We are the champions

Socialist Worker's Danny Katch, author of Socialism...Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation, catches you up on news you might have missed this week.

This Week in Capitalism | By Danny Katch (Eric Ruder | SW)

ANYONE REMEMBER the Iraq War? Gosh it seems so long ago...Oh wait, it's still fucking happening. The Battle of Mosul took place in November 2004, and we're marking the 12-year anniversary by having another one.

There can't be another country that's ever spent so much on not winning wars. According to an internal Pentagon study of nine military operations since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. record is zero wins, two losses and seven ties. That's the record of a last place soccer team. Sorry, I should be more patriotic--make that a last place NFL football team.

But somehow, fighting nine wars without a single victory doesn't make anyone question the whole "greatest fighting force the world has ever seen" thing.

If someone told you that the U.S. men's soccer team was the best in the world despite the results of every World Cup, you'd think they were delusional. Multiply that by 300 million people, apply it to something a thousand times more important, and it's called patriotism.

So now there's another invasion of Mosul, this time under a Democratic president who took credit during his re-election campaign for ending the war in Iraq. And the only objection to be heard is from Donald Trump, who's bellowing that the invasion is lame because there's no "element of surprise"--as if Iraq's second largest city is a warehouse in a Tom Cruise movie being guarded by a handful of henchmen.

To be honest, I really wouldn't mind hearing Trump elaborate on his military strategy:

When I'm president, we're going to beat ISIS so much. I'm going to bring in the best action heroes, with the biggest-grossing movies. And first of all, they're not going to be afraid to say the words "radical Islamic terrorists," which is going to be so major. You'll see how much that changes everything.

Then they're going to tap two ISIS guys on the shoulders, and when they turn around, they'll punch them and pull them behind a wall, and two seconds later, they'll come out wearing the ISIS uniforms, and you won't even believe how quickly they can do it.

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MEANWHILE, THOUSANDS of veterans who actually fought in Iraq 10 years ago are being hounded by collection agencies to pay back re-enlistment bonuses that the Pentagon has now declared were too high. So far, the military has clawed back $22 million, which is a good start toward making up for the $200 billion that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plan has gone over budget (while still not working.)

Don't expect F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin to be asked to pay money back though. Unlike the Pentagon, Lockheed truly is an awesome force. They win every war we fight.

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OBAMACARE RATES are rising 25 percent next year because health insurance companies are withdrawing from the system in the face of too many sick customers.

Why do we say insurance companies are part of the health care industry when they're actually a health care prevention industry? Nobody who actually provides health care ever says, "I didn't get into this job to work with all these sick people! I'm out of here."

Lots of people are going to pay fines next year because they can't afford health insurance. What other product is so bad that people will pay hundreds of dollars just to not have it? It's as if the government was forcing us all to buy Watermelon Oreos or box sets of the Ted movie franchise.

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POLICE ARRESTED 120 people for peacefully blocking construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the local sheriff called the protesters "out-of-state agitators."

If I were an Anglo cop facing thousands of Native American protesters, I'm not sure I'd go for the "you're not from around here" angle.

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MAINE GOV. Paul LePage said the people who started a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage should be put in jail. The next day, he laid out his carefully thought-out legal case: "To me, when you go out and kill somebody, you go to jail. Well, this is attempted murder in my mind, because it is pushing people to the brink of survival."

I imagine that if you're in Maine, this is doubly depressing. First, this guy is your governor, and he says bazzonkers stuff almost every day. Second, the fact that Paul LePage jokes aren't all over Twitter is a reminder that most Americans don't seem to realize that Maine exists.

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THOUSANDS OF Seattle teachers wore Black Lives Matter shirts to work last week and engaged students in discussions about racism. It was a historic protest, but right-wingers denounced it as brainwashing. As punishment they want all the teachers to stay after school and write on the chalkboard 100 times: "My country has the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen."