Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Why is NM Job Growth Non Existent? A Response to Abq Jrnl Winthrop Q
Dear Winthrop, You are one of my favorite writers for the Journal. You always offer a less slanted objective then what the paper is known for. In your piece today regarding job growth you suggest readers offer their suggestions of how to improve job growth in NM. Knowing the Journal is selective over what they publish I figured I would respond here to your request.
There is an elephant in the room you neglect to mention in the article and listing of "It's" (ex. It's the Labor Pool?). It's the war and the size of the defense budget.
It's the cost of the wars we have been in since October 7, 2001, for 11 years and counting. The Afghan and Iraq wars have cost our country 2 billion dollars a week. $2bil per WEEK. Staggering costs, no one mentions this cost anymore. How much is the cost of the Afghanistan war now? Last I heard it is costing 1.5bil per week.
These are enormous numbers of which no one mentions. No politician, no media. The real cost is calculated out in trillions, which includes taking care of the wounded soldiers for years and the hard costs of these wars in dollars expended, hard earned dollars which could have been used in this country
The following article featured on TruthAlliance.net dated July 17, 2012 starts to expose some of the reason we are screwed as far as job growth here.
Photo above is “The Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility, about 12 miles northeast of Baghdad, is seen with unused building materials nearby. The site is a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million. The official in charge of monitoring America’s $51 billion effort to reconstruct Iraq has estimated that $6 billion to $8 billion of that amount was lost to waste, fraud and abuse.”
The article goes on to say “In Friday’s report, Bowen said the exact funds lost to fraud and waste “can never be known,” largely because of poor record-keeping by the U.S. agencies involved in the effort. These include the Departments of State and Defense, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development.”
And these articles from Judicial Watch: “Billions for Iraq reconstruction lost to fraud", highlighting an audit done by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) dated July 13, 2012. And this arictle The largest theft of funds in history. And in 2008 this article "Pervasive fraud and waste in Iraq reconstruction efforts. “
So here we have it we were ripped off and no one has the will to stand up and say this, the political will or the media will. Where does 2 bil per week go for years and years? We at DFNM have been asking this question for years. Mr Quigley we suggest you look into this and see what you come up with, just a suggestion. See if you as an american citizen can find where this gross amount of money could have gone. How could we spend 2 billion dollars a week? Let's see a breakdown of costs for one week in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I have worked on public design and construction projects most of my adult life and I know when I work for the US or State government, I am held accountable for every dollar and to every dollar for the work I produce. And if the media or regulatory agencies find out otherwise there is hell to pay.
To surmise the cost of these wars at 2 billion a week has destroyed our prospect of jobs for years to come. The elephant in the room is the cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars, the cost of the actual war and the cost of the reconstruction both of these having no restrictions for costs and billions of dollars of waste and fraud.
Our military spending is totally out of control. We as a country have no money for other matters and concerns, like taking care of our seniors and building schools for our children. All our tax dollars go to the War Machine, if you are not part of the war machine business you have no work, both in the public sector and the private sector.
What to do now? Get out of Afghanistan. Stop spending our tax dollars over there. Let’s start a reconstruction effort here in this country. Let’s start with New Jersey and New York.
And if I was a real journalist and not an architect pretending to be a journalist while looking for real work myself, this story of the fleecing of America from 2001 to 2012 would be my passion to expose. To have it be known in every household what has occurred these critical years, and the lack of accountability of our elected officials and media.
PS. Please take a look at the SIGIR audit linked to above and here for your ease, just this report alone only 31 pages long is so light weight as to the corruption and robbery that has taken place. Meanwhile many people go yet another day without full employment.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
General Petraeus General Betray Us Now
Remember the General Petraeus, General Betray Us MoveOn ad controversy?
The MoveOn.org ad controversy began when the US anti-war liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org published a full-page ad in the NY Times on September 10, 2007 accusing General David H. Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House". The ad also labeled him "General Betray Us". The organization created the ad in response to Petraeus' Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq. MoveOn hosted pages on its website about the ad and their reasons behind it from 2007 to June 23, 2010. On June 23, 2010, after President Obama nominated General Petraeus to be the new top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan (taking over the position from retiring General Stanley McChrystal), MoveOn erased these webpages and any reference to them from its website.
