Okay, class, time for a pop quiz! Get out your number 2 pencil, everything under your desk, eyes on your own paper. Okay, here we go. Oh, yeah, it’s a word problem…

There’s a guy, homeless, alcoholic, and drug addicted. He owns a van with a bad door latch. He knows that if he drives too aggressively, the door has a tendency to come open and if anything or anyone is leaning on the door, it or they will fall out. On Wednesday, November 30th, there’s a drunken woman in the van with him and he’s mad at her so he’s driving angrily. In fact, he intentionally drives in the way he knows pops the door and the woman actually falls out of the van and onto the street.

Fortunately, she seems to have avoided serious injury but the road rash is extensive. Even more fortunately, the cops get involved. They know immediately the pair are drunk. As the cops document the injuries on the woman, they discover evidence of physical abuse and they note as much. They ALSO discover the guy is on probation for assault and battery.

Drunk driving is a violation of his probation so they arrest him again. He’s charged with violating his probation, a misdemeanor. He’s charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. He’s ALSO charged with felony DUI with injury. His bail is set at $101,000.

Okay, are we clear? He’s on probation for assault, he gets arrested for a second assault and violating his probation by driving drunk and causing injury. Pretty clearly a threat to the society, wouldn’t you say? Okay, for 1,000 points (with no cash value), here’s your question: How long would you expect the guy to remain in the local jail awaiting trial?

Okay, time’s up. Pencils down. How long did you guess, a week? Two weeks? A month? Until his trial? I see…

So, who had one day? No, that’s what I mean, one day! As you may have guessed, this is NOT an hypothetical event. This really happened on the evening of November 30 and the driver was out by Friday morning, December 2. He didn’t even have to post bail. They just…let him out…

No, I wouldn’t have guessed one day, either…


Hey, the United States has a new bomber! Nice. As most of us know, the US has no needs other than military equipment so it’s really good they’ve come up with something. It’s called the B-21 and it’s the shiny new showpiece in Eisenhower’s feared military/industrial complex. We don’t know much about it. It’s classified and, being military hardware, that makes sense. Sadly, it also means we, the people paying for the thing, aren’t allowed to know if it works. In this case, “works” could mean anything from being able to fulfill the mission it was designed for to just being able to get into the air dependably. There was a BIG roll-out of the thing. We got to see some spectacular photos. We were told it’s the new truth, light, and way toward killing our fellow human beings. They’re currently building six of them. The Pentagon wants somewhere between 100 and 170 of them. Now, apparently, all we have to do is test it.

Yeah, you read that right. We’ve got one, they’re building six and they want somewhere between 100 and 170 and they’re going to start testing next week. I sure hope it works because in this once-great nation, they’ll build that thing whether it flies or not. I used to wonder how “they” got away with that, building weapons systems that don’t work. As it happens, there’s a trick. Just in case some Congress Critter mistakenly decided to do the right thing and try to kill an expensive and wasteful weapons system, the manufacturers distribute the parts and assembly among as many states as they can. The contract for military hardware is usually QUITE lucrative AND the factories the parts and pieces are built in and/or assembled create jobs. These are make-work programs to keep people working and keep money flowing into the states so no Congress Critter will step up to try to stop that waste.

Oh, how I wish my thoughts on this were just standard cynicism but I learned about the way it works with the F-35 Fighter plane. It was planned to be a next generation fighter/bomber. The thing is, a plane that tries to do everything does nothing well. None of the services want the plane because it doesn’t work well with any of the individual branch’s missions. Bernie Sanders once said he was going to try to kill the program. Once he found he couldn’t (specifically because of the widespread distribution of parts and assembly), he did an about-face and managed to get several of them housed in his home state of Vermont, the thinking being that the money is going out under any circumstances, why should Vermont miss out? It’s crappy but it’s also true. If someone wants to waste money, they can feel free to waste some of it my way any time they’d like.

The estimated cost for each B-21 is $700 Million dollars. They want as many as 170 of them. That’s going to come in at about $125 Billion dollars – and that assumes they keep the cost down to the estimate. When have you ever heard of that happening in military contracts? Estimates for the total cost of the failed F-35 come in around $1.7 TRILLION by the time the program “ends.” As the saying goes, a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking about some serious money…

Don’t get me wrong, here. I prefer a strong United States to a weak one. I just don’t understand how building weapons systems that don’t work make us stronger. I understand how it makes the Congress Critter’s positions in wanting to keep their phony-baloney jobs stronger, though, and that is, apparently, the main consideration. But those self-same Congress Critters will ALSO harp on endlessly about how they have to “stem government wasteful spending” so they have no choice but to cut Social Security, Medicare, and/or programs intended to help and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

I’ll tell you this: I would rather see a couple of weapons systems cancelled than any portion of the social safety net so when they start, call your Congress Critter and tell them to cancel wasteful government spending on weapons systems before they even consider messing with the social safety net. Turns out, there is LOTS of wiggle room in the American national budget if we could just stop feeding the ravenous military/industrial complex…

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