Foreign Military Aid: $95.3 Billion Sounds Like a Lot of Money. So Does Your Cut.

On February 13, the US Senate passed a bill including $95.3 billion in taxpayer handouts the Ukrainian, Israeli, and Taiwanese regimes.

Inter-, intra-, and bi-partisan wrangling  in the Senate,  House, and Biden administration will likely change the exact size and composition of those handouts right up to the moment of final passage and presidential signature, but let’s accept that $95.3 billion as a starting point for how it’s going to get marketed to you and how much it’s going to lighten your wallet.

The answer to the latter question is: About $287 per American. Keep that in mind, because we’ll be coming back to it.

Continue reading “Foreign Military Aid: $95.3 Billion Sounds Like a Lot of Money. So Does Your Cut.”

In the New Year, Thank You for Your Service

As 2023 ends and 2024 begins, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank billions of you, in America and around the world, for your service.

No, I’m not talking to military veterans — or at least not to military veterans AS military veterans. Whenever I’m thanked for my “service” in the US Marine Corps, my first instinct and usual course of action is to point out two things:

First, the rest of you paid me good money and provided me with food, housing, medical care, exotic travel, and other benefits.

Continue reading “In the New Year, Thank You for Your Service”

War: Thanks But No Thanks

The Battle of Missionary Ridge, fought the day before the "Thanksgiving Day" proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln.
The Battle of Missionary Ridge, fought the day before the “Thanksgiving Day” proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I seldom think of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people dining together (likely sans turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie) in Massachusetts in 1621.

Rather, my thoughts wander to Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation inviting his fellow citizens “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

Continue reading “War: Thanks But No Thanks”

Which Country Are Ron DeSantis and Opponents Running for President of Again?

“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations,” George Washington wrote in his farewell address as first president of the United States, “is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.  … it is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”

Four years later, in his inaugural address as the country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson announced “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none” as an “essential principle” of his administration.

That was all a long time ago, and many things have changed.

Continue reading “Which Country Are Ron DeSantis and Opponents Running for President of Again?”

‘Collateral Damage’ Is a Confession, Not an Excuse

“Civilians are not collateral damage,” the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean tweeted (or whatever it’s called now on X, formerly Twitter) on October 27. “Patients are not collateral damage. Health staff & health facilities are not collateral damage. Children, women & men sheltering in health facilities are not collateral damage. International Humanitarian Law must be respected.”

WHO is obviously referring to events in Gaza. Unfortunately, the statement goes both too far and not far enough.

Continue reading “‘Collateral Damage’ Is a Confession, Not an Excuse”

Congress Tries to Wish Away Israeli Racism and Apartheid

On July 18, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution by the kind of lopsided vote (412 for, 9 against, 1 present) normally reserved for proclamations lauding members’ hometown Little League programs. Unlike most legislation, Concurrent Resolution 57 is short enough to fit comfortably into newspaper op-ed length:

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that —

“(1) the State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state;

“(2) Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia; and

“(3) the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.”

The billions Congress wastes annually on xenophobic nonsense like “border security” and “countering China”  belie the resolution’s second point, and the third point is simply bizarre — ask the Lakota or the Cherokee about how trustworthy the US is when it comes to “always” commitments.

But what about that first point, which was what the resolution was really intended to get across after US Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) stepped on a political third rail by contradicting it on July 16 (Jayapal quickly turned tail, apologized, and voted for the resolution)?

Well, there’s a problem with that point as well:

Israel IS a racist (at least if the concept of “race” encompasses ethno-religious groups) and apartheid state.

Israel was expressly founded as a “homeland” for people of a specific ethnic/religious group, and its “basic law” clearly and unambiguously affirms that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”

Non-Jews, and especially Palestinian Arabs, are legally treated as second-class citizens, when they’re treated as citizens at all. For example, a “right of return” to Israel is offered to all Jews, no matter where they were born, but not to Palestinian Arabs who may have actually been born right there.

That’s racist, period. Disagree? Substitute “Montana” for “Israel” and “white” for “Jewish.” How does it read now?

As for the “apartheid” allegation, no other term fits a state which has spilled outside its internationally recognized borders (as codified in 1948 by United Nations Resolution 181) and set up a two-tier system based on race/ethnicity in territory it occupies. A system where Arabs are subject to Jewish rule without representation in the Knesset, where Arab property is subject to legalized theft by Jewish “settlers,” where roads and other infrastructure facilities are segregated into “Arab” and “Jews Only” use, and under which a menial class of Arabs are allowed to cross into Israel proper from their designated “homelands” to work, but not to live.

The usual defenses I see of Israel on these matters is that its existence as a “Jewish state,” and its apartheid treatment of Palestinian Arabs, are justified and must therefore not be considered “racist” or “apartheid.”

Presumably American supporters of racial segregation and South African supporters of the original “apartheid” considered their systems justified as well.

Claiming something’s justified doesn’t magically make it something other than what it is.

Neither does lying about it in a congressional resolution.