American Exceptionalism

W.J. Astore

Two images of American exceptionalism to mull over today. The first shows how exceptional the U.S. is with its military spending:

Of course, U.S. military spending is projected to rise in FY 2023 to $840 billion or so. Note how most of the countries that spend significant sums on their military are U.S. allies, such as Germany, the U.K., Japan, and South Korea. Russia is weakening due to its war with Ukraine, yet U.S. military spending continues to soar because of alleged threats from Russia and China.

The second image is a spoof sent by a friend, but it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if it did become the official seal of the Department of Education:

Jesus riding a dinosaur: Why not? We have serious museums for creationists in the U.S., where dinosaurs wear saddles and Adam and Eve are depicted as cavorting with creatures dating to the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras. I’m not sure how they all fit on Noah’s ark, but the Lord does work in mysterious ways.

Given the emphasis on gun rights, babies, and Jesus in America, perhaps the bald eagle isn’t our best national symbol. Perhaps it should be the Baby Jesus holding an assault rifle. It certainly would give new meaning to “love God” and “love thy neighbor.”

28 thoughts on “American Exceptionalism

  1. ‘The Phoniest, Most PR-Intensive War Of All Time’

    The president and first lady of Ukraine have posed for a romantic photoshoot with Vogue magazine, wherein President Volodymyr Zelensky waxes poetical about his love for his darling wife.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: how is Zelensky making time for a Vogue photoshoot amidst his busy schedule of PR appearances for other major western institutions?

    I mean this is after all the same Volodymyr Zelensky who has been so busy making video appearances for the Grammy Awards, the Cannes Film Festival, the World Economic Forum and probably the Bilderberg group as well, and having meetings with celebrities like Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, and Bono and the Edge from U2. It’s as busy a PR tour as he could possibly have without having a discussion about the strategic importance of long-range artillery with Elmo on Sesame Street.

    Oh yeah, and also isn’t there like a war or something happening in Ukraine? You’d think he’d probably be somewhat busy with that too.

    https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-phoniest-most-pr-intensive-war

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The bigger problem is that not enough young Americans ~ not necessarily dumb and/or fat ~ want to join the American military, even with all the incentives, bonuses, benefits, and adulation of the American people.

      Sort of like it was back in Nam: “Who wants to be the last man to die in this fucking war?”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heh.

    Regardless of a museum or two selling the idea that A&E walked with TyRex [see https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2019/05/24/ark-encounter-owners-sue-over-rain-damage/1220627001/ , “Owners of biblical replica of Noah’s ark sue federal government over … rain damage (it wasn’t even 40 days and 40 nights)”; and

    Given that a significant plurality ~ if not majority ~ of all those “Christian Nationalists” out there actually, honestly, and sincerely subscribe to that idea;

    A Far-Better logo for our DOE would be Jesus straddling an F-15, -16, or whatever. Or a B-52, ICBM, or small~nuke Cruise Missile.

    How’d Trump put it? “Americans who kneel to God and no one else” [ https://www.salon.com/2022/07/23/counts-himself-amongst-americans-kneel-to-god-and-no-one-else/ ].

    And how’d Congresswoman Boebert recently put it? “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not meant to direct the church. That is not how our founding fathers intended it. And I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk, that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like what they say it does.”
    [ https://www.newsweek.com/lauren-boebert-church-founding-fathers-government-colorado-1719760 ]

    Given the recent SCOTUS decision to begin to dismantle and ultimately obliterate the Constitutionally-mandated and -guaranteed Separation of Church and State and Freedom FROM Religion, as opposed to mere “Freedom OF Religion,” one is forced to ask and seek answers to the Question:

    What is the difference between Christian Nationalists in America today, and National Socialist in Germany 90 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, the Nazis wanted to eliminate religion, especially Christianity. Only one cult was allowed: The cult of the Fuehrer, and the new “bible” was Mein Kampf. When Germans got married, their wedding gift from the state was a copy of Mein Kampf.

      We’re not quite at the point where people get a copy of “The Art of the Deal” when they get married. Are we?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Heh. One could argue that ALL religions are “cults”; especially all those religions that one doesn’t believe in, couldn’t one?

        But beyond that: What are any of the other differences between Christian Nationalism in America today, and Nationalist Socialism in Germany in early 1933 after the Reichstag Fire?

