September 8, 2019

Biggest military spenders in the world

Bernie Sanders @SenSanders (11:26 AM - 8 Sep 2019):

The world's largest military budgets:

馃嚡馃嚨 $50 billion (Japan)
馃嚞馃嚙 $53 billion (UK)
馃嚝馃嚪 $56 billion (France)
馃嚠馃嚦 $58 billion (India)
馃嚪馃嚭 $63 billion (Russia)
馃嚫馃嚘 $83 billion (Saudi Arabia)
馃嚚馃嚦 $168 billion (China)
馃嚭馃嚫 $700 billion (USA)

What if—just maybe—we led the world not in weapons and war, but in fighting humanity's common enemy: climate change?
Replying to @SenSanders:

The world's biggest per-capita military spenders:
馃嚤馃嚭 $710 (Luxembourg)
馃嚛馃嚢 $735 (Denmark)
馃嚞馃嚙 $751 (UK)
馃嚙馃嚦 $799 (Brunei)
馃嚢馃嚪 $842 (South Korea)
馃嚙馃嚟 $891 (Bahrain)
馃嚝馃嚪 $978 (France)
馃嚘馃嚭 $1,078 (Australia)
馃嚦馃嚧 $1,320 (Norway)
馃嚧馃嚥 $1,389 (Oman)
馃嚢馃嚰 $1,738 (Kuwait)
馃嚫馃嚞 $1,872 (Singapore)
馃嚠馃嚤 $1,887 (Israel)
馃嚭馃嚫 $1,986 (USA)
馃嚫馃嚘 $2,013 (Saudi Arabia)

World's biggest military spenders as share of all govt spending:
(World 6.3% [Stockholm International Peace Research Institute])
(馃嚭馃嚫 9.0% [SIPRI])
馃嚢馃嚪 12.1% (South Korea)
馃嚥馃嚥 12.4% (Myanmar)
馃嚥馃嚤 12.7% (Mali)
馃嚬馃嚛 13.8% (Chad)
馃嚘馃嚥 15.5% (Armenia)
馃嚤馃嚙 15.6% (Lebanon)
馃嚡馃嚧 15.8% (Jordan)
馃嚠馃嚪 15.8% (Iran)
馃嚛馃嚳 16.1% (Algeria)
馃嚨馃嚢 17.1% (Pakistan)
馃嚫馃嚞 17.2% (Singapore)
馃嚚馃嚞 17.9% (Congo-Brazzaville)
馃嚙馃嚲 25.3% (Belarus)
馃嚧馃嚥 26.3% (Oman)
馃嚫馃嚘 30.4% (Saudi Arabia)
馃嚫馃嚛 30.9% (Sudan)

World's biggest military spending as share of GDP
(馃嚭馃嚫 3.2%)
馃嚚馃嚧 3.2% (Colombia)
馃嚦馃嚘 3.3% (Namibia)
馃嚭馃嚳 3.6% (Uzbekistan)
馃嚙馃嚟 3.6% (Bahrain)
馃嚘馃嚳 3.8% (Azerbaijan)
馃嚭馃嚘 3.8% [est] (Ukraine)
馃嚪馃嚭 3.9% (Russia)
馃嚨馃嚢 4.0% (Pakistan)
馃嚠馃嚤 4.3% (Israel)
馃嚡馃嚧 4.7% (Jordan)
馃嚘馃嚥 4.8% (Armenia)
馃嚤馃嚙 5.0% [est] (Lebanon)
馃嚢馃嚰 5.1% (Kuwait)
馃嚛馃嚳 5.3% [uncert] (Algeria)
馃嚧馃嚥 8.2% [uncert] (Oman)
馃嚫馃嚘 8.8% [est] (Saudi Arabia)

World's biggest military spending as share of GDP
(International Institute for Strategic Studies):
馃嚥馃嚤 3.9% (Mali)
馃嚘馃嚥 4.0% (Armenia)
馃嚘馃嚳 4.0% (Azerbaijan)
馃嚦馃嚘 4.1% (Namibia)
馃嚡馃嚧 4.4% (Jordan)
馃嚙馃嚰 4.4% (Botswana)
馃嚪馃嚭 4.6% (Russia)
馃嚙馃嚟 4.8% (Bahrain)
馃嚠馃嚤 6.1% (Israel)
馃嚛馃嚳 6.3% (Algeria)
馃嚚馃嚞 6.4% (Congo-Brazzaville)
馃嚫馃嚘 8.9% (Saudi Arabia)
馃嚠馃嚩 11.6% (Iraq)
馃嚘馃嚝 14.0% (Afghanistan)
馃嚧馃嚥 15.3% (Oman)

Note, the above do not include 馃嚢馃嚨, 馃嚫馃嚲, 馃嚲馃嚜, and 馃嚤馃嚲 (North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Libya).