Democracy for New Mexico wrote about this back on Sept. 26, 2007. Barb wrote a pointed piece back then, and the piece received a few great comments, even by the now late PlacitasRoy. Roy passed away only a few weeks ago and his rebel voice is missed.
Fast forward to now
Current Cost of Iraq and Afghan Wars: $1,393,007,867,900.00
Current Cost of Iraq War: $808,617,213,890.00
Current Cost of Afghan War: $584,390,833,930.00
It is important to remember where our hard earned tax dollars are going as we approach the perverbial fiscal cliff. The National Priorities project is still a great Cost of War tracker of this obscene number. Our tax dollars keep on flooding out of this country like a fire hydrant turned on full blast, or the Hoover damn in overflow position.
We have written about this outrage before, almost one year ago DFNM had this post "Military Budget Fraud and Waste No One is Talking About" on the obscene amount of money flooding out of our country. How is this sustainable? And to make matters worse it appears the GAO issued a report on August 1, 2012 showing little enthusiasm by agencies to make changes to the rip-off happening with War Time Contracting. For really good maddening reading see the final report to Congress on the War Time Rip-off waste.
And now we find out that General P was getting his rocks off. While the thieves and robbers are ripping us off blind. If General PP did not Betray us back in September 2007, he most certainly has betrayed us now.
And just to think of the human life's lost. And there is a business as usual theme still continuing. Why do we have such a huge debt? Why are there no jobs? Just watch the Cost of War ticker and think how and when will this stop.
Our Country is in the need of leaders now! Not cover up, go along to get alongers. The war was no issue in the past election, shameful. NO one even tried to tie the cost of war to the lack of jobs in our own communities. What is the actual monetary cost of this war every week now? This information is unattainable to my knowledge and searching. We Americans are asleep, like serious amnesia, and denial. Is anyone listening or paying attention? Let's all hold our newly elected Congressional and Senatorial leaders accountable to answer these questions. Where is this money going?
Friday, December 23, 2011
Marty Chavez Statement on Ending the Iraq War
On December 19th, former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez released the following statement on the end of the Iraq War:
“As the last of our troops depart from Iraq after nine years we must first and foremost honor their dedication, service and valor by ensuring that the needs of our returning veterans and military families are met by continuing to improve and strengthen the support we provide as a nation. In Congress, I will fight for the healthcare, job training and educational opportunities that they have earned and deserve.
“We must also pause and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom and preserving democracy.
“I’m proud of our troops for their bravery and the job they accomplished while maintaining faith in their mission. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that we must end the wars abroad, bring our troops home and refocus our priorities and resources on recovering our economy and rebuilding schools and infrastructure here at home.”
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Military Budget Fraud and Waste No One is Talking About
This commentary post is by Mary Ellen Broderick. It encompasses material about military fraud and waste that is not being talked about, anywhere.
The following press release was provided by the Whitehouse on 11/15/11: “We Can’t Wait: Agencies Cut Nearly $18 Billion in Improper Payments, Announce New Steps for Stopping Government Waste”.
The first two paragraphs of the report state the following: “Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today announced that the Administration cut wasteful improper payments by $17.6 billion dollars in 2011 as part of the Obama Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, fueled by decreases in payment errors in Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps. Combined with the improper payment cuts in 2010, agencies have avoided making over $20 billion in improper payments in the two years since President Obama issued an Executive Order initiating an aggressive campaign against wasteful payment errors.
“When the President and I launched the Campaign to Cut Waste we knew success would be measured by results, not rhetoric,” said Vice President Biden. “The sharp reduction in payment errors announced today demonstrates this Administration is serious about cutting waste,” he added.
Although it is commendable to be finding fraud in the programs that serve the poorest and most in need in our nation -- Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps -- there is no mention in this release regarding the obscene Military Waste and Fraud. This report, “Wartime Contracting Commission releases final report to Congress” , starts out with these 4 bullets:
• Pegs waste, fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan at >$30 billion
• Sees threat of more waste in unsustainable projects
• Faults both government officials and contractors
• Offers 15 recommendations for contracting reform
This report was issued back on 8/31/11, and there has been no discussion of this fraud and waste anywhere. Here is the entire report, with great waste graphs and photos on everything, as well as who is doing the most stealing. I have not seen a single member of Congress comment on this report and its findings. None of our elected officials in NM have commented on this report. Did our elected officials not see this report -- nor did any of their staff? Well, here it is and I am asking for more motivation from our elected officials to start pushing for this waste and fraud to be addressed. This whole website -- Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan-- is full of interesting maddening, information, yet no one is saying a word about it.
