U.S. Boosts Weapons of Mass Destruction

Slate reports on the continuing Weapons of Mass Destruction related program activities in the U.S.:

The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they’re running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons , and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for and a total of $30 billion over . This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

Measured in “real dollars” (that is, adjusting for inflation), ’s spending on nuclear activities is equal to what Ronald Reagan spent at the height of the U.S.-Soviet standoff. It exceeds by over 50 percent the average annual sum ($4.2 billion) that the United States spent — again, in real dollars — throughout .

There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nations — especially “rogue regimes” — to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged.

And note that this spending is being done by the Department of Energy so none of this spending is in the record-sized Department of Defense budget. Whatever the historical reasons for the fact that nuclear weapons production isn’t covered by the defense department budget, it turns out to be a convenient subterfuge to disguise the full cost of military spending.

Dubya thinks the U.S. should hand over sovereignty to Iraq on , no matter what. Kerry thinks this may be too early and the U.S. should be flexible on the date and wait until greater stability can be assured before returning sovereignty to the Iraqis.

Is this what you’ve been hearing on the news?

Here’s what’s going on: The Bush campaign has built a Bush “brand” that is associated with bold, decisive, confident, unambiguous leadership. It’s working pretty well for them. The Kerry campaign is trying to build a Kerry “brand” of a leader who is incisive, deliberate, cautious, realistic, and practical.

Both teams, I’m guessing, are counting on things continuing to go bad in Iraq. The Bush team hopes that the worse it gets, the more people will want a leader with his brand. The Kerry team hopes that people will get frustrated with the cowboy thing and want somebody with a cooler head in charge.

And so they take their positions on the sovereignty handoff. And so the issue gets framed: “do we hand over sovereignty then or wait for a more auspicious time.” And so the pundits debate.

And so the facts of the matter get lost. Because no “sovereignty” is being relinquished at all. In what will surely be a ceremony full of pomp, well-timed for live coverage in the U.S. news media, one U.S.-selected group of Iraqis will have their positions of quasi-authority dissolved and another set will be brought in. The new set won’t have any more “sovereignty” or democratic legitimacy than the last, but expect the U.S. news media to frame the ceremony the same way the politicians do.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse has issued their findings on IRS enforcement efforts and joins the chorus of groups who have concluded that all of the IRS bluster about more aggressive audits and actions against tax evaders is a bunch of hot air. Their report looks in particular at enforcement efforts against corporations and other businesses.

I should emphasize that the tax “avoision” technique I’m using and that I’m promoting on this site is completely legal and above-board. If you’re using this method and you get audited, there’s no problem because you’ve done everything by-the-book. But if you want to use a different method, something sneaky and illegal that the IRS wouldn’t approve of (if they only knew) it looks to me like there’s no better time to try it.

Libertarians, anarchists and liberals alike may profit from reading Julian Sanchez’s take on conscription and taxation and slavery. Does the common anarchist rhetorical point of calling taxation a species of slavery hold up under scrutiny? Is it in fact not just an exaggerated metaphor, but a counter-productive rhetorical device — tending not to make taxation look as bad as conscription but to make conscription look no worse than taxation?