The Pentagon Cowbird

W.J. Astore

Three years ago, nature provided me a lesson in bird parasitism and its repercussions. Unbeknownst to me and especially to the yellow warblers I was watching, a cowbird snuck an egg into the warbler nest. The result is what you see in this photo I took:

Guess which one is the cowbird hatchling?

Cowbird chicks generally hatch quicker, and of course they’re bigger and can fight harder for food. What generally happens is what happened to the nest I was watching. The yellow warbler chicks died as the cowbird chick ate just about all the food provided by its warbler “parents.” All that was left in the end was a rather surly-looking cowbird chick that was incongruously bigger than the warbler “parents” that fed it. Nature can be cruel.

And, as I wrote about here, that cowbird chick made me think of a certain entity in Washington DC that always clamors for money, and which in its sheer bellicosity and bottomless appetite always dominates the nest and crowds out and kills its weaker yet more deserving rivals for sustenance. Yes, you guessed it: the Pentagon and the National Security State.

There’s something about the gaping mouth of that cowbird that says it all. For example, the Biden administration was planning on spending $813 billion on the Pentagon in FY2023, an already enormous sum, only for it to be revealed this week that a bipartisan effort in the Senate is seeking to increase this by $45 billion. That’s on top of the $55 billion or so provided to Ukraine, roughly half of which is going directly to America’s merchants of death.

As Jimmy Dore points out in this segment, at the same time as the Pentagon cowbird cries for and consumes all the money, smaller, vulnerable programs (our yellow warbler chicks) like money for free school lunches for 10 million needy kids are allowed to wither and die.

Dore’s segment here is excellent:

Imagine allowing kids in schools to go hungry because of alleged lack of funds but then funneling nearly a trillion dollars yearly to the parasitic Pentagon cowbird in our midst.

Nature can be cruel. So too is America’s political process.

40 thoughts on “The Pentagon Cowbird

    1. too true, ray; you and wja do not ‘speak w/ forked tongues’. hu-man and hu-woe-to-man critters are what nature has vomited up out of the primordial slop and must be stopped, along w/ those voracious cowbirds in the esurient MICC. perhaps mother nature will finally understand the error of her ways and see fit to terminate us w/ prejudicial dispatch.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ‘Incompetence’
    On the boomerang of the sanctions regime against Russia and the lack of intelligent thinking in Western policy planning

    For some time now, I’ve been asking myself and others why anyone would go into government in light of how much media scrutiny is placed on politicians, when you can simply go into finance or tech and make way more money while flying under the radar? There are many answers to this, ranging from suitability, education, and opportunity all the way to the psychological such as narcissism and hunger for power. We can speculate on the reasons all day long, but it is my contention that political office and public service is becoming, or has become, the domain of 3rd stringers, i.e. those who are not the best-in-class. The result of this situation is increasing incompetence in policy and governance.

    The incompetence on display by western governments is at present best exemplified by the boomeranging sanctions levied on Russia in response to their invasion of Ukraine that began this past February. The intention of these sanctions was to impoverish the Russian state by strangling its economy (and therefore render its ability to engage in military action impossible) which would then stoke a rebellion against the government by Russian citizens angry due to its collapse. Instead, the Russian Rouble is now performing better than it was just prior to the war, making a mockery of President Biden’s claim that they would “turn the rouble into rubble”. To make matters worse, the Russians are making more money than ever exporting oil abroad, thanks to the rest of the world rejecting the sanctions regime against it and happily paying a discount on the oil. India is reportedly making a killing buying Russian oil to sell it back to Europe at a steep premium…………………………………….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ray, every time I see Putin speak I wonder who writes those speech’s, or its just him winging it. Whatever – they are brilliant. No American President since JFK could match the intellectual content of these speeches. Certainly not Biden. The Russians are incredible thinkers. Very clever people.

      And Putin is fortunate to be backed up by Sergey Lavrov as the Foreign Minister of Russia since 2004. Another brilliant man, brilliant orator, and brilliant debater. He shreds this witless BBC goon.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is what one commentor said…

        “Its the diplomatic language and standards that the Western countries have lost, but when I listen to Putin and his government, I can clearly see his level of concern, dignity, integrity and love of his country and people, beside having very high moral and cultural standards and values that makes all the above totally absent from the Western leaders nature as they are only focused on their own personal interests and don’t give a damn about their countries or people.”


      2. Russia: We are concerned that you are surrounding us with NATO.
        U.K.: We don’t recognize your concern as valid. We can do whatever we want to with NATO.
        U.K.: We are concerned that you are amassing troops on the Ukraine border.
        Russia: We don’t recognize your concern as valid. We can do whatever we want to with our troops.
        Russia: We are concerned that Ukraine is attacking cultural and linguistic Russians in Ukraine.
        U.K.: That is a matter between Ukraine and its citizens and is none of your business.
        U.K.: We are concerned that your troops have moved in to occupy the Donbas.
        Russia: That is a matter between Ukraine and Russia and is none of your business.

        Liked by 1 person

              1. A lot of nonsense here. Trump was out to get Ukraine? Trump as a weird Putin admirer? Why can’t people understand that Trump only cares about himself?

                I think if Trump had won in 2020, the Russia-Ukraine war wouldn’t have happened. It’s not that Trump would have “given” Ukraine to Russia (do we own Ukraine?); he just wouldn’t have sought a proxy war with Russia using the bodies of Ukrainians.

                Trump wanted good relations with Putin, which is not to say he was a Putin puppet.

                Interesting that Yovanovitch slipped, suggesting it was Ukraine that invaded Russia. Hmm … you can certainly argue NATO, the U.S., and Ukraine provoked Putin. And that we’re now fighting a war with Russia both for U.S. business interests and to weaken Russia, perhaps to the point that Putin is overthrown.

                And if that happens, the world will be even more unstable.


                1. @WJASTORE,
                  Right Bill, if Trump had defeated Biden and got a second term, and actually had the guts to get the US out of NATO – then Putin’s fears of a NATO attack from the Ukraine territory would have been mitigated.

                  And Putin would not have been provoked into attacking the Ukraine. The war averted.

                  Of course this is assuming Trump could have overcome all the pressure he would have got from the Deep State, the MIC, and WA DC warmongers in actually achieving his goal of actually getting the US out of NATO.

                  But its all water under the bridge now sadly.
                  BTW Putin is not going to overthrown – his approval ratings have reached levels unseen in years.


              2. Lots of nonsense. It’s MSNBC after all. I’m sure the “N” stands for “nonsense”. I think I know what the “B” and the “S” stand for but they’re in the wrong order.


                1. yup! MSNBC=’Mucho Shit Nonsense Bull Crap’. tnx for the risible pointer, alex. [btw, ‘shit’ is the diminutive of ‘shitten’, a perfectly legit word in old english, not an execration; it meant ‘to eliminate’.]

                  Liked by 1 person

            1. I think you’re probably right about what happened with Trump. And then the deep state got rid of him anyway.


          1. Just summarizing the debate and the action so far. I will really have a problem with it when one side says, “We can do whatever we want to with our nuclear weapons.” And the other side says, “We can do whatever we want to with our nuclear weapons.” And we will all perish in a schoolyard brawl.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. The quality of work Jimmy Dore puts out on YouTube is just incredible. The segments he and his wife Steph put out are seamless. He jokes that he is just a jagg off comedian doing YouTubes in his garage. But surely this is not far from the truth. I’m sure he does not have a huge staff researching the topics and preparing his scripts and show like say Rachel Maddow on MSNBC has.

    He must work his butt off every day with his topical posts on news the mainstream media won’t touch.

    Sadly he is highly misunderstood by low information viewers. The fact that he predominantly bashes the left ( The corrupt Nancy Pelosi always gets him really wound up!) is taken by a lot of people to indicate he is a “righty”, or heaven forbid a TRUMP supporter. He was absolutely ripped for having the Boogaloo Boys on. One of his most informative efforts showing his willingness to look at things from all perspectives.