Remember this ticker many blogs had up when the Afghanistan and Iraq war started? Cost of War Ticker. Well, it is still ticking away -- to the tune of billions. Every minute of every day the people of this country are struggling while these billions go out into unknown places and pockets, with zero accountability. This link, Ten Years After 9/11: The Dollars and Sense of War, is also informative on where our tax dollars are going and what the funds could be doing if spent here in this country.
It is staggering that we have this amount of our tax dollars leaving our country not accounted for and with no one even mentioning it. We need some of our Senators and Representatives to start camping out on the floor of the people’s house. Camp out until someone listens.
Estimated War-Related Costs, Iraq and Afghanistan
According to the Center for Defense Information, the estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1.29 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011. The chart below shows yearly expenditures for the Iraq and Afghan wars.
1. Includes $5.5 billion of $7.1 billion appropriated in DOD's FY2003 Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-48) for the global war on terror that CRS cannot allocate and DOD cannot track.
2. Of the $25 billion provided in Title IX of the FY2005 DOD appropriation bill, CRS includes $2 billion in FY2004 when it was obligated and the remaining $23 billion in FY2005. Because Congress made the funds available in FY2004, CBO and OMB score all $25 billion in FY2004.
3. Includes funds in the FY2007 Supplemental (H.R. 2206/P.L. 110-28), Title IX, P.L. 109-289, FY2007 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 5631) designated for war and funds for other agencies in H.J. Res 20, P.L. 110-50, the year-long Continuing Resolution. VA Medical estimates reflect VA FY2008 budget materials and CRS estimates. Amounts for foreign and diplomatic operations reflects State Department figures.
Source: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, RL33110, p. CRS-9).
Where is All This Money Going?
Besides the wartime contracting fraud report linked to above, I see no other place where these dollars are being accounted for. This report is just dealing with that one portion of war funding too -- needless to say the tip of the iceberg.
I am an architect and in my career I have worked on many public sector projects, many federal projects. And it is my experience that the contractor is held to high scrutiny when working for the federal government, both on ensuring accuracy within documentation and accountability in terms of actual production. I do not see how this Iraq-Afghan boondoggle is being managed at all, and yet just the pure volume of 2 bil a week leaving our country is a huge undertaking to account for. There should be scores of people tracking these monies -- and reporting on them in a timeless and honest manner. I like the saying I encountered recently: Let's invade the US so we can have massive Wartime Contracting Spending rebuilding this country.
Just remember, every week 2 bil dollars leaves this country that could be being used to put our people back to work.
Defense Spending Cant' Be Immune
This article, "Dire warnings from Pentagon over potential defense cuts", reports what Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta said recently to the Super Committee about any cuts to defense spending. Paraphrasing -- don't do it or we will not be prepared for the boggie men. Leon, my bad dreams are not about the boogiemen invading this country or the so-called freedom haters; my worries first thing in the morning are about jobs, money, healthcare.
Yet since September 11, 2001, the Military Industrial Complex has had free reign. A bonanza of fraud and waste. Sinful really. Read this report: The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: Shifting Patterns of Military Contracting in the Post-9/11 Period. The companies listed should be prosecuted for treason. Not given more contracts. They are part of the problem. They and their investors are the controllers of that 1% of all the wealth in the nation. This is one of the major issues of the Occupy movement. How can we as the 99%'ers ever get our message heard as long as our elected officials refuse to face realities and talk about it.
To Remain Silent is to Condone This Waste and Fraud
The silence around this military spending matter is deafening. Why? Because the war profiteers and crooks own the elected officials. From Kucinich to Boehner. From McCain to Schumer. Bought, owned. The only elected official with a soul talking about these matters in depth seems to be Sen. Sanders. I challenge our Senators and Congressmen to break their silence on these outrages. Take action, and do not mention cutting the people's programs without -- in the same sentence -- talking about cutting the military programs that are draining our nation's treasury and enriching crooks. And that just might mean no more "Tacos" and other unnecessary and wasteful military and lab spending here in New Mexico. There is no more of a lot of what we used to have. Why should military spending be immune?
One last point. It was reported in this morning's Albuquerque Journal that LANL has almost 50% of its funding going towards administration. HALF!! You can’t tell me there isn't any fraud or waste in that bloat. I suggest our Congressional delegation and the rest of Congress set about finding it.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Rep. Heinrich holding a Veterans Telephone Town Hall Meeting
PHOTO ABOVE: Martin Heinrich meets with troops in Afghanistan, June 2, 2010. Rep. Heinrich, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, traveled to Kabul and Kandahar with a bipartisan congressional delegation to meet with military and diplomatic leaders in the region, and U.S. troops and humanitarian workers from New Mexico.
Congressman Heinrich invites you to participate in a special telephone town hall meeting with me on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss issues of importance to New Mexico’s veterans and their families. Register by Nov. 14 online or call (505) 346-6781
With one-in-five veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 returning from Iraq and Afghanistan looking for work, I'm focused on making sure our veterans have the necessary tools to navigate a difficult labor market and succeed in the civilian workforce. Last week, I introduced the Wounded Warriors Employment Opportunity Act to provide a tax credit to employers that hire service-disabled veterans. And earlier this year, I introduced the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2011, which would provide entrepreneurial training, counseling, and procurement assistance to veteran-owned small businesses.Our troops develop valuable skills and professionalism while in the armed forces, yet they still face difficulty when applying for jobs in the civilian workforce. This is especially true for our wounded warriors. As more and more troops come home and transition into civilian life, it is our duty as a nation to honor their sacrifices and help them find jobs.
I thank our veterans for their immeasurable service. It is an honor to represent you in Congress. My staff and I are always on-hand to provide top-notch service and assistance with accessing veterans benefits and programs. Please continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you and how we can do more for New Mexico’s veterans.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Heinrich Urges President To End War In Iraq; Bring Troops Home By End of Year
Keeping the pressure on: Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) yesterday released the following statement in light of reports that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is supporting a plan that would keep 3,000 to 4,000 American troops in Iraq beyond the Status of Forces Agreement that expires on December 31, 2011:
“I stand with the people of New Mexico in calling for an end to the war in Iraq. With the deadline for a final withdrawal now less than four months away, I strongly urge President Obama to maintain our Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq and bring all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of the year.
“Extending our presence in Iraq is neither in our nation’s economic nor national security interests. Keeping troops on the ground would only deepen the perception of the Iraqi people that we have no intention of leaving their country. It’s time for our brave service men and women to return home to their families.”
Rep. Heinrich, along with 90 of his colleagues in the House (including NM-03 Congressman Ben Ray Lujan), sent a letter to President Obama on July 22, 2011 urging him to withdraw all American troops by the end of the year. The United States has spent over $800 billion and 4,474 Americans lives have been lost in Iraq since the beginning of the war.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Albuquerque Marchers Demand End to US Wars: Photos and Video
Note: The sad news is that Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D, NM-03) both voted AGAINST a recent resolution (non-binding) urging President Obama to keep his word and get the troops out of Afghanistan. Congressman Lujan, however, did at least sign onto a letter urging the President to do so.
About three hundred demonstrators against the U.S. wars/occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere turned out on Saturday to march from Central and University in Nob Hill to Albuquerque's Civic Plaza downtown. The protest, one of hundreds held around the country on the 8th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, was organized by the , Stop the War Machine and the March 19 Coalition.
The main theme: bring the troops home now. Start using the $2 BILLION a week and more we spend on the wars to create jobs and support community and human needs. The American economy is still suffering from high unemployment rates, sagging worker paychecks and rising food and energy prices. Start dealing with our needs instead of shoveling money to defense contractors, mercenaries and corrupt Afghani and Iraqi officials.
Chanting: occupation has got to go!
Many signs at the march and rally also criticized the U.S. military's severe treatment of 23-year-old Pvt. Bradley Manning, who has been held in solitary confinement at Quantico military prison in Virginia for nearly eight months. Manning is accused of leaking classified military and State Department documents to the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks. Others pressed for unity with union workers in Wisconsin and other states who are being attacked by right-wing governors and legislators.
