The elephant in the room

Against my better judgment, I decided to watch both the Democratic and Republican presidential debates this year. Everyone running for the office of president made promises.

The Republicans promised more jobs, better education, a better and updated defense system, torture and waterboarding, continued international regime changes, improved national infrastructure by reducing taxes, etc. By reducing taxes for the wealthy and the corporations, the Republican candidates promise to get “big” government out of our lives.

They claim that working people will benefit dramatically by participating in an austerity program that will reduce most services that benefit and are needed and utilized by working people. By eliminating or reducing them, while reducing taxes for the wealthy, will help balance the budget and allow us all to find glory in the saved U.S. economy.

This austerity program will help reduce government intervention in our daily lives, except where it concerns a woman’s choice regarding terminating a pregnancy or people who wish to engage in same sex marriage. In other words, government intervention in our lives is unacceptable except when it concerns our bedroom activities.

The one thing the Republicans clearly agreed on was the need to strengthen our military and increase U.S. military intervention around the world . . . as Donald Trump has stated many times, “to make the U.S. great again.”

Watching the Republican debate was like watching a pissing contest in which each participant attempts to demonstrate that he is the baddest, meanest, asshole in the group. The dialogue had nothing to do with policy issues but instead was fraught with personal insults and attacks. It seemed more like my days growing up in the Bronx where several of us would insult one another, snapping on mothers, etc. This was known as “playing the dozens.” Watching candidates for president of the U.S., the most powerful job globally, playing the dozens was somewhat disheartening but not unexpected.

The tone and content of the debate between Killary and Bernie was clearly more productive and did touch on policy differences between the two.

Whereas, Bernie, the “socialist,” made promises of free college education, single payer health care (Medicare for all), financing the repair of the country’s infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, mass transportation, etc), a program providing jobs for our youth, paid family and medical leave, etc., his plans rely on financing these goals by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators, making corporations pay taxes on all of their profits, including the profits they have shipped offshore to places like the Cayman Islands, and closing tax loopholes.

Killary, the new “progressive” candidate, on the other hand is much more cautious in her rhetoric, promising to continue working toward health care coverage for all Americans by building on the Affordable Care Act which keeps control of health insurance in the hands of private, for profit corporations; college costs would be maintained and controlled by states and colleges and universities will be held accountable for improving outcomes and controlling costs to ensure that tuition is affordable. In other words, Killary is promising us more of the same with minimal adjustments that will give the appearance of progress.

So, what is the elephant in the room? With all the talk the debates produced, it was clear that neither party would mention the bloated military budget as one expenditure that can be reduced and one that consumes more than half the available discretionary spending (55%). The Republicans wish to increase military spending and update our military and nuclear weapons while the Democrats avoid mentioning the military expenditures at all.

The U.S. currently possesses enough weapons and nuclear capabilities to destroy every country on the planet several times. Yet, there is a need to demonstrate that the U.S. can destroy every country on this planet even a few extra times.

Instead of improving education for our youth, or providing jobs for the unemployed, or food stamps for the hungry, or health care for all, or affordable housing for the homeless, what is it we are spending our taxes on?

Besides the continuous wars in the Middle East the past 14 years, which has cost the U.S. trillions of dollars, there are 56 military facilities in Germany, 113 military facilities in Italy, 84 military facilities in Japan, and the Dimona Radar Facility is an American-operated radar base in the Negev, staffed by 120 US military personnel. Dimona is where the Israelis store their nuclear weapons. There are also U.S. military installations in Kosovo, Kuwait, and South Korea. The U.S. also maintains 40,000 troops in South Korea along the border with North Korea.

All these installations are manned by U.S. troops, with weapons and military hardware available. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list and does not include the costs of naval warships, aircraft carriers, and submarines that sail around the globe. The expense to maintain this military posture around the world is enormous and one must ask for what purpose? In 2015, the U.S. dropped over 23,000 bombs, 22,000 in Iraq and Syria, 947 in Afghanistan, 58 in Yemen, 11 in Pakistan, and 18 in Somalia. The figures for the number of bombings in Libya have not yet been made available. Besides the destruction and deaths caused by these bombings, it should be noted that the cost of this disgrace is hundreds of billions of dollars.

If the military budget were cut in half would we be any less safe? Yet, Bernie Sanders, with his enthusiastic agenda never mentions the outrageous military budget, one that is stealing from the American people a life of well being and security.

Yes, I mean security . . . the real security in knowing you have a job, you can feed your family, put a roof over their heads, and provide them with medical help when necessary, not the so-called security from terrorist attacks which is nothing more than a political ploy to keep us all in a state of fear.

This fear allows the war machine to continue its global imperialistic agenda, an agenda not to benefit us but to allow the rulers to gain dominance over resources and governments. The goal of course is profits, the God of capitalism.

Both Bernie and Killary accept and have participated in this global adventure. Don’t expect any dramatic changes no matter what they promise, while looking for your vote, if either one sits in the Oval Office.

As Stephen Lendman writes in his March 8 article in Intrepid Report, ”Indifference lets dirty business as usual flourish. Elections are farcical when held. Presidential aspirants look more like the FBI’s most wanted list than legitimate candidates, representing monied interests exclusively, not popular ones.”


Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.

One Response to The elephant in the room

  1. This idiomatic expression may have been in general use much earlier than 1959. For example, the phrase appears 44 years earlier in the pages of a British journal in 1915. The sentence was presented as a trivial illustration of a question British schoolboys would be able to answer, e.g., “Is there an elephant in the class-room?”