World Bank (data from SIPRI): Military expenditure (% of general government expenditure).
Wikipedia (data from SIPRI): List of countries by military expenditure per capita.
Wikipedia (data from SIPRI and IISS): List of countries by military expenditures.

August 24, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vs. the Electoral College

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

I see Fox News is big mad about abolishing the electoral college.

So let’s talk about it.

1) If the GOP were the “silent majority” they claim, they wouldn’t be so scared of a popular vote.

They *know* they aren’t the majority. They rely on establishing minority rule for power.

Replying to @AOC:
And if the Dems were as confident of their advantage, they wouldn’t have to change the Constitution to win.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

2) This common claim about “if we don’t have the Electoral College then a handful of states will determine the presidency” is BS.

a. It’s the *EC itself* that breaks down power by state, pop vote decentralizes it

b. The EC makes it so a handful of states DO determine elections

Replying to @AOC:
True, it wouldn’t be by state. A handful of metropolitan areas would determine the Presidency.


Half of the U.S. population live in just 10 metropolitan areas.
[NY-Newark, LA, Chicago, Dallas–Ft Worth, Houston, DC, Miami, Philly, Atlanta, Boston; link —KM]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

3) LASTLY, this concept that the Electoral College is provides “fairness” to rural Americans over coastal states doesn’t hold any water whatsoever. First of all, virtually every state has rural communities. NY. California. Much of our states are rural.

But very importantly...

Replying to @AOC:
Indeed, rural voters in high-population states dominated by a few big cities usually feel ignored [see map, above]. In state legislatures, the unequal representation in the senate of a bicameral system is an effort to redress that inevitability [as it does in the U.S. Senate, and thence the Electoral College, nationally —KM].

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

4) We do not give electoral affirmative action to any other group in America. Do Black Americans have their votes count more bc they have been disenfranchised for 100s of years? Do Reservations get an electoral vote? Does Puerto Rico and US territories get them? No. They don’t.

Replying to @AOC:
The Electoral College is not about any “group” of Americans. It simply gives smaller-population states (whoever lives in them) a slightly bigger voice to help ensure they are not utterly ignored. Calling it “affirmative action” is a scurrilous, offensive mischaracterization.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

5) The Electoral College isn’t about fairness at all; it’s about empowering some voters over others.

Every vote should be = in America, no matter who you are or where you come from. The right thing to do is establish a Popular Vote. & GOP will do everything they can to fight it.

Replying to @AOC:
Do you advocate abolishing the Senate as well? Where the <600,000 people in Wyoming have the same weight as the 40,000,000 people in California?

It would be abolishing the Electoral College that would empower some voters (those in the largest metropolitan areas) over others (everyone else in the country).

A constitutional democracy protects the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority, and that includes the inevitable dominance of the cities. …

… “Pure” democracy is mob rule. Compromises such as the unequal representation in the Senate and the EC, are necessary to protect the interests of all citizens.


Chris Hayes, MSNBC: “It’s basically this, do we actually really believe in democracy, right? The question before us now in the Electoral College question is, are we going to actually live up to the promise of one person one vote? ... But I think there’s actually a deeper philosophical thing happening which is the question of what exactly American democracy is for. And the weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that if it wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the Presidency, it would be unconstitutional.”

A comment: “Where did the premise of “one person, one vote” come from? I don’t think that simple-minded cartoon formula is in the Constitution. Democracy is about consensus (as much as possible), not mob rule. Hence the constitutional compromises of the Electoral College and unequal representation in the Senate (where the <600,000 people of Wyoming have the same 2 votes as 40,000,000 Californians), which is reflected in most state legislatures as well. Hence the mechanisms of filibuster, quorum etc.”

