Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein urges Americans to oppose Barack Obama’s request for congressional authorization of military force against the Islamic State. Stein writes, “Don’t let America get dragged into another war for oil in the Middle East. These reckless and destructive wars have done nothing but create tremendous blowback against the U.S. around the world. It’s time to discard the failed foreign policy of endless war, and break the cycle of violence through diplomacy, international law and human rights.”
“Stop the wars,” Stein says. I agree with her that stopping war is an important goal. I am given pause, however, when I look at Barack Obama’s actual request for authorization of military force.
What I see in Obama’s request for authorization is a reduction in the ability of the United States to wage war, compared to the powers that President Obama currently claims (although these claims are an implausible stretch). First, the request for authorization would repeal the authorization for war in Iraq, upon which Obama bases his current military actions against the Islamic State. Second, the request sunsets the authorization of force against the Islamic State in three years, whereas the current authorization of force against Iraq is open-ended. Third, the request limits the use of force to the Islamic State, its current allies on the battlefield, and to any “closely-related successor entity” which is actually engaged in hostilities against the United States.
The authorization of force that Barack Obama is requesting does not end war. However, it would offer a significant restriction of the ability of the President of the United States to wage war. This restriction, under the guise of a new military effort, seems to be the closest that the current Republican-controlled Congress would ever come to curtailing the President’s military powers. Given that, in two years, we will have a new President, who might be yet another Bush, limitation of war powers now seems especially important.
Jill Stein would have us miss this opportunity to lessen the war making of United States, because it is not a complete elimination of authorization for war. While I understand her motivation, I question her sense of political tactics. Sometimes, heading straight for a target is the surest way to ensure that one never reaches it.
Are you looking for some immediate release? If so, Jim Rundberg has got just the thing for you.
He’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. “I am going to be the next Governor of Colorado! We are making our future the way we want it to be!”
No, hold on a second, that’s just what his Twitter profile says. Actually, Jim Rundberg is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Rundberg still owes tens of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to file campaign finance reports from his Colorado campaign for governor last year, actually. He only ever raised $327 to support his campaign. Rundberg now lives in Puerto Rico.
“Truly,” says Rundberg, “we Americans are the sum of the whole.” Well, some Americans are part of the sum of the whole, anyway.
Women don’t count. They’re not part of the “American heritage” that Rundberg talks about, when he explains that our heritage is “the way we work to provide for our wives”.
Could lesbians be part of Rundberg’s American heritage, apparently, so long as they’re married in one of the states that provides for marriage equality? Sadly no. “God does not accept homosexual behavior, and he does not authorize any homosexual relationship. Neither do I,” says Rundberg. So, gays and lesbians are not part of the sum of the whole of America either, it seems.
Non-Christians don’t count, either. American heritage, says Rundberg, “is the faith in God which we hold”. Don’t have faith in gods? Then Rundberg’s presidential campaign isn’t for you.
Other than that, it is with a humble tone that Rundberg begins his presidential campaign, explaining that he is campaigning in accordance with “the will of Almighty God”. This tone of personal humility is in line with his policy platform, which includes the geographical expansion of the United States. “We must realize the need is not for making stronger our current borders,” he writes. “The need is to expand our borders that they may encompass any who wish it, so that they too may enjoy the blessings of liberty and know what it is to be American. As President, I will not ask other countries to be like us. I will invite them to become America with us.”
Where, though, has there been a model for a nation inviting other nations to be absorbed? Oh, I know – how about Russia? If Jim Rundberg is elected President, he could call Vladimir Putin for advice about how to incorporate neighbors who ask to be annexed.
Have you felt that immediate release yet?
The XL Keystone pipeline, if built, will provide few jobs, but will create much risk. The pipeline is designed to send thick crude oil, derived from Alberta tar sands, all the way across the middle of the United States down to Texas, where it will be refined, and then sent to be sold overseas. The construction of the XL Keystone pipeline will result in a great profits for the oil industry, and tremendous pollution that the rest of us will be forced to deal with. Not only will our skies will become thicker with toxins when the oil is burned, but the pace of climate change will also be increased, as the burning oil sends huge plumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Oil pipelines often leak, sending black, viscous sludge into streams and rivers.
