March 20, 2003 - December 18, 2011; the war in Iraq is allegedly over.
All U.S. combat troops out — 32,223 wounded over nearly 9 years.
Now, 2,399 U.S. soldiers have been killed, 20,000+ wounded in the Afghan war.
How close to the Iraq toll must it get before this waste ends?
In 2006, when the Democrat-majority, 110th Congress was sworn in, election-
mandated to end the Iraqi war, the toll of U.S. soldiers, killed, stood at 2,994.
Two years later, as Barack Obama took office, with a promise to bring an end to
Bush’s special-interest, Iraqi occupation in 16 months, the toll of U.S. soldiers
killed there, on the say of a minority of Republicans in Congress, rose to 4,227.
As President Obama announced, “end of combat,” on August 31, 2010: 4,416.
Is it the price of freedom, visible here, or that of a Constitution, subordinated?
Direct responsibility is now shared by Republicans in Congress, without excuse or equivocation, for
more spilled blood and lives lost in an occupation harmful to the nation, unjustifiable, and unjust.
The censorship of Iraq-war images by the Bush administration, beginning early on with bans against photography of flag-draped coffins, which continued until President Obama halted those restrictions, is still in practice to this day, as embedded reporters and photographers are kicked out of their units when pictures of casualties are published, and increasingly-impossible restrictions are placed upon the images that are approved for release. The picture, above, taken by Stefan Zaklin, then with the European Pressphoto Agency, was widely published in Europe and was in a group of casualty photos subsequently, much later, published in a Web slide show by the New York Times.
Publishing of such photos is not motivated by any sort of sensationalism, but rather because there is nothing like such graphic images that can relate the bare truth, invoking thought of the consequences of war and an assessment of the worth of the costs, whatever the level of casualties, under whatever circumstances, surge or otherwise. In Vietnam, where there were few restrictions on photographers, the graphic photos of casualties helped to arouse the massive, public outcries that eventually forced that illegitimate war to an end.
Is America, as Bush and his Republicans claimed, and as President Obama endorses, by retaining the troop presence in Iraq (the promised full pull-out remains to be seen) and adding to Afghanistan, really any more secure for the life this young soldier and his family had taken from them? As victories in the Afghan and Pakistani provinces and on the streets of Europe and America are won by special operations, intelligence, and law enforcement, not troops who, in trying to fight a ghostly, population-embedded enemy, continue to kill civilians and grow that enemy, the answer, which daily unfolds to ring ever-more true, is... no!
Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968.
From before language . . .
From before the short-lived days of Plato and Aristotle,
And the hopeful, professed, civil-enlightenment
Conception of Thomas Jefferson and the Founders,
Through the latest protestations of cloned diplomats,
The search for peace on Earth has been expressed, spoken,
Attached to every necessary and unnecessary conflict
Like a torn, headless, rag doll, betrayed and dangled
In the hand of an inimical, mischievous child.
That search for “Peace on Earth,”
Is there really any such prize?
War and the greed that drives it
Is a feted flatulence that will return, unrelenting, until,
Following the spirit . . . the body dies.
The chance of finding extra-terrestrials is better,
And that is nil, the likes of
The late, Lord of Neverland notwithstanding.
Peace on Earth exists only six feet beneath and
Just beyond the dark, distant horizon of mankind’s history.
That rotted deep and the future void,
The only escape from war’s constant reign
Over every averse generation, passed and present,
Piled one atop the other, as the pale, withered corpses,
Screaming silently a horrid holocaust in unanswered prayers.
Or, an escape of blinding, insulating, self-induced apathy,
Contributing as much to the blight as to any relief,
Or more so.
Where within the Bush administration was there visible any scar of this enduring weight of loss and pain, so recklessly and casually wrought by Bush and Cheney upon a peaceful nation? Where within Bush, as he strutted campaign stumps making jokes about West Wing movers, and drum-danced in the Rose Garden, could be found the shroud of these deaths, the kinds of which history has recorded so darkened the daily lives of Lincoln and Roosevelt? Where, besides in legacy-clawing, hindsight-tainted memoirs, with Iraq, can Bush or Cheney claim an ounce of the justification those great presidents had to commit American troops to war and death? Bush spokesmen, in late 2006, played down the postponement of the scheduled meeting between Iraqi P.M. Maliki and Bush by saying that the purpose of the meeting was mostly “social” in nature, and in so doing, Bush provided yet another example of the lackluster attitude he had toward ending the meaningless deaths of U.S. soldiers who propped up Maliki by acting as his police. Just as is now true for President Obama, there was, for Bush, no higher priority for the nation or his administration than to stop the killing, and the pall of such on-going deaths provided no backdrop or justification whatsoever for a meeting between those two so-called leaders on a “social” basis, where the completion of such serious business was wanting.
Before Bush invaded Iraq, he said of Saddam, “I’m sick and tired of games and deception.” And that’s all Bush has shoved down the throats of Americans and the rest of the world since before he began his premeditated, callous, thoughtless, criminal trek of misery and destruction in Iraq. If his statement wasn’t just P.R.—a line for show and for the crowd, Americans would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he knows how it feels to be lied to and deceived. The revelation by the New York Times, of the Bush administration’s Pentagon/media-propaganda program, established before the war, is further proof the invasion was preordained by the administration, and that it was, and remains, an illegal propagandizing of the American people and Congress to conceal and distort the truth in order to prosecute a hidden, special-interest agenda through a criminal abuse of U.S. resources and military lives and blood, for which the deserved impeachments, which never came, except in the judgement of history, can hardly begin to answer.
He was portrayed as “someone who blamed others for his constant failures, who thought that he was smarter than everyone else, who craved attention…” and it wasn’t Trump. Circuit Court Judge Tim Duket, in the Marinette County, Wisconsin courtroom, said that of Scott Johnson when he sentenced him to three life terms without parole for the murder of three teenagers he shot to death at an idyllic swimming hole, attempted murder for shots fired at several more people, and sexual assault. Johnson’s story reveals additional characteristics tied to sociopathic behavior, and the judge’s words could have been directed at Trump; it shows how dangerous a person with sociopathic traits can become if they don’t have other distractions and outlets and the means and circumstances to get away with abuse of others.
It is impossible to say if Trump, removed from his wealth and the varied opportunities it has provided him to vent his abuse on wives, children, prostitutes, employees, customers, reality-show and pageant contestants, would have snapped and turned to the ultimate abuse of murder, as Johnson did. But it is hardly out of the question because he has already been accused of brutal rape by his former wife, Ivana, and murder has already crossed Trump’s mind, when before thousands of people and cameras at an Iowa campaign rally, he actually said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Why would such an example come to his mind if not for a severe psychopathy?
Trump’s ignorance and egomania prompted him, as a U.S. president, to compare himself, superlatively, to Abraham Lincoln, the president most revered for the unassailable moral integrity of his character. But Trump had demonstrated many times (and continues to) through many aspects of his personal, business, and political lives that he is a man drenched of decidedly defective character, a man who has no qualms at all about fatherhood by proxy of money, none about sexually objectifying and publicly expressing lust for his daughter, or physically and verbally assaulting women, or insulting anyone, be they women, Gold Star families, POWs, the handicapped or leaders in government—ours or of any nation… except Russia. Russia, proven beyond any doubt to have attacked America’s democratic system, and is continuing to do so; yet, Trump does nothing to uphold his oath and primary responsibility as president to defend the nation and its Constitution against all threats—an impeachable offense on its own.
But Republicans in Congress instead enable him.
His Boy Scout speech brought to mind Hitler youth. He brags about ripping off financially struggling contractors because loophole laws paid for by and serving the wealthy made it “legal,” just as other useful loopholes allow him and others of extraordinary wealth to escape taxes, Trump claiming his accountant’s smarts as his own for avoiding the obligation (met by all those who are far removed from his financial level) over stretches of years. He has defrauded students who sacrificed, expecting to be able to advance themselves, not Trump’s ill-gotten gains, and for use of his golf facilities, he overcharged charitable, fund-raising events for children with cancer. He twice revealed classified information: to Russia and the less-than-friendly, China-leaning president of the Philippines, and he abused the power of his office to attempt influencing an FBI investigation, and failing, fired the director. He berates the judicial branch, the press and, by association, American democracy’s most important safeguards: the Constitution’s checks and balances and First Amendment. He exalts authoritarian despots while defiling America’s closest allies and mainstay alliances defending democracies.
The “great deal-maker/negotiator” again resorted to his principle tool, now for diplomacy: bullying, turning a treaty obligation, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), into blackmail leverage against Canada and Mexico, there, insisting on payment for the wall, resulting in Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceling a planned White-House visit, Trump spokespersons calling it a “postponement.” His strong-arm threats most recently aimed at America: promising to shut down the government if his wall isn’t funded—a costly border measure all experts say is unnecessary, its objectives better met with technologies, far more affordable. And both internationally and at home he displays undeniable religious discrimination and racism which has resulted in respective federal-court injunctions, state legal entanglements and settlements, and most recently, international outrage, as well as demoralization of the U.S. diplomatic corps and career-officer resignations. He curses in public like a pimp and lies like the corrupt politician and con artist he is, taking it to never-before attained levels of incredulous blatancy.
Yet, Republicans in Congress still enable him.
Trump has consistently displayed all the traits of a narcissistic, egomaniacal, misogynistic, serial-liar authoritarian—all the makings of an irretrievable sociopath. And everyone, including… no, especially his core supporters, as well as those who just hate Hillary and those who would not recognize the concept validity of “the lesser of two evils” and didn’t vote, all of them knew most of this about Trump before they voted for him, either via ballot or refrain.
So did Republicans in Congress, and with abominable selfishness and irretrievable hypocrisy they still enable him.
What does that say about them? The Republicans? The Trump voters? About America? It is safe to say that there are the “deplorables” Clinton itemized in her speech coining the term. But the majority of those who made Trump head of state (NOT leader, that must be earned) did so out of sheer anger, frustration and/or desperation; so, Trump really represents all that is wrong with American government and society, all that has ravaged the middle class, transferring jobs and wealth to the third and developing worlds for the sake of greater corporate profits (corporations blaming globalism and illegal immigrants), leaving in the wake a despicable, obscene inequality of economics and opportunity for all except the wealthy and the powerful, to whom the Republican party bows allegiance, as a client, willingly seeding its agenda with depleted health-care plans, savagely reduced funds for health services, with resultant, increased sickness and death; lost meals for school kids and the elderly and in-suspense healthcare for all kids; cleaved public education, left bare of humanities and arts; and now, a reverse-Robin-Hood tax gift to the wealthy and corporations, with temporary appeasement scraps to what’s left of the middle class—all of it representing an interminable list of attacks against civilized attributes and ambitions across the national and international landscapes, while the wealthy get the fruits of that agenda: hundreds of $billions in defense contracts and another steep tax break, with the cost of more than one $trillion added to the already crushing debt, dumped on future generations as Republicans try to sell the cruel, blatant lie of it “paying for itself” through the propaganda fantasy of trickle-down “growth,” the only real trickle-down being the metaphorical golden shower which Trump, McConnell, Ryan, Mnuchin and the rest of the GOP are spraying all over most Americans, including those not wealthy who voted for Trump!
The con was laid naked by Trump’s pathetic appointments to most of his cabinet seats and his total disregard of either qualifications or experience with nepotistic filling of top-level advisory posts, and his fancy executive orders and memo signings confirm it, while his social media and clumsily delivered teleprompter speeches and Boy Scout speech continue to spout the lies of his hijacked populist and democratic propaganda and his grandiose, fetid lies of feathered accomplishments. The vice president’s most important job has become to inflate Trump’s ego by making lengthy, fluffed-praise introductions to the Rose Garden and White House ceremonial rooms, where President Obama and most others before him would just appear, or someone would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.” Now, it’s got to be a drawn-out “Hail Trump” prologue before the Orange will show to crow.
Trump also represents the “me first” and “I want it now” consumerism, so rampantly embedded in corporate advertising, which infects sociability, courtesy, generosity, all the things to which Trump is the antithesis and which he is now peddling in his con, which is sooo apparent, falling like dandruff from beneath his bulbous, red, “Make America Great Again” hat onto the broad foreboding of his shadow. He has a carrot suspended in front of the donkey as it pulls his cart of pernicious political and civic sewage over a bridge that’s collapsed in the middle.
How could people, even desperate ones, expect that a man so deeply flawed as Trump, so obviously the liar and bearer of compassionless sociopathic traits that he is, would be capable of anything good or would be able to comprehend, let alone shoulder the weight of their hope?
Why do they and Republicans in Congress not recognize the absolute need for a president of this nation to be all the things Trump is not: a person of morals, strength, honor, of social commitment, to be ethical, courteous, thoughtful, learned, cooperative and compassionate… a gentleman? Or lady?
They know that if you make a casserole with spoiled meat, rotten vegetables and moldy cheese that it will taste bad and sicken all who eat it. They know that damaged or virus software wrecks the computer. They’ve heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” With Trump, why on Earth would they expect lead to turn into gold? Just because he plasters it on everything he owns?
Why enough people to prove the Electoral College is a dated artifact that must be abolished voted for Trump (but 3-million-plus fewer than voted for Hillary) is likely the question of our age, because in light of Trump’s profane character, and the embarrassingly narrow defeat (by only a slim 1.5 percent) of the equally distasteful Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate (who never would have been a candidate if not for Trump’s and the endorsing Republican party’s shattering of all standards of decency in politics) none of the answers that immediately come to mind are flattering for America or its people. But Moore’s narrow loss, followed by Democrat Conor Lamb’s narrow, congressional special-election victory in Pennsylvania’s nearly two-decade-long, Republican-safe 18th District (which Trump carried by 20 points), gives real hope that good people are beginning to understand the very real perils of non-participation in the political process, and that the mid-term election in November may take legislative government (and constitutional watchdog obligation) back from Republicans who have enabled the hateful travesty of Trump’s agenda, and remove the stain of his reprehensible character, and the Republican party’s complicity with it, restoring America’s image, world standing and leadership to solve the serious problems which can only be confronted through truth, international cooperation and commitment, not lies, antagonism, ridicule and uninformed impulsiveness.
There’s an election in six short months, when one-third of the Senate’s seats are up for election along with all those of the House, and if Democrats are voted into the majority of the House and Senate, assault weapons can be outlawed and Trump can be checked, preventing further damage to the nation. And through legislation, some of the financial and environmental safeguards he has removed can be restored, as well as telling the world that the cruel and insane Republican gun culture and Trump do not represent us—they do not stand for America.
It’s time to really drain the swamp!
Democratic control of the Senate and House will allow:
• Replacing Republicans who put party over country by refusing to act when Trump fired the FBI director, admitting, as circumstances support, it was because of the Russia investigation, which Trump obstructed, and for which the director had just requested additional resources.
• Congressional authorization to be mandated (reinforcing constitutional requirement) for any military deployment or non-defense combat engagement, and blocking unauthorized military aggression.
• Block federal possession of voter records and any executive action affecting voting rights or procedures.
• Replace those in Congress, insensitive to the shooting deaths of 20 1st-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary (among many attacks) and ban assault weapons, bump stocks, extended clips, sales to no-fly listed, and require universal background checks.
• Passage of law requiring presidents to reveal their tax returns.
• Ensuring aggressive congressional investigations into Russian ties with Trump.
• Imposing limitations on costs for executive and family travel/protection between residences and other destinations.
• Replace impotent nepotism rules with laws prohibiting nepotism without minimum qualifications, experience and independent oversight.
• Reopening the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian election interference and Trump collusion to hold interviews and pursue leads Republicans avoided and report findings deleted from their memo and conclusion when the chairman, Devin Nunes (R-CA), ended the investigation.
• Impeachment of Trump, as evidence of crimes, treason or insanity/unstable psychology has appeared.
• Reversing Republican removal/reduction of health-care coverage and instead, improving it.
• Repeal law prohibiting Medicare from negotiating drug prices.
• Passage of laws prohibiting the blocking or omission of science data from government reports and electronic or print publications.
• Reversing Trump’s withdrawal from Paris accords and elimination/weakening of environmental protections.
• Reversing decades of Republican consolidation of media, expanding the venues of thought and discourse, reducing media political bias and control while increasing competition for lower prices and greater consumer choice.
• Reversing cuts to public education made by DeVos/Trump in favor of private and charter schools.
• Prevent possibility of cuts in funding to the arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
• Reverse Trump’s indiscriminate, family-separating, citizen-involved deportations, pass immigration reform.
• Reverse Trump’s elimination/weakening of financial consumer-protection regulations.
• Pass law prohibiting sale of U.S. companies which have, or have ever applied for, defense contracts, and media companies, to foreign nationals or companies.
• Pass law establishing a cyber-defense commission consisting of chief technical officers of leading cyber-tech companies whose purpose is to coordinate assets and operations with Dept. of Defense efforts in cyberwarfare defensive and offensive strategies and capabilities.
• Reverse Republican tax-reform changes benefiting the wealthy/corporations and increasing inequality.
• Pass law reversing Citizens United’s ruling bestowing voter status to corporations.
• Reverse DOJ actions impeding or reversing protections against vote suppression.
• Reverse DOJ actions impeding or reversing programs for police oversight.
• Reinstate participatory separation of church and state.
• Make permanent the ban against importing hunting trophies of endangered species.
• Much more…
Votes must come for change to follow.
Every vote matters. Please resolve to vote and discuss it with your families, friends and neighbors.
Malcolm Kantzler — December 15, 2017
The new GOP — a majority of the minority.
The Republicans’ responses to the election are as clouded with misconceptions as the campaign they mounted against Democrats. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said the election was “a mandate repudiating Obama policies,” and that “Republican principles were embraced,” themes being parroted across the Republican landscape.
Thom Tillis, who won a narrow 1.68-percent majority over his Democrat opponent for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat, went further, to promise “a kill bill on Obamacare [the Affordable Care Act],” and in anticipation of a presidential veto on that, promised obstruction in its implementation. This was probably the most honest post-election reflection of true GOP intent for its new majority swing.
The least accurate view being touted by Republicans trying to build a perception of broad popular support was, “Voters had their voices heard.”
To the contrary, voter non-turnout in this 2014 mid-term electionelection, the lowest in more than 40 years, decidedly says the new GOP is really a majority of the minority, since most registered voters took a sleeping pill and voted with their backs. Exit polling shows that most of the few who did turn out are sick and tired of government, inequality, and what they perceive as taking the brunt of the national-debt consequences. They also rightly perceive that their household incomes have not begun to recover from the Great Recession, let alone profit from both the loss and the recovery as has been the case for the Republican core of wealthy and corporations. The fact that increasing the minimum wage won in every state in which it was on the ballot is a more accurate reflection of what voters really think about Republican policies, while 48 percent think life will be worse for the next generation, in spite of the election if not as a result of it.
Considering that by taking the mid-term sleeping pills most registered-voter no-shows gave the Senate majority to Republicans who want, in turn, to give control of health care back to insurance companies and medical conglomerates, they empowered a corporate-money party that wants to turn the self-sustaining, treasured safety net of Social Security over to the profiteering hands of the very financiers who destroyed the economy with their arrogance, criminality and greed; they helped the party of science deniers who have stalled and blocked efforts to curb warming and make fracking dangers transparent, thereby endangering the future of subsequent generations for the sake of more profit for the privileged few today; they gave flight to GOP hawks wanting to fight the unrealistic, unwinnable, unending wars against evil around the world; and said “yes” to a self-serving party that wants, first and foremost, to benefit its benefactors by maintaining the inequality of economics and opportunity it has created, keeping students deep in debt as they study and try to build America’s future, and by suppressing the voting opportunities of the poor and middle-class. Through denying and therefore empowering all of this, and more, the mass of apathetic, disgusted, turned-off and tuned-out voters have in fact not only turned their backs and gone to sleep on their own political survival, but they have created a nightmare, a very real kind of term suicide for most people of the nation over at least the next two years and far beyond in the cases of some appointments and legislation that, as a consequence, will and will not be passed in both state and national venues.
The truth is that the policy most damaging to the nation over the last six years has been the Republican policy which has been voiced many times by the next Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, dictating, “for the GOP to succeed, Obama must fail,” even at the cost of blocking recession recovery by hindering corrective regulatory efforts and needed, job-creating infrastructure funding, and creating government shut-downs and near credit defaults. It has been an unrelenting policy of collateral national loss for the sake of striking at the other party’s president and the programs of the majority.
Is all of this really to change under the guise of a propagandized mandate and smoke-screened claim of a base of popular support for a party that turned to fearmongering to win votes as quickly as Ebola failed to spread like wildfire? Look back to the victory statements of Thom Tillis and don’t bet against the GOP’s invigorated policy straying far from that obdurate one-sidedness over the next two years, from what it always has been, but now, wielding the clout that comes with the truth most voters seem incapable of learning: that elections really do have consequences.
Voter non-turnout in the 2014 mid-term election gives no mandate, rather it decidedly says the new GOP is really a majority of the minority.
Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.November 5, 2014
Lipstick on a pig?
On the question of the Justice-Department memo on administration authority to target a U.S. citizen for death, it is surprising that the incongruous nature of the situation for authorizing wire-taps is not mentioned, wherein, for the administration to spy on citizens, the review of a special judge, in place for that purpose, is required, while to kill a citizen, no judicial review is necessary. It seems unlikely that there will ever be any detail in the DOJ memo which will paint the lipstick which transforms that pig.
Sen. Ron Weyden (D-OR), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who seeks release of the secret, Justice-Department memos that provide the legal reasoning supporting the president’s authority to target U.S. citizens for death, references the president’s title of “Commander in Chief,” and he alludes to a “great amount of power” the Constitution vests in the president through that title. Sen. Weyden then claims the memos must be released to the Senate in order that constitutional checks and balances on that great power can be applied.
On the following week, February 10, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) argued, on Meet the Press, that the president’s executive power to kill, with remote-piloted vehicles, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, world-wide, has congressional authorization. To make such an argument when the legal basis of that process has been kept from congress is hypocrisy in the extreme. Constitutionally, it is for congress to define the basis for and limits of authorized military actions, not the president’s lawyers.
How can we ever hope to regain a constitutionally-aligned government when key senators, like Weyden, believe the title “Commander in Chief” grants the president great military powers to unilaterally initiate actions outside of the congress? Where, under Weyden’s misconception, does the Constitution provide the oversight authority he claims is sidestepped by administration’s withholding of the DOJ memos?
Nowhere. There is not any place within the Constitution stating that the Senate, or the House, or the collective bodies have any power to oversee military activities of agencies operating under the president. Again, there is no power, within the Constitution’s Article I (or anywhere else), granting congress the right of military oversight. So what is Sen. Weyden talking about when he refers to establishing constitutional checks and balances with respect, in this case, to CIA operations that kill U.S. citizens, among many foreign nationals, abroad, in places where the U.S. is not engaged in any war?
President-initiated military power being overseen by congress is a non-sequitur because, first, the title, “Commander in Chief,” conferred by the Constitution upon the president, has no powers attached to it. It is just a title which designates the civilian official, president, as the top commander, so that when any of the powers relating to military activities, which are vested solely within Congress under Article I of the Constitution, are applied by congress and relayed to the president to carry out, that the military will be subordinate to the civilian president as “Commander in Chief,” in that he, under that title, is authorized to carry out the military actions authorized by congress. Second, the oversight by congress comes in only through its right and responsibility to insure that the military powers and authorities and goals it passes to the president for execution, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution are adequately and correctly followed out. Take away the constitutional authority of congress to determine and authorize military actions, then there is no vehicle for congress to have the authority to oversee—to “check” the use of such power.
Presidentialists, who contort the Constitution, and the title, “Commander in Chief,” beyond all recognition, and with great practical success, to attempt extending ever more and more power to the executive (the president), have no answer for this because there is none. And one needs look no further than direct quotes of the Founders, including Madison and Jefferson, not to mention the suffering they saw inflicted by George III’s Redcoats upon their neighbors, to know why all military authorities are vested in Article I—in congress, and would never have been placed by the Founders within the authority of one person, the president, a position they feared for power abuse despite the checks and balances they built into the Constitution.
Many problems, from undeclared wars placating NATO allies, as with Libya, to the killing of U.S. citizens under the too conveniently vague circumstances of a war against terrorism, will never be resolved so long as congress is unwilling to assert its constitutional powers. And being that congress is a body of little courage and much concern about elections, that will not happen until the underlying problem of the broken congress is addressed, including key members who do not recognize what powers constitutionally belong to them and are most properly and safely kept within their collective minds and hearts.
Sen. Weyden’s (D-OR) attribution of war powers to the title, “Commander in Chief,” is wrong—congress has sole power to set war-power goals.
McCain wants U.S. to go to war for freedom of people around the world, after Nada Soltan murder in Iran, Libya, now Syria. When will it end?
Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.February 7, 2013. Updated February 10, 2013.
Romney mistakenly ties global respect and admiration to military force.
Re: Mitt Romney casts Obama as weak on foreign policy, The Washington Post, September 13, 2012
Genghis Khan in Mongolia; Caesar, in Italy; Kim Jung-il and his son, in N. Korea, all thought that world leadership could be achieved at the point of a sword. They were wrong. Even the ancient powers which gained control over vast reaches of their worlds with military might could not sustain that power, and in the end, the sword brought them down. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad believe the future Islamic revelation and the ancient Persian glory of Iran can be realized through nuclear-tipped swords. In America, Truman and Eisenhower, in Korea; Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, in Vietnam; Bush and Cheney, in Iraq, and Obama in Libya, all believed America’s leadership and objectives in those regions could be written with the point of a sword, and they were all wrong.
Now, Mitt Romney, if he is elected, envisions a military expansion that will bring “American leadership” to the Middle East and across the world. Romney seeks to tighten the bonds of the Republican party with the military-industrial complex by expanding the already historic sprawl of American military presence and involvement around the world, and even if that is the right policy, pay for it, how?
“A strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military,” he said, today. “We have to have a military second to none and that’s so strong no one would ever think of testing it.” The Taliban in Afghanistan thought nothing of testing it. The Viet Cong in Vietnam, the North Koreans, Chinese, Russians, and the Iranians, all have tested it, and in each of those eras, America viewed its might as intimidating, unconquerable. And it is clear, from his statements, that Romney sees the military as the “sword of leadership,” that he will wield and place at foreign throats to invite challenge and conflict in place of peaceful alternatives, or alternatives for non-involvement, where American security is really not at risk.
Romney went on, “The world needs American leadership, the Middle East needs American leadership. And I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.” How arrogant, and ignorant, and unmindful of history is that statement, linking American leadership, defined by him to be through the military, to global admiration? How much of that admiration do Bush and Cheney, or the America of their administration enjoy? When, ever, except at the end of WWII, and the “Desert Storm” ejection of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the brief, and timely ending Gulf War, was America really admired for flexing its military muscles?
America needs a president who respects history and the egregious harm a strong military has brought to America and can continue to bring to it with misguided leadership — the proof of that harm is repeated throughout America’s 20th and 21st-century history, and in our national debt and cemeteries, as well. Mitt Romney cannot be that president, particularly not when Congress allows presidents to repeatedly usurp its constitutional authority as the branch of government having sole power to decide where, when, and for how long America goes to war.
Israeli PM Netanyahu's criticism of Obama for not setting line to strike Iran misplaced. Congress has responsibility to set war-power goals.
OPSEC Group criticizing ops leaks is Republican arm of the Military-Industrial Complex and is more concerned about military draw-downs/cuts.
Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.September 13, 2012
The proof of Akin’s lie is in his words.
In his “apology,” Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) said, “The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”
This is just another case of, not apology, but cover-up and cover-over the “mistake” he really made: revealing his true, extreme-infected self. The truth is right there, in the words he first spoke and now tries to cover-up:
“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”You see, in that statement, Akin followed a basic tenant of debate and argument, being that, as in debate on fact, when a person holds an irrational belief, or tells an intentional lie, the very first thing they do is to try and give credence to the lie by claiming a qualified expert or professional endorsement, which, in supporting a lie, is often another lie or deception. This is just what Akin did when he first made his comment, invoking “doctors,” claiming, “...from what I understand from doctors.” Those words reveal the truth of his lie, because you can be positively assured that no medical doctor anywhere in the country, even among those whose licenses have been revoked, would have ever told him such an outrageous misstatement of medical and biological fact, unless maybe those “doctors” all got their degrees from the Medical School of Creationism, where man roamed the Earth with T-Rex and all of creation actually took just six days for God to accomplish, and probably, if such a place existed, the healing practice would be a chant.
So no, don’t believe the apology—it’s just as disingenuous as the lie he spoke to try and qualify his extreme doctrine. Do forgive him if that is what moves you, not for the lie, but for being what he is. But never make the mistake of voting for a Republican-extremist liar like him, or any extremist liar like him or his kind.
Unfortunately, Akin’s kind are the extremist, conservative Republicans who lead the Republican party, yet do not represent its platform in this age of never-say (except what your hired experts say will get you elected) politics. As policy goes, and as far as what Romney and Ryan have done and how they have voted in the past, Akin does speak for them and for the party that can’t stand to hear the candor of its own aspirations, in terms of the insistent attempts by Republicans—whose rhetoric is less government intrusion into our lives—to insert government into the lives of women and their families when it comes to abortion and other issues.
When Republicans stop talking in contradiction to their actions, then they can distance themselves from the nut-jobs who want to use government power to rule over what should be private decisions on a family, health, and clerical issue, where government has no business telling responsible adults in those fields what they should collectively decide to do based on their own beliefs and circumstances.
Akin is but one example of Republican extremism on abortion that has been shown to be offensive, ignorant, and that clearly demonstrates you never really know what you’re getting when you elect someone, and that no one who gets elected really has the wisdom to presume they should make those kinds of decisions for other people, and that it’s dangerous to allow them to do so. Republicans need to start doing as they say and stop trying to bring government control into the issues of people’s private lives.
“...out of wedlock.”
One week following Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidate, Tom Smith, another Republican, pushing back against the comment, compared a pregnancy caused by rape to “having a baby out of wedlock,” illustrating yet again that Republican viewpoints which are extreme and uncompromising can only be supported by arguments and metaphors which are equally outside the bounds of a balanced society. What Akin, Smith, and other Republicans fail to understand, time and again, as with the policy positions of those like theirs, and Paul Ryan’s, is that when you have a diverse ethnic, racial, and religious population, as is the outstanding trait of America, and a supposedly democratic government, policies which lie beyond the bounds of compromise, balance, or tolerance cannot succeed unless portions of the population are minimized or brutalized, or democracy is supplanted.
Minimizing brutalized women and supplanting democracy are both the case today, and as with the views of these men, who are in or seeking positions of power, who consider the actions and outcomes of systems and policies only through their narrow and shallow focus, the human equation is missing, and in the government of the Founders, democracy represents the human factor which is intended to temper the pure, inhuman drive for profit and expansionism which is the hallmark of capitalism and the true deity of today’s Republicanism.
The revelations Republicans continuously make, of outrageous beliefs that drive extreme policies which they wish to impose on all, are not “mistakes,” or “poorly phrased statements,” or mere “lapses in judgment” which can be rationalized, redefined, or apologized away. They are the truths which are coveted in that creeping darkness of the Republican establishment, truths which illustrate that “consideration for humanity” is the missing factor behind Akin’s false science and qualification for rape, Smith’s failure to separate the emotional, tactile difference between pregnancy out of rape vs. out of wedlock, Mitt Romney’s assertion that “Corporations are people,” and Ryan’s budget, which is not only lacking the consideration of humanity, but has also been clearly pointed out by Catholic bishops and nuns as not within the bounds of Christian teachings.
The rightly-respected columnist and political analyst, Mark Shields, credits Romney for his charitable works; yet, by Romney’s admission, his contributions total only about seven percent of his income, which on a reported $20 million, is only $1.4 million—a penance, hardly giving ‘till it hurts, not that he is expected to give that much. Seven percent only becomes significant as incomes get much lower, to where a family struggling on $40,000 per year gives $2,800, or at $20,000 per year, where giving $1,400 really does hurt. And the “subsidiarity” principle of Ryan’s budget will never work to provide the necessary relief for the needy if the voluntary charity, derived through the solidarity of community which that principle requires, is as minimalist at the upper levels as Romney’s seven percent. The charity of Romney and other ultra-wealthy who cannot transcend love of family to exercise the scripture of humanity, “love of fellow man,” by stepping into the shoes of the other person, is for appearances sake (especially for those playing politics) and a tax-deduction—just the minimum cost of doing business.
Until Republicans can channel some part of the verve they have for control, and for power to shape the nation and the world (Iraq, military global expansionism) according to their coldly-chiseled policies, into a greater concern for humanistic value and outcomes, they will remain unfit to govern, and unless voters begin to see this and vote accordingly, the incessant focus and drive for power of Republican ambitions will take even greater hold on government, repressing further the people and their democracy.
Ignorance drives much of the world’s extremism. Todd Akin has reaffirmed that, in conservative-Republican extremism, ignorance has run amok.
Todd Akin on no abortions: “The female body has ways to shut these things [contraception after rape] down.”—and he’s on a science committee?
Punishing corporations as though they are people doesn’t work either.
In reply to Mark Scott’s article in the New York Times, “Iran Inquiry Is Abrupt Reversal for Standard Chartered,” Standard Chartered should not be fined or excluded from business activity in New York for money laundering Iranian funds; nor should Barclay’s have been forced to enter into a $450 million settlement for its part in altering the Libor for gain, just as Glaxo Smith Kline should not have been fined for misrepresenting the safety and approved uses of its drug, Avandia. While these are just a few of the incidents of corporate criminal, and even treasonous activities (which almost never result in criminal prosecutions or fines against the corporate entities who facilitated and approved the illegal activities), all of the examples through the history of regulatory enforcement point to the failed concept of treating corporations as though they really are people when it comes to punishment.
Despite the Supreme Court majority’s violation of its oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States in the Citizens United case, also violating the constitution’s precepts derived from the Declaration of Independence, corporations are not people, and corporations do not commit crimes. People do, and if people escape punishment, then the criminal behavior is not deterred. Punishing corporations only hurts investors, employees, and the consumers of punished companies’ products and services, all of whom had nothing to do with the criminal behavior and are made into surrogates, taking the fall for the real culprits, a nullifying of accountability which is probably the real intent of corporate-controlled rule-making—another anti-democratic consequence of elections bought with campaign contributions.
Fines must be levied against the responsible individuals and tied to prohibitions against any corporate restitution. And in cases where public lives and safety are compromised, as with Glaxo and Standard Chartered, where regulators cited “dealings that indisputably helped sustain a global threat to peace and stability,” which means many lives put at risk, jail time for the “people” who did and approved the crimes, even if through the top-floor consent of silence, must be the punishment that results if ever the criminal exercise of corporate greed is to be halted.
Glaxo $3B fine is just 1yr profit from sale of drugs fraudulently mkted—paid by consumers & medicare! Why no executive jail for safety lies?
High Court’s campaign-finance ruling is an obscene constitutional distortion. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#mfo
Note on CCs: Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.August 8, 2012
Gov. Kasich’s declaration of Vietnam Veterans Day in Ohio lacks conviction of actions.
On Friday, Governor John Kasich signed a Republican-sponsored bill, declaring March 30 as Ohio’s Vietnam Veterans Day. As a Vietnam-era veteran, it is difficult for me to see past the politics of the move, in light of the Governor’s role in leading the Ohio Republican party’s effort to destroy the elements of democracy for which hundreds of thousands of Vietnam vets served, and for which more than 58,000 died.
Gov. Kasich can best honor veterans by not trying to take away from any group the right to associate, which threatens the rights and freedom of all, and by not taking advantage of part of Ohio’s population by gerrymandering the states’s districts to achieve unfair political advantage for others, weakening the ties of representation for all, and he can honor veterans by not leading in Republican efforts to curb the voting rights of citizens who have the least flexibility in exercising those rights.
Veterans do not serve for parties and politics. They serve for home town and apple pie and America, and ultimately, for each other, and when governors like Kasich and Wisconsin’s Walker try to tear down the democracy that was built by vets and other patriots, upon whose shoulders we all stand, they do a disservice to the democratic way, the American way, and to veterans of every war.
Note on CCs: from this point on, letters are no longer being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.March 31, 2012
The most destructive interest group?
If asked to name the interest groups that have done the most harm to America and to the preponderance of its citizens, most would say the financiers, who brought down the economy and profited with impunity as they did so, and after; some would say the corporations which place profit above community responsibility, above all else; some the oil companies, which fix prices and bleed citizens of spending power when they and the economy most need it, as they make record profits; some would say the health-insurance industry, which along with drug companies and providers are mostly Wall Street companies with the Wall-Street mandate to grow profits, not quality service at affordable, stable prices; and on and on, from the military-industrial complex, which promotes America’s chief export: war, to any number of lesser-impacting segments.
But, the truth is that the interest group which has done more to harm America and its citizens, more than all of the others combined, is the two-party system in America, an interest group of self-interest and accommodation to the wealthy and powerful few who provide the influencing tender which fuels the election machine that powers it all: campaign contributions. The two-party interest group, once an effective mechanism for placing the Peoples’ imprint upon their government, composed of legislators and party officials, has become a corrupted organism, traitorous to the body politic, which now, in its dark shadow, retains only the right to choose from candidates able to compete within the controlled election system that interest group created and jealously protects, providing little more than, effectively, a choice of the lesser of two evils.
All the other problems, blamed on all the other interest groups, are merely symptoms of the disease that is America’s corrupted two-party system.
Nothing that is done to attack the symptoms will cure the disease, which has remained below the radar, out of the sights of most protests, its legislators encouraging attacks against the various entities—divide and conquer—even willing to give up a few garnets to protect the diamond without which it cannot survive as an antithesis to Democracy: the election industry and its lifeblood of campaign contributions. To restore America’s lost Democracy, the disease must be attacked and eradicated, and to do so, its lifeblood must be dried up by instituting a complete ban on all contributions, of any kind, to any campaign for office or any issue.
The task, then, for all the splintered groups and third parties, is to first break down the walls of their own self-interests and ambitions which divide them and come together, with the sole purpose of ending the flow of dollars into the election industry, after which, some immediate gains for Democracy and the People will be realized, which will then facilitate achieving the goals of all the other issues, including the economy, tax code, infrastructure, healthcare, education, etc., etc.
The first step is to put the Democratic and Republican parties and the party officials, the unelected powers that work in the shadows, on notice, that the bullseye is not on the bankers, or the corporate CEO’s, or any of the other groups that have their fangs sunk into America’s government, but that the metaphorical bullseye is on them, on the forehead of each and every senator and representative who has stood by, aided and abetted the corruption of their offices and their constitutional oaths and obligations (almost all), placing party and contributor interests ahead of the nation and their constituents, eventually allowing a spate of disasters, one after another, to afflict the nation—putting them on notice that the harsh spotlight of public anger and disdain is focused upon them as the prime perpetrators of the political and economic decline now gripping and threatening most Americans!
Then, the pressure: legislators must be convinced by the strength of the demonstrations and calls and letters that if they do not act to end campaign contributions—not control, not reform, no half-measures or corruptible remnants, but end—and immediately, that they will not get votes, that in this time of crisis, for our nation, for our democracy, and for our lives and our children’s lives, nothing is more important, and let them know we are watching them, and will be watching them, and they will be held accountable if they do not act with their advocacy and their votes to put an end to all campaign contributions in America’s federal elections.
The spotlight and pressure on legislators and candidates is important because legislation is the quickest path to ending campaign contributions and replacing the Plutocracy (which now defines America) with Democracy, and to restoring economic and political balance, and reversing the collapse of the Peoples’ prosperity and paths to opportunity. Because if legislators won’t turn away from the corruption they have fostered, then constitutional amendment is the only other path, a far more difficult and lengthy solution.
When campaign contributions end:
...all of it, not a minute to be spent on anything related to fundraising, which is good, since even all of their time isn’t really enough for them to do the three jobs they each have (work related to passing or blocking legislation, committee responsibilities, and constituent relations) as well as they should be able to, as well as America needs them to, but nonetheless, America’s government will become immediately more effective and productive, to serve all the Peoples’ interests, and no interest group above them.
- the also-corrupted Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, giving to corporations the rights defined for citizens in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, will be made moot;
- bribery will be removed from the election process;
- the power of the political parties—the two-party system—to control districting, agendas, and elected legislators, to take priority for itself above the People, will be greatly reduced;
- the election machine and the endless, time-and-money-consuming industry it supports will be cut down to size;
- political gridlock will be gone;
- public funding and reduced legislator, fund-based competition will force shortening of insane campaign terms;
- campaigning upon one’s record will again be in vogue, ahead of party propaganda and lines.
- the influence of lobbyists will be diluted;
- and, very important, legislators’ time will be returned to the People...
More must be done after this great, first step, or in conjunction with it, to make government more effective and turn the focus of government upon longer-term problems and solutions, of which there are many, and away from elections, and allow lawmakers to become more knowledgeable or even expert in the activities the committees on which they are seated are chartered to oversee, including extending the terms of office of House by one year and Senate legislators by two years, with local-district-recall provisions, if needed, for House representatives after two years. And to return government to the level of responsiveness to the People intended by the Founding Fathers for the House of Representatives, the Founders’ error of not constitutionally mandating increasing House seats in proportion to population must be corrected.
With these measures in place, Democracy in America will be restored and assured to remain enduring for the generations to come, with government better able to meet the daunting challenges that America and the world will have no choice but to face together in this and the next century.
Rules/systems designed to preserve and extend party power and influence at the expense of democracy and popular sovereignty must be removed.
Wall Street’s greed-driven profit motives guarantee that healthcare will NEVER be affordable or contained if providers are public companies.
cc (via web forms) November 10, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
— Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios
June 12, 2005 Stanford commencement speech.
“...don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
For the 4,520 soldiers who have died in Iraq (32,223 wounded), and since 2001, the 2,399, and also still counting, who have perished in Afghanistan (with 17,674 wounded), the worst kind of waste has been realized: losing arms and legs, and dying for someone else’s life, usually foreign and corrupt, for someone else’s voice, imposed with wealth and privilege to form slithering policies of wrongful entanglements that have brought death to the thousands of soldiers and their families, and in bits and pieces for the nation, as well, as all along, the defense industries of the military-industrial complex grow their profits and wealth in a bloody occupation where the defense obligation of 9-11 was actually won within the first 20 months, by 2003, with a far fewer 61 dead and 107 wounded U.S. soldiers.
President Obama, marking the 10th anniversary of the Afghan war, the longest in American history, said, “We are closer than ever to defeating al Qaeda and its murderous network.” This, as Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, said bringing security to his people (read, his government) has been a failure of the U.S. and his (Karzai’s) administration. Only months later, following incidents of shameful reflection (unfairly cast upon all occupation troops) of urination on the dead, burnings of the Koran, then the unconstitutional Blackwater army’s massacre of civilians (its name changed afterward to XE Services, and now is Academi LLC), and after these outrages, which were most recently compounded by the murder of 16 Afghan civilians, mostly children and women, at the hands of a single, maddened soldier, Karzai claims, “This is the end of the rope,” and orders all U.S. troops be removed from villages, killing the U.S. multi-year, dead-on-arrival plan of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, who are regularly “collateralized” by the U.S. as “damage,” mostly in ceaseless drone strikes of shadowed, questionable vetting.
Still, America’s military chiefs and politicians resist the withdrawal call, and despite the stains of America’s own, unintended, “murderous network,” like Nixon, and Johnson before him, the president looks to the future involvement in the Afghan despair based upon responsibly ending the war “from a position of strength... and stability.” Fifty-eight thousand U.S. soldiers died in Vietnam as those presidents propped up another corrupt, ineffectual government, and prolonged the war that they could not win, should never have started, looking for the unattainable “position of strength” or “peace with honor,” before finally ending the conflict and the ever-mounting deaths, and with no promised cascading of the dominoes to follow.
