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Balancing Act


Ever wonder how much money we are pouring into the military action in Iraq?  I know I have.  Taylor has a letter from Rep. John Murtha that detailed a lot of the expenditures to date, and it is bigger than even I imagined

We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq. That equates to $2 billion a week, or $267 million a day, or $11 million an hour.

$11 million dollars an hour. And counting. What could we do with this cash instead of being in Iraq, had George Bush not made the choice to invade and occupy?

$31.7 billion/yr Homeland Security budget FY 07 (4 months in Iraq)

$10 billion (1-time) Equipping commercial airliners with defenses against shoulder-fired (5 weeks in Iraq) missiles

$8.6 billion/7 years Shortage of international aid needed to rebuild Afghanistan (one month in Iraq)

$5.2 billion (1-time) Estimated need for capital improvements to secure public transportation (3 weeks in Iraq) system (trains, subways, buses)

$1.5 billion/year Radiation detectors needed at all US ports (rejected due to cost) (5 days in Iraq)

$1.4 billion/ year Double the COPS (community police grants) program (5 days in Iraq)

$800 million/year Public transportation personnel training and technical support (72 hours in Iraq)

$700 million/year 100% screening of all air cargo – rejected because of (2 days in Iraq) cost (1/4 of domestic shipping and 1/2 of international shipping is done on passenger planes)

$350 million (1-time) Make emergency radio systems interoperable (5 years after 9/11, this (1.2 days in Iraq) hasn’t happened yet)….

And that’s just the Homeland Security comparisons.  You should see what restoring some of this money could do for our veterans and their families.  The money it costs us for nine days in Iraq could cover the costs of the entire premium increase for veterans health insurance. 

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the huge number of other programs that are being cut back or extinguished entirely to feed the constant costs of Bush’s folly.

Elections are a way of holding our elected officials accountable for the choices they make in governing this nation of ours.  It’s time to throw out the rubber stamp Republican leadership in Congress — and the way to do that is to elect a Democratic majority. 

Had enough?  I know I have.

And here’s a public service that you can help with, speaking of veterans and our soldiers. The fine readers at Powerline (gosh, I’m being pleasant this morning…) have been sending a "conservative" library of books to soldiers in Iraq.  (And I say "conservative" in quotes, because it includes the like of Coulter and Hannity and all those fine, well-spoken troglodytes who call themselves "conservatives" these days.) 

Because, you know, there’s nothing better than looking death in the face and having only Ann Coulter for comfort.  *cough*

The soldier to whom they have been sending these books is a Sergeant, which makes him above rank for all the privates in his particular company.  But if they are only getting one-sided political views, and if this particular Sergeant is pushing his soldiers to read them to improve their vocabulary skills and reading comprehension (because I’m certain he would not be doing so as a political indoctrination technique, as that would be in violation of DoD regs which require that he "(r)efrain from participating in any political activity while in military uniform, as proscribed by reference (f), or using Government facilities or resources for furthering political activities."), then some superior officer might have issues with that under the regs.

And while I am certain that the fine folks at Powerline never intended this as a "conservative" indoctrination mission for themselves or their readership of our military personnel in Iraq (nope…no siree..nothing to see here), I know that this fellow’s commanding officer would no doubt appreciate the opportunity to rectify this error in order that his or her men not be in violation of said DoD regulations. 

So, if you’d like to help these soldiers to have a more balanced view of American politics — and one wherein their NCO isn’t able to be accused of shoving his personal political views down the throat of his men (because that couldn’t be further from the truth, I’m sure), you could send some great, progressive reading material to the following address, with a polite note explaining why this contribution is being made for their sake:

Weapons Company 1-133

I’m thinking of sending a copy of Glenn’s book, F*U*B*A*R, and a few others, including some great science fiction.  It’s the least we can do to make sure that Democrats in this unit understand that they are not only not alone, but that they oughtn’t be forced to read Sean Hannity if they don’t want to do so.  (No one should — our soldiers are subject to Geneva Convention protections, too.  I think forced Hannity exposure is one of the torture prohibitions.  No, really…) 

For more things that you can do for troops in the field, check out Books for Soldiers and this handy link list from Perrspectives.  And for another great resource, including some info on things do do for troops currently serving, check out IAVA.  Great stuff.

UPDATEMatt takes on the whole "when the President does it, it’s not illegal" myth.

UPDATE #2:  Anyone find any more news on the Mumbai bombings?  Still nothing solid in any of the reporting that I have seen.  I’m a little unnerved that there has been no claim of responsibility from anyone as yet.  Given the large number of casualties and injuries, and the target and multiple explosions, this was well planned.  And the nuclear one-upsmanship that India and Pakistan have been playing off against each other the last few years is nothing to sneeze at, especially if the perpetrators of the bombing can be tied back to Pakistan in any way.  Just wondering if anyone else has found news on this today?  The way things are going between Israel and Lebanon (again) is bad enough this morning, but if you add in India and Pakistan, I start getting extremely jumpy, because this Administration doesn’t have the foreign policy chops to deal with this much cr

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com