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Today starts the removal of troops from Iraq…

… and over the next couple of weeks they will be out, with a few thousand (more?) advisors remaining… doing what, I don’t know. There is, I guess, a certain amount of relief being felt, but the government is not making this a huge event. It’s pretty quiet actually.

While looking at comments from warriors and people who made their billions off of war, I found this in the NY Times from 2009 when the forthcoming (2012) pullout was announced:

“Now that the war’s over, we’re going to get to go back to developing exciting new weapon systems, instead of just trotting out the ones that are proven to work,” said a visibly excited Robert Stevens, Lockheed C.E.O., before a reporter informed him of the Senate moratorium on new weapons systems development.

“Oh,” said Stevens, looking flushed, and quickly excused himself.

As for me, the most exciting weapon systems are the ones you dismantle.

Defining myself politically with the changes that have happened in the last 65 years.

On May 24th I’ll be sixty five and another 1st generation Baby Boomer will be officially “Old” (though, because of our cruddy economy which stands between employment and age, I am already retired and at the mercy of Social Security… which my Congressional leadership wants to do away with).

Most of my adult life I have been a liberal Democrat… in college during the height of the Civil Rights movement and the fiercest part of the anti-Vietnam War campaign, as a working citizen through booms and busts in the economy ending in the major recession we are apparently now out of (except in my house… yours too?)… and I voted as a liberal Dem in the past couple of elections. Now I’m not certain that “liberal Democrat” has meaning anymore.

While I shudder at people who are now called “Originalists” (heard this term on a CATO Institute panel on C-Span, where it was tied as a label on Justice Clarence Thomas),  who think of the Constitution as unchangeable and fixed, I am upset with some lack of adherence to Constitutional regulations which have not been changed in the document, but have certainly been changed in practice.

The power to declare war, for instance, is still Constitutionally the province of Congress, and specifically the House. Yet, from my earliest childhood when Truman got us into the “Korean War” – called a “Police Action” because it was never declared by Congress (and also never ended, btw); to my early adult years when LBJ got us into the “Viet Nam War“, started as a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), again, without the declaration by Congress as a war; to the first “Gulf War” that George H. W. Bush got us into without a Congressional Declaration; to the Second “Gulf War”…also known as the “War in Iraq”… which has really not ended since it was followed by a decade of occupation, which spread from George W. Bush through Bill Clinton to Barack Obama and continues, to some extent, today (although the government would have us believe that it is over); to the current “War in Afghanistan” started by Bush 2 a year before the Iraq War, allowed to simmer over a low flame for a dozen years, then refocused and put into first place by Barack Obama; I have seen the Congress give up it’s war declaration responsibilities and the Executive Administration take the freedom to do whatever they want with the Military it commands.

Whew…sorry for the long paragraph above. I had to get it out, however.

Now we are in a conflict in Libya, not yet called a “War”, although as you watch the TV news you can see that label arriving on swift feet. The President didn’t bother doing anything with Congress on this… they were on vacation (from the tedious job where they work from Monday to Thursday, then spend the rest of their week raising money for the next election) after all… but took the excuse of a U.N. Resolution taking precedence over our National Law and all of a sudden we are in our third Middle East conflict, going on simultaneously with the first two. And we’re doing all of them without a supporting economy… the romance of borrowed funds.

Now I read that the Conservatives in Congress are going to come back this week, from the much needed time off they have had, and express opposition to Libyan war. As Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R – Maryland) said last night:

“The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution.”

Of course, some would say that the Conservative Republican majority in the House, by spending most of their year on voting against anything their more liberal colleagues are in favor of, in areas which have little to do with our current problems, ignoring the unemployment problem the recession has created and deciding to “fix” the economy by defunding most of the services that keep us going, while making sure the rich don’t get taxed, has also been in an affront to our Constitution.

I’m getting more and more upset with both sides of our elected officialdom and with the outrageous empire we have established worldwide with our 200+ military bases and rush to be the “defense” force in countries where there is oil for our insatiable power demands. I am frustrated that, as an individual, there seems to be little or nothing I can do about the situation, with the one exception of pointing the problems out in this blog. Voting doesn’t seem to solve the problem because politicians lie… they run saying they will do one thing…they get elected…and then they become the managers and implementers of the “same old same old.”

The Corporate World eats up the majority of our economic resources. The Corporate world controls the officials their support elects. The Corporate world does not mind that they have allowed our millions of jobs to move to China and India for cheap costs and have wrecked our own economy in the process. Yet they are not a power that is recognized by our Constitution… only by those our Constitution allows us to elect.

I guess I would like to define myself as a “Constitutional Progressive” and no longer as a “Democratic Liberal.” I would like to see us uphold those regulations and responsibilities that the Constitution-as-Amended contains, yet support changes in the Constitution that reflect our current world and the protection of the people in our Nation without depriving them of their rights and input. That means not an “Originalist” viewpoint, but a believer in the social and political equality of citizens and the ability to lead full and meaningful lives in a country that our taxes support.

I don’t know if this is likely, but I will campaign for it as if it is.

Now it looks like our participation in the No Fly Zone in Libya is a bigger thing than the UN asked for…

Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Febr...

Gaddafi

Here’s what Obama says:

United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council Resolution.

President Obama states that despite warnings, Gaddafi has not implemented a promised cease-fire:

His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

NBC’s Richard Engel reports from Libya:

“Rebels say they are incredibly encouraged now that they have Western military support, but the rebels are leaderless. They are poorly armed; they are disorganized.”

Gaddafi’s forces are not giving up, however. This from Reuters:

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fired on a crowd of unarmed people in the rebel-held city of Misrata on Monday and are using civilians as human shields against air strikes, residents said.

It looks like the United States forces are taking over leadership of the UN action… however, I just heard the NY Times reporter in Paris say on the radio that we are doing more in the eyes of the Arabs than the UN has called for. That is, to me, our regular stumble in the Middle East.

I’m going to check out and listen to Obama’s press conference going on now from South America where he is travelling.

Afghanistan is getting worse, not better…

This map showing the increase of high security risk areas growing in Afghanistan between March and October has been released by the UN.

 

What on Earth are we doing there? Isn’t it clear that we can’t succeed here?

And remember… if we get 100% out of Afghanistan, the money we save could solve ALL our other problems.

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Unconstitutional

…says Federal Judge in Riverside California.
Now maybe Obama will really get rid of it.
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
A federal judge on Thursday declared the U.S. military‘s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional and said she will issue an order to stop the government from enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy nationwide.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips said the ban violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or are discovered engaging in homosexual activity, even in the privacy of their own homes off base.

In her ruling, Phillips said the policy doesn’t help military readiness and instead has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services.
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