + Democratic Primary Debate 1.17.16

Bernie Sanders Mentioned the Military Budget by David Swanson + Democratic Party Debate 11.14.15

Abby Martin and Lawrence Wilkerson: The US Empire Is Ready To Collapse

15 thoughts on “What Obama Did While You Were Watching Elections by David Swanson

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  3. The best defense is a good offense and for the working class that means that we must immediately organize/get behind revolutionary socialist workers parties in order to strip the capitalist warmongers of their power. There is still time for such a party to be organized and put on the ballot by the time of the 2016 election. We could throw this election upside down. Occupy Wall St. could easily have done this – but they refused to take that responsibility upon their weak, reformist shoulders, preferrring to limit their activity to “speaking truth to power” – a craven, slavish role for a working class of 200 million to play at a time when the US Government is totally out of control, slaughtering and robbing our sisters and brothers all over the world.

    Workers socialist revolution is what need to be organized and that means abandoning the truly asinine “tactic” of voting for the “lesser evil” – and the abandonment of the cowardly concept that “all the 200-million-strong US working class can do” is to start stockpiling canned food and building bomb shelters. What a stupid idea! People who talk like this have no guts at all.

    There have been new political parties organized all over the world in the past five years that have won seats in Parliament and even have become the new #1 parties in these countries. It can be done; even the execrable Sanders campaign proves that tremendous amounts of money can be raised through small donations from workers to counter the deep pockets of the capitalist class – something every idiot in the USA has been claiming was “impossible” to do.

    If there’s one thing we can learn from the success of the Sanders campaign it is this: workers in the USA are so desperate for serious change in Washington that even in “backward” Middle America they are “lending their ears” to a man who openly calls himself a socialist! This is no time for cowardly defeatism among socialists, sisters and brothers!

    It’s up to all of us to shake off our apathy and defeatism and start building up the existing – or creating new – anticapitalist parties to put the capitalist system out of our misery.

    Let the mottoes of these new parties be: “Capitalism must die so the working class may live”!

    Workers of the World, Unite!
    Independent Workers Party of Chicago
    Find us on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook

  4. I’d vote Green on principle, even though the chances of a Stein Presidency are remote.

    How can they or anyone if “successful,” expect to turn this gargantuan ship of state around when we can already see the wrecking rocks ahead. The current paradigm is failing, we know this. We can see it and we can feel it. We need a new course for the new ship(s) of state; & it is not as though the means, the design, the method and the navigation skills do not exist.

    I’d say the realistic strategy is to expect the worst. We should never forget that there are many minds at work, both within the US polity and without, globally. When you know for sure a wreck is imminent, the best we can all do is to coordinate our most effective emergency resources and prepare for the predictable consequences.

    • Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I see the world situation getting worse than better. Watching the Greek police beat angry farmers for protesting tax increases on them breaks my heart and angers me at the same time.

      David, Professor John McMurtry, of Canada, has been a hero of mine for many years. I love his thoughtful, profound articles, written with compassion for life (humanity and the environment) and his latest article covers many bases hitting the nail on the head, so to speak, on every one. It’s:

      I’m sure you, Lo, and other readers on DS will appreciate (and curdle your blood after reading it).

  5. I’m also voting for Jill Stein (plus I’m a Green) as she has the best agenda for correcting the many wrongs the USA has done for so many years.
    Bernie votes for the military (war & violent aggression) budget, so I doubt his foreign policy will differ much from the Liar-In-Chief’s or the former Coward-In-Chief’s budget. Gotta be patriotic & support the troops,huh?
    The Dronebama never fooled me one iota, since he, an “unknown,” entered the race back in 2007.

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  8. I pay attention to the elections because I am dedicated to being on site the minute WAR MONGER/Obama inheritor WAR MONGER HiIIary gets her butt kicked.
    I have taken the time to find out exactly who is the “foreign policy” adviser for each candidate (kinda hidden in Kasich’s case).
    Ugh on every count of that.
    The elephant in the living room stays firmly ignored — obscene military spending, empire building and the threat of NUCLEAR WWIII. I stick with my anti-war friends for moral support because it just appalls me to see this.
    My best hope these days is that Bernie gains the oligarchs’ approval and wins the nomination so we can at least see a gradual withdrawal of US presence in the Middle East. Even they can see the damage of the quagmire and the threat of nuclear war on themselves.
    That said, I am voting for Jill if she gets the Green Party nomination becuz she, at least, “gets it” ..

    • Thanks, Virginia. I don’t think Swanson was talking about you or me or most of DS’ readers. We pay attention to the elections, of course, but don’t fall for the “lesser of two evils”, etc.

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