This is the deadly “noise of others’ opinions” that repeats, today, as government “speak,” echoing the hollow, future promises of yesterday, where history holds no lessons for the arrogant and the proud, Republican presidential candidates, Rubio and Cruz, who exclaim they “won't look back,” those fearful of confronting mistakes and their consequences, as the bloodletting continues... to no worthwhile end. At least, the stubborn stance of the Iraqi regime had forced the president to honor his promise for a near-complete pull-out of troops from that national killing ground, provided courtesy of the Bush/Cheney administration, the military-industrial complex, and a Republican party’s hawks and extremists who still propose spending blood for motives of capitalist expansionism and profit.
That noise is also manifest in the voices Americans hear in their politics, and those they do not, the voices bought and paid for, imposed upon the nation in sound-bites, party lines, and propaganda, through unbalanced leverage of wealth and position, detached from any sense of community or social responsibility and spread through the biased, constraining control of vast media consolidations, to limit voices, to quell regulations, to narrow opportunities, to channel prosperity, ideas, to buy votes and perpetrate travesties like turning corporations into political entities, empowered to overcome the many voices of the individuals who are the solitary, collective “People” for whom the Declaration of Independence spoke and the Constitution, now so contorted by the Roberts Supreme Court, was penned to promote and protect.
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
Now it is time to focus, to put aside all the smaller issues that divide and distract from the singular issue which is at the hub of all others, because important as many are, nothing will change for the better, no measure taken will make a difference, unless first, above all else, the election machine that spits out a corrupt, insulated, bought-and-paid-for government is detached from the tender of greed and avarice that fuels it: campaign contributions, and then, party control of the election process must be severed or restrained.
Protestors rant against multiple ills, all symptomatic of one abuse — campaign contributions poisoning democracy.
The Wall Street protestors are on the wrong track when they focus anger on bankers and the wealthy. You don’t blame the bear for killing the man who gets too close to the cubs—you blame the man. Those financial “takers” are being human, doing what opportunity allows and greed compels for them, doing what comes naturally, succumbing to human weakness and vice, the very characteristics of which the Founders so clearly recognized as unchangeable and dangerous, and against which they knew only a “democratic government,” with checks and balances, serving and responsive to the common good, could prevail. What they could not foresee was a society so fraught with diversions aside from work: TV, games, malls, clubs and other avenues for self-indulgence and distraction of citizens in matters of no consequence to the foundation of their lives. The activities of citizens in the Founders’ time were centered upon occupation, neighbors, government and learning. The protestors should be angry at themselves, for not paying attention to things that matter so much, for paying too much attention to trivia, for waiting so long to see and to object, for letting it go this far, get this bad. And the protesters should be angry at their legislators, most for not having the intellect to see the problem and/or the strength of character and ethics to turn away from the abuses of the party system, or change it and uphold the ideals of the Declaration and the law of the Constitution, expressing their anger with their votes and all the votes they can raise to speak with them.
But the seemingly, awakening sight of the demonstrators on Wall Street, which grew to other cities, pointed out how all democratic governments are vulnerable, especially to apathy and ignorance, heightened when the unwritten branch of government, the “Fourth Estate” press, is swept from the streets and airways into a very few, towering centers of control, killing objectivity, repressing the reporting of independent investigation, limiting the inputs and outlets, channeling the rainbow of thought into extremes of black and white, substituting substance with trivia. The Federal Communications Commission, politically staffed by Republican presidents, accomplished most of this reduction during the Reagan and Bush terms. The tentacles of control writhed out from the few electronic-media conglomerates, spread with the growth of cable, the internet, and the means to access it, and are made all the more powerful as, at the same time, the market forces of media and technology change began to diminish and eventually strangle many of the independent providers of the airwaves and printed page.
Party control of the fund-raising and election process, from districting to post-election committee appointments, is separated from the view or control of the People, forming a government that is built in cloakrooms and behind closed doors, upon favors and the cash-and-carry success of legislators and their mini-machines, an industry that creates and reenforces extremism and gridlock while robbing the People of their representatives’ most important asset: the time that is spent on fundraising, from strategy meetings to time spent with donors, pursuing donors, servicing the desires of donors and looking to the future, not to secure the long-term policies needed by the nation, but rather to acquire the campaign funds and promises that will assure the next election’s continuation of the entire, abortive process.
“I only have two years,” think the House representatives, “and I have to make sure I put in the time and effort required to win the next election, above all else.” But that time and effort isn’t focused upon the three avenues all legislators must master for effective, responsive government; they are focused more on K Street and most upon the politics of electioneering. This is the situation facing the People, and what chance is there for productive, constituent-responsive government to address complex, long-term problems when the highest priority is to do whatever, twist whatever, say whatever, half-truths or outright lies, in the rush to get re-elected, and to spend the working hours of at least six or eight or more months of the two-year term working solely toward that end?
When the Constitution was framed, the population and the challenges and diversity of America’s interests and needs were such that elections every two years for representatives was not a burden and was effective enough for government’s purposes. But times have changed, and as the population has grown, the number of representatives has not increased in proportion, which contributes to the unresponsive government in two ways: reducing constituent accountability through increased difficulty of access as the number of constituents for each representative increases, and increasing the power of representatives, through the increased number of constituents they represent and from whom they are inherently more insulated. And since the Founders erred in not providing a Constitutional mandate for a per-capita increase in House seats, no member has incentive to initiate a change that will reduce his or her power by providing additional seats to make representative government as close and accessible and responsive to the People as the Founders intended it to be for the House.
Representation, the vital function of democratic process, has been under attack far longer than the generation which began with the Nixon administration. In 1913, Congress raised the number of House seats to today’s 435. But in 1921, the newly elected, Republican-majority Congress failed to reapportion the House membership after the census, as required by the United States Constitution, politically motivated, because the effect such a reapportionment would have on future Republican electoral prospects was feared. Then, in 1929, Congress (with Republican control of both houses and the presidency) passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929, which capped the size of the House at 435, a step to control representation, and power, which has since become a bipartisan objective.
Districting is so important because it determines representation, and the lack of strong representation is a big part of the reason why government is unresponsive and unaccountable to citizens. Gerrymandering, as Republicans did to the Ohio 1st District this year, among others, further damages representation, in Ohio-D1, giving Republicans a better-than 2:1 ratio of registered voters over Democrats. Where is the political equality in that? And any good government scholar will tell you, without political equality, which is one of three pillars supporting the foundation of democratic government, you have no viable democracy. In that district, the whole of Butler and Warren counties were swapped, and a part of Hamilton County was cut out, immediately disenfranchising the voters in three counties, with voters, incumbents, and candidates suddenly unfamiliar with one another. Districting should strengthen and broaden the ties of representation, not tear them apart to provide unfair political advantage, which is both un-American and undemocratic... and unneighborly.
Districting is also important as it affects apportionment of House seats. On March 4, 1789, 226 years ago, the First Congress convened with about 65 House members, each representing about 75,000 of today’s-suffrage-adjusted voters. Now, with only 435 House members, the number in place for the most part since 1913, the representative for most districts will stand for more than 470,000 voters—more than 700,000 citizens, and that is far too many for effective representation in the House, and most significantly, with fewer representatives over which to gain control, they are made more susceptible and accessible to lobbying, the influence of wealthy and powerful special interests, including their political parties.
Career politicians have become complacent about what voters think and are happy with the system the way it is, keeping them wrapped in comfortable districts and in office, serving their interests before the People’s and the nation’s, and they won’t alter the system and reduce their power by voting to increase the number of House representatives and provide more responsive and accountable representation. It does not require a constitutional amendment, so put the light on your representative to ask why he or she allows the dilution of representation (and the reduced government responsiveness and accountability that comes with it) by keeping the 435 cap?
And adding representatives will also result in an increased number of smaller districts, making it easier for states to provide equality with more contiguous district mapping, improving representative government. A bonus is that no new office buildings would have to be built to house the new representatives, even if the number were doubled, because of the glut of empty federal buildings within a quarter-mile of the Capitol. This is one of the fundamental changes that must happen if democracy is to be restored, government improved, and the gulf of disparities and unfair advantage raging within the nation narrowed. The Founders put the House of Representatives first in the Constitution, in Article I, Section 2, (the Senate is Section 3; the president, Article II) because they knew that level of representation is the most important to a healthy democracy, being closest to the people, the most vital part of the government they intended for the United States, when properly apportioned.
But more than population has changed. The complexity of life, and of all the attendant prerequisites of government responsibility to provide for public liberty, welfare, and safety have increased as well, and two years is no longer a sufficient period for representatives to become familiar with and effectively carry out their common avenues of responsibility: committee assignments, let alone meet their legislative and constituent-relations responsibilities (fund-raising time is not included because it should and must be eliminated), or to be able to look ahead to the nation's future and develop policies meant to address problems and challenges extending beyond the next election, over the horizon.
Just think of committees. They are created to divide the focus of the total membership of the House and Senate on individual problems and goals, to provide a means by which legislators can become expert in the industries and activities that fall within the scope of their committees’ charters and thereby guide their colleagues in passing useful legislation. This is how a legislator’s committee-responsibility time is supposed to serve the People, by developing the expertise to provide effective legislation to provide for safety and promote prosperity—a balance in which safety must always carry the greatest weight, but often has not, as one tragedy after another in every decade of American modern history attests. Often, legislators, especially in the House, have not become knowledgeable enough about the complexities that exist within the activities their committees are intended to oversee, and just as often they have only turned an ear to the interests of the lobbyists for those industries, always at their ears, and often on their staffs, sitting at their right shoulders in hearings. This is how disasters, like Gulf oil spills, sub-prime-loan-deflation recessions, commuter-airline crashes, profit-motivated drug unavailabilities, drug and food illnesses and deaths, mining explosions, and Shuttle disasters, etc., etc., happen, and why government is mostly reactive to these disasters instead of proactive to prevent them. This will improve, if and when legislators’ ears are ever freed of lobbyists and their time freed from fundraising, and the revolving door of legislators, turned by two-year elections, is slowed, a revolving door that is self-serving to the election machine, elected officials’ post-legislative careers, and special interests... not the nation and certainly not the People.
Today, policies are designed to meet the needs of what will get a representative re-elected 24 months after the oath of office is taken, or a president in four years, all eyes on the next election after three. America’s future depends upon better governance than has been serving the privileged and wealthy in this generation, and legislators, even if free of fund-raising, need more time to master their responsibilities serving America, and everyone, except the media and bloated election industry, needs fewer elections. A constitutional amendment extending the terms of office of the House of Representatives to four years, and to preserve the Founders’ intent for overlapping stability, the Senate to eight, must be accomplished along with the ban on campaign contributions. And to insure that the behavior and performance of representatives is not separated from the People by the lengthened terms, or left to the unreliable, institution-biased, internal rules of the House, a district-level recall procedure must also be specified which provides the People of a representative’s district reasonable means by which to stage a recall election, if desired, at the mid-term.
These are the first changes upon which Americans must focus. When accomplished, other necessary changes will far more easily follow, like ending the unfair, manipulative, onerous, April-killing income-tax code in favor of a value-added tax, with fixed exclusions for medical products and services, most food, education, and some non-food-derived fuels, and percentage levels within categories of goods to insure fair-share payments for all and loopholes for none; and unwinding the twisted knot of media consolidation that muffles voices, constrains thought and discourse, and constricts the oversight of investigative journalism; and also reining in the dangerous and unnecessary military expansionism and unconstitutional, presidential military authority that has been allowed by Congress to develop, and which has cost America so much in this generation and which is irrevocably bleeding into the next.
In that commencement address, Jobs also said:
Looking back, the connected dots form a clear enough picture of how government in America has changed for the worse. The underlying causes are often less clear, hidden in things like secret, pre-war, vice-presidential “energy” meetings. But Jobs wasn’t entirely correct when he said that the dots of our futures can only be derived through trust, at least, where our political futures may lead. That’s because we have a precious gift to guide us, one that was fashioned by minds as great as any this nation has ever produced, men with sharp insights into the pitfalls of human nature and interaction, and who, through times of the greatest possible danger and uncertainty, and divisive discord, devised a system that would both protect against the worst abuses of man’s nature and preserve the greatest opportunity for realizing the hopes for the future and liberty and prosperity, for themselves, their children, and for the generations to follow. That gift, at the foundation of the government Republicans so disdain, is the Constitution, defining a system of government, which nonetheless so reviled by the “dogma” of Republicans, is what the Founders crafted for the preservation of their heritage, and ours, if it is not spit upon, or relegated to be a relic, encased in gas and glass and displayed to tourists, as it has been with the power grabs of presidents, the failures of Congress to jealously guard its powers, and the axe-swings taken by the conservative-Republican majority on the Supreme Court, which have chopped two of democracy’s three foundations, popular sovereignty and political equality, into splinters, leaving political liberty tenuously strained within the rubble.“...you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
For this objective of following and connecting the dots to restore a bright future for America, all that need be done is to follow the Constitution, and the money, to purge it from all influence in government activity and purpose.
If any leg breaks, democracy falls. Each leg has been under sustained Republican attack since before President Nixon—a generation of decay.
Why is democracy dying? Think of gov’t/conservative-court effect on its framework: popular sovereignty/political liberty/political equality.
Updated April 17, 2015; cc (via web forms) October 7, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
PopularSovranty.org’s Tweets for a Republican Hold-up.
The biggest problem America has is a government based in and prioritized upon the party and the dollar, decimating democracy’s foundations.
The biggest facilitator of America’s biggest problem is the bribery of election campaign contributions—the root of evil, bleeding democracy.
Rating firms (shown in recession to be bedded w/banks, investment firms) are working w/Republicans, shielding loopholes/rich from debt-cuts.
The Republican economic position of no revenue increase is unbalanced, like a world without spin—rich in the sun, everyone else in the dark.
As Republicans build an enduring history where “rich” and “corporation” are dirty words, the rich would be ashamed—if not for their wealth.
Dems saying Soc. Security/Medicare are untouchable is same as Reps saying any tax increase is dead water. Obama’s age-67 deal is reasonable.
But, any cut to COLAs or decrease in benefits for either Social Security or Medicare would be burying the poor under the upper-class wealth.
Closing loopholes benefitting millionaires and billionaires, having them pay more, is still NOT approaching their fair share or a sacrifice.
True or reality TV brings trailer trash to Americans; Republicans, keen on manufacturing, seek to make most Americans into trailer trash.
America will suffer until the obstructionist, my-way-or-the-highway Republicans, whose idea of democracy is a dictatorship, are thrown out!
Republicans just took their knives from your throat and folded them into their well-to-do pockets. Only cut voters can take the knives away.
August 2, 2011
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp would be a disgrace to journalism—if it was in journalism.
Sent to Rachel Maddow:
Broadcast on your Thursday night, July 14, Rachel Maddow Show, the referral, and that of others in the media, to News Corp employees who participated in, or who knew and did nothing about News Corp’s illegal privacy violations, as “Journalists” is a mistake, bestowing upon them an honorable title to which they have, by their actions, no claim and do not deserve.
Journalists are first, ethical, and second, truthful and objective. The News Corp employees who call themselves and are called journalists are particularly lacking in any ethical standard that is the framework within which honorable journalism operates. They are sensationalists, akin to gossip hounds, but with criminal intent, and their parent company, News Corp, involved at the highest levels in the unethical and criminal activities of its employees, is no longer primarily a news organization, if it ever was. News Corp and its employees should be distinguished to be apart from legitimate journalism, particularly by journalists who report on their transgressions. Calling them “journalists” both ignores their transgressions and disgraces the profession, as well as those, past and present, who have created and contribute to its distinguished standing and heritage.
July 16, 2011
Politicians are digging the grave of America’s democracy and future.
For too many citizens, America has become a nation of freedom without opportunity, of liberty without voice, of justice without equality, of strength without reserve, of short-term goals prioritized to elections, of purpose without patience or foresight, of wealth without prosperity, and one that spends, spends, spends without building.
America is in decline, and it will fall further into the abyss of its self-destruction and despair until four changes are accomplished:
1) the election system is purged of influence and bribery through banning of all contributions and establishing a system of wholly public funding, and national redistricting is accomplished, according to statistical geo- and demographic data, separate from party affiliations, control, and influences (to dismantle the apparatus of party extremism and gridlock), and mandatory term limits must be placed upon campaign operations, not to exceed two months prior to the election date;
2) the tax code, that tool of exclusion for the wealthy and corporations, and a yoke of stress and inconvenience on all working Americans, is thrown out and replaced with a value-added tax that is scaled to weight on the high end, paid by everyone and every business, for everything, except to exclude, for all, the necessities of medical products and services, food and clothing items priced less than $25, regular-grade gasoline, diesel, and algae-based (not food-commodity) hybrid fuels, and educational expenses for trade and technical schools, junior colleges, and graduate programs in universities;
3) regulatory authorities are removed from the influence and interference of political appointments and elected officials, operations to be prescribed by law, shielded from executive order, oversight and enforcement to be by the Inspector General’s office and OMB, and leadership positions to be filled, not by the appointments of elected officials, but by professional panels composed of representatives of the insurance companies underwriting the regulated industries, appropriate scientists, and economists, appointments to be made on the basis of background, experience, and performance to fit the needs of the post, not to be subject to Senate confirmation until after the beginning of the third senatorial-election cycle following redistricting that was done apart from party involvements (Senate confirmations of regulatory heads to be reinstated 18 years after party-free redistricting is completed);
and 4) the constitutional authority of Congress over the executive in all matters of warfare, except immediate defensive response to an attack, must be reinstated, in practice, and a congressional rules/structure mechanism, a joint committee, be established with full authority of both houses to independently make swift initial decisions on matters of military deployments and withdrawals, and to approve, modify, or disapprove recommendations and requests for actionable military authorities by the executive, to include temporary, conditional treaty modifications or confirmations, all actions to be subsequently put before the appropriate full houses for approval, modification, or reversal, in a timely manner. The committee should be constituted by the Senate majority and minority leaders, or their appointees, the Speaker of the House and the House minority leader, or their appointees, the chairpersons and minority leaders, or their appointees, of the appropriate standing committees on armed services, foreign relations, and intelligence (16 representatives and senators), and the non-voting but otherwise fully participatory, mandatory participation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, or their appointees, the committee to be chaired by the Vice President, who has no vote except in the case of a tie.
Politicians have effectively destroyed the government’s democratic mechanisms, have folded to the expansionism of the military-industrial complex, turning the United States’ military into a costly and multi-leveled industry of domestic and international operations, a tool of NATO, and a seed of complicit foreign corruption, and the politicians must be removed from influencing the mechanics of constituting the government and applying political influence to its operations until the process of elections has been purged of political manipulation and abuse.
If these changes are accomplished, Americans will have reclaimed their government and their basis of hope for a future prosperity for themselves and their children.
Each day of violent death in Syria accents the wrong of President Obama’s unconstitutional rush to a war of European mollification in Libya.
cc (via web forms) June 10, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
The political tug of war: a lift to the future or pull-back to the past.
Republicans, wealthier than ever, riding the coattails of a brainwashed middle class and poor into the saddle of only one horse of the three, pulling a government they seem to hate, would turn it from one “of, by, and for the People,” into a callous servant of their own self-interest and greed.
Through their proposed budget, Republicans have shown that they will trample that beguiled source of their power, the People, who are not wealthy, not powerful, except through the democratic process that Republicans have begun to strip away, through politically-driven Supreme Court rulings of the conservative-Republican majority, to governors uprooting the rights of the very same collective voice they promote for their corporations, cutting off the People’s avenues to education, opportunity, and health care, depriving them of all hope for a better life for themselves or their children. Republicans, who shield the wealthy and the corporations from their share of the yoke, those wealthy who have no concern for access to health care or education, or anything else, are intent to bleed the middle class and poor until they are finally left sick and dying, with drained vouchers, used up by profit-driven healthcare providers, leaving them with no other means of care or salvation—a revisiting of the class-cruel streets of waifs and beggars.
Without doubt, there is an unhealthy number of elitists in America’s upper class who wish the world would have been tilted back by the Great Quake to the time of Dickens, instead of the four inches it moved Japan, where, in that period of transition from the Victorian to Edwardian eras, they would be the pampered aristocrats, with their coaches and footmen, while all the rest would have their rags and swollen rats, and the privilege of begging, with lowered eyes, for whatever their “betters” might deign to throw at them.
In that coldly unjust era, the “haves,” in their fine silks and expensive, French scents, were on the morph from being called “Tories” to “Conservatives.” In America, they’re Republicans, morphing into Tea Partiers, and they’re taking America as far in the direction of the Victorian-class divide as they possibly can: first, through control of government to seize every economic advantage and remove the constraints of democratic regulation, growing the Great Economic Divide, monopolizing resources and separating them from the middle class and the poor; and second, through stripping-away of democratic mechanisms, such as unions, and diluting political equality by giving voice to their corporations, neutralizing the only means the People have to make their voices affect government to secure and preserve their rights.
Despite this despicable, oligarchical evolution of the Republican party, and its dictatorial trespass upon the traditional, vested, democratic values of America, there is no fear that the memory of those historic, American, Republican values will be compromised by the insane abortion of today’s Republican party, which was born of the Nixon administration, from which, key players continued to spread their stain through successive administrations to the George Bush presidency. And there is no semblance, whatsoever, between the great Republican party of the past or its leaders and those who represent, or wish to represent the party today. Today’s “Tories” should not ever be associated with those great patriots of the party’s better past, like Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, or even Colin Powell. Those true patriots would all be ashamed of whatever it is that carries their party’s name today and, with the latter, have been shamed, and shammed, by the travesty the proud Republicanism they once built has become.
Thanks to Republicans, and contrary to all of their grandiose claims of “the great American this and that,” which they only invoke in order to a associate themselves with a falsely promised hope and brighter future, America is really no longer the best of anything in the world, except military power, and as a people, can really look forward to nothing better, and that is a sad state of affairs for all that gives a nation its social and civil conscience, from which true quality is derived. The Republican agenda, still a trickle-down into the gutter of the great wealth divide, has decayed America’s society, and will continue to do so, dissolving America’s prerequisite moral authority for leadership into a more civilized and compassionate world. Instead, Republicans are dragging America back into a dark and dismal past, where the spate of those who suffer will continue to grow, except within that insulated minority that holds monopoly on the wealth, resources, power, and the opportunity that can raise lives up from poverty and despair.
This is what an unenlightened electorate brings upon itself.
The political tug of class war: a lift to the future or a Republican pull-back to the past. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#towfp
cc (via web forms) April 15, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
The income and corporate tax codes belong in the trash heap of history.
Arguing for corporations to pay their fair share in taxes is a waste of time. Even if corporations are taxed, and taxed more heavily, that burden will only fall upon consumers. When you talk about more heavily taxing the top two or five percent of wage earners, in many cases, the same thing applies, since they are in positions to preserve their income, to make up for it, effectively passing the increases down to the consumer or to employees under them who would see fewer and reduced salary increases or bonuses, or to shareholders, whose dividends would be frozen or reduced as more of the corporate profit goes into higher, tax-offset salaries and bonuses for top-tier earners.
The only way to get the fair share of every person with the ability to pay is through value-added (or sales) taxes, which should have a base, rent exclusion, and exclude food and clothing items below $25, as well as medical items and services, and which can be scaled upward for non-necessities and luxury items. Corporations, as consumers, should also pay the tax for goods and services they purchase. Everyone and every entity pays tax on purchases of non-excluded goods! And no one pays on excluded items/services.
With value-added taxes replacing corporate and income taxes, the wealthy pay more as they buy more, and buy more-expensive items, as they should, to support the mechanics of the legal state that insures and protects their greater interests. And the hateful, burdensome tax system, a double-edged sword against the People, created to endow government with economic leverage to exercise control where there is no political authority to do so directly, and to support the exclusions and loopholes for the wealthy, and which spawns an industry of tax-prep firms with increased consumer costs and rip-offs, can finally be put into the trash where it belongs and sent into history with other great mistakes, like prohibition and George Bush.
The wealthy and special interests strongly support the income tax and its ton of code books, which contain their golden linings. Only a strong and continuous, populist demand can make an issue of this tool that reinforces and pushes the growing economic divide in America, to finally end the discriminatory tax system, begin to shrink the historically wide gap that separates the wealthy from the poor, and to finally bring a manipulation-proof, undeniable fairness and effectiveness to the funding of government.
The tax code is a tool of interference for government, of wealth manipulation for the wealthy, and an “elephant” on the backs of the People.
cc (via web forms) April 8, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Free speech is not absolute. It is a contextual right.
The point pressed by burning Korans is valid: that extreme Islam is a practice of little tolerance, much violence, and that any expression of free speech, that is not shouting “fire” in a theater, should not be repressed out of fear of that extremist violence and intolerance.
But, burning Korans is not the same as burning a flag, and no criticism of any sect or group should be made in a way that is disrespectful of its religious book, be it Koran, Bible, or Torah, because that book is not what is represented by the various interpretations that are applied to the acts or practices of all sects derived of its followers. Choosing to burn a religion’s book is an extreme act, and one that is likely not to ever be constructive to the purpose intended. But whether the burning of the book has the same constitutional protections as burning the flag is a question that can best be answered in view of the context.
It should be asked if obtaining an injunction against burning of Korans would really be a violation of the First Amendment in the context of the fire. Shouting “fire” in a theater, when there is no fire, is not a form of protected speech because it can result in harm to others, and if the burning of a Koran has been demonstrated to cause harm to others, and threatens continued harm to others, and to those who might be called to intercede to end the violence stemming from the act, then it is rational to say that “fire” has been shouted when applied to the burning of the Korans, and in that circumstance, particularly knowing of the threat that is created by doing the act, that it is not a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, within the context of political realities of the time.
First Amendment protections are selective, and burning the book of a religion can be a protected form of speech in some situations, and not protected in others. The context is everything, and the protections are never absolute. The Department of Justice should seek an injunction against the burning of Korans by the Florida pastor on the basis of the violence and harm that it poses in the context of the politics and reality of the here and now, which is not to say that the threats of extremists curtail free speech in America. It only states that no one has the right to incite violence when the circumstances have been judicially reviewed against the harm threatened (caused in this case) and the democratic loss that might be suffered by the prohibition of the “speech,” which, in the context of the Florida preacher, is not sufficient to justify the harm it has created and continues to pose.
Free speech is not absolute. It is a contextual right, not applicable to burning Korans. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#bkgp
cc (via web forms) April 4, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Obama took the “we” out of Libya when “he” unconstitutionally made war “his” one-man decision.
Tomorrow, President Obama will address the nation and spill his justifications for going to war in Libya, though he will not call it a war. He will make all the arguments he should have made to Congress in seeking its constitutional authority. Had he, tomorrow’s speech, where he will say there is a responsibility and obligation to prevent atrocities, would not be necessary. He will tell the nation that, with international accord, the responsibility he has to prevent atrocities supercedes the Constitution’s requirement that he have congressional authority, though he may not even give that such authority is required, as he once did, before he was president, jealous of his power, coveting that of Congress. More likely, he will try to re-write the Constitution, applying his own words and interpretation to its starkly plain, historically supported, black and white, English script.
President Obama, aside from unilaterally directing troops without constitutionally required authorization from Congress, will be attempting to define a new and untenable standard for the use of U.S. armed forces, to prevent atrocities, which he and Secretary Clinton say negates the Constitution’s requirement for authority from Congress, as well as voiding their previous affirmation of that constitutional obligation, when, instead, deployment is in the context of an authorization by international consensus. This appalling and dangerous statement of Libyan-applied, and future-intended military policy practically guarantees a future of continual conflict for America, and it is an attempt to write an illegal amendment to the war powers authority, specified in the Constitution to rest within Congress. This “policy” also says, in effect, that foreign states have the power to declare participation of the U.S. military in conflicts they sanction, because the president has already stated, and will repeat, that such international consensus imposes an “obligation and responsibility” upon the U.S. to act, without congressional authority.
This is a profane abuse of power and trampling upon a Constitution already laying shredded by the heels of George Bush, and to lesser extent, presidents before him, since after WWII. It is an abomination of invited, international interference in the right of the American people to exercise self-determination through their elected representatives, trumping that right and ceding America’s constitutional process to international will... and the agreement of one man, with not even a bow to the more minimalist constitutional requirements of treaty ratification!
This new, unconstitutional military policy the president will define attempts to globalize America’s military might in the same way that the nation’s manufacturing power has been ceded away in the name of global free trade. It is a policy that, even if legitimate, can never be applied universally, and which, if allowed to stand, would place great power within the office of the president, and it would put the use of military force at the discretion of the whims and prejudices of whomever holds the office.
American families would see the lives of their sons and daughters put at risk in war for the priorities of the wealthy and powerful who control the military-industrial complex in the U.S., in accord with those who hold the same reins of control in the other nations of the world, which also maintain significant defense-production bases and a global military presence.
The Constitution, which has been in a decades-long state of war with the wealthy, and the influence peddlers, and the officials, elected, appointed, and career, who have been attacking its democratic mechanisms and foundation, is all that stands to prevent the nation’s structural processes—the legal system, tax system, police, military, all that protects the system of which the wealthy and powerful minority have such a stake—from protecting those few alone, instead of guaranteeing the “liberty” of all.
Think about it. The transgressions are many, but was the Republican-majority Supreme Court’s decision in “Citizens United” really one about the people’s “liberty” and “freedom,” or was it all about control and grip upon government by those wealthy and powerful who own those corporations, and who now can add the voice and vast resources of those institutions, paid for with the $3.75 you pay for a tube of toothpaste, to their own individual voices, turning elections their way?
Were the decisions made by the Federal Communication Commission over the decades of Republican appointees, from Bush to Reagan, that consolidated all media, contributing to cause the death of so many newspapers, that shrunk the once-wide base of outlets for opinion, expression of ideas, and investigation, to fall into the hands of so few, wealthy conglomerates, an exercise in expanding freedom and opportunity, protecting the government’s unspoken branch of oversight, democracy’s protectorate, the Fourth Estate? Or were the decisions deliberate efforts at tearing it down, minimizing oversight journalism, concentrating the control of the “thought” infrastructure for, again, the few wealthy and powerful who control it?
Can anyone ever believe that more than two decades of trickle-down was meant to do anything except raise the fortunes of the wealthy further up?
Have the actions of the new wave of extremist-Republican governors and legislatures in Wisconsin and Ohio, to strip democratic voice from a class of workers, been an exercise in Democracy, or one of economics, to cut government costs and services so that taxes and regulation can be reduced for, yes, the wealthy and powerful?
And in the federal government, is the imposition of cuts that take away health care, education, and opportunity from the poor and middle class, drying-up research and tax-money from necessary, developmental technologies, done in the name of austerity for Americans, or those few, most wealthy and powerful, who pay ever less for the structure of law and enforcement, represented by the industries of the courts, police, and the military, that protect their assets and their wealth-founded opportunities, from sea to shining sea and beyond?
If this outrageous act of President Obama is not met with the power of Congress to defeat it, and reassert itself, how many times in the next decades will America go to wars where political instability threatens atrocities, and oil wells, or rubber plantations, or rare-earth mines, navigational passages, or whatever is at risk that could affect the trade and pockets of the wealthy, who are either the beneficiaries or purveyors of whatever war, and who are guaranteed to profit, win or not, and as long as the money flows, the more drawn-out the better, like Afghanistan?
If the worst Gaddafi could have likely done to the rebel cities was done, it would not hold a candle to the massacres in Rwanda, or any of the worst mass-killings in just the 20th century, including more than a million lives in N. Korea, near two million in Cambodia, more than a half million in Yugoslavia, 400,000 in Angola, 300,000 in Uganda, and the many, many more destinations of death and despair, not to mention the near 100 million lives lost, attributed to China, the USSR, and Germany, under Ze-Dong, Stalin, and Hitler. If this policy of Obama’s is let stand, and applied with any semblance of equality, America will have a full-time career of war in Africa alone, and the only involvement of the American people will be the blood spilled in their families and the unrelenting higher share of the cost burdens they will pay, through their taxes and the cost of the goods and services they need, that are always inflated to maintain the gap for the high end.
The ball is in the court of Congress. But will Congress honor the Constitution and its obligation to it, and to the People? President Obama will not honor the Constitution, as he and his Secretary of State both wrote, very precisely, that it should be honored and followed, back when they were senators. And the Bush majority on the Supreme Court, representatives of conservative Republicans, who are representatives of the military-industrial complex, and the Presidentialists, will never rule in support of the Constitution it has already betrayed, not when halting the profits and opportunities served by continued usurping of war power by the executive is at stake.
Only the impeachment power of Congress, or the threat of it, can finally prevail to restore the Constitution and the voices of Americans to weigh on their nation’s use of deadly force. Are not the risks, costs, consequences, and unknowns of a king or dictator policy for military force so high that it is more than worth it to stand-up for the separation of powers in the Constitution that dictate and require that such grave decisions should be made by the People’s representatives, not just by their president? What in America ever sanctioned that such power, to spill the blood of Americans and collateral foreign nationals, as is always the case, to include women and children, should rest in the hands of any one person, let along the resolutions of other nations?
The president will say speed was important, to save lives, despite that no critical national interest was to be served, and despite that the Founders deliberately intended that the decision, by Congress, on use of force not be made too quickly. But he could have had a decision to authorize the action in time, if he had the case to make and was seeking authority of Congress at the same time he began the planning for the international negotiations and subsequent military operations. Then, the authorization might have been predicated upon specifying such things as the objectives and exit strategy that must be attained, all the question marks the president is now scrambling after the fact to answer in his address, when there is really only one word he can truthfully say about his constitutional trespass: “guilty.”
The president’s speech and post-speech explaining and justifications he has been making since he sent America into its third Mid-East war should have been made to Congress and the People before Congress voted to, or not to give him the authority to do so, and then had they, there would be no need for post-attack explanations and justifications, and it would be valid to say that “we” cannot allow... or “we” have an obligation... etc. There is no “we” in this war. It is all President Obama, and it is all about a Congress both ignorant and spineless to stand up for its constitutional powers and responsibilities, as it has continually been since WWII.
Congress has been busy investigating and supporting prosecutions against athletes for lying about drug use. What’s more important? That Congress initiate prosecution of Gary Bonds for lying about sports-related activities, or that it prevent presidents from violating the Constitution by going to war on their own initiative alone? The point is not whether or not America should have intervened with military force to prevent the deaths of demonstrators, or should use it to remove Gaddafi. The point is that it is unconstitutional for the president to do it without congressional authority, and by doing so, Obama made himself a king or dictator, and took away the voice of Americans, expressed through the debate and vote that should have happened in Congress, the branch of government that is closest to the People.
If impeachment of the president must be inaugurated to enforce the Constitution, to prevent all of the horrid consequences that come so much more quickly and easily if the decision of just one man (or other nations), apart from Congress and the Constitution, is all that it takes in a so-called democracy to spill blood, then doesn’t the worth of that blood, of all the lives, lost and mangled, hold considerably more justification for Congress to act, than did Bonds lying about taking steroids, or the spills that once stained a blue dress? The events subsequent to the NATO hand-over in Libya, where civilian deaths have continued to mount in a bloody stalemate, tempting even greater involvement, and the mass murders now ongoing in Syria, where the president’s new policy of self-proclaimed initiative to prevent such atrocities mandates that another war be started, say it is not, and that this trespass was another great mistake that will turn out to be both costly and unjustified.
The military-industrial complex militarists are toasting their 18-year-old Scotches as constitutional war powers are buried in Libyan sands.
King/Dictator Obama took the "we" out of Libya when "he" unconstitutionally made war "his" one-man decision by excluding Congress—our voice.
cc (via web forms) March 27, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
President Obama’s address expands unconstitutional war-power shift away from Congress.
President Obama’s address offered no surprises, apologies or regrets. He made all the justifications expected in his address on his decision to use American military force in Libya. All of the justifications he enumerated and explained are valid, and he is also correct that the limited action he decided for America’s military were actions that should have been taken by America in support of its allies and, with proper evidence of genocide, as a defender of human rights.
He cited the change of command to NATO, which is a smoke screen, having little consequence to any change in American involvement, since the U.S. is the largest part of the command structure in NATO and is never out of the process when American troops are involved. Most significant to continued, unilateral decisions on military action, he also defined his military policy as a shared, international participation “to protect interests and values that, while not critical, may be threatened” across the globe, from preventing genocide, keeping the peace, providing or insuring justice, to safeguarding the flow of commerce.
The Constitution and the war-powers authority of Congress were given not a single word, and that is where the underlying problem, which the president’s address did not alter, remains.
In America, if it is a nation of laws, the Constitution is supreme, not presidential policies or doctrines, and not international accords. No matter how the need might be justified, no matter how right the right, or how wrong the wrong, the core principle that America relies upon, and must demand of its leaders, is the integrity and respect of the Constitution, that its requirements will be respected and met.
The president did not do so when he ordered an air invasion of Libya to set up a no-fly zone and attack Libyan military facilities and armor, and he has not acknowledged any problem in having done so, and in fact, in defining his policy, he provided assurance that the Constitution’s requirement for congressional authorization would continue to be ignored, even though, in cases such as the current circumstance in Libya, authorization would, far more likely than not, be forthcoming. The point of this is that the president does not want to accept that constitutional obligation upon his office. No president has, since Eisenhower, and unless this stance is forced to change by Congress, America will continue to face military involvements that are disastrous, unexplained, not understood, and not justified, as well as those that are proper in motive and context for America, and would likely be properly authorized.
The president must get authorization from Congress to set America’s military might into motion, in all cases not involving direct or imminent threat of attack. Nothing, not since the Constitution was ratified by the Continental Congress has changed that, except the past-practices born of the bold and arrogant defiance of a handful of presidents.
The Constitution also has provided Congress and the American people an instrument of protection against the misconduct or abuse of power of the president: impeachment. It is a serious step, one that was abused by a Republican majority in Congress, as a political tool, the last time it was invoked for the lies behind the blue dress. Abuse of war power, where the democratically derived office of the president is distorted into the throne room of a king or the closed, authoritarian hall of a dictator, causing the spilling of blood, rightly and not, is the most serious instance of abuse where impeachment is justified to end it. If the president will not relent, and the Supreme Court will not intervene, there is no other way.
Unfortunately, despite all of the qualities that give President Obama the potential to be a great patriot in American history, serving the office with distinction in most ways, this abuse of war power has proven to be a vehicle of such harm and cost to the nation in other hands that it must be ended when he provides the opportunity to do so by deliberately abusing it with his own hand. The evil genie must be put back into the bottle, or in the case of the president, the bottle, spilling congressional power into his hands, must be plugged to insure that no future abuse can be contrived and repeated.
The American people want the decision for war to be debated openly by their elected officials, as the Constitution requires, before the nation is committed to violence. And, judging by the statements of congressional members, since the president launched the nation into another conflict, so do they; although, in most cases, they seem not to know the Constitution and that they alone have the collective power to make that decision, whether they want it or not.
The trespass against the Constitution continues, and the ball remains in the court of Congress, as a more peaceful, prosperous future for America weighs in the balance.
March 28, 2011; cc as indicated above.
Columnist Nicholas Kristof tries to justify trespass across Constitution’s separation of powers.
Sent to: New York Times reporter, Nicholas Kristof, in response to his article, Hugs From Libyans
March 23, 2011
Mr Kristof, your assertion that “a couple of days of dutiful consultation” would have fatally delayed intervention in Libya is invalid on two points. First, there is no “dutiful consultation,” on using military force. There is only constitutionally dutiful seeking and obtaining of authorization from Congress. And, second, if the administration had begun informing Congress of its facts, projections, and fears, which were buzzing around behind closed White-House doors for weeks before the forces were ordered in, authorization could have been obtained, even well ahead of time to act if certain “worst-case” scenarios materialized, and even if UN and Arab League authorizations didn’t come through in time. And if not, well, sell harder or find another way, like let the French and British do it all, for once. It is their oil source, as you wrote, and oil was the bottom line; otherwise, why no intervention in places like Rwanda?
There is no excuse for unconstitutional, unilateral decisions on war by presidents. Administrations always know well ahead of the fact when they are planning to deploy troops. Congress needs to begin being put in the front of that planning, on the basis that a war plan without constitutional authorization is counter to extending the popular sovereignty of a democracy with use of force, and it is worthless, except to a king or a dictator.
And more important, ignoring Congress when starting/ending wars has severely harmed the nation. It is a proven, past-practice of disaster, and it does no good to search for excuses to overlook or minimize or try to justify the trespass of presidents with respect to the Constitution, whether it’s war powers or First-Amendment rights.
Every end-run around the Constitution’s congressional war powers, or any other trespass across the separation of powers, or the First Amendment, by any well-intentioned president, enables the abuse of future presidents, and many among them will do, and have done great national and global harm through that enablement.
Every end-run around the Constitution’s congressional war powers, by any well-intentioned president, enables the abuse of future presidents.
cc (via web forms) March 20, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
To usurp congressional war power is an impeachable offense.
Sent to Rep. Dennis Kucinich
March 20, 2011
It was reported on CNN (loose nature of its reporting considered) that you said, “the president should have consulted with Congress” before he pulled the trigger on Libya? Consulted?! You know he’s constitutionally obligated to get authorization from Congress, or you should, and you should be taking him to task for it, loudly, and with no quarter given on the emphatic nature of your claim for the powers that belong with your vote, not any president’s unilateral initiative! I like President Obama, but presidents going to war without congressional authority to do it is a continuing, dangerous practice that has to end, and it is an impeachable offense!
Grow a spine and stand up for yourselves! Be jealous of your powers as the Founders counted on you to be! Make a damn, loud noise about it and don’t let-up until a “Resolution of Trespass” is debated and voted on by Congress and, if passed, delivered to the president’s desk, condemning his violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers. Add to that (if more likely to get a trespass resolution passed) or send along with it, an ex-post-facto resolution restating Congress’s war power (and not just the purse) and granting the president authority to act according to the UN resolutions, with the exception of no manned attack aircraft (fighters, bombers, fighter-bombers) on offensive missions, only in defensive support of command-and-control, communications, refueling, and transport aircraft, no ground troops, a hard, one-year time limit, and a warning that the next time he or any president usurps Congressional war power that articles of impeachment will be brought up!
The Founders put war power within Congress for a lot of good and necessary reasons, all of which remain valid today, and the nation is far worse off because of Congress making a practice of allowing presidents to usurp its decisions on when to start and/or end military conflicts. And Congress, for allowing it, is just as responsible for the damage as the presidents who overstepped their authorities, even though responsibility is what congressional members have been trying to avoid, to their detriment and the nations’.
This is supposed to be a democracy, not the kingdom or dictatorship Congress and presidents are trying to turn it into with the unconstitutional, “one-man concept” of war power!
The Founders did not intend and the Constitution does not allow any one man to decide on matters of war—that power resides only in Congress!
Why do “analysts” and politicians keep saying “we” picked sides in Libya, “we” went in not knowing... anything. There’s no “we,” just Obama!
cc (via web forms) March 20, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
In the promised, new Washington, crows still gather.
Making a decision of support for a policy or conflict in a poll is one thing. Making a decision that actually pulls the trigger on war, that comes down to the common denominator of America’s sons and daughters ending the lives of those in another nation, always including innocent ones, and of having their lives end or bodies torn is quite something else.
A week after Japan’s Great Quake combined with a movement of self-determination in the Mid-East that marks this as a historic time for the world, President Obama, a constitutional scholar, the candidate who promised a different way for Washington to work, came up against his very first opportunity to make his own Great Quake in the modern history of America’s government when he was handed a U.N. Security Council resolution and the resolution of the Arab League, authorizing the use of force against the dictatorial Libyan regime. Acting on authority within those resolutions, he decided to send America’s soldiers into harm’s way, and not to take the path of change and revolution that would reverse past abuse and strengthen America’s democracy. He chose the old path, the transgressing path that leads to stepping on the Constitution by taking the decision on war and making it his own.
Despite the Constitution’s clear, unmistakable language, the supporting documents of the Founders, and the historical circumstances surrounding their evolution as builders of a new kind of government, declaring that it should never be the decision of the president to send America into war, President Obama decided to be another selfish president, another greedy president who, like a robber in the light, would take what power he could unto himself, another president that would just go ahead and take what Congress silently ceded and a lower-court judge once wrongly let the presidents before him take. He decided to be a president more jealous of the power he would be let wield than respectful of the instrument that he claims to so honor: the Constitution that defines the government he leads and the democracy that, through combined abuses, is slipping away from its people.
Neither dictator nor king be I?The Founders were well aware of the danger of too much power being vested in the executive branch of government, and so openly fearful of it that they wrote articles about it and took the power of war and placed it across the divide from the executive, into Article I of the Constitution, where through rule of law it is separated from the president and expressed as a power reserved only for Congress. The case for his unilateral action in Libya, which the president is repeatedly making and expanding upon in his public speeches now, is what he and his appointees and staff should have been presenting to Congress and its members’ staffs before he acted, to marshal their consent, to have passed a resolution authorizing him to carry out the military action called for in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League.
Why does the president say it is mandatory to have UN and Arab-League authorizations to constitutionally go to war, and not have the authorization of Congress? Where is the logic in that? In effect, with or without Congress in the equation, it says that if the president believes it is necessary to use military force to defend America’s vital interests, that he would be prevented from doing so unless he had authorization from the U.N. Security Council and whatever regional, international, subset organizations exist.
That’ll be the day!
The fact is, the president is playing war-power two ways, seeking authorizations where it is convenient and ignoring them where it is constricting. Yet, the president tells America and the world that Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy to lead. Though that is true, and even though he lost it long ago, how can the president avoid the hypocritical label that falls upon him in the eyes of those in America and abroad who know the Constitution and know America’s military has been illegitimately deployed without the authorization of Congress, in some sense, moving America closer to that which defines a military dictatorship, or an absolute Kingdom, where in either case, the dictator or king sends forth his armies as he sees fit?
That’ll be the day? You say?
The Founders envisioned a nation of peace, to be separated by oceans from the politics and the entanglements of the nations of Europe that caused war to so frequently hobble the advance of their societies, just as America’s “president-decided” wars, sometimes decided when to start, to end, or both, have hobbled America. They knew that placing the power of war with Congress served more than the purpose of preventing the abuse of that power by one man alone, as King George III had abused it against them and their neighbors, and that it would require an unlikely conspiracy among a majority of those in Congress if the power of war were ever to be “abused,” and that the majority required to give specified authority to the president to execute its decisions on war would validate, for the people and to other nations, the projecting of that deadly power by the nation unto others, which they considered to be a nation’s most terrible instrument for imposing harm, domestic or abroad. President Obama validated his self-ordained decision by, in effect, performing quality control upon himself, saying that he recognizes the heavy responsibility of making decisions to go to war as “Commander in Chief,” which is quite the opposite of what either the Constitution requires of that decision, or what the Founders intended as the inherent justification of a openly debated and agreed-upon act by the peoples’ elected representatives.
The title President Obama invoked in his justification has no authority to decide on going to war attached to it. “Presidentialists,” those who advocate that it does, because they believe the president, not Congress, should have the sole power to decide whether to or not to use military force, include the likes of John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and all the supporters of the military-industrial complex, or “militarists,” which President Eisenhower, the WWII allied commander who preferred to be called “General” after he retired, labeled as “dangerous.” The Presidentialists and military-industrial-complex militarists, from those in the ranks, to the industry contractors, to those in the think tanks, are toasting with their 18-year-old Scotches as a new front opened up for them in Libya today, and the constitutional war powers that limit their ambitions were buried more deeply, this time in Libyan sands. Still, with more than 100 cruise missiles launched on the first day of hostilities, defense contractors gain more than $60 million, just the opening payment, borne at the expense of the national-debt burden facing America’s children. Presidentialists/militarists also include most conservative Republicans, the same ones who strip workers of their collective voices, and who sanctioned crimes, including torture, kidnapping, and illegal domestic spying, and it includes most who have become president, since Eisenhower, regardless of party (President Carter might be the only exception), because presidents are stricken by human nature and tend to covet and seek to expand their power.
Militarists argue, ignoring all historical context and supporting documents, that the title “Commander in Chief” has the authority implied. But the Constitution is also very clear and specific that all powers not expressed fall to the states, not the president. The much-abused title is actually worn by the president as he facilitates the implementation of the will of Congress in commanding the military to attain of the goals and objectives specified in the authorization. There is no other way to constitutionally interpret it. Any other interpretation is tainted by politics or ill-purpose.
Or the militarists will argue that the president is not restricted if war is not “declared,” because the Constitution, in the terminology and according to the practice of the day stated “declare war,” instead of “deploy military forces,” or some similar but identical phrase. The Constitution only mentions sea and land forces, as well, but these militarists won’t argue that the Air Force is exempt from all constitutional constraints imposed upon the other military branches because it is not mentioned, since, of course, there were no airplanes or air force when the nation was founded. As in so many conservative arguments, they try to twist words and concepts to have it both ways.
The Founders recognized the nature of man would be realized in most presidents by coveting and seeking to expand the power of the office, and they recognized that in the government they devised, the People would be closer to the Congress than to the president, less isolated from their state- and district-elected officials, and that was a secondary reason for the power of war to be vested there. They also recognized that with the power to decide to engage in armed conflict, with military force, originating in Congress, that the decision would be arrived at through open debate and a vote that would be far more subject to the influence of the people upon their representatives, making the decision to go to war an extension of the nation’s democracy, of its popular sovereignty, not one made behind closed doors, without debate, as the plans to enter other wars, like Iraq, were derived, without public influence any more meaningful than an after-the-fact poll.
This intent by the Founders for war to be decided by Congress, with the transparency of its closer touch with people, and its debate, is expressed by the Founders in writings, as when the nation’s Founder and third president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote, “As the executive cannot decide the question of war on the affirmative side, neither ought it to do so on the negative side, by preventing the competent body [Congress] from deliberating on the question,” which is exactly what President Obama just did when he declared an ultimatum, backed by the use of military force, without the authority of Congress, without the transparency of its process of decision, without the compounded plurality of its place, closer to the electorate, from among whom the soldiers come, and most important, without the considered decision, made from within the collective hearts and minds of that “competent body [of Congress, not the president].” Instead, the president consulted only with what he considered to be (as George Bush did) “appropriate personnel,” as President Obama put it, when asked, before taking a step so dangerous, bringing war to the nation, before spilling the blood of its people, and in the name of ideals he set as justification for that great expense and its inherent, long-term risks.
How bold, how arrogant, for just one man to take unto himself all of that, in the name of all of us, and in stark, naked defiance of Congress and of all that stands in the archives of history and the Constitution to prevent it! It matters not if President Obama’s heart is in the right place or that his decision is right, or that it is the decision at which Congress would have arrived. Lyndon Johnson’s heart was in the right place, but his decisions prolonging the Vietnam war were deadly wrong and costly to the extreme. The decisions of the president’s predecessor, George Bush, were both deadly wrong and from a heart not in the right place, meaning that interests other than the national defense were being serviced. And therein is the great danger that the president keeps alive and invites successors to take unto themselves, with results that cannot be counted upon to be any better than those which have kept America hobbled in conflict for generations since the end of World War II.
If the president is bold and arrogant for his ex parte decision to take up the nation’s sword by his own volition, then Congress is just as apathetic, and weak, and cowardly for allowing him to do it. At the very least, it should pass a resolution to provide a defacto, ex-post-facto authorization, to at least preserve a semblance of constitutionality, a hint that its elected members acknowledge the power is theirs, not his, that they are giving-away—ceding the voice of their constituents to the president because they lack the courage to act on matters of such grave import themselves, or to confront the president when it is stolen from them, to at least leave a dropping of the authority that is theirs in the process they have allowed to wallow in the murky, swirling waters of the toilet that, because of this and other transgressions in governance and the courts, is about to further weaken America, more darkly shade its future, and swallow-up its democracy.
The polls that ask if America should use force in Libya are asking the wrong question. Instead they should ask of Americans if they believe they want their neighbors, friends, and family sent to war on the decision of just one man, or the decision of a majority in their Congress. If the results are the same, then Congress or the states should act immediately to amend the Constitution to move war powers across the great separation the Founders (who were far wiser and more intelligent than the collective populace and members of Congress today) created between the president and Congress. And then they should hope or pray that the power they formally, legally conferred on the office of president doesn’t loosen whatever constraints acting without that authority have provided, to bring upon them and their descendants the horrors of even more of the likes of Vietnam and Iraq, and all the collateral death and consequences that arose, because they will have sanctioned a great, new danger, the very one of which the Founders were most afraid.
And then, when this is done, be very afraid. Because the Founders also knew that bad, evil men, or gullible men, swayed by the deceptive evil around them, would eventually be elected or succeed to the office of the President. And, again, they were right. It has happened, and it will happen again. Hitler came to power because other powers were ceded to him out of ignorance, apathy, or fear. America is not invulnerable to so drastic a change of coat, particularly as the protections of its democratic freedoms and the foundations of its democracy are nipped apart by the agile, hungry, black crows that flap about, singularly, less significant, but of which there are always, like locusts, enough to strip bare those fields left unprotected or surrendered.
Why does the president say it’s mandatory to have UN and Arab League authorization to go to war, constitutionally, and not that of Congress?
Why does every new president start a new U.S. war? At the same time, to justify it, everything/anything is called critical to U.S. security.
cc (via web forms) March 19, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Another president puts the muzzle on Congress in deciding war.
On the basis of stopping violence against civilians, preserving the security of the U.S. and its allies, and upholding the word of international bodies, President Obama laid down an ultimatum for Libya’s Gaddafi, much as George Bush did to Saddam Hussain, to cease fire, pull back from the rebel areas it has retaken, and reestablish utility services.
The president assured that there would not be any deployment of ground troops, and that no further objectives beyond preventing violence against civilians would be pursued.
The president invoked the title of “Commander-in-Chief,” saying that as such, sending the military into conflict is one of the most difficult decisions he has.
Point is, HE DOESN’T HAVE IT! The title “Commander in Chief,” ascribed to the president in the Constitution, carries with it NO authority to make any decision to send soldiers into conflict situations... none!
Further, Gaddafi fighting against armed rebels is NOT fighting civilians, an important distinction that it seems will be completely ignored in another rush to involve the U.S. in yet another conflict, even pushing the situation, perhaps for the president to show strength, because hours before he made his announcement, Gaddafi announced a complete cease fire being immediately put into effect, showing that he still has the backbone flexibility to back down, as he did with WMD after the invasion of Iraq.
And the U.S. has no obligation, and the president no authority to give weight to the words of international organizations with the blood of its soldiers, one of the justifications the president cited for taking military action if Gaddafi doesn’t abide by the conditions of the ultimatum.
It appears that the only way this continued abuse of power will ever end is when either a member of Congress takes an injunction against the president to the Supreme Court, which is a step either side is reluctant to take, because the current majority on the Court has already demonstrated that its politics are more important than the Constitution, and they would be more likely to affirm the stripping of constitutional war power from the Congress. Another way would be if any member of the military refused to follow orders to participate in actions against Libya without congressional authorization, in which case, the process would begin with a lower court, and if ruled against the president, the case would still eventually wind up in the hands of George Bush’s Supreme Court majority.
It is inconceivable to see in what way the abused war-power authority is viewed as ever having been beneficial to the United States. Sadly, it seems there is no interest in restoring the Constitution’s separation of powers, not from Congress, from which the power is being abducted, and not the people, from whom the decision to commit the country to violence is farther removed when snatched from their elected representatives, and certainly not from the founders, who were specific enough about it in the Constitution, and also in their “side-bar” statements on power.
“Listen” to the words of Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” and think of how they apply to today’s evolution of his government. He begins with multiple expressions regarding the abuse of power, and then goes on to address the careless relinquishing of power in trying times, an issue hotly alive with the concerns of the Patriot Act, the continuing attempts by presidents to grab power with legislative sign-offs, particularly pronounced with George Bush, the use of fear to gain support for accumulating ever greater and farther-reaching powers, as with the Patriot Act, and attacks against the judiciary, supported by George Bush and Republicans during his administration, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who, along with John Boehner and Steve Chabot, have been Pavlov-reflexed to salivate the Bush line on Iraq and carry it into this century, ignorantly claiming enthusiastic support for all the harm that war has imposed and will impose, and also continuing to claim that the war there has prevented attacks in the U.S., when, in fact, it has not.
The president stated that, somehow, Gaddafi, a mouse in a desert region of ally cats, threatens the security of the U.S. and its allies, an obligatory statement, not a truth, for presidents to invoke as they step beyond the power of their office to commit the nation to conflict.
Madison mistrusted so much power in the hands of a single man, and rightly so, writing:
“All men having power ought to be mistrusted.”
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
By “tyranny,” Madison refers to the more subtle abuse of the minority by the majority—not so much a Nazi or Genghis Kahn or al-Assad type of violent repression and control, though that would be the possible result of an excess allowed to go too far. Today, it’s tyranny in reverse, with the minority abusing the majority through internal voting rules that establish unconstitutional majority-vote requirements affecting passage of legislation (the Senate’s 60-vote rule to cut-off filibuster). Nip it in the bud would be Madison’s strong warning. Nip it in the bud would be Madison’s strong warning. He goes on:
“The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.”
“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”
“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
These quotes of Madison are a stern warning and a justification for the separating of war powers from the office of the president, except in cases where immediate defense against attack must be mounted, and all have bearing upon today’s choices for citizens, Congress, the courts, and the unfounded claims of presidents that the power to decide on war in their hands will keep America safe, or in any particular case, keep fighting away from U.S. streets.
On war power, specifically, and the intent to keep it far from the president, as written in the Constitution, the Founders were clear and direct:
Madison: “The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”
Thomas Jefferson, the third president, before Madison, wrote to reaffirm this undeniable intent: “As the executive cannot decide the question of war on the affirmative side, neither ought it to do so on the negative side, by preventing the competent body [Congress] from deliberating on the question.”
Founder Alexander Hamilton wrote to say how the other side of the coin also stays the president’s hand with respect to war power: “[It is] the duty of the Executive to preserve peace till war is declared.”
The Constitution’s Articles cannot be altered or sidestepped with legislation or by presidential directives. They can only be changed or removed by the purposefully difficult process of amendment. The War Powers Act is unconstitutional, and the cost of allowing presidential discretion with war powers beyond constitutional limits has cost Americans dearly, most recently, the cost of more than 4,400 lives in Iraq; it has set back American foreign policy, has created more hatred and more opportunity for enemies to gather the forces to be launched against America that will cause irrevokable harm to American society and the American way of life. The harm it has done could fill an encyclopedia.
It is time for Congress to put presidents on actionable notice that when they make decisions about sending military forces into conflict that they have overstepped their authority. The time for political games and adventures must be ended, because the allowances they assume have for too long strayed to quash the guidelines and restraints which constitute America’s heritage, contained within the Constitution and its associated wealth of documents and written history. It has already been proven it is foolhardy to continue to ignore them.
America stands on the precipice of another exclusion of Congress from debating and deciding upon an issue that invokes their most significant responsibility and authority, its muzzling hastened by another president insistent on expanding the power of his office across the boundary set for it in the Constitution.
If one man decides on use of military force, it cannot be an extension of power representing the popular sovereignty of a democratic nation.
cc (via web forms) March 18, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
End America’s age of perpetual war by resting a decision to begin another in proper hands.
The vote of the U.N. Security Council, within the last few hours, to authorize all action necessary to prevent the slaughter of civilians in Libya does not authorize the president to bring U.S. military force to bear there because:
1. There is no evidence of genocide or the slaughter of civilians by the Gaddafi regime. The regime is fighting armed rebels.
2. The president knows and Secretary of State Clinton has already said that the U.S. has insufficient knowledge to know who the factions are, and if they defeated the regime with outside help, if they would be another case of Palestine, where Hamas won elections, or Iraq, where al-Maliki is showing strong anti-democratic intentions, or worse, if Islamic radicals akin to Taliban might take control. The U.S. just does not know.
3. The repercussions of U.S. military involvement are unknowable, as are how or when the military might be disengaged.
4. The U.S. is involved in two active military adventures and doesn’t need another. Defense Secretary Gates has advised against use of force there primarily because of an overstretched military, and the budget is also overstretched.
5. There is NO THREAT to U.S. security posed by either the victory or overthrow of Gaddafi, or by the fighting. Committing troops and risking their lives would NOT be in defense of the United States.
6. The only beneficiary of any military action in Libya would be the components of the military-industrial complex, where the borrowed tax dollars to buy arms and equipment and fuel, and to hire private contractors would have to be borrowed as a burden upon the next generation, with the lives lost there a burden now.
7. There would be lives lost, mostly civilians... there always are, and civilians of all ages and sex always carry the greatest burden of casualties.
8. Engaging with Libya is not the way to begin disengaging the perpetual state of U.S. conflict that has been engineered by the military-industrial complex and the radical Republican party, of which the former Republican President and WWII Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower specifically, and with the strongest possible words, warned. His warning has been ignored, to the detriment of America’s present and future. It is time to end foolishness and any sense of modern-world superiority, and begin heeding the warnings of America’s greatest leaders and following the structural dictates of one of the world’s greatest documents, describing a government of free men and women, forged through conflict, controversy and compromise on a foundation of democracy by America’s greatest patriots.
9. Democracy is a harsh taskmaster. It didn’t come easily to the colonists and it still hasn’t come to Iraq or Egypt. If enough of the people do not want it badly enough to fight for it and take it, it will not succeed by intrusion of external forces. A new regime will be created that either acts in its own interests, as Gaddafi does now, or as a corrupt partner with external powers that funnel vast sums of money to support it, as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. The people of Libya have shown neither the intensity of resolve or design of structure necessary to bring about the birth of a democracy. More of them have shown an inclination to hide, switch sides, and immigrate than stand up for themselves with the rebels, and American soldiers cannot be ordered to stand up for them, risking their lives to force the creation of democratic environments anywhere. That’s the mission of the military-industrial complex, not the American people, and not the Constitution.
10. CONGRESS HAS PROVIDED NO AUTHORIZATION FOR MILITARY ACTION AND ANY TAKEN WITHOUT IT WOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, even with a U.N. Security Council resolution to use force. To allow a foreign body to dictate the deployment of U.S. forces would be UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and it cannot be done through treaty or any other means, except to amend the Constitution so that it no longer vests/expresses the sole authority for use of force to be within Congress. Congress must pass a resolution to authorize the president to execute military action authorized by the U.N. Security Council. President Obama cannot act on the U.N. resolution alone. If any conflict is truly vital to America, a majority of its peoples’ representatives in Congress will see it, or can be made to see it, but it is their explicit right to agree in majority to or not to authorize the president to unleash that force.
President Obama has been absolutely correct to refrain from military action in Libya, to ignore the war-calls of the militarists, like Sen. McCain and presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani. Secretary Clinton explained the reasons why not very well, and the president has only failed in specifying a recognition that he needs more than just the U.N. Security Council resolution and the approval of the African Union. He has not said that he knows he must get authority from Congress. As a student of the Constitution, he surely knows this. As a president, he may be tempted to forget it and extend past-practice of silent ceding and taking of power. As a Presidentialist, who creates interpretations and authorities that are not written and do not exist (therefore would defer to the states), that are not expressed, he would ignore the Constitution’s Article-I requirement that the collective minds and hearts of the people’s representatives make the decision, after debate, on when to deploy deadly military force, putting the lives of their soldier-citizens at risk, never any one man, never the executive; otherwise the decision to use military force becomes corrupt and cannot be an extension of power representing the popular sovereignty of a democratic nation.
The President, as Commander in Chief, is the facilitator of the will of Congress in matters of war, and is subordinate to that body.
cc (via web forms) March 17, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Always knew cold-heartedness was true, but never thought it would be so plainly revealed.
The capitalist-extremists at CNBC never showed their naked callousness as well as “The Call’s” co-anchor, Larry Kudlow, when he delivered his situation summary on the markets’ mid-day upturn at the close of the show, saying of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, “The human toll seems to be a lot worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”
His words, falling like cubes from the tray, were unchallenged by his two co-hosts, and one can only guess that all the capitalists puritans who work at and watch CNBC, and who tie their de-regulatory hopes (to shed costly rules protecting public safety from reckless, corporate profiteering) to the Republican party, that they are thankful one of their kind, a caring guy like Larry, is there at CNBC to make sure they have their moral compasses pointed in the right direction (Hades) and their humanity locked away there in the basement safe. That’s what Mr. Kudlow showed to be the really true intent, no slip of the tongue, and how effortlessly it was delivered, from just under the skin.
The world according to Kudlow, without apology: Better that people suffer a hit than investors take a loss.
The death toll from the tsunami, climbing all morning, had reached at least 300 before Kudlow cut loose with his black-hearted [1,500 the 3rd day after], but truly Republican (as the party has devolved since Eisenhower) sentiment, the goal of which is burned into their platform, to strip regulatory funding and enforcement (reduce the size of government) in every industry. And if you don’t care about the people, regulation (democracy) is just an annoyance that gets in the way of more profit, ergo, the market/corporate/personal profit is what comes first, a point many co-anchors at CNBC reveal in their banter, though never with quite the blatant, casual stab to the heart with which their peer delivered it in this day of tragedy upon tragedies.
On Monday, March 14, during a late-morning ad-spot for his evening, CNBC-show interview with House Speaker Boehner, Mr. Kudlow, the above-referenced co-host for CNBC’s The Call, apologized for what he described as his “slip... out of context,” and went on to offer obligatory sentiments about the loss of life in Japan that should have been spoken when he originally said that it was gratifying the human toll of the quake and tsunami was a lot greater than the economic one. His quote (above) certainly was not taken out of context, as Kudlow didn’t quite say, but implied while including the word “context” in his apology, and there was no stutter, or hint, or pause (except the dead silence that followed his remark) to indicate it was a slip on his part. And if you didn’t see it, you can’t decide for yourself either, because Kudlow’s closing remark is—shades of Nixon—cut-out from the stream of the show segment that’s posted on The Call’s web page.
Maybe it was a slip. Maybe that can be the Squawk’s next poll. But, sometimes people in the public eye just let the truth pop out there to lay naked on the stage; think Mel Gibson, Michael Richards (Kramer), and Kudlow, their true priorities, feelings, or lack thereof showing, apart from what is widely acceptable, like Gov. Walker, but without the fake Koch brother on the phone, and then, when called on it, unless they’re Charlie Sheen, they apologize, offering excuses, like it was a slip, or heard or said out of context, or that they were misunderstood, or they didn’t understand what was said that preceded the remark, therefore the remark is invalid, or it didn’t come out the way it was intended, etc., etc., and then they say all the things they know to be the right things to say, even if they can’t really feel them. This not only seems to be the case with respect to Kudlow’s original remarks, but it also seems to fit in with the air that hovers above his social indications, which can be inferred from some of the comments that accrue to form the image of the man, and that seemed to be so well reinforced by what he now calls his “slip.” The fact he also says his remark was not in context, which it most definitely was, and that he chose to offer the apology on a call-out segment, during a commercial break where it is less likely to be heard, yet, nonetheless said, rather than during the show he co-hosts, where the comment was made, makes his apology seem all the more disingenuous.
But whether Kudlow’s apology is really genuine or is provided as a job-keeper can only be known by Kreskin and those who really know Kudlow. Regardless, he is now more suspect than ever, as wearing the same shoes as the 1800’s industrialist who drank rare Scotch paid for with the labor of the sweat shops he owned, holding the noses of children to the grindstone, letting women go up in his burning factories, most of which abuses came to an end as the result of the unions and democratic reforms of which he and so many at CNBC seem so often to refer to with such disdain, as must be expected, it seems, from those who serve the “capitalist” investment community. And it is the investment community that is served by Kudlow and CNBC, because most everyone else is working (and not in banks or investment firms) and not watching or listening to the occasional inhumanities that spring forth, floating through the airwaves on that particular, soiled feather of the peacock’s once proud and more brightly-colored tail.
Was CNBC co-anchor, Larry Kudlow’s apology, for remarks about Japanese lives lost genuine? — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#cnbclk
cc (via web forms) March 14, 2011: House Financial Services Committee office, more...
War-power constraints gassed and glassed.
Sent to: Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
Chairman, Personnel Subcommittee, Senate Committee on Armed Services
March 11, 2011
Senator Webb, you replied to my letter about military involvement in Libya by writing: “I have strongly cautioned against unilateral U.S. military action in Libya.”
Your reply was a form letter, and I doubt any letters are read by you, because whether your sentence, above, means unilateral, executive, military action or unilateral, national, military action, the entire point of my letter, which was unmistakable, was that you should know the president cannot constitutionally do anything militarily in Libya without congressional authorization. So why are Senators McCain and Kerry urging him to take such actions, when they should be talking to their peers to get a majority vote on a resolution to direct the president to act, if that’s what they want. Apparently, because they are “Presidentialists.” Again, you say, “strongly cautioned against,” as though you believe the president can unilaterally go ahead and deploy troops or other military assets without a majority of senators’ approval, and that you must plead for him to abstain!
I am not aware of any treaties or resolutions of Congress, or law that provides prior authorization for the president to deploy military assets, which would be an unconstitutional device, significantly changing the Constitution without amendment process. And even with a U.N. Security Council resolution in his hand to, say, establish a no-fly zone, the president would still be required to at least get the Senate to ratify it before troops could be sent in. Otherwise, the Congress would be placing the authority to put U.S. lives at risk, to deploy deadly force against another people, in the hands of the president alone or foreign nationals! Either circumstance would be blatantly against the intent of the Founders, as written in the Constitution, and by several of the most influential of them, including Madison, in other letters and publications, all of which you should be aware, as should every senator and representative.
None of the statements made by Secretary Clinton or the president over the last several weeks allude to the congressional-authorization requirement, and I am sure they, as all modern presidents, wish it to be otherwise, but it is not. Military force should only be decided upon by the collective minds and hearts of elected members of Congress, never by any one man, as was the case when the Founders and their neighbors were the subjects of abuses and imprisonment and death at the hands of King George III’s troops. Collective agreement is the Founders’ intent, and that is how they wrote the war powers into Article I, reserving ONLY the power of the president to respond to a precipitously imminent or on-going attack on his own, in Article II. All other powers relating to the military are vested in Congress, in Article I.
The designation of “Commander-in-Chief” is just a title, overused in inappropriate venues, worn by the president as a facilitator for achieving the goals and objectives specified and authorized by Congress, not an empowerment for any authority to initiate military actions of any kind, except the aforementioned defense against attack. Failure to abide by this restriction of exclusion costs lives, imposes great costs, and hastens a darkened future for us all. It is a failed policy, to silently cede military power to the executive. I hope you will begin to assert the will of the Founders in your responsibilities as a U.S. Senator.
I don’t believe President Obama would ever use military power unwisely or brashly. But the Founders specified military power to be projected from within Congress because, besides their personal experience at the end of the sword of a military ordered upon them from afar by one man, they recognized a bad president could be elected, and they intended that separation of military power from the executive would protect the nation from a power-drunk, or otherwise deviant president, like George Bush. If the protections the Founders built into the Constitution are going to be effective, then they must be universally respected and uniformly followed. Otherwise there will be more unnecessary, criminal, or misguided abuses of military power that leave our budgets depleted, our global perception stained, and our men and women and many more innocent foreign nationals maimed and dead, as has always been the case.
The Constitution is not a relic to be encased in gas and glass and displayed to tourists. It is the framework of American government and law, and it cannot be permitted to be contorted, distorted, mal-interpreted, propagandized, or ignored any longer. This past practice of the “Presidentialists” to grab congressional power in military matters, and the tendency of the Congress not to jealously guard its expressed powers, as the Founders counted upon, as a trait of human nature to preserve the separation of powers and limit the power of the executive, must end. And with your distinguished military background and influence, you should be the one who strives to be like Eisenhower, when he warned of the dangers of the Military-Industrial complex, and be the leader in Congress, to warn and claw-back and stand against further ceding of congressional war power to the executive, before you retire from office, to make the point that the war power is to be construed with the broadest scope and that it resides within Congress, according to the Constitution, not with the president, and make going to war/battle/police action—no matter, it’s all subject to the war powers in Article I—make it, the committing of American lives, make it the collective decision of elected men and women that it must be if conflict is to be an extension of popular sovereignty, and not the campaign of a unitary, closeted collective, as it is if the president acts on his or her own to deploy, only consulting with cabinet officers and “appropriate personnel,” like Dick Cheney did when he had his secret meeting with energy executives to plan the deployment of oil-drilling and storage equipment and personnel to Iraq, to arrive within a week after troops invaded and secured the fields—certainly, no implication of Cheney’s actions or character upon this president should be derived.
If the resistance of Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and responsibility has been because of the time it takes to get authority the constitutional way, well, first of all, that is the idea, when not responding to an attack, which is expressed to the executive in Article II, and there is also a constitutional method to compress the process of authorization, to greatly speed a decision of denial or approval, to get the ball rolling quickly in seemingly consensual situations. But if the resistance is in order to avoid congressional responsibility for decisions of military involvement, then shame on you all!
The president, in his press conference on the day of the Great Japan Quake, talked about taking careful action before engaging in any military action, “with international participation, after consulting with the secretary of defense, the Joint Chief, and other appropriate personnel,” when the first entity he should be talking about getting together with is... Congress! Is the “other appropriate personnel” of which the president spoke supposed to be you—Congress? The Constitution specifies the derivation of war powers, in Article I, as Congress. The president’s implied designation is, himself, and his expressed designation of participating authorities, appropriate personnel, is extremely vague, and where in the formation of the United States did the Founders ever specify that the executive can “conspire” to deploy the military with whatever vague counsel he may wish to engage? It’s not in Article II, and the president can’t cross over to Article I. The president’s specification is only valid when he is acting upon congressional authority as Commander-in-Chief, consulting with whomever he chooses regarding the tactics, composition, and coordination of forces, equipment, and allies he must direct to achieve the goals he has been authorized to pursue. It’s all very clear-cut, except in Congress and the Oval Office.
You and the rest of the chamber need to start doing what is necessary so that presidents begin thinking and speaking with the proper priority about who makes military-policy decisions and decides about initiating engagements. If you let presidents take the power, they will, for good or ill. Again, the title “Commander-in-Chief,” is nothing more than the cap the president wears in order to facilitate the will of Congress in directing the military when so authorized by Congress, to achieve goals and objectives authorized by Congress! Nothing more. And within that authority, it is the president’s discretion as to how (not if) to deploy force to achieve the authorized objectives. That’s the way the Constitution requires it be done. And McCain knows this, but he is a facilitator of the military-industrial complex, and as such, he recognizes that a constitutionally-defined chain of war-power authority would mean that it would be much more difficult to precipitate campaigns, and I suspect he still dreams of being president and wants the power within that office, free of any obligation to Congress or subordination to its authority.
Other than the specified, Article II authority to unilaterally defend against ongoing or immediately precipitous attack (the modern-day equivalent of seeing the masts of the King’s approaching frigates appear over the horizon), the Constitution only permits the president to make his case for military action to Congress for approval, to sell it, if he believes it is necessary to initiate use of deadly force of the military anywhere in the world. It is never his or her decision to make unilaterally. There is no “go” button in the White House to initiate aggression. Further, if the majority in Congress votes a resolution to withdraw all troops from Iraq, or establish a no-fly zone in Libya, the president must carry out those authorizations, even if he does not agree. With war powers, the Constitution doesn’t even afford the executive a veto, which speaks to how important the Founders believed it to be that the power be excluded from that branch. The nation has suffered greatly, still suffers, because of the abandoning of this important constitutional constraint. You, at least, can begin the process of restoring it.
Obama took away the voice of Americans when he decided on his own to attack Libya, excluding Congress—the branch closest to America’s voice.
cc (via web forms) March 11, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Isn’t it odd...?
Isn’t it odd that the offspring of Germany’s Nazi soldiers are today exercising freedoms that have been stripped from their freedom-fighting, conquerors’ children by Wisconsin Republicans, democratic freedoms which are soon to also be ripped away from descendants of Ohio’s WWII-soldiers by Ohio’s Republican majority? Germany’s war descendants now enjoy membership in public-employee unions and are striking over their employment conditions.
This is hardly representative of high-sounding, Republican sound-bites and promises, or a result expected from votes cast in the alleged interest of democracy. And the suppression of democratic freedoms by these states’ governments has little if anything at all to do with budget crises, which in public negotiations require responsibility on the part of government negotiators, which has been absent, not addressed by Republicans who, since they’ve been mostly in charge, are also largely responsible, and for which those irresponsible have not been held to account. Abolishing democratic freedoms does not accomplish that or save taxpayers’ purses from negligent elected officials or their hired, often over-compensated administrators/managers in any level of government. It is just another sign of American democracy in decline.
cc (via web forms) March 10, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
George Bush, as president, claimed he was “the Great Decider.” BUNK!
The Constitution is clear: Congress has the war powers, not the president.
The Founders did not intend and the Constitution does not allow any one man to decide, or to, as George Bush claimed, stand as “the Great Decider” on matters of war—that power resides only in Congress!
Think of it this way: the Constitution bestows the title of “Commander-in-Chief” over the military to the president, but Congress is empowered as Commander-in-Chief of the president!
The president, as Commander-in-Chief, is the facilitator of the will of Congress in matters of war and is subordinate to that body, to the exclusion of command intrusion or micro-management by Congress in the direction of the military to achieve authorized goals/objectives.
Past-practices of “Presidentialists” to grab power and of Congress to silently cede power does not make constitutional the initiating of military action by the executive without the express authorization of Congress! Such abuse has contributed to the unnecessary, global militarism of the U.S., to the detriment of its future and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
With no U.S. lives at risk, President Obama can take NO military action in Libya without the explicit, constitutionally-required authorization of Congress.
Unless previous, congressionally-ratified treaties exist, authorizing the president to act on U.N. resolutions to take military action, Congress must ratify U.N.-approved military actions in Libya.
Congress has constitutional authority to direct the president to execute a no-fly zone in Libya, or to take any other military action, anywhere.
Bottom line: if a majority in Congress wants military action taken, it can direct the president to do it. If the president wants to take military action, he or she must solicit the Congress, sell a majority on the plan to get a decision made granting the authority to proceed. Unless Congress has authorized military actions through law, resolution, or ratification of treaties triggering military action, the president has no authority for any unilateral military action in Libya or anywhere else; with or without U.N. resolutions—Congress must authorize!
And elected government officials must start following the Constitution.
Constitutionally the president is TITLED as military’s Commander in Chief but Congress is EMPOWERED as Commander in Chief of the president!
cc (via web forms) March 7, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin
Democracy cannot be bought with intervention, but it can be given away with apathy.
America can thank its lucky 50 stars that Arizona Senator John McCain was rejected by a slim popular majority in his bid for the presidency in 2008. Not just because it kept Sarah Palin out of the heart-beat chair, but because otherwise, America would at this moment be at war in Libya, risking American lives in the same way that they were wasted in Iraq, not for national defense, but for an unproven assertion, in this case, that genocide is being carried out by Libyan dictator Gaddafi, through the use of military aircraft to bomb citizens.
McCain is a leading supporter and propagator of the military-industrial complex, the objective of that entity being to initiate and maintain military involvement throughout the world, spurring the growth of the military, the entrenchment of military activism in American life, and the sales of military hardware to “allies,” as has been done in Iraq with orders for tanks and F-16 Falcon fighter jets, and where its prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is acting like a dictator, insulated with a private army, paid for with more than 4,400 American lives and billions of homeland-needed dollars. At least half of America’s citizens cannot remember a time when they would watch the TV news and not see a report on American troops in conflict. For them, war has long ago become like a constant, distracting noise that the brain tunes out, but nonetheless absorbs. This militarism contributes to the decline of America through an imposed sense of gloom and death, at home, where a nation in constant conflict can only be perceived as a nation falling deeper into failure, and in the occupied nations abroad, where the constant presence of troops inflicts a sense of oppression and external reformation of culture, instilling hated, sustaining and growing the spread of those who choose to join together to inflict harm upon America in return. President Obama is right to ignore the likes of McCain and heed the strongly worded advice of his Defense Secretary, against any new military action, because a no-fly zone is an expensive and risky undertaking that America cannot in any way afford, and the outcomes and consequences are indeterminate.
McCain hasn’t learned the lessons of Iraq, probably because he was on the inside of the planning and deceptions, and there is no evidence of genocide in Libya. It is to be expected that some demonstrators and rebels will claim atrocities and air strikes against them, but American lives can never again be carelessly put at risk on the basis of unsubstantiated claims. A few pieces of shaky film contain the sound of jets and the rising smoke that resembles a bomb having gone off, but there is no proof that the sound of the video wasn’t altered to add the jet, or that the jet wasn’t just a fly-over, or that the smoke comes from bombs dropped by an aircraft, or that if there were, that they weren’t dropped on munitions or weapons armories to keep them from falling into rebel’s hands, which is not genocide. Indiscriminate, widespread killing of unarmed civilians is just cause to impose military force to end it, but if that is the case, it would be recognized by multi-national observers, and America would be able to proceed with at least the cursory consent of international forums if not with their participation.
The kind of thinking about military activism with which McCain and the dominating fringe of the Republican party is ingrained must end. President Obama recognizes that there can also be no impulsive reaction with military force to solve problems in international situations. In previous Republican administrations, America’s military has sprawled to cover the world, and the president should do more to roll-back that reach, including closing of many military bases around the world, a total withdrawal from Iraq, and complete withdrawal of ground troops from Afghanistan, where the war was won more than eight years ago with the defeat and ousting of the Taliban regime and the scattering of al Qaeda to the four winds, where the core of America’s strength, democracy, is drifting as well.
Democracy is “People” generated and sustained. If democracy is to succeed in any revolution, the people must want it so badly that they are willing to sacrifice in great numbers to obtain it, not flee to other nations or cower in their homes while the military of another nation confronts their oppressors for them. This is why democracy is failing to take hold in Iraq and is not yet even a plausible hope in Afghanistan. And it is also why public ignorance and apathy is the greatest factor contributing to the crumbling of democracy in America, with serious intrusions into the mechanics of popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty—democracy’s foundations.
America’s most important fight for democracy is in its own backyard, and the choking grip of the weeds on the once-grassy lives of its people is alarming and must begin to be met with the gravest attention and resolve.
cc (via web forms) March 6, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Max Baucus, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Trump plays TV, plays real-estate games into bankruptcy, must not play the White House.
Donald Trump wants to become one bullet in a Derringer pointed at the national head, as an expert speaking in oxymorons to create conundrums. He said he is seriously “considering running for president” (of the United States) because, he said, “I hate what’s happening to the country... it’s being ridiculed.”
“I work all the time.” This was the reason Donald Trump gave, in a April 16 speech, for his two divorces, and as another qualification for being president.
What it really shows, and what his continual harping on the non-issue of President Obama’s birthplace, is that he doesn’t know how to bring balance to his life and his priorities. America doesn’t need a president who works all the time as much as it needs a president who understands the necessity for balance and strong family values, because balance and family values are the cores of structural strength that extend into business and government as qualities that weigh on success.
The Donald was thoroughly lambasted at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, and as C-SPAN cameras focused on him while jokes about him flew, he was clearly trying to kill the speaker with his stony stare, Saturday Night Live’s lead writer, Seth Meyer. Besides being called “The Donald,” there’s something about the character of a guy who can’t laugh at himself that makes him especially unqualified to be in any kind of political power, especially when he is as laughable as Trump.
Sarah Palin is the other bullet, and with the Trump revelation, one of the greatest dangers of Palinism is clarified: any clown with one foot in entertainment (or politics) who thinks about being president is no longer daydreaming, but actually believes it is not only possible, but that it would actually be good for the country.
It would be gratifying if the voters would set this sickly-comic thinking straight, but polls of November 2010 have indicated that Sarah Palin scored in the neighborhood of 40 percent among some groups, a long way from a majority as polls go, but a nonetheless alarming total that gives rational people palpable cause to fear the public as much as Iranian nucs or the image of Palin or Trump seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. One can only think that these unthinking or faulty-thinking voters don’t realize that, these days, electing a president is on many levels a life-or-death proposition, and that, to them, Russian Roulette would not be too dangerous, even if played with a Derringer.
Loading the likes of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump as presidential candidates is like playing Russian Roulette with a Derringer.
cc (via web forms) December 13, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Is a nationally beneficial integration of democracy and capitalism the impossible dream?
Despite the assurances of American presidents that motives of conquest and political interference and control are not behind the policies and actions taken by government, capitalism, which is supported by American government and defines much of its history, is heartless and wants to conquer the world and the minds and purses of all its viable population.
Capitalism is the doctrine of financial and resource control and exchange which demands that the avenues of profit dictate the priorities of the players, while corporatism is the structure of capitalism’s component pieces which defines and executes the operable concepts of growth and profit. These doctrines and structures exist solely, with the least expenditure of investment in the mechanics of the system (production and administrative machinery and operators) as possible, to bring as great a profit as possible, as quickly as possible to those who are shareholders of the enterprise.
In America, all of this must operate within a democracy, which is supposed to be structured upon popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty, which define the ability of “people” to participate in self-determination. Herein is set upon the nation the conflict, defined by the contrary interests of those who live within and work as component parts of the economic structure, with the power to set the laws defining the boundaries within which that structure must be constrained, and those who own and control the structure, whose purpose is to minimize constraints and operating costs to prioritize enriching themselves.
Democracy places restraints upon capitalism through laws and regulations, which in turn places the imperative upon selfish capitalism to seek control of democracy in order to preserve its operative freedom and minimize its costs, even if those costs are designed to protect capitalism’s operable components and the broader structure of its economic foundation. The history of America, particularly since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, has been the struggle to strike a balance between the interests of these two structures, capitalism and democracy, to merge the best characteristics of both into one system that is beneficial to the nation, its people, as well as its mechanisms of prosperity.
Today, there is little balance, the rich are richer, the poor poorer, the middle class, which has been at the core of America’s prosperity during the last half of the 20th century, is shrinking like the glaciers and democracy is in a terminal moraine at the leading edge of the down-slide, crumbling apart, all three components that define it under attack and structurally weakened. And, as the melting and caving of the glaciers is a self-precipitating process, hastening their destruction, so to is the subtle, furtive tearing-apart of democracy by the extreme capitalism favored increasingly by successive Republican administrations over the last 50 years.
Priorities of all government officials, especially Supreme Court Justices, should be nation- and Constitution-biased, not party or special interest of any leaning. Capitalism and free enterprise must be preserved, as the most efficient and successful means by which prosperity and growth can be achieved, but not to extremes, at the expense of democracy and its three, “people-centered” foundational components.
In the Supreme Court, the branch of government designed by the Founders to be the Constitution’s guardian, most recently, the unethical actions of Justice Thomas and the ruling of the Republican-appointed majority in “Citizens United” have contributed most drastically to place democracy deeper under threat, being severely weakened by a structural eroding of its foundations of: 1) popular sovereignty, through the Citizens ruling and special-interest control of legislators through campaign contributions—the flawed/corrupted election process, making American government more and more to be of, by, and for the wealthy, not the people; 2) political equality, again through the Citizens ruling and the flawed and corrupted election process, giving weight to special interests and the voices of the “haves” over the “have-nots,” and due to the process and costs that are barriers to prospective candidates for office — in America’s political system, money-talk is heard; and 3) political liberty, where while anyone can speak, how and where they can speak, and more important, how and where they can be heard is controlled by special interests, most severely, for democracy, through conglomerated control of the Fourth Estate, limiting the range of responsible voices and sources for opinion, reporting of fact, and oversight of government officials and their activities, which removes any wonder about why Republicans want to de-fund PBS and NPR, which leads all of that which remains as journalism in America in exposing abuses. And political liberty is curtailed through the party system of biased self-interest and control, through rules-setting in Congress and state/local legislatures, to gerrymandering, also responsible for promoting and preserving partisan gridlock.
