Participate in the Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance Retreat/Witness starting on Thurs., Dec. 27 at 1 PM through Fri., Dec. 28 at noon. People will gather St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, WDC 20010. Members of the Atlantic and Southern Life communities and other peacemaking friends in a time of prayer, reflection and nonviolent witness to commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents – past and present. Arrive by 1 PM in order to begin the gathering around 1:30 PM. On Thursday, reflect on the scriptural passage of the slaughter on the holy innocents and its meaning for us today. Joan and Don Wages will share about their journey into nonviolence, how they have tried to embody nonviolence in their life-style and family living, and the challenges they have faced. Then plan our nonviolent witness for the next day. And, as part of the liturgy, listen to and reflect together on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Christmas Sermon on Peace that he delivered on Dec. 24, 1967. This was Dr. King’s final Christmas sermon. In the public witness at the Pentagon, convey hope for a disarmed world–a world free of war, nuclear weapons, killer drones, all weapons, racial hatred, torture, systemic oppression, social inequality and climate chaos.
Please bring sleeping bags and bedding for sleeping in the church sanctuary. Also please bring food for a pot-luck breakfast on December 28. During this time remember in a special way the Kings Bay Plowshares as they prepare for their upcoming trial (date still unknown). Liz McAlister, Steve Kelly and Mark Colville are currently in Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, Georgia. Martha Hennessy, Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady and Carmen Trotta remain out on bond and have court mandated electronic monitors, curfews and other restrictions. Hold in your heart the children and people of Yemen who are experiencing widespread famine, cholera and death as a result of the ruthless U.S.-backed Saudi war being waged against them. On December 13, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution calling for an end to U.S. military and financial support for this criminal war. This represents the first time in U.S. history the Senate has voted to withdraw military forces from an unauthorized war using the War Powers Resolution. However the House narrowly voted to continue U.S. support, and Mr. Trump has threatened a veto. Contact Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
A Point of Holiday Agreement: Stop Wasting Money on the Pentagon
Military leaders literally don’t know what they’re doing with our money, but they want more. People on the left and right have had enough.
In this season of (hoped for) peace and goodwill, it’s worth looking for things our divided country can agree on. And since all of us want to be able to trust government to spend wisely, we might find common cause in a surprising place: the Pentagon budget.
When you think of politicians railing against the Pentagon (if you can think of any) it might be someone on the left, like Senator Bernie Sanders. That’s why I was gratified to see Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley take on the Pentagon budget in a recent op-ed in The New York Times.
It’s a relatively rare occurrence for a politician of any persuasion to criticize the Pentagon — but especially for a conservative Republican like Grassley. (That said, the late Senator John McCain, when he was in the right mood, could do it with the best of them. And it’s not Grassley’s first rodeo, either.)
The Pentagon deserves the criticism. Nearly 30 years ago, Congress asked the Pentagon to complete an audit that could show military leaders knew where our money was going. This year, the Pentagon finally delivered a result: After waiting nearly 30 years, the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit.
Even more disturbing is that Pentagon leaders aren’t the least bit disturbed about this. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the number two official at the Pentagon, told reporters, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.”
If there’s one thing that could get Pentagon leadership’s attention, it would be requiring them to pass an audit before they get one more dollar from public coffers.
There’s every reason for Pentagon leaders from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on down to be ashamed of this result.
Every other major government agency has completed and passed an audit during that time, often many times. If the Pentagon doesn’t know where its money is going, how can they assure us it’s being put to good use? With a Pentagon budget of $647 billion this year — not even counting war costs — the potential for waste and fraud is sky-high.
We know about a lot of examples of waste — Grassley cited a $14,000 toilet seat as a picture-perfect example — but there are no doubt countless more that we don’t know about. This is nobody’s idea of good management.
Grassley suggests that Pentagon leaders need to step up and earn the trust we give them. But if they haven’t done it in 30 years, what’s going to change now?
Pentagon leaders haven’t seen any consequences from their disregard for our nation’s budget. If there’s one thing that could get Pentagon leadership’s attention, it would be requiring them to pass an audit before they get one more dollar from public coffers.
Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. Congress keeps rewarding the Pentagon with ever-bigger budgets. The U.S. military budget is more than $200 billion higher than it was 30 years ago.
And it continues. Less than a week after calling our current Pentagon budget “crazy,” President Trump agreed with military leaders that we need an even larger military budget. And just one day before the failed audit was announced, a committee tasked by Congress announced that the nation needs an almost $1 trillion military budget by 2024.
If we keep going this way, we’re going to waste precious resources that could be used any number of other ways: creating jobs, fighting the opioid epidemic, building a health care system that works for all of us, fixing our crumbling roads and bridges, etc.
Until they can show they know what they’re doing, the Pentagon should be cut off from further increases so we can focus resources elsewhere.
So, if most of the news seems too dicey to talk about over stale Christmas cookies, try the Pentagon’s failed audit. You might be surprised who you’ll agree with.
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Lindsay Koshgarian is Research Director at the National Priorities Project.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs