They Hate Us For Our Freedoms

And maybe some other shit, too:

The United States has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 people since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs published its annual “Costs of War” report Wednesday, taking into consideration the Pentagon’s spending and its Overseas Contingency Operations account, as well as “war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.”

The final count revealed, “The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans.”

“In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” the report concluded. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

Much more here.






125 replies
  1. 1
    Spanky says:

    Frankly, I thought it was higher than “only” a half million. Not sure how to feel about that.

    And really, I’m having a tough time thinking of anything better to spend that $6 trillion on. Thinking … thinking …

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.”

    I don’t think this should be considered a war-related expense, but it’s probably a rounding error compared to the other expenses.

    How much of this was the Iraq War, which had nothing at all to do with terrorism?

  3. 3
    Mike in DC says:

    @Spanky: I’m almost sure we could have fusion powerplants and/or a cure for some forms of cancer and/or a manned colony on Titan for 6 trillion dollars. Or we could replace all gas cars with electrics and all fossil fuel power plants and nuke plants with renewables. We could forgive all student loan debt and have enough left over to fund free public college for the next couple decades.

  4. 4

    Just consider we have operations ongoing in Iraq (involving fighting ISIL), and Afghanistan, as well as troop deployment in Syria. There is a lot of covert / drone warfare against terror targets across the Middle East. We are providing weapons and supplies to our allies like Saudi Arabia who ARE engaged in wars of their own (such as the Yemen invasion).

  5. 5
    Raven says:

    Well we should start by 86ing those veterans bennies. They are expendable.

  6. 6
    Mike in DC says:

    @PaulWartenberg: We should definitely stop supporting the KSA in Yemen. And we should set a deadline in Afghanistan and get the hell out of Africa. I support us helping the SDF in Syria and maybe fighting ISIL in Iraq. Beyond that, we could redeploy 10,000 troops from MENA to Eastern Europe, and bolster our naval assets in the Pacific.

  7. 7
    Mike in Pasadena says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    Platonailedit says:

    6 trillion for 500,000 ‘baddies’ is what like 12 mil per baddie?

    Of course, it’s fucking ‘unsustainable’ just on economics alone, let alone the cost of others’ growing hatred.

  10. 10
    Gravenstone says:

    obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans

    I suppose we should be thankful that this is even a consideration, rather than the preferred Republican approach of ignoring them once they’re no longer useful cannon fodder or worship objects/blame deflectors.

    But yes, just imagine what we as a nation could have done with that 6 trillion, aside from the needless pain and suffering it was used to cause across the globe.

  11. 11
    hells littlest angel says:

    @Spanky: I thought it was a million in Iraq alone.

    I really don’t get why the US is held in anything approaching high regard in the rest of the world. We’re like that neighbor down the street who is a really nice guy — as long as he hasn’t been drinking, or you don’t cross him, or he doesn’t get his way.

  12. 12
    Betty Cracker says:

    What a colossal waste in every sense of the word. :(

  13. 13
    hells littlest angel says:

    Six trillion could have bought us a hell of a Space Force — we could be out there nuking whole planets instead of mere shit-hole countries.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Platonailedit:
    It’s not US$12mil per baddie. That total of deaths excludes indirect casualties, i.e. those who died because the war cut off their access to food, water, medical care, and so on. There is also no definitive count of noncombatant fatalities, per Newsweek. It’s anybody’s guess how many bodies are still unrecovered.

  15. 15
    Mike in DC says:

    @hells littlest angel: The ISS(International Space Station) costs a mere 150 billion. So 6 trillion would pay for 40 of them. Or one fricking huge orbital habitat.

  16. 16
    Platonailedit says:

    The bundle of financial incentives Trump and Scott Walker offered to lure Foxconn to Wisconsin is larger than what New York, Virginia and Tennessee collectively pledged to Amazon. https://t.co/G0yTtYZjwj— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 16, 2018

    And yet, more than a majority trusts the rethugs on economy and the wars.

  17. 17
    Jon says:

    Anytime someone says, “but… how are we going to pay for Medicare for all?” give them the link

  18. 18
    Platonailedit says:

    @Amir Khalid: Who gives a shite about ‘collateral damages’ anyways, right? Somehow, more deaths for my bucks doesn’t make it any better.

  19. 19
    Frooted Planes says:

    Bush v. Gore will go down in history (if there will be any history…) as the most consequential disaster of the 21st Century. It introduced the Cheney protocols for “governing” and has led directly to corporatized foreign policy, the normalization of an authoritarian executive branch, and the Trumpian Disaster. But Justice Scalia was a great colleague and joked around and liked opera.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The deserting coward’s Mesopotamian adventure gave us Daesh, and was a victory for Iraq. The Saudis have always been problematic; the country is a theocratic hellhole run by people who Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Mike Dense and Joel Osteen envy. We’ve created more new “terrorists” with out actions than we’ve killed. We’re expending blood and treasure in absolute defiance of the Powell Doctrine.

