Law & Disorder: Blowing up our democracy

Lawmaking for sale

By AJ Wagner

Last week, I noted how Republicans won’t be formally approving President Barack Obama’s war with ISIL. I quoted Representative Jack Kingston who stated: “Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.” I wrote this while showing the questionable authority the president may have to launch this effort without congressional approval.

So, the president will be on his own, but without criticism from the opposing party and with little criticism from his own party or the mainstream media as he goes after the supposed threat that is a fairly rag tag bunch who are armed with American military equipment left over from previous excursions into the Middle East.

You probably haven’t heard Ramzy Mardini reported in The Washington Post, “Despite its territorial gains and mastery of propaganda, the Islamic State’s fundamentals are weak, and it does not have a sustainable endgame. In short, we’re giving it too much credit.”

The Guardian, a British publication, reported, “Hours before Barack Obama is to announce an expanded military campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) militants, his senior homeland security official assessed the organization poses no imminent danger to America at home.” This was not widely reported in the U.S.

Neither was this tidbit written by Trevor Timm: “Did you know the U.S. government’s counterterrorism chief Matthew Olson said last week ‘there’s no credible information’ the Islamic State (ISIS) is planning an attack on America and there’s ‘no indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters operating in the United States’? Or, as the Associated Press reported, ‘The FBI and Homeland Security Department say there are no specific or credible terror threats to the U.S. homeland from the Islamic State militant group’?”

The New York Times put it thus: “Some officials and terrorism experts believe the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.”

So, who are these pundits? Let’s look more closely at some of these warmongers who are allowed to appear as neutral talking heads. Lee Fang of The Nation reported:

General Zini is a board member of BAE Systems and was a board member of Dyncorp International before being appointed executive vice president within that organization. He also served as president of international operations for M.I.C. Industries, Inc.

CNN pundit Frances Townsend, a former Bush administration official, is calling for more military engagement against ISIL. Townsend “holds positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, and serves as an advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences.”

Retired General Jack Keane shows up on Fox and in the Wall Street Journal to promote war. He is a special adviser to the contractor formerly known as Blackwater, a board for General Dynamics and president of his own defense consulting firm, GSI LLC.

Retired General James Mattis gets his voice in The Washington Post. Mattis is Keane’s colleague on the General Dynamics corporate board, where he received $88,479 in cash and stock options in 2013.

Money is the root in these media observations, but it is even stronger in the government. Lawmakers are paid by the Defense Industry to vote war. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that nearly $28 million was spent by the defense industry to influence Congress in 2012. So far this year, congressional candidates have collected from defense contractors almost $20 million, with the heaviest giving yet to come as we near Election Day.

The president should be forced to give back his Nobel Peace Prize as he sets up a war we cannot win. Trevor Timm again: “In a speech that would make Dick Cheney proud, the president told us (and the Pentagon repeated) this week we are at war with Islamic State (ISIS) ‘in the same way we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates’ – a war that will go on indefinitely, is based on a strategy that’s been failing for over a decade and will never legally be called a war.”

William Rivers Pitt wrote, “The money we are going to spend bombing the problems we caused by bombing the problems we bombed can be better spent creating jobs, repairing infrastructure and educating our children to know better when a politician comes calling with platitudes about the excellence of the United States before announcing his intention to blow more stuff up.”

That’s what money should do in a true democracy, but in a plutocracy that doesn’t make the rich richer.

Disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and information only. Do not use this as a legal consultation. Every situation has different nuances that can affect the outcome and laws change without notice. If you’re in a situation that calls for legal advice, get a lawyer. You represent yourself at your own risk. The author, the Dayton City Paper and its affiliates shall have no liability stemming from your use of the information contained herein. 


A.J. Wagner is an attorney
with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth St. in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at 937.223.5200 or at

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A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at

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