WAR ON DEMOCRACY
It appears that the ruthless self-serving corporate swarm has finally captured its ultimate prey, the American republic, and is in position, hovering over it, anxiously poised and ready to strike its final death blows. Richard (I prefer Dick) Cheney and his administration now have the opportunity to get what they've always wanted from the higher court: the shield of absolute secrecy over all government endeavors.
Cheney is charged with stocking his "Energy Task Force" with corporate swine (Ken Lay being one of them). The catch, however, is this: in 1993, the National Legal and Legal Policy Center sued Hillary Clinton's "Health Care Task Force" for the unveiling of their recorded meetings and won. Normally in law this is called a "precedent," which should present a problem for our latest pig at the trough.
Enter Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who is way out in right field, and not only that, but huntin' buddies with ol' Dick. Problem solved. In the highest court in the land, there resides seven justices out of nine who have been appointed by Republican presidents, and they now have the power to fulfill the ultimate governmental goal: the freedom to do whatever they want without public scrutiny—with the exception of the obligatory and empty sound bites they provide the press.
Cheney will make his case that "discovery" by the public of any information acquired by the government will weaken the government. Scalia, however, could possibly have the final vote in this monumental decision, and since he's refused to recuse himself from the case, he waits patiently, with knife at hand, waiting to strike the final blow to the spirit of democracy, and as Walter Karp once said, "Without a democratic spirit to drive them, democratic institutions are as lifeless as sailing ships on the wind."
AVOIDING THE DRAFT
Here's a simple (is there any such thing?) solution to the draft/stronger military debate. Why not take the money it would involve to reinstate the draft, and a couple billion extra, and spend it on increasing the starting salary for recruits to, oh say, $24,000 a year.
The starting wage the military offers isn't much incentive, even with the "benefits" they also provide. Housing, food, clothing and medical care being what the average recruit just got for free from their parents for 18 years or so, doesn't carry much weight. Look, McDonalds has a benefit package too, and one of their bonuses isn't getting shot at. But $2,000 per month plus benefits might sway even the kids bound for college. Hell, I'd enlist for $2,000 a month ... well, maybe if I was 18 and job hunting I would. Bet they'd line up around the block, and the military would have the option to "pick and choose" the new recruits, instead of taking whoever gets the "lottery call."
If a kid is willing to drop everything, and put his or her life and future on the line for their country, isn't he or she worth what they pay someone to manage a shoe store? Instead of offering them farm laborer's wages? Did we mention they'll be shooting at you?
Maybe this plan is too simple and doesn't have enough "pork" in it for the average politician to consider proposing it to Congress. You'd also, of course, have to decide what to do about the wages for the existing troops who went in under the military's "instant poverty program." Let's put our money where our troops are. Or maybe just bow out (somewhat) gracefully, and bring 'em home.
U.S. GOING BROKE
There have been many articles recently concerning Medicare and Social Security going broke. Alan Greenspan suggested cutting benefits and raising taxes. Seems odd that President Bush is using tax cuts to buy votes while Social Security is going broke and Greenspan is suggesting tax increases.
I would think the American people would take more of an interest but I guess paying into something they'll never get back doesn't get their attention like the price of gas. I would also think the people would ask why we pay for retirement, perks and health care for our elected legislators when it was our legislators who borrowed from Social Security in much the same manner as floating notes, borrowing from one bank to pay a loan at another? A debt that will never be repaid such as the $7 trillion federal debt is bankruptcy in this taxpayer's view.
Social Security and Medicare are an easy fix but our legislators aren't going to do it. Why would they? The following are a few sites that point out billions in wasted tax dollars: www.taxpayer.net, www.ntu.org, www.pogo.org, www.cagw.org, www.reclaimdemocracy.org.
Get on www.nextrevolution.net home page to see them. Post ideas, follow-up on ideas, and send e-mail to the White House and your congressmen to eliminate government waste and use that money to save Social Security, Medicare and more or do nothing and have nothing. An individual can call his or her legislator but does that call get anything done? Come together on one site, create a lobby to offset the campaign contributors and Washington lobby to regain your representation.
—Scott D. Tisthammer,
TORTURE AND DEGRADATION
Aside from the loss of life and limbs and the suicide bombing by Iraqi "martyrs" and suicides by our own soldiers, our involvement in Iraq has reached another new low. This new low might be proportionate to our soldiers' suicides.
Some militarists espouse the theory that to defeat "them" you have to become one of "them" whereupon one notes that: "We have met the enemy, and they are us."
What military handbook are we using to authorize the recently exposed torture and degradation of Iraqi prisoners by our soldiers? Even the self-proclaimed "War President" expressed disgust at the recent display of man's inhumanity to man. Enough!
—Rohn Webb, Middleton