    Now we’ve got a petulant child with access to the nuclear football.

    None of this is good. At all. If some ex-enlisted guys and a couple of junior officers can see this, we’re fucking lost.

  21. 21
    Platonailedit says:

    Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost taxpayers $19,800,000 through September 2019, NBC News reports.https://t.co/Y2MiFvTfiw— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 16, 2018

    Wanna bet how much of that ‘security’ bribe flowed back to her scummy bro?

  22. 22
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @hells littlest angel:
    We liberated Europe (with most of the effort made by the Soviet Union) and defeated militarist Japan. That’s the basis of our rep. It kinda gets shot to hell when we’re the warmongering fascist scum.

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The edit buttons are back, but they won’t let me edit my own comments. We need the makeover.

  24. 24
    tobie says:

    I’ll need time to digest those figures. Half a million deaths on our hands–that’s a gut punch if there ever was one.

  25. 25
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Party over country. They will not give up until we beat them back under their rocks. We need the spirit of Tecumseh Sherman once more.

    Maybe in another 150 years, the civil war will finally be over.

  26. 26

    @Baud:

    How much of this was the Iraq War, which had nothing at all to do with terrorism?

    It didn’t then, but thanks to Bush’s lust for glory and utter, arrogant incompetence, it sure does now.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    We liberated Europe (with most of the effort made by the Soviet Union) and defeated militarist Japan.

    We also protected Europe for 40 years from a Soviet Union that turned out to be as bad as xenophobes thought, or close to it. That’s a lot of goodwill that’s been flushed down the toilet.

  27. 27
    satby says:

    Ironic that the same thing that basically doomed the Soviet Union (unsustainable military spending) was promoted by the right wing in this country originally to fight Communism. And now the right wing is the most serious threat to our country and the military spending they insist on (mostly for the grift) is bankrupting us.

  28. 28
    gene108 says:

    @hells littlest angel:

    really don’t get why the US is held in anything approaching high regard

    Because we can incorporate millions of immigrants over the centuries into a nation. We can have minorities in high office. We have been functioning under the same constitution and form of government for over 220 years, making us one of the most stable countries on the planet. This also helps establish the rule of law over political dynasties and rampant corruption, i.e. you don’t need to bribe the building inspector to get permits approved for your home renovation.

    The USA has a lot of good qualities, which other countries have not been able to manage.

  29. 29
    MattF says:

    This opinion piece redeems the WaPo on the subject of the real news of the day (the redefiniiton of the kilogram). The news article that it accompanies is somewhat unsteady, IMO.

    ETA: Still nothing in the NYT, which is an embarassment.

  30. 30
    Cermet says:

    Note in the related article’s map of our troop deployment that we are spread against “terrorism” throughout the equatorial regions of Africa and Asia (the Near, Middle through Far East.) All have one major thing in common of late – terrible weather due to AGW (Droughts and unpredictable rain fall – too much, then too little). As the models shown, as AGW gets worse, these regions will become uninhabitable due to increasing temps. We are seeing the start of what this really means. This is going to get far worse – and thanks to the stupidity of people believing in god, religion will fuel all sorts of hatreds as these regions continue to spin further out of control as food production dwindles.

  31. 31
    Ian G. says:

    Anyone know what transitioning to a completely carbon-free economy would cost? I’m gonna guess it’s less than $6 trillion. A lot less.

  32. 32
    A Ghost To Most says:

    On the brighter side:

    NRA Cuts Employees’ Free Coffee To Lobby For More Death

    The NRA has fallen on hard times, but they’re determined to soldier on and push lawmakers to keep death machines available to any old wingnut with an attitude.

    National Rifle Association (NRA) employees are reportedly “freaking out” over budget cuts after the gun rights group ended free coffee for workers.

    Sources at the NRA confirmed to The Trace that the end of free coffee is just one of the budget cuts the organization is making after revenue from membership declined by $35 million in the last year.

    “The whole building was freaking out,” one former employee told The Trace.

    crooks&liars

  33. 33
    MattF says:

    @Ian G.: Considering that -all- organic materials contain carbon, it’s hard to see how ‘carbon-free’ would work.

  34. 34
    scav says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Now, there’s news to start my day with a smile. And I’ll have a coffee to celebrate it.

  35. 35
    japa21 says:

    @gene108: IOW, we are far from perfect but we are still pretty damn good.

  36. 36
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @MattF: Matt, you know what we mean. We will stop burning it for the most part. We will stop digging it out of the ground and use wind and solar and water and whatever else we need to power our lifestyles.

  37. 37
    MattF says:

    @CarolDuhart2: Well, maybe.

