Monday, September 16, 2013

Warning from a Wise Man

Dwight Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII. After the war he became the 34th President of the United States (1953 – 1961). His words are especially relevant in today’s political climate:
“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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or our democratic process. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
Apparently the citizenry has been neither alert nor knowledgeable. The Pentagon has called “unnecessary and unaffordable” the following five projects in Ohio alone:

1.   Upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank. The Pentagon wants to suspend $3B in upgrades until a new version, scheduled for 2017, is ready. Legislators say the action would cost 800 jobs in Lima, Ohio, and are budgeting over $250M to keep the plant going.
2.   Congress put $278M into the Global Hawk Block 30 Drone program. The Pentagon says the U2 spy plane can do the job and save $2.5B by 2017.
3.   The Pentagon says the C-27J Spartan cargo plane is not needed, and discontinuing its use would save $400M by 2017. Congress, in its infinite wisdom(?)  budgeted funds to keep ‘em flying.
4.   The Pentagon wants to cut 5,100 positions from the Air National Guard, thereby saving $300M next year. Ohio’s representatives are fighting the proposal.
5.   The Pentagon says that a missile defense system to protect the east coast from Iran and other highly sophisticated air attack forces is unnecessary, but Congress has budgeted $100M to fund the project for next year. It is projected that the cost could rise to $3.6B by 2017.

One has only to Google “Unwanted Military Projects” to find examples of ships, planes, tanks and other pork which the Pentagon considers unnecessary. Under sequestration, these projects must be funded by money taken from projects which the Pentagon considers to be essential.
Instead of getting Congressional pork under control, we are closing schools, gutting programs that feed hungry kids, letting our infrastructure deteriorate and forcing seniors to eat dog food.
Here is another quote from President Eisenhower: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed . . . The cost of one medium heavy  bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than thirty cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
Although the costs mentioned by Eisenhower have changed since he spoke over 50 years ago, the words have never been more relevant than they are today. It raises a question which has often been asked in recent years: “Why can we not afford to feed our own hungry people, but we can always afford another war?”

My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Radical Idea for the Congress

In defiance of a warning from President Obama not to use poison gas against its own citizens, the Syrian government has reputedly done so. Now the President must take some action or else the worldwide faith in the U.S. Government’s word will be severely eroded. He is seeking approval from Congress to initiate a “limited” military strike, and this presents a serious dilemma for Congresspersons.
The Republicans operate under a “go to war first, ask questions later” principle a la George Bush and the Iraq war. But they are also beholden to the tea party, hence the “If Obama is for it, we’re against it” rule.
The Democrats want to support their President, but they also remember that he was the anti-war activist who called the U.S. Government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” which turned out to be a winning campaign strategy. In addition, some of the rebels are sympathetic to al Qaida, which raises the question whether the replacement government would be any better than the current regime. And they also fear the “slippery slope” possibility.
What to do, what to do?
Let’s take a look at the Constitution for a possible solution. The Preamble states that “We the People of the United States . . . establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Article I, Section 2 states “The House of Representatives shall be . . . chosen every second year by the people of the several states.” Amendment XVII states that “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof.”
I could find no reference anywhere in the document which implies that Congresspersons answer to a political party, a tea party, a president, or any other institution. Neither could I find anything which indicates that the United States must act as the policeman for the world.
So I suggest that you try something new: represent your constituents, who, according to all polls, are opposed to intervention in the affairs of Syria. It’s your job. You are not smarter than they are; after all, the Constitution was created by the People, not by the Congress.

My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.