    Jimmy Dore for President 2024.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another guy who is highly misunderstood by low information viewers. George Galloway, who was literally run out of the British Parliament for getting too close to the truth, always has on the best guests, and always gets it right. And he has a mastery of the spoken English language that even the great Christopher Hitchens had a hard time matching. A lot of people hate George’s guts. Which is a good sign eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a gruesome photo. If it was me I would have pulled out the cowbird chick and dispatched it. Fair is fair after all. I feel sorry for the warbler parents, who did everything right according to their instincts and training, and yet only succeeded in raising yet another generation of cowbird which will deprive future warbler chicks of food and life. You know there was a time when Republicans stood up for balanced budgets and Democrats stood up for things like school lunch programs. What happened to that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alex: I had an internal debate about this. If I had noticed the cowbird egg, I would have removed it. But once it had hatched, do you destroy the cowbird chick? Or do you let nature take its course? This is how the cowbird lives; do we pass judgment on a species because of its trickery?

      In this case, I noticed too late. I didn’t even know about parasitic cowbirds until they came to my backyard, so by the time I learned of them, the deed had been done.

      What do you think, readers? Remove the egg, or, assuming you didn’t see the egg, remove the chick, or do nothing and let nature take its course?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Don’t touch it Bill.
        My wife and I learned this lesson years ago in our horse barn.
        In the spring the swallows used to return and nest in the rafters above the stalls.
        We watched in amazement at nature as the chicks hatched, learned to fly, and flew away.
        One day one of the very young chicks fell out, or was pushed out, and was laying writhing in the sawdust floor.
        Feeling sorry, my wife and I got a ladder and gently put it back in the nest.
        And watched with dismay as all the other chicks were abandoned by their mother and died.
        The Lesson – Don’t interfere with nature.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. most of us have likely suffered similar experiences of ambiguity or decision-making ambivalence, wja, regarding nature’s seigneury over how her life-threatening dynamics should unfold amongst different species’ struggles for survival. as a marine and aquatic invertebrate zoologist [retired] i wrestled w/ this intractable but inexorable puzzle for decades.

        however, my ambivalence became clarified and solidified during a research survey off a remote island in the gulf of siam [aka, gulf of thailand]. a pristine madreporite and alcyonarian coral reef community, unmaculated by human interference or resort development depredations, was in the process of being completely and utterly decimated by the voracious ravagings of an army of crown-of-thorns asteroidean echinoderms [‘acanthaster planci’].

        for more than a century, this massive colony of reef-building coelenterates had provided a protective habitat for literally thousands of diverse species, invertebrate, vertebrate, and protozoan. it had in the process cultivated one of the most enriched environments of species diversity i had yet witnessed in-situ. ‘acanthaster planci’ are ‘ne-plus-ultra’ predators on coral reef colonies throughout tropical and subtropical seas, and the warming of global ocean-surface temperatures have accelerated their devastations.

        needless to convey, i was myself devastated [emotionally, not physically, of course] and began a concerted, homicidal annihilation of the invading ‘acanthaster planci’ in order to aid in the coral community’s survival. an aussie environmental ecosystems scientist who was a member of our team, went ballistic. “how dare you interfere w/ mother nature!”, she screamed at me. my subauditum rejoinder was, “i’m part of mother nature’s ecosystems as well, as is every member of ‘homo sapiens sapiens’ [taxonomists classify us as a subspecies of ‘homo sapiens’], and i choose to fight for the lives of these coral reef inhabitants!”

        so the war was on, as it is everywhere amongst every species across this ‘small blue dot’ [tnx sir carl sagan; we miss you].

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Reminds me of Jackson Pollock’s retort when they asked him why he didn’t paint from nature: “I am nature,” he replied.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. a surrealist artist w/ a realist’s perspective, eh, wja? tnx for pollock’s condign quote. had i noticed the cowbird’s intrusive, parasitic ‘egg’, i too would have removed the bloody blob, as well as the hatched creature in order to preclude its perpetuation of exploitation over the defenceless. despite ike’s and smedley’s anti-MIC caveats, we ignored their prescient vaticinations.


      1. Trillion is a number with two distinct definitions:

        1,000,000,000,000, i.e. one million million, or (ten to the twelfth power), as defined on the short scale.

        1,000,000,000,000,000,000, i.e. (ten to the eighteenth power), as defined on the long scale. This is the historical meaning in English and the current use in many non-English-speaking countries where trillion and billion 1012 (ten to the twelfth power) maintain their long scale definitions. (Isn’t this what the Canadians use Ray?)

        Since the 1950s, the short scale has been increasingly used in technical writing and journalism, although the long scale definition still has some limited usage.

