Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

In the New Testament, Jesus is teaching his disciples about “leading” and “serving”.  He knew His time was short and he had to give them the proper instructions to carry on his ministry.  What Jesus said is one of the core principles of ministry; for that matter, it could very well define the word “ministry” – to assist, and to put your own needs last.

Jesus said, “For you won’t be like the rulers of the earth, where they lord their authority over others.”  And “to be first you must be last”, and finally, “to be served, you must serve.”

Now look at our nation today!  Or better yet, have a gander at this graph of the assets and liabilities of members of Congress, as compiled by USA Today.  Darrell Issa (R) California has a net worth of over four-hundred million dollars!  And they want to criticize those who have medicaid and other social programs so they can make it by?!

How someone can vote for a Party Politician is beyond me.

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Read my post about term limits on Congress.  This is one asshole that needs to go.

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Thursday, July 15, 2010

When Senator Joe Lieberman attempted to justify draconian legislation that would provide President Obama with a figurative kill switch to shut down parts of the Internet, he cited the Chinese system of Internet policing as model which America should move towards.

Given the fact that Lieberman seeks to mimic the Chinese system as the goal of his Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, should it concern us that the Chinese government routinely orders Twitter and Facebook-like services to “purge sites of politically “sensitive” words and expressions,” as the Financial Times reports today?

“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley last month.

However, China’s “war” is not against foreign terrorists or hackers, it’s against people who dare to use the Internet to express dissent against government atrocities or corruption. China’s system of Internet policing is about crushing freedom of speech and has nothing to do with legitimate security concerns as Lieberman well knows.

It’s a system concentrated around state oppression of any individual or group that seeks to use the Internet to draw attention to political causes frowned upon by the authorities.

China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse of its citizens. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. In several regions, the authorities completely cut off the Internet for nearly a year, with many areas only now slowly starting to come back online. Major news and discussion portals used by the Muslim Uighurs in the area remain blocked. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.

Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are all banned in China and even sanitized government approved versions of these websites are now being shut down for long periods of time so that they can “remove all politically sensitive content under orders from Chinese internet authorities”.

Censorship has intensified in recent weeks after a micro-blogger began to expose the fact that many government officials, executives and judges had lied about obtaining degrees from prestigious universities. The government responded to the embarrassment by ordering websites to temporarily go into “maintenance” mode while they removed the pertinent material. What this has to do with fighting a “war,” as Lieberman claims, is anyone’s guess.

The Chinese system that Lieberman wants to bring to the United States is not only about censoring material critical of the state, it’s about identifying those who post it and thereby creating a chilling atmosphere that discourages others from exercising free speech in fear that they might be the next victims of the thought police. News websites in China now require users to register their true identities in order to leave comments.

This move towards abolishing Internet anonymity and creating a virtual ID card is a key centerpiece of Lieberman’s cybersecurity agenda.

This strategy revolves around, “The creation of a system for identity management that would allow citizens to use additional authentication techniques, such as physical tokens or modules on mobile phones, to verify who they are before buying things online or accessing such sensitive information as health or banking records.”

Only with this government-issued “token” will Internet users be allowed to “able to move from website to website,” a system not too far removed from what China proposed and rejected for being too authoritarian.

If you value Internet freedom, if you don’t want the web in the United States to be transformed into an imitation of the frustratingly slow, censored and policed Chinese version, and if you understand how whistleblowers should be protected and provided with the tools they need to expose government corruption, call your Senators and demand they vote against Lieberman’s Internet kill switch bill.

In 2008 when I voted in the Indiana primaries for Ron Paul I got, “why waste your vote?”  Why waste my vote for someone who flip-flops on virtually every issue, pays lip service to the Constitution, and in the eyes of some are the “lesser of two evils?”  What has America gained by voting for the lesser of two evils?

Why not vote for Ron Paul?  A man who since the beginning of his years in Congress has sided with the Constitution.  There’s a thought process among the American people who a third-party candidate cannot and will not be elected.  That’s true if this example of asinine thinking persists.  But it is also to the credit of some states that don’t even put third parties on their ballots.  The Federal Election Commission (FEC) limits the primary presidential debates to two parties.  I don’t have to tell you which ones those are.

So how do we put terms limits on Congress to ensure that senators and congressman don’t grow to be in their nineties or maybe even reach a hundred years old while in office?  Really, who would want to vote for a ninety plus year old?  It’s sure to be a fact that Congress itself is not going to vote themselves out of office.