The combined effect of the erosion of these three legs in the foundation of democracy is that America is, at best, a quasi-democracy that panders to the wealthy, encouraging the growth of the wealth divide between those who can afford boats and airplanes and those who can’t afford houses, health care, or food, diminishing the middle class, and through the corrupted election process, diverting legislators’ time from committee and legislative work to fund-raising and special-interest pandering, resulting in subverted regulatory and enforcement actions and failures of oversight that precipitate death and destruction, as has been the case since the Industrial Revolution, with mining disasters, factory fires, airline crashes, oil exploration and refining, environmental and economic disasters, lack of preparedness for natural disasters, and the growth and entrenchment of the military-industrial complex, resulting in the spreading of the American military footprint around the world, the addressing of political, intelligence, and law-enforcement problems with military-attempted-and-failed solutions, the callous imposition of American military and culture, to include offensively viewed sexual-advertising mores into the lands and cultures of other nations, through which the seeds of al Qaeda’s focus against America was born, and which, to oppose, further feeds an invalid expansion of military growth and operations, all of which has resulted in government-devised-and-sanctioned torture, kidnapping, private (unconstitutional) and uniformed army massacres, and further growth of hatred and opposition to America and its occupations, not to mention the flawed policies of supporting authoritarian regimes around the world, against the interests of local democratic priorities, which is coming to roost in the Middle East today, and which has been a source and incitement of unrest and violence throughout the world. The evils of diluted and blocked regulation and destructive special-interest spending that are sprung from contribution-funded elections create a long, long string of deleterious effects upon democracy, the American people, the national welfare and future, of which these are only a few of the most obvious.
The attacks against “big government” and the unions—facilitators of collective, populist voice—by the conservatism of the Tea Party and the extremists of the Republican party mainstream are no more than guises for attacking constraints on capitalism’s unregulated, natively-destructive ambition, which is the real objective of government’s regulatory “evil largess,” with capitalism propagandized by the extremists into a victim that is never named, but instead masked, behind facades, as “initiative” or “self-determination” that is lost, or “uncontrolled debt” or “curtailing business expansion and jobs growth” as the woeful results. These are the arguments of the wealthy protecting the profits, interests, and the agenda of the wealthy. Where will be found among the informed middle-class or the poor a supporter of the already-failed, trickle-down, economic platform of the Tea Party or conservative Republicanism? Those who do are no different than brainwashed suicide bombers, punching ballots instead of bomb buttons, taken in to bring about their own demise by a deceptive, self-interested bunch who make a beneficial milk wagon out to be a charging chariot.
The extreme and ludicrous (like Palin, Trump) must be discarded and American democracy restored through, primarily, the banning of all political contributions in place of publicly-funded campaigns, which will remove bribery from legislation and oversight, bring political-campaign operations and time-spans back to the realm of sanity, release the grip of special interests upon legislators and free them to devote their time to their constituents and their constitutional obligations, and make it possible to begin to diminish and end the evils mentioned above that have all sprung from the sprawl of the growth of special-interest control of every aspect of government endeavor, in the name of unfettered capitalist profit and plain bloodsucking of federal revenues through making careers out of working government’s apparatus, integral and ill-constructed for just that purpose.
Where corporate failure and crime at the top has meant being ousted with a bonus and golden parachute, there must instead begin to be real accountability, beyond just Madoff, for wealthy, white-collar, financial terrorists, as well as for presidents, cabinet officials, and justices who break the constitutional covenant with no consequences, beyond to reputation and historical judgement, for anyone, except the real pain which falls upon America’s democracy and people, as has been ever-more common in the last 50 years, where abuses have been the most flagrant and damaging.
The ageless concept of criminal and ethical immunity for high-level political operatives must end, because it strips away the legitimacy of and public faith in government, chipping away at its underlying democracy and its authority. Look to the action being taken now against Egypt’s deposed president, Hosni Mubarak, whose illicit assets are being seized under direction of the Egyptian attorney general, or the prosecution of the former French president, Jacques Chirac, as exercises in accountability that should be standard practice in America, not a rare occurrence that, when pursued, is politically motivated. How hollow is Secretary of State Clinton’s proclamation that, in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi “must be held accountable” for his crimes against his people, when here, torture and kidnapping and illegal wiretaps were made a standard-operating practice, violating constitutional limits and those of international agreements, and those responsible at the top have been held to absolutely none. Therein is another cost of the persistent failure to enforce accountability within America’s government: it has made Sec. Clinton’s and the president’s calls for accountability from other leaders anywhere else illegitimate and hypocritical, and it is a failure, the trail of which runs through Bush, Cheney, leading cabinet members and advisors of that administration, down through the bureaucracy to the like of those agency regulators who bedded with big oil and the banks instead of enforcing regulation of their platforms and transactions.
Those elected and appointed to the highest offices in a true democracy must have the fear of real accountability for unconstitutional and criminal or criminally-negligent acts or performance, just as those beneath them who depend upon collective bargaining do. This will require a priority to prosecute above politicizing by the White House, conveyed down to the attorney general, and the resolve in Congress to cleanse and correct itself, and use the power of impeachment and (implied) withdrawn-confirmation that only it possesses to clean house and enforce ethics, showing a spine not tainted by party—and, in all of this, that seems to be the impossible dream.
cc (via web forms) February 28, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
President Obama’s underlying message: It can’t be all about the money.
Corporatism is not an “American” founding ideal; neither are capitalism and free enterprise. When you stop to think about it, as ideologies, they were far from the causes to which the Founders pledged their lives and fortunes: Freedom, Liberty, and Democracy... for the People, not to give competitive voice to any system or entity created by them.
The closest concept to capitalism which concerned the Founders was the right of citizens to hold and control private property, mostly their farms and, unfortunately, slaves. The Dutch were among the greatest capitalists, before America declared its independence, and it wasn’t until just after the dawn of the Industrial Revolution that America created and began to grow corporatism, which as a system and philosophy has become entrenched as the controlling blueprint for operations in commerce, government, and the military.
If anything, the current recession has evidenced that American corporatism, in addition to leading the world in promoting production, growth, and preserving wealth for its participants, has bested all other nations in abusing its capitalist foundation, and by extension, the government and the American people. But that record of achievement, for the few who walked away from the carnage with stuffed pockets, was the culmination of a lot of practice over a long time, since capitalism in America began to show the ugly side of its head back in Andrew Jackson’s time, when he went to war with the banks, a struggle with populist presidents that deepened through to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and to Roosevelt’s, in the Great Depression, before capitalist excess joined with a string of Republican presidents to eventually create the nightmarish landscape onto which President Obama stepped when he entered office in the depths of the Great Republican Recession.
A large nation with a vast range of private enterprises that impact upon public welfare and safety requires a large government to guarantee that safety and welfare, because time and time again, capitalism and corporatism have demonstrated that left to their own devices, death and destruction follow the profits. Corrupted government, fueled by special-interest contributions to campaigns, contributes through regulation that is lax and criminally negligent, which the president’s announced plans, to streamline government, reducing its agencies, will help correct.
When Republicans who resist spending to create jobs that also keep America at the forefront of education, technology, and infrastructure try to propagandize capitalism, business, and corporatism as “American,” values that are diminished by government largess, as was expressed in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (WI) Republican reply to the president’s address, it is just code for expansion of wealth at the top through reduction of taxes and regulation on business—the discarding of democratic balance, where “free enterprise,” means free of government boundaries on behavior or accountability for consequences affecting others, where government spending means taxes cutting into a Niagara fall of funneled wealth. The primary core of the contending party philosophies has become wealth distribution, and those are the naked, but veiled objectives of the Republican party today, regardless of the effect upon the vast majority of citizens or the national well-being, which in that narrow, selfish view is just fine by them, thank you, so long as the economy and global profits can be exploited, the rule of law that protects the “haves” is preserved, and the national vessel of the law’s existence is protected by a strong, omnipresent military.
In his Tucson memorial speech, President Obama said the process of democracy is marked by cynicism and vitriol. How can there be anything else when Republican leaders resort to lies about policies, as when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) said the problems of today are due to the policies of the president over the last two years? History knows the truth as well as McConnell truthfully does: that the problems of today are due to a conflict of philosophy, not policy, a conflict which has been won over more than two decades by the imposition of deregulated, trickle-down economics under conservative Republicanism, which has created the greatest economic divide between rich and poor in history, with the greatest reduction of the middle class and the greatest percentile of wealth in the hands of the fewest people, and which President Obama’s administration has only scratched the surface at undoing.
In his “State of the Union” address, the president said we are something more consequential than party, that we are a nation-family, and that what is important is “not that we sit together tonight, but that we work together tomorrow.” But the field where ideologies at war can meet is very narrow, sparking an economic divide that is hardly familial, and working together chafes many elbows and shoulders, especially when the focus of those ideologies is not prioritized upon the national prosperity and the vision of the future strived for is blurred by the sweeping range of influences that buy and have their interests adjudicated into the government’s structure and policy-making, silencing the voices of the powerless, stifling opportunities.
The president also said he wants America’s democracy to be as good as nine-year-old shooting victim Christina Green imagined it to be. It would have to be the imagination of an innocent child to be that good, because the reality is a cynical, vitriolic process of quasi-democracy which will never perfect the union, but rather, has been tearing it down, and with qualified reason. Forming a more perfect union is a building process, one that has been set back by illicit, politically-derived, Supreme-Court-majority rulings, extreme partisanship, the unaccounted-for breaking of laws by high officials, the grip of greed and materialism, and most of all, the manipulation of political influence through party self-interest and campaign bribery, none of which will be affected by symbols such as “State of the Union” seating arrangements, which Sen. McConnell was quick to trivialize only hours before the president’s speech.
Until these systemic mechanisms for abuse of wealth and power are eliminated, Christina Green will at least have been spared the destruction of idealism that America’s government now fosters and holds in waiting for the coming-of-age of her peers and all of America’s children. Republicans who place capitalistic and corporate values above all else should think seriously, and humanistically about how the cost of that failure balances against the bank accounts with which they measure their success.
cc (via web forms) January 25, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King by ending the American celebration of war.
President Obama’s lack of meaningful action to end the unnecessary conflicts, occupations, and deployments of U.S. military force throughout the world is unfortunate and would not garner the approval of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This day of celebration of Dr. King and his vision would be an appropriate time for the president to consider what Dr. King had to say about war during the Vietnam conflict:
“A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war: A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”More than 10,000 people died in the Afghanistan operations last year, and it has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, with another $107 billion slated for this year alone. If Dr. King could speak to the president today, he would undoubtedly repeat his warning on the responsibility of public officials to conduct the government’s policy of war, which, though correct in object, was not in its premise of tactical “initiative,” not for Vietnam or Afghanistan:
“The great initiative in this war [Vietnam] is ours [not true then and, with Afghanistan, that is also very doubtful]; the initiative to stop it must be ours.”If wars, unnecessary and unnecessarily extended, are to be stopped, the constant push of the military-industrial complex to create a public acceptance of military activism and sprawl must be stopped, a push which is designed to penetrate into every aspect of American life, including the prominent use of the “Commander-in-Chief” title for the president, even apart from military environment, and the object of the hundreds of thousands spent each time a flight of jet fighters is sent to overfly football games... to push the image and presence of militarism in American society.
America cannot and will not return to a concept of military use only in cases of true national defense so long as the military and its objectives are allowed to be twisted and propagandized to remain a source of profit for the defense industry and its varied interests, and so long as industry is allowed to remain in control of government through the corrupting influence of campaign contributions.
The pressure placed upon the United States by other nations, through their inadequate contributions to joint-defense objectives, contributes to the hand held by the military-industrial complex, raising the ante on the growth of their pot. And the deck is also stacked against change back toward a priority for diplomacy through words rather than boots because, unlike in the time of Dr. King and Vietnam, the military is no longer a conscripted force. A volunteer military minimizes public involvement, concern, and the chance that activism will play a role, as it did in Vietnam, to end unnecessary conflicts that are more damaging to the nation and its societal progress than they are to enemies, real or contrived.
Military service is a worthwhile experience which should again be required, not only for the character and skills it imparts to soldier-citizens, and the benefits provided to the nation during and after service, but because an encompassing, citizen participation mandates a greater public attention and awareness, and a commitment to change wrongheaded bureaucratic and political dictates by imposing a democratic voice to alter the mission objectives and the ways in which the military is used and abused. It is for this reason that the military-industrial complex loves a volunteer military force and will use all of its considerable political control to preserve it. The American people unwittingly assist in achieving that objective, because they will never support a return to conscripted service so long as they see the abuse of military force that exists today and know that they have no control to change it, even with a president as Obama, who is supposed to be better than he has been, allowing the obvious folly of profit by conflict and assisted corruption to continue to grow and further entrench itself as a seemingly constant and necessary aspect of daily American life, now and forever.
cc (via web forms) January 17, 2011: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Top ten reasons why the tax-cut for the wealthy should not have been continued:
- Does not provide sufficient economic stimulus.
- Does not add significant jobs.
- Adds significantly, unnecessarily to the debt and the leverage of China and Mid East bond buyers.
- Many of America’s most wealthy people of conscience have said that the taxes they pay compared to middle- and lower-class people is an abomination.
- If anyone believes the pressure to repeal will be less significant in the election year of 2012, they’re wrong, and Republicans will properly suffer if taxes are allowed to increase because they would not forgo the unnecessary and ineffectual tax-break for the wealthy.
- The decision not to pass a continued tax break for the wealthy is an obligation to our children, contrary to the millionaires or even the middle-lower class at the expense of their children.
- It is immoral to give the wealthy tax breaks when prices and opportunities are all heavily leveraged exclusively in their favor.
- The time to get serious about economic equality and reducing the divide is now, not later.
- Failure to pass a continuance of the cuts including the wealthy will focus more pressure on making the changes to the tax laws that are overdue and necessary to simplify and spread the obligation more fairly to the wealthy brackets.
- The tax break is unfair to those who are among the long-term unemployed and low-income pensioners who have so far received no benefits or consideration during the recession except a single, $250 Social-Security payment!
Election regardless, no change: Republicans hold America and its working class hostage.
Republicans who are trying to protect the wealthiest Americans from a return to higher, Clinton-era tax levels are fond of saying that it is “important to avoid tax increases for anyone in this troubled economy.” What they do not mention is that, for those wealthiest Americans they are trying to protect, at a cost of $700 billion to the deficit, times could not be better! They have the ability to increase their wealth and possessions at a time when costs for everything from securities, to cars, to boats, to second and third homes, to airplanes, all of which most of those wealthy already own, are at the lowest prices in memory. It is practically impossible, even without the Bush cuts, for the wealthy not to prosper in this economy, and the only probable reason that elitist class would not like to see it continue as it is, is so that there need not be embarrassment at spending too lavishly. Embarrassment, which was evident in the first year of the recession, has already become tiresome and too much with which to bother; yet, their indulgences do not add any significance to the nascent economic recovery. In addition, despite that the wealthiest Americans, whose pockets the Republicans are trying to further line, can afford these things on the barrel head, mortgage and interest rates are depressed as prices are, affording them increased opportunities for low-cost wealth growth when many middle-income and all low-income Americans cannot afford to take advantage of the low rates and prices that prevail, making like a full-spectrum dollar store for the wealthy.
The fact is that, even if the Bush gift to the wealthy expires, for them, the gravy train doesn’t stop. Those wealthy at the rising upper crust of America’s rotting pie will still be able to buy and invest and increase their fortunes with little real effect on their pampered lives. But even so, instead of doing the right thing, for both the economy and the deficit, by agreeing to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans, Republicans have instead allowed millions of Americans to suffer as their unemployment benefits expire because the Republicans want the rich to remain at shamelessly reduced tax levels, while at the same time fronting that reducing the deficit is their major objective, as they deny an $18 billion economic-aid boost to the economy at the cost of $700 billion added to the debt to pay the wealthy, whose rates are so embarrassingly low compared to average Americans that the most visible of their ilk, Warren Buffet, has plainly admitted as much, saying that the disparity is a travesty.
Republicans are clearly not interested in the national interest or any consideration of balance in the demographic-economic equation, holding a missile-defense treaty, deemed necessary by bipartisan leaders in American politics and government, hostage to their demand to keep the rich richer, in addition to dangling the heavily supported effort to end the socially discriminatory and unconstitutional practice of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for the military, in order to pressure keeping the cuts for the greedy rich in place. With any legislation, the spoiled-brat Republicans have, as they have been doing all along, refused to eat their dinner unless it is dessert.
Those unenlightened who are not among the wealthy, and who voted for the abomination the Republican party has become since the days of Eisenhower, can now see that the Republican campaign promise to end the deficit will be accomplished the same way the deficit was built: by stripping the poor and the middle class to hang furs and riches upon the wealthy and corporations, which now, in their steel and glass towers, oversee a controlling majority of the Supreme Court (the only branch of government with the power of the last word—the Founders’ great mistake), building for them a treasure of legal access and protections which are beyond all constitutional provisions or boundaries, and which, along with the unconstitutional, Senate-filibuster rule represents the greatest threat to democracy since the expanding Third Reich of Adolf Hitler and the cold-war missiles of the Stalinist Soviet Union.
Those who voted against, and especially those who did not vote to support continuing the turn-around begun by the Democratic administration and Congress—those who expected two decades of Republican trickle-down, economic disaster to be turned around and repaired in 18 months—should not complain as the nation continues to deteriorate in proportion to the growth of the wealth-divide and the deficit as their lives become more difficult; it is only what they so apathetically asked for and therefore, so richly deserve.
cc (via web forms) December 2, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Pick up the pieces by establishing the peace.
We live among a growing spate of fools; though, tossing half of the Democratic Blue Dogs, liberalizing or “progressivizing” the caucus and providing one of the silver linings in the losses, may belie that.
But then, the dumbing-down of the nation becomes even more of an embarrassment as it takes another Quayle step backward into the greedy grasp of those Republicans who, with no guilt for the gushing glut, and who, it has so obviously been forgotten, brought down the anchor upon staying the truer course of decades past, set before they hogged the helm. Now, with three fingers back on the tiller, it is they who so loudly demand change, so long overdue, they dare so boldly to say, with such unstained, unattached abandon, they, who once so recklessly set the nation’s course into the seething storm.
The proverb says, “The people get the government they deserve.” The people have voted, or not, in this mid-term election, in both cases as victims who are accosted in the park by muggers with empty guns—handing over their purses and the bullets.
Now, though nearly half of those who participated and object to the new intrusion by putting on a swimsuit, we’ll all get striped-down, sobbing, to get a total tanning, eh? Flip-flop, the front... the back... and now we shed all modesty, “sob,” as we allow ourselves to be planted naked on a hot summer’s beach, tearful, blinded with no sunglasses, no shade or cooling breeze, no sunscreen, no earplugs to block the crowded, ceaseless din of deceptive and inflamed discourse, and no fruity, spirited refreshment anywhere in sight, and no way to pay for any if there were.
As the president responds to the “shellacking,” as he put it, with the same, refined, surrendering, invitational approach and argument as before—the only reality he can truthfully address with the same apparent detachment that helped create it—we shall bake, expressing our anger and frustration in the mire of politically motivated House investigations, double-talk, and far more sharply pointed obstructionism, halting all progress, and handing the president a remaining term of little more than theater politics. The Republican agenda remains the same: limit President Obama to one term, though it is no longer publically stated, since the obdurate leadership finally gets that it is a priority that is widely, properly recognized as selfish and a disservice to the national interest.
“The best man for the job,” once taken as a good thing for the country, when government worked better, less at the mercy of a merciless and destructive party mechanism, with all its trappings to gather money and influence, placing itself above the system it embodies and the people who embody it.
Amidst the rubble of his unavoidable fate and his self-confessed failings, and the aimless, hovering turns of Congress, the president will at least still have control to finally act against another great destroyer of America that has seduced him in his first two years, as it has seduced every president, since Eisenhower: the hold on government by the military-industrial complex. If he chooses, he can claim the reins of defense over aggression by removing the troops, so hapless and ignored by both press and candidates in this mid-term election, from Iraq and Afghanistan, where the war was illegitimate in the first case and won seven years ago in the latter. In their place, he can strengthen intelligence-based law enforcement, special ops, and international/interagency coordination. He should also end the flow of billions of dollars to those corrupt, self-interested governments, payments viewed by many with the same disdain, or worse, as the pay-outs to AIG and Freddie/Fannie, and then act to vastly reduce the sprawling military footprint around the world, finally claiming America’s right to be at peace, where it should be as integral and financial recovery accelerates.
These things he can do without Congress, to turn back another great misdirection of entrenched, extremist-Republican rule, and he should if he wishes to serve another term.
cc (via web forms) November 3, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Dickensian, 2010 politics—the literature in the tea leaves.
There is that disconcerting element of the conservative wealthy, flexing throughout America and the “civilized” West, that would see a return to Victorian times, with its immutable classes and fearsome work houses, as a revolution of great promise and, for them, deserved privilege and placement.
Among them are those who, despite the wreckage brought down upon most everyone except the wealthy in the last three years, in a roller-coaster crash of the economy that saw its descent begin from an apex many Republican years before, when there were no brakes or wheel-guards installed, they who set loose that deadly fall, and the net of TARP that would save its designers, they would have you vote to see business unleashed again to stalk at will, to have everyone else’s safety net of mandated health-care standards swept away, and Social Security privatized and/or slashed to save a perceived tax and provide another enriching resource with which to play, at the risk of devastation to those with only that as their earned support: be that as it may; or, who would say to those, so untethered, who are so resourceless, therefore, so lazy, “be damned,” as would have been the case in this Great Recession; indeed, as it has been for many who would, otherwise, themselves be standing up within that crowd of self-assured individualists.
And, for many who, still standing, attend quaint, dangerous tea parties, the dread, dire boom is just out of sight, lurking, perhaps in the walls of an artery or a malignant growth, or an accident, or career disaster, waiting to harshly lower and also sink them deep within the muckety-muck dirt of that world to which they are now so skillfully solicited, and then painted with bold watercolor so as to seem, of it, a lasting, brethren part.
They, who with much emotion and little thought outside their own charity, aid to so enthusiastically cut away at the slandered cords of social conscience and responsibility, when done, will find that the floor beneath them has instead been let go; or, for now, at least in the case of the artery wall or other health affliction, that despite their best efforts to prevent it, they have been saved.
cc (via web forms) October 8, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
The Patient’s Bill of Rights.
Today, September 23, 2010, thanks to a Democratic priority for social conscience, important barriers have been placed against the for-profit-motivated abuses of the health-insurance companies. These barriers were put in place despite the best efforts of Republicans in Congress to prevent it, and they are protections for all citizens who have health insurance, protections that the Republicans have vowed to repeal if they regain control of Congress after the November election.
These protections are representative of the classic struggle to balance democracy with capitalism, where Democrats seek to curb the corporate greed and excess of naked capitalism with regulations, imposed by law and enforced by government, and where Republicans oppose limitations on capitalism, calling it “big government controlling business.” Republicans don’t like to mention how big “business” is, and they would have you forget how harmful business can be when it is left to regulate itself, a primary factor that created the recession which has devastated families throughout the nation. Collectively, these protections against the inate proclavity for abuse within the health-insurance industry are known as the Patient’s Bill of Rights, and these are the protections all health-insured citizens have, starting today, that they did not have before, and that the Republicans want to take away:
No lifetime limits on your coverage:Republicans have pledged to repeal the new health-care bill and all of these protections. Yet they would lie and say to you that they would not take these important benefits away if asked about them. They would answer by substituting a non-specific, big-picture lie that what they’re doing is preventing big-government intrusion into healthcare decisions, where there is none, and saving the aged from cuts in Medicare, where there are no net cuts, only gains.
If you or anyone covered in your family is struck with a catastrophic illness, your insurance company can no longer stop paying for your treatment because of an imposed cap. Republicans want to give the insurance companies back the cap and leave you on the lurch to pay.
No more rescissions (or arbitrary cancelling of coverage) except in cases of fraud:
No longer can your insurance company refuse coverage or refuse to renew your coverage because you have become ill and now need the insurance to pay for your treatments. Republicans want to give back the power to cancel to the insurance companies.
Coverage of most adult children up to age 26:
Your children, covered on your health plan, cannot be dropped until they are 26, requiring you to pay for separate policy coverage before then, coverage the insurance companies know many of them will never need until they are older and on their own. Republicans want to let the insurance companies either have you pay for separate policies or, when your children reach 18, let them go uncovered.
Coverage of preventive services without cost sharing:
Preventive services will help prevent serious illnesses and save lives. Republicans want to let the insurance companies require that you pay a major share, instead of having a portion of the premiums you pay go from the obscene profits of insurance executives to instead work for you to help keep you healthier and live longer.
Access to OB / GYNs without referrals:
Insurance companies can no longer force you to get a referral from them or an approved practitioner for you to visit a gynecologist. Republicans want to let the insurance companies dictate the conditions under which you can make such appointments.
Restrictions to prevent insurers from placing unreasonable annual limits on your coverage:
Insurance companies can no longer tailor limits on categories of annual payouts to the dictates and priorities of profit criteria. Republicans want to let the insurance companies dictate the limits, without restriction, they can pay for treating your illnesses.
No exclusion of coverage for children with pre-existing conditions (up to age 19):
Insurance companies are now prohibited from refusing to cover your children who need treatment for medical conditions. Republicans want to let the insurance companies say no to your children’s treatment needs.
Access to out-of-network emergency room services:
Insurance companies can no longer limit the facilities you can go to for emergency care, requiring you to search your policy or hold on the phone to find out from the insurance company where you can go and be covered. Republicans want to let the insurance companies dictate where you have to go to get emergency treatment.
A strengthened appeals process:
Insurance companies no longer have the built-in advantage when you oppose their coverage decisions. Republicans want to keep the playing field tilted in favor of the insurance companies on appeals and all other circumstances.
Do you want to see these protections swept away and give all the power back to the insurance companies? Then vote for a Republican this November, or fail to go out and vote for a Democrat, because that’s what it has unfortunately come down to: Democrats serve the people, Republicans serve the insurance companies, but in both cases, only after they first serve themselves and their parties. It is, again unfortunately, a matter of choosing the lessor of two evils, and that choice, unless you are wealthy, is clearly the Democrats.
Thanks to Republicans, and some rogue Democrats, like Sen. Max Baucus, many more important protections and services the health-care bill provides will have to wait until 2014 to go into effect. And, thanks to them, insurance companies still have price control without competition that isn’t prioritized on profits, and the health-insurance industry is already pushing hard to put large increases into effect to preserve their Wall-Street and greed mandated, pocket-bulging profits.
Does the false conviction of an “obscure” Florida pastor reveal an obscured truth?
In guerilla or urban warfare, commanders are perplexed by an inability to engage the enemy, at least, on their terms; so, isn’t it odd that Gen. Petraeus and Defense Secretary Gates, among others, in response to the so-called Christian pastor from Florida, who threatened to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of 911, complained that it would put U.S. troops in greater danger? That could only happen if the militants, or the occupied Afghan fighters, or the radical Islamists, or terrorists, whatever, showed themselves to threaten the troops, either directly, or to drone recons as they plant their IEDs. To any commander who wishes to engage and thereby defeat the enemy, this would be a good thing. But to Gen. Petraeus, who obviously wants a nice, relatively safe, prolonged, by-the-numbers occupation with which, whether he supports or not, the military-industrial complex (MIC) can continue to profit, the increasing danger and engagement, and the increasing casualties that would come with it, would threaten to bring greater public pressure to bear to end an occupation which, for a growing number of Americans, is no longer being taken at the word of the MIC and its spokespersons as necessary to defend the U.S.
Long-term conflict, at a simmer, with an “acceptable” number of casualties, is what America has been brainwashed to accept and to expect for an indefinite and “conditional” term, especially where “fighting terrorism” is concerned. “Fighting terrorism,” despite the near-unilateral success of law-enforcement and intelligence operations, has come to be defined as only capable of being effectively executed by occupations that, now and historically, without exception, have propped up corrupt regimes, and will be “long,” and “hard,” and “difficult” propositions, all requiring “responsible withdrawals.”
In a reply, conspicuous for its lack of policy objectives, to a letter objecting to the continued occupation of Afghanistan, where the military objective was really won in 2003 with the routing of the al Qaeda presence to caves and the overthrow of the Taliban government the year before, Sen. James Webb (D-VA), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on September 3, 2010, wrote with one conspicuous assertion, twice stated:
“I have great regard for the careful process employed by this administration in an effort both to define a new approach for the long-standing military commitment in Afghanistan and to put an operational framework in place for our responsible withdrawal...“Long-standing military commitment... long-term implications.” America and its military are already way beyond that.
“Our national security and the welfare of our men and women in uniform demand this deliberative approach in addressing a complex issue that carries significant long-term implications for our nation.”
And now, with U.S. Marines staging an armed boarding of a German ship in the Gulf of Aden, to capture Somali pirates, defense of America has been completely thrown out of the equation for use of military force. Though the September 9, 2010 boarding was successful and resulted in no injuries or casualties to marines, the international crew, or pirates, and is not standard procedure, it was ordered based on advantageous circumstances and is just another example of how out of control the use of U.S. military resources has become, and how the U.S. routinely subsidizes the defense costs of other nations with its resources and the blood of its soldiers.
It seems that World War II marked the end of an American war policy that was based on the concept of true defense, defeating the offending regime’s army and then removing the regime and getting the troops home again, and doing it all as quickly as humanly possible. WWII was also the last war, police action, whatever, where there was really no standing army, where it had to be raised and trained.
And it has been only since WWII that the influence of the sprawling estate of defense contractors, weapons manufacturers, militaristic, political think tanks, and legions of militaristic, career military, civil, and elected officials, all of whom are collectively known as the military-industrial complex, has grown beyond the point of a self-sustaining, five-headed serpent (the fifth is contract mercenaries, like XE Services, formerly Blackwater) of full-time militarism, laying down and executing a carefully planned and provoked, perpetual enterprise, sold through policy-speak, think tanks, military-college recruitment, TV ads, and football military fly-overs, where the global business plan of America is war, or “occupation,” or “providing stability,” or “spreading democracy,” whatever, and where the quick defeat of the offending regime and its armed forces is no longer the objective, but rather, is only the prelude to a protracted engagement with objectives no army can meet, designed to facilitate the spending of $billions and tens upon tens of thousands of soldier’s lives (since WWII) to become involved in what the Founders called the “messy” business of overseas politics, as a front for spreading the sales territory for orders of tanks and fighter jets and everything that goes with them, as has just recently been ordered by whatever it is that passes for a government in Iraq these days, where its prime minister is another corrupt, wannabe-dictator with his own, private army.
And all of this has happened despite the direct and specific warning of the growing threat, given to the American people after WWII by the man who, in that war, led the greatest army the world has ever known to victory against the daunting power of the most evil and threatening force in modern times, if not all of history. It was in 1961, in his farewell speech to the nation, after completing his second term as president, that Dwight Eisenhower said:
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.Since Eisenhower made his prediction, formed with the astute insight of a versed military expert, the harm done to America’s military members and the nation aside, does not the Blackwater/XE Services massacre of civilians in Iraq qualify as the latest pinnacle episode, among many, in the “disastrous rise of misplaced military power” that has plagued America, and in far greater numbers than America’s soldiers, the peoples America had supposedly been “fighting to help?”
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
Oh, say, can you see?
Why Gen. Petraeus was not elated over a home-grown exercise of free speech (distasteful though it was, whether for the burning of Korans, King James Bibles, or Torahs) that holds the likelihood of bringing the enemy out into the open? If the General really wanted to engage and defeat as many of the enemy as possible, as soon as possible, to end the conflict, he should have been telling his commanders to tell the troops that, “this Florida pastor, with a strange irreverence for Holy writings, just might give us the chance we’ve been wanting to engage more of these SOBs, so lock and load, and keep your eyes and ears open and your heads down!”
Not that greater engagement will ever make anything any better for America’s occupation there than it was for the Soviet Union’s, the stated, high-and-mighty, American political motivations for Afghanistan notwithstanding.
Perhaps Gen. Petraeus should explain to the troops how the politics of another country has anything to do with defending the old hometown. All the explanations from the career politicians are quite a stretch of extremes and unfounded generalizations, where for any credibility to replace the lacking ring of truth, the stock and trade of a pastor is all that remains: faith.
And where hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, faith that trusts in God finds no grace of repose with a politician.
cc (via web forms) September 9, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
American military policy is a business plan for extended wars.
To pave the way for rumbling over any deadline for a so-called, military withdrawal in Iraq, and keeping alive the military-industrial complex’s (MIC) operations there, Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Iraq, who was instrumental in negotiating the agreement stipulating withdrawal before 2012, said, “For a very long period [read indefinite-to-forever] of time, we’re going to be on the ground, even if it’s solely in support of U.S. weapons systems.”
Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari, Iraq’s chief military commander, who rightly expects sectarian violence to greatly increase, also spoke in the August heat to say that the U.S. forces should not leave Iraq until 2020, ten more years, until his army is able to guarantee internal security.
And finally, with the mid-August, weekend broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, the unified scope of U.S. military ambition was made clear, as Afghanistan U.S. forces commander, Gen. David Petraeus paralleled Iraq to Afghanistan in response to questions on the length of the U.S. occupation there, referring to the president’s earlier, West-Point message of “a substantial additional commitment... in troops, funding... and an increase in urgency,” which he said is the emphasis of the July 2011 deadline in Afghanistan, as “a conditions-based process, not an event...” He then mirrored former Iraq Ambassador Crocker’s remarks about the term of occupation in Iraq by saying this for Afghanistan’s occupation: “We will have an enduring presence here, in some fashion.”
Petraeus stressed the “urgency” to increase progress, describing “progress” as a building of small successes in different areas and linking and expanding them, but admitting that, “Progress only began [after nine long years] in late spring, in Helmand Province... a lot of progress still needs to be made and that will be a long-term operation.” And he repeated, “Withdrawal will be “conditions based... the July 11, 2011 withdrawal date... is conditional.”
His remarks also demonstrated how far removed from defense the Afghanistan occupation really is, when speaking of the what-if’s: “If we lose,” he said, “think of the repercussions for the country, and then the region,” which was the same “if we lose” justification that blanketed those questions in Vietnam.
On “if we win,” while qualifying his statement with a push-back on the use of the word “win,” as being an unlikely definable goal (which, in and of itself says a lot about the legitimacy of the extended occupation there), he mentioned security, of course, but the overwhelming emphasis of his answer, and of his statement of why the U.S. is in Afghanistan, fell far from the legitimate defense of America: “There are $trillions in minerals development if we win.” And Petraeus further described the markers of success, which, admit it or not, are objectives, as “like in Iraq... achieving a level of violence that is reduced sufficiently to allow commerce, business, and outside investment...”
It all has the undeniable ring of a capitalistic agenda vs. defensive, doesn’t it?
If it looks like a duck...
And the General, an exacting and well-versed politician who denies it, finally fell back on the same old generalization that has become the universal facade for claims of national security, which facts show do not apply, are not achievable, and are not critical to the operations of al Qaeda which, like electricity, takes the path of least resistance as it flows to the voids: “We’re here so that Afghanistan does not become a sanctuary for trans-national extremists.” As has been pointed out before, on that basis, the U.S. would be able to justify occupations in at least a dozen nations throughout the globe. It is not a justification for what is, in reality, nation-building, as the General so much as said, to create a platform for commerce.
On the heels of these summer, 2010, MIC-prep statements, and those of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, in the same period, intended to direct the public communication and acceptance of Afghan- and Iraqi-military policies, the “non-government” in Iraq has filled-in Crocker’s statement (and Petraeus’s image of Afghan end-game success), by ordering 140 tanks for $200 million, in addition to naval ships, small arms, F-16 fighter planes, and supporting vehicles, armaments, munitions, and spares—the entire spectrum of the MIC’s conventional-arms-manufacturing-establishment showroom.
Ka-ching! The money flows, blooded by more than 4,400 dead and near 6,800 wounded U.S. troops.
Operation Enduring Freedom? More like enduring pain (except for the MIC), and it is time to let the Iraqis live in the stew they make for themselves. And, yes, it is their situation and circumstance now. The U.S. has paid with the lives of its soldiers more than long enough and painfully enough to both atone for the Bush-Cheney crime and give them the real chance they need to get past their prejudices and historical strife to make a new start, and America can no longer be held responsible for their future, nor should it be, not by the Iraqis, not by U.S. elected, appointed, or career officials, and certainly not by the MIC.
Yet, it is clear that the Iraqi occupation will not end, as President Obama falsely promised, because it has entered the phase of end-game payoff for the industrial component of the MIC: the establishing of another armed state where, despite whatever form of leadership evolves to rule Iraq, instead of a defense treaty (and the history of the Iraq-Kuwait invasion outcome) to protect against foreign invasion, the U.S. build-up, maintenance, and involvement with another military nation-state will be perpetuated indefinitely, with the benefits to fall only into the pockets of that industry which has been the only entity to continuously profit from the deaths of the tens upon uncounted tens of thousands of people since Bush invaded. And that’s just Iraq. Only a liar would say this is not the very same future envisioned by “officials,” elected or otherwise, for Afghanistan, and then for Iran, and then the rogue nations of North Africa, one by one, keeping America at war and the money flow to the MIC intact beyond the lifetimes of anyone’s children.
Or, sanity may prevail, at least where taking the tactical fight to al Qaeda is concerned. The covert approach, basically, the focused, limited-force, intelligence/special-operations approach favored by the Biden camp, has been a component of the occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but is now the core of a quietly built-up engagement composed of intelligence gathering, accelerated drone attacks, and special operations in North Africa, described by administration officials as using a scalpel instead of the hammer of troops. This covert conflict is dubbed the “Shadow War,” and whether the focused cut of the “scalpel” is a holding action for the later “hammer” of troop invasions, or will be established as the means by which troops will be replaced, to properly engage “shadow” enemies, remains to be seen. But the tactics are being applied, with local-government permission, by the expanded military-operations capacity of the CIA, and by expanded military-intelligence derived, special-group operations against al Qaeda in Yemen and other N. African locales. It represents an important step in the right direction, despite the concerns of oversight and blurred military-rights/protections legalities, because officials have finally conceded that the use of intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations is effective while avoiding the kinds of cost and waste that have been endured (again, except by the MIC) and which are the future with troop operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Speaking on the shadow war in Yemen, a former United States ambassador to that nation, Edmund J. Hull, warned that American policy must not be limited to using force against al Qaeda, saying, “I think it’s both understandable and defensible for the Obama administration to pursue aggressive counter-terrorism operations... I’m concerned that counter-terrorism is defined as an intelligence and military program. To be successful in the long run, we have to take a far broader approach that emphasizes political, social and economic forces.”
But there is danger here, in an “approach that emphasizes political, social and economic forces,” non-defensive terms coming from a civilian official, which are also primary MIC precursors to increasing military presence—build-up, as was done in Vietnam, or invasion and occupation, to establish the security and/or train the local forces to eventually, after another “long-term, hard” struggle, with “conditional” withdrawal criteria, provide the security that is required to grow desired “political, social, and economic” environments, or... to nation-build.
It begins with what Obama administration officials say they already are doing: increasing Yemen’s foreign-aid budget and proposing advice (advisors, military, primarily, which is how the build-ups begin), which was emphasized, by unnamed administration officials as the core of America’s effort, along with equipping, and establishing coordinated intelligence exchanges. How quickly and easily this stirring phase of the shadow war can turn into another inflated, unnecessary, perpetuated military presence, with all the attendant casualties and costs, is alarming.
But the vastly more effective, far-less costly shadow war remains only a second front until it is applied in Afghanistan and Iraq without the presence of occupying troops. But there is a more relevant, critically important difference to note between shadow wars and wars fought with occupations, which reflects the justification of purpose: shadow wars are legitimate defense because, by their nature, they can have no commercial or capitalist objectives or rewards.
Shadow wars have no commercial or capitalist objectives or rewards.
Defense Secretary Gates is only scratching at the surface of the MIC’s sprawl with his announced plans to cut into the bloated top ranks of the military’s personnel and parts of its flow-chart components and proposed systems. Much, much more needs to be done, because when a nation that is, by far, the greatest military power on Earth spends decades in war or occupation of third-world nations, that nation is not acting in its defense, but is instead acting out its warfare-derived business plan, where defense (and al Qaeda) is only the initiative excuse.
While the legacy of the Obama administration will be to have turned the steep, domestic-prosperity down-slide, initiated by a string of conservative-Republican, trickle-down, deregulate administrations, it will also be one of propagation of the MIC grand plan for unnecessary, extended war and death, for profit, for a national-security intent that is as much a facade now as it was in Vietnam or Korea, but with a different kind of underlying truth, where the real fear is the nuclear arsenal that is scattered throughout a politically unstable Pakistan, and where, rather than spend 3,000 troops over two years, tops, to eliminate that grave threat to the fabric of America’s society and the lives of every demographic of its citizenry, the U.S. is determined to instead spend decade upon decade, at least 15,000 soldier’s lives, or more, and unlimited national debt to support neighboring nation-building and occupations for some kind of misguided “stability,” and to do it indefinitely.
Tactics to encourage an endless occupation in Afghanistan have lately targeted strongly emotional issues, relating to the abusive treatment of women, which is hardly an Afghan novelty. Most recent, the story from the cover of Time magazine’s issue of a year ago, August 9, 2009, has had new light put upon it. Aisha, the disfigured girl on the cover, was then a beautiful, 18-year-old who had the misfortune of being the niece of a custodial uncle who killed a man and, under Pashtun tribal custom, atoned by giving her and her younger sister to the dead man’s relative, who made her his bride when she reached puberty. When she was caught, after fleeing years of abuse, her owner-husband cut off her nose and both ears, since tribal custom sees a man whose wife dishonors him as having cut off his nose. It was a perverted eye-for-an-eye retribution, leaving Aisha as she appeared in the controversial Time magazine cover (she has since been secretly smuggled out of Afghanistan to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery), a picture difficult to look at, confronting those who are civilized with a window into the incomprehensible, cowardly brutality of one selfish, unfeeling man, whose savage assault stands with those of many others to represent a society of, by civilized standards, deeply perverse values.
The presence of an American occupation in Afghanistan is not preventing these atrocities, and they will continue, in this decade, if and when America leaves or if it stays, and, the evidence shows, Taliban government or not. Aisha’s is only one among uncounted cases of familial/religious punishments, derived from religious or tribal customs, that are carried out daily in Afghanistan and many other nations whose customs, by Western, civilized standards, are hideously barbaric, most of which are never reported. But among those that are, in Afghanistan, it is clear that the local acceptance and enthusiasm for the practice of these customs is widespread, beyond the clique of those labeled as “Taliban fighters” or “clerics,” like the crowds in the Deep South celebrated lynchings of African-Americans, or the frontier bounties for “Indian” scalps, or like Salem’s settlers stoked the witch-burning fires. Time (not soldiers) will also succeed to evolve Afghanistan’s violent cultural practices.