        The Yanks have always used the short scale Ray.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Do I have this right?
          Seems one get different answers on different sites on the internet?
          The internet has inconsistencies – NO – can’t be so!


          1. Have any of you seen the movie where the President has died and Kevin Kline, I think it was Kline, is playing his stand in double. A satirical comedy.
            He is with his cabinet – and they need to work on the US Federal budget.
            Right – and he pulls out a pencil and paper, and licks the tip of the pencil to get started!


              1. Hey Bill you need to suggest to WordPress that they upgrade their software to allow editing your comment after it has been posted. That way your posters can correct errors in the comments after they have been posted saving them embarrassment. While they are at it they desperately need to add the ability to use capitals, italics, bold, strike-thru etc, and the ability to drag and drop jpegs. Disqus allows all these and is a much better commentary software package resulting in superior comments.
                Cheers, Dennis

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I have heard from a WP “happiness engineer,” Dennis, who gave me the following info:
                  After a bit of digging I found the following things:

                  Comments are technically owned by the site owner (not the commenter) after they’re submitted, hence why there’s no way to edit or delete comments you’ve left:

                  There are two ways you could enable more control on formatting comments:

                  Enabling Markdown by following these instructions:

                  Installing a plugin like the following (which would require that you upgrade your site to either our Pro or Business plan at least):

                  All that being said, I am also submitting these ideas as a feature request. Thank you for these suggestions.

                  So, it appears I’d have to “upgrade” my site, i.e. spend more money, and add a plug-in.

                  If you make a mistake in a comment that truly embarrasses you, etc., you can always contact me and I can edit it. Oh joy!



                2. @WJASTORE,
                  Thanks Bill – I’ll try not to make mistakes – difficult when you have oldtimers – ask Joe Biden.
                  Hey, and likewise, please advice me if I am posting too much!
                  Cheers from a 50F down under.


              2. Too much, Dennis? That’s for you to say. My chief concerns are comments that are:

                1. Overly long.
                2. Insulting, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable.
                3. Wildly off-topic.
                4. Self-indulgent and self-promotional.
                5. Repetitive.

                Generally, my site attracts thoughtful people willing to be civil to others. But sometimes people start to treat my site as if it’s theirs. That’s a no-no. I try to urge restraint while still making this site open and friendly.

                Liked by 1 person

        2. A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon we’re talking real money.

          In the U.S., a billion is 1000 million and a trillion is 1000 billion. Or 1,000,000,000,000 or 1×10 to the 12th power.

          We talk about a few CEO-types with salaries in the seven figures (millions). A 10-figure salary would be for billionaires, and a 13-figure salary is for trillionaires.

          The “Defense” Department has a 13-figure yearly salary. Most people in America make a salary in the 5-figure range. So the “defense” department makes do with 8 figures of magnitude greater than the average bloke.

          We’ve got roughly 333 million people in America. Why not cap “defense” spending at $1000 per head, meaning a budget of $333 billion per year. Seems fair to me.

          We are “short scale” people, but maybe we’ll soon opt for the long scale, especially if it means the Pentagon can get even more zeroes and more money!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. “It’s no secret that the U.S. government regularly runs at a deficit and that the total national debt is growing. It may be more surprising to learn that the interest on that debt runs at roughly $500 billion per year.

    The Project on Government Oversight calculates the share of the interest on that debt generated by defense-related programs at more than $100 billion annually.

    That final annual tally of nearly $1.1 trillion to pay for past wars, fund current wars, and prepare for possible future conflicts is roughly double the already staggering $575 billion the Trump administration has proposed as the Pentagon’s regular budget for 2018.

    Most taxpayers have no idea that more than a trillion dollars a year is going to what’s still called “defense,” but these days might equally be called national insecurity.

    So the next time you hear the president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a hawkish lawmaker claim that the U.S. military is practically collapsing from a lack of funding, don’t believe it for a second.
    William Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so impressed by these young kids ( I am 74!) putting together these YouTube shows like this one. It makes one realize that their are a lot of smart diverse young Americans out there who are aware of important issues and are not just wandering around listening to punk rock on their iphones. This format works well in analysing the vast content that is out there everyday on the internet. You don’t need to watch all of this, but I think its a good example of what they are doing:


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