Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


Big Stories You Missed

As usual, there are a bunch of big stories out there that the media is ignoring, which you should be aware of. My candidates for neglected stories that you should be aware of include:

U.S. Military Spending Growth Hits Level Since 1982

The US defense budget just experienced its biggest increase since the 1981-1982 fiscal year, Gordon Adams noted in Foreign Policy.

“The United States is back to defense spending, in constant dollars, that is higher than the peak spending levels under Ronald Reagan,” Adams wrote. “Only in 2010, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was defense spending higher.”

The Pentagon had anticipated around $551 billion in defense spending but got $716 billion, Adams pointed out. The military got this money by claiming it needs for enhanced readiness.

Obviously ISIS, which was easily wiped out by our “unready military” did not get the memo. Neither has North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un; who is so scared of our unprepared armed forces, he is desperately trying to build nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

The readiness argument is bizarre because it is not 1981. Back then America’s military had been severely neglected for a decade since the end of the Vietnam War. The United States also faced a well-armed, well-financed adversary the Soviet Union that was dedicated to global expansion at that time. A good case can be made that the USSR was stronger militarily than the USA in the 1980s.

Today, of course, there is no such adversary and the military we have is more than adequate for dealing with the threats we face. Not even China is a good excuse for this spending, any serious Chinese military challenge to the US is at least a decade off. The only thing today’s People’s Republic seems interested in is in expanding and protecting its markets.

One has to wonder who is in control on Capitol Hill; Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), or the defense contractors? Austerity and fiscal responsibility are dead in the Republican Party.

The Tea Party is dead – did anybody notice?

The Tea Party; possibly the most potent force in American politics over the last decade, has died and few people noticed.

In an obituary for the movement, American Conservative managing editor Matt Purple recorded the moment of death at 5:30 a.m. on February 9, 2018. That was when a Republican Congress approved a budget with $195 billion in new military spending and $131 billion for new domestic programs. The amount appropriated for domestic spending actually exceeds what President Obama asked for in his last budget.

For all its faults the Tea Party at least tried to demand fiscal responsibility on Capitol Hill. Now that it is gone the mantra of the GOP is “spend, spend, spend, and spend some more” but try to buy conservatives off with tax cuts.

The Religious Right is also dead

The Religious Right is barely alive, but that once mighty army is a pale shadow of itself.

Over at The Week, Damon Linker noted that religious conservatives seem to have no more ambitions. The movement that once claimed to be a Moral Majority and made grandiose plans to reshape American life is afraid to suggest anything.

Instead, all cultural conservatives are doing is applauding President Trump for appointing judges that they hope will rule in their favor. Linker even noted that the Religious Right has even given up on one of its signature crusades – that against pornography.

One person who recognizes this is The New York Times house conservative Ross Douthat. In an op-ed demanding a ban on porn, Douthat does not even bother appealing to social conservatives; he aims his demands at feminists. Douthat correctly understands that feminists are active, engaged, and capable of action; as the Me Too movement demonstrates, while the Religious Right will do nothing.

Why Today’s Christians Might end Up Defending Porn

The reason the Religious Right will do nothing on porn; and might try to sabotage a modern anti-porn crusade, is fear of government power. Today’s conservative Christians are a frightened minority, who fear that any extension of government power will be directed against them.

Anti-porn crusaders are likely to hear one big objection from Christian leaders which will shock them. The objection will be that Christians will fear the anti-porn censorship tools would be turned against them. The anti-pornography crusade may fail because today’s Christians value their freedom more than abstract concepts of decency.

If social conservativism is to be reborn, it will not come from the Religious Right. Instead, today’s social conservatives might need to seek secular allies; such as feminists, to achieve their goals.