In Washington DC, more than 100 people were arrested in front of the White House amidst a crowd of about a thousand demanding that President Obama "stop the war, expose the lies and free Bradley Manning." Among those arrested was Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official whose unprecedented leak of thousands of classified documents -- dubbed the Pentagon Papers -- revealed that top American officials were actively concealing the unwinnable reality of the Vietnam War from the public.
Ironically, the protests took place on the same day U.S. forces working with NATO nations and authorized by the United Nations started bombing Libya's air defenses and other targets. The stated objective is to create a no-fly zone to protect assaults on Libyan rebels who are seeking to oust long-time strongman Moammar Kadafi. According to the LA Times, an official, "who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Washington and its allies also were committed to using nonmilitary means to force Kadafi out, including steps intended to cripple the Libyan economy and isolate him diplomatically."
Photos and video by M.E. Broderick.
Friday, March 18, 2011
3/19 at 11AM in Albuquerque: March and Rally to Stop the Wars
From : Join veterans, students, activists, union members and thousands of others here and across the country to protest against the U.S. war machine. March and Rally in Albuquerque to Stop the Wars on Saturday, March 19, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Meet at Central and University and march to Lockheed Martin and a Rally at the Albuquerque Civic Plaza. Sponsored by the March 19 Coalition. Contact Stop the War Machine at 505-268-9557 or the ANSWER Coalition at 505-268-2488 for more information.
March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It will be a national day of action against the war machine.
- End Occupation: Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine & Everywhere!
- Fund Jobs, Healthcare & Education, Not Militarism!
- Stop Budget Cuts, Tuition Hikes & Attacks on Working Families!
Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries. The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The wars abroad are directly connected to the war on working people at home. While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the U.S. remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people. Now, new rounds of cutbacks in vital public services and jobs are underway at every level. The most affected are working and poor people -- especially people of color -- students and veterans.
Racism and immigrant bashing are on the rise, and civil rights and civil liberties are under attack. Now is the time to step up the struggle against U.S. wars and to demand money for people’s needs at home.
Join us. Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Demonstrations are scheduled for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and .
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Photos and Videos: Save American Dream Rally in Albuquerque
This is a report by contributing writer M.E. Broderick of Albuquerque.
On Tuesday evening, about 200 people gathered in Albuquerque to voice their desire to Save the American Dream and stand in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and everywhere. MoveOn encouraged local members to organize rallies for the cause all over the nation. MoveOn member Gregory Sandoval stepped up and organized this one, and at very short notice to boot. We gathered at the corner of Tijeras and Third streets on a corner of Civic Plaza. The location had great visibility to commuters on their way home from work. There were many honking horns from the cars passing by, and cheers from the people who gathered.
Gregory Sandoval chose the location perfectly. The rally was held at the foot of a monument dedicated to Dennis Chavez, the beloved U.S. Senator from New Mexico. It contains the quote, “I should like to be remembered as the man who raised a voice.” Ever so true right now. We all must aspire to these words. There's no time to waste. Greg recalled Senator Chavez's legacy of service and speaking out on unpopular topics -- but always speaking out for the people -- and urged the crowd to do the same.
The speakers, from many walks of life and age groups, were clear in their messages. We cannot have a working democracy if all the money is in the hands of a few. It is clear that the middle class and unions are being blamed for and are being asked to carry the burden of the financial crisis gripping the country. We did not cause the crisis!
Stop Making the Workers Pay!
Meanwhile, a state budget was passed by the New Mexico legislature early Wednesday morning. Both Democrats and Republicans have been bragging that it includes no tax increases. I ask any Dem legislator to listen to these speechs and look at the surveys. New Mexicans are overwhelmingly in favor of rolling back taxes to the 2003 rates for higher income wage earners and making out-of-state corporations that operate here pay the same taxes as our local small businesses do.
Instead, for the third year in a row, lawmakers decided instead to make more cuts to both public and higher education, teacher and government employee paychecks, important government services and virtually every government agency -- to the tune of about $155 million. The previous years' cuts were in the neighborhood of $900 million! Politicos like to talk about making sure all of us share in the "belt tightening," but somehow our wealthiest citizens and big corporation businesses remain protected.
