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Submitted by Robert Naiman on 29 September 2011 - 2:43pm
Ordinarily, I think of myself as a card-carrying liberal. But lately, I'm getting the feeling that Liberal America had a meeting to decide on our current priorities and peace advocates weren't invited. I open my email and it's full of rallying cries about the urgency of taxing the rich. When was it decided that taxing the rich was the marquee demand of Liberal America at this juncture? Were peace advocates invited to this meeting? I see no evidence that we were.
In a different political juncture, I would be happy to march behind the banner of taxing the rich. But at this political juncture, when the war budget is half of federal discretionary spending, and when because of the Budget Control Act and the Supercommittee, we have a historic opportunity to cut the war budget - a much better prospect, at present, than our prospects for raising tax rates on rich people - I ain't marching for this dogwhistle anymore.
Suppose there were a massive government program to dump truckloads of dioxin in Lake Michigan. And suppose that - in addition to the direct effects of poisoning a major source of drinking water - this program were tremendously expensive in blood and treasure. Suppose that since October 7, 2001, more than five thousand American workers had been killed carrying out the Lake Michigan-poisoning project, with tens of thousands of American workers counted as wounded, and the real toll of wounded American workers many times higher. And suppose that the budgeted cost so far of the massive government program to dump poison in Lake Michigan were over a trillion dollars so far, with the real financial cost to society, when you count things like the future health costs of the poisoned American workers, much higher.
Would the marquee demand of Liberal America be to make Warren Buffett pay his fair share for the Lake Michigan-poisoning program? Or would the marquee demand of Liberal America be to stop dumping poison in Lake Michigan?
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 27 September 2011 - 2:09pm
On October 7, 2011, the United States will have been at war for ten years.
Let's mark the occasion by making a national clamor for peace so loud that Congress, the President, and big media will have to pay attention.
October 7 happens to fall on a Friday this year. If you get to choose, Friday is not necessarily the most strategic day to make a national clamor for peace, because 1) Congress will likely not be in session 2) Friday is, in general, a crummy day to try to get media attention and 3) even if these two things weren't true or relevant, Friday is not a great day to try to hold public attention. People's thoughts are turning to the weekend, and then the weekend erases the chalkboard.
Moreover, the press has to cover the anniversary of the war, but these stories are going to be largely written and produced before Friday. The default media narrative will be: America has lost interest in the wars, because of the economy and unemployment, because "the wars are already winding down," or some other story that journalists or editors will make up. We have to beat this default media narrative. To beat it, we need to get in front of it.
So let's mark the occasion on Thursday, October 6. Let's have a national, "ecumenical" day of action for peace: to end the wars and cut the military budget.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 11 September 2011 - 4:18pm
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.”
The memory most often recounted by those in New York on September 11th must be how clear and blue the sky was that day. I, for one, will never forget that sky. It was unblemished, a pure cerulean dream. And then came the cloud, though it was not the sort that carried rain—it held the sins of men. When the wind blew north the next day, I breathed in that cloud—that acrid, deathly thing—and I, and all Americans, have borne its burden ever since.
But many Americans do not see this burden for what it is, for it is not simply a grief for the events of that day. One of the lessons of September 11th should have been that events do not stand in isolation: causes extend far and wide, in time and space, and so do consequences. And perhaps now, more than ten years ago, there is a greater understanding among the general public of the hidden nature and history of U.S. foreign policy. I know that my own understanding and perception of things has grown and changed. Albeit I was only 17 on that fateful day, a college freshman for a mere week, but having been a JROTC cadet in high school, required to deliver a weekly presentation on international issues, I fancied that I was more knowledgeable than most my age. It turned out that I was quite in the dark. So, after September 11th, I wondered “why?” Many Americans did, and some even asked it of our leaders. But the answer they received was deceit.
In the days following that infamous Tuesday, I watched no television, avoiding the news or tuning it out when it happened to be on in the room. Even then I felt uneasy about the effects such programs would have on my conception of recent events. I saw the effects that it had on the people around me—their anger, their impetuousness—which seemed counterproductive given the moment.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 9 September 2011 - 5:09pm
In an interview today, Just Foreign Policy explained to RT why ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would save at least 400,000 jobs:
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 7 September 2011 - 5:32pm
President Obama is preparing to deliver a major address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, outlining his plans for spending and tax cuts to create jobs.
Here's a plan that would likely save at least 400,000 jobs over the next ten years, without increasing the deficit or raising a dollar of additional revenue: bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan as previously scheduled, and use the savings to reduce the debt in place of proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits - or other cuts in domestic spending.
The total savings to the federal budget of using the chained CPI as a measure of inflation (including cuts in Social Security benefits) and raising the Medicare retirement age appear to be on the order of $200 billion over 2012-2021. This proposal was a key feature of the deal that President Obama and Speaker Boehner agreed to in the debt ceiling negotiations. The deal collapsed, because Speaker Boehner could not deliver the House on the deal, since it also included revenue increases. Judging from press reports, the President and others would like to revive this deal. So - unfortunately, from the point of view of the values and interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans - this proposal appears to still be on the table.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 31 August 2011 - 12:34pm
The key political fact about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is this: at the end of the day, the decision of whether to approve the permit for the pipeline or not will be a political decision wholly owned by President Obama.
The final determination on the permit will be based whether approval would be in the "national interest" of the United States. This is an inherently political determination. By denying the permit for the pipeline, President Obama can take a concrete action against climate chaos without securing one Republican vote, without spending one tax dollar, without getting approval from the Tea Party.
If, on the other hand, President Obama were to approve the permit for the pipeline, then he would be acting to promote climate chaos, and this decision could not be blamed on the dispute over the nation's projected debt in 2021, Republicans or the Tea Party. It would be President Obama, standing alone, breaking a campaign promise to act to protect the climate from chaos induced by human action.
This is a global justice issue, because climate chaos is inherently discriminatory against the poor and the weak. A hurricane that strikes Haiti and Florida with the same force is virtually guaranteed to hurt Haitians more, because Haiti has fewer resources to protect its citizens against hurricanes. More Haitians have inadequate shelter to start with; the infrastructure for emergency response is weaker; the health care system is weaker. So any action which has the effect of making hurricanes more intense is going to have disparate impact on Florida and Haiti, for the future as far as we can see.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted:
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 23 August 2011 - 6:55pm
By Thanksgiving, the Congressional "Super Committee" is supposed to come up with $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years. The Super Committee can include anything it wants in its package - short-term economic stimulus (like extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax holiday), revenue increases from curtailing tax breaks, cuts in military or domestic spending, subject only to two constraints. To avoid automatic cuts, the package has to add to $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over ten years. Also, to avoid automatic cuts, the package has to pass both houses of Congress in December, so the package has to have the property that it can pass the House and Senate.
A plausible and reasonable option would be to curtail future spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, consistent with keeping existing agreements and commitments to withdraw our troops, rather than replacing these agreements and commitments with agreements to establish permanent military garrisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under plausible and moderate assumptions, this would save at least $200 billion over ten years, 1/6 of the Super Committee's debt reduction goal.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 19 August 2011 - 2:26pm
Rep. Lynn Woolsey is circulating the following Dear Colleague and Sign-On letter to the Super Committee urging them to end funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the debt deal.
Urge your representatives to sign the Woolsey letter here.
Letter to Super Committee: $1.8 Trillion in Savings
August 12, 2011
As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also referred to as the “Super Committee,” begins its work, we must remind its members of the overwhelming costs due to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I urge you to join me in cosigning the letter below to the Co-Chairs and members of the Select Committee noting the $1.8 trillion that could be saved by ending the wars. To cosign or for additional information, please contact me or Jennifer Goedke (5-5161) on my staff.
Member of Congress
September 9, 2011
The Honorable Patty Murray
The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
The Honorable Xavier Becerra
The Honorable Dave Camp
The Honorable James E. Clyburn
The Honorable Fred Upton
The Honorable Chris Van Hollen
The Honorable Max Baucus
The Honorable Jon Kyl
The Honorable John Kerry
The Honorable Rob Portman
The Honorable Pat Toomey
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
Dear Co-Chairs and Members,
Congress and the American people have entrusted you with a great responsibility – ensuring the economic well-being of our nation. This is no simple task and will require both bold decisions and fair compromises.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 16 August 2011 - 4:56pm
For the first time in a decade, significant cuts in projected military spending are on the table. If the "Super Congress" doesn't reach a deal on $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years by Thanksgiving, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will be triggered, half of which must come from the military; and if the Super Congress does reach a deal, the prospects are good that cuts in projected military spending will be a significant part of the story (you can add your voice for cuts in projected military spending here.)
Obviously, however, the prospect of significant military cuts has well-heeled opponents. The military-industrial-Congressional-lobbyist-think tank-corporate media complex is not just going to roll over and play dead. In the next three months, we can expect a steady stream of pro-military spending propaganda. Expect to hear a lot about China, Iran, North Korea, and "global terrorism" as the beneficiaries of the military-industrial complex try to justify why we must continue to spend much more on the military than we did while opposing the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
But another argument against cuts to projected military spending is sure to rear its ugly head: we shouldn't cut military spending, because that would cost American jobs.
In the current political context, this "jobs" argument is 100% nonsense. Here's why.
The (first-order) Keynesian economics story for government spending to boost employment has three basic elements:
1. The economy is not always at full employment. Sometimes, there are a significant number of people who are "involuntarily unemployed" - they would like to work for the prevailing wage but cannot find a job.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 12 August 2011 - 2:34pm
The Senate and the Roman People have declared that the U.S. government is spending too much money. We have to live within our means. Difficult choices lie ahead. We can't do everything anyone might like us to do. Everything is on the table.
Therefore, instead of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq past December, we should pull them out like we promised. If not now, when? John McCain once said there's no problem with keeping U.S. troops in Iraq forever, just like we do in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. How liberals mocked him! But that's what the Obama Administration is now trying to do: keep US troops in Iraq forever.
Some Members of Congress have a different idea: let's leave Iraq like we promised in the signed agreement between the two governments.
Representative Barbara Lee has introduced legislation that would prevent the Pentagon from keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq by cutting off funds for the war after December 31, 2011. In other words, the bill would cut off funds for violating the agreement with Iraq to pull out troops by December. It would cut off funds for violating Obama's campaign promise to end the war.
The Pentagon doesn't want you to notice that at the same time Washington is seized with debt hysteria, and the nation's mainstream media are demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits on the preposterous claim that "we can no longer afford it," the Pentagon is laying plans to keep 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq forever. They call these troops "trainers," so we are not supposed to notice. But these "trainers" engage in combat: they kill Iraqis, and they get killed by Iraqis.