Now I’ve heard this from several people, “we just need an armed revolution against the guv’ment.”  This will not work for a number of reasons:

  1. To have a second “civil war” would be futile.  The economy would crash, the loss of the innocent would be staggering, and by doing this, we would only give legitimacy to the Beast.
  2. The American people are too discombobulated.  Thanks to the mainstream media, the guv’ment, and a whole slew of things, out of 300 million people, it would be difficult to get a fight for a common cause.  A revolt, if that’s what you want to call it, would fall to pieces within a week.
  3. Who would we fight against?  The Democrats?  What about the Republicans?  Maybe both?  How would we root out the source of corruption?  During the Civil War the people had a common to cause to fight for.  Although most Americans (if they thought freely) would agree that Iraq was sold on a lie, the guv’ment is too big, but we seem to have varying ideas of what that “bigness” is.
  4. The opposition would squash us in a week.  They have satellites, world armies, the Patriot Act and other outright lies like it.  Dissidents would be rounded up into FEMA camps never to be seen again.

Despite what anyone wants to think, this sort of sentiment is out there, and while the Declaration of Independence calls us to this sort of duty, it would be fruitless to attempt such a feat.  Again, the people are just too discombobulated. 

A revolution such as this would require a different kind.  A peaceful one.  A Constitutional Convention.  Wikipedia defines it as such:

Article Five of the United States Constitution provides for two methods to propose amendments to the Federal Constitution. The first is a vote by two-thirds of each house of Congress. The second method is a Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, or simply an “Article V convention.” According to Article V, an amendment-proposing convention must be called, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States.” Once an Article V convention has proposed amendments, they must be ratified by three-fourths of the states in order for the amendments to become part of the Constitution. Congress has the power to choose between two methods of ratification: ratification by the state legislatures or ratification conventions called for that purpose.

The fact is, is despite the kind of “change” that Barack Obama wants to promise, and no matter how much the parties want to bash one another, true change won’t come until we take the measures to vote out the old and vote in the new.

Congress, with its insatiable appetite for spending, is set to pass yet another “supplemental” appropriations bill in the next two weeks. So-called supplemental bills allow Congress to spend beyond even the 13 annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government. These are akin to a family that consistently outspends its budget, and therefore needs to use a credit card to make it through the end of the month.

If the American people want Congress to spend less, putting an end to supplemental appropriations bills would be a start. The 13 “regular” appropriations bills fund every branch, department, agency, and program of the federal government. Congress should place every dollar in plain view among those 13 bills. Instead, supplemental spending bills serve as a sneaky way for Congress to spend extra money that was not projected in budget forecasts. Once rare, they have become commonplace vehicles for deficit spending.

The latest supplemental bill is touted as an “emergency” war spending bill, needed to fund our ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. The emergencies never seem to end, however, and Congress passes one military supplemental bill after another as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on.

Many of my colleagues argue that Congress cannot put a price on our sacred national security, and I agree that the strong, unequivocal defense of our country is a top priority. There comes a time, however, when we must take stock of what our blank checks to the military industrial complex accomplish for us, and where the true threats to American citizens lie.

The smokescreen debate over earmarks demonstrates how we have lost perspective when it comes to military spending. Earmarks constitute about $11 billion of the latest budget. This sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the $708 billion spent by the Pentagon this year to expand our worldwide military presence. The total expenditures to maintain our world empire is approximately $1 trillion annually, which is roughly what the entire federal budget was in 1990!

We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and far more than we spent during the Cold War. These expenditures in many cases foment resentment that does not make us safer, but instead makes us a target. We referee and arm conflicts the world over, and have troops in some 140 countries with over 700 military bases.

With this enormous amount of money and energy spent on efforts that have nothing to do with the security of the United States, when the time comes to defend American soil, we will be too involved in other adventures to do so.

There is nothing conservative about spending money we don’t have simply because that spending is for defense. No enemy can harm us in the way we are harming ourselves, namely bankrupting the nation and destroying our own currency. The former Soviet Union did not implode because it was attacked; it imploded because it was broke. We cannot improve our economy if we refuse to examine all major outlays, including so-called defense spending.

Here is an article that I got from prisonplanet.com that they got from the Washington Post.  As you can see, no matter what the case, the Executive branch feels the need to cover-up anything that it deems would “jepordize” something.  This sort of thought process throws the Constitution and the republic in great peril.  Here is the link: http://www.prisonplanet.com/obama-administration-defies-congressional-subpoena-on-fort-hood-documents.html

Praise Ron Paul for freezing Congressional pay raise and calling for members of Congress to taking a pay cut.  Our country is coming to the point where funds are needing to be frozen.  I hate to say this but the economy is going to get much, much worse.