        What’s the difference between Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and, as but one example, his Great Southern Wall, and Hitler’s “Lebensraum for the Thousand Year Reich” and the Betrayal of the Fatherland by the Jews?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re asking for “difference,” not similarity, Jeff, and there are some differences. Hitler sought “living space” via direct conquest and extermination or subjugation of “inferior” people, like Jews and Poles (and Polish Jews).

          Jews were not just betrayers but a disease, a racial poison, that again, in Hitler’s mind, needed to be eliminated totally.

          I don’t think MAGA and the Mexican Wall are quite the same thing. Sure, they’re about White supremacy and they’re motivated in part by racism, but Trumpers aren’t Nazis.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. i’m not sure, Colonel, of the real world difference between Hitler’s “living space” via conquest and extermination/subjugation, on the one hand, and the track record of America, on the other, in:

            It’s dealings with Indigenous Native Americans back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; and.
            It’s dealings with the peoples, lands, countries, and nations in those areas all over the world that have [or had] natural and other economic resources that America had and has determined it Needs, Wants, and therefore must Control; the history of American foreign affairs since the end of the 19th century, particularly over the past 77 years since the end of World War II.

            But i’ll agree that Trump and his Devotees aren’t in quite the same league as Hitler and his. At least not yet.

            They may not be “Nazis” in the Hitlerian sense, but that is probably only because they haven’t had the opportunity and the calling from on high to do in and to America what the Nazis did to and in Germany and Europe back then. Isn’t that what this whole January 6 thing is all about?

            Perhaps a better label would be neo- or proto-Fascists, eh?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. i agree, moebus, and i applaud your argute, well-reasoned, apropos comments. the industrialists, particularly those who are complicit w/ and fund govts’ ever-expanding stockpiles of murder-machines such as general dynamics and raytheon, rule the world, whether it’s nazi germany, the US of Ass-ass-ins, or timbuktoo-ites.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Lt.Col., America has an addiction problem. Everyday it wakes up and embarked on the same destructive behaviour that is killing them. Seymour Melman wrote about it. As did Chalmers Johnson. Militarism exceptional ism, and deindustrialization is an addiction that will kill the US.

    Until the addict admits to his addiction there is no hope of solving the addiction. Like all mighty empires before it the US is doomed to kill itself.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, that was a great article you wrote in 2012. One of your best.

        And back then, you were writing about the boondoggle F35. And here are, 10-years later, still stuck with this expensive pig in a poke! Surely by now its technology is outdated, and the airplane probably out classed by those of our adversaries.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Perhaps one of the reasons we’re fighting with the Russian Federation is that they too are a major weapons supplier. Beating the competition is a basic business strategy. And we increasingly capture the market by signing up more countries to NATO. And since we pay for an outsized portion of NATO it’s less of a burden for those countries. It may even be profitable for them. So it’s a win/win for everyone. Except perhaps for the US taxpayer, who seem to be always getting the short end of the stick.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “On March 12 2021 the editorial board of the New York Times published “The Fighter Jet That’s Too Pricey to Fail.” I read it in astonishment. It is pathetic actually, riddled with factual errors, foolish — but trendy — judgments, and a conclusion poorly supported by its own text. The Times, especially on defense matters, has become nothing more than an overrated vehicle for circulating conventional wisdom.

          The Pentagon airplane of which they write is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. For more than ten years it has accumulated profoundly negative reviews for its bad design, run-away costs, an inability to show up in combat, and unfavorable comparisons to other aircraft (especially ones it wants to replace) among many other things. Showing up late to the party and without a real understanding of the data and the problems with the F-35, the Times has now attempted to publicly stroke its chin and offer up a vague wave at solving the problem.”

          https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/03/23/the-new-york-times-should-be-ashamed-of-its-feeble-defense-of-the-f-35-boondoggle/

          Liked by 1 person

      3. Excellent article, Colonel. Ten Years later, here’s an April, 2022 update from the U.S. Government Accounting Office GAO on the F-35. It states: “The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program remains DOD’s most expensive weapon system program. It is estimated to cost over $1.7 trillion to buy, operate, and sustain.”

        In Your piece in early 2012, You wrote: “By recent estimates the F-35 will now cost U.S. taxpayers (you and me, that is) at least $382 billion for its development and production run.”

        Talk about a “cost over-run,” eh? And, No Doubt that all the prime contractors on this goatrope have “Cost Plus” contracts with Sam. That’s the only way Sam’ll do business with its major suppliers in the defense industry.

        And every single dime of that $1.7 trillion has gone, goes, and will go into the pockets of defense contractor workers, supervisors, managers, executives, board members, and shareholders. So it’s really just another fine example of just another big government wealth redistribution program: from taxpayers to arms merchants.

        The most interesting part of the GAO Report was its opening paragraph:

        “Operational testing of the F-35 continues to be delayed—primarily by holdups in developing an aircraft simulator—EVEN AS DOD GOES FORWARD WITH THE PURCHASE OF UP TO 152 AIRCRAFT A YEAR. THE MORE AIRCRAFT PRODUCED BEFORE TESTING IS COMPLETE, THE MORE IT MIGHT COST TO RETROFIT THOSE AIRCRAFT IF ISSUES ARE DISCOVERED.

        “If DOD moves forward as planned, IT WILL HAVE BOUGHT A THIRD OF ALL F-35S BEFORE DETERMINING THAT THE AIRCRAFT IS READY TO MOVE INTO THE FULL-RATE PRODUCTION PHASE.” [EMPHASES added.]

        You can’t make this shit up.

        Continued at https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-105128 .

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Yeah, graph like that tells a story that we don’t want to hear that is right out in the open for anyone with better info sources than our snoozemedia. There needs to be a similar graph, or series of graphs, on healthcare expenditures of various countries and the healthcare numbers and positions worldwide. Last time I looked our healthcare stats for everything were mediocre at best for the industrialized nations, and our per-capita healthcare expenditures were more than 50% ahead of our nearest competitor. Oh, and the entire of the industrialized world has single-payer, even South Africa, and we have something like 25% uninsured. Healthcare–with our American system we spend a lot more than anyone else and get less for it in results.

    I like the Jesus on a dinosaur picture, and the idea behind it. I think the Texas State Board of Education ought to get going on using it, and when they succeed and do start using it, I think I will have to start some black op/black propaganda organization to get the Texas Jesus wearing at least two of the three items: 1) the appropriate Stetson 2) a pair of cowboy boots 3) spurs. I can just see the arguments amongst the SBOE members about the appropriateness of Jesus wearing a Stetson. There won’t be any arguments from them about Jesus riding a dinosaur, but some deep seated alarm bells might likely go off if Jesus wears a Stetson. As far as spurs go, hell, everyone knows that to ride a T-Rex you need them.

    On other things educational, my last send about the demolition and rebuilding of the Karen Academy I mean the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders and the destruction of all of the existing landscaping as part of that leads me to thinking about what that says about us as a society and people and as individuals, too. I think that there is a story there on the district wasting the money on a new school in a time of declining enrollment, wasting money on a single sex school in the first place–I kinda think that the Reviving Ophelia garbage is mostly gone, but Austin is slow in catching on to that same as it is with every other fad’s passing–hell, I’d bet that there were more hippies a decade or more after the ’60’s here in Austin than anywhere else, so no surprise there. More is just how much attention anyone paid to the demolition/destruction of the existing landscaping, bad as it was. It wouldn’t have been any great architectural inconvenience to keep it if anyone had thought about keeping it. Did anyone on the architect side do that? How about the degreed landscape architect who pro-bono planned it out? Or the tree-promoting do-good organization that provided the trees and the ‘expertise’ and a lot of the grunt labor in planting them. Any of them bitch any? Hell, are any of them even aware of their not entirely unrecent efforts’ recent destruction? Did anyone on the PTA side think of that landscaping destruction, and the mockery it makes of their wishes, desires, and efforts past? Did anyone who put in the sweaty effort on planting the trees notice what was going on, and did they complain any? Anyone who is a tree person watches over their little trees they planted like their children, and it sure as hell doesn’t look like anyone of the parents here did that with the trees. What does that say about their parenting? And who they are as people? And how rare is being a tree person in the first place? Had anyone bitched, I’m sure they were told the usual ‘we are the authorities and this is our decision so kindly go fuck off’ that is bureaucracies’ attitudes worldwide to anyone bitching about their being run over. But I’ll bet that no one bitched, and I further bet that all the current postconstruction treeplantings are going to die, and that nothing gets done to fix that for a very long time, if in my lifetime ever. And then there is the acreage of astroturf on the school grounds. Astroturf (over asphalt, of course) in a sensitive aquifer recharge zone. No recharging of the depleted aquifer with everything covered in asphalt, and the runoff is going to be just more adding to dirty storm sewer runoff dumping straight into the Colorado river. Astroturf the environmental crime, with its heat absorbtion and radiation, the exact opposite of grass. Hell, out in the suburbs you see the occaisonal house with a yard of astroturf, and it is ugly, and the homeowners with it are butt-lazy about doing the physical effort of yardwork, and without exception anyone with a yard of astroturf is an asshole. There aren’t that many always right generalizations you can make but that is one I’ll stand with. The school district buying into assholedom with an astroturf grounds on their Karen academy. Jesus. That’s us, at least our official us, and the rest of ours’ silence on it makes us complicit.

    Enough of that. Got some work to do and need to get going on it. Need to move some writing out of the pipeline–the Stavridis piece might be the first, dunno.

    Best– Dan ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Companies in competitive industries use new technology to lower costs. But in the defense industry new technology is an add-on. We have drones not to replace aircraft but to supplement them. The Navy wants a 3-5% real budget increase for the next two decades to pay for its planned build-up of unmanned ships. At a 5% inflation rate that would be an 8-10% nominal increase per year. A trillion dollars isn’t that far off after all. https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2022/07/navy-fleet-plan-needs-3-5-annual-budget-increases-next-two-decades/375038

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Today, July 28, is EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY 2022

    EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.

    To determine the date of EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot.

    EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year: (Earth’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

    And speaking of “Exceptionalism,” EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY 2022 for the United States was March 13: https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/ .

    Which means that if the entire Planet lived as people in the United States do, it would take FIVE Planet Earths to satisfy the demand for ecological resources and services.

    For more information, go to https://www.overshootday.org/ .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here are the earliest 20 EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY 2022 Nations:

      Qatar 2/10/2022
      Luxembourg 2/14/2022
      Cook Islands 3/11/2022
      Bahrain 3/12/2022
      CANADA 3/13/2022
      United Arab Emirates 3/13/2022
      UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 3/13/2022
      Estonia 3/14/2022
      Belize 3/15/2022
      Kuwait 3/15/2022
      Trinidad and Tobago 3/19/2022
      Mongolia 3/21/2022
      Australia 3/23/2022
      Belgium 3/26/2022
      Denmark 3/28/2022
      Finland 3/31/2022
      Latvia 4/1/2022
      Korea, Republic of 4/2/2022
      Oman 4/2/2022
      Sweden 4/3/2022

      [EMPHASIS added.]

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ‘The Ukraine conflict calls for sharper vision and bolder action’

    The Ukraine conflict is a sign of our dire predicament, potentially a taste of worse to come.

    But first, a few words on the decade long conflict. Right now, the fighting is inflicting thousands of civilian casualties, military casualties on both sides in the tens of thousands, destruction of social and industrial infrastructure that will take decades to rebuild, and wholesale displacement of people.

    In short, an unmitigated tragedy. The Russian use of force is legally unjustifiable, ethically reprehensible, and an affront to the human conscience.

    But Russia is not the only culprit. Poorly thought-out US-led sanctions are hurting developing economies, driving Western Europe into recession, and further destabilising an already volatile international trading and financial system.

    The interruption of grain supplies and the associated rise in the cost of foodstuffs, fuels, fertilisers and transport may mean that an additional 50 million people may soon go hungry. The grain agreement signed in Istanbul offers welcome relief, but it covers only the next three months, and implementation remains at best uncertain.

    To this must be added the toxic atmosphere in US-Russia diplomatic relations, compounded by the unseemly vitriol and personal abuse directed against Putin by the US political elite, Biden included. All of this sustained by a well orchestrated US propaganda campaign in which Western mainstream media have been willing accomplices.

    If the recent sequence of events is distressing, so is the prelude to it.

    Successive waves of NATO expansion – something we were promised would never happen – have brought the US-led military alliance right to Russia’s doorstep. The coming to power of a Ukrainian government intent on joining NATO has added fuel to the fire.

    Over the last eight years, the US and its allies have been ramping up sanctions against Russia, and NATO deployments and joint exercises in Eastern Europe. And all the way through, the persistent refusal of the West to consider Russia’s longstanding grievances and proposals. The United States and NATO have much to answer for……………………………………………………………………………………………..

    https://johnmenadue.com/the-ukraine-conflict-calls-for-sharper-vision-and-bolder-action/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And it’s quite ironic that it was posted along with the news that Manchin suddenly decided to cut a deal to enable what he has been objecting to for so long in the Senate to go forward. Just in time for Summer Recess. It’ll will be interesting to see what the details of that deal will be, eh?

      Like

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