We continue our indictment of the U.S. war machine by welcoming William Hartung of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to break down the bloated military budget and what we can do about it. Then Cindy Sheehan, joins us to talk about her journey as the mother of a fallen soldier to become the most prominent anti-war activist of the Bush/Cheney era. Plus, Ralph comes down hard on states that deny their citizens Medicaid.
William Hartung is an expert on the arms industry and US military budget, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex, and the co-editor of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War.
The Pentagon wants to get rid of some of these weapon system programs, and the Congress says “Oh no, we’re going to continue them because… it’s a jobs program. It creates jobs, or it retains jobs that are already in shipyards or elsewhere.” Of course, you can never get these members of Congress to understand that a billion dollars in civilian infrastructure investment in this country creates far more jobs than a highly capital-intensive billion dollars in another unneeded weapons system.
I think there’s three pillars…What are the costs of this—the opportunity costs?...What do we need to defend ourselves?...And then I think people need to feel like they can influence the government. I think a lot of people have given up. They forget that citizens’ movements have had tremendous victories in the past, and they can do so again.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in action in Iraq on April 4, 2004. She is an anti-war activist, the founder of Gold Star Families, and an organizer of the 2018 Women’s March on the Pentagon. She is the author of Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox Newsletter on Substack.
I think that as long as you stay in the safe zone of only criticizing Republicans if you're a Democrat, or only criticizing Democrats if you're a Republican, then they give you a platform, they let you use your voice on this national stage. But once I recognized that the Democratic Party were, at that point, enablers of the Bush/Cheney war of terror around the world, and I left the party, then I started to be even more marginalized. And I lost so much support.
What gave me a little bit of hope was the county DA of New York indicting and arresting Donald Trump— for things I think were far less damaging and far less criminal than what the other living presidents like George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama did. I think that if the DA can prosecute Donald Trump for something less than mass murder or genocide, then maybe my DA in my county I live in can prosecute George Bush for murdering my son.
In Case You Haven’t Heard
1. CNN reports that seven investigators from the Centers for Disease Control fell ill “while studying the possible health impacts” of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. These investigators experienced sore throats, headaches, coughing and nausea, the same symptoms many residents have reported. In testimony before the Senate in March, Alan Shaw, CEO of Norfolk Southern, said “I believe that the air is safe. I believe that the water is safe.”
2. A contingent of left-wing youth at the recent protests in Israel burned their IDF enlistment orders. While this exceedingly courageous act garnered much attention on social media, the sad reality is that the overwhelming majority of Israeli youth are in fact more right-wing than older Israelis and far more right-wing than young people in most every other country. A 2021 poll written up by Haaretz, revealed that “nearly half of ultra-Orthodox and national religious Israeli youth expressed hatred toward Arabs and noted support for stripping them of their citizenship, a sentiment shared by 23 percent of secular youth.”
3. A new poll, published in Forbes, shows the impact of Governor Ron DeSantis’ education policies: “91% of prospective college students disagree with the governor’s policies, 1 in 8 graduating high school students won’t attend college in Florida due to the education policy in the state, [and] 1 in 20 current college students in the state plan to transfer because of those policies.”
4. The Huffington Post reports that Amazon spent $14.2 million on anti-union consultants in 2022, up nearly $10 million from 2021. This is clearly in response to the successful unionization vote at the JFK8 facility under the auspices of the independent Amazon Labor Union last year.
5. In a related story, Bloomberg reports that a federal appeals court has ruled that Elon Musk “must delete his 2018 Twitter post suggesting that Tesla...workers could lose stock options if they formed a union, as it violated labor law.” The panel of 5th circuit judges unanimously opined that “Tesla’s history of labor violations supports the NLRB’s finding that employees would understand Musk’s tweet as a threat to commit another violation by rescinding stock options as retaliation,” for union organizing.
6. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is collecting signatures on an official letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on him to end the Justice Department’s campaign to have Julian Assange extradited to the U.S., according to the Intercept. So far, other signatories include Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Ilhan Omar, and Cori Bush, with Reps. Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, and AOC expected to sign on before it is sent.
7. A new report in the Intercept details the increasing size of settlements being paid out to victims of police violence in the 2020 protests, including tear gassing and “kettling” – the police tactic of trapping and surrounding protesters, usually to carry out mass arrests. Due to the legal structures in place, local taxpayers, not police departments, will foot the bill for these settlements.
8. In a historic shift, the Vatican has responded to calls by Indigenous activists and repealed the so-called “Doctrine of Discovery” which “legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and form the basis of some property laws today.” The Vatican acknowledged that this doctrine “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples." This was reported by the indigenous-led news service Indian Country Today.
9. From Reuters: The Biden Administration “plans to send Mexico an "act now or else" message in coming weeks in an attempt to break a stalemate” over Mexico’s decision to nationalize energy and other key resources. Under the rules of the neo-NAFTA trade agreement signed in 2020, the U.S. is entitled to international dispute talks, but has not called for them thus far, instead opting to work with the Canadian government to threaten retaliatory measures against Mexico. U.S. Republicans meanwhile are calling for an invasion of our southern neighbor.
10. Bowing to ranching and mining interests, the Intercept reports President Biden is continuing a Trump-era policy of rounding up wild horses in order to clear more land for cattle grazing and extraction. Once the horses have been corralled, the mares will be dosed with contraceptives. Manda Kalimian, president of the wild horse and environmental advocacy group Cana Foundation, is quoted saying “We feel betrayed, because we thought this was an administration that really believed in wildlife protections.”
11. Mark Joseph Stern of Slate reports that Judge Reed O'Connor struck down a “major provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring insurers to cover a vast amount of preventive care cost-free.” These include contraception, cancer screening, the HIV prevention drug PrEP, and much pregnancy-related care. The ruling applies nationwide.
12. Remember the egg shortage? According to CNN, Cal-Maine Foods – the largest egg producer in the nation – reported that their revenue doubled and profits surged to 718% last quarter as consumers struggled to afford the basic food item. Corporate greed, plain and simple.