Changes in Congress could put an end to ‘endless’ Middle East quagmire.

The 2018 U.S. election is over, with a few exceptions. From how to control the border on the right, to protecting pre-existing conditions on the left, Americans were swamped with promises. One subject politicians of any stripe refused to touch was war. That’s odd considering war touches every citizen.

Some children who weren’t born when this latest round of war began will join the military when they graduate from high school in seven months. If they are to die in Middle East, Americans should know why.

The U.S. has spent some $900 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2001. Congress approved some $5.6 trillion for combat in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. The bill has gone directly to the national debt, something not debated during the election. Interest debt is expected to add another $1 trillion a year by 2023, according to a Brown University study.  In addition, nearly 6,800 deaths of U.S.military personnel in the theater have been reported since 2001.

Are we at war?

The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to declare war. However, the legislative has body refused to exercise this requirement since World War II. Instead, Congress grants the executive branch free reign in combat through an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

Congress wrote President George W Bush a blank check to usher in the end times by attacking al Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. Of course almost all of the terrorists who hijacked the planes used in the attack were Saudis. Still, the Bush White House and military industrial complex managed to fabricate a story the media sold to the public in support of the endless war for which the U.S. still has no exit strategy.

Will the 116th Congress change this? The ball is now in the Democrats’ hands.

Democrats should have at least a 10-seat House majority when all is said and done. (Some races are so close recounts are needed.) The party of the donkey could spend all of its time investigating everything the president does – some oversight is certainly needed – or it could take a broader view and pass spending bills and investigate.

Bring troops home

Stopping the current AUMF would satisfy both. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) cited the “overly broad powers” granted the chief executive when she cast the lone vote against the so-called war powers act. In 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved Lee’s amendment to repeal the 2001 authorization for the use of military force, but it failed on the floor.

The Afghani government might control 44 percent of that country. Neither the Syrian situation, nor ISIS existed when this authorization passed. Losing in Afghanistan is nothing new. The British and Soviets did it when they had strong militaries. Once troops are redeployed and DOD waste eliminated, the debt, healthcare and infrastructure repair can be addressed.

If combat is necessary, the president can always ask Congress to debate a declaration of war in public. Of course if the president’s desire is based on faulty intel, i.e. “a slam dunk,” the public may get to the truth before the vote and influence Congress.

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Time to change basic political system

revolution1You say you want a revolution. It is neither the Constitution nor the institution, as John Lennon wrote; the real solution is changing the conscience of people with minds that hate.

The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign is a perfect example. The dialogue between Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump has been light on policy but high on toxicity. Cruz and Trump have sunken so low their wives have been drawn into the fray.

Visitors to Washington, D.C., notice Congress and the White House are barricades.  So-called representatives are afraid of the public. They have distanced themselves so far, only big money interests are perceived to have access. Democrats and Republicans do not tackle problems. They refuse to work together. Leaders in the self-described conservative Senate refuse to hold hearings on the liberal president’s Supreme Court nominee because it is an election year. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution is ignored by these alleged constitutionalists.

The way President Barack Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress rammed through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 cost Democrats Congress, but won him reelection. The president has since attempted to bypass Congress through executive orders with dubious results.

So what should Americans do in 2016? Take Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) advice: Revolt! A quarter of Democratic voters have done this by voting for a Democratic-Socialist in caucuses and primaries. Democratic socialists reject capitalism as an economic system and want to replace it with state ownership of the means of production (i.e. the state owned factories, businesses, land, housing, and so on) combined with political democracy.

In the other corner sits Trump, a one-percenter who has supported Democratic-front runner Hillary Clinton, is pro-choice, is a ruthless businessman and has made some ridiculous statements on the stump such as banning Muslims and nuking ISIS. Does he want to be president or is Trump enjoying the game?

What the two have in common is anti-establishmentarianism. They recognize Washington does not work. U.S. trade agreements have cost workers and devastated blue-color labor. America’s infrastructure is ignored. The safety net needs adjustments. If America is at war, put it on the budget.

This revolution is not new. In 1996 and 2000 there was Pat Buchanan preaching much of foreign trade Sanders is preaching today. In 1992 Ross Perot warned of the national debt. In 1968 George Wallace warned the Democrat Party’s big tent was too big. All of these represent times in the past 50 years large groups of Americans could have split from the two parties and set the United States on a political system featuring proportional representation.

The basic principles underlying proportional representation elections are that all voters deserve representation and that all political groups in society deserve to be represented in our legislatures in proportion to their strength in the electorate.

Australia, Canada, most of Europe, Israel, and many other countries use this system. America should try it.

Can We Afford Free Trade?

 

Don’t believe all of the hullabaloo more trade.jpgthe establishment media is feeding you about how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was lying in Michigan as he cited the number of US job losses due to so-called free trade. “NAFTA, supported by the Secretary [Clinton], cost us 800,000 jobs nationwide,” Sanders said in the March 6 debate. He used 2014 research from the Economic Policy Institute.

The media is under constant pressure to get the story first. I understand that; I am a journalist. I try to get the story right, as well as first. I guess that is one of the reasons I am not working in the establishment.

The flock correctly cited a 2015 Congressional Research Report, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which states “NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics.” Unlike my colleagues in the establishment media, I read the report. It does not contain one iota of research supporting the claim, which appears in the summary. The fact is the CRS report speaks in terms of capital deficits and trade balances. The report never analyzes job creation or job losses in numerical terms.

The U.S. had a trade deficit with Mexico of $54 billion [in 2013] but with China, it was [a deficit of] $318 billion, so the [U.S.] deficit is five times bigger with China than with Mexico. In other words, you would calculate, maybe for every job we have lost in the U.S. to Mexico, five [jobs] were lost to China, according to Wharton management professor Mauro GNAFTA-job-losses-chart-e1387307604809.jpguillen. America had a $36 billion deficit with Canada in 2014.

An EPI researcher went industry by industry and converted trade deficit and surpluses into an estimated number of jobs.

“We are generating inequality [in America] because the lower wages are either stagnating or going down,” the professor says. “How do they go down? When a factory worker is earning $35 an hour, gets laid off and has to go to the service sector and only makes $12 an hour.”

On the other hand, “NAFTA has been great for Mexico,” he added. Ross Perot was right when he predicted, “There will be a giant sucking sound going south.”  The concern here is much larger than Democrat politics or fair trade vs. free trade, the big question is: Do you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States.