    But, seriously, it’s important to be careful about language. I’ve seen otherwise-rational chemists turn purple with rage on the subject of ‘organic’. Being careless, at best, makes you look like you just don’t care.

  38. 38
    mapaghimagsik says:

    “Thank you for your service”

  39. 39
    geg6 says:

    The final count revealed, “The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans.”

    My bold. Forget future veterans. How about the ones on which we should already be spending? Thousands of veterans currently trying to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill have not yet received housing allowances and their schools have not received payment for tuition/fees. These are already approved and certified benefits that aren’t being paid. Future vets can look forward to this and less if it keeps on this way. Total incompetence at the VA. They keep blaming these non-payments on IT not getting a supposedly state-of-the-art new system into place over the summer. However, we are still using the old VA-ONCE system, which worked pretty much without fail. They have nothing but disdain for vets. I cannot understand a vet who would vote for these assholes.

  40. 40
    Gin & Tonic says:

    OT, but when it suddenly got cold the other day I found out the hard way that I needed a new battery in the Subaru I just bought (yeah, it was a used car that had lived in a warm climate.) While waiting for a new one to be installed at a local chain shop, I (unfortunately) happened to find a television network that out-Foxes Fox. OAN, or “One America News” is the news equivalent of those gun-fetish groups that think the NRA is squishy liberals.

    I was the only customer waiting, and the remote was at hand, so… But boy, that was a freaky several minutes. I had never heard of this outfit before.

  41. 41
    Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    So, a bit of not-even-back-of-the-envelope calculation says is costs > $10M to kill one Al-Qaida #3, or Yemeni wedding guest, or Afghan goat-herder?

    That seems pretty high. Maybe we ought to stop killing the wedding guests, funeral attendees, and goat-herders. It’s just dollars and sense.

  42. 42

    @satby:

    Ironic that the same thing that basically doomed the Soviet Union (unsustainable military spending)

    Isn’t that a myth? The Soviet Union collapsed because of decades of corrupt rule starting with Stalin that didn’t even try to keep a good standard of living for the populace, while that same corruption created an increasingly dysfunctional government that barely fought back when the people decided they’d had enough. That also sounds familiar.

  43. 43
    hells littlest angel says:

    @japa21:
    @gene108:

    And we’re humble, too!

  44. 44
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Good news. Maybe the Russian money has dried up especially since it looks like lifting of sanctions is never going to happen, and the chaos project for America is on hold for now. The Democratic House assures that no lifting of sanctions legislation will ever even be proposed, let alone pass. And America’s reaction to Russia’s Chaos project? More Democracy and No #Calexit, either.

    Things are pretty dire when your company can’t offer free coffee. I’ve worked temp and even the places that hired me let you have coffee from the office pot. Yes, it wasn’t Starbucks, but it was coffee none the less and it was free.

    I suspected something was awry when the response to the Parkland kids was so feeble. A five million membership and that was the best they could do? True, by cultivating the paranoid loner demographic they had a whole bunch of people who wouldn’t be activist anyway, but there should have been more than what we saw from them. I suspected that a lot of the list was composed of people who for one reason or another was no longer active, and the names were never removed. The real living and active members were much fewer.

  45. 45
    MattF says:

    @satby: The whole ‘stuck in Afghanistan’ business is a teensy reminder that this has been tried before.

  46. 46
    japa21 says:

    @hells littlest angel: Yep. If we weren’t we would say we are perfect and great, not good.

  47. 47
    JR says:

    @Ian G.: I would probably put it at an order+ of magnitude higher than $6T. Annual production of oil alone is >$2T if you just take barrels produced multiplied by market price. Plus there are 1.5 million employees of the petrochemical industry in the US.

    I’m assuming that by “carbon free” you are referring solely to the energy sector.

  48. 48
    WereBear says:

    @satby: Ironic that the same thing that basically doomed the Soviet Union (unsustainable military spending) was promoted by the right wing in this country originally to fight Communism. And now the right wing is the most serious threat to our country and the military spending they insist on (mostly for the grift) is bankrupting us.

    Very astute. And for the same reasons: money in THEIR pockets, stolen from the rest of us.

  49. 49
    Yarrow says:

    @Raven: Speaking of veteran’s benefits:

    1) Months ago, veteran groups warned VA its *literally 50-year old IT system* for GI Bill payments would crash this fall, triggering calamity

    2) They were right

    3) Student veterans are past due on rent, taking out loans and struggling to buy groceries https://t.co/1VCNorKWxK

    — Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) November 15, 2018

  50. 50
    rikyrah says:

    Signs suggest Robert Mueller investigation coming to a head

    Rachel Maddow takes an overview of recent Robert Mueller court filings, clues in the news, and emotional displays and outbursts by Donald Trump to deduce that Mueller’s Trump Russia investigation appears to be coming to fruition.

