Alabama Amazon & 18th anniversary of the Iraq War

march starts

The giant puppet is Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of the multi-national technology company Amazon. How wealthy is Bezos? Robert Reich, who teaches Public Policy at the University of California, tells us:

Jeff Bezos' new $165 million Beverly Hills mansion will have:
— 3 hot houses
— 2 guesthouses
— A nine-hole golf course
— A tennis court
— A "motor court" with gas pumps
Remember when Amazon's Whole Foods cut health benefits for part-time workers to save money?
Hmm, yeah. Something tells me Bezos can put up with a bit more taxation.


Amazon is currently bragging that its workers make $15 an hour. That's nice, Amazon, BTW, supports the proposed federal minimum wage of $15, but that constitutes an admission that they're paying as low a rate as they feel they can get away with.
The Green Party of Philadelphia explains:

And yet, only two short years ago, when Amazon promised jobs and development through it’s HQ2 competitions, our city led by a Democratic mayor and Democratic city council, happily bid to make Philadelphia the next home for Amazon. A bid that included tax breaks, free public infrastructure, and other corporate welfare simply to woo this company into our midst.
So, the Green Party stands with Amazon workers!


Amazon permits two half-hour breaks in the workday in their facility in Bessemer, Alabama, which sounds reasonable, until you realize the facility is the size of 16 football fields and the 5,800 employees there are not permitted extra time to get to where they can eat lunch or to relieve themselves or to wash up. All of their time travelling within the facility comes at the expense of their half-hour breaks. With computers, every minute is accounted for.

Bates told lawmakers they’re subject to an Amazon anti-union campaign ranging from hour-long management harangues to anti-union posters plastered in the restrooms.
The vote on unionizing the facility is 29 March.
Senator Bernie Sanders reported that Jeff Bezos had declined to join te hearing on wealth inequality.


Recently joined up with "Divest Philly from the War Machine Coalition." They asked me to do some Facebook posts for them. I decided to do some posts to just define the whole nuclear weapons issue.
Over a 30-year period, modernizing our nuclear deterrent would cost roughly $1.7 trillion, or $0.2 trillion less than the just-passed American Rescue Plan. Of course, we heard all sorts of wailing and moaning and griping about the expense of the ARP from America’s opposition party, which is still using the theory of Austerity (which attempted, unsuccessfully, to replace Keynesian economics).
The Department of Defense claims we’re at a “tipping point,” where various components of our deterrent date all the way back to the 1950s. We’ve now seen “decades of deferred investments in nuclear warheads, delivery systems, platforms, nuclear command, control, and communications and supporting infrastructure."


Arms Control Association reports that:
The United States maintains an arsenal of about 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), and Strategic Bombers and some 180 tactical nuclear weapons at bomber bases in five European countries.

Both China and Russia are upgrading their nuclear deterrents. The tool of diplomacy has gone rusty and unused over the past four years. Do we really need that many warheads? Wasn’t the mere possibility of a nuclear counter-strike enough to prevent nuclear war back during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis? Can’t we make do with a greatly reduced arsenal? How many warheads do we really need?
Way back when, a college professor of mine said that the Soviets, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, faced the prospect of trying to take out US missiles. Even though the US missiles were above-ground (The US hadn’t built any silos yet) and vulnerable to a strike, the Soviets decide it just wasn’t worth it.
In the comment by Lebow and Stein, it’s clear that the US really, really didn’t want a nuclear war, even though the situation was much the same from our side. That is, destroying all Soviet nuclear missiles wouldn't have been all that hard, but the chance of a devastating counter-strike was a non-zero possibility.


I took a course in nuclear deterrence way back when and decided that either side could inflict unacceptable damage with as little as 90 or 150 nuclear warheads, 30 or 50 each of land and submarine-based missiles and aerial bombs. We have 1,650 warheads at the moment, with a small number of portable nuclear missiles.
Obviously, the preferred option is to simply have total abolition of all nuclear weapons. Not only would all of humankind be safer, but the US could save that proposed $1.7 trillion for more important uses.
The author of this piece says that the US must “keep up” with ICBM threats from North Korea and Iran. First off, we had pretty much solved the ICBM threat from Iran via diplomacy in 2015. President Biden is trying to restore that. North Korea is a stickier problem as everyone from Clinton onward has been trying to dissuade NK from pursuing nuclear weapons. My own view is that Clinton and Obama were more successful than the younger George Bush or Trump, but that’s in a purely relative sense.
In the late 80s, I did a college paper on what was called “Star Wars” back then. It’s called Missile Defense now. Knocking down intercontinental missiles is a very, very difficult task. Is it like landing on the Moon? Much harder actually, as the Moon wasn’t making evasive manuevers, wasn’t trying to hide and wasn’t returning fire.