One such reported case, of note, which would make the stories of the defunct soap, The Guiding Light, seem tame, was the stoning to death of a young, Afghan couple who eloped, the woman already engaged to marry a relative of her lover, who himself was already married and had two children. When they were induced by family members to return home, they were seized by the Taliban and tried before a religious court, under Shariah law, presided over by local mullahs. Being found guilty, they were taken to the village bazaar, where they were circled by a crowd (women were prohibited) and stoned to death by some 200 of the men, with an even-larger, non-participating crowd looking on and cheering. Of course, Taliban spokesmen supported the punishment, as did members of the crowd who were interviewed. And among those throwing the stones were the man’s father and brother, and the girl’s relatives, including her brother. Similar and less-serious village-participatory-punishment practices are regularly reported from every Afghan province.
Atrocities are not only part and parcel with the Third World, they are exported with immigrants. In the U.S., the practice of Shariah law has not ended, any more than cock fighting has for Cuban immigrants. Honor killings and other practices are continually reported. If the United States cannot prevent these and the barbaric culture-practices of other immigrants within its borders, how can anyone expect that the U.S. can succeed in doing so in other nations, or that it should endure the cost of lives and fortune it takes to act as the world’s cultural policeman to try? The U.S. will not end these practices in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, with occupations, despite if the occupations have industrial ambitions at their end, though, occupations are far less likely if they do not.
The way to accelerate time’s change of culture on Afghanistan’s and other primitive societies is the way missionaries spread Catholicism throughout the world, but without the religious proselytism, through education and diplomatic and economic incentives and sanctions, by bringing to bear the penalties of deprivation and isolation, and the carrots of aide programs and international participation, not with the lives of American soldiers, and governments should help organizations engaged in this, non-religious kind of work. The wide community acceptance of cruel punishment that has been shown to exist must be handled civilly and changed into disdain, beginning with the local leadership, then leading to criminality. It won’t be easy, because even U.N. sanctions to prevent nuclear proliferation are routinely sidestepped by many nations, making them less effective or useless. But the worth of American soldiers’ lives is only justified in giving over to the defense of the nation, nothing less, not to any other cause that does not reach the scope of genocide, or any capitalist/military-industrial facade that has the label of defense hung upon it.
Otherwise, where, and with what afflicted group, will the wars shrouding the American people ever end?
There is so little time that sweeps past the life of a generation that no policy of war should be permitted to fill large segments of it. Baby Boomers are experiencing their 30th year of life in a nation at war, and that’s the least of any post-WWII generation, on a percentage scale, with most of it illegitimate, with at least another decade as much as promised, but “Oh, yes we can,” Mr. President... militarize the world, enslave the souls of our children in a climate of continuing conflict, not change the way Washington fails or end the throat-grip held by any of the influences that control and profit from the carnage that afflicts the flesh and the spirit of soldiers, “collaterals,” their families, and the span of generations that bear the pain as a constant affliction in their news and their psyches, and who will pay for it.
“For a very long period of time, we’re going to be on the ground, even if it’s solely in support of U.S. weapons systems.”
“We will have an enduring presence here, in some fashion.”
Expect “a tough fight with difficult days ahead.” Your words, among the others’, Mr. President.
Was that the promise... or the goal?
Shake out order from the chaos, and there is the big picture: despite all of the lives and money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military aide, “stability” $billions sent to Pakistan, part of which ends up paying border interests hostile to the U.S., and parts of which support a dangerous nuclear arsenal, there will never be any chance for unilateral nuclear disarmament by Pakistan, not as long as America is unwilling to begin confronting that nation with the fact that it, Pakistan, is the real threat that is currently unacceptable in the region, through the nuclear weapons it tenuously holds and the force of propagation they impel to other nations, like Iran. And there will never be any guarantee that somehow, someday, a weapon in Pakistan’s questionable control will not find its way to some form of detonation on Western soil, where the U.S. is the prime target. The objectives of the MIC prevent that confrontation of truth and the shorter conflict, or ended conflicts that would result. There has been enough of the drawn-out-for-decades military aid and war games, with the U.S. footing most of the bill and the blood as all risks remain evermore ominously on the table.
A great source of the hate and determination that continuously drives that dark, nuclear-initiated objective of the extremists, and which brought down the capitalist-iconic Twin Towers, is the perception that capitalism drives America’s new epoch of Mid-East-region imperialism, not democracy, a perception that was reenforced by Ambassador Crocker and Gen. Petraeus, among others. The other offending factor, becoming more so to Americans, as well, is the widening presence of U.S. troops and infringing U.S. culture, particularly sexual objectification and commercialism, in lands where the U.S., its troops and culture, do not belong, and where the military footprint does no good, except to incite and legitimize Islamic-fronting radicals who want the fight, and to complete the business plan of U.S. “defense” industries which want sustained profits and expansion of their markets and capabilities to be realized on a slowly-simmering stage.
You, Mr. President, are carrying forward their corrupted agenda of greed. President Eisenhower would tell you as much.
He already has.
cc (via web forms) August 16, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
On illegal immigration, the Democratic left is guilty of Republican-conservative propagandizing.
Critics, including MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who call the Republican party an “anti-immigration” party, or that the Republican party is “anti-Hispanic,” or seeks to “make criminals out of newborns” by amending the 14th Amendment’s citizenship stipulations, these critics are guilty of the very same, grossly exaggerated, inflaming propaganda that is characteristic of FOX and the conservative-Republican party’s leadership, their trumped-up charges having no basis whatsoever in fact. Despite that it is difficult to pose any rational defense for the positions (more, the lack of) of the Republican party of today, and that its leadership is not gifted with the capacity to moderate their views or avoid abuses of rhetoric, the fact is that the Republican party, and many others, are only seeking to see immigration law enforced and American ideals preserved, as immigration law intends.
This, more correctly, makes the Republican party the anti-ILLEGAL-immigration party, as opposed to the Democratic party, which seems inclined to pander to the Hispanic vote. And, no, the Republican party does not “hate” Hispanics, but the truth is that it is Hispanics, and chiefly those from Mexico, who with the help of the U.S. and their government, through a multi-state network of Mexican consul offices, are abusing the laws, resources, and courtesy of the American people. There is no other way in which to address the problem than to name that race or nationality which is at its root, simply by the nature of geography, not any other intrinsic race or ethnic characteristic, and any allusion to any other characteristic by critics, other than political, where there are serious deficits, is simply an effort to paint legitimate fact-naming as racism for the sole purpose of casting critics in a completely, falsely deplorable light.
Pandering to the illegal-Hispanic alliance, if allowed to continue, admitting wave after wave of illegal immigrants, as will be the case if an amnesty is again granted with “reform,” allowing more millions to bypass immigration law and obtain the “unenlightened” vote, will eventually result in the loss of the Democratic party and all politics in America to the hands of those very illegal immigrants, forever casting aside America’s historical heritage, which rose from the Founding fathers to fight against the opposed evils in two World Wars, and which, in stark contrast to much of Central and South America, where illegal immigrants have their political values and experience, has stood as the world’s beacon of freedom and democratic process. Such overthrow of the traditionally American society would mark a significant dilution of the already diminishing global cultural diversity, which, like America’s heritage, is worth preserving.
There is no legitimate reason to oppose a policy of enforcing immigration law, because to enforce is also to support preserving America’s unique customs and heritage instead of seeing them absorbed and replaced by that which predominates Central and South America. Only those who wish to bring about exactly that result, who wish to see the United States opened up to a sea-change of heritage, custom, and political power as a consequence of an unregulated invasion of Hispanics from Mexico and other nations of Central and South America can oppose, without any legitimate basis, rejecting amnesty or enforcement of immigration law that, enforced, protects America’s identity and ideals.
Even more ludicrous is the charge that the Republican party seeks to criminalize babies of illegal immigrants. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The intent is to remove a key magnet that draws illegal immigrants to America: that their children, born here, are automatically granted citizenship as a mere consequence of presence within America’s borders, which was not an issue for the nation when the 14th Amendment was passed, but which has been a right that has been abused for purposes never intended or foreseen when the Amendment was passed.
There is no basis of reason for any expectation that children born of parents who are within the borders of the U.S. illegally, or even legally as visitors, should expect those children to be granted citizenship status. The change sought would be limited to change citizenship so that only children born with at least one parent being a U.S. citizen would automatically receive citizenship status. This would not criminalize any child, because, legally, those who make that false claim know full-well that the children are devoid of any capacity for culpable intent, criminal or otherwise, and infants born of illegal immigrants would retain the citizenship and nationality of their parent’s country of origin and would remain with their parents as they are processed through immigration enforcement, not, as are their parents, as lawbreakers, but only as their attendant children. If any critics of this necessary change can deny that the intent of those who come to America illegally, to bear their children here, are not doing so with the intent and purpose of securing citizenship alone, in order that they can both receive free natal healthcare and later secure admission on a legal basis for themselves and their relatives, is either a liar or suffering damaged intellect to not have that awareness.
The only illegal immigrants the U.S. has any obligation to consider for a “structured” amnesty, are those who have served honorably in the U.S. military or whose immediate family are U.S. citizens, and that latter obligation is only through consideration of the citizen relatives. It is important and necessary to close the spigot the 14th Amendment has opened, to remove the strongest lure to illegal immigrants, after jobs, and prevent further, ongoing abuse.
cc August 15, 2010: Chris Matthews; (via web forms): White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Why is America still in Afghanistan?
America has reduced much of foreign policy to a level that should be beneath the contempt of an intellectual president: buy them or kill them, or both, which is now the situation in Afghanistan, never mind the cost and carnage of innocents left in the wake of such blundering pursuits.
In regard to the WikiLeaked documents, which highlight Afghanistan military-operations data and statistics, including civilian deaths, the administration has lined up the statements of Afghan and Pakistani officials to match its own, saying the leaks pose a severe danger to troops and operations, despite that the documents were vetted and redacted by responsible news organizations to remove names and specific data that could compromise troops or intelligence, and administration spokesmen also say, contradictorily, that most of the information was already known, is outdated, and the problems no longer exist.
Right. And where’s that bridge?
First, a shrug of the verbal shoulder to deflect the leaked revelations, which reflect poorly on the government’s line on Afghanistan, as unimportant. And now, it is very likely that with his contradictory statements of grave harm, Sec. Gates is spearheading the making of the leaks into an excuse for the failure of the counterinsurgency effort, the emphasis of which, as a policy, had already been found lacking and had begun a change to anti-terrorism priorities before the leaks.
More manipulation, less truth?
Secretary of Defense Gates cited the violated trust between governments and individuals represented by the WikiLeaks documents:What Gates does not deign to mention, and which his omission makes an example, is the trust between the U.S. government and its own people, particularly when the reasons for sending America’s sons and daughters into war are at question. The leaked documents show a violation there, more onerous than any other, because for too long, truth, trust, and honesty have been placed last, or not at all, before the American people, behind the consideration of all others, as Gates perfectly reflects in his statement.
“It is amazing how much trust matters in relationships, whether it’s with individuals or governments around the world.”
White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who is the public face on administration policy, said:This is an outrageously unachievable objective, first because it is invalid, because the Afghan government was removed as a response to 9/11, and al Qaeda decimated, hundreds of its front-line leaders killed, and thousands of the Afghan people of al Qaeda and the Taliban, associated and not, were killed, all in a victory responding to the 9/11 attack, achieving the goal stated if the demands issued to the Taliban by Bush were not met, all within the first two years after the invasion! Second, the objective stated by Gibbs is ridiculous because even if it were possible to destroy all Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which it is not, Afghanistan is not the where and all of al Qaeda bases or planning capabilities. There is no need for a base in Afghanistan (or Pakistan) to plan attacks against the U.S. Al Qaeda is global and electronically mobile. The stated objective of the Press Secretary is so useless and meaningless that it can only be propaganda.
“We are in this region of the world because of what happened on 9/11. Ensuring that there is not a safe haven in Afghanistan by which attacks against this country and countries around the world can be planned. That’s why we’re there, and that’s why we’re going to continue to make progress on this relationship.”
So what is the real objective that hides behind the expressed one of denial of Afghanistan as a place to plan attacks against the U.S.? Is it the wealth of minerals in the hills and the drool of industries to control and exploit that wealth, U.S. and foreign? Is it the corporations that profit with defense contracts, those military personnel who would not be happy if there was not some engagement somewhere, and those elected officials who, through contributions or through some vicarious, warmongering ideology are in their pockets, all of whom are otherwise collectively known as the military-industrial complex? Is it to control the presence of India?
Or... most likely, is the administration afraid to say that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is a threat to America? If it were, which it is, should not the army be there instead of Afghanistan, achieving an objective that is both quantifiable and most highly affecting of U.S. and Western national security? That would be a meaningful war, one that removes all nuclear capability from an unstable country that is both threatened by and composed of extremist sympathizers. One that would also pave the way to remove them from another nation afterward, peaceably. If al Qaeda or any Mid-Eastern terrorist organization gets nuclear materials to deploy in a weapon against the U.S. or its allies, it will come from either Pakistan or Iran, more likely before Russia or India. Does the Obama administration wish to avoid highlighting that because it does not wish to place such a threat and confrontation with an unstable Pakistan before the public? The reason provided by Mr. Gibbs is so easy to substitute, and so unconvincing.
One example demonstrating how blatantly the government, and the Department of Defense, attempts to minimize the negative nature of the truth regarding “difficult” military operations, is Afghanistan commander, Gen. Petraeus’s July 2010 statement that, “some of the ground troops might see the rules of engagement as being somewhat bureaucratic.” The fact is that the rules of engagement, which are highly restrictive upon soldiers, are levered to the prime value of the local populace in accord with the objectives of counter-insurgency operations, not the safety of U.S. soldiers, and they are considered by most soldiers to be a factor increasing the “danger and casualties” for them, not as being bureaucratic upon them, but rather, as being hazardous to them. When a nation employs its military in operations that dictate rules and procedures detrimental to its survival, that should be a clue that the situation is not one that justifies the deployment of U.S. troops, because force of fielded armies is meant to be employed against enemies who are identifiable, and always in ways most effective to maximize reduction of the enemy and minimize losses to the troops, always. If it can’t be done that way, there’s another way the problem has to be addressed, besides troops. Afghanistan has another way, expressed by the Vice President (LEISO), and like Iraq, Afghanistan has now become a misuse of troops.
The United Nations records that in 2009, there were 2,412 civilians who were killed in Afghanistan—men, women, and children. And, despite increased awareness that the death of civilians is always two-steps backward for the overall objectives, and regardless of more restrictive rules of engagement, that figure is 14-percent higher than the previous year, which speaks against a war that is reported by governments as going well, as well as “difficult” and “hard.” If one out of three of the related reports from the secret documents disclosed by WikiLeaks in late July 2010 were discarded, there would still be ample reason to believe that the U.N. figures are vastly understated.
There have also been war crimes that go beyond the attributes of the fog of war, committed by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. But while America has so far avoided the branding that comes with trial in the World Court or by war-crimes commissions, that taint is on the heart of compassionate citizens and is a constant source of helpless regret and anger which has spanned the generations to today, beginning with My Lai, in Vietnam, the incredible carnage inflicted upon that massacred village, mostly women and children, and babies, to include sexual abuse, torture, and mutilation, being the first of which most Americans can directly associate. Is this a palatable price for national security, in unjustifiable or unnecessary, or wrongly-extended wars, and in conditions of a partial commitment, overextending troops year upon year, and unconstitutionally augmenting a thinned resource with contract killers, unaccountable and already responsible for one cross-gender/age massacre, in Iraq?
Yet, the wars, mostly unnecessary and unjustified, keep on coming, prodded by a push to keep the machine well oiled, and reap the profit of it, along with a growing acceptance of “collateral damage,” which is evidenced by the coining of that dehumanizing term for what is, starkly put, a veil upon the casual murder of innocents. From distant rooftops by machine-gunning, laughing mercenaries and soldiers, pumping rounds into unknown targets on a distant road, to the trigger on a joystick in an air-conditioned room 3,000 miles from the fallen targets, the mechanics of death have becoming more indiscriminate and robotic than the initiation of global conflicts in which the toys and theories are put to the ultimate test, in situations far removed from any ultimate threat to national security, instead, contributing to its demise.
In response to the WikiLeaks documents, the New York Times reported that:
“On Capitol Hill, a leading Senate Democrat (Sen. John Kerry, D-MA) said the documents, with their detailed account of a war faring even more poorly than two administrations had portrayed, would intensify Congressional scrutiny of Mr. Obama’s policy. ‘Those policies are at a critical stage, and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent,’ said Senator Kerry.”Therein, within that statement of a leading U.S. Senator, lies a big problem with the Afghanistan occupation, and all wars and occupations: Congress does not understand that the Constitution puts the power and responsibility for war policy, not just the funding, in the body of Congress, not any president, not an intellectual, right-intended president like President Obama, and certainly not an ignorant, authoritative “Great Decider” criminal like George Bush. Presidents are empowered to determine the methods and procedures, configurations and levels of force that will be deployed to achieve the goals and policies set by Congress, not make the policy or goals for military deployments themselves. If a president believes there is a need for military engagement, or a change in congressionally authorized policy or goals, the Constitution requires that the executive “sell it” to Congress in order to get the authority through law, resolution, or order, never to initiate on its own. Until Congress starts getting that right, there is going to be little hope of ever returning to a state of war as limited and last resort.
And every day it keeps on being done wrong, and wrongly—every day—more U.S. and innocent lives are savagely torn and extinguished. To continue in this way, or delay to change it, is deadly wrong.
cc (via web forms) July 29, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Born of danger, to dangerous times.
The value of the Founders, the Charters they left to America, is not only in their wisdom and applied knowledge of human behavior, it is that those traits were a critical component in the equation to formulate a structure of government, tied to individual value and participation, based upon their first-person experience of the oppression and dangers of autocracy which seek to eliminate individual freedoms. Their experience, and the gift to successive generations of Americans that they wrought from that experience, has shielded America from that danger ever since. And, so departed is America today from the tug of those chains they cast aside, the ability to recognize the threats has diminished, and the framework of the government they handed down for the protection and growth of subsequent generations has been diminished and pushed aside, and in some cases, as with the Bush administration, arrogantly countermanded.
Americans must recognize that their own vision of freedom is far less acute than those who wrote the nation’s Charters, because today’s Americans, native Americans, or immigrants from other democracies, the vast majority never lived under the burden of restriction and compelled obedience like that which, in this generation, in Iran, killed Neda Soltan, and that, with the founding generation, created the anger and desperation born of those conditions, making it possible that the Founders and their townsmen and neighbors would choose to risk everything against formidable odds too change it, for themselves and their “posterity.” As the memory of those desperate days has faded with every passing generation, and become farther removed from the mechanics of managing and overseeing the conduct of that government, today, the danger has returned, a danger with a different face, but no less threatening and no less capable of eroding the freedoms intended to be the guiding and primal principle of the government, through which all power should be filtered.
The path back to a strong democracy, to reasserting freedom, accountability, and responsiveness to the Will of the People, is to elevate the Constitution out of the lifeless archive of historical decoration to which it has been subjugated, and demand that its limitations and enumerated powers be returned to the life of the nation, in this generation, by being observed, no matter what it takes to do it, including Congress revolting against an activist majority in the Supreme Court, who have forgotten that their first responsibility is to that Constitution, not to the wishful and aborted interpretations and arguments offered by lawyers for industry, or their individual politics. Given that responsibility, those rulings stand as a violation of the good behavior that justices are granted as the sole condition of their service and privilege, and that majority should be impeached and convicted, not left empowered to destroy political equality through subversive edict!
That is the recent crime of one branch. For the Congress, it has failed to jealously guard its enumerated powers, allowing government to be transformed to more of an oligarchy than a democratic republic, placing greater distance between the people and the decisions that are made for the most critical policies in national life. The Founders addressed the Congress in Article I because it is one representation indicating that Congress is the branch they intended to be the primary source of power in the republic, not the president. The Senate has twisted the constitutional authority to set rules of its proceedings into an aberration by altering the criteria intended for governance, which is a simple majority, except where the Constitution specifically provides for a greater, two-thirds criteria. The 60-vote rule is as much an abomination to popular sovereignty as the ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United was to political equality, which combined, is two legs of the tripod supporting democracy that have been axed.
As to the House, withdrawals from the Treasury are only to be made in accord with appropriations made by law, and an account of all expenditures must be published, which would include full details of each and every earmark. And, earmarks are doubtful to fall as a proper appropriation by law, since lawful appropriations are named in accordance to their purpose, and all appropriations have a purpose, which is not served by the earmarks attached. The Constitution intends that expenditures be required to go through the difficulty of discreet lawmaking and passage for a reason, which, as a consequence of “expedient spending,” most of it during the Republican years, looms dark over America’s future now. In addition, the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 prohibition against providing preference with revenue to the port of any state over the other can be applied beyond ports, just as surely as the Air Force, which didn’t exist at ratification, is included as an extension of the Section’s military powers. The earmark funding the Bridge to Nowhere could be ruled unconstitutional simply on the basis of providing revenue to the road system of one state over another, if not that it was not a lawfully appropriated expenditure. But, these transgressions almost pale when compared to the greatest failure by the House of Representatives to carry out constitutional power and responsibility since the founding of the nation: its failure to bring articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney.
And both houses of Congress are guilty of providing ratification and oversight with the incompetence and disregard that BP conducted drilling operations on the Deepwater Horizon, or that Minerals Management has regulated that drilling, or mine safety, or that any of the array of financial-regulatory agencies policed Wall Street and the banks, or that the FAA looked after the degradation of safety and pilot-workplace quality as major carriers clawed against hairline margins by growing a flimsily managed and regulated commuter network, or that the Consumer Protection Agency kept dangerous Chinese products from reaching citizens’ homes and children... and all of these failures, and more, compound the oversight failures of Congress, too many of its members sooo busy raising money for the next election, and figuring out how to give it back to the contributors, instead of doing the full job within their committee assignments that good service to the nation and their constituencies demand, ransacking access to office, choice, and political liberty for the People, the third leg of democracy, in the process.
Presidents, from at least Lincoln to Obama, have taken their pound of flesh from the body of the Constitution, from initiating deployment or extensions of military actions, unilateral raising of armies, engaging in foreign agreements or activities requiring treaty, violating individual liberties, to signing statements, which are a pure usurping of Article I, where Congress alone has the power to formulate and pass laws, the president designated specifically to either sign or veto, or let lay, never edit, redact, or annotate with signature. As Congress has failed in oversight, presidents have also failed to prioritize national good over politics when making appointments, administering their agencies, and executing the laws, most blatant and harmful today in the case of illegal immigration. And, the history has been that, to date, every president, of either party, has sought to use and protect and expand the unconstitutional powers and authority that have been gained through successive administrations through precedent, by virtue of the wrongful silence or cooperation of Congress and the Court.
The dangers today are subtle, and are primarily, at the lowest common denominator, due to the fraud and bribery and party control that are at the heart of campaign contributions. But the danger is all around and, if let to continue, just as capable of wrecking the nation as the masted warships in the harbors and Redcoats who threatened the colonies in the years before the Constitution became the backbone of America’s laws and freedoms. The Founders would tell us that the warnings, written in the history of their words, can still speak out to those who will see, and they are just as applicable today. They would tell us that, in this strange, instantaneous, news-funneled, high-paced, complex world in which America is militarizing over horizons at every point of the compass, that time is running out, and that, since the Civil War, the Great Experiment is in the gravest danger it has ever known, from forces internal and, as a consequence of America’s excessive military proliferation, external.
Would they be listened to? If they could appear on television and speak the warnings they’ve written and left behind? Would that be a call to action, a rake to apathy? Or, are the Founders no more than historical tokens for political catch-phrases? Despite that human nature hasn’t changed at all, and that the selfishness of man they balanced with the Constitution hasn’t diminished, have they and their works become, today, as irrelevant to us as the dangers they faced and acted to conquer in their distant time?
America needs a leader to speak for the Founders and to act according to the limitations and priorities they wrote into the Constitution, to stand against those who say the Constitution is outdated and individual freedoms must be subordinated to larger interests and entities in a world of global threat and competitiveness, or that the government of the Constitution is too cumbersome in a quick-response era, and changing it even more so—better to quietly pidgin-hole it and unbalance the separation of powers. Or more dangerous, those who claim constitutional protection and adherence to preserve freedom and reduce the size of government, the same ones who say spending to help the unemployed hurts the deficit, but keeping the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place does not, whose real purpose is only economic self-interest, paraded behind a facade of promoting business. They make the government of the Constitution, of the Founders, out to be an evil instrument, when it is really all there is that balances self-interest and greed, “capitalism,” with regulation, “democracy,” to stand between any hope of public safety and self rule on the one hand, and something more akin to the law of the jungle that those wealthy and powerful want to bring about on the other. If America’s government is as big and bad as they claim, why would they wish to be a part of it? And why would their constituents want them to be? Those who appreciate the value of America’s heritage, its constitutional government, are those who can best work to serve both it and the People (not corporations) it was designed to benefit.
President Obama knows the works of the Founders as well or better than any modern president. If he is unappreciative of it, or overcome by the entrenched system, or isolated by the walls of the office into performance compliant with the career professionals and bureaucrats who surround him and wrongly interpret or carry-out his intent, there may be no hope for the necessary change, or future for the republic that was envisioned and set into motion by Madison, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and the rest. Their diminishment to the past can only mean the diminishment of every individual in the future, to become as lost and feeble in the eyes of their government as it is to be invisible and muted within the systemic sprawl and the numbing, monotonous mass.
Therein is the danger.
cc (via web forms) July 26, 2010: White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Defending American democracy does not mean or require imposing it.
To (via web form) President Obama:
July 22, 2010
Defending democracy and freedom is what the military is supposed to be about, by definition and by the intent of the Founders. But constitutional war powers have been aborted by presidents for hollow reasons, beginning with Truman and the perceived, N. Korean hinge pin on the opening door to the onset of global communism, to the domino theory of Vietnam, the falsely alleged, threatened spread of WMD in Iraq, to terrorism in Afghanistan, and all along the way, the influence of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned against, and the corporate conglomerates of energy and infrastructure development which, instead of defending America’s democratic freedom, have made the policy of successive administrations, and the job of the military, into one of promoting and spreading it, in the name of defense, spreading military bases and the U.S. presence over the globe in the process, often attempting to garner the expansion and profit of corporatism that are perceived to go with it.
The cost of promoting, rather than defending, is extraordinarily higher to the nation and the lives of its soldiers, and it is detrimental to America’s national security, quality of life, its future, and world regard, while providing no return. Since WWII, S. Korea has reached a level of economic and industrial prosperity that, on a per-capita basis, in many ways exceeds America’s today. And while facing a bankrupted, isolated regime to the north, it is still unable or unwilling to spend to defend itself, prospering under the umbrella of an on-going, American-military subsidy—Truman’s gift, wrapped in a shredded Constitution, endorsed by presidents ever since, that has kept on giving to S. Korea for 60 years and counting. Had Truman not sent troops on his own initiative, it is difficult to say how a combined Korea, starting out communist, as Vietnam did after the U.S. finally withdrew, without the proximate threat of U.S. forces would have evolved. All of Korea might not be as the North is now, or it might be, but with America really none the worse, and where would those S. Korean semi-conductor and electronic industries be? But America would have been spared the lives of some 38,000 of its soldiers and more than $1 trillion that has been spent year over year ever since he deployed there, not to mention the wounded and more than 100,000 dead N. Koreans and Chinese.
Vietnam was more straightforward: after 19 years, 303,000 lives tattered and 58,000 lost, and more than $500 billion spent... it was all in vein, except to the military-industrial complex. The only benefit, hard lessons, forgotten and ignored, except by the first President Bush, in the Gulf War, who had the wisdom to take his victory and leave, as his son should have done in Afghanistan, after the Taliban and al Qaeda were routed and decimated.
Iraq, an unnecessary war of criminal inception, where Bush never intended to withdraw, after seven years, more than 4,400 dead soldiers, $700 billion and counting, is still a powder keg with a burning fuse and 50,000 U.S. troops, who by their presence tempt violence and the president, to be sucked back in to defend a so-called, democratic, Iraqi president, who is surrounded by corruption and violates the rulings of his supreme court to rig elections, as oil and other contracts go mostly away from America.
And then, Afghanistan, land of untold mineral wealth, and the buried arsenals of Stinger missiles, where helicopters are beginning to “crash” with frequency, and where after more than 1,100 U.S. soldiers dead, and $285 billion spent, and both increasing, sharply, Bush, and now President Obama, seems determined to follow the Soviet Union, and all who invaded before it, into decades of disaster, backing an unpopular president, who wants to, and should be allowed to deal with the Taliban, who heads a corrupt, absent, elitist government, where, like the X-Files, America can trust no one, from the top to the ranks, except to do whatever is necessary to keep American money and blood flowing, and where a new class of corrupted wealthy are poised to exploit the natural resources as America cooperates by bleeding that blood and money to make it all happen.
And President Obama, intelligent as he is, can count the continuing toll of spreading democracy rather than defending it, at 102,000 dead U.S. soldiers, more than a million wounded, millions of adversaries and collateral victims, and near $2.5 trillion spent—more than 20-percent of the national debt. He campaigned that he would not be bound by the mistaken policies and politics of Washington but seems to have lost the more objective vision of an outside perspective by being immersed in it, and even given the costs, he is nonetheless strapped in and fastened to the track, like a rocket sled in the dawn of the military’s ballistic research, in a headlong race to disaster, where despite whatever domestic-program hurdles he clears, those mistaken, military policies, which are most entrenched, pervasive, and influencing, form a solid block, where presidents collide when war power is abused, causing the nation to suffer the pain of that cost, which is most acute and unredeeming.
The American experience is testament to the pain, sacrifice, and the lengthy steps and processes a people and their leaders must take, which eventually lead to freedom and democracy for a nation. That is the example which should be deployed to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, through diplomacy, education, and cultural exchange, saving the military for that which it is so well trained and equipped, and performs so well: to remove regimes that directly threaten national security, not to remain in occupations to try and impose the lessons and processes of democracy, at the bequest of the military-industrial complex or the corporate interests who seek to see their government and its soldiers break new ground for their exploitation and profit.
The time has long passed to stop dancing around the Constitution’s limitations on war powers, and to stop defending democracy by trying to spread it, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the ground for democracy hasn’t been plowed by the native populations who, otherwise, are not nearly ready to embrace it, no matter how hard and at what cost to America it is pounded into them.
cc (via web forms): Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Constitutional Free Speech Rights protect individuals’ expression of thought through
the word and pen, not the projection of individual political power through the purse.
Sen. James Webb (D-VA)
From Sen. Jim Web’s July 8, 2010 e-mail:
“Proponents of increased campaign finance regulation argue that current campaign financing gives wealthy individuals and corporations undue influence over the political process. On the other hand, opponents of increased campaign finance regulations argue that prohibitions on contributions impede donors' First Amendment rights. There are a number of bills pending before the U.S. Senate pertaining to campaign finance reform. I will support legislation that is fair and encourages participation in the democratic process.”
To (via web form) Senator Jim Webb:
July 9, 2010
It is surprising that, in your non-committal response to the need for campaign-finance reform (elimination), you mention the defense against reform of incursion against free-speech rights. Democracy is indeed endangered when U.S. Senators hold that up as a viable defense with which to consider voting, because they should know it is not a defense that has any merit. The vote is what expresses the right of free speech, and the political liberty to stand or write and speak one’s views, not to buy the mechanics of dissemination, and free speech is not embodied in financial transactions, particularly campaign spending, because its primary purpose is to influence and promote, not facilitate the expression of mind of the individual, which requires no large sum of money and which is the object of the First Amendment, and which is what free speech protection is all about.
And it is more important to eliminate campaign contributions because of the greater weight of harm the practice imposes upon political equality, destroying it, which is highly significant because political equality, as you should know, is one of the three pillars of democracy, along with political liberty and “popular sovereignty,” which means that government power and authority is vested in and derived from The People, and that government acts according to the Will of The People, not the will of those who can pay the most to influence elections to detract from the People’s fair weight of voice. That which threatens any of democracy’s three pillars: individual political equality, political liberty, and popular sovereignty, must be afforded the preference of protection over human expressions that, like campaign contributing, are mere extensions of the primal rights of man: free speech, direct expression of mind, being most coveted and at the core, embodied within the Declaration of Independence and the protections and guarantees written into the Amendments and articles of the Constitution of the United States of America, not indirect expression of a desire to influence the election, through contribution, to those who embody one’s ideas.
“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men [not corporations, Mr. Chief Justice!] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men [not among corporations to secure the rights of corporations], deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed [not from the influence spending of the wealthy]...”Forgive that bracketed inserts were placed within the word-for-word and style-duplicated copy of the Declaration’s Preamble, to direct attention to the aborted view and ruling of the Supreme Court, which also acted to promote acquired wealth and entities other than man and his (and her) “unalienable rights.” Note the capitalization in the Declaration’s preamble and consider how it is an expression that places the emphasis on the innate qualities of man, not the acquired ones, and the role government is to play in the interaction. Also note it states that the rights secured by the Constitution and its Amendments (defining the framework of government limits upon them) are unalienable, endowed by the Creator, not by the resources of a bank account and the societal power which that endows.
The three pillars, and particularly political equality, have never been intended to be subject to the influence of wealth, which is a disproportional characteristic among people that weighs against the value of the individual voice and its equality. And political freedom has never been meant to be aborted, as a protection to open the purse, that supercedes and reduces the individual value of opening one’s mind and mouth to convey ideas, beliefs, and grievances.
There is all of that, and the plain and rampant corruption to which political contributions are seed, more than enough reason to see the practice end entirely—elimination, not regulation.
cc (via web forms): White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Celebrating Our Nation’s Independence.
To the members of Congress, the President, and their families and staffs, wishing them the best on this day celebrating the birth of our national identity, which was passed into their hands through the ephemeral portals of history, hoping that America shall find the path to return to the framework of the Constitution that followed, from which it has strayed, especially in terms of the Founders’ standards for military engagements and the source of that grave authority they intended for America: to be the combined voices of Congress, not the single, kingly voice of the president, which silently-ceded authority now strangles the nation, miring it in everlasting conflicts and occupations, and staining its ideals and identity of power for just cause and shield of freedom with shadow, mercenary armies which, with no constitutional authority, real consequence or accountability, have brought murder and massacre to again be written into America’s legacy.
And hoping elections shall be rid of the influence of campaign contributions, instead funding elections solely through the treasury, where qualified candidates will receive equal resources, free of party control, reducing the insane electoral costs and duration, increasing the field, and freeing them of the influence peddlers and the time and resources wasted on fund raising, and most important, returning political equality to the framework of America’s weakened democracy.
The national identity is also challenged by the granting of citizenship and the vote to unassimilated immigrants, and that loss of identity is already harshly characterized in many ways, in many states along the Sunbelt, and many towns and cities beyond, throughout the nation. The heritage of America, born on this day, 1776, now rests in your hands. It is your responsibility to prioritize guarding it as you necessarily deal with the future of the tens of millions of illegal immigrants who are now changing the character of the nation, and who seek, through the sheer mass of their presence, to become a voice in shaping its future, but mostly in their interests and proclivities. Those who break America’s laws to come here have no claim on citizenship and the vote, ever, and any means that provides for their absorption into the national life must recognize the value of guarding the right to vote by making full and comprehensive assimilation a mandatory prerequisite, and abandon the multiple-choice, flash-card tests and processes, with no oversight, that now grant citizenship to those who have no real understanding of America’s history or government, no appreciation of its culture and heritage, and in many cases cannot speak or read its language. Granting the right to live within America’s borders does not impose any right or obligation for citizenship to follow. The mere presence and growth of unacclimated immigrants is already a significant force affecting change and community resources, and whether given residency or not, with or without citizenship and the vote, it is a force that will continue to grow exponentially to change American neighborhoods, their cultures and heritages, and eventually the nation, forever, which is reason enough that the real solution should be that, with the exception of acclimated “dreamers” and their otherwise law-abiding parents or guardians, all who are here illegally and have not developed family ties with citizens should be found and deported, that armored I.D. mechanisms be instituted, that harsh penalties and equally aggressive, proactive enforcement against offending employers and landlords be initiated, and that the citizenship-birthing incentive driving illegal immigrants to America be eliminated.
While all immigrants are due the protections of citizenship with any amnesty that allows them to become residents, the vote that is attached to official citizenship must be made to be a privilege that is only granted through the earnest effort of immigrants to acclimate themselves to American culture, custom, language, and ideals, and the path should be no less severe than the history, civics, and government studies and passage required of a high-school graduate. While the merits of that might be questioned because, outside of entertainment culture, the historical, government, and world-event knowledge of the population, particularly within youthful segments, has been shown in numerous studies and surveys to be frightfully appalling, unacclimated immigrants cannot be permitted to be admitted as another component that contributes to the dumbing-down of the electorate, despite how many party organizers and officials might prefer that more-pliable resource. Otherwise, when those tens of millions have a gifted vote, Independence Day in America will have a new meaning that is far removed from the history that this holiday cherishes today.
You have been placed in a position of trust and have the obligation to move America back in these directions, and hopefully you will make it a priority to do so.
cc (via web forms): White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Leaders fall on old terms, sound-bites, and generalizations—as soldiers just fall.
President Obama, in a speech regarding the decision to follow former U.S. Afghan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s urging for a troop surge in Afghanistan, said that the Afghan war is not the same as Vietnam. Beg to differ. At least, with respect to the manner in which the U.S. installs autocratic, corrupt, ineffective regimes that lack popular support, resulting in disaster, Afghanistan is exactly like Vietnam, except, in Vietnam, the same mistake was made twice. But sadly, that too could still become a match.
The narrative of the histories of Hamid Karzai, in Afghanistan, and Ngo Dinh Diem, in South Vietnam, and then, in 1965, General Nguyen Van Thieu, are eerily interchangeable, if the proper names are omitted. They are histories of commonalities of corruption, power lust, regime dependence upon American forces, failure, and repeated mistakes, each costing the lives of U.S. soldiers and each taking hefty chunks of U.S. cash, where the only question is how Karzai’s end will be written. In 1963, Diem was assassinated by the CIA, resulting in near two-and-one-half years of chaos, hosted by nine inept and corrupt regimes before the U.S. installed Van Thieu, who took the despot’s more traditional path out of power, skipping into exile, in 1975, taking much of the treasury’s gold with him and leaving the RVN Army, loyal only to the cash from diminishing U.S. aid, to quickly dismantle itself, as the stages of the U.S. withdrawal were complete and the Viet Cong army prepared to take Saigon.
The world did not come to an end.
U.S. national security suffered only self-inflicted pain.
Iraq and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are different chapters of the same, sorry story, the denouement, though predictable, also still to be written.
Whether or not the president has or will change his mind about the similarities, of which the foul play of leadership is just one, the fact is that the outcome is heading for the same fruitless end, except that, early on, the primary objective of removing a government that sanctioned attacks against the U.S. was long ago achieved. It was, in 2003, a victory, and since that early-on, successful attainment of the mission objective in Afghanistan, when Bush should have followed his father’s lead, in the first Iraq war, and just withdrawn the troops, the parallels to the misplaced confidences and assertions regarding the war in Vietnam have become unmistakable, and there is no doubt that if America remains any further to prop up governments and nation-build, the outcome will be another failure, compounded by the deaths of new thousands, heaped on the backs of the 4,520 dead in Iraq and those 58,000 soldiers who died in Vietnam, and whose only worthwhile legacy, aside from their immortal valor, turned out to be that the cost of their lives would prevent any future government from ever repeating that tragic mistake.
And wrong again.
At this writing, July 4, 2010, as America observes its 234th Independence Day and the brightly colored bursts and smoke clouds of celebratory fireworks, there is no independence from the dark clouds of military occupations and their loses, because it is already long, long past any legitimate duration for the military response to the Afghan role in 9/11, where U.S. fatalities have reached 1,150 (including those who died in hospitals in other places due to wounds sustained in Afghanistan), with the climb fast accelerating. At the end of 2003, when the Taliban had been gone for more than a year, and when America should have also been gone, the fatalities to achieve the legitimate objective of removing the government that supported the attacks leading up to and including 9/11 stood at 109; if a really quick withdrawal would have been made at the end of 2002, one like the first President Bush ordered after Iraqi troops were pushed out of Kuwait, ending the Gulf War, that count would have been 61... the disparities are even greater for Iraq, which proves that, be it for the criminal, capitalistic, Bush-Cheney goals in Iraq or the initial, legitimate, national-defense response in Afghanistan, the hard cost of applying military force is not in achieving the objective of regime change, but rather in remaining to nation-build afterwards. Added to the lost lives, the per-year, per-soldier cost, living and dead, has been placed by the White House at $1,000,000, not insignificant, especially considering that it is borrowed money and the interest paid is not included in that official and widely-accepted estimate.
With every life that is now lost in Afghanistan, and with all those that have been and will be lost in Iraq, the futility of the 58,000 lives lost in Vietnam is irrevocably deepened. From this point, at least, this Congress and the ones to follow, along with the Obama administration, will carry the full weight of the lives that are unnecessarily lost in Afghanistan, and both will share with the Bush administration the stain of further blood spilled in Iraq. And as the Afghan resistance increases and coalition casualties begin to mount, the administration has already moved to minimize the impact on public awareness by starting to impose restrictions on the press in Afghanistan, in Kabul, which is an old, adverse-condition tactic and an early sign that the situation is not what it is painted to be, that transparency on the flow of the occupation is being eliminated, and that “public opinion be damned, if not blinded,” will be the policy there until the costs and inability to eliminate the Afghan fighters cannot be concealed or justified with the same, tired rhetoric, not even through a closed curtain on press and public access to the truth.
Over the last week, as more than a half-dozen new deaths were reported from Afghanistan, e-mails were received from two U.S. senators and a representative, all Democrats, responding to concerns which were directed to them about the unfolding path for America in Afghanistan. Their responses share the same components, defining the political line that is being drawn to support the continuing occupation there, and taken together, they clarify the ways in which complex issues are simplified and shaded and reduced to terms that obscure the realities:
From Rep. Steve Driehaus’s June 22, 2010 e-mail:
“Since 2001, the United States has had a military presence in Afghanistan to stabilize the region through counterinsurgency operations.
“My preeminent concern is the safety of Americans. In the long-term this requires a stable Afghanistan so that they can work with their regional allies to combat terrorism and protect their citizens.”
From Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s June 24, 2010 e-mail:
“We can achieve victory in Afghanistan when we have an environment that is conducive to economic development and most importantly when the Afghans have a security infrastructure that permits them to independently fight off and neutralize the Taliban insurgency in that country. I am committed to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that we pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that brings stability to Afghanistan and defends our nation against terrorism.”
From Sen. Al Franken’s June 24, 2010 e-mail:
“The Bush Administration’s misguided war in Iraq led us to neglect Afghanistan, which harbored Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. While they were ultimately driven from Afghanistan to the nearby Pakistan border region, they remain a threat to the stability of the region and directly to this nation.
“President Obama has followed the advice of his top military leaders by temporarily increasing the number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan to implement a counterinsurgency strategy. I support this strategy, but am insisting on full congressional oversight of the war. In particular, I'll continue to push for greater attention to the civic and economic development of Afghanistan.
“...the President’s announcement [date to begin withdrawal] sent a strong signal to the Afghan government that our commitment is serious but not open-ended. That should enable us to move more quickly toward a responsible withdrawal from the country.”
In their e-mails, Senator Franken’s assurance of “full congressional oversight of the war” is not very comforting, because the Constitution places much greater responsibility with Congress for the conduct of war than just oversight, and it would be of great benefit to the nation if the ceding of that power to the executive branch was ended, particularly given how the conduct of warfare has aborted into massacre by obscenely paid (compared to U.S. soldiers) mercenaries with the likes of profiteering private contractors like Blackwater/XE Services. It is Congress that actually has the final and only word on the goals and limits of America’s military involvement, anywhere, not the president, and that power is not restricted to exercise only through the purse. Those who would argue, given how ineffectual and grid-locked Congress is, that it’s a good thing Congress has allowed the executive to assume so widely its war powers, should weigh that assumption against the fact that the result of no action would have been no invasion of Iraq and, being less insulated from the ire of the public, a quicker exit from Vietnam, and Afghanistan, too, the invasion of which and mission of regime removal Congress would have quickly given the executive the authority to execute, since when there is just cause for war, and wide public support, as with 9/11, Congress is as quick to respond as it is to do nothing, otherwise.