  51. 51
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @CarolDuhart2: Colorado’s new governor, Jared Polis, is committed to making our state 100% renewable energy. Windturbines are popping up all over the flats. It’s almost worth a drive out to take a look. Almost.

  52. 52
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Gin & Tonic: It’s becoming the go to network for the committed (or should be) fascists.

  53. 53
    Platonailedit says:

    File it under #votingmatters

    Congressional districts in Orange County, California: 2016 vs. 2018. (via @Morning_Joe) pic.twitter.com/8B1ULkfTC1— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 16, 2018

  54. 54
    Mart says:

    If Osama Bin Laden were alive to read this, he would be smiling and thinking, I’m WINNING!

  55. 55
    Yarrow says:

    @Gin & Tonic: OANN has been around for several years. Sarah Palin did a stint hosting on it for a week. Tomi Lahren hosted a show on it that was her springboard to more mainstream (Fox) networks.

  56. 56
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Plus Marshall Plan to rebuild Germany? After German unification, former West Germany ‘bitched’ about helping former East Germany, conveniently ‘forgetting’ how much help West Germany got from US to get back on its feet.

  57. 57
    Jeff says:

    Six trillion dollars could have rebuilt an impressive infrastructure.

  58. 58
    Yarrow says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: We need our own Marshall Plan here.

  59. 59
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Yarrow: Yet another aspect of “popular culture” that has bypassed me, apparently.

  60. 60
    James E Powell says:

    @Platonailedit:

    And yet, more than a majority trusts the rethugs on economy and the wars.

    For that majority, trust on the economy means trust them not to give money to non-whites, trust on the wars means trust that they will always favor having a war in which the US kills non-whites.

  61. 61
    laura says:

    Gaah! Meghan McArguable made it onto the local paper’s editorial page. She’s scolding the Yates of America for their undeserved paranoia. It only took a paragraph and a half to get that hinky feeling, and seeing the byline it all made sense……I stopped reading before she demanded that they run at the active shooter.

  62. 62
    Mart says:

    In the world’s history, how many countries have repeatedly cut taxes for their most affluent during war time? (Realize minor rich people tax increase under Obama.)

  63. 63
    Yarrow says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You haven’t missed much. I’d never heard of it until Sarah Palin did her week long guest hosting bit and that made more general news headlines. People were speculating she was trying to use that week to get her own show either there or elsewhere. Of course that didn’t happen because that would mean she would have to work and Sarah Palin doesn’t do work.

  64. 64
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Platonailedit:
    Indeed, the literally untold numbers of deaths paid for by the American taxpayer are horrifying to contemplate.

  65. 65
    MattF says:

    And… latest results show 36 House seats gained in the D column. The vote totals in the still officially undecided cliffhanger in CA39 is now at nearly +1000 for the Democrat.

    It looks like the remaining 6 seats will be split equally between R and D.

  66. 66
    Brachiator says:

    The United States has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 people since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

    I don’t think we’re getting sufficient bang for the buck.

    More seriously, this is sad.

  67. 67
    The Moar You Know says:

    They will not give up until we beat them back under their rocks. We need the spirit of Tecumseh Sherman once more.

    Maybe in another 150 years, the civil war will finally be over.

    @A Ghost To Most: I keep telling people to read his autobiography. In addition to being pretty well written and generally interesting, especially the parts about California, he understood what it was going to take to solve the Southern problem. Something far harsher and long-term than most anyone had the stomach for back then. Dissolution of all the Southern states and a military government for decades.

    The big problem was that most of the Union considered these people wayward citizens, not enemies. Sherman understood they had to be treated as enemies, because if you welcomed them back to the fold with minimum consequence, they’d do it again.

    Was he wrong?

  68. 68
    Wild Cat says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Coffee? I thought they just indulged in human blood with their breakfast.

  69. 69
    cynthia ackerman says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    If it were up to me, I’d pay for the free coffee out of pocket, but require NRA employees to comply with background checks and a waiting period before they get their Joe.

  70. 70
    Wild Cat says:

    @Yarrow: That network for right-wing wankers should be transposed to ONAN.

  71. 71
    MattF says:

    @The Moar You Know: The memoirs of Grant and Sherman are both classics– once upon a time, they were the standard bookset-on-the-mantlepiece. And they are both excellent books.

    ETA: And both currently available as handsome Library of America volumes.

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Ack! Should read “Iran” not “Iraq” for the true victor of the Gulf War.

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mart: Most of our .01% need to be taxed into penury.

  74. 74
    Spanky says:

    Turns out that by cruising the intertubes this morning I discovered a data point for the cost of green technologies:

    Getting 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity from solar would mean installing about 11 gigawatts of new solar projects, compared to the 0.3 gigawatts of solar capacity installed in the state now.