War, War, War
Joel Gallegos from the ANSWER coalition succinctly summed up all the factors at play in his speech. What's draining the economy? Unfair taxation, massive military funding and the Afghan and Iraq wars sucking $2 BILLION PER WEEK out of our country. And who is being asked to sacrifice to make up for it? Working class and middle class Americans. There are lots of myths out there about unions stealing our money, educators having lavish pensions and Social Security being broke.
However, one item is never mentioned by politicos or the corporate media -- our never-ending wars. The topic never, ever comes up. It's as if politicians and pundits are under some kind of mass amnesia. Meanwhile the wars continue on and on -- the 8-year anniversary for the Iraq War is on March 19, and we entered the 10th year of the Afghanistan War on October 7 of last year. Check out this link to remember the Iraq War timeline and this one to recall the long, long history of the conflicts in Afghanistan.
It is class warfare, as this speaker states. The government has been pandering to the wealthy and the super wealthy. From 1979 to 2006, the incomes of the bottom 20% of earners went up by a measly 0.3%, that of the middle 20% rose by a paltry 0.7% -- and the earnings of the top 1% went up by 260%. This huge gain was achieved at the expense of the middle class, poor people and working people. Period.
PRC Commissioner Jason Marks told us straight up about the desire of corporate America to break the unions, and what is causing the severe inequality of wealth at the top. Under sustained attacks by the super rich, the country we once knew has broken down. The top few percent have reaped all the benefits and shared very few of the burdens.
What can we do to turn this around? Stay informed and active. Organize protests and rallies. Contact members of Congress and the President. Write letters to the editors. Talk to friends, neighbors and family members. Keep the momentum going!
This is a post by M.E. Broderick, who also supplied all the photos and video clips.
Congressman Ben Ray Luján Urges Obama to Stick to Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable
Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District joined with 80 of his colleagues yesterday to send a letter to President Obama urging him to stick to his plan to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan no later than July of this year. On October 7, 2010, the Afghanistan War entered its 10th year, becoming the longest war in American history. Click to read the the letter (pdf) and the complete list of signatories.
Given all the billions still being dumped into the hands of contractors and thieves in Afghanistan while Americans continue to suffer from joblessness and eternally escalating budget cuts, you'd think every single member of Congress who claims to be a Democrat would sign on to this letter. Unfortunately, way too many Dems have apparently vowed to stick with the President and the Pentagon on this one, regardless of the consequences here at home. As the letter notes:
Our nation’s economic and national security interests are not served by a policy of open-ended war in Afghanistan. At a time of severe economic distress, the war in Afghanistan is costing the United States more than $100 billion per year, excluding the long-term costs of care for returning military servicemembers. At the same time, military and intelligence officials agree that Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is diminished and that there will not be a military solution to resolve the current situation. It is simply unsustainable for our nation to maintain a costly, military-first strategy in Afghanistan.
Out-of-Control Military and War Spending
More than $100 billion a year means we are still pouring about $2 BILLION A WEEK into the corrupt sinkhole that Afghanistan has become. For what return? And this doesn't even take into account the hundreds of billions still being spent in Iraq and on our regular military budget. The President's FY 2012 base budget request for military spending is $553 BILLION, not counting the war spending. With the spending for Iraq and Afghanistan added in, the total is $671 BILLION.
In the meantime, the President and way too many Dems in DC are suggesting that we need to cut spending on things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, funding to states in budgetary peril and more to reduce the deficit. The vast majority of Americans, however, believe that enough is enough:
The majority of the American people overwhelmingly support a rapid shift toward withdrawal in Afghanistan. In fact, a Gallup Poll released on February 2, 2011 indicated that 72% of Americans favor action this year to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.” Let us be clear. The redeployment of a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July will not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people.
Contact the NM Delegation
Let's thank Rep. Lujan for his courage and common sense on this issue, and urge Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) and Rep. Steve Pearce (R, NM-02) to show some backbone on this issue and insist on the President keeping his word on our withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the letter says,
Mr. President, as you work to finally bring an end to the war in Iraq by the end of this year, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that our nation’s military engagement in Afghanistan does not become the status quo. It is time to focus on securing a future of economic opportunity and prosperity for the American people and move swiftly to end America’s longest war in Afghanistan.
