Nel's New Day

November 11, 2018

DDT ‘Low Energy’ on 100th Anniversary of World War I

World War I ended at 11:11 am on November 11, 2018—100 years ago today. Thirty-two countries fought in the four-year war that killed nine million combatants and seven million civilians, followed by genocides and the 1918 influenza epidemic, which caused between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide. One-fifth of the world’s population of under two billion people were infected by the 1918 flu.

In commemoration of the solemn event, French President Emmanuel Macron called over 60 countries together for a three-day Paris Peace Forum, and many world leaders attending commemorative events in France. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Canada’s National Memorial in France at Vimy Ridge on Saturday, and Macron went with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) to Compiègne, 80 miles northeast of Paris, where the peace agreement was signed on November 11, 1918. “We owe it to our soldiers,” said Macron about their journey.

Around 1,000 members of the public, including French and German schoolchildren, were invited to the ceremony. Sixteen-year-old Mickaël Arlin, 16, who was visiting World War I commemorative sites, said:

“It has helped us understand what is at stake today and helped us go further than just words.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who flew to Paris for the weekend, cancelled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, next to the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood where American Marines stopped a German offensive in 1918. The remains of 2,289 war dead are buried at the Aines-Marne cemetery is home to the remains of 2,289 war dead. DDT, 72, stayed in Paris and watched television, sending Chief of Staff John Kelly, 68, in his place. Winston Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, tweeted:

 “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”

David Frum, George W. Bush’s speech-writer and political commentator, tweeted:

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary—and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.”

A concern from some is that DDT lacked the strength to make the trip to the cemetery. After the adrenalin-pumping events of rallies for almost two months, DDT reportedly seemed distracted and disengaged, according to the WaPo, especially after his losses in the midterm elections and his problems with journalists. During his meeting with Macron, DDT seemed subdued, almost “sullen.” Kelly Magsamen, who served as a high-ranking Pentagon official on Asia affairs, used DDT’s term in a tweet with the description, “It’s real low energy.” That was DDT’s pejorative term for his opponents, and he ridiculed President Obama by calling him feckless and weak on the world stage.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool – RC17A17FAAE0

The only time DDT looked delighted was seeing Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Arc de Triomphe. DDT had not seen Putin since the Helsinki summit in July. WaPo columnist Brian Klass wrote:

“Putin murders journalists & opponents, recently used a nerve agent to assassinate a dissident on British soil, annexed Crimea, facilitates war crimes, and attacked American democracy. This is how Trump reacted when he saw him.”

David Schneider advised his Twitter followers:

“Find someone who looks at you the way Trump looks at Putin.”

The photo (left) showed part of the warm greeting between the two that included nods, shoulder taps, and thumbs-up. DDT denied that he planned to talk with Putin in Paris, but Putin told Russian news agencies that he did talk with DDT.

DDT skipped the meetings to explore ways for world peace. Instead he flew home today, sending angry tweets about taking federal aid from California because of the current disastrous fires and claiming that counting the ballots in Florida is a “STEAL.”

DDT had become angry with Macron for his statement that Europe must be able to “defend itself alone—and without relying on the United States—in a more sovereign manner.” Macron tried to calm DDT’s anger but claims of “good friends” were not supported by body language. Europe has become increasingly upset with DDT after he has pulled out of accords such as the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Russia nuclear agreement.

Weeks ago, DDT declared himself a “nationalist” in campaigning for Republicans; in Macron’s speech today to over 80 world leaders, he said:

“Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying, ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace and what is essential: its moral values.”

DDT has returned from his non-productive 44-hour 3,800-mile trip and faces the same problems he left—viral opposition to his replacement for AG Jeff Sessions, Democratic House members discussion what they will investigate in his administration, spending bills that cannot pass without Democratic approval, the hush money case about women, immigration problems, constitutional concerns of birthright citizenship, and the killing of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi complete with recordings of Saudi Arabians’ murdering him while he wants the Saudis to keep giving his business money. No wonder he’s low energy.

November 11, 2013

Help Veterans, Cut Defense

Most people know today is Veterans Day because the post office doesn’t deliver mail, and the television is inundated with war movies. There are also a few ceremonies and newspaper articles about old men who survived World War II. Most people have forgotten that the day was originally called Armistice Day with the intent to celebrate peace—not war. It commemorated the ceasefire of World War I at 11:00 am on 11/11/18.

Since the draft ended over four decades ago, people in the United States have become more and more detached from the people who fight the frivolous wars declared largely on the need for oil. Without the draft, most decision-makers have no military experience, and the diplomatic process is losing to declaration of war on a whim. The military is also becoming more and more divided by social classes: those who can afford to attend college and can get jobs largely avoid enlisting. When the U.S. had a draft, almost all young men face the possibility of military involvement, possibly during a conflict.

With people’s detachment from veterans has come the country’s ignoring the needs of veterans:

 Housing: 13 percent of the homeless population in this country is composed of veterans, and more than half of them have a disability. Despite some veteran housing programs, more than 60,000 veterans become homeless each year, and another 120,000 are in danger of losing their housing. Veterans aren’t even exempt from home foreclosures. 

Jobs: The unemployment rate for veterans since 9/11 is 10 percent, almost 50 percent higher than the 7.2 percent rate for everyone else. Much of this unemployment is long-term: 34 percent have been unemployed for a year, and 17 percent have not had a job for more than 2 years.

Reliable Health Care: Nearly 250,000 veterans wait for longer than a year to even have claims processed, and the situation got much worse after the Department of Veterans Affairs had to shut down for over two weeks because of the GOP blackmail in October. Soldiers with mental health issues are also ignored, and PTSD is on the rise.

Suicide Prevention: The suicide rate for veterans is increasing at twice the rate as the rate for the general population, and almost 20 percent of suicides nationwide is among veterans although they comprise only 10 percent of the population.

Drug Counseling: Veterans are at greater risk after stresses in the military and subsequent return to civilian life. According to one study, 39 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan had “probably alcohol abuse.” One in eight troops are referred to counseling for alcohol problems when they leave the military. At the same time, the military ignores excessive drug and alcohol use during active duty.

Incarceration: Almost ten percent of prison inmates are veterans. That’s one million of the ten million people incarcerated in the United States.

Food Stamps: 900,000 veterans rely on food stamps to feed their families. These are the people who will be taken off if the House of Representatives gets its way to move this money over to wealthy farmers. Last week, benefits were cut by an average of almost 8 percent to $133 per person per month. These are the people who Repubilcans describe as “lazy moochers” who need to learn independence.

Social Security: The government plan to establish a “chained CIP” would decrease the disability benefits for almost 4 million veterans as well as pension payments to another 500,000 low-income veterans and surviving families . Currently the Consumer Price Index measures changes in retail prices; chained CPI would use changes in consumer behavior by using the quantity of goods purchased as well as the retail prices. Some people think that those who spend less, for example going without meat, should receive less benefits because they don’t spend as much as when they had more money. The chained CPI method would decrease a raise of 1.7 percent in disability and pension payments by over 17 percent.

In 1944, Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, nicknamed the G.I. Bill. It gave benefits to the 16 million World War II veterans including low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start businesses, tuition and living expenses for education, and one year of unemployment compensation. Every veteran on active duty during the war years for at least 90 days and not dishonorably discharged got these benefits. By 1956, about 2.2 million veterans benefited from the G.I. Bill to go to college, and another 6.6 million participated in training programs. Even more Vietnam veterans used education benefits.

As time went on, the G.I. Bill got watered down. For example, Korean War veterans didn’t get unemployment compensation. After 1985, members of the military had to contribute $100 monthly for their first year in order to have education benefits. If they didn’t use any benefits, they still didn’t get the money back. Now, veterans can get health care—although they may sometimes have to wait a few years for it—and burial benefits. Gone, however, are the days when they got other help.

Ten percent of veterans are in prison, ten percent are unemployed, 13 percent are homeless, and almost one million need food stamps. These veterans don’t have anything to celebrate today.

The GOP says that there’s not enough money to help them. If corporations that provide oil and useless defense equipment didn’t get welfare, there might be enough money to help veterans. And if the government controlled its defense funding, veterans could have the services that they need, and the deficit could be cut. For example, the following could be left out of the budget with no problem for the country’s defense.

Chronically-failing anti-missile rockets keep getting more funding. In exchange for millions of dollars in campaign funds, GOP politicians consistently give welfare funds to contractors such as Lockheed, Martin, Boeing, TRW, and Raytheon. Independent analysts like MIT Professor of Science, Technology and International Security Theodore Postol maintain that “ballistic missile defense” (BMD) can’t work, that interceptor missiles can never distinguish real incoming weapons from swarms of decoys, and should be cancelled. In March 2000, Postol wrote President Clinton, charging that the program’s officers were “most likely attempting to illegally use the security and classification system to hide waste, fraud and abuse” through faked test results. The GOP has paid $200 billion during the past three decades for the faked tests.

The GOP provides welfare to corporations for weapons programs that the Pentagon doesn’t want. Military leaders assert that the new Joint-Strike fighter jet bomber (or F-35) and additional upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank are unnecessary because the 6,000 completed M1 upgrades are enough.  Dumping the Abrams rehab program would save $3.5 billion. Pentagon chiefs have proposed savings of at least $487 billion over a decade including the following cancellations:

  • The Global Hawk drone, whose purpose is served by the U2: savings, $2.5 billion by 2017;
  • The C-27J Spartan transport aircraft: savings, $400 million by 2017;
  • 5,000 jobs in the Air National Guard: savings, $300 million a year;
  • Plans for an East Coast missile defense battery that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called unnecessary: savings, $3.6 billion by 2017.

The U.S. approved $645.7 billion in defense funding for 2012, the most recent year with available complete data. That’s 41 percent of total global military spending.

US military spending global

The U.S. budgets six times more than China, eleven times more than Russia, 27 times more than Iran, and 33 times more than Israel.

Military spending five countries

Military spending in this country is double that of all Asian countries. The U.S. is in the top highest spending countries as a percentage of GDP.

Veterans deserve to be saved from homelessness, hunger, prison, mental and physical illness, and joblessness. Changing the United States’ priorities from declaring war to helping veterans could accomplish this task.

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