    It would take about 124 square miles of land — or less than 0.3 percent of Pennsylvania’s total land area — to increase grid-scale solar to a level that would allow Pennsylvania to meet the 10 percent goal.

    The total investment for such a buildout, minus the savings that would come from buying less fossil fuel, would be about $9 billion over 15 years
    — or about 1.4 percent more than would otherwise be spent on energy in the state over that period. That small increase demonstrates that a shift toward solar “is economically viable,” the report said, and could create as many as 100,000 construction jobs.

    So that’s for one state. Costs are almost certainly not transferable to other states, of course.

  75. 75
    eric says:

    @Wild Cat: Coffee is for closers. And, they let are not always be closing.

  76. 76

    America’s actions may not have always matched its soaring rhetoric but they give us something to aspire to. I agree with gene108 that on balance, positives even outweigh the negatives.

  77. 77
    jimmiraybob says:

    “They Hate Us For Our Freedoms”

    Oh. At first I thought you meant the Trumpsters. But I see what you did there.

  78. 78
    Another Scott says:

    Haven’t read the article, but the SCARY!!1 “$6T” number is meaningless without context. Dean Baker has a good rule of thumb – what is it in terms of GDP over the time frame?

    Let’s assume the veterans care goes out 50 years. Let’s assume 2% annual GDP growth. Current US GDP is $20.66T. In 50 years at 2% annual growth, the annual GDP would be about $57T and the total US economy size (sum of the 50 years) would be about $1830T. 6/1830 = 0.33% of total GDP over the period. (Assuming I’ve done the math correctly.)

    It’s really not that much money, if most of it is long-term care.

    We’re a rich country and can afford to spend trillions on stuff that is worthwhile.

    So the argument against the stupid GWOT/GSAVE isn’t that it will cost too much over decades, it’s that (as I’m sure most of us agree) it’s a stupid, counter-productive, dangerous, and wasteful policy. And costs money that could be better spent now on better policies.

    tl;dr – Beware of Big SCARY Numbers.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  79. 79
  80. 80
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Spanky: There are apparently some financial incentives here in RI for solar, because there are large solar farms being built in lots of places. The trouble is, many of them have as a first step clear-cutting forested land. It would be interesting (not interesting enough for me to undertake, though) to analyze the reduction in carbon footprint from increased solar generation versus the increase in carbon footprint from the loss of forest.

  81. 81
    japa21 says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    America’s actions may not have always matched its soaring rhetoric but they give us something to aspire to.

    That is what hope is all about. Our aspirations will always be greater than our accomplishments, but our values guide us forwards. Unfortunately, the values of some people would push us backwards.

  82. 82
    geg6 says:

    @Yarrow:

    Except it’s not the old system that’s causing the problem. It worked perfectly well right up until the start of the fall semester. The whole system at the VA has fallen apart in a slow crash over the last year or so. It’s not just IT, it’s that the place has been invaded by contractors. I almost never deal with an actual VA employee anymore (I am a VA certifying official). It’s a crap shoot as to whether I get a correct answer to a simple inquiry. The amounts of tuition and fees are inputted correctly, but somehow, just in the span of a couple of weeks, they can’t send the right amounts for fall when they managed just fine over the summer. It’s more incompetence than anything.

  83. 83
    japa21 says:

    @Yarrow: Just wanted to say thank you. The suggestion you made to fix my browser problem last night worked like a charm.

  84. 84
    Yarrow says:

    @japa21: Did you get your videos to play right on Chrome?

    Edit: Just saw your reply. Glad it worked!

  85. 85
    japa21 says:

    Just received a new Penzey’s email. The last paragraph was:

    Sadly, tomorrow won’t be a good time to visit our Philadelphia Store, as the building we are in will be closed because of actual Nazis actually marching right outside our actual front door. We aren’t the draw, it’s Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell across the street that they will be there for. Our next-door neighbor is the National Museum of American Jewish History. In the wake of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting not even a month ago, Saturday will be a tough day for them. Can we stop pretending that this president or the Republican Party that is now fully in his control are anything good people should still support? Please get your V pin.

    The V pin mentioned is a new promotion. But does anybody know anything about the Nazi march in Philadelphia tomorrow?

  86. 86

    Via CNN, Judge says Acosta gets his press pass back.

  87. 87
    japa21 says:

    @Yarrow: Immediately. Just reloaded Chrome after making the switch you recommended and problem was solved.

  88. 88
    Yarrow says:

    @geg6: It sounds like some regulations changed and that meant the system couldn’t keep up. From the WaPo story.

    The problems began this summer when VA’s benefit-processing system buckled under complex new formulas for GI Bill students. As a result, scores of veterans waited weeks or months to be paid, and have fallen victim to the agency’s decades-old technology that advocates and lawmakers have warned for months would do precisely what it did — fail.