In spite of the high risk and low benefit to the American people from the XL Keystone pipeline, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill approving the pipeline yesterday, circumventing the normal approval process. The bill was written by Republicans, but it wasn’t just Republicans who voted for this anti-environment legislation.
29 Democrats joined the Republican Party to vote for the pipeline. Their names are:
Brad Ashford, Sanford Bishop, Robert Brady, Cheri Bustos, James Clyburn, Jim Cooper, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Mike Doyle, Gwen Graham, Al Green, Gene Green, Ruben Hinojosa, Sheila Jackson Lee, Dan Lipinski, David Loebsack, Sean Maloney, Patrick Murphy, Richard Nolan, Donald Norcross, Collin Peterson, Cedric Richmond, Kurt Schrader, David Scott, Terri Sewell, Albio Sires, Marc Veasey, Filemon Vela, and Tim Walz.
This week, San Diego lawyer Alan Errol Spears declared his intention to seek the presidential nomination of the American Independent Party. His campaign’s fundraising arm is formally titled the Committee To Restore America’s Greatness, but it’s not at all clear yet what Alan Errol Spears believes America’s past greatness was, what led it to become diminished, or how he intends to restore it.
I’m curious about the Spears for President campaign, though, because there’s no obvious signs of imbalance in his application to the FEC (a quality most of those who submit papers to the FEC are unable to muster), and because of his choice to align with the American Independent Party.
The American Independent Party claims to be the fastest growing political party in the United States, but that’s not a difficult achievement for the AIP, given its tiny size. The party was founded in 1967, and served as a platform for George Wallace, the nasty Southern politician who gained prominence for refusing to accept that African-Americans have a right to equality under the law.
Whether or not the AIP is actually growing quickly, it seems to be limping along organizationally. The party hasn’t even managed to update its platform in five years.
What is on the platform of the American Independent Party is quite disturbing. The AIP claims that we all have a duty to worship God, and that our nation is built upon this principle. In fact, the Constitution makes it clear that the government has no business imposing a duty of religion worship on anyone. It forbids the government from imposing religious tests for employment, and prohibits Congress from establishing religion. The AIP ignores this, declaring that, “All governments are under God whether they like it or not!”
The religion of the American Independent Party isn’t just some general faith that all Christians can agree upon. Instead, The American Independent Party is also explicitly anti-environment in its religious platform, regarding natural ecosystems as nothing more than garbage. “God gave Man this earth to make of it a well-tended Garden — not to leave it an uninhabited wilderness,” the AIP writes.
The AIP also uses the cloak of religion to advocate for the beating of children by their parents, and the denial of legal equality to heterosexual and homosexual married couples.
The American Independent Party has served as a means for the advancement of cruel, regressive politicians in the past. Will it do so again in the presidential election of 2016?
When I described the man Jeb Bush hired to run the online strategy for his presidential campaign as “outdated” a couple of days ago, I had no idea. It turns out that Ethan Czahor was too slow in deleting tweets in which he repeatedly referred to women as “sluts” and his described his fears that other men at his gym might be gay. Czahor also tweeted about “non-white places”, wrote that “black parents need to get their sh@# together”, and warned that he wasn’t a “white liberal who feels guilty for being white”.
These bigoted ideas aren’t isolated. They come in the context of frequent bigotry from Republican leaders.
There’s Steve Scalise, of course, who sought the support of NeoNazis, attended and gave a a white supremacist conference, met several times with KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and is now insisting that Democrats help Republicans evict massive numbers of Hispanic children from the United States. Congressional Republicans, when they found out what a nasty racist Steve Scalise is, didn’t punish him. They rewarded him for it by giving him the prestigious position of House Whip.
There’s also the aide to Republican Aaron Schock who compared African-Americans to animals at the zoo. There’s the member of the Republican National Committee who called gays “filthy”, suggested that Muslims-Americans have never contributed to society, and called a white supremacist article that declared African-Americans incapable of logical reasoning “very interesting”.