I found this article on www.infowars.com and it left me wondering what the heck?   Could the American foreign policy that persists through the changes in the White House really work against our best interests as reported to us by the media?  The trail of evidence is certainly there but hardly anyone is looking.

Congress voted down a resolution to pull out of Afghanistan today.

The Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the US halted bombing.

 
scott brown
   
 
   

“Conventional wisdom” among many Americans – and congress members – is that we need to be in Afghanistan to protect our national security.

Is it true?

A Little History

Before we discuss whether it is necessary for the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan, a little history might be instructive.

As I pointed out in December:

The Taliban offered [in October 2001] to hand over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the US halted bombing … [the U.S. refused.]

The government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this).

And the government apparently could have killed Bin Laden in 2001 and AGAIN in 2007, but failed to do so.

In fact, starting right after 9/11 — at the latest — the goal has always been to create “regime change” and instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and other countries. As American historian, investigative journalist and policy analyst Gareth Porter writes in the Asia Times:

Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions. Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.

Feith’s book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing “new regimes” in a series of states…

***

General Wesley Clark, who commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the Kosovo war, recalls in his 2003 book Winning Modern Wars being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia [and Lebanon].

***

When this writer asked Feith . . . which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, “All of them.”

***

The Defense Department guidance document made it clear that US military aims in regard to those states would go well beyond any ties to terrorism. The document said the Defense Department would also seek to isolate and weaken those states and to “disrupt, damage or destroy” their military capacities – not necessarily limited to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Indeed, the goal seems to have more to do with being a superpower (i.e. an empire) than stopping terrorism.

As Porter writes:

After the bombing of two US embassies in East Africa [in 1988] by al-Qaeda operatives, State Department counter-terrorism official Michael Sheehan proposed supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against bin Laden’s sponsor, the Taliban regime. However, senior US military leaders “refused to consider it”, according to a 2004 account by Richard H Shultz, Junior, a military specialist at Tufts University.

A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.

And recall that former U.S. National Security Adviser (and top foreign policy advisor) Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”.

Indeed, one of the country’s top counter-terrorism experts, former number 2 counter-terrorism expert at the State Department (Terry Arnold – who I’ve interviewed twice), has repeatedly pointed out that bombing civilians in Afghanistan is creating many more terrorists than it is removing.

In other words, America’s original stated reasons for invading Afghanistan don’t hold much water.

If We Didn’t Need to Be There for National Security Purposes, We Wouldn’t Be There

Most who realize that America’s Afghan strategy has been poor still think we’re stuck there until we clean up the mess and stabilize the region.

In fact, however, Obama has never really given a reason for continuing the Afghan war.

Psychologists and sociologists show us that people will rationalize what their leaders are doing, even when it makes no sense. For example, as I pointed out in November:

Sociologists from four major research institutions investigated why so many Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it became obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

The researchers found, as described in an article in the journal Sociological Inquiry (and re-printed by Newsweek):

• Many Americans felt an urgent need to seek justification for a war already in progress

• Rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.

• “For the most part people completely ignore contrary information.”

• “The study demonstrates voters’ ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information”

• People get deeply attached to their beliefs, and form emotional attachments that get wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality, irrespective of the facts of the matter.

• “We refer to this as ‘inferred justification, because for these voters, the sheer fact that we were engaged in war led to a post-hoc search for a justification for that war.

• “People were basically making up justifications for the fact that we were at war”

• “They wanted to believe in the link [between 9/11 and Iraq] because it helped them make sense of a current reality. So voters’ ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information, whether we think that is good or bad for democratic practice, does at least demonstrate an impressive form of creativity.

An article yesterday in Alternet discussing the Sociological Inquiry article helps us to understand that the key to people’s active participation in searching for excuses for actions by the big boys is fear:

Subjects were presented during one-on-one interviews with a newspaper clip of this Bush quote: “This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda.”

The Sept. 11 Commission, too, found no such link, the subjects were told.

“Well, I bet they say that the commission didn’t have any proof of it,” one subject responded, “but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that.”

Reasoned another: “Saddam, I can’t judge if he did what he’s being accused of, but if Bush thinks he did it, then he did it.”

Others declined to engage the information at all. Most curious to the researchers were the respondents who reasoned that Saddam must have been connected to Sept. 11, because why else would the Bush Administration have gone to war in Iraq?

The desire to believe this was more powerful, according to the researchers, than any active campaign to plant the idea.

Such a campaign did exist in the run-up to the war…

He won’t credit [politicians spouting misinformation] alone for the phenomenon, though.

“That kind of puts the idea out there, but what people then do with the idea … ” he said. “Our argument is that people aren’t just empty vessels. You don’t just sort of open up their brains and dump false information in and they regurgitate it. They’re actually active processing cognitive agents”…

The alternate explanation raises queasy questions for the rest of society.