The point, which the Founders considered extremely important, is that the decision to go to war, and to end it, should not be one made by any single person (there should be no “great decider”), but should come from a consensus that is reached within the branch of government that is closest, most responsive, to the peopleCongress. It is unwise to change that ingenious mechanism, which is a protection against the worst kind of abuse governments can commit, of which the Founders were victim. Validation of the consequences of that mistake can be affirmed by the families of dead soldiers, dead Iraqi and Afghan co-lateral-damage civilians, and the victims of Blackwater/XE Services mercenaries, not to mention the uncountable wounded and incapacitated.
In their replies, both Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Franken (D-MN) have prioritized “an environment conductive to economic development” as a goal for troops remaining in Afghanistan. Economics is never a reason that justifies military operations, even as a backstop, and even if Afghanistan does have the richest mineral deposits in the world. “Economic development,” meaning the enriching of American companies able to gain access to exploit the opportunities in the occupied lands, was the basis of British colonialism, enriching British coffers, and the Founders would have a scalding throw of words directed at these legislators and the current government on that reasoning and on the folly inherent in pursuit of those ends through military force.
When national security is not threatened or cannot be convincingly feigned, a favorite excuse of the military-industrial complex, to sustain itself, has always been the promised reward of rich resources to be exploited in foreign lands. The military-industrial complex has been, along with, to a lessor extent, energy and infrastructure companies, the only beneficiaries of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the last, great, Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, went to great extreme to warn, as he (and the last remnants of a sane Republican party) was leaving the scene, that the military-industrial complex was, then, becoming a dangerous influence on government policy which he warned must be strictly controlled and minimized. Strange to hear from a president who was allied commander of Europe in WWII, but the West Point graduate and career Army officer was a perceptive patriot, first, and a military man second, and his warning, given in a speech dedicated to that purpose, has been ignored and the threat of that complex of industries (not the military branches, per se, except Blackwater/XE Services, which has become an illicit military branch) is now an oppressive force for international aggression, where at least one occupation is always in order.
The “economic development” reasoning expressed by these senators, and Representative Driehaus (D-OH) in his expression of “stability,” a term also shared with Sen. Franken, is the beginning of a morphing of the argument for the use of military force away from national security to economics, to justify biased nation-building in Afghanistan, benefitting the military-industrial complex, first, and others to follow, along with its paid (contributed) supporters, at the cost of thousands of American lives that will be spent in decades of selfish conflict. Rep. Driehaus noted that America has been fighting an occupation in Afghanistan since 2001; yet he went on to say that his “preeminent concern” is for “American’s safety” through “long-term stability.” After nine years and counting, and the example of Vietnam in hindsight, how much longer-term does it have to get? If politicians think America can outlast the resistance for the prize of resource exploitation, or to achieve a political dream, then what ever has happened to the lesson of history, written into the wall of the Vietnam memorial, the duration of pain suffered there, then, for dominoes, already being exceeded now, in the foreshadowing terms on the expectations ahead for a “long,” “hard,” and “difficult,” struggle? How safe can America be if it has to see its soldiers killed week after week, year after year, and decade after decade, and for what? To kill small numbers of fighters and more civilians over time, in repeated skirmishes, generating repeated local reprisals of fear and control, where no victory is ever apparent and no end brought nearer, except through the increasing futility of it all, as America slides on the downside of the curve, which is now being turned in Afghanistan?
Rep. Driehaus also wrote that the sacrifice of American troops is necessary to secure “a stable Afghanistan so that they can work with their regional allies to combat terrorism and protect their citizens.” This statement commits the U.S. to war in two instances, where there is no ratified defense treaty, and where the only threat to national security is because the politicians, as they always do, say it exists: 1) to prevent terrorism in foreign nations and 2) protect from terrorists the citizens of another nation. If the spending of the lives of American troops and the deepening of American debt, to be paid by its children can be justified for those ends in Afghanistan, then those justifications will be applied globally, leaving a sorry future for America, boiling with unending occupation, one after another, overlapping and interminable, going after one group or another that is no closer to obtaining nuclear materials than the next, or more properly, than the readiness of someone who is well-placed and sympathetic or well-paid enough to give it to them.
The Bush constitutional abuses are proof enough of the wisdom of Madison’s warning. America’s freedom and domestic tranquility has been disrupted by and cannot stand through continuous military occupation and engagement, and the Islamist radicals realize that. If the existence of a terrorist organization in Afghanistan threatens U.S. security, then it follows that any viable terrorist organization does as well, because they are all working in clandestine ways to find the most severe means to openly strike at America, and the greatest threat isn’t any one or all of them, but rather that one of these groups will find a willing, capable ally, official or free-lancer, working within the nuclear infrastructure of an unreliable nuclear nation. It makes no sense to spend lives and resources to strike at the tentacles of terror spread around the world with armies when the real head of the beast is that which is their most-prized objective, that which most threatens the U.S. and is what is most feared that should be targeted with the full tactical range of military capabilities: irresponsible nuclear nations, which are few, can be successfully engaged in shorter time, with similar costs as meaningless, lengthy occupations, and with a meaningful, future-preserving goal, which can be achieved and which is both definable and measurable. Until the U.S. takes on the irresponsible nuclear nations, coordinated intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations is the best and most effective way to deal with terrorist groups that have their roots in the lands from which they are based and into which they meld.
If there were no nuclear materials in India, Pakistan, S. Korea, and Iran, what happens internally with terrorists in Afghanistan or anywhere else would not matter as a serious factor of safety for the West. But as long as unstable and irresponsible nations are permitted to have and deploy nuclear arms, the threat of their use is going to always hang over the heads of free nations everywhere, along with some of those that are somewhat less free, and the lives of all will be more-darkly spent, shared with both the fear of the ultimate failure to prevent the ultimate terrorist success and the reality of the inevitable war constantly being waged somewhere, like an ugly, obsessive-compulsive, ineffectual dog that tears at the cuffs as the body goes on to beat it over the head and eventually break into the house.
Whether the U.S. ever decides to rid the world of unstable nuclear assets, which it could do, perhaps diplomatically, in some cases, if as much effort as goes into occupations were instead applied to that, instead of taking on one decade of war after another to defeat terrorists, which it cannot do, the point is that Afghanistan is not a threat to national security. It is a proxy for the real threat, and troops there will not do any good, since the sources of the real threat will remain open to whomever finally gets to any one of them first.
Families of soldiers who are injured and die do not and will not agree that either Afghan minerals, the safety of Afghan citizens, nor Iraqi oil resources are worth the cost they have borne and will bear as useless occupations drag on. No one in their right mind should support the use of America’s military to bring stability to any government, anywhere, particularly when, no matter what government, national security (not national economics) is not threatened. There will never be a year without some occupation, somewhere, if that is to be the basis for deployments. And if any government does threaten national security, then the use of force should be employed to remove it when other alternatives fail, as was done in Afghanistan. There will still be occupations, but they will be fewer and a lot shorter, and it would have been so in Afghanistan if, after the offending government was removed, the U.S. would have then just left to let the Afghans rebuild themselves in their own image, not to ever see another U.S. soldier unless they again directly threaten U.S. national-security interests, not if they just offer some vague, maybe, threat, some unforeseeable time in the future. Otherwise, what do you have? You have the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strike, in effect, all the time!
The government in Afghanistan that supported those who attacked the U.S. in New York and numerous places before the Twin Towers is gone. It was defeated, it’s leaders, most of them, killed or jailed, the rest in flight, with thousands upon thousands of their soldiers and civilian countrymen dead. How has the national-security threat they posed not been confronted and eliminated? Armies are not needed to keep at bay the remnants who remain, and the proof is already in that armies are not where the victories are being won to keep the threats at bay. Intelligence and coordinated law-enforcement and special operations activities, to include Predator and other remote, surveillance-and-attack platforms, are the resources that are making the difference for the better, as the military troops both do the harm and sustain it. With no real, near-immediate, national-security threat in Afghanistan for eight years now, how is it that national security is suddenly threatened because there is exploitable mineral wealth, which existence is conveniently revealed by the U.S. as patience and prospects for that occupation reach new levels of intolerance as the death-toll begins to mount? And as it does, things will soon enough begin to stir again in Iraq, since from the perspective of the elements who are able to more easily agitate than nations can deploy armies to counter, Iraq and Afghanistan are two fronts on the same conflict. And as long as troops remain, politicians are susceptible to being further drawn in, when, particularly for that reason, it is far better to not have armies there at all.
The terms politicians and military spokespersons use to describe the “enemy” are intended to deflect that the enemy are native Afghans, and the terms are also interchangeable, and are really meaningless in terms of defining the component interactions that define either the conflict or the objectives: “militant” is defined in Websters as someone who is “engaged in warfare or combat, who is fighting,” which applies to anyone, on any side, who fires a gun or RPG, remote-pilots a drone or throws a rock.
An insurgent is defined as “a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government.” The important thing to keep in mind here is that America facilitated the installation of the current government in Afghanistan (and Iraq) instead of leaving to let locals determine the shape of their own future and participation. So the fact is that Afghans are fighting America along with anyone who supports American forces, including the Afghan troops and government America caused to exist and props up. America is fighting Afghans on their own soil, and in some cases, perhaps much of the time, foreign fighters who flock to support any engagement with American troops, just as the French came to help the American “insurgents” fight against the British, because in that era, any fight against the British, anywhere, was the political calling for France. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout the Mid-East, the calling to fight against American occupations is both political and religious; and worse, contrary to America’s manpower reserve, the calling for the Afghans is a constantly renewable component that is fed by the occupation it confronts. That fact is written in the grave markers of tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers, who also fought with their hand-made, “occupation-legitimizing,” Afghan-army counterpart before being defeated (the Soviet Union began withdrawing its troops in 1988, nine years after they invaded to prop up their puppet, communist regime), and it is written in the graves of the dead hundreds of thousands buried in history before them and, in a conflict where after almost nine years, America is really not all in, the tragic consequence of stubbornly taking on a determined, even fanatical people in their own land, to push beyond the objective victory won at the outset, will be written in the final roll-call of a guaranteed-to-grow field of U.S. and thinning coalition casualties.
“Not all in,” is a short phrase that speaks paragraphs about the one lesson of Vietnam that is being applied now in America’s wars: if unpopular political or economic goals are to be pursued with the use of military force, have an all-volunteer army, not a draft and the strong public opposition and violent demonstration that eventually comes with it. It is doubtful that, if the armies occupying Iraq and Afghanistan over the last, almost nine years were conscripts, that they would still be there today. And, assuming politicians will never see the light, it does seem that, to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will take a repetition of the kind of publicly-demonstrated outrage that forced the politicians to finally abandon their illegitimate ambitions in Vietnam which, with volunteer armies and paid mercenaries shouldering all of the risk, seems unlikely to happen, not as long as the burden of the occupations is not one that widely threatens the hearth-and-home peace of the larger population.
These three, e-mailed responses from the highest levels of America’s government were full of terms, sound-bites, and generalizations, offering nothing concrete, no indication or promise of progress or movement toward any outcome that could begin to justify the growing costs. The key words that these and other elected officials are using to form the justifications for their actions begin to be more clearly defined against the background of the politics. Besides “economic development,” which is interchangeable with “stability,” as Rep. Driehaus and Sen. Franken wrote in their e-mails, both senators and the representative also label the Taliban in Afghanistan as an “insurgency.” But is the Taliban the insurgency there? Or is it really the ruling President Karzai and his self-interested, corrupt group who are the inserted force that is contradictory to the local palette? Most Afghans who are heard from in the West say the Americans are the invaders who are killing, causing death, directly and indirectly, agitating the forces at the extremes. That cannot be denied, particularly since the government that supported the attack against America on 9/11 was long ago removed by American military might. The assumption of what is “insurgency” is highly questionable and throws the entire premise of the stated objectives into serious doubt.
Finally, Sen. Franken used the term that has been the icon for occupations reflected in troubled wars since Korea: “responsible withdrawal.” As a U.S. senator, his definition of “a responsible withdrawal” should be precisely expressed, especially since that “objective” has been voiced again and again by senators, representatives, and presidents, in failure, and it would be nice to see how it is posed any differently now. It is far more important to consider whether it is responsible to enter a country, and then, when it is no longer responsible to remain. America is long past that point in Iraq and is now at that threshold of a fall to excess in Afghanistan, and the sooner elected officials, particularly the president, see that, and drop the old, tired, unjustifiable slogans of “economic development,” “insurgency,” and “responsible withdrawal,” the better off the nation will be.
Just think about “responsible withdrawal” for one moment. When a leader states it as a goal, it is also an admission that, whatever the original reason for insertion of the troops, it no longer exists, and the phrase also says that the objective has changed, and when the term is used, the objective is then to withdraw. Undeniable. Also undeniable, any delay, anything other than immediate withdrawal, is inherently irresponsible, and that is the kindest tag that can be applied, because as the search for the non-existent “responsible withdrawal,” slugs on, more lives are inevitably lost, and again, particularly with withdrawal as a stated objective, without any good reason.
They are lives that are just wasted, to the detriment of the nation’s objective interests and future.
Where is the responsibility in that?
It is already clear that, as usual, there will be no accountability for those with the power to act who act wrongly, or for those with all the power who do not act at all, except to spout the prevailing political terms and catch-phrases that mimic the same myths and ignore all the realities and past mistakes... justifying nothing.
With a quick Afghan withdrawal, at the end of 2002, fatalities, now 1,586, would have been 61. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#tsbg
Leaders fall on old terms, sound-bites, and generalizations—as soldiers just fall. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#tsbg
cc (via web forms): White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
At last, the value (for the usual suspects) of American blood in Afghanistan is revealed.
Just as the course of America’s longest-ever war begins to turn into a dismal mirror of Iraq in the public’s view, the U.S. (the administration, playing the public and, worse, the soldiers) releases remarkable geological studies and reports which, according to a New York Times story, were first initiated by modest surveys completed by Soviet geologists during their war, and then, in recent years, followed-up by U.S. geologists, using the most advanced survey technologies, revealing that Afghanistan is probably home to some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, including iron, copper, gold, and lithium, among other rare-Earth metals and resources.
The commander of the United States Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said, “...potentially, it [the minerals wealth] is hugely significant,” while involved geologists are having “Ballard moments,” feeling like oceanographer Robert Ballard when he discovered deep-ocean tube worms and the Titanic—in the midst of a career-pinnacle event.
Defense secretary Gates and Afghanistan’s President Karzai were only recently made aware of the resources and their vast extent.
Preparations are now underway to expand the capability of the Afghan government’s mining administration and accept development bids from interested parties.
China is already locked into a contract there to develop what will be one of the largest copper mines in operation, and the U.S. is concerned about China’s extended involvement to access other resources and the effect the new riches will have on aspects of the war, particularly the Taliban’s increased resolve to retain control of the lands holding the newly disclosed riches, and the effect on corruption within the Afghan government, where the China copper-mine presence was bought with a $30-million bribe.
The revelation of Afghanistan’s extraordinary mineral wealth is a face-changing facet on the future of the occupation there. Most importantly, it puts American industry solidly behind the plan that never really went away (and now we know why): to remain there until the cows come home. And that support gives President Obama the extra leverage he needs to keep America’s foot forcefully in the Afghan door, particularly since the primary motivation will always remain as being a moral and defense obligation to answer the September 11th violence in New York, no matter if a division of soldiers is ordered to accompany every mining operation that pays and is authorized to enter the war-torn landscape.
The blood staining those wealth-covering sands and mountains, and that has already begun to spill in increasing amounts, now has a cost beyond national defense, measured in the value of commodities and the bottomless pit of the hunger for technological consumption.
Forget about any broad-based, internet-organized, group-allied, peace efforts to pressure Congress or anyone else to end the occupation there. On Earth, not being the Kingdom of Heaven, that fight is over, lost, unwinnable.
The new revelation of the Afghan mineral wealth also provides a solid, definable goal, and the conditions under which any American administration can now be expected to withdraw troops, and what doesn’t change is that it won’t be the defeat of the Taliban or al Qaeda. Rest assured that it will be the point at which accommodation can be made, permitting wealth development to occur so that all the proper players, from the provincial, AK47-toting towel heads who can’t be killed to the international array of corporate, briefcase-carrying suits and bureaucratic, permission-granting palm-uppers, so that all, except the soldiers, are guaranteed to get their pocket-stuffing shares.
The public might as well get behind a more pragmatic effort to facilitate filling all those pockets as quickly as possible, urging the president to set up a department, under the vice-president, like with TARP, to insure that appropriate industry, tribal, and government player contacts and pay-outs are expeditiously made and accounted for, which will bring the troops home that much more quickly. And instead of demanding a withdrawal, press Congress and the president for useful, attainable goals, which the vice-president’s department can also monitor and enforce, like ending giveaways to Afghanistan and insuring that America gets a cut that not only pays back every red cent spent to fight there, build there, and rebuild New York, too, but also reflects the priceless, warm, red of the blood Americans will have spilled there.
At last, peace activists have something in Afghanistan into which they can really sink their teeth.
President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon dance around Arizona.
The fact that Mexico, through its president and its organized spokespersons, are making judgements and demands regarding U.S. laws only makes clear that Mexico, with some historical merit, considers access to the U.S., by whatever means, as a right that should not be abridged. It seems that Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s first words on visiting the U.S. should have been to apologize to America for the violence his nation’s drug culture spews across the border. Then Obama could have apologized for promoting the Mexican market by making a cultural choice to smoke pot illegal, while permitting the more harmful cultural choice to drink to be okay. Then, the president could have gotten a leg up on Calderon by apologizing for letting all the guns get across the border. And Calderon could have leveled the field by thanking America for supporting so many of his citizens, often at the expense of its own, with its jobs, schools, welfare programs, hospitals and clinics, and jails. At least they would have been talking issues that need more than talk to fix. Instead, both presidents whine about immigration and how Arizona, whose citizens live in the thick of the fear, is trying to do what President Obama and Calderon and their predecessors should have been doing all along.
The fact is, by not enforcing immigration law and by allowing dozens of Mexican-counsel offices to be established throughout U.S. states where illegal immigration has made inroads, to provide assistance and aid to those illegal immigrants, the U.S. government is executing a policy of cooperating with the Mexican objective of relieving its own inadequate economic and social structure with the help of border transgressions. The immigration policies carried out by the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations are contrary to the wishes of a majority of citizens and to the national good. The policy of these administrations is such that promotes non-enforcement of immigration law and allows American heritage and custom to be displaced at an ever-greater rate and across an ever-increasing span of states and communities.
Santa Ana attacked the U.S., wiping out the militia assembled at the Alamo in an effort to finally rid Mexico of the American settlers. He eventually lost, then, and America took Mexican lands that became Texas, and which, now, have already been returned, in effect, to Mexican culture and occupancy, in many places, English being set aside and streets renamed for the players in past, foreign cultures who never set foot on American soil. As this “sanctioned” invasion progresses, cities throughout the nation, far north and far removed from the Sunbelt, now see Hispanic Heritage events where there really is no Hispanic heritage. Hispanic or any kind of heritage celebration is good, except when it preempts or subordinates American heritage. It is clear that the objective of Mexico, and to a lesser extent of nations throughout Central and South America, is to infuse and reduce American society, and without invitation, due process, or clearing real hurdles for language and culture acclimation, make it their own: The Hispanic States of America.
Immigration policy and law should be designed to meet economic needs while preserving heritage and culture by assuring acclimation. Yes, end the illegal-immigrant exploitation and stop the fear of separation of families, but do not give away citizenship and the vote without mandating that every immigrant who seeks to move up to citizen responsibility and benefit meets STRONG acclimation measures on language, history, culture, and government, not the poorly administered/monitored, multiple-choice, joke test that is learned by rote with flash cards now. Whether mandating strong acclimation requirements for citizenship is called creating a disadvantaged class or something else, that’s just political grandstanding, because there is a legitimate distinction between being qualified to become a citizen and not, regardless of how a person gets to U.S. soil, and regardless of their socio-economic status. It’s a real distinction that reflects directly on the quality of the electorate and the decisions that determine America’s future, and it cannot be ignored on the basis of a prejudiced claim of political correctness or discrimination. Immigration is necessary, but not at the “give me your poor” standard of the last century, and it should not be casually tied to citizenship, and the terms should never be dictated by just the economics or the mass of those who broke the law and seek to overshadow that law’s preservation of a distinctively American way of life.
Under relentless pressure from state and national lawmakers, on May 25, 2010, President Obama announced that he would order 1,200 National Guard troops to the Arizona border; however, they will act as before, in limited support roles, not enforcement. Maybe 1,200 would be enough... if they were empowered, and if they were the ancient Spartans.
Preventing illegal immigration is a guardian measure to preserve community and national custom and heritage. The president’s sending of 1,200 National Guard troops to the Arizona region of the border with Mexico seems a positive step, but in such small numbers, and without authority to confront and turn-away violators, it is really an obvious ploy to use a high-profile, but minimalist response to quell a concerned and legitimate demand for overdue enforcement action. The president must do more to enforce the law and to significantly toughen the testing requirements for knowledge of American history, custom, and language that must be met to achieve citizenship and the ability to influence America’s direction with the vote, particularly if the intent is as it seems to be: to again legitimize the presence of the tens of millions of illegal immigrants already on U.S. soil. Whatever arrangement may be made that may ultimately allow illegal immigrants to again remain in the U.S., it must not include the current, simplistic path to citizenship that leads to the subsequent vote that will be cast in ignorance, self-interest, and with third-world perceptions of governance, because that is the kind of vote that made the difference to elect Bush and Cheney to office and which will again prove to be highly detrimental to America’s future.
Only real enforcement of the law (I.D. cards, out of business and into jail for job providers and landlords, and removal of the birthright carrot so any child born of an illegal immigrant in the U.S. retains the mother’s nationality) not walls or window-dressing troop deployments, can keep American heritage and culture, such that it is becoming, intact within its own skin. And it must begin now, because this next effort at “immigration reform,” of allowing citizenship and the vote without strict acclimation requirements (language, culture, and history education and proficiency at the high-school grad level) for the tens of millions of illegal immigrants now in America, if allowed to succeed, will be to wave a white flag and surrender not only Texas and the Sunbelt, but America’s national identity forever, in every state. It will mark the consensual beginning of the end for the flag of our fathers.
Which do you distrust more, Congress or Wall Street?
May 1, 2010
Sen. Schumer (D-NY):
Today I received your e-mail seeking support for the Disclose Act, which you sponsor along with Sen. Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Feingold (D-WI).
Besides just previously, I have written to you and your co-sponsors, and other officials many times about the serious harm and hindrance current election process brings to democracy, and the Disclose Act is just another bill snapping at the symptoms of the core problem: corporate and union/NPO campaign contributions. Just as ethics rules and laws, and earmarks rules and laws only put teeth into the pant cuff to tug on the trousers of the crook instead of biting him in the leg, the Disclose Act misses the mark on attacking the real problem.
A bite actually needs to be taken out of the heart of the election problem by banning all contributions in place of publicly funded campaigns and by removing the distribution of funding from party controls, as well as ending gerrymandering, if all the ills that stem from these electoral abuses are to be cured, restoring democracy and ending partisan gridlock, as well as making moot the Supreme Court’s ruling affecting corporate contributions in the Citizens case, which the Disclose Act addresses. But that ruling is not the core problem, and the Disclose Act falls far short of attacking it as it diverts energy and attention from solving the real problem: the contributions that are offered as bribes to legislators and reinforced by lobbyists to bring the buy-offs to bank.
I trust you still have access to the e-mails I have previously sent detailing the particulars of the danger the modern electoral process is to democracy and how this single mechanism is responsible for so many seemingly unrelated ills that make government ineffective, cause it to bring so much harm, and separate it from the people. If not, please let me know and I will resend them to you.
The CNBC financial-reporting show, Squawk on the Street, conducted an unscientific poll, ending April 2010, just after the first two days of Senate-committee grilling of Goldman Sachs executives. The result suggests that the Goldman executives should have switched chairs with the senators.
The question: Which do you distrust more: Congress or Wall Street?This lopsided outcome was easy to predict because while we likely really trust Wall Street no more than we do Congress, we know Wall Street is in business to make a profit for themselves. On the other hand, we expect Congress to be in business for us, yet find that time after time it is in business for itself, and for corporations which are in line way ahead of “us,” so whether we actually trust Congress less than Wall Street, we view its members as having less integrity (being more corruptible) than Wall Street’s executives. This outcome will never change so long as the electoral system is funded by corporate and union contributions which are supervised and distributed by the Republican and Democratic party apparatuses.
The result: Congress 82%; Wall Street 18% (4,172 responses)
Self-interest is a characteristic trait of most species. It is very rare that any person would either be without self-interest or hold it strictly restrained through self-discipline. In government, self-interest is in competition with public interest, and the means by which public interest can be elevated over self-interest is by elimination of factors and systemic procedures that appeal to self-interest. Those factors and systemic procedures affecting elected and appointed officials are money and the electoral process that is hinged upon campaign contributions, which takes the predominant place as the means by which elected officials serve their self-interest to win re-elections—to remain players. The task is not to replace the self-interest of public servants to remain in the game. The task is to change the electoral process as the instrument of meeting that self-interest of preservation and replace it with something else, like achievement or plain good work.
The American system of campaign funding of elections celebrates the self-interest of greed, where chasing the money is elevated as the primary objective of self-preservation, of promotion, to be the “prime directive” of elected office—funding re-election—from day one, consuming major portions of legislators’ and their staffs’ time, time which should be spent on the duties of office, which are many and varied enough, and so diminished, as is clearly seen by the lackluster if not plain shoddy performance of Congress, where getting re-elected is infused, through the raising and transfer of money, into nearly every transaction and equation.
How can The People expect that their government will ever serve them when it is so pre-occupied and beholding to the task of keeping the money flow alive and well by serving two masters: the providers—special interests, industry and corporate, and the conduit—the political parties and the electoral system, supported by their contributions? So dependent and entwined are they, that the parties set up call centers and mandated time that elected representatives spend cold-calling for cash, and congressional leaders are largely promoted as a reward for the size of the money pile they have raised! All the ethics rules and bills to control or limit financing, or to address earmarks, or healthcare reform, or banking regulation, are attacks against the symptoms of the real problem cause: campaign finance in party control, aided by gerrymandering, which can only be fixed by eliminating all of it in favor of wholly public-financed campaigns and removal of funding control from the leadership of the parties, and fairly redrawing electoral districts, which will also eliminate partisan gridlock.
There is no way to deny that this process undermines democracy, popular sovereignty, the future of the nation and the welfare of The People. And with the Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court compounded the problem by the removal of transparency, limits, and the endowment of human rights upon corporations, making campaign financing no less than sanctioned corruption at the highest level. It is power held up for sale and purchased by the wealthy and powerful, not tendered by a consenting public, in trust, or used in good faith.
There is no way to defend it, to turn a pig into a butterfly without making bacon. The corporate-funded, party-controlled electoral system must be slaughtered if American democracy is to live.
cc (via web forms): White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. David Obey, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Regulating based on “too large to fail” is like blaming the gas tank for running out of fuel.
While, for the most part, Goldman Sachs executives came across as evasive and uncooperative in Senate testimony, the sum of their testimony succeeded in raising the question of whether there really is any case at all the government should be bringing against them. The two-day gain in Goldman’s stock price, almost unilateral for the sector on the first day of hearings, which also coincided with the debt-rating downgrades for Greece and Portugal, reflects the renewed confidence of investors that little harm will likely befall the cloistered firm as a consequence of the confrontation between its executives and the Senate committee.
At the heart of concerns for consequences on banking reform as a result of the hearings, is the threat of separating derivatives-trade units, eliminating trade in synthetics, and breaking-up of the larger institutions to eliminate “too big to fail,” though the consequential taxpayer bail-outs are being repaid with handsome interest, and may be a non-factor if the Goldman case results in a payback to AIG, the worst outcome Goldman faces. The Senate testimony on Goldman’s derivatives trades could hardly indict their practices, as it was made clear that, as a market maker and trader, Goldman has no responsibility to hold investors’ hands or restrain its own trade actions based upon transactions with any of its clients, direct or brokered, beyond the usual risk disclosures in the small print. They made it clear enough, though not for some senators, that their responsibility is to broker trades with responsible parties and, as with any investment, buyer beware.
Now, had an investor asked whether an Abacus trade, or any other was a good one to make, Goldman would have been obligated to advise for or against on the basis of its trade positions. Or, had Goldman sought out buyers for the trade of its own shorts without disclosing the source, its position, they would clearly have been guilty of unethical and probably illegal practice. But, so far, there has been no evidence made public that either of these circumstances were ever in play—not guilty. But the particulars of the newly energized, SEC civil complaint against Goldman remain to be seen, and those charges cannot be discounted or minimized by congressional-committee hearings.
The recession and subsequent bail-outs were not the consequence of improper or illegal trade procedures by Goldman or any other institution. Nor was the recession and bail-outs a consequence of any institution’s size. The recession happened because of the size of the players’ greed and the reach of the reckless, negligent, irresponsible managements that prevailed, and the absence of appropriate rules and laws, combined with the intentional restraint of regulatory agencies, initiated by Republican-administration appointees to leading positions within those agencies, who turned a blind eye on enforcement of existing laws, or actively blocked/hindered enforcement, effectively leaving the regulatory apparatus gutted.
Congressional testimony of former administration regulators has also indicated that incompetence and a casual familiarity between regulators and the industries they were charged to oversee was a major contributing factor, allowing institutions to run amuck with unfounded risk and to spin a web of trade mechanisms, particularly synthetics with no underlying commodities or instruments, the sole purpose of which is to generate income for the trade firms, and as in the case of many mortgage loans and the Madoff Ponzi scheme, to facilitate outright fraud. Teeth to rip apart avenues leading to these circumstances should be the point of banking-reform law.
Breaking apart the large institutions is an attractive alternative, but only because it is punitive to the top executives and legions of managers and traders who failed their institutions and the system while garnering wealth for themselves, courtesy of taxpayer funding. To do so would harm the U.S. economy because without like break-ups of the U.S. financial firms’ overseas competitors, large U.S. firms would become disadvantaged and unable to compete, and a like weight of their disadvantage would be shifted as advantage to their international competitors. Size is not the cause of failures, and any break-up, if not to be avoided, should only be done in conjunction with diplomacy and subsequent treaties that result in fair and comparable breakups of similar institutions in the rest of the world.
Capital-reserve levels should be assigned to large-cap institutions based upon individual risk profiles.These are the kinds of actions needed in reforming banking laws, not anything on the basis of institutional size.
Trade in synthetic derivatives should be halted, to include speculation in commodities and instruments where price mirroring of the actual instruments and commodities is merely a gamble and not a transaction or a price-fixing mechanism for future purchase. Gambling should be a recreational pursuit within the sole province of legal casinos.
Legitimately based derivatives should be limited to transactions across an exchange where transparency and regulation can be enforced.
Rating agencies should be split from firms that trade the instruments that are rated, and no rating agency should receive payment from firms or entities having interest in the trade of the instruments that are rated. A fee, non-biased for type of instrument, should be charged on trades of rated instruments, and possibly also collected from all institutions, to be paid to the rating agencies as their sole revenue source. Rating agencies accepting payments from trading firms and bond holders/providers opens the same dark doors as are open for legislators who accept corporate and union campaign contributions.
Rules affecting regulation of the economy should be executed through law, not through agency prerogative, where existence and enforcement of rules are subject to political manipulation through appointed agency leadership.
Outlaw esoteric and phantom accounting rules and practices.
Increase Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) resources, now completely inadequate, to investigate and prosecute rampant corporate crime, perhaps a special DOJ section, apart from the SEC, dedicated to banking and investment fraud.
Require institutions to structure their pay systems so that pay levels and bonuses are tied to performance, and institute regulatory requirements for corporations to allow shareholders to approve salary structures and packages of top executives and to permit employee choice in retirement-fund-investment options.
Consolidate consumer protection and make it immune from both political influence and segmented industry ties that have allowed inroads to undue agency influence by banking and investment firms and the scraping of consumer advocacy by politically appointed leadership.
Repeal laws shielding criminal corporate executives from civil suits.
Block corporations found guilty of fraud and theft while participating in government-contract processes from obtaining future government business, unless the product or service that corporation provides is vital to national security and not available from any other secure source.
cc (via web forms): White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. David Obey, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...
Recent rulings highlight problem with casual defining of the First Amendment’s key terms.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling favoring corporate campaign contributions, in Citizens United, in its recent, stomach-turning ruling overturning the law banning dog-fight videos, and in numerous other issues, including pornography, has hopelessly convoluted the intent of the First Amendment, thereby making prosecution of crimes and protection of democracy more difficult than should be the case.
The First Amendment’s prohibitions address “speech” and the “press.” And there were no videos or even photo-picture magazines in existence at the time the Amendment was adopted, so it does not follow that these “media” forms should be construed, within any context, as representative of “speech” (the spoken word) or “the press” (the written word) within the context of the Constitution, especially when the intent was obviously a literate protection of free expression of thought, and particularly, political thought affecting the business of governance. As well, at that time, after the Revolution, most political speech was not through anonymous means, where the person generating the speech or print was difficult or impossible to identify, a factor for greater concern against prosecution for expression of ideas through speech or the press, the only outlets of the time.
“Ideas,” is a key word which has escaped the Supreme Court’s rulings over history, and particularly, recently. Dog fighting is not an idea; nor is pornography. These are “actions.” or “practices,” neither of which falls within the bounds of protecting “speech” or “the press.” Even though pornography or dog-fight promotion in magazines could at first glance, by literal, mechanical means of production and distribution, be categorized as “press,” when taken in context with the expression outlets at the time the First Amendment was appended to the Constitution, and the forms of editorial speech of the day, it is clear that these “practices” were never intended to fall under the protections afforded “speech,” or the written form of speech published in the “press.”
The consequences of these rulings are clearly troubling, but are possible to occur only because modern (at least modern in the sense of being in the public eye) practices conveyed through modern media have been wrongly included within a constitutional concept of “speech” that was never intended or realized by the Founders to be afforded constitutional speech or press protections. The casual folding of “practices” of any kind into the protections of speech and the press are the root of the problem. And if the practices were properly separated from considerations of speech, there would be no doubt that laws could be passed to prohibit corporate campaign spending, the promotion of cruelty to animals, or pornography, within the constraint of community standards, without any constitutional violation, and without any affront to common sense.
Contracting private security firms (raising armies) by the executive is unconstitutional.
Right now, more than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan without proper authorization. Recent Congressional hearings have painted a dismal picture of military-contractor operations, particularly XE Services’ (formerly Blackwater) operations. Employees stole hundreds of weapons meant for the Afghan national police, they billed the U.S. government for a prostitute, and they massacred innocent civilians. After sullying (not really a good word for this context anymore since the Miracle on the Hudson) the Blackwater name, they then created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts.
It is important to note that the Constitution places ALL military authority with Congress, not the president (except raising a defense against an active attack), and a strict observance of the congressional authority to raise armies must be adhered to if the dangers feared by the Founders, which have already come to pass, are to be stopped and then prevented. It is not enough to use funds appropriated for operations if those appropriations do not also specifically authorize the fielding of what is essentially a private army, such authorization also specifying strength, parameters of the objectives of their deployment, and oversight. In fact, by strictest interpretation, Congress would have to specifically authorize the entering into each contract by the executive branch.
The use of private security firms, as it has been practiced since the Iraq invasion, is the raising of a private army without the specific authorization for doing so. And without the objectives for that use of military force being specified by Congress, it is unconstitutional and another example of how the Constitution, by its provisions being sidestepped or stepped on, has become a ceremonial document, not the living document to guide the governance of a democratic society. Raising and fielding private armies also makes it easier for the executive to extend military might where, without the supplemental armies, public and congressional pressures against additional, legitimate forces would introduce restrictions or even contribute to eventually terminate the operations.
This freewheeling creation and use of force by the executive, and through the executive, by the Department of Defense, must end, and the The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the House (H.R. 4650) and Bernie Sanders in the Senate (S. 3023), would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like XE Services to perform tasks traditionally done by the military without specific congressional authorization. Elected officials must be pressured to make this Act a priority for passage.
Not a single, future day can be bought with 3,000 years of history.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who embarrassed Vice President Biden by announcing new, Jewish settlements in Palestine during Biden’s visit, attempted to justify increasing the Palestinian settlements in his March 2010 AIPAC speech by restating an Israeli claim upon Jerusalem as its capital, not Tel Aviv, based upon 3,000 year-old history (a claim with which many map makers agree, though not the legal, international establishment):
The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.Between the lines, Netanyahu is saying that there will be no cessation of settlement building, and further, that Jerusalem will rise above Israel’s historical claim to become, in fact, its legitimate capital again, and any two-state solution will have to incorporate that geopolitical reality.
Benjamin Netanyahu, 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference speech
President Obama realizes that this position makes any enduring peace between Israel and Palestine impossible, and further, that it will set back regional Arab concessions to the process and to Israel as Palestinian repression necessarily continues. The reading of the “riot act” to Netanyahu, as it is put, by Secretary of State Clinton, after the speech, was part desperation to reverse the meaning of Netanyahu’s rhetoric, and part a knowing, frustrated parent scolding an obstinate child. Clinton emphasized the responsibility of Israel’s friends and allies to point out inappropriate policies that hurt not only Israel, but the U.S. as well. Great Britain, in objecting to Israel’s repeated use of forged UK passports, in the latest instance, to carry out an assassination against a Hamas terrorist after promising the UK never to forge passports again, used the same reasoning of responsible policy objection by an ally, which seems now to be a coordinated line justifying criticism by Israel’s feather-ruffled friends.
Israel must abandon the objective of Jerusalem as its capital and the unilateral decision to continue building settlements as a consequence. The world, the region, and Jerusalem are not what they were 3,000 years ago, and that distant past cannot be a basis for setting the political realities of today, just as Iran’s epoch of ancient greatness cannot justify its reclaiming reach for nuclear arms today. To attempt to make it so will only ensure continued violence and the continued growth of extremism and influence by Iran and other nations that will come to support greater extremism in the face of unrealistic Israeli intransigence.
Jerusalem is a supreme holy place for Jews, Moslems, and Christians, and as such, it has a significance beyond nationality and can never be held by any of them alone, and any nation tied to any of those faiths that attempts to control it will only face endless trouble in a hopeless cause. Like the District of Columbia is separated from all the other states as a political entity, as the seat of the capital of the United States, or Vatican City from Italy, so too, Jerusalem must be separated from the geopolitical sphere of the nations that surround it, because all the nations and religions have a connection, past, present, and future, that is just as valid and undeniable as Israel’s, and all three religions, through their political faces, must equally share in the administration of the city’s life and determining the direction of its future, through some arrangement and structure that gives the parties equal voice and power. Only then can peace in and beyond Jerusalem’s limits be secured and maintained. President Obama knows this, and more than any other nation, Israel should also know the reality of its limitations and history’s limited reach to touch the future.
For Jews, the Torah defines a philosophy of life that is founded in morality and peace, which leads to the light—a relationship with God. Despite that Israel was attacked, and despite that nations resorting to war risk loss without right of redemption, the people of Palestine, who did not make or participate in those decisions, have been displaced and are held beneath Israel’s mandated moral horizon. Instead, fear and a more-recent, horrific past have prioritized an Israeli stance of survival through fiercely wielded strength which now also consumes its allies. Until Israel recognizes that history is not the path to the future, no plan will ever bring the breath of lasting life to the light of peace for itself or with its neighbors.
Trying to fight ghosts, the U.S. kills civilians, hurts itself.
In what is called by drama-seeking news reports, “big news,” in the opening weekend of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, 6,000 U.S. troops entered the long-time, Taliban-controlled, Helmand Province village of Marja, a center of Taliban opium production, where neither the Taliban nor foreign fighters were to be found, as should have been expected, since the offensive was broadcast in advance. Instead, U.S. forces find themselves targets of selective ambushes in the middle of a dangerous, IED minefield, set exclusively for their announced arrival, which has already claimed two U.S. soldiers’ lives. Officials say that the idea is to drive out the Taliban, by whatever means, and then prevent their return. Since the Taliban, like al Qaeda, will not fight except on their terms or when cornered, announcing offensives will hardly serve the objective of decimating or even demoralizing them. Instead, two U.S. missile strikes in Marja have killed nine civilians, including five children, possibly three Taliban, and have given the Taliban and al Qaeda more propaganda ammo to use in winning hearts and minds and recruiting more fighters in the name of those civilians, a total of 13 killed over the offensive’s first weekend who are now the major casualties of the U.S. offensive.
What will happen now, for the U.S. and the Afghan government the U.S. tries to support, is that the adverse consequences of dead civilians will continue, since the Taliban fighters purposefully put themselves in proximity with the populace when they decide to fight, and since coalition troops cannot be everywhere and presumedly cannot stay forever, the Islamist radicals will strike where troops are not, and are not ready to face them, and they will wait until troops are gone to reimpose their authority. Both cases mean that U.S. leaders, despite contrary public mandates, will resist ever removing the troops, or if they do, when the occupations are over, little will have been gained in return for the cost in lives and fortunes spent, the terrorists still in operation in their enclaves, spread around the globe. Again, loosely organized, disbursed militant organizations are not effectively countered by fielded armies; they are aided by them. When will U.S. presidents and the Congress, which should be the constitutional authority making military-deployment decisions, ever learn? This ignorance is harming America more than anything else.
Supreme-Court ruling rolls The Founders in their graves and buries the voice of the people with them.
The Reagan-Bush appointed, Supreme-Court majority has finally handed the conservative Republicans and their big-business and industry stewards a victory of monumental proportions with their ruling (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission) tying First Amendment free-speech rights to campaign contributions. The 5-to-4 ruling is an abomination of the Constitution that puts representative government up for sale or bribe, ripping apart the fabric of The Founders’ concept of democracy. It is a ruling that is so partisan, so contrary to the tenants of democracy and the Constitution, that any argument attempting to preserve the aloofness of the Court and shield it from the transparency that now brings televised sessions of Congress to the public is subject to question. The democratically-adverse ruling, along with Chief Justice Robert’s March 2010 statement that, because of the president’s criticism, directed at the Court, during the State of the Union address, perhaps, in future, the Supreme Court’s justices should not attend what, Roberts says, has become “a political rally,” combines to demonstrate that the time has come when the Supreme Court’s business, which, thanks to Roberts and his politically activist majority, should be more subject to open scrutiny and increased criticism and accountability, and that it’s finally time for cameras to be a part of the furnishings within its increasingly, People-isolated chambers.
Conservative spokesmen say the ruling, which sweeps away the Congress’s McCain-Feingold restrictions on campaign contributions (which actually never went far enough) and allows unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, restores free speech and equality to that which was always intended by the First Amendment. To the contrary, the fact is, in the time of the Founders, there was no election machine or industry serving the influence of corporations that depended upon the monetized system of election influence that exists today, or that was any kind of consideration at all for free-speech protections. The truth of that is in the very words of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and others spoken against the power and ambition of industry to challenge government and take control from the people, and which cry out from his grave against the falsehood of all of the conservative-Republican claims supporting the ruling, and which also prove the highest court in the land no longer stands to protect the Constitution, but rather, to protect and preserve the power of corporate-industrial America, the people be damned.