Barack Obama has been consistently mocked by Republicans for his African ancestry, by the rank and file as well as by political leaders such as the Republican member of the Nebraska state board of education who called Obama a “half breed”.
Civil Rights leaders want to meet with congressional Republicans to address the bigotry that is rampant throughout the Republican Party, but no meeting will cure the underlying hatred. It’s up to voters to reject the GOP politicians who embody bigotry in their law-making, their speech, and their political associations.
Over the last five years, the real U.S. minimum wage has dropped 75 cents an hour. This is true even though nominally speaking, from 2009 to 2014 the U.S. minimum wage has remained at $7.25.
The above paragraph may seem paradoxical, but it isn’t. The two statements are resolved by noting the difference between “real wages” and “nominal wages.” “Nominal” is a word that refers to the name we use for some object, and so a “nominal dollar” is the literal numerical worth of a one dollar bill. Literally speaking, 1 dollar was 1 dollar in 2009 and 1 dollar is 1 dollar today, because that’s what it says on the bill. But “real dollars” adjust for inflation — the tendency of currency to be worth less as time passes. Tracked by the Consumer Price Index, inflation means that what a $1 dollar bought in February 1977 would take $4 to buy now. $7.25 in wages in 2009 would have bought the same amount of goods (food, housing, clothing and so on) that in 2014 would have taken $8.00 to buy today. But in 2014, the minimum wage hasn’t risen from $7.25 to $8.00 to keep pace with the cost of living. In real terms, the minimum wage has fallen behind. In terms of the real value given by employers to people for their work, the minimum wage has dropped by 75 cents in the last five years.
That’s just in the last five years, mind you. Let’s use CPI data to look farther back:
Over the past 46 years, the U.S. minimum wage has fallen by $3.63 an hour. American minimum-wage workers are being paid a third less for their labor than they were half a century ago.
Thanks to InflationData.com, we can compare the erosion in pay for workers to the accumulation of wealth by corporations. Over the same period that minimum-wage workers lost a third of their real hourly wage, the real value of corporations on the New York Stock Exchange has nearly tripled:
Real corporate wealth up nearly three times. Real minimum wages for workers down by a third. This is the continuing story of the American economy you just won’t catch on FoxNews.
Yesterday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, proposed a new amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
The constitutional amendment introduced through S.J. Res. 9 would allow the U.S. Congress to pass a budget with deficit spending only if the United States is at war.
The amendment is being promoted as a tool to ensure balanced budgets. Its more likely impact, however, would be to encourage the United States of America to enter a state of constant war, so as to enable deficit spending to continue.
When it was revealed that Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise gained his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by seeking the political support of NeoNazis, attended and spoke before a conference of white supremacists, and repeatedly met with David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the KKK, Republican congressional leadership told America that it was no big deal. Just because he hangs out with racists, and solicits the support of racists, doesn’t mean that Scalise is a racist, they said. Don’t worry, they said. Nothing bad will happen when we make Steve Scalise the third most powerful leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.
That’s what they said. Today, we see this headline from the right wing extremist site Breitbart News: HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP SCALISE TO SENATE: DO YOUR JOB, PASS DHS FUNDING BILL BLOCKING OBAMA AMNESTY “As House Republicans, we did our job – we kept our promise to the American people that we would take action,” the article quotes Scalise as saying, as he calls upon Democrats in the Senate to finish the job.
Just what is this “job” that Steve Scalise keeps talking about?
The legislation that Steve Scalise demands the Democrats allow to move forward would result in federal agents going across America, hunting down Hispanics that Steve Scalise and his racist allies find undesirable, breaking up families, and sending children out of the country. Scalise calls these people he wants to target “illegal”.
A government that hunts down children who are designated illegal because of their place of origin… doesn’t that sound like the white supremacist agenda of David Duke and the KKK?
GOP leadership told us not to worry, but right now, before our eyes, Steve Scalise is promoting a NeoNazi vision for America.
If burning a man in a cage
Is condemnable terrorist rage
How can we condone
A blast from a drone?
Both are signs of a more savage age
Share your thoughts on the age that’s before us
Strike your keyboard and join in the chorus
Use the limerick form
In rhetorical storm
The poetic form never will bore us