“I think we’d all like to believe that when people come across disconfirming evidence, what they tend to do is to update their opinions,” said Andrew Perrin, an associate professor at UNC and another author of the study…

“The implications for how democracy works are quite profound, there’s no question in my mind about that,” Perrin said. “What it means is that we have to think about the emotional states in which citizens find themselves that then lead them to reason and deliberate in particular ways.”

Evidence suggests people are more likely to pay attention to facts within certain emotional states and social situations. Some may never change their minds. For others, policy-makers could better identify those states, for example minimizing the fear that often clouds a person’s ability to assess facts …

The Alternet article links to a must-read interview with psychology professor Sheldon Solomon, who explains:

A large body of evidence shows that momentarily [raising fear of death], typically by asking people to think about themselves dying, intensifies people’s strivings to protect and bolster aspects of their worldviews, and to bolster their self-esteem. The most common finding is that [fear of death] increases positive reactions to those who share cherished aspects of one’s cultural worldview, and negative reactions toward those who violate cherished cultural values or are merely different.

The same is true for Afghanistan. People tend to rationalize justifications for the war, even though Obama has not given any.

But Don’t We Have to Clean Up the Mess Now?

Americans assume that we need to continue the Afghan war to stop terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But newly-declassified government documents show that the Taliban might not have supported Bin Laden or Al Qaeda’s terorrorist activities.

And as I pointed out in October, the rational for a large-scale war in Afghanistan doesn’t make sense:

The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes:

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.

With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year…

Indeed, a leading advisor to the U.S. military – the very hawkish Rand Corporation – released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida”. The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security.

As a press release about the study states:

Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.

***

But if you want a military solution anyway, Andrew J. Bacevich has an answer.

Bacevich is no dove. Graduating from West Point in 1969, he served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He then held posts in Germany, including the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the United States, and the Persian Gulf up to his retirement from the service with the rank of Colonel in the early 1990s. Bacevich holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University prior to joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998. Bacevich’s is a military family. On May 13, 2007, Bacevich’s son, was killed in action while serving in Iraq.

Last year, Bacevich wrote in an article in Newsweek:

Meanwhile, the chief effect of allied military operations there so far has been not to defeat the radical Islamists but to push them across the Pakistani border. As a result, efforts to stabilize Afghanistan are contributing to the destabilization of Pakistan, with potentially devastating implications. September’s bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad suggests that the extremists are growing emboldened. Today and for the foreseeable future, no country poses a greater potential threat to U.S. national security than does Pakistan. To risk the stability of that nuclear-armed state in the vain hope of salvaging Afghanistan would be a terrible mistake.

All this means that the proper U.S. priority for Afghanistan should be not to try harder but to change course. The war in Afghanistan (like the Iraq War) won’t be won militarily. It can be settled—however imperfectly—only through politics.

The new U.S. president needs to realize that America’s real political objective in Afghanistan is actually quite modest: to ensure that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda can’t use it as a safe haven for launching attacks against the West. Accomplishing that won’t require creating a modern, cohesive nation-state. U.S. officials tend to assume that power in Afghanistan ought to be exercised from Kabul. Yet the real influence in Afghanistan has traditionally rested with tribal leaders and warlords. Rather than challenge that tradition, Washington should work with it. Offered the right incentives, warlords can accomplish U.S. objectives more effectively and more cheaply than Western combat battalions. The basis of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan should therefore become decentralization and outsourcing, offering cash and other emoluments to local leaders who will collaborate with the United States in excluding terrorists from their territory.

This doesn’t mean Washington should blindly trust that warlords will become America’s loyal partners. U.S. intelligence agencies should continue to watch Afghanistan closely, and the Pentagon should crush any jihadist activities that local powers fail to stop themselves. As with the Israelis in Gaza, periodic airstrikes may well be required to pre-empt brewing plots before they mature.

Were U.S. resources unlimited and U.S. interests in Afghanistan more important, upping the ante with additional combat forces might make sense. But U.S. power — especially military power — is quite limited these days, and U.S. priorities lie elsewhere.

Rather than committing more troops, therefore, the new president should withdraw them while devising a more realistic — and more affordable — strategy for Afghanistan

In other words, America’s war strategy is increasing instability in Pakistan. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. So the surge could very well decrease not only American national security but the security of the entire world.

I think that diplomatic rather than military means should be used to kill or contain the 100 bad guys in Afghanistan. But if we are going to remain engaged militarily, Bacevich’s approach is a lot smarter than a surge of boots on the ground.