The majority justices went beyond the scope of the Court in four ways: first, they ignored precedent; second, they ignored the precept of avoiding a constitutional question, if possible, and then when necessary, ruling on the narrowest constitutional issue that would address the conflict in the case before them; third, they ignored the Preamble of the Constitution, which is just as binding upon them and the other branches as is any section of any article that follows it, and for which the stage for all that follows is set by its proclamation:
“We the People of the United States [not corporations, and corporations are of the state in which they are chartered, not of the United States], in order to [skip to the relevant clause] Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”“We the People... do ordain and establish,” the Founders wrote, not the corporations; “for our posterity,” they wrote, not the posterity of corporations. The posterity of corporations, parent companies, are units.
And lastly, the Court majority ignored the Declaration of Independence, which lays the foundation for the Constitution, and which, if there is any doubt as to the interpretation of any part thereof, the Declaration is a necessary and proper arbiter, which in its second paragraph, states:
“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...”Corporations are not “Men.” Capitalization, by the way, is quoted here in both documents as it was written by the Founders, providing the emphasis which they intended in that literary style of their day. Corporations are not endowed by the “Creator” which is capitalized, or that which created “Men” (and Women). Corporations do not pursue “Happiness.” They pursue profits for their owners, who are men and women, and other organizations, so when they speak, they do so with the motive of profit, which is not the voice of “Men,” who are the “Governed” (capitalized), as those voices are Consensually heard, through the vote (which the Court majority corrupted with its ruling), in a society based upon the precepts of “popular sovereignty” or “democracy,” as is provided by America’s charters and subdued by the Court majority’s campaign-funding ruling.
Popular sovereignty (also spelled “sovranty”) is the birth child of the Declaration of Independence. It means that government power and authority is vested in and derived from the People, not corporations (or kings), and that government acts according to the will of the People, again, not corporations. Popular sovereignty is one of the three pillars of democracy, along with political liberty and political equality, all of which are (or were) embodied within the protections and guarantees written into the amendments and articles of the Constitution. Corporations cannot attain or aspire to political liberty or equality with “Men,” under either the Declaration or the Constitution, and that the Court’s majority chose to do so is what makes their ruling an aberrant abortion of those documents and the intent of the Founders who struggled so eloquently well with their genius to write them.
But this is what you get when an ignorant president (Bush) appoints a conservative-Republican majority to be led by a relative kid as Chief Justice, whose confirmation was in the hands of that president’s conservative-Republican, rubber-stamp Senate, creating an activist majority that abuses the power of the Court, while their congressional peers moan and groan about the activism of the “liberal” Court appointed by Democratic presidents. The real harm done should now be as apparent as it so well fits into this closing, that the Court failed in its primary responsibility: to stand for the Constitution, outside of all political considerations.
Only Congress can right this abortive travesty and threat to democracy by passing laws banning all campaign contributions and establishing funding for all elections that is wholly public. And state legislatures will also have to act to protect the democratic value of their elected offices. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has taken an immediate, important, first step to counter the Court ruling by introducing the American Elections Act of 2010 (S. 2959), which would prohibit campaign spending by foreign-controlled corporations, and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) has introduced an amendment to the Constitution, which would make ironclad the democratic assurance of elections for the People. An amendment, while the best solution, is the most time consuming and difficult to achieve; so, meanwhile, passage of Sen. Franken’s bill and the introduction of subsequent, fast-track legislation to neutralize the disastrous effects of the Court’s ruling and eventually replace the myriad of ineffective campaign-control measures with a ban on all contributions in place of public-funded elections, which will remove the primary source of party control which is abused to promote obstructionism and create gridlock, should be the highest priority of the president and the Democratic Congress, even above healthcare and banking-regulation reforms. Otherwise, the United States of America, as the Founders conceived it, to be an instrument of the People, is dead and going to hell.
When President Obama, in his December 1 Afghanistan speech, claimed a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would begin in June 2011, in almost the same breath he announced he is sending another 30,000 troops there, he delivered a cheap shot to the American people, which was regrettably delivered again later by Vice President Biden when he wrote in a broadcast e-mail that the president’s speech came “with a firm commitment to begin bringing our troops home in 2011.” But John McCain, in playing out his war-mongering, opposition role by rote, treated that empty withdrawal promise as legitimate and criticized President Obama’s setting of the meaningless deadline based upon the tried-and-failed concept, “you win a war by breaking the will of the enemy.” That assessment is as far from true as his assessment of Sarah Palin’s qualifications for high office in the 2008 election.
The will of the South Vietnamese government was not defeated when they and America lost that war, few South Vietnamese had the necessary will, and despite that breaking the communist will was always a voiced objective, as was the false threat that withdrawal would spell the fall, like dominoes, of the region to communism, it was the will of nationalism that overcame South Vietnam and the patience of America.
In WWII, the will of the German people was not broken. Their ability to wage war was reduced to rubble and their army decimated. There is no such army to defeat fielded anywhere in the terrorist conflict.
In the trenches of WWI, the will of soldiers on all sides to throw their lives away by rushing machine-gun nests was not broken. They were, on both sides, overcome with lead, and the leaders on both sides eventually decided the costs were just too great to continue.
The same is true of both al Qaeda and the Taliban. Their will to fight will never be broken. And the fact is that, despite McCain’s eagerness to commit America to another endless war, any war has a limit of worth, which is the limit the president chooses to impose upon the U.S. government and the Afghan regime, based upon the evaluation of the threat as it exists now and is forecast, and based upon the reasoned conformity to real limits of capability and objective.
The increased 30,000 U.S. troops, bringing the U.S. total to about 100,000, will not achieve the objective of eliminating the Taliban and al Qaeda. Some coalition members have agreed to trace additions, but international, public outcry, particularly within America’s strongest allies, Great Britain and Germany, is already loudly opposed. Perhaps the president realizes this and thus sets a deadline. It may be successful in building up an Afghan army that can permanently reduce the Taliban to a minority political faction, and it seems it is this objective that the president has decided is worth adding to the troops and effort already in place there to obtain. The November 2009 report of Taliban resurgence in Kunduz province, where Afghan police presence was cut, and where U.S. analysts expected the Taliban would not to be a factor in the military planning, is a perfect example of why the U.S. cannot win a guerrilla war there, and why sending more troops will not be enough, and will only provide greater opportunities for Taliban and al Qaeda offensive actions. And aside from proving that intelligence and law-enforcement anti-terrorist efforts, though effective, are still falling far short of where they need to be, the Christmas-day bombing attempt against a Detroit-bound Delta-Northwest Airlines jet, by the self-professed al-Qaeda Nigerian, Abdul Mutallab, is yet another example of how shortsighted it is to wage a military campaign in Afghanistan or anywhere else on the basis of defense against another 911-type al-Qaeda attack, which can and will originate from anywhere al Qaeda or any organized terror exists.
The Taliban will flow like electricity, along the paths of least resistance to deliver shocks, and then pull the plug to disappear again. Afghanistan is turning into another case of an enemy that yanks the American chain and, for the most part, cannot be confronted except on their terms. Going after the Taliban as a tactic to attack al Qaeda is as much taking a sucker punch as is attacking al Qaeda with a fielded army. If 30,000 will be sent, then another 130,000 will be needed, and when the time-limit the president has set has been reached and extended or not, what will have been gained? The eradication of al Qaeda? Not likely. Or the Taliban? Again, not likely. The continued support of the American people or Congress? Not at all likely, particularly as predictable incidents come to light, like the cover-up of the killing of three Afghan women in their homes, two pregnant, mothers of a combined 18 children, by U.S. forces gunfire in a Special Operations assault, not by a remotely fired missile, a cover-up admitted to nearly two months later by American command. And that is only a small reflection of a murderous problem, where conservative United Nations records show there were at least 2,412 Afghan civilian deaths in 2009, 14 percent more than 2008.
These “collateral” deaths will never be eliminated so long as U.S. troops occupy the land, and the hate that is spawn, and the support that grows to act against America, through the Taliban or al Qaeda, only worsens the U.S. political and military outlook. With the resistance of Pakistan in the Afghan border region, the growing public resistance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and his refusal to eliminate government corruption, which has continued into the command changeover of Gen. Petraeus, the eventual failure of an occupation there, to follow a much more involved and intensively violent, failed Soviet occupation, is a foregone conclusion, except to stubbornly arrogant U.S. administrations. On the Karzai-corruption front, which is a major inducement of popular support for the Taliban, the New York Times reported, in late August 2010, that Karzai’s assistant attorney general, the highest official charged with active prosecution of government corruption, has named Karzai as instrumental in continued obstruction of his mandate, personally reining in his office’s investigations targeting the corrupt activities of Karzai’s closest aides and ministers. If one attributed America as the good guys in the white hats, with Karzai as its partner, what you have is the Lone Ranger trying to fight for law and order with Geronimo, where all he’ll get is a knife in the back when the campfire dims. But, at least, unlike Karzai, who uses America’s soldiers and money to secure his own power and enrich himself, Geronimo’s cause was righteous, fighting invaders stealing his home and heritage. Yet, the U.S. continues to invest blood and money in this useless (except to the military-industrial complex) endeavor, in a country with another U.S.-installed and supported government that is like a cancer upon the skin of the world, and where the American occupation and the money it radiates is like the sun’s ultraviolet shining on it, causing it to worsen and spread. At best, the Taliban will only be driven underground and reduced to a constant, low level of aggression with occasional but regular spikes in violence, ever a threat to the populace who would dare to betray them and leaders who dare to defy them. But in the end, after America has taken its losses and left, they will still be there to consolidate their influence, because as is now being seen in Iraq, Afghanistan is their land, not America’s to shape.
All of that, and an era of casual, run-on warfare, with its expanded legions of riddled and shockingly, disgracefully overstretched American military families is the only future that awaits a decision to act against al Qaeda through the Taliban with troops and nation building in partnership with a corrupt, self-interested regime, instead of attacking al Qaeda as organized criminals, with law enforcement, intelligence, limited, precision military action in appropriately advantageous situations, and nation cooperation. Two examples of where the will of the “enemy” was broken to bring victory were not wars fought with fielded armies (if you discount the CIA): the Cold War, which was won chiefly by the spies of intelligence and the guns of economics, and the treaty obtained by Great Britain with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was brought about chiefly with intelligence, law-enforcement and diplomacy. And in post WWII Germany, there is another example of fringe violence eliminated without war, there to enlighten any who look for it, and, undoubtedly, many others. America’s conflict with al Qaeda should be among them. But after one incompetent, failed, eight-year attempt, the conflict with that Islamist Mafia is set again, through misdirection and misjudgment, to fail to make the list of smartly engaged and settled conflicts.
The withdrawal promise in the president’s speech was a cheap shot because after his speech, the president, through his cabinet and spokesmen, “qualified” his withdrawal date by saying it would be conditional to conditions on the ground, which means there is no withdrawal promise or commitment, and that, in fact, more troops could and will be sent after that date unless the president actually decides to withdraw or Congress forces him to.
Presumedly, if a withdrawal ever happens in the baby-boomer generation’s lifetime, the president will begin the withdrawal and set about to morph the U.S. effort into something more akin to the cooperative intelligence/law-enforcement offense, supplemented with special forces as needed, that Vice President Biden and many others preferred, which will mean a two-year delay to get to where the fight against terrorist-criminals should be focused. The trouble is that those two years will cost at least $150 billion and the lives of no less than 1,200 more soldiers.
When president after president, Republican or Democrat, and war after war, the will of the people and the majority of Congress is ignored, the message is clear, that democracy in America is broken. And the factors that stand between the government and the People are no mystery. President Andrew Jackson, in a spawning industrial, corporate, and banking expansion was warned that, without care, these industries would take over the power of government, a warning echoing Founder and President Thomas Jefferson’s, Abraham Lincoln’s, and most lately echoed by President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning of the dangers of the growing, Cold-War fueled military-industrial complex. And, 100 years before the end of the Great Depression, Jackson found himself in a struggle with the banks, a struggle in which the Democratic party’s roots were sewn.
Now, if the Founders were resurrected, they would look at their aborted government and return to Europe, because all they would see, from rug-swept high crimes to ceremonial Constitution to shameful abuse of wealth to health care for provider profit to futile war to unrelenting climate change, is their legacy to us being strangled in the hands of influence peddlers who are tied to all of these factions, controlling the policies that are destroying the future of America, and with global warming, the world. These interests, mostly exercised through the Republican party’s conservative wing, will trade jobs in one industry or another for eventual disaster everywhere. In wars, where they no longer need fear the involvement of their own sons or daughters, they press for conflicts to keep the technology of violence progressing and the military involved to use it. And at the very core of the power that these and other influences have over the People and their representatives, precipitating obstructionism and creating gridlock, lies the entrenched, enshrined, corrupted, influence machine of elections, with its abuses that range from gerrymandered districts that precipitate and extend partisan gridlock, to party control of funding, to bought-out legislators, paid for with contributions, which the conservative-Republican majority in the Supreme Court has placed even more solidly in the hands of industry, and apart from the People, with its ruling voiding Congress’s McCain-Feingold limits on campaign contributions.
A Court in control of conservative-Republicans, who are in the control of industry, doesn’t care that a clean electoral process is what lies at the very heart of a true democratic system, and that very core of freedom and choice is at the heart of the Supreme-Court-escalated attack for control by the monied, greed-vested entities from corporate to industrial that see Washington as their own personal cache of money and privilege to be raided at will. The control has been theirs because of their steadfast, long-term grip on the system of contributions and gifts that buys the advertising that brings the unenlightened mass vote used as the leverage that delivers influence used to sway law makers to the dark side, and as a result, the American democracy is a sham, a front for disguising the true nature of the elitist democracy that really exists and controls the lives and future of all in the nation. The corruption of campaign finance has become as comfortable as old sweats, so integral to the life of Congress and its members that congressional promotions are based upon fund-raising accomplishments rather than skills that yield intelligent legislation or more enlightened constituent integration with the process of government.
Until all election contributions by both individuals and organizations are banned, and elections are fully, treasury funded, Americans will never get near their worth from the fund-raising-prioritized time and money-influence-prioritized decisions of their elected officials, and they will never be free of unneeded, unwanted wars, suicidal policies against the thin, fragile veil of air that supports all life and dictates whether climates are to be stable, or the whole slew of influence travesties, ranging from pork spending to government ethics that plagues the relationship between Washington and the voters. And this destructive abuse will continue, unabated until the conceptual America of the Founders is completely dead and gone, along with a uniquely American culture and heritage that will be obliterated by laws pushed aside to allow the invasion of an unacclimated, poorly or uneducated illegal-immigrant horde, whose blindly-granted right to vote, based upon a poorly devised and questionably administered flash-card test, will be cast, subject to manipulation, with the only native knowledge of government they possess, rooted in Banana-Republic abuse, self-service, ineptitude and corruption.
With the administration’s latest moves to block a promised, “greater-transparency” release of military and intelligence documents, and the president’s anti-Peace Prize choices (which he tactfully acknowledged as one of many conflicting factors in his Nobel acceptance speech) to step up Afghanistan deployments and make America the sole NATO hold-out against signing the Land Mine accord, the hope of a brighter democratic future for America and its people, sparked by the campaign and election of President Obama, has dimmed as the changes crossing the face of Washington seem to be limited to little more than a different elocutionary rhetoric, the lining of a few different pockets, a no-different shortchanging of institutional ethics reform, and different points of fruitless military deploymenta headlong, though more shallow plunge into still-darkening directions.
Things in the “new, promised” Washington of the populist Obama movement are not looking very Democratic in these troubling times. Like President Obama’s retracted campaign promise to allow prescription-drug imports, ever more necessary as drug companies limit production of low-profit drugs, creating shortages, the Ship of State is beginning to take on the pained and retracted look of another Bush/Republican-skippered submarine, its dive plains jammed in the down position with a runaway, full-bore, concocted-money and fear-and-lies-fueled engine pushing it swiftly down into the dark abyss of oblivion, to be crushed by the overpowering pressure of the money and influence that weighs it down and presses all around it. The lights are dimming, the crew is going blind, and the air they breathe is becoming heavy and stale with the rising pressure and venting pipe bursts of the foul contaminates that have spilled from Washington’s halls over the last half century or more.
The president’s regrettable choice of Afghanistan as the single venue in which to put up a real fight, the failure to address the bloated, favors-for-friends tax code, restore the 2009 estate-tax rules, to eliminate costly, naked speculation in oil, to pass banking regulation that isn’t a Swiss cheese of loopholes and exclusions, to change the structure of banker pay and bonuses from ripped-off, no-down-side handouts and obscene bonuses to performance-based systems with investor control on limits, or to force banks that are now, thanks to the taxpayers’ money, recovering, as President Obama said, to act on “a greater obligation to the goal of a wider recovery, a more stable system, and more broadly shared prosperity,” all verify the downward dive is full-force. Should not a good banking system aspire to do those things on its own? If not, should not banks be forced to do those things? Instead, as the president rightly complains, they slink a forked-tongue, public rhetoric of cooperation while taking the muzzles off their lobbyist jackals on Capital Hill.
Add to that unblowable ballast the Big-Pharma, $20-million-bought-and-paid-for failure to allow pharmaceutical imports, or the Senate’s failure to include a public option (not mandate) in health-care reform, and there is no doubt that the state ship is beset by the most unconscionable of all the failures that will severely stunt that reform, increase its cost at direct benefit to industry pockets, and prove the government of the United States is not by, of, or for the People, but instead buy, bought, and owned by the corporations, industrialists, and monied elite who, with the likes of Max Baucus (who has the gall to stand behind the president’s right shoulder as he addressed the nation to push the diluted, non-public-option health-care-reform bill Baucus torpedoed), John Murtha (a great Marine, but king of pork-spending abuse), Joe Lieberman (as unconscionable a Republican as any to ever hide in the Senate), along with the leadership and a large rift of the Republican caucus, have mined a channel that separates the president from his promises and the People from their own Congress as a consequence of the ocean of election-campaign and lobby-money influence poured into lawmakers’ pockets.
Democratic leaders in the Senate, like Harry Reid (D-NV) and Charles Schumer (D-NY, were falling over themselves backpedaling with the president in the face of the obdurate, bought-out minority and their own turncoat caucus members, now labeling the diluted bill as a “first step,” and defending the cut-out heart and soul of the reform as “components that must not hold up passage” of whatever it is that walks without a heart and soula zombie health-care bill? Instead, as this would not be a case of tyranny over the minority, which the Senate’s 60-vote rule (which makes a supermajority body out of what the Constitution sets up as a majority body) is not needed to protect against in any case, the Democrats should be swatting the minority out of the way with reconciliation to drop-ballast on the unconstitutional 60-vote requirement that is blocking majority rule and the People’s will to trump all the money, lobbyists, and their abusive industries for the sake of shifting the power of health and life where it belongs: to patients and doctors!
And, the latest, good news is that, in a mid-February e-mail, Sen. Schumer announced that he is joining four other senators, Sharrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), who have have reignited a push to pass a healthcare bill, with the public option, through the reconciliation process. But even if the current zombie bill is killed without bypassing the 60-vote rule in reconciliation to start over, the bill won’t go away for a decade as the fear-mongering says, like a missed ship, not even close, because there are two important differences that separate health care from other issues of tenuous-compromise standing and will keep it a priority on the front burner: it will remain a strong social demand of growing consensus and, most important, because if it isn’t passed, it has already been made official by leaders on both sides that health care will take down the economy in short order. Even the most money-injected, green-skinned insurance partisans can’t ignore that to just keep on going with unreasoned, uncompromising opposition, and their constituents would not allow them to continue doing so, assuming the president or anyone in active government would be willing to take them on to openly strip them of their public-service facades.
Just as Jefferson, Lincoln, Eisenhower, and other great, past American leaders warned, until the ilk of these “public servants” who serve up for the public bitterly worsened lives are removed from office, and contributions of any kind are prohibited for all elections, the People will continue to be sunk, their lives and futures pressured under the weight of the money that fills pockets and campaign funds in Washington and state houses alike, sinking the ship and doing no good or constructive thing, only making the rich richer, the powerful more powerful, the corrupt more absolutely corrupted, and everyone else worse off than they should be, which isn’t really too good at all, thanks in larger part than most realize to the sinking demise of America’s popular sovereignty.
A West Point Afghan troop announcement means a tragic decision has been reached.
The following letter was sent via White House Web Form.
I am disappointed to learn that you will be increasing troops under a misguided justification that the U.S. must stabilize the Afghan government.
Think about it. If the U.S. were to be responsible to stabilize every impacting emerging government, war would continue to be America’s primary international pastime. Your choice leaves the nation on that regrettable, unprofitable path, instead of the path of least resistance and, based upon results, greatest effectiveness.
Were you to announce that the terrorists that occupy those and other regions would be attacked as the international criminals they are, which has produced stellar results from mostly other nations’ law-enforcement efforts, your announcement would come from the FBI building or the State Department, not West Point.
As your Justice Department chooses to treat terrorists as criminals, you will choose to treat them as some sort of fielded army. You are choosing to fight a guerilla war, and you should know it cannot be won with the big stick. It is probably too late to sway you away from those who wish to always see America in some military tangle, but mark my words: you will regret this decision as the years pass and the deaths and costs rise in the face of a continuing threat. The hope was that you would be the president to take America off the path of war and military involvements in the affairs of other nations. That would have been your greatest accomplishment.
Instead, you are choosing to join in the mistakes of the past which have left little but a history of regret and “if onlys,” viewed from the perspective of ignored hindsight. Aside from proving that intelligence and law-enforcement anti-terrorist efforts, though effective, are still falling far short of where they need to be, the Christmas-day bombing attempt against a Detroit-bound Delta-Northwest Airlines jet, by the self-professed al-Qaeda Nigerian, Abdul Mutallab, is yet another example of how shortsighted it is to wage a military campaign in Afghanistan or anywhere else on the basis of defense against another 911-type al-Qaeda attack, which can and will originate from anywhere al Qaeda or any organized terror exists.
I published a selection of Joseph Biden as your best possible choice of running mate two months before you made the announcement. I wish you would listen to him now, because his path is the right one, the only one that can lead to success. Any half measure will still leave an army in place against an ephemeral foe to build resentment and provide a target. And there will be more and more deaths, inflicted by an enemy that does not give up bin Laden for any pile of money, which should tell you something. As should the fact that international and U.S. forces have been unable to find him. They know the land, its people, and they know us, and they have an arsenal of advanced weapons they have yet to really employ to do significant damage, which will be done on the path of increasing troops.
This threat of Islamic terrorism is not one that can be defeated by fielding armies. The proof of that is already in. You choose to ignore it at the peril of the nation and your legacy.
A long-term Afghan-region victory through occupation? Go see a psychiatrist!
The murderous rampage visited upon Fort Hood by one of its soldiers, a commissioned officer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, shines a light into the darkened heart of true Islamic radicalism, which should give pause to President Obama, and to those who believe the way to keep America safe from terror, an ocean and a continent away, is to occupy Islamic lands with more and more troops, where the only experience that most of those faithful have of America is the violence that accompanies its troops, and the injuries and deaths that it eventually inflicts upon their families, friends, and livelihoods, which is the solemn commitment and intent of the radicals, and criminals who use Islamic radicalism as their mechanism of operations, to retain the loss and violence as permanent associations.
Maj. Hasan is certainly not the first Islamist to claim that America is at war with Islam, but he is certainly in the best position to know that isn’t true; yet, he believed it. No doubt, he relived the experiences of the wounded and shell-shocked soldiers (post-traumatic stress disorder) he treated, as an Army psychiatrist, through their perspectives, feeling their hatreds, and while that kind of exposure to naked, vehement feelings toward Islam and Arabs would certainly be impossible for him to ignore, and there is evidence it challenged his professional capacity, it amounted to only a small part of his American experience, sprinkled at the top of a life of growing and being educated and eventually enlisting to become indoctrinated and trained as a soldier in the professional ranks of the Army, which some relatives perceived as being the very core of his life.
Somewhere along the line, the scale of his internal principles, held in precarious balance for years, began to tip, probably during his mental preparations for his first deployment to his native regions, where he knew he would confront, far more directly, the violence and aftereffects he saw, heard, and experienced through his grind of consultations with battered soldiers, and his religion began to overcome his acclimation to his American civil and military cultures.
The native peoples of the Afghan and Iraqi regions have no such background of American and military cultural indoctrination, nor have they Maj. Hasan’s American experience or insights to temper their perspectives, and even combined with counseling he received during his Army practice, they were insufficient to temper what troubled him; so, with what grain of salt can any commander or U.S. official take the assurances of any villager, tribal leader, local police officer, soldier, minister or leader that what is being told them, be it the direction of the Taliban or that corruption will be eliminated, is what is really in the heart? What can be the true weight of the assurances that matter so much to the decisions that will cost the lives of Americans who never even consider these questions?
If nothing else, Maj. Hasan has demonstrated for the president and his advisers, if they will stop to consider it, that there is no explanation or qualification for, or uncovering the true scope and depth of the passions that America is up against, which lead to many kinds of suicide missions, and not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, and to armed violence of lessor single-mindedness that will not subside even in a decade.
If America cannot [will not] secure its borders to keep out illegal immigrants, much less terrorists, what official can be so misguided to believe America can control either side of the hostile borders of nations in the Afghan region? Those who so assuredly advise the president to commit Americans to occupy and die there for years, with some sort of vision for a victory, should go talk to a psychiatrist. Maj. Hasan has some answers for them, though even he will not likely be aware of their complexities and reach.
The supremacy of the Born warning, spanning decades, is an ultimatum to Congress and the president.
Frontline’s The Warning, is a masterful accounting of the steps taken along a blindly traveled path leading to destruction, where today, the blinders remain, and the lone, assured, and courageous voice of caution and omen, which was silenced 11 years ago, the agency of that voice’s authority stripped of its regulatory power, speaks out again to say that, despite the carnage, nothing has been done to remove the danger that still threatens to visit again and again.
Brooksley Born, chairperson of the congressionally neutered Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), from 1996-1999, warned of the [still] unregulated OTC derivatives dangers in late 1998, years before Larry Summers (then Deputy Treasury Secretary), Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (1987-2006), Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (1995-1999, who was succeeded by Summers and later moved to Citigroup), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Arthur Levitt (1993-2001), served with President Clinton’s economic working group. They became the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse, pulling the chariot of laissez-faire markets, moving quickly with their power-honed wheel hubs to sideswipe any contender, eventually cutting the spokes out from under Born.
Summers, now President Obama’s financial right arm, as Director of the White House’s National Economic Council, has allegedly been converted to believe in strong market regulation.
After the first, initial collapse, marked by the 1998 rescue of the leading hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM), the Federal Reserve Board chairman at the time, Alan Greenspan, testified before Congress that regulation would be “a mistake.” Ten years later, after the recovery from the latest meltdown, he testified, in October 2008, that his world perspective, as it pertained to unregulated markets, was wrong. Give back the 2006, Bush awarded, Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission at the time, Arthur Levitt, said, “I didn’t know Brooksley Born... I was told that she was irascible, difficult, stubborn, unreasonable. I’ve come to know her as one of the most capable, dedicated, intelligent and committed public servants that I have ever come to know. I wish I knew her better in Washington, and I wish my view of her was more rounded by personal exposure... I could have done much better. I could have made a difference.”
Trillions of personal wealth and government debt reserve have been destroyed. Millions of citizens have lost homes, jobs, savings and retirements.
A “new normal,” of uncertain futures, constricted credit, retarded growth, a devalued dollar, looming inflation, and double-digit unemployment has emerged from the flotsam of the expertly sunken economy.
But Wall Street bankers, traders, and consultants are still afloat, not weighted down with an iota of public responsibility, pocketing $billions in bonuses under the philosophy that investment and banking professionals are too big and too special to fail to be lavishly, outrageously paid... in many cases with the barge full of taxpayer dollars sent by a Congress, starkly awakened to rescue them.
Those old Horsemen and their groom, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, from 1998–2001, under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers), who are not retired have been given the reins, by a promised, pro-regulator president, to the highest levels of government’s financial structure, one can only assume because of the reputed intrinsic value that is attached to one who confronts and admits his mistakes, and is hopefully less likely to repeat them and best qualified to correct their consequences.
But capitalism is on trial, guilty as hell, ruled by the dark side, where ill-restrained Greed is king and Lust is queen, her hand poised lightly over his wrist, a delicate finger tapping out the rush of his pulse. And in a Congress with short memory and twin, decade-separated awakenings that were not stark enough, the regulation that Born, in 1998, urged in vein be adopted, and that the Horsemen fought against with all they had, only to recant after the damage was done, has been stalled, assailed by the alien lobbyists of the other-world-based financial sector, still nowhere to be seen, except in contemplation, with a Swiss-cheese outlook, to be riddled with loopholes and exclusions as, for the financial elite, with their bonuses, lobbyists, and arrogance, business stubbornly remains as usual, their fingers, not voters’ ballots, tapping the pulse of Washington.
Recent economic history is sufficient, alone, to prove that naked capitalism is just as bad as naked socialism. Most of America’s historic success has been due to a successful blending of the two, capitalism’s greed tempered by socialism’s, or more properly, democracy’s restraints (regulation), a compromise which has been ever more lacking over the last decades. The banking regulation that is finally passed will signal if “change-agent” Democrats lied, instead to allow democratic rule to be subverted by politics and monied influence, as is usual on The Hill.Capitalism is like a hungry, wild dog. It should always be leashed, and the regulation of democracy is that requisite restraint. M. L. Kantzler
Still, as before, Brooksley Born’s warning, issued again, this year, echoes into the unprotected future, and hopefully, within the Halls of Congress: “We will have continuing danger from these markets and we will have repeats of the financial crisis... there will be significant financial downturns and disasters, attributed to this regulatory gap, over and over, until we learn from experience.”
If Afghan war is one of necessity, then it is thanks to failed US and UN non-proliferation policies.
The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose visit to the United States, in the last days of September, coincides with the concluding White House reevaluation of Afghan military policy, in his public address, restated that the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity, and that the NATO nations (contributing about 40 percent of forces there) are committed for the long term. If President Obama redefines the mission in Afghanistan to isolate on al Qaeda instead of nation-building to destroy the Taliban, then, instead of the additional 40,000 troops Gen. McChrystal says are needed now to prevent mission failure, which would only be a second of many installments to come, more than half the troops now there could be immediately withdrawn. But if, in the midst of rising U.S. public and congressional uncertainty about continuing the military buildup, and, despite growing, international public resistance to the Afghanistan war, over Rasmussen’s stated convictions, it is decided that the means by which stability is to be attained is through integration of vast forces into the towns and villages on a widespread, continuing basis, while also building the Afghan military and police, providing security for infrastructure projects and other development operations, and while also conducting offensive operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda elements (nation building), then there can be no conclusion other than that McChrystal’s additional troops are necessary if the multi-pronged effort is to be effective, and that, considering American unwillingness to shoulder the majority of the fighting over the long haul of a nation-building effort, additional troops will also be required from other NATO nations.
The die may already have been cast, because unless Rasmussen’s speech was delivered without Obama-administration coordination, as a NATO persuasive argument, which is unlikely, his visit and statements have all the markings of a united posture that will be endorsing an intended, if not proclaimed, U.S.-NATO position to proceed with the costly nation-building objectives. With these objectives in place, if they are somehow valid, failing to increase troop levels will only delay the date at which a determination can be made as to operational success, adjustments, and eventual withdrawal. Every day of delay increases the cost in lives, injuries, and money. It will not be possible for the United States to provide the security necessary to carry out a multi-pronged, civilian-sector effort to develop economic and infrastructure improvements, to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, and build their security resources to fully take on the anti-insurgent campaign unless troop levels are dramatically increased.
Yet, if the multi-national troops will be viewed by the majority of rural Afghans as shielding and validating a corrupt, insulated, and illegitimate central government, then no plan that is dependant upon central authority will succeed, because any central government, good or bad, represents a sea-change for a nation where the vast, non-urban regions have been under the jurisdiction of a disbursed and separatist tribal system, and where heritage and evolved leadership in the hands of elders is respected and endorsed by the people.
If there is any inclination to dismiss the strength or resiliency of the networkable tribal order in Afghanistan, be reminded that it was that system which defeated the Soviet Union’s best, most violent, years-long efforts to take control. Any form of acceptable central government must find a way to weave the far-flung tribal authorities into its fabric, while also turning those elements away from their profitable, criminal activities, through substitution of rewarding and growth-sustaining enterprises. Without an acceptable central government, the only real option is to carry out independent military offensives against targets of opportunity, and most al Qaeda targets of effective value are believed to be in Pakistan.
Assuming that keeping the Taliban’s influence in check benefits American security and can be accomplished, it is still going to require the long-term presence of U.S. troops, whether a progressive transition from a strong U.S. military presence to a competent, comprehensive Afghan-security apparatus takes place or not, and an in-check Taliban is not going to translate into an in-check al Qaeda. Defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, and any al Qaeda element is left more exposed, but not eradicated, and with its head in Pakistan and its world reach, al Qaeda elements will still operate and continue to threaten from many points around the world. Therefore, the fact is that, even if there can be success (U.S. withdrawal with secure, effective government in place) in Afghanistan, the perpetrators of 911 and possible future attacks will still remain at large.
If the post-911 purpose of removing those who were behind the attacks on U.S. soil and preventing them from striking again cannot be achieved by force in Afghanistan, as a consequence of al Qaeda’s global ties and mobility, how would the extended deployment of massive military resources there really serve to protect American interests? How would the end-purpose—the door-opener to exit—be defined? It seems that the effort against al Qaeda should be primarily offensive law enforcement and intelligence, with targeted military options employed only as necessary and as opportunity and circumstances permit for effective impact, and Vice President Biden’s recommendation is to reduce troops and focus on al Qaeda in Pakistan with special military resources and intelligence, utilizing whatever cooperation is possible with local forces. This is the right path, and it coincides with current congressional authorizations. There is no light at the end of the tunnel with a nation-building, war-against-the-Taliban approach in Afghanistan, and there is very little likelihood that those who committed and plot terror against the West will be killed or captured through such extensive, resource-crippling measures.
This common Republican and vested-interest argument, that turning away from the nation-building option in Afghanistan in favor of more directed, far less costly efforts against al Qaeda will result in Afghanistan becoming a haven again for al Qaeda, makes no sense at all; it has no validity. If the policy is to deny al Qaeda refuge, then that means they will be pursued and attacked wherever they are found, in Pakistan’s border regions, in Afghanistan, in Africa or the streets of London or New York! Adopting an effective strategy, focused on al Qaeda is not granting a license to establish safe havens and training grounds in those nations where the U.S. chooses not to nation-build.
Safe havens must be targeted, wherever they are, or else the same major mistake of Vietnam will be repeated in the prosecution of al Qaeda, where the enemy retreated, unassailed, to regroup and rearm in Cambodia and Laos. Neither Pakistan or Afghanistan can be permitted to be out-of-bounds safe havens for any kind of operation, the purpose of which is to find and destroy al Qaeda; otherwise, American lives will be needlessly lost, and the fighting needlessly extended.
Public and broadcast news interviews with unobjective officials are meaningless. Of course the Afghan ambassador to the U.S., Said Jawad, wants the nation-building option to be U.S. policy, and to be expanded. It means billions of dollars and guaranteed security to him, through his government, but, certainly, not necessarily to his people. Of course he will say it is in America’s security interest to prop up his government as the means to attack al Qaeda. It is in his personal and regime-derived interest to say that. And when he says “public opinion must be shaped” to coincide with that view, he is promoting effective propaganda for his regime, not any truth that serves America’s security interests.
Whether or not the U.S. is to take the long, hard, costly option to nation-build in Afghanistan as the means to defeating al Qaeda, the Pakistani border areas can no longer be ceded to the enemy. Pakistan must not be permitted to control or dictate the offensive operations needed to clear the Pakistani border as a safe haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban terrorists, nor can the Afghan government dictate operations there if they are not aggressively doing the job themselves. Pakistan and Afghanistan must be told, point blank, that they have only three options:
1. Carry out aggressive and effective operations on their own to clear and keep clear the border regions, and all of their territories, of the terrorists.
2. Assist the U.S. in carrying out that objective.
3. Stay out of the way.
There can be NO option that allows them to stall or shield the terrorists in their countries. Otherwise, American lives are being thrown away, again, for no good purpose.
There is only one real objective for America in Afghanistan: bring to its government sufficient stability (under any form of responsible, humanitarian government) so that no terrorist-based group can make Afghanistan become a threat to neighboring Pakistan, where stability, primarily for its coveted nuclear arsenal, spread throughout the land, is a legitimate security concern for the U.S., Europe, Russia, and the Mid-East. Yet, it still remains dubious that the objective of Pakistani security should be addressed with troops in Afghanistan.
One has to wonder, if the NATO ministers who, this week, endorsed Gen. McChrystal’s troop-hungry, counter-insurgency plan, would be so anxious to do so if their nations were required to match U.S. troop commitment and deaths, which are guaranteed to be high if the president decides to take the nation-building approach to fight al Qaeda. The European nations’ peoples will be quick and aggressive to mount prolific resistance to the effort when the dead-and-injured tolls mount, as they will, eventually leaving the U.S. carrying even more and more of the risk and consequences, which are already out of proportion. The fact is that, if McChrystal’s plan is put into effect, al Qaeda will remain outside of the center-focus of U.S. military activities in the region, in place of a multi-pronged, multi-decades occupation, another Vietnam/Iraq. And while the justification for launching another generational war are far more substantial for President Obama than they were for Kennedy/Johnson or Bush, where justifications were non-existent, that does not make it the right policy to follow. They only guaranteed aspect of it is that it will be the policy most costly and damaging to the United States’ long-term prospects for a peaceful stance in the world.
Remember what the Founders’ position was on U.S. entanglements with Europe. Europe was the international space then, and while the world today was unimaginable to them, it seems clear that they would still advise against any overseas military commitments that do not provide for immediate relief against aggression, and that they would look first to history, where for the U.S., in Afghanistan, Russia is a frightening experience set, and then they would look to other available alternatives, as is the position of the Vice President and many others of great experience, who would rely first on technology, combined with aggressive intelligence, law enforcement, and coordinated special military forces, which they know have amazing capabilities when effectively combined and coordinated with other international, allied assetscapabilities of which are greater than is publicly known. U.S. history and the troops deserve the opportunity to avoid the mistakes so often repeated by choosing the most violent path, and these alternative resources, in the front line during peace and war, properly funded, staffed, and led, deserve the first crack at the combined Islamic-radical/criminal presence in the Afghan region. Otherwise, there is no chance for this generation to avoid another label of war that will succeed Vietnam, Iraq, and the already interminable, place-holding non-effort of Bush in Afghanistan, which, at least, has served to provide a preview of what can easily become a Russian repeat mistake.
Americans should be thankful that an unjustified, wasteful war in Iraq, one that continues to reduce American security, is apparently, finally giving way to the increased focus on the more-relevant U.S. security threats in the region, and view that fight, however it evolves, as the premium that is being paid to insure the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is a prime example of why preventing and reversing nuclear proliferation is so critical, and so costly when not achieved.
The diplomatic coup of all American history would be if both India and Pakistan could be persuaded to give up their nuclear and biological arsenals in exchange for a tri-lateral, U.S. non-aggression treaty, where if either India or Pakistan attacked the other, they would face a countering U.S. military and economic response, along with reparations. This would insure the security of both nations, increase U.S. and world security, and then, the Afghanistans of the world could be left alone, as should be the American way, to make and lie in their own beds.
Instead, Iran is being allowed to slowly but surely insert itself into the dangerous equation of irreversible threat and extreme option that now causes the U.S. to stew in Afghanistan as the checksum for the Pakistani factor is debated and resolved.
Whatever the resolution, constitutionally, the determination of objectives and approval for military deployments remain the specified, first-order responsibilities of Congress, not the prerogatives of the president. But with the abortive delegation of war power between Congress and the executive that is characteristic today, the best outcome that can be hoped for is that if the president’s decision is opposed by a majority of Congress, thet either he or they will act to change it.
Without banter, corporate ideology or economic imperative, he delivered the unblemished
facts to America, from the WWII battlefields of North Africa to beyond Man on the Moon.
And that’s the way we wish it still was.
Justice not served by Madoff’s sentence.
As Bernard Madoff begins the rest of his life in prison, justice still has not been served, because the Republican-era appointees, to the Securities and Exchange Commission and other, less-impacting regulatory agencies, have yet to face any personal or professional accountability for failing in their industry-oversight obligations, from preventing Madoff-like extremes to the monthly rash of trash stocks allowed to enter into markets, losing hundreds of millions of dollars for investors.
The negligent performance of the S.E.C. under Bush appointees William Henry Donaldson (deceased) and Christopher Cox, who should have applied controls to achieve mission objectives, objectives contrary to the present-day, neo-con ideology of the Republican party, made the S.E.C. into a functional partner to Madoff in his far-reaching fraud, and to countless other fraudulent operators. Had those Madoff victims who cheered his 150-year sentence kept in mind these unaccounted, unpunished official partners, who flipped the Madoff victims’ coins on the S.E.C.’s mission and responsibility, they would be less inclined to feel satiated by Madoff’s punishment. He could not have hurt them so severely, if at all, had the S.E.C. and the Republican administrations only made a cursory effort to regulate as they were supposed to, and if the Clinton administration had not bowed to Bank lobbies and repealed critical laws. Another case of lousy Bush appointments, lobby money, and the consequent politics affecting government operation to the great detriment of the public welfare, all of it escaping any accountability.
Thanks to the likes of Republicans (above) Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Steve Chabot, and Sen. George Voinovich
Columbia astronauts’ deaths are turned into a big payday for wealthy landowners.
An Exposé report on the PBS broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal, Cash Cows and Cowboy Starter Kits exposed how well-organized agro-business lobbies have bought Congress and its agriculture-committee members with $80 million in lobbying. The result is manipulative farm subsidies that pay from tens of thousands to ten-million dollars to each of the organized, wealthy landowners who have gross incomes, separate from subsidies, of from $125,000 to several $million, living in mansions, on farm land where no crops are grown, just because their counties have been declared a disaster area for some reason, including for recovery of destroyed space-shuttle parts, despite that they, the privileged beneficiaries of America’s widening wealthy-poor economic gap, suffered no losses.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has towed the Bush corporate-wealthy line throughout his Senate career, who was elected by and is supposed to represent citizens in one of the nation’s poorest states, leads the placement and support for this kind of immoral abuse in a farm-subsidy system that pays wealthy land owners instead of helping poor farmers who really need the help. And into the current farm bill, which contains further unwarranted increases, and which is now being debated for passage, this term, with no consideration by leaders on either side for reductions in wasteful abuse, McConnell has extended his taxpayer handouts to the wealthy with his subsidized steeple chase, which will benefit the owners of race horses. The Republican government of Bush-Cheney, in concert with rubber-stamp, elected officials like McConnell, the Ohio delegation’s Republican Senator Voinovich and Republican Representative Steve Chabot, have converted the deaths of the seven Columbia astronauts into a Livestock-Compensation-Program-payment windfall of $5 million to their wealthy contributors, through their facilitation, since 2001, of more than $15 billion in abusive, unwarranted farm-subsidy payments, one-sixth of the national farm-subsidy total during that period. And there will be no chance for honest, representative government, free of greed-based, blood-sucking influence peddling until they and their ilk are thrown out office for good.
Many already consider the U.S. theirs, act as though it is. “We ARE America!” they brashly proclaim.
They protest, march, and while breaking laws, carry signs they can’t read, arguing that they are not criminals and that they are hard workers, as though that’s all that matters or all that qualifies them to be a part of the sustaining fabric of a once-great nation (Before Bush) that they don’t know, understand, or appreciate, except for the money it can provide them and their far-away families.