August 14, 2019

Immigration Numbers

Neil Munro at Breitbart News regularly appends the following (with supportive links) to his articles about immigration and labor:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes roughly 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business or health care, engineering or science, software or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately 1 million H-1B workers and spouses — plus roughly 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

August 2, 2019

ICE protesters – the Koch brothers’ useful idiots

(comments on article by Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer, July 30, 2019: ICE protesters won't be 'complicit')

‘A pair of southern Vermont women were among the 20 people arrested and cited with disorderly conduct for protesting at the Law Enforcement Support Center on Harvest Lane in Williston on Sunday.

‘The center is operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and according to its website is "the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security." ...’

[Photo Provided by Nancy Braus]

Yes, seeking asylum is legal. But working while your case is being considered, not showing up for your hearing, and staying in the country after your application is rejected – that’s illegal.

‘Chapman estimated more than 700 people attended the Never Again Means #ShutDownICE march and protest.

‘The 20 people were arrested after they formed two human chains to block employees of the facility from coming and going into the building.

‘"History clearly displays the horrors of what happens when civilization does not stand up to a government that has fixed on dehumanizing and stripping a select group of people of their civil and human rights," wrote Chapman on her personal Facebook page. ...

‘"It was not right in 1940s Germany, it was not right when the American government put Japanese-Americans in internment camps, it was not right when we colonized indigenous people and kidnapped their children, and it is not right now," [said Karlyn Ellis of Bennington]. ...’

Why the worry now? Nothing like that is actually happening.

‘Ellis said the local police, by arresting the protesters, "support concentration camps by default."

‘"There is no longer any room for nuance," she said. "Any citizen who does not take action against ICE who has the means to is complicit in fascist violence, complicit in the abuse of children."

‘Chapman said she knows she will be subject to criticism for her "lawlessness," but is willing to engage in a conversation with people who don't agree with her or her methods.’

Conversation requires room for nuance, so her engagement would likely be along the lines of this demonstration: not only nuance free, but largely fact free as well.

‘"I would ask them to put themselves in their shoes and imagine if they had to flee to Canada and Canada was treating them the way we are treating refugees and asylum seekers," she said.’

Canada actually enforces their asylum laws: You can’t work while awaiting a decision, they keep track of you, and they deport you and forbid your entry ever again when your application is rejected.

‘... "The economic and political policies of the Trump Administration," reads a statement issued at the time of the Sunday protest, "have devastated Latin America and other parts of the world, driving millions of people to find sanctuary in the U.S. Once here, they have been met with super-exploitation as cheap criminalized labor, racist and xenophobic discrimination, threats of detention and deportation, and now under Trump, incarceration in concentration camps throughout the country."’

Unlike the previous administration and its first Secretary of State (say their names: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton), Trump has not overthrown any elected governments in Latin America. The current surge of migration began 10 years ago, after Obama and Clinton helped oust Manuel Zelaya from Honduras. Corporatists like the Koch Brothers then welcome the cheap exploitable labor they provide to undercut the bargaining power of U.S. workers. Illegal labor is exactly what both Dems and Repubs have turned a blind eye to for decades, as it keeps their investments growing. It is the opposite of compassion that argues for opening the floodgates. (Obama and Clinton also helped overthrow Lula da Silva and then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and ensured the election of reactionary Len铆n Moreno in Ecuador. They also caused the overwhelming refugee crisis in Europe after their destruction of Libya and attempted destruction of Syria.)

‘"Grabbing children and babies from their parents and throwing them in cages without diapers or mattresses is not something we should accept," said [Nancy Braus, who owns and operates Everyone's Books on Elliot Street in Brattleboro]. "We can't live with this level of injustice." ...’

First, thanks to useful idiot denial there aren't adequate facilities for housing families going through the asylum process. Second, if it can’t be proved that the adult (usually just one – who is traveling with one child, separated from their family) is in fact the parent or legal guardian, they must by law be separated. Third, “without diapers or mattresses” – mostly a blatant lie, and again, any shortage is due to useful idiot denial that there is any crisis – the same false compassion that actually protested a company providing needed new beds.

July 31, 2019

‘He horrifies us by not submitting to us’ – Trump and the elite-pandering media

Daniel Jupp writes at Spectator USA:

For three years, we have been told what Donald Trump is. We have been told that he is a racist, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a white supremacist, a demagogue, a Russian spy. The charges vary from extreme, unproven and serious to the bizarrely particular and trivial. We have for instance been repeatedly told that it is important that he has tiny hands, or silly hair, or eats McDonald’s.

Whether or not you agree with the many criticisms of Trump, there is one charge that supporters and detractors admit the truth of: Trump is divisive. But what does that mean? It does not necessarily mean, as the mainstream media always tell us, that he should be hated or considered dangerous. It could just mean that he reveals the deep faultlines in contemporary politics. Ironically, it is the continual vicious determination of his opponents to tell us how to view him that causes these divisions. Anti-Trump invective has had an effect on both sides of the debate. It has hardened the attitudes of supporters and opponents to the point at which Trump is no longer discussed as if we are talking about a human being. To his enemies, he is everything that is wrong with traditional ‘white America.’ To supporters he is ‘God Emperor Trump’, the last defender of an embattled set of American values that are everywhere threatened.

He is not a person, nor even merely a president. He is a symbol.

The US is a nation which from its very inception has had a peculiar genius for turning men into symbols. George III was not merely a king, but for revolutionary polemicists the living symbol of tyranny. George Washington became a symbol of rectitude, endurance, perseverance. Sometimes whole groups of people assumed this symbolic role as personifications of good or evil: the Pilgrim Fathers, the Mountain Men, the Puritans, the settlers, the cowboys and the Indians. When we think of the US we think of a line of human beings elevated into the pantheon of symbols, and this is true whether we are talking about politics (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln), sport (Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens) or entertainment (Elvis, Monroe, Eastwood, Madonna). This is the nation that truly embraced and spread the idea of celebrity, and sometimes celebrity cut adrift from achievement.

Take last week’s outrage over his tweets against the so-called ‘Squad.’ These were reported as racist with no analysis of why that is the case. The outrage only emphasizes Trump’s transition from human to symbol. To huge numbers of people, the tweets represent racism, regardless of substance; that makes them racist. Trump himself seems to have a sense of this process and to deliberately guide it when he can. That is a major function of his Twitter account. He knows that the more hate is directed at him, the more supportive his own base, who have every reason to detest a media and a political elite that despises them, becomes.

The interesting aspect here is the ‘unsophisticated’ Trump voter understands exactly what Trump represents to his enemies, but the apparently sophisticated have no idea of what Trump represents to his supporters. They genuinely seem to think that these supporters want white nationalism or white supremacism, they believe their own fantasies about what the other side thinks. But the truth is that, as hateful as he is to his enemies, Trump represents something entirely different to his fans. He represents freedom.

The US heralds itself as the ‘land of the free’ but like all nations in which a large state is combined with a united political and media class, the lives of the ordinary citizen have become less free. More and more state bureaucracy means less and less individual liberty. The people who support Trump do so because they hate being hectored, bullied, and controlled by an increasingly intolerant ‘liberal’ minority with power. They don’t like being told what to think, what to say, what to do in every aspect of their lives. The instinct for freedom that told their ancestors to rebel against the British survives. Trump knows that.

Mainstream media talks a lot about Trump ‘doubling down’. It has done so in relation to the latest tweets scandal. Doubling down horrifies pundits. He says something that they find offensive, they scream and whine and distort the meaning of what was said, they use their magic attack words like ‘racist’, ‘white nationalist’ and ‘xenophobia’. They demand an apology, the backtrack.

But Trump doesn’t give them that. He denies the thrill of the fanatic, which is to see the chastised submit. Instead, he repeats himself. He points out that some countries are indeed ‘shitholes’. He points out that anyone who hates the country they reside in has the option of leaving. He ‘doubles down’, which is essentially media code for ‘he horrifies us by not submitting to us’. In this way he becomes a symbol of good for everyone who does not believe that he is a symbol of evil.

Trump’s greatest crime, and his greatest triumph, is to become a living example that you do not have to submit. You do not have to apologize. You do not have to back down, or grovel, or confess. You are free unless you accept your chains. What message is more hopeful or American than that?

