There has been yet another story published about the factions of the tea party movement, which are divided along the lines of Sarah Palin and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and the split over defense spending:
Palin, the former Republican vice presidential nominee, invokes the importance of a strong and robust military in speech after speech, while Paul, the libertarian Republican who rocketed to the national scene during the 2008 presidential race, has long argued for drastic cuts in defense spending.
It’s a schism that has long existed within the GOP’s fold – between hawkish conservatives and spend-weary Republicans – but one which the Tea Party movement’s diverse coalition and varied figure heads have specifically laid bare over the past year.
The division is especially apparent this week as Paul, whom many in the Tea Party movement hope mounts another bid for president, is teaming up with Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat, to call for substantial cuts in U.S. military spending.
But at the same time Paul reiterates his across-the-board fiscal conservatism, Palin is making moves to ensure the Tea Party does not articulate an agenda that includes advocating for military spending cuts, even as the movement’s larger agenda is focused on reigning in government spending.
In a speech before a conservative gathering in Virginia late last month, Palin stressed that while the “Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine” must be tempered, spending on the military should remain strong.
Will the tea party movement get behind defense spending cuts? It won’t if Sarah Palin has her way:
Sarah Palin is waging a battle inside the Tea Party movement to exempt defense spending from the group’s small-government, anti-deficit fervor.
There’s growing concern among Republicans — and especially among the pro-defense neoconservative wing of the party — that national-security spending, which is under a level of scrutiny and pressure not seen since the end of the Cold War, could fall victim to the anti-establishment, anti-spending agenda of the Tea Party movement. Palin, as the unofficial leader of that movement and its most prominent celebrity, is moving to carve out such funding from any drives to cut overall government expenditures.
There’s a sense among GOP insiders that she is not only the perfect figure to make the case, but she’s also the only one who can pull it off.
Palin’s drive to lead the charge against defense cuts on the right was on display in a June 27 speech at “Freedom Fest,” a conservative gathering in Norfolk, VA, where she sent a clear message to Republicans that deficit reduction can’t come at the expense of the military.
“Something has to be done urgently to stop the out of control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine, and no government agency should be immune from budget scrutiny,” she said. “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military. If we lose wars, if we lose the ability to deter adversaries, if we lose the ability to provide security for ourselves and for our allies, we risk losing all that makes America great! That is a price we cannot afford to pay.”
Well, that didn’t take long. President Barack Obama is backtracking on his plans to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan:
A day after replacing the top American general in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said Thursday that U.S. troops could remain in significant numbers in the country well after his withdrawal timeline begins next summer.
Though his plan calls for the start of a troop withdrawal in a year, “We did not say, starting in July 2011, suddenly there will be no troops from the United States or allied countries in Afghanistan,” Obama said at a joint White House press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
“We didn’t say we’d be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us,” Obama said. “We said we’d begin a transition phase that would allow the Afghan government to take more and more responsibility.”
Obama’s answer seemed to run counter to the description of the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal timeline Vice President Joe Biden gave to author Jonathan Alter. In a recently-published book on Obama’s first year as president, Alter quotes Biden as saying, “in July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it.”
Biden’s office, however, has since downplayed the statement, saying Biden had made a hurried, off-hand remark.
There is a reason Thomas Jefferson said, “I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.” Not only do you have the monetary commitment, you have the cost of the innocent lives affected, you also have the physiological on the lives of the soldiers fighting, which can at times lead to suicide. Unfortunately, that is becoming more prevalent.
Nearly as many American troops at home and abroad have committed suicide this year as have been killed in combat in Afghanistan. Alarmed at the growing rate of soldiers taking their own lives, the Army has begun investigating its mental health and suicide prevention programs.
There were 197 Army suicides in 2008, according to the Army’s numbers. The total includes active- and non-active-duty soldiers.
Last year, the number was 245. This year, through May, it’s already 163.
The Army has instituted many programs to counsel and train soldiers. Stephen Colley had undergone suicide prevention training.
The suicides continue even as America’s war in Iraq is winding down and multiple deployments are past.
What is causing these men, and some women, to kill themselves?