Israel has reported modest success with hitting short-range rockets during the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and has also hit small Palestinian rockets during the Great March of Return of 2017-18. This makes sense that an anti-missile system would be more effective against short-range missiles than against ICBMs.
That means that if there was to be a high-priority target for anti-nuclear protests, I would think it would be against “tactical,” or small nuclear weapons. In the early 1980s, the US traded a non-deployment of the intermediate-range Pershing II missiles for the withdrawal of Soviet intermediate-range SS-20 missiles.
The smaller nuclear weapons seem to be easier to give up, particularly as they’re more likely to start a war. One of the paradoxes of missile defense is that if a nation has a “shield” (missile defense) as well as a “sword” (nuclear missiles), then they might have more confidence to begin a nuclear conflict.
Ideally, we’d simply stop all nuclear weapons building. But focusing on banning tactical nuclear weapons might be a good starting point.


So how's America doing on the coronavirus? Ehh, better. President Biden fulfilled his pledge to get 100 million shots into the arms of Americans by March 19, well ahead of his 100-day pledge. The problem?

For nearly 2 weeks, we've been stuck at 50K new cases daily
in that time, we've vaccinated an additional 20M Americans
So why flat?
Its a race between vaccinations and variants
And we're running even
Opening up too fast helps the variants
I want vaccinations to win
In late February, Dr. Fauci warned that it was too soon to open up states. People are just in too much of a hurry!


The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was passed on a party-line vote. All of the Democrats voted for it, none of the Republicans crossed the aisle to do so.
The big debate now is over the filibuster, the Senate tradition that permits a minority of the Senate to exercise a veto over anything the majority might wish to do. In the 2009-2010 legislative period, the Republican minority exercised the filibuster way more than in any period in US history. Senate Minority Leader McConnell argued that New York and California were ganging up on poor Kentucky to pass laws that Kentuckians would object to.

As Vox pointed out in November, with Democrats securing both Senate seats in Georgia, the 50 Democratic senators represent 41.5 million more Americans than the 50 Republicans in the chamber. Kentucky’s population is about 4.5 million people, compared to about 39.5 million in California and 19.5 million in New York, respectively.
So it's difficult to feel much sympathy for the far fewer people who wish to block all progress than it is for the frustrated majority that really wants to get some laws passed. McConnell is taking an absolutist hard line on the matter. Hopefully, Democrats will soon act to eliminate the filibuster.

Iraq War
18 years after the Iraq War began.

Think my favorites song out of this period that referenced the Iraq War was "♫♪ The Dirty F***ing Hippies, WERE RIGHT! ♪♫" We saw a lot of foreshadowings during the occupation of Basra at the very beginning of the Coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Iraqi people immediately looted government goods (As they would do upon the Fall of Baghdad) and weren't openly hostile towards the Coalition, but weren't notably overjoyed either. They didn't carpet our path into the country with rose petals. The battle was harder than anticipated, but the battle didn't really upset the Coalition timetable. The real disaster came when the Coalition occupied Baghdad!

Thousands took part in the looting in Baghdad which began April 9, the day the Hussein government ceased to function in the capital city. Not only were government ministries targeted, and the homes of the Ba’athist elite, but public institutions vital to Iraqi society, including hospitals, schools and food distribution centers. Equipment and parts were stripped from power plants, thus delaying the restoration of electricity to the city of 5 million people.

Iraq War

More than anything else, this dereliction on the part of the Coalition (Iraqi government persons were unable to assist in rebulding the country as a bureaucrat without an office is like a sailor without a ship), along with abruptly firing the whole of Saddam Hussein's armed forces without notice or even severance pay, ensured that there would be a rebellion, which started taking serious casualties by September of that year. The Second Battle of Fallujah was a victory for Coalition forces, the Marine Corps especially distinguished themselves, but the battle demonstrated that the Iraq insurgency wasn't easily exterminated.
President Barack Obama finally got the US out at the end of 2011. As of February 2020, the Iraq War cost the US nearly $2 trillion.