    The issue stems from two changes to how claims are processed, Cashour said. Payments are now tied to campus Zip codes, eliminating many overpayments. Other recalculations were designed to offset costs of additional education programs.

    But those formulas proved too much for VA systems to handle.

    “Essentially, the law requires a 50-year-old IT platform that was designed to do the equivalent of basic math to instead perform something akin to calculus in short order,” Cashour said.

  89. 89
    Yarrow says:

    @geg6: Also, they knew this was coming for the fall semester. Also from the WaPo story:

    In July, VA noted several technology challenges, but it appeared confident its systems could handle the new, complicated rules. “We have a handful of defects left,” Robert Worley, the VA official who oversees veterans education benefits, assured the House VA committee at the time.

    The title of the July hearing — “Is VA Ready for August 1st?” — reflected a concern over the hundreds of thousands of veterans heading to school.

  90. 90
    Platonailedit says:

    Judge says FU to the totus thug and his presssec minion.

  91. 91
    Kelly says:

    @geg6: I’m a retired IT guy. I worked on accounting systems for several big corporations. My systems issued millions of payments over the decades. This is not an obscure, exotic process. The only reason the VA can’t issue checks is key people in management (which for the VA includes Congress) simply don’t give a shit.

  92. 92
    Cacti says:

    But at least the world is peaceful and safe now, so it was totally worth it!

    Or something.

  93. 93
    Brachiator says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Sherman understood they had to be treated as enemies, because if you welcomed them back to the fold with minimum consequence, they’d do it again.

    Was he wrong?

    Yep. Sherman was a military man, not a statesman. The idea of imposing a military government for decades is ridiculous. Unfortunately, too many Southerners (and many in the North) could not get rid of their racism. Cannot get rid of it.

  94. 94
    VOR says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: Interesting article about East Germany in The Guardian. Basically, the men are POed because of a shortage of jobs and women. They long for the good old days of Communism and are voting for far right parties like Alternative für Deutschland. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/28/is-germanys-election-result-the-revenge-of-the-east

  95. 95
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @The Moar You Know: I am firmly in the W.T. Sherman camp.

    From the comfort zone of history
    On the lips of trusted loved ones
    To the lonely, fragile minds of angry youths

    No sooner was it over
    Than the memory made it nobler
    The selective means by which to point the view

    Compelled, but not defeated
    Surrender under protest if you must
    Compelled, but not defeated

    If it’s all you can remember
    Then it’s been that way forever
    And for six long generations it’s been told

    But among the fallen was tradition
    That tradition was the mission
    And that the wrongness of the sin was not the goal

    “Surrender Under Protest”
    Mike Cooley

  96. 96
    Yarrow says:

    Oh, hey:

    Mueller’s probe has expanded beyond the narrow bounds of Russian interference as sources say the team is looking into Cheney’s former top national security aide https://t.co/0QxA3ODDXM— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) November 16, 2018

  97. 97
    RobertB says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I’ve read ‘spent too much money on The Cold War and went completely broke’ as a cause, in books that were a little more trustworthy than NewsMax*. It’s been a while, though, and ten more years could have brought more enlightenment.

    *Somebody, I suspect my brother, signed me up for NewsMax email newsletters. When I find out who did it I’m going to toilet paper their trees.

  98. 98
    lurker dean says:

    this 96 year old seeing snow for the first time in a while is so cute. hopefully mueller will also bring a smile to our faces today :o)

    https://twitter.com/trulldc/status/1063218426720722944

  99. 99
    Gravenstone says:

    @CarolDuhart2: Actually we’ll never stop digging it out of the ground in some fashion. The building blocks that underpin modern life come from natural gas or oil, and are then physically separated. Granted, not burning the majority of it to generate energy will greatly decrease the demand but it will never disappear entirely.

  100. 100
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mike in DC:

    And we should set a deadline in Afghanistan and get the hell out of Africa

    Africa is actually one of the few places left where we’re doing some good.

  101. 101
    TenguPhule says:

    @Gravenstone:

    But yes, just imagine what we as a nation could have done with that 6 trillion, aside from the needless pain and suffering it was used to cause across the globe.

    OBL won the greatest strategic victory of all time.

  102. 102
    TenguPhule says:

    @Frooted Planes:

    But Justice Scalia was a great colleague and joked around and liked opera.

    its not too late for his grave to be dug up and his mortal remains defiled.

    Just saying.

  103. 103
    patrick II says:

    @Platonailedit:

    Just a reminder of Walker’s all around business acumen:
    Wisconsin State Journal: circa 2010

    The Obama administration is taking back the $810 million awarded to Wisconsin for train projects after Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker made it clear he will not waver in his opposition to the project.