And when America is theirs (like Bank of America already is, aiding and abetting illegals by providing services to undocumented, which opens the door to theft-motivated fraud and other criminal/terrorist money moving), the names of those who never set foot on U.S. soil will replace those on your roads and buildings. You will become the alien, unable to speak the language in parts of what once was your city, unable to apply for jobs, increasingly requiring bilingual skills, told that it would be wise, or worse, politically correct for you to learn Spanish. Outlawed culture, like ignored zoning laws and cock fights,* will become the culture in your back yard, along with corrupted politics and all the rest of what already exists in the villages and city ghettos from where the illegals came—and remember, illegals have no sponsors to truthfully or responsibly recommend them. That piece of insurance is part of the immigration law they’re beginning their time in the U.S. by breaking.
Bush and other politicians who encourage the law breaking have this line of propaganda that says you need “comprehensive” immigration reform because you just can’t get rid of the millions that are here, when, in fact, they can be induced to leave. End the invasion and eject the illegals by coming down hard on employers and landlords—no wrist slaps, prosecute them vigorously and harshly, after due notice, with federal assistance to states and cities to work with Immigration to enforce the law. Arrest, detain, and deport those few illegals who do not leave in the face of change. Stiff fines obtained from employers and landlords, and revenues from seized-and-auctioned properties of repeat offenders will pay for apprehension, a time in detention, and then deportation of the most stubborn illegals. And a $500 fine against landlords, proposed recently by one city, won’t cut it. Many complexes give away a month to get leases signed. $500 per illegal, per month rented, would be an effective deterrent, and seizure of property, as drug dealers’ properties are seized, would be reasonable for repeat offenders—better than having to pay to jail them, and it is justified, since these landlords are using their properties to facilitate and profit from law breaking.
That’s all it takes. No armies. No $billions on fences and equipment, no “it can’t be done” comprehensive amnesty and acceptance. Just give employers and landlords notice of what they must do and then go after the U.S. law breakers with teeth bared and bite them hard. The problem of illegal immigrants will be solved, and the guest-work problem can then be addressed.
A robbery ending in murder gets all perpetrators, not just the shooter, a murder charge. Born of an illegal, still an illegal. That’s how it should be. Now, it’s sneak into America and use welfare to subsidize living and deliver a baby, and you most likely get to stay, because, how can they deport the parents and separate them from their citizen children? End it... retroactively, if within the last three years, is how.
The illegal immigrants now here, unassimilated, and the millions more like them who will come if they are allowed to remain, are gutting the nation’s culture and heritage, more important than the lost jobs, lowered wages, social-services pressure on health care and education, and increased crime. The law, promised by the Congress to be enforced 24 years ago, when millions of unassimilated law-breakers were then given amnesty and allowed to remain, should simply be enforced and never surrendered, especially not because the government purposely failed to do its job and allowed the problem to grow into the threat it has become, or because the business sector wants them to stay with only the holy dollar in their sights. Harsh fines and strict enforcement against employers and landlords will force an exodus of those here, except the financed drug dealers and Islamic radicals, who will then be easier to find and prosecute, and it will remove the incentive for those illegal, undocumented workers who still intend to come. There will be reduced gangs, crime, and drugs, and enforcement against citizen criminals will be simplified. There will be increased security against radicals of any religion or ethnic background. The Border Patrol will know that the vast majority of the greatly reduced number of border crossers will then be felonious criminals: jihadists, drug dealers or mules, or sex slavers. The market and incentive for undocumented workers will be gone, as will their traffic.
Many agencies at all levels are reported to be uneasy about the possibility of violence as, what are called, “extreme” anti-immigration groups form. When examining how illegal-immigrant enclaves have destroyed the culture and heritage of America in their locales, degraded it, reduced jobs and pay, strained education and social services, how can any response against the defiant law breakers by displaced and threatened-to-be-displaced citizens, whose voices are being ignored by their representatives, be called extreme? The failure of Congress to uphold the law, by properly over-seeing the administrations over the last two decades, and the performance on this special-interest immigration bill is what represents the extreme—an extreme failure to represent the voters and defend the nation against invasion! This, already-materializing violence is the direct fault of the federal government on two counts: 1) not enforcing the law and allowing the displacement caused by more than 12 million illegal, unassimilated immigrants, and 2) by acting contrary to the demand of the people affected, and the law, and by proposing amnesty laws instead of laws that will be effective by providing stiff, meaningful fines and enforcement against landlords and employers! Congress is provoking the public, the formation of groups, and the violence that will undoubtedly continue to grow if it does not start doing its job, see the future, and pick up the mandate of the affected citizens who elected its representatives. Then, when they’re gone, no more days of darkness and violence, already begun, will lie ahead.
No more diluted, diverted, and throttled-back education for U.S. kids. No more overcrowded healthcare waiting rooms. Reduced stress and costs for overburdened local-government services, just for starters.
No homogeneous, non-acclimated, Hispanic, national-culture transformation. No separatist, repetitive Hispanic-heritage this and that, everywhere, all the time; just like there is no Italian, Irish, Polish, German, or any other imposing ethnic program of such overt, constant, and overbearing presence, extending, now, to where Latino advocacy groups are trying to re-write history, influence insertion into media to highlight Hispanics where no other groups are emphasized. Take the current attempts by Latino activists to pressure PBS to force documentary producer Ken Burns to include their specially prepared Hispanic segments into his film on WWII, scheduled to air in September, an attempt that has already been rebuked on the basis that the upcoming documentary makes no such emphasis on any of the groups who were part of the fighting. But, with interference from Hispanic congressmen, he and PBS are under pressure to succumb to the Hispanic activists’ agenda, which seeks, by brow beating and unfounded claims of prejudice, to put itself into every aspect of life that is possible (where, as in this case, no other group is separated out) in order to gain political weight and acceptance for the illegals already in America, and to encourage policies that will allow the influx to continue, unabated. Even if the Tuskegee Airmen or the Navajo code breakers are mentioned, the African Americans were discriminated against, and both groups distinguished themselves, as an ethnic class, because of overcoming the expectations of the discrimination and traits specific to their race and culture that played a special part in operations, so, again, no mention of Hispanics would be justified, and if Mr. Burns does not separate other participating ethnic groups in his documentary on the war, there remains no justification at all for any such mention of Hispanics, and none should be forced upon him or PBS.
A NO-road-to-citizenship guest-worker program can then be established that will benefit all: the aliens who choose to apply, their countries, and the U.S., and it will return most to the documented, legal work they want, with border passage to and from.
A compassionate, responsible amnesty can be provided to those illegals who surrender and apply, and who have issues of family and cross-citizenship that should not arbitrarily be answered with deportation. And the path to citizenship still remains, within the quotas and rules of immigration law, as determined by the people through their representatives in Congress and professionals in the State Department—no need to change it, except for cutting the birthing loophole and to strengthen language, U.S. government-and-history-educational requirements, and testing oversight.
Yes, a shirt and a bag of veggies, or a building might cost a bit more, until after the illegals are gone and a manageable guest-worker program is ramped up. But post-crackdown results have shown that more citizens would get some of their jobs, and no one’s neighborhood would be blown up by the jihadists working illegally at the construction company, or food processing plant, or through the placement services, and no one’s culture or heritage would be sold out to the corporate global economy or taken away by governments refusing to act against illegal invaders who, armed with jobs and roofs and welfare, think they have the option to refuse to leave. That’s what’s at stake and those are the choices.
The fact that three of the Fort-Dix Islamic radicals (apprehended as a consequence of law enforcement and intelligence, not troops) are illegally in the U.S. (working at a roofing company) is a clear indication that there are others to be ejected if the law is enforced, and don’t look to Bush to ever do it, either. To the contrary, he will try to get illegals accepted because he has always been able to control their voting brethren, many border-region ranchers prefer cheap labor, and the look-away, deny-away industrialists and corporations profit heavily from the use of illegal workers, while their obscene wealth will always provide them with cozy insulation from the invaded middle and lower classes, leaving them both uncaring and unaffected. Anyone else who wants to make a difference, for the future of their neighborhood, their community, their country, culture, and their heritage, and perhaps their lives, must let their elected officials know about it, in no uncertain terms—now.
* Chickens and game cocks, used in the Asian- and Hispanic-popular blood sport of cock fighting, are now, overseas, transmitters of the highly mutating and deadly H5N1 (bird flu) virus to other animals, which then spreads within the newly infected species by contact, killing quickly. And, H5N1 has, also overseas, already mutated into versions transmissible, by contact, to humans, resulting in death within five days after symptoms appear. The virus needs only to make the mutation to a form of airborne transmission to threaten as a fast-moving and deadly pandemic, against which the World Health Organization and national health systems are not prepared to defend; though, with a small part of the funds wasted by Bush in Iraq, considerable preparations for prevention, quick detection, and response (to bio-terror, as well), could be accomplished, instead of the current situation, where inadequate vaccine-manufacturing facilities, stocks, and distribution will lead to violent demand, and profit windfalls for a few pharmaceuticals and in-the-know public-office shareholders, in the face of widespread public panic and death. There is, also, in America, another cultural transplant of Hispanic blood sport, where dogs are pitted against one another. This, too, is ongoing, in defiant snubbing of both American law and cultural norms.
Castro is better for America than Felipe Calderón
Bush was dead wrong, again, when he said Mexico’s business-dominated government, handed off from Vicente Fox to Felipe Calderón after a close, fraud-tainted election, is a friend to the U.S. It is not. With its corruption, allowing the drug trades to flourish and use its territory as a conduit to poison America’s citizens with its product and its violence, with Mexico’s refusal to curb the flow of illegal immigrants, who drain American resources and diminish the quality of American culture, while returning dollars to Mexico’s economy and relieving it of social-support responsibility for its illegal-immigrant citizens, Mexico is a greater threat to American security and America’s future than is Cuba!
The time is past when America should begin to tie its immigration problems and policies to its relations with Mexico. They are irrevocably intertwined, and the problem on this side of the border cannot be solved without attacking the problem on the other side. Should America cede the lands it took in the Mexican-American War for illegal-immigrant use and clamp down on enforcement only outside of those areas? America might as well return those lands to Mexico, then, because without application of political pressure to Mexico, to cause it to do its share of deterrence and enforcement, there are no realistic cures for the problem, except to surrender by allowing the millions here illegally to remain and by failing to remove the carrots and end the incursion—to surrender means an unacculturate, Hispanic nation for the future. Without taking these measures, there is no other future possible. Look to the communities in California, Arizona, Texas, and South Florida, among others, to see the changes: the failure (refusal) to integrate, the isolation, the south-border styled, corrupted local governments, streets renamed from honored local heritage to those with no ties to anything or anyone indigenous to America, and this is just where the native populations have been displaced. There is also the use of lawns for garbage, thrown out of windows—an imported practice now seen as far north as Cincinnati; the architecture of barred windows; the freedom-is-one-way intolerance of the critical, free speech of others; loud, imposing, inconsiderate community-life manners, to name only a few that are secondary to the crime, the loss of the nature and heritage of traditional communities, and the thankless drains on local resources. Even if a president could get all the funding needed to stem illegal crossings and eradicate the drug trade from Mexican and South- and Central-American sources that flow through Mexico in a unilateral attempt to end the influx, it couldn’t be done unless the U.S. also invaded and occupied Mexico. The only way to eradicate the violence and deterioration of American life that stems from the Mexican drug trade and illegal-immigrant invasion, without spending Americans’ dollars and lives, is to use all means of federal, state, and local enforcement possible, in conjunction with giving the Mexican government a strong incentive to do what it can do itself and should have been doing all along. Mexico can eliminate corruption and the drug cartels on its own, if it sees an incentive to do so, though it would, on request, continue to receive U.S. drug-enforcement assistance. Action to seal the border and impose trade and traffic prohibitions, as has been done with Cuba, will quickly provide that incentive.
The American people will not stand for, and their government should not tolerate and support a situation wherein the F.B.I. makes the outrageous statement, as it did in the third week of May, 2006, that the only way the Mexican drug violence on U.S. streets will diminish is when one of their cartels takes control! The F.B.I. is thus revealed to be as much in need of leadership as is the government. The Mexican-imported violence has now gotten so bad that kidnapping and home invasions are being carried out in Arizona cities and towns, 200 in Tucson since early 2008, and more than 700 in Phoenix since 2007! The loss of Spring-break destinations, trade, and corporate expansionism that would result from Cuba-like restrictions against Mexico during the short term that it would take for the Mexican government to finally pick up the ball and play responsibly to lift the restrictions is not the most important issue. America will survive that—it will not survive business as usual, with drugs, illegal immigration, and exporting plants and jobs as it has been over the last three decades! New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican mouthpiece for Bush, who wants to welcome the immigrant law breakers, should be aware that the solution for shrinking-workforce support of increasing social-security needs, that he alleges so concerns him, is not to bless the low-wage, unskilled, criminal-ridden, social-service- and education-draining illegal-immigrant invasion, but rather to damn the legal exportation of good jobs and plants that idles American workers and sends them overseas to compete against foreigners for U.S.-corporation-owned jobs, a relevant factor he chooses not to mention! New York, like Washington, is in dire need of more leaders and fewer politicians.
States and cities cannot rely on the federal government, under control of the Bush administration or this Congress, to do its job with border control. Both have already demonstrated their willingness to ignore the purpose of legal quotas and sell-out American culture and citizen-needed social services for a vote and a dollar. Every state and city must follow the lead of pioneering officials in Arizona and Pennsylvania jurisdictions, like Hazleton, which have passed effective laws with jail time for the illegal aliens before deportation and tough, hurtful fines and/or imprisonment for employers and landlords who harbor them. Illegal is illegal, and these cities have charged their police to enforce and trusted their prosecutors to judge intent when prosecuting those laws, and every city that is now a foothold for illegal aliens must do the same. The illegal dollars those aliens who are ignored send home are the strongest advertisement that cities without laws and enforcement are havens to be targeted for stepped-up invasion.
In large part, to facilitate the export of illegally paid U.S. dollars, Mexico operates more consulates in the U.S. than any other nation, and unlike others, who primarily are here to aid their nationals with legal problems or to promote trade and commerce, the Mexican consulates are primarily here to end-run American-immigration law, providing a form of Mexican I.D. card that the Mexican government is strongly lobbying banks, police departments, and others to accept in lieu of legal, immigration-identity papers, facilitating illegal immigration and entrenchment in America. The Bush administration, it is no surprise to learn, will not lift a finger to block the use of the cards by illegals, or the program to issue them by the Mexican government, speaking from deep beneath the profits-cured, corporate cement in which he is entombed to say, “flexible standards” must be provided in identification matters for businesses. That is like saying that flexible standards for printing of currency would not harm efforts against counterfeiting!
A 31-year-old, illegal-immigrant-construction worker, from Mexico, Ramiro Givara, best expressed the loss of American identity that illegal immigration, Bush, and the Mexican government foster when he said, of the card and the consulates, “This is so much easier for us. It is like having part of Mexico here.” And, that, is the essence of the problem for America.
Finally, it is important to look ahead to the time, in the not-to-distant future, when the inward migration that will be forced upon coastal states by climate-change precipitated, rising sea levels begins, where illegal immigrants and their offspring will be a significant factor in the high cost, extreme difficulties, and widespread violence that will accompany that coming era of change and displacement, and which, unrelated to the coming, forced migration, has already begun. For that on-the-horizon reason, and for all the reasons of current and increasing negative impact upon American culture, integration, unity, and quality of life, America should not be concerned with the self-serving objections of its neighbors, or its politicians, when it comes to protecting and insuring its sovereignty. Yes, America has a responsibility to the world community, but its first responsibility is to itself, and mark the words of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.), iterated in the Senate chambers, concurrent with the F.B.I.’s defeatist conclusion on border violence, and Sen. McCain’s (R-Az.) support of a deceptive, non-temporary Guest Worker Bill, that if America does not see to its own interests first, the interests of all free and democratic nations will eventually, along with those of American citizens, pay the toll of that negligence. In that, he is correct.
America stands at a critical crossroad of heritage and culture.
“Invade:” 1. to enter for conquest [residency, ownership, citizenship, the vote] or plunder [welfare, jobs]; 2. to intrude upon, infringe, encroach upon, violate; 3a. to spread over or into as if invading; 3b. to affect injuriously and progressively.
What do Syria and Jordan have in common with America? How about an immigration problem, where the two Mid-East countries complain about the exodus of Iraqis through their borders, and the attendant strain upon their social services and change upon the face of their cultures and social landscapes. What’s a difference separating Syria and Jordan from America? America isn’t asking for aid from other nations in dealing with its overwhelming invasion of illegal Hispanic immigrants, not even from the home nations which spawn and encourage it. It is fortunate that the Bush administration has turned the same deaf ear it has on children’s health to the Iraqi refugees, in their case, by restricting the number allowed to immigrate into the U.S., because another post-war-debacle influx of a foreign population is the last thing America needs, especially in this instance, when the immediate domestic invasion has yet to be confronted, and where, to compound America’s immigration woes, it would never be possible to identify or know the number of al Qaeda sleeper-cell members admitted by any such large admission of another separatist culture as the Muslim Iraqis. Just look to the problems now plaguing England, France, and the Netherlands if you doubt the pitfalls.
But the Bush administration, in a reverse-psychology effort to ratchet-up Hispanic immigrant-group pressure on Congress and the states, has begun to take some immigration and enforcement measures, including a cut-off of state-matching funds for medical services that do not meet the strict definition of “emergency services,” a move that is drawing the anticipated response from not only the immigrant-support groups, but also from some states already entrenched by large numbers of the invaders, up to 500,000 or more, that are increasingly bending over to provide the services that unfailingly draw more illegals into the U.S. Since free health services, especially pediatric, are a primary magnet for illegal immigrants, it is proper to deny funding for them, especially since growing their population into a majority is a primary objective of the illegals’ “invasion” plans, and it is working. Without a change in immigration policy, to include removing the illegal-birth citizenship loophole, and enforcement to reverse the trend of influx, it is destined to transform all of America into an Hispanic nation.
Most articles on immigration costs and problems, and most speeches made by legislators on the senate and house floors, fail completely to address the Mexican government, whose illegals are the vast majority, and which is openly supporting the invasion through its foreign and domestic policies, and with numerous consulates spread throughout America, relieving themselves of social responsibility for millions of their citizens. What would happen if the states and federal government billed Mexico and other nations for reimbursement of medical costs and other social costs for their citizens here illegally? Why isn’t this on the trade-talks tables? Why is Mexico not being told to close their multi-state, invasion-post consulates, except in Washington and, acceding to the invasion’s effects, one other, only, in Arizona, which would be more central to their population centers in California and Texas? Though, even this is a reluctant concession, since those populations should be eliminated by deportations enforcing the law and a self-determined departure imposed by the removal of access to jobs and services. Why isn’t anyone else asking or even trying to make Mexico and other nations accountable, let alone prevent them from assisting the invasion?
A growing trend in the nation, another “Hispanic Heritage” week, is nearly upon the Queen City, where, according to the promotions being run on Cincinnati Local 12 television, native, resident citizens are invited to take the initiative to “bridge the divide” Hispanics create when they immigrate illegally and do not try to assimilate. Local 12 also encourages the invasion by maintaining a Spanish web site that not only serves the non-English-speaking Hispanics, but also reaches south, across the border into internet cafes to, in effect, say, “Look, here, even if you don’t speak English or belong here, Cincinnati will bend over backwards to make it easier for you to be welcome here, regardless, so come ahead, legally or otherwise. Our schools, clinics and hospitals, welfare offices (and jails) are waiting for more of you, and our look-the-other-way employers appreciate that you do not require a living wage and will gladly defer employing our citizens to get you. And you’ll really appreciate that our emergency services now require some employees be bilingual, so you won’t even need an incentive to speak our language to call 911. Please, make your language our language.”
There are those who believe the invasion has already gone too far, that a Hispanic, dual-language, dual-culture, bi-polar America is inevitable. Hillary Clinton says, “It wouldn’t be such a bad thing,” adding that it would be good for Americans to speak two languages, which indicates how fine a grip she has on the problems of households, she says she supports, making ends meet with multiple jobs, tight budgets, and all the time in the world to learn another language while competing for immigrant-displaced jobs and pushed-down wages. If she is president, it seems the takeover would be inevitable, but otherwise, and with active public involvement, even with her in the Oval Office, this would not be the case, not if the same resolve to enforce the law, deport, and curtail services is employed as the apathy which prevailed to allow the Reagan and Bush Republican governments, and the Clinton administration, to ignore the border, the law, and encourage the invasion. To be truly comprehensive, meaningful, effective, and acceptable, the next immigration bill must address many shortcomings. Removing the social-benefits magnets combined with enforcement will alone quickly turn the tide. It only takes the active resolve of citizens upon their local and federal elected officials (and TV stations) to begin, as was done with the initial, tentative step of defeating the amnesty bill presented by the 110th session of Congress.
Studies have shown that the cost of finding and deporting the illegal populations that do not leave on their own will be less than the medical, welfare, social-services, and law-enforcement costs of their growing presence, costs that fall upon the cities, counties, states, and the federal government. It all comes from the pockets of citizens, and without enforcement, the costs citizens pay to surrender their country only increases. The immigrant lobby used fear to forecast farm disaster if the law is enforced; yet, it has already been seen, since the amnesty bill failed and a partial, weak enforcement effort ensued, that enterprising farmers have successfully moved their seeds to fields south of the border, where they report a workable situation, with none of the labor problems that confront them here. A simple choice, when the other side of the coin is a nation lost to illegal invaders. Until a guest-worker program is created, one without a path to citizenship, that is tied to the jobless rate so as not to impose upon the citizen workforce for the sake of corporate interests for cheap labor, the export of farming is only a cost of preserving the face of the nation, and it is not too great a cost to pay. The next immigration-reform bill must have limits on guest workers and green-card imports that reflect the income standards for American workers, not a corporate-interest-group-defined system that grants a boon to industry, and to aliens and their nations, at the expense of citizen workers and their families.
Citizenship requirements must be tightened. The current citizenship test is a joke, the lines of which are simply committed to flash cards and learned by rote, without providing any real insight into America’s history, the forces that caused the Founders to frame the Constitution as they did, or each citizen’s place in preserving the rule of law and the freedom provided them under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Now, citizenship requirements are only another factor eroding the foundations of rights and freedom. Simply put, the educational-citizenship program, and the test, must be such that the applicant demonstrates the same knowledge and appreciation of American history and civics as any C-student graduate from a public highschool. Any less standard makes for a criteria that is of less value at the polls, diluting and diminishing the American character. Popular sovereignty was still a radical idea in the mid-to-late-eighteenth-century world, and the Founders designed the new American government with built-in protections against the ignorance of the masses their Constitution made sovereign, and as the quality of education has grown and spread throughout America over the centuries, those protections have been altered and removed, leaving the nation vulnerable to any influx of immigrants that is not properly schooled to meet the current standards. That is why any amnesty for illegal immigrants which would provide a path to citizenship, under the current, slack, citizenship standards, requirements, and testing, is an unqualified disaster in the making for the future. It is also why oversight of the education and testing program must be tightened, to prevent the corruption that has resulted in instances where immigrant populations have grown sufficiently to take power, resulting in local, Hispanic officials and government employees, acting as sympathetic activists, allowing many of their immigrants to be granted citizenship despite that they could not even speak English, beyond a few memorized phrases, let alone having any learned appreciation for the history and responsibility that stands behind citizenship and the vote. For them, the vote is little more than a tool of self-service in the hands of their political bosses, a mimicry of the corrupted governments of Central and South America. George Bush would not have been elected without the Hispanic voting blocks in Florida that contain many of these kinds of voters, to whom he and his brother in Florida pandered, along with many Democrats who also pander them and are too eager to spill the national heritage for what they perceive as either easy or possibly-lost votes.
Citizenship is not a right, and no illegal should be put on any path to citizenship and the vote. The acclimated, heritage-enriched quality of the electorate must be preserved and enhanced, not diluted and degraded. The quality of the vote determines the quality of government and the future of the nation. I do not wish to see the curve of the American electorate bent any further toward the third-world standards, which is what happens when citizenship is granted based on amnesties and ridiculous, meaningless tests. If illegals must stay, they need not be permitted to influence the course of local, state, and federal governments with a vote they neither earned nor deserve.
Laws against employers must be stiffened and enforced in active cooperation with states and municipalities, and those laws must be extended to landlords.
Financial programs by corporations, like Bank of America and Wal Mart, designed to service illegals must be halted.
There must be political and trade consequences for Mexico and other nations which do not do enough to control their borders and their imported crime. Mexico must be made to remove its network of invasion-post consulates.
Finally, America must share the burden left by the failure of a string of Republicans in the White House, and the Congress, to enforce and provide properly effective and protective immigration law. Because of their failure, and the apathy of citizens, it is now morally necessary to provide resident amnesty, but never citizenship, to the immediate parents and guardians (NOT whole families) of the citizen-children born of illegals. But any viable immigration reform must do away with the birthing loophole, which is not only a powerful magnet for illegals, but is also a self-defeating factor for enforcement, as well as a means of garnering political power to eventually breach immigration policies and dominate the government, which will result, starting in the communities, with travesties like the retraction of laws against practices like animal blood sports, and the creation of a whole category of public-funds-exploitative, Hispanic-preservation and -recognition laws and programs. That has been the history elsewhere where native populations have been displaced.
The future for America’s melting pot has two faces: one, based in responsible, enforced immigration law, that preserves American ideals, culture, and heritage as it has for four generations of American citizens still alive today, until the mid 1980’s; or, there is the face of the Hispanic invasion, promoted by foreign governments, irresponsible and unenforced immigration law, and local apathy, that is already changing the life of the nation and draining its resources, from schools to health care, at the expense of every citizen’s future, ranging from the burden of higher taxes for fewer-citizen/more-immigrant services, to the quality of education for citizen children being reduced to meet the educational and language deficits, and the sheer numbers of the unacclimated illegal immigrants crowding their classrooms. Hispanic-immigrant activists, interest groups, and their supporters, including Bush, label the former as “protectionism,” and it is, and there is no wrong in it, because the American way of life being lost is worth reclaiming and protecting. The label for the latter option is “surrender,” of the heritage and future of what has been labeled by presidents as “the greatest nation on Earth.”
Today, that phrase, “the greatest nation...” can only refer to either the past, or to the current level of America’s capacity to spend and destroy, characterized by thought surrendered to Madison-Avenue persuasion, leading to borrowed, gluttonous consumption and instant gratification, prioritized short-term investment and attention spans, quick-money bottom lines, celebrity- and entertainment-driven higher interests, all eclipsing greater values. And most damning: a pattern of Republican policies that place the goals of corporatism and industry above all else, fronting an American government that subsidizes the lavishly wealthy with tax cuts and symbolic contributions to Social Security, while its president turns his back on—no, worse, raises a wall in answer to the health needs of children because, while spending $200 billion in Iraq (2008 appropriation), $88 billion wasted on fraud and corruption, he says he doesn’t want to subsidize the middle class, revealing a government without a heart that starts illicit wars and shreds democracy in its own name to impose colonial occupations upon other nations and its own citizens to meet its special-interest objectives, and a growing, unregulated, mass influx of self-interested, non-acclimating, isolationist Hispanics who, determined to stake their claims and change America beyond recognition or reclamation, could care less about the twisted direction in which America is plummeting.
Which face for the future? It seems to be an easy choice to make. And it is a choice that only requires an eye on your politicians and a pointed letter or phone call, tied to a voting memory, when they begin to stray away from the interests of the citizens and the nation toward those of the invaders and the interest groups.
The following response to the position on Mexico was received, reply following:
"Hi, I am writing a paper on popular sovereignty and I was looking at your website. I was agreeing to everything you were saying until I got to the Mexico part. I am Mexican but I go to college in Florida. I think its ridiculous that you say that Calderon is a bigger threat than Castro, that shows how you dont know anything about Mexico. That was one of the dumbest things Ive ever heard in my life. You should do some research before doing a website!" — Fernando R.The writer stopped reading, where the charge was justified by specifying Mexico’s refusal to enforce its borders, provide a viable economic environment for its poor, and to stop the drug trade that both originates in Mexico and passes through it, all of which makes its leaders more dangerous than Castro, and makes it a nation doing more harm to America than Cuba, which has done nothing to poison America’s streets since the wave of invasions begun in the mid-1960’s.
Right click on the highlighted link in this sentence and choose the "save link as (or target as)" menu option to download a virus-free, single-page, MS-Word-formatted immigration flyer you can mail, e-mail, and/or print and distribute in your neighborhood grocery, malls, post offices, and government centers.
The answer to southwest and western states providing college-educational assistance to mostly Mexican illegal immigrants, or for any state, or to any nationality, especially if they are exceptional academicians, is to send them back to Mexico, or to whatever nation they belong, because their countries and the futures of their countries need them more than America, which cannot afford them and has more demand from citizen students than can be addressed. The only acceptable solution, other than deportation, is for their countries to pay for their educations, where enrollments are available without denying citizen applicants, on the assurance that after graduating in America the students will return to their countries to work and help them become better places for all of their citizens. These outstanding illegal-immigrant students are leaders who can help improve conditions in their countries, reducing the trend to immigrate illegally, but who, if they remain, only diminish opportunity for American students and graduates, and it is both as wrong and as much a disservice to both America and their home nations for American states to fund them or to allow employers to exploit their post-education talents as it is to diminish citizen-student opportunity to educate them in competition against citizens in a climate of increasing cost and diminishing college-application acceptances.
Burma’s military “government” is committing nature-assisted genocide on its country’s people. The military generals of that abusive regime sit in isolated splendor and refuse post-typhoon aid at what will be the cost of thousands of additional lost lives, contorting a natural disaster into a man-made affront to humanity. No ruling structure such as theirs should be permitted to exist anywhere in the world.
If Bush had stopped, in Iraq, at the removal of Saddam, instead of pursuing his special-interest, nation-building agenda, a simple warning to the Burmese ruling criminals would likely have been sufficient to force an alteration of their pattern of greed and corrupted power toward their people. Bush and Cheney, in throwing out the “might for right” mantle that was in America’s grasp after 9/11, by their abuse of power in Iraq, are also responsible for the lives lost at the hand of the Burmese junta, which they otherwise may have stayed. The isolated Burmese regime’s compound should be invaded, the rulers who are not killed should be extradited for trial by the World Court to answer for the dead they have caused, and a more humanely-oriented military officer, with approval of the remaining echelon of the military command, should be designated to lead the country, with notice that if the relationship of the government to its people and the world remains unchanged, that the new leadership will also be removed. And so would end another abomination in the life of the world.
Last year’s arrest of three radical-Islamic terrorists by German authorities, stacked on top of previous, recent, European interdictions into the criminal activities of radical-Islamic groups, again demonstrates that the domestic war against this radical movement is effectively waged with cooperative, international intelligence and law enforcement, not armies, which are only effective to remove supporting regimes and to pursue and confront massed, organized forces. So, when Bush or any Republican candidate lies that the Bush occupation of Iraq (which was, actually, always intended to create a corporate-safe, exploitable investment and operating environment) keeps America safe, don’t you believe it!
Nuclear defense moves played out on an invisible board.
George Bush’s “good friend,” Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has rolled back democratic reforms and now heads a police state that Bush and Cheney, no doubt, envy. But politics aside, Putin has a point in objecting to the Bush plan to set up a missile-defense system in Europe. Why should he believe Bush, that the system would only be designed to protect Europe and America from North Korean and Iranian missiles, when Bush has already said, again and again, that outlaw regimes like those, and those specifically, would not be permitted to develop nuclear-weapons capability? What does proposing a missile-defense system say to Putin, and more importantly, to Kim Jong-il, and to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, about the true resolve of America to block their nuclear ambitions?
The point is that a missile-defense system is not going to protect America from a nuclear attack if these regimes are permitted to create arsenals, because they won’t need missiles to have the weapons delivered. The only way to insure the safety of the West, and Russia, is to insure that such arsenals are not permitted to be created, and so far, Bush has again donned the Shakespearian coat of much sound and no substance. These regimes have demonstrated both of the essential ingredients to succeed: intent and the wherewithal. And, unlike presidential candidate, Sen. Joseph Biden, who thinks there is a five-to-ten-year lead, and who apparently would rather put the problem off until it is ever more dangerous to confront, the truth is that the threat is already upon America in North Korea, and no one in the West knows how long there really is before Iran follows suit, or until unstable Pakistan collapses into radical-Islamic hands, with its nuclear arsenal. It is only obvious that the time has long passed to get serious about confronting the threats instead of wasting lives and resources playing renegade-capitalist monopoly games in the Middle East. Putin also encourages Bush’s two-tongued moves by not joining with the U.S. in taking all possible measures to bring the Iranian weapons program to a peaceful end. Neither of the politicians seems to appreciate the real threats, and neither has any credibility upon which to launch their verbal offenses and defenses.
And the inept, inert Congress, within only weeks, had to blunder into the same mindless mistake. From a body supposedly concerned with the messages it sends, what kind of unthinking, surrendering message did the U.S. Senate send to Iran on July 12, 2007, when it passed the Sessions (R-AL) Amendment to the Defense Programs bill? The amendment, to which an overwhelming majority of mindless senators blundered to support, makes it the policy of the United States to develop defenses against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Like with Bush’s European-missile-defense shield, why mandate a defense policy when the stated policy, the only policy that insures national security, is already in place (or was): that Iran, flatly, will not be permitted to obtain a nuclear arsenal? If that is true, no defense plans are needed, only diplomatic and offensive ones. Both Bush’s European-missile-defense plan (combined with Putin’s Euro-Russian-defense plan) and the Senate’s nuclear-defense-policy amendment send mixed signals to Iran, that America (and Putin) has no intention of preventing that radical regime from threatening its neighbors and the world with mass destruction, that instead, America (and Russia) will spend to create a defense shield to defend against the threat when it materializes, which they really cannot do.
The only defense against Iran’s nuclear intentions is to prevent them from being realized... period. Once the sword-rattling regime in Tehran is allowed to acquire the bombs, there will be no assurance of preventing their use, not treaties, not “any attack against whomever will be considered an attack against America” threats, nothing. The behavior of Bush, Putin, and the U.S. Senate makes it even more clear that Iran will not be presented with sufficient posture to peacefully deter it from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that eventually, force will be required to assure the security of the region and the West. And force is more than justified to achieve that objective, so long as the military is not tasked to remain for nation-building after the weapons, labs, and the regime that created them are gone. This would not be like Iraq, where an illegal invasion was planned and deceptively executed to achieve the profit-driven, commercial goals of a Bush administration that is puppet to a corporate-industrial special-interest group. But if there is ever going to be any chance for a peaceful stand-down by Iran, these messages, that they will be allowed to succeed, must be retracted, forever ended, and replaced with a non-blinking, non-moving, non-negotiable line in the sand, bluntly and repeatedly described.
Under the present circumstances and administration, it cannot be said often enough that the Constitution empowers the Congress, not the president, to say where, when, and against whom wars will be waged, and the withdrawal of forces in Iraq, from the cities (and the business of colonial nation building) to isolated, highly defensible, Iranian- and Syrian-border-staging areas, will not only insure Iraq’s (whatever government they end up with) borders, which, after the Bush-Cheney defecation there, are America’s responsibility to preserve, the areas will serve as intelligence and special-operations bases for whatever anti-al Qaeda opportunities may be presented, and they will derive a great usefulness from the administration’s criminal misadventure in Iraq, and its resultant deaths, by reinforcing America’s willingness and preparedness to cross the border into Iran, take out the weapons and the regime if, eventually, that regime so insists. Republican Senator Jim Bunning (KY) said that, “If America loses [in Iraq] chaos will rule the day and spread throughout the middle east.” Chaos already rules the day, is already spreading throughout the Middle East, and a withdrawal to a multi-pronged border operation will turn a mindlessly initiated, six-year, 4,520-death loss into a win. This is, after all, the only operation that can be mounted from Iraq that supports national security by solidly backing the necessary no-nukes policy for Iran, and pressure it to peacefully halt nuclear development. It is the only step in Iraq, even more so than a complete withdrawal, that is in the national interest, Lebanon’s interest, and the Mid East’s, not to mention, via Iranian-provided, al Qaeda-delivered devices, Europe’s and Russia’s interests. It is the only measure that can be taken in Iraq to turn an administration-concocted disaster into a security-preserving posture of national and free-world necessity, and the sooner the better.
Popular sovereignty (also correctly spelled sovranty) is the birth child of the Declaration of Independence. It means that government power and authority is vested in and derived from the People, and that government acts according to the will of the People. Popular sovereignty is one of the three pillars of democracy, along with political liberty and political equality, all of which the Founders embodied within the Declaration of Independence and the protections and guarantees written into the amendments and articles of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Popular sovereignty is also one of the six principles forming the foundation of the Constitution, including separation of powers (three branches, each with discrete, expressed or enumerated constitutional powers), checks and balances (actions of one branch depend upon consensus or subject to review of another), judicial review (actions of legislative and executive branches subject to challenge for constitutional compliance), and the concepts of federalism and limited government.
This site aggressively confronts challenges to the rights and liberties of The People and to the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution, being dedicated to their preservation and the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Of particular concern is the threat to political equality posed by campaign contributions bribes to legislators, where wealthy entities remove equality from the election process and create an industry around elections that consolidates their power, reduces the field of candidates, and steals much time from elected officials who are forced to serve that system and are rewarded by it. The goal is to end all contributions, fund all federal elections with treasury funds that are distributed according to a prescribed system that is not controlled by the political parties, thereby returning elected officials to The People and the eroded component of political equality to America’s democracy.
The second, major concern is the abuse of military power by the executive, through initiatives that are not enumerated powers of the Constitution to that branch, and the abuse by Congress, through its failure to guard and use the war powers enumerated to it by the Constitution. This silent ceding of power by Congress has resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives lost, American and foreign, which never should have been put in harm’s way, because the perceptions of threats to national security could have been confronted with other means, or those perceptions were either manufactured or just dead wrong.
Popularsovranty.org was founded in May, 2004, as a means of responding to the Iraq occupation and the growing, outrageous actions of the Bush administration and the extremist-controlled Republican party. Six years and a month later, it was finally necessary to initiate a secure means to request and accept contributions, through PayPal. In all that time, popularsovranty.org has neither requested nor received a cent of financing; yet, the destruction of American democracy, through the influence of money, has accelerated, demanding greater time and effort where there is little facility to provide more of either.
Part of the reason for the long time-span of self-sustained operations was that there was no pressing need for outside funding. But another is that once public contributions are accepted, it’s really the same as with an elected official who accepts campaign contributions: there is an obligation on performance that is imposed. That’s bad for elected officials who are pressured to serve contributors’ interests over voters’, but for non-profit entities, the weight of obligation is a good thing, because non-profits exist to serve the interests who pay them, since they are not elected, and there is an expectation of continued quality and output that comes with the contribution, one that it would be wrong not to meet. Consequently, the decision to accept your contributions places a weight of obligation that is separate and in addition to the self-sustained initiative that has propelled popularsovranty.org over the years. And aside from the developing of a real need for outside funding in order to continue, a decision to accept the weight and expectation of that obligation had to be accepted before and conditional to any decision to solicit and accept contributions. Sufficient contributions will make it possible to continue and to do more—will buy more time and the means to do the work that needs to be done to help in halting the death-spiral that will otherwise quash the voice of the electorate.
There are signs that the spiral has slowed, but only as a consequence of the irreparable damage that has been done by allowing the deregulated, trickle-down philosophy of conservative-Republican extremism run rampant through every quarter of American government:
The balance of responsible, democratic oversight and restriction had given way to irresponsible, even criminal negligence, as that which contributed to the recession and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil eruption in the Gulf.From the individual wallet and prospects, except for the very wealthy, to the national economy and posterity, the future is darkly unassured, and that darkening uncertainty is largely due to the wall that has separated the will of the people, and the nation’s historical guidelines, from the actions of those who govern and their lack of vision to read the past, see the enemy, and draft a future that those boundaries dictate. Any source that rails against that obdurate insanity is both necessary and welcome.
Republicans during the Reagan and Bush terms have loaded the Supreme Court with activist, conservative extremists whose rulings will cause America’s voices to be drowned in a bribing sea of corporate, election-campaign money.
The Constitution that the Bush administration trashed remains a ceremonial document as every administration toys with abuses, ranging from military adventures to voiding congressional law-making power through signing statements and line-item vetoes.
In response, it seems that financial-regulation reform will actually be weighted in favor of the people, not the bankers, with a strong consumer-protection apparatus; yet, the shadowy derivatives that created the downfall are likely to remain largely unregulated and opaque, while “too big to fail” has become an anthesis of reform objective, where consolidations have created fewer and larger banks, increasing the danger for the future.
Health-care reform has changed the direction of the most severe abuses hammered upon the people by the insurance and provider industries, but still leaves those industries in charge of determining market costs for the most vital service sector in the nation, which directly affects the well-being of every citizen, where doctors, not corporate managers and CEOs, should be the most highly paid players; instead, the already obscene, top-floor, board-room profits and bottom line remain the overriding priorities, leaving another big step yet to be taken.
Illegal immigration is changing the face of America, as well as the names of its streets and its language, and the Obama administration is only prepared to open the door, not only to legal residency, but also to citizenship and the vote, under terms that will only create a self-serving, uninformed and unacclimated electorate, which will only repeat the ugly, Bush phenomenon in future elections, where that kind of vote was pandered to make decisions that put the wrong candidates into office. While it may be necessary to make accommodation for many of those who are illegally present, particularly where family ties are involved, there is no necessity or obligation to create a path to citizenship and the vote, and no person who comes to America illegally has any right to expect it, ever, much less demand it. Ensuring that voters are educated and acclimated (a term with compounded requirements) requires a process far more comprehensive and thought-out than that which is now used to multiple-choice and flash-card-pass immigrants into the voting booth, where they can then permanently affect America’s social and political future. Only those who are properly educated and acclimated should have the door to that privilege open to them, not those who ignore the laws and then rely on the mass of their numbers to force that it be granted to them. The president and Democrats in Congress seem determined to do just that, no matter the outcry. Take the response to Arizona’s public-willed act of desperation at the government’s unwillingness to enforce the law and end the violence and fear that prevails there—President Obama’s unwillingness to live up to his oath of office to enforce that law, not only to bring integrity to the border, but to apprehend those who violate it and facilitate the violation.
Unfortunately, the military situation, aside from veterans’ affairs, has not improved and is set to deteriorate further, in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the Obama administration admits early on, after committing to the Afghan surge, that it will be much more difficult and costly to achieve mission goals than they initially thought, goals which are really not achievable within any scope of reasonable cost or national-security necessity. How many more years and deaths will it take before some administration is finally forced into what will then only be able to be called a retreat, if not defeat? And when it happens, it will be for unnecessary and unrealistic objectives, leaving the harm that is feared, and that, with this policy, will come to emerge from other quarters.
Please contribute, today, to the effort to make a better future and a better, more people-representative America.
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The Pocket Constitution of the United States
Donations of $15 or more will receive this 52-page Pocket Edition (front and back covers shown) of the original Constitution of the United States (with Index), and Declaration of Independence, that is, if a mailing address is provided providing an address when contributing was made optional within the payment process in order to preserve privacy and give the donor that option. A mailing address may be added in comments or e-mailed separately from the payment.
The text of this pocket edition (from the U.S. Bicentennial Commission Edition) was proofed word for word against the original Constitution, housed in the Archives in Washington, D.C., identical, down to the period spelling, capitalization and punctuation. This special edition is sized in accordance with one produced by President Thomas Jefferson (6.3 x 3.1 x 0.4 in.) and includes notable quotes from our nation’s Founders:
“The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.”Well, the technology for the manipulation of wealth, resource, and information has changed the world, making it a more dangerous place for the democracy Washington and the rest of the Founders endowed to the nation, and it proves the unfortunate wisdom, in this case, of the parable, “never say never, or always.”
— George Washington.
Except in this case, where your donations will always be appreciated and will help to make Washington’s words true again.
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