Lively forum airs NDAA issues

This post by Thomas Nephew was originally published by the Montgomery County (MD) Civil Rights Coalition.

Impassioned, knowledgeable speakers and a lively, engaged audience—including two Takoma Park city council members, Seth Grimes and Kay Daniels-Cohen — made for a very successful NDAA forum [on April 26] at the Takoma Park Community Center.

Thomas Nephew welcomed about 35 forum-goers, speaking of the NDAA as a “civil liberties emergency.”  He said that both the forum itself and the NDAA/AUMF resolution that MCCRC is advocating are products of coalition and collaboration:

We built it from two model ordinances developed by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the ACLU, and worked with those organizations and the Defending Dissent Foundation to perfect it.  The result is a resolution that has been vetted by some of the best legal minds and civil liberties advocates in the country, and that is explicitly endorsed by the Maryland ACLU, the BORDC, Defending Dissent, and SAALT.

Eric Bond, editor of the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Voice, introduced the two speakers of the evening: Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network, and Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.


The Futility of Federal Office

Years ago I made my first speech with the Tenth Amendment Center in a location far East of Los Angeles, where the urban sprawl ends and the desert begins.  The evening started off with much enthusiasm as a leading member of the group announced that she would be running for Congress.  Later, I heard one of the best compliments of my life- that I had caused a Federal candidate to re-consider her decision.

“After listening to you, I feel like I would make a bigger difference here in CA…” she said, with a solemn tone.

I agreed.

How many more times do we need to see good people battered on the rocks of Mount DC before We the People change course?

Recently, the founders of the Patrick Henry Caucus all ran for Federal offices.  How many of them even GOT a chance to be a lone difference maker in a sea of disgusting greed and self-interest?  One. Four out of the five lost their bids, aced out by candidates and a political establishment that knows how to steal your message like a Mockingbird.

I found it ironic that the founders of a caucus to break down the power in DC would be so eager to campaign for Federal office in the first place, but if one assumes the purity of their intent…then four candidates who represent the antithesis of centralized power couldn’t even get in the door.


The Costs of War

by Ron Paul

Last month Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the addition of some 1,900 mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff in attempt to get a handle on the epidemic of suicides among combat veterans. Unfortunately, when presidents misuse our military on an unprecedented scale – and Congress lets them get away with it – the resulting stress causes military suicides to increase dramatically, both among active duty and retired service members. In fact, military deaths from suicide far outnumber combat deaths. According to an article in the Air Force Times this month, suicides among airmen are up 40 percent over last year.

Considering the multiple deployments service members are forced to endure as the war in Afghanistan stretches into its second decade, these figures are sadly unsurprising.

Ironically, the same VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was forced to retire from the Army by President Bush for daring to suggest that an invasion and occupation of Iraq would not be the cakewalk that neoconservatives promised. Then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who is not a military veteran, claimed that General Shinseki was “wildly off the mark” for suggesting that several hundred thousand soldiers would be required to secure post-invasion Iraq. Now we see who was right on the costs of war.

In addition to the hidden human costs of our seemingly endless wars are the economic costs. In 2008, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.” Stiglitz illustrates that taking into account the total costs of the war, including replacing military equipment and caring for thousands of wounded veterans for the rest of their lives, the Iraq war will cost us orders of magnitude greater than the 50 billion dollars promised by the White House before the invasion. Add all the costs of Afghanistan into the mix, wrote Stiglitz, and the bill tops $7 trillion.

Is it any wonder why our infrastructure at home crumbles, healthcare is more expensive and harder to come by, and unemployment together with inflation continue their steady rise? Imagine the productive power of that seven trillion dollars in our private sector. What could it have done were it in private hands; what may have been discovered, what diseases might have been cured, what might have been built, how many productive jobs created?