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The U.S. Conference of Mayors has just done something it hasn't done since Vietnam, passing a resolution that supports efforts to speed up the ending of our current wars and calls on the President and Congress to "bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs."
Events are snowballing. The President is about to announce whether he will violate his commitment to a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan in July. The House of Representatives is passing amendments blocking funding for the Libya War, and 10 congress members have sued the president in court to end it. Iraq, we are told, may soon "request" a continued occupation into next year. A CIA war in Yemen is ramping up, along with that in Pakistan.
Enough is enough. Robert Gates just told the New York Times these are wars of choice. Let's make a different choice.
For years there was debate on Capitol Hill over whether or not Congress could end a war by cutting off the funding. Despite the Constitution's clarity, and the clarity of numerous precedents, Senator Russ Feingold was obliged to hold hearings to explain to his colleagues what the power of the purse is. That debate is over.
Those who pretended for years they didn't have the power to cut off the dollar spigot have dropped the pretense. Now it's purely about whether they have the will. The reason for this shift, of course, is that they are actually close to having the will.
Unless Rahm Emanuel talks them out of it over the weekend, come Monday the US Conference of Mayors will vote to pass its first resolution since Vietnam calling for the end of war and the re-allocation of all that money to something useful.
Here's the New York Times:
The first mayor to sign onto this resolution other than the original sponsor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles was Charlottesville, Va.'s Dave Norris. Norris signed on immediately upon being asked, and his name helped encourage others to join the list of sponsors.
Eventually 21 mayors signed onto the resolution prior to the commencement of the conference now underway in Baltimore.
Here is the resolution that will make news on Monday, just as President Obama appears likely to violate his commitment to a major withdrawal from Afghanistan, and just as Congress is moving to cut off funding for the unauthorized war in Libya:
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO REDIRECT MILITARY SPENDING TO DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States are collectively paying approximately $126 billion dollars per year to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, 6,024 members of the US armed forces have died in these wars; and at least 120,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the coalition attacks began.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. Congress to bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy
Credit where it's due.
Thank your Mayor, Charlottesville!
We're years behind Tunisia and Egypt in public understanding of how government of, by, and for the people works, but some in the United States have been inspired and begun forming a path that has real potential. In New York City, students, academics, activists, and workers have joined together to resist the global-national-local agenda of plutocracy being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg.
The numbers are small, but the alliance joining workers with students important. And the approach is exactly right. This group is attempting to interfere with the work of City Hall until City Hall comes to represent the people of New York City. And they are attempting to do this, not for an hour or a day, but until they are satisfied that the tide is turning in a better direction.
The New York Times has posted seven super-short columns on how to cut the U.S. military. All seven seem to support cutting the military in one way or another. That's excellent, and I don't mean to complain, but . . . .
The United States has the largest military in the world. We could cut it by 85% and still have the largest military in the world. And that's without counting all the military spending that we funnel through departments other than the Pentagon, spending that brings our annual total to around $1 trillion.
I'm feeling pretty guilty. I hadn't known I was causing billionaires so much suffering. The former co-chair of President Obama's deficit (a.k.a. catfood) commission just asked me during a public event to stop going after rich people. Then he came up to me after the event to make sure I'd gotten the point. He seemed truly worried about it.
As in any other U.S. city, things are looking up for Charlottesville, Va., job seekers who don't mind helping to kill tons of people for no good reason. This week's "community job fair" features some prominent members of the Charlottesville community whom we don't usually think of as such.
When I travel the country, people often inform me that their town is a military-industrial town as if that were unusual. I always ask them if they can name a U.S. town that isn't -- in part because nobody has yet been able to, and in part because if someone ever does I might want to move there.
The White House has a handy website to mislead you about your tax dollars at http://www.whitehouse.gov/taxreceipt
It claims that only 26.3% goes to "National Defense". This is similar to the claim in the 1040EZ US income tax form booklet (see pages 36-37). Here are those two pages in a PDF. There the claim is that the U.S. government only spends 22% of its money on "National defense, veterans, and foreign affairs." The form admits that you could leave out the "foreign affairs" part and still be at 21%.
The White House website claims to calculate both veterans' expenses and foreign affairs separately and still put "defense" alone at 26.3%.
Pick up a copy of a 1040EZ US income tax form with all the instructions, particularly pages 36-37. Here are those two pages in a PDF. You'll discover that the U.S. government only spends 22% of its money on "National defense, veterans, and foreign affairs." The form admits that you could leave out the "foreign affairs" part and still be at 21%.
However, take a look now at the pie chart created by the War Resisters League, which shows 54% of the budget going to the military.
21% and 54% aren't even close to each other. This is not "good enough for government work." This is our money. What gives?
2.24.11 Best-selling author and political analyst David Swanson joins Coy for an extended conversation about the events in Wisconsin. Swanson breaks down the comments made by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during the recent prank call by an imposter claiming to be well known philanthropist and political advocate David Koch. He also addresses the idea of a “class war” which we may or may not be witnessing in the Packer state. Finally, the two discuss the movement right here in Charlottesville to give UVA employees a “living wage.” Be sure to check out his most recent book War is a Lie.