Being the son of a Vietnam veteran, I’ve seen first hand what the after effects of war can do to a family. It takes a tremendous toll. My father struggled with things he saw in during his time in the Marines and dealt with it for the rest of his life.
With respect to all sides, this could be avoided if we were not engaging in unnecessary wars and conflicts.
“[Y]ou have your own secret military programs that go beyond even what Bush was doing. You didn’t think we’d find out?! You stumble in late at night. We’re not blind. You stumble in late at night, reeking of power - little traces of classified on your collar.” - Jon Stewart
On Tuesday night, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, lit into President Barack Obama for not living up to campaign promises of turning back abuses of civil liberties under the Bush Administration and reigning in executive power.
Stewart specifically slammed Obama on refusing to let foreign detainees have their day in court (suspending habeas rights), expanding secret wars, maintaining the “state secrets” policy of the last administration, questioning whether or not to read Americans their Miranda rights and prosecuting whistleblowers.
Here is the clip. It’s over 8 minutes, but it’s worth watching:
The highlights lowlights from last night’s floor debate:
Last night, the House of Representatives voted to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” by a vote of 234 to 194:
The House voted Thursday to let the Defense Department repeal the ban on gay and bisexual people from serving openly in the military, a major step toward dismantling the 1993 law widely known as “.”
The provision would allow military commanders to repeal the ban. The repeal would permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
It was adopted as an amendment to the annual Pentagon policy bill, which the House is expected to vote on Friday. The repeal would be allowed 60 days after a Pentagon report is completed on the ramifications of allowing openly gay service members, and military leaders certify that it would not be disruptive. The report is due by Dec. 1.
The House vote was 234 to 194, with 229 Democrats and 5 Republicans in favor, after an emotionally charged debate. Opposed were 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats.
You can see the roll call vote here.
The five Republicans that voted for repeal of the outdated, discriminatory policy are Joseph Cao (R-LA), Charles Djou (R-HI), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ron Paul (R-TX).
The Senate Armed Services Committee also approved an amendment yesterday, by a vote of 16 to 12, to end the policy.
It looks like there will be a vote on “don’t ask, don’t tell” in at least one chamber of Congress before the week is out:
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) advocacy group, said it expects a vote to come up Thursday on an amendment to a defense authorization bill that would end the military’s long-standing prohibition on gay and lesbian servicemembers serving openly in the military.
HRC said Monday that it expects the amendment to come up for a vote concurrently on Thursday, one time on the House floor and one time in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The group is focusing on six key centrists — five Democrats and one Republican — who sit on the Senate committee ahead of the vote. The target senators are Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
Democrats have the majorities in both chambers to make this happen, after months of dawdling around on the issue. This is a segment on their base that they need to turnout in November. There are no excuses for not getting this passed.
In a recent column, Nicholas D. Kristof noted a study that showed Costa Rica to be quite the paradise:
There are several ways of measuring happiness in countries, all inexact, but this pearl of Central America does stunningly well by whatever system is used. For example, the World Database of Happiness, compiled by a Dutch sociologist on the basis of answers to surveys by Gallup and others, lists Costa Rica in the top spot out of 148 nations.
That’s because Costa Ricans, asked to rate their own happiness on a 10-point scale, average 8.5. Denmark is next at 8.3, the United States ranks 20th at 7.4 and Togo and Tanzania bring up the caboose at 2.6.
Kristof notes that Costa Rica is demilitarized, and also notes who the bottom is:
The United States is 19th, and Zimbabwe comes in last.
What makes Zimbabwe and Costa Rica the most different? Economics.
Costa Rica recently elected center-right presidential candidate Laura Chinchilla, who has vowed to continue the free trade policies of her predecessors. She received competition from libertarian candidate Otto Guevera, an ironic last name for a libertarian leader. Meanwhile, the socialist dystopia of Zimbabwe has gone further and further into hell due to Robert Mugabe’s central planning. The difference could not be starker.
In contrast to what some claim, collectivism is not the outgrowth of pacifism. Real socialist states, not the mixed economies of Europe that the far right considers socialist, like Venezuela and Cuba were founded by militant leaders. Violent rhetoric and paranoia helps them to keep the public on their side as their nationalizations fail, leaving them an external force to blame the failures on.