Why the big whoop about war ? Lots of people I talk to say “What wars ?”
Central to matters related to these ‘wars’ is that they have not been declared by Congress and the strong feeling that they should not be run by a President who can do unchecked what he feels is needed. Wars require specific authority and funding by Congress. The discussion of those factors in Congress is a restraint on foreign adventures and is the way to resolve arguments as to whether the war in question is necessary or being waged for other reasons (eg. to obtain resources such as oil or rare earth substances). In those discussions we determine if the actions are making us safer and whether or not we can afford them. We are spending immense amounts in Afghanistan and producing more enemies than progress while piling up the debt and not taxing those making profits off the wars enough to pay for them.
As James Madison advised, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare…the separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.”
I’ve been told that universal healthcare in America is just ‘pie in the sky’ and can’t be done. Is that true or can the government cover everybody ?
Those opposed to publically funded healthcare like to say that it is unaffordable. They never answer the challenge as to why the US pays 7% or 8% more of the national income than other advanced industrial nations and leaves millions uninsured. Covering everybody in one sytem is the most effective way. Voluntary high ends plans should still be available and the veteran’s Hospital and care system needs to be maintained and improved as that is a contract with those who bore the brunt of battle and the system has long time experience in meeting the unique needs of veterans.
Our inability to guarantee the vote for every citizen in every election has become the Achilles’ heal of our election system. The unfortunate decision in Shelby County vs. Holder (2013), that gutted the Voting Rights Act by throwing out Sections 4b and 5, thereby eliminating preclearance for states that would benefit from greater federal oversight, has allowed some states to restrict access to the polls in what is the equivalent of a poll tax, namely a special photo ID. The Congress needs to make sure every state meets its obligations to protect the voters’ right to cast a ballot and then to insure that the vote is accurately counted and hard copy results secured for possible recount.
The Equal Right’s Amendment, first proposed in the 1920’s to back up the newly written right of women to vote needs to be part of the Constitution to end specious challenges to the equality of women and men under law. The original Alice Paul language is plain and simple:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. The Amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
The importance of doing this was proclaimed by Alice Paul in a famous speech in 1923:
“We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government.” The only change in the language that’s been around for nearly 100 years now is that I’d recommend having it take effect immediately upon ratification. It’s time to move on to enforcement by appropriate legislation.
Education has suffered in many areas of the country from reduced funding and diversion of public tax revenues to charter schools, which not only drain money but cause valuable family involvement to be diverted from participation in local public education. In addition, the inability to advance curriculum appropriate to society’s current needs means that students frequently do not get the course work needed to become productive workers and engaged citizens. We need to add grades 13 & 14, or community college and/or job training for all of our children. The country must make sure that everybody can read and function in society. This requires adequate funding for all Title 1 special needs individuals and means that reading recovery should be part of criminal rehabilitation. Outliers should be included in our planning for educational services. And money for school facilities, staffing of teaching and research corps, and subsidies for advanced studies (including four-year university education) have to become as routine considerations in the development of the national budget as they were in the post WWII years when the space program and computer technologies led the country to new levels of success in many other areas through spin-off industrial development. Those investments in the space race and National Defense Student Loans showed a much better return than the money that was poured into Afghanistan & Iraq.
The short shift that mention of the environment gets in my campaign statement is a function of the fact of the 250 word requirement, not the importance of the issues. Many fine books point to this fact, and, as contentious as the debate over climate change has become, most scientists and ordinary people accept that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is a fact contributing to severe weather events, radical oscillation of long established patterns, deterioration of air and water quality, and a genuine threat to political and economic stability and human survival. A planet Earth with over 7 billion people does not support a standard of living that most of us think is a prerequisite for human dignity unless we manage the world economies and our political affairs along different lines than those of the old order. Frankly speaking, Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke are dinosaur types whose fossils I do not expect will make it into the collections of any future museums, should there be museums in the future. It is implausible to imagine that over 200 years of industrial revolution and a seven-fold increase in homo sapiens numbers that human impacts are not the most significant variables in our changing ecology. Now that CO2 has reached more than 400 ppm, and is rapidly advancing, we can expect the metrics for sea level rise to be much more pronounced earlier than expected and must plan accordingly.
Has the case of debt really changed that much in recent times ?