    A German company that was going to build a plant to build trains in Wisconsin pulled out after that decision costing Wisconsin jobs in what could have been an important industry except for Republican hate for trains.

  104. 104
    TenguPhule says:

    @Platonailedit:

    Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost taxpayers $19,800,000 through September 2019

    Man, when you’re even scummier appointee then Scott Pruitt….

  105. 105
    TenguPhule says:

    @tobie:

    Half a million deaths on our hands–that’s a gut punch if there ever was one.

    And that’s probably a conservative estimate.

  106. 106
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @TenguPhule: Nuke it from space. It’s the only way to be sure.

  107. 107
    catclub says:

    @Gin & Tonic: “and the remote was at hand, so”
    I hope you took over the parental controls so that station does not show up again.

  108. 108
    Aleta says:

    And predictably all that post 9-11 ‘urban warfare training’ and mentality came back to the US and did not go dormant. The numbers pale in comparison to what we’ve done to people in other countries. But US war technology turned on its residents and the other destructions it’s brought are like the inescapable opposite force in a pair.

  109. 109
    TenguPhule says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    Maybe the Russian money has dried up especially since it looks like lifting of sanctions is never going to happen, and the chaos project for America is on hold for now.

    Trump’s appointees aren’t even bothering to enforce the sanctions.

  110. 110
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mart:

    In the world’s history, how many countries have repeatedly cut taxes for their most affluent during war time?

    Just one.

  111. 111
    TenguPhule says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Sherman understood they had to be treated as enemies, because if you welcomed them back to the fold with minimum consequence, they’d do it again.

    Was he wrong?

    And this is why I support throwing the Republicans in forced labor camps as the bare minimum.

    Their moral hazard is long overdue.

  112. 112
    brantl says:

    @Spanky: There was a scientific survey taken of civilian casualties in Iraq, alone. The results were scientifically sound and put the amount at 1 million, long before our direct involvement came to an end. My guess? We’re at 2 million, now

  113. 113
    brantl says:

    @hells littlest angel: And he drinks constantly….

  114. 114
    catclub says:

    @Cacti: Bush kept us safe ( given the Mulligan on sep 11). Unlike Obama.

  115. 115
    catclub says:

    @brantl: at some point you have to blame ISIS for a lot of the deaths they have dealt out. Also, Bashar al Assad.
    I am not saying I know where that point is.

  116. 116
    TenguPhule says:

    @catclub:

    Bush kept us safe ( given the Mulligan on sep 11).

    Anthrax.

  117. 117
    PJ says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Lenin and Trotsky sold and thrived on lies (in the service of the greater good, of course), and moral corruption was inherent in the system from the beginning.

  118. 118
    PJ says:

    @RobertB: Obviously indirect causes are numerous, but the major direct cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union was Gorbachev’s encouragement of glasnost throughout the Eastern Bloc and refusal to send in troops to quash movements against Communist Parties in the Warsaw Pact. By 1989, nobody, except maybe Gorbachev, believed in Communism as a viable system, and once people in the Soviet Union saw that others were getting away with rejecting it without being punished, the end was nigh. If Gorbachev had sent tanks in to Eastern Europe in 1989, as they did in 1956 in Hungary and 1968 in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union might still be with us. The CP in China saw what was happening in Eastern Europe and wanted no part of it. They brutally crushed the Tiananmen Square movement, remain in power to this day, and China is stronger militarily and economically for it (obviously economic reforms contributed much to this, so how much they are “Communist” is debatable, except for the supremacy of the Party and commitment to ignoring human rights and the rule of law.)

  119. 119
    geg6 says:

    @Yarrow:

    Nope. This is simply bullshit. Yes, regulations changed and the new IT system was supposed to be in place. But since it wasn’t ready the new regs have been put on hold. It’s the same old system and it should work exactly as it has in the past because we are certifying the exact same way we always have. It’s incompetence and lack of professional staff.

  120. 120
    Another Scott says:

    @Kelly: NextGov today, on hearings yesterday:

    Veterans Affairs Department officials on Thursday refused to give a date for when they would resolve IT issues that have prevented tens of thousands of veterans from receiving G.I. Bill benefits on time.

    Under legislation passed in August 2017, the agency was required to reconfigure its method for calculating the amount of housing and educational assistance veterans would receive under the G.I. Bill. The change meant the department needed to upgrade the Long Term Solution system, or LTS, the IT used to calculate benefits.

    Officials previously assured Congress the new tech would be fully operational by Aug. 1, but more than three months later, the overhaul is still in progress. As a result, the agency has issued benefits for this year’s fall semester weeks, sometimes months, behind schedule.

    “We were promised that the [problems] would be addressed in a matter of weeks. We were also promised the delays would be short and would not significantly impact students,” said House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity subcommittee Chairman Jodey Arrington, R-Texas. “I find these delays are simply unacceptable.”

