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Put Wars and Banksters on PAYGO

By David Swanson

On Tuesday President Obama proposed that any increases in federal spending on anything useful, such as healthcare or retirement security, must be balanced by cuts and savings to something else useful, such as healthcare or retirement security.

"The pay-as-you-go rule is very simple," Obama said. "Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere." Except that it's not so simple. Obama would make an exception to allow Bush's tax cuts for millionaires to be extended past their 2010 expiration date, as well as to prevent the alternative-minimum tax from impacting the overclass. Still, the White House insists that everything is very simple:

Why Would Anyone Oppose Torture?

By David Swanson

Someone recently asked if I could please explain to him why anybody would oppose torture. After all, we defend killing in wars, so why not defend torture? And wouldn't I torture to save my kidnapped child?

Here are my top 10 reasons for opposing torture:

1. It's illegal. If you want to legalize it, legalize it, but don't discard the whole idea of following laws.

2. When the United States tortures, it loses the ability to tell any other nation not to torture, including nations you wouldn't want torturing the people you wouldn't want tortured, namely Americans.

3. U.S. torture, according to the U.S. military and the FBI, has been a major recruiting tool for anti-U.S. terrorists and a cause of the death of thousands of Americans.

Congress Could Investigate War Fraud With a Mirror

By David Swanson

The greatest war fraud is the funding of war by individuals who claim to oppose it and who vote against funding it whenever a bill is guaranteed to pass. On May 14, 2009, 60 congress members voted against $85 billion to continue the war in Iraq and escalate the war in Afghanistan, plus $12 billion more to buy the Pentagon airplanes it doesn't want and related extravagances. Of those 60, 51 were Democrats. Some of them made beautiful and principled statements about their No votes.

Finally a Filibuster of War Funding Threatened

By David Swanson, http://afterdowningstreet.org

How many years have we pleaded and prodded and pushed and protested to try to find just one senator who would threaten to filibuster war funding for a war that many of them said they "opposed"? And now suddenly we have two senators threatening just that!  We may, in fact, see a filibuster of war money, proving that such a thing is physically possible.

And how many years have we demanded that the House vote down bills to fund wars that a majority of House members have long claimed to "oppose"? Well, we may see that happen, and it may be thanks to the threat of a filibuster.

Sadly, peace is not as prominent in Beltway thinking as all of this would suggest.

Making It Worse: Campaign for America's Future vs. Single-Payer

By David Swanson

In a far better than usual, and very encouraging, conference, held by the Campaign for America's Future last week, the low point was the complete white-out of single-payer healthcare.  Rather than apologizing, which even Max Baucus has done sort of, CAF decided to put forth a bunch of insultingly false reasons why single-payer is a terrible idea.  These are not reasons why it was shut out of the panels and plenaries and press conferences.  In fact, if it was such a terrible idea, it ought to have been openly discussed so that we could all be thus enlightened.

Moran for Virginia

By David Swanson

I ran into Creigh Deeds, candidate for Virginia Governor, at the farmer's market in Charlottesville on Saturday. He'd been trailing in the polls for a long time while the two men ahead of him, Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe beat up on each other. Now Deeds is leading, but only just barely. Essentially it's a three-way tie for the Democratic nomination in the Tuesday, June 9th, primary, with virtually nobody planning to vote and the outcome entirely dependent on who gets their handful of supporters to actually go to the polls.

The Omnibus CYA Act of 2009

By David Swanson

A healthy rivalry between the branches of government is the soul of our republic, so when the Senate's proposed ban on releasing photos and videos of torture fell short of completely covering things up, the White House proposed allowing prisoners to plead guilty to capital crimes and be executed without actual trials that might reveal evidence. Preemption being the technique of the hour, I'm going to preemptively fill you in on the next move from Capitol Hill. You will have read it here first.

Join a Convoy to Gaza

By David Swanson

Illustrated by Michael Parenti

Kevin Ovenden contacted me. He works with British MP George Galloway -- yes, this hero. Ovenden is currently in the United States helping to put together a convoy of, hopefully, hundreds of vehicles and people to bring medical aid to the besieged people of Gaza.

Americans are invited to take part. The cost of a plane ticket, a hotel for two nights in Egypt, and other expenses is required. I told Ovenden I'd like to go if I can raise the money. If you'd like to read, hear, and see my reports from Gaza at http://AfterDowningStreet.org please go to that site and contribute. If $2,000 comes in, I'll go. If that total isn't reached, I'll use your contributions in our work for peace and justice.

But this is not just about me. I want YOU to contact Kevin and join the convoy yourself. Here's what Kevin says about the trip:

We will fly out from the US to Cairo on July 4 (message being that Palestinian independence is as worthy as US independence) where we will cohere the convoy, aid and vehicles and head off aiming to enter Gaza on July 12. We organized a similar operation from Britain in February - driving for 23 days with 107 vehicles, 255 people and approx $2 million worth of aid through France and Spain, and then across the Maghreb.

DOJ Refuses to Appear for Hearing: Will Conyers Ask DOJ to Compel Itself to Appear?

So, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on abuse of the "state secrets" privilege and asked someone from the Department of Justice to appear and testify. The DOJ told Conyers, not exactly in these words, to go Cheney himself. Now, given that a member of Congress would need a spine surgically implanted before taking the obvious step of sending the Capitol Police to pick up a witness, any witness, for example Jay Bybee, Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, or the groping Judge from Texas who's being impeached (WHY oh WHY couldn't Cheney have groped somebody??), and given that every committee either blows off noncompliance or asks the DOJ to handle it or takes it to court, what are the chances of DOJ being compelled to comply with the "invitation" to talk about the practice of claiming "state secrets"? And what are the chances of the branch of government that craves absolute power voluntarily complying with the unwanted requests of the branch the craves subservience and humiliation? Let's face it: the Capitol Police exist only to lock up protesters, and the protesters are protesting a body with no power and no desire to fight for power.

Stop the War Supplemental

The House is about to vote on another supplemental spending bill for continued and escalated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're not accustomed to winning in our efforts to block war money, but the Democratic leadership has delayed the vote out of concern that we will.