As regards the debt overall, it is accelerating rapidly with annual deficits back now at over $1 Trillion per year. The first trillion in total debt was reached in Reagan’s presidency, the third trillion less than a decade later under G.W.Bush, and the last trillion, raising the total above $20 Trillion was added in just over six months. Obligations on those amounts in interest beyond the sums themselves impede discretionary spending in much needed areas.
Gandhi’s famous injunction to his followers that they must ‘live more simply so that others may simply live’ gets at the heart of our predicament. If most of the increase in wealth goes to those at the top, and most increases in productivity are reduced through economic externalities, that is, costs that do not get factored into production and so are transferred unto the commons or into the future, we can never solve the core problem of poverty. Thinking that economic growth can solve wealth imbalance is a fool’s errand. What is needed is proper stewardship, progressive taxation, and a social safety net that reflects our higher moral aspirations. Part of that is getting people off the streets so as to give them a chance at basic human dignity and minimize the costs to society. Homelessness, especially with substance abuse or a mental disorder, is a public health and social stability problem that deserves our highest attention. It would be a shame to fail as a society because we did not plan a social system that had a place for everybody. Hubert Humphrey regularly made the point that a society is judged by how well it treats its youngest and its oldest and its most vulnerable; it would be a sad commentary that America today has become as rich and as powerful as we now are and failed to measure up to that most basic challenge.
Included in this link is a graph giving a breakdown of winners in the recent Raid on the Treasury, which was billed as ‘Tax Reform” by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Note that most in Congress do quite well with their $175,000 salaries and that their richest corporate donors benefit the most. Foregoing taxing the deep pockets creates tax expenditures as they become costs. Revenues uncollected are an expense, especially when, as the Congressional Budget Office has pointed out, they create a shortfall of over $1.5 Trillion dollars. Those who receive the biggest breaks are happy to make election investments to members of Congress in order to get billions in return for campaign contributions of millions. This is not considered a quid pro quo (this for that) exchange but merely business as usual in the Best Government That Money Can Buy.
For many of us who came of age in the Movement days of the 1960’s, when Civil Rights direct action for equality for the then so-called Negro merged with anti-war activism into a national confrontation over the entire premise of what our country stood for, this year of 2018, the 50th anniversary of the murders of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is a troubling memory and a prompt for renewed action. Those battles once fought in the streets, in the legislatures, in our parents’ homes and every other manner of venue, need to be reactivated in public meetings and polling places all over the nation over the next few years for our political system and world to survive. Nobody can do this for us; we remain the ones who will need to carry the day, to elect responsible, courageous and intelligent government that will address our most pressing problems. As in those earlier days of awakening, the time of King and Kennedy, there are young people and elders ready to put real effort into ending the wars and bringing the troops home so that that money and energy can be used for dignity and justice and to rebuild the country and to restore hope for the future and confidence in our course of action. We cannot have adequate health care and housing and education and clean air and water while continuing with endless military adventures all over the globe. Your vote, attention and involvement in 2018 and 2020 is the critical factor for success. Generations of Americans fought for the right to vote. It is now time to use that power as never before to elect representatives who are, to use Shirley Chisholm’s great phrase, “unbought and unbossed”. The triple curse that King decried – of war, racism and poverty — will not go away of its own accord. To paraphrase Gandhi: We are the change we wish to see in the world.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any “associated forces”. The authorization granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.
This measure allows us to continue to engage in warfare wherever and whenever without further examination or justification. This measure needs to be revoked.
Please read this longer critique about the dangers from war powers abuse by Major Danny Sjursen, a frequent contributor to Tomdispatch.com.
My long time dissatisfaction with the existing two-big-party arrangement has lead me to conclude that at the present time, as they are configured, the Democrats and the Republicans are more narrowly representative of special interests, such as big banks, large corporations, and the military industrial giants than they are of average American citizens. They hog the road of political discourse and don’t let new ideas pass. They have not evolved at the speed of American society and cannot be relied on to promote necessary changes. They ask for power for the few while not defending the needs of the many. Apparently, here in California, at least one-third of the voters agree with some version of this thinking and abjure from affiliating with them. And they play the big money and media game that has driven many new and innovative voices out of politics. They are a big part of insuring incumbent re-election and in maintaining the Electoral College, a distinctly undemocratic anachronism left from deals made with aristocrats and slave holders at the Constitutional Convention in1787. Although not specified in that document, parties grew out of the factions that developed around Jefferson and Hamilton and support an ossification of power and resistance to change. We need a new template for organizing voters so that there are more than just 2 caucuses in Congress and that a more independent faction can force the big parties to compromise.