Resolution Calls for Troop Removal
Today, the U.S. House will debate H. Con. Res. 28, a resolution proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) that calls for President Obama to remove troops from Afghanistan within 30 days of adoption, or if the president determines such a rapid withdrawal would be jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops, then delay the withdrawal to no later than the end of the year. As Rep. Kucinich has noted,
... while Congress "pulls unemployment benefits from suffering Ohio families and proposes slashing health care benefits, vital children's programmes and veterans' services all because we're 'broke,' it continues to fund a war that has cost us more than $455 billion (£282bn).
"The Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the average US family of four almost $13,000 (£8,050) last year."
For more on the true costs and futility of continuing operations in Afghanistan, visit Rethink Afghanistan.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden: The Troops Need Us
The following essay penned by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden was published in the September 3rd print edition of USA Today.
This has been a summer of homecomings. In marking the end of the American combat mission in Iraq, we have now welcomed home nearly 100,000 of our troops from that war. Across the country, family and friends have honored these returning heroes. Spouses have been reunited, and military moms and dads have held their children once again.
But while America's combat mission in Iraq has ended, America's commitment to our troops and their families goes on. All of us are called to an ongoing mission: to support our troops, veterans and their families, whether they are here at home, serving in Afghanistan, or supporting the Iraqi people as they forge their own future.
As a country, we have come a long way in how we support our veterans and military families. In our travels to base communities from Fort Bragg to Camp Pendleton, we have seen employers creating innovative programs to support military families, classrooms adopting deployed units, faith communities providing prayers and support, and countless other acts of kindness.
Yet there is still more work to be done.
Our military families are strong, resilient and proud to serve their country.
Nonetheless, they don't always feel that the rest of the country is part of the war effort. We've met National Guard families who feel isolated because they are the only members of their communities experiencing the deployment of a loved one. We've heard from military kids who struggle in school while their parents are deployed.
Remarkably, these same families still find time to serve their communities every day. They are troops who come home from a long deployment and coach Little League or mentor a child. They are children who tutor their younger siblings, and spouses who balance their families with jobs, school, community service — or all of the above. They are wounded warriors, survivors and veterans who continue to give so much to our country.
Guided by their stories, the Obama administration has made one of the largest investments in a generation in our veterans and military families. This includes building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs, improving care for traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, strengthening military family readiness programs, helping hundreds of thousands of veterans get a college education, and combating the tragedy of homelessness among veterans.
But government can only do so much.
That's why we're challenging every sector of American society to support and engage our military families. You don't have to come from a military family, have a base in your community, or be an expert in military issues to make a difference. Every American can do something.
'We can do this'
Businesses and organizations of all kinds can expand job opportunities and connect the work they're already doing with the needs of military families. There are so many ways to help, and you can get started by visiting www.serve.gov to see how other Americans are helping in their communities.
One percent of our population is doing 100% of the fighting, but we need 100% of Americans working to support our troops and their families. We can do this. In every community, every day, we can find concrete ways to show our military families the respect and gratitude that each of us holds for them in our hearts. They deserve our support long after the welcome home ceremonies are over.
That's the spirit that defines us as Americans, and it's who we need to continue to be in the months and years ahead.
Michelle Obama is the first lady of the United States. Jill Biden is the wife of Vice President Biden.
This text was provided by the White House Office of Media Affairs. You can also see the op-ed at USA Today Online.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Rep. Martin Heinrich Answers Questions After BernCo Dem Convention
Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) hosted an intimate grassroots campaign event at The Blackbird Buvette (highly recommended) in downtown Albuquerque after the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County's Pre-Primary Convention on Saturday, February 20, 2010. Rep. Heinrich, as always his low-key, informed and friendly self, mingled with the crowd both before and after his remarks, and took questions on a variety of topics.
The public option (L) and continuing the health care reform fight
I thought you might like to see videos of some of Rep. Heinrich's comments on the issues, as well as photos from the event.
Questions on Afghanistan (L) and troop withdrawals from Iraq
As I'm sure you know, Martin will face re-election in November of this year, and the Republicans are definitely going to be hyperactive in supporting their right-wing candidate, hoping to snatch back the NM-01 House seat for the GOP. We're not going to let them, are we?
Getting story out in media (L), corporations meddling in politics
All photos and videos by M.E. Broderick.