    The claims backlog peaked on Sept. 14 with some 207,000 vets awaiting benefits, but as of Thursday, that number stood around 73,000, according to Maj. Gen. Robert Worley, director of the Veterans Benefit Administration’s Education Service. While Worley said that overall number is fairly typical, it includes some 11,000 vets who have waited more than 30 days to receive the education and housing stipend. Of those, 1,000 have waited more than 60 days.

    The agency is focusing its efforts on processing those older claims, and it’s brought on additional employees and implemented mandatory overtime to begin chipping away at the backlog, said Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Benefits Paul Lawrence. The agency will continue to work on the backlog in the old system to avoid delays, he said.

    The new system likely won’t be up and running for the spring semester, Lawrence told the panel. He also didn’t want to set a final date for completing the overhaul to avoid “until we have [more] certainty.”

    His answer, however, didn’t inspire lawmakers’ confidence.

    “Just because you all missed the last deadline … doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a deadline going forward,” said ranking member Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas. “That’s a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever heard one.”

    The LTS upgrade has proven especially difficult because it’s connected to numerous other legacy IT systems, said Richard Crowe, a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, the contractor charged with implementing the new tech. Each system is dependent on the others, so changing one piece can disrupt the entire process, he said.

    “From Booz Allen’s perspective, the challenges we’ve faced have come from endeavoring to build something new on top of something very old,” Crowe said. “Many of these underlying systems are passed, at, or very near their intended dates for retirement.”

    Lawmakers wasted no time extrapolating the complications with LTS to the agency’s broader troubles with outdated IT.

    “It feels like an exercise in futility,” Arrington said. “I feel like there’s a leadership issue, I feel like there’s a lack of strategic management, I don’t think there’s a real plan for the IT architecture of this agency. I think it’s just fundamentally broken.”

    Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., also linked the benefits delays to the beleaguered modernization of the agency’s electronic health record system. Banks, who heads the subcommittee responsible for monitoring the multibillion-dollar overhaul, called into question the department’s ability to succeed in any major IT upgrade.

    “You seem to dive in without a solid understanding of all the dependencies and touch points in these legacy systems so you wind up inventing and reinventing the plan throughout the project every single time,” he said. “[It’s] as if no one looks under the hood of these systems for years and years until suddenly you’re in there rewiring them like we are today. We have to build up the capacity and change the strategy or this will happen again and again.”

    Making a major change in benefit calculations legislation and expecting them to take place without problems in less than a year seems to me to be very foolish. So that’s on Congress.

    Expecting outside contractor, especially BAH which has a, er, rather notorious history in some circles, to come in and upgrade a major system in less than a year is a recipe for disaster as well.

    Grr…

    It’s good to see them working through the backlog.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  121. 121
    Ruckus says:

    @satby:
    And we aren’t spending all that money very well either.

  122. 122
    geg6 says:

    @Another Scott:

    But none of this excuses not getting the money to the vets. This is all CYA. There. Is. No. New. System. And the new regs are on hold, according to the alerts we get from the VA and from the State Approving Agency. Nothing has changed. Nothing. Other than the people running the VA and the fact that it’s mostly contractors now and not VA employees. Nothing is being done differently now than it was a year ago, when the system ran perfectly well. A little slow (maybe a week or two of delay, at most). We are now three months in and some people haven’t gotten tuition or fees or housing allowance. It’s ridiculous. But they’ll send an auditor in to me in a year or two and have fits if I haven’t submitted an adjustment to a certification when a student has dropped a class even though it doesn’t change the tuition/fees due. I’m infuriated by this. They can try to gussy it up as pretty as they can for the media who are clueless about how any of this works, but those of us who work with it every day know better. An incompetent and flailing department.

  123. 123
    Another Scott says:

    @geg6: Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  124. 124
    Ruckus says:

    @geg6:

    They have nothing but disdain for vets.

    I don’t think that’s it. Yes, I believe that they don’t give a fuck, that much is blindingly obvious. I think the point is that vets cost money to give all the bennies, like healthcare. That’s a big segment of the budget, one that they can cut because, something, something. That’s lower taxes. They don’t give a shit about vets because for the vast majority of them, they never served, their kids never served, all they see is taxes for people that doesn’t benefit them at all.

    What conservatives want is a government that doesn’t spend a cent on stuff that doesn’t benefit them directly. They don’t go to national parks, get rid of them. They don’t use Medicare, get rid of it. SS, same. VA, same. Add in the racism and it’s a volatile mix of hate and vindictive selfishness.

  125. 125
    VeniceRiley says:

    @Spanky: Considering the tax breaks we shell out to Amazon and Foxcon for jobs, sounds like a clean energy jobs bargain.

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