July 19, 2019

Seacht n-贸ige na coille, an aeir, na mara, an talmhan

Seacht n-贸ige na coille: faoisceog, fuinnseog, sciach贸g, beath贸g, rud贸g [roideog], fearn贸g, dar贸g (vars. dreas贸g, saileog)

Seacht n-贸ige an aeir: amhl贸g, ailleog, luaireog, fuideog [fead贸g], truideog [druid], spideog, seabh贸g [searr贸g] (vars. buidheog [bu铆贸g], uiseog [fuiseog], fionn贸g [feann贸g], tonn贸g [ton贸g])

Seacht n-贸ige na mara: mad贸g, had贸g (cad贸g), luthr贸g [leath贸g], leideog, faof贸g [faoch贸g], b谩irneog, claos贸g [cros贸g] (vars. gob贸g, crainneog [gr谩inneog])

Seacht n-贸ige an talmhan: iar贸g [eareog], flan贸g [flann贸g], cnamh贸g [crumh贸g], luch贸g (incomplete)

(Omeath, List of words, chiefly from Omeath, and Mid. Ulster by Rev. Lawrence Murray)

—from entry for “-贸g, -eog”, Focl贸ir Gaedhilge agus B茅arla, Patrick Dinneen, 1927

Seven “贸g” names of the forest: filbert, ash, whitethorn, bog-myrtle, alder, oak (briar, white willow)
Seven “贸g” names of the air: jennet, swallow, sea-gull, plover, starling, robin, gunnel (yellow-hammer, lark, hooded crow, duck)
Seven “贸g” names of the sea: lamprey, haddock, flat-fish, plaice, periwinkle, barnacle, starfish (eel, urchin)
Seven “贸g” names of the earth: pullet, stoat, maggot, mouse

July 17, 2019

The misjudgement of history

The ever-tedious columnist at Vermont Digger, David Moats, 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner, invokes a fire and brimstone judgement of history on border detention facilities. He even pulls in 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson to argue how loving and tolerant the Puritans were.

Reader Ruby Bode commented:

Marilynne Robinson’s apologia for the Puritans would appear to be an apologia in fact for the new McCarthyist witch hunt triggered by Trump winning the 2016 election, an attempt to bestow the moral righteousness of, e.g., John Brown (cf. Robinson’s “Gilead”) on antidemocratic sore losers. But she compares two actual governing codes (both from the south, of course [no apologia for those bastards!]) to a “list of proposals for good government written by the Puritan Hugh Peter”. Since the Puritans are indeed “commonly viewed as sexually repressed, witch-burning hysterics” (because they were), it would have been more interesting to explore the differences between Peter’s ideals and the realities of Puritan government.

[That’s exactly what the border issue is about: ideals versus reality.]

Bode also commented:

When you cross any border with a child, you have to have proof that you are the parent or legal guardian. That’s why “families” are separated until it can be determined that they are in fact families. If that weren’t done, there would be an outcry for not bothering to check. Furthermore, it’s rarely a whole “family” coming over. It’s usually just one parent and one child, who has been separated from the rest of the family to be used cynically as a prop to better game the famously laxly enforced border laws of the USA. As to the conditions of detention, Trump has been requesting [from day 1] the needed funding to adequately respond to the surges of would-be refugees, but the Dems (and many Repubs) have refused. One might think they would rather see children suffer so they can have something to grandstand on and beat up Trump about. Finally, there’s a big difference between immigration and illegally crossing the border.

[I would add that nobody among these New Puritans seems to be suggesting any solution other than shutting the whole legal system down, opening the borders (in only one direction of course) and giving anybody coming in full rights of residency, no limits, with no concern for American workers (immigrants recent and long ago) and plenty of profits for Wall St.]

Another reader, William Workman, commented:

Over and over, Democrats have overplayed their hands. They used the outrage over child separations to push catch-and-release of another 100,000 illegal immigrants. Trump blurs the line between illegal immigrants and hardened criminals, so Democrats blur the line between legal and illegal immigrants. Now every major Democratic candidate is on record as supporting decriminalizing border crossings, offering free health care, no deportations even for illegals violating court orders, and a path to citizenship. Now this column, which equates safely and respectfully deporting Vermont’s illegals with concentration camps. As though the law itself were immaterial.

Here’s another comment by Bode, to a commentary by writer Dan Close:

What about everyone who has refused to accept the result of the 2016 election? The elected and other officials who have pursued witch hunts and domestic regime change instead of embracing the workings of democracy? Those, like Dan Close, who cannot be honest about anything concerning President Trump, as if we have not had an increasingly imperial Presidency since Reagan? Trump is actually more lawful, much more transparent, and more progressive (regarding trade to benefit American workers instead of Wall St and war – no new ones, not even an actual coup, so far) than his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. If any[one] burns down the Reichstag, so to speak, it will be the Dems themselves – after committing to the destructive agendas of neoliberalism and neoconservativism – so they can blame it on Trump. It is dangerous projection.