Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Are the days of American Democracy Past?


Jimmy Carter Is Correct That the U.S. Is No Longer a Democracy

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JIMMY CARTER
ASSOCIATED PRESS
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On July 28, Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an afterthought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:
It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."
He was then cut off by the program, though that statement by Carter should have been the start of the program, not its end. (And the program didn't end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth -- something for which he's qualified.)
So, was this former president's provocative allegation merely his opinion? Or was it actually lots more than that? It was lots more than that.
Only a single empirical study has actually been done in the social sciences regarding whether the historical record shows that the United States has been, during the survey's period, which in that case was between 1981 and 2002, a democracy (a nation whose leaders represent the public-at-large), or instead an aristocracy (or 'oligarchy') -- a nation in which only the desires of the richest citizens end up being reflected in governmental actions. This study was titled "Testing Theories of American Politics," and it was published by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in the journal Perspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association in September 2014. I had summarized it earlier, on April 14, 2014, while the article was still awaiting its publication.
The headline of my summary-article was "U.S. Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy Says Scientific Study." I reported:
The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's 'news' media).
I then quoted the authors' own summary: "The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
The scientific study closed by saying: "In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes." A few other tolerably clear sentences managed to make their ways into this well-researched, but, sadly, atrociously written, paper, such as: "The preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of 'affluent' citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do." In other words, they found: The rich rule the U.S.
Their study investigated specifically "1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change," and then the policy-follow-ups, of whether or not the polled public preferences had been turned into polices, or, alternatively, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy on the given matter, irrespective of what the public had wanted concerning it.
The study period, 1981-2002, covered the wake of the landmark 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which had started the aristocratic assault on American democracy, and which seminal (and bipartisan) pro-aristocratic court decision is described as follows by wikipedia:
[It] struck down on First Amendment grounds several provisions in the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The most prominent portions of the case struck down limits on spending in campaigns, but upheld the provision limiting the size of individual contributions to campaigns. The Court also narrowed, and then upheld, the Act's disclosure provisions, and struck down (on separation of powers grounds) the make-up of the Federal Election Commission, which as written allowed Congress to directly appoint members of the Commission, an executive agency.
Basically, the Buckley decision, and subsequent (increasingly partisan Republican) Supreme Court decisions, have allowed aristocrats to buy and control politicians.
Already, the major 'news' media were owned and controlled by the aristocracy, and 'freedom of the press' was really just freedom of aristocrats to control the 'news' -- to frame public issues in the ways the owners want. The media managers who are appointed by those owners select, in turn, the editors who, in their turn, hire only reporters who produce the propaganda that's within the acceptable range for the owners, to be 'the news' as the public comes to know it.
But, now, in the post-Buckley-v.-Valeo world, from Reagan on (and the resulting study-period of 1981-2002), aristocrats became almost totally free to buy also the political candidates they wanted. The 'right' candidates, plus the 'right' 'news'-reporting about them, has thus bought the 'right' people to 'represent' the public, in the new American 'democracy,' which Jimmy Carter now aptly calls "subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors."
Carter -- who had entered office in 1977, at the very start of that entire era of transition into an aristocratically controlled United States (and he left office in 1981, just as the study-period was starting) -- expressed his opinion that, in the wake now of the two most extreme pro-aristocratic U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever (which are Citizens United in 2010, and McCutcheon in 2014), American democracy is really only past tense, not present tense at all -- no longer a reality.
He is saying, in effect, that, no matter how much the U.S. was a dictatorship by the rich during 1981-2002 (the Gilens-Page study era), it's far worse now.
Apparently, Carter is correct: The New York Times front page on Sunday 2 August 2015 bannered, "Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving," and reported that:
A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that have fueled the rise of super PACs. Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs."
The Times study shows that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly advantaged by the recent unleashing of big-corporate money power. All of the evidence suggests that though different aristocrats compete against each other for the biggest chunks of whatever the given nation has to offer, they all compete on the same side against the public, in order to lower the wages of their workers, and to lower the standards for consumers' safety and welfare so as to increase their own profits (transfer their costs and investment-losses onto others); and, so, now, the U.S. is soaring again toward Gilded Age economic inequality, perhaps to surpass the earlier era of unrestrained robber barons. And, the Times study shows: even in the Democratic Party, the mega-donations are going to only the most conservative (pro-corporate, anti-public) Democrats. Grass-roots politics could be vestigial, or even dead, in the new America.
The question has become whether the unrestrained power of the aristocracy is locked in this time even more permanently than it was in that earlier era. Or will there be yet another FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to restore a democracy that once was? Or is a president like that any longer even possible in America?
As for today's political incumbents: they now have their careers for as long as they want and are willing to do the biddings of their masters. And, then, they retire to become, themselves, new members of the aristocracy, such as the Clintons have done, and such as the Obamas will do. (Of course, the Bushes have been aristocrats since early in the last century.)
Furthermore, the new age of aristocratic control is not merely national but international in scope; so, the global aristocracy have probably found the formula that will keep them in control until they destroy the entire world. What's especially interesting is that, with all of the many tax-exempt, "non-profit" "charities," which aristocrats have established, none of them is warring to defeat the aristocracy itself -- to defeat the aristocrats' system of exploitation of the public. It's the one thing they won't create a 'charity' for; none of them will go to war against the expoitative interests of themselves and of their own exploitative peers. They're all in this together, even though they do compete amongst themselves for dominance, as to which ones of them will lead against the public. And the public seem to accept this modern form of debt-bondage, perhaps because of the 'news' they see, and because of the news they don't see (such as this).
--

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity."

Kenneth Stepp merely passes this on for what it's worth.  Was America ever a Democracy?  Are we a Democracy now?  Will we ever be a Democracy?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

WHAT WAS HAL ROGERS THINKING WHEN HE VOTED THE WAY HE DID? WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE ISSUES?







Contact: 202-225-4601
Website: http://halrogers.house.gov

Name: Harold Rogers


Congress: Kentucky, District: 5, Republican


Cumulative Freedom Index Score: 52%


Status: Active Member of the House

Score Breakdown:
50% (114th Congress: 2015-2016); 40% (113th Congress: 2013-2014); 64% (112th Congress: 2011-2012); 80% (111th Congress: 2009-2010); 58% (110th Congress: 2007-2008); 35% (109th Congress: 2005-2006); 37% (108th Congress: 2003-2004); 44% (107th Congress: 2001-2002); 59% (106th Congress: 1999-2000)


Key Votes:




H R 1314: Trade Act of 2015
Vote Date: June 12, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Trade Promotion Authority.
The House held separate roll call votes on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) sections of H.R. 1314. The TPA portion of the bill would renew the on-again-offagain "fast track authority" that Congress has often awarded to the president over the past several decades. The essential features of TPA are: (1) Congress unconstitutionally delegates its constitutional authority "to regulate commerce with foreign nations" to the Executive Branch; and (2) Congress dramatically increases the probability of approval of foreign trade agreements by restricting itself to voting up or down by simple majority on the agreements, as negotiated and submitted by the president, with no ability to amend the agreements and with no possibility of filibusters in the Senate.

So-called free-trade agreements that have already been passed under previously awarded "fast track authority," such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the currently proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), have in common a structure and purpose that would create supranational political entities that would supersede the national independence of the United States. Genuine free trade would mean the absence of government involvement, but these agreements entail more than just trade and put the United States on a trajectory to regional governance similar to Europe's trajectory from a Common Market to the EU.

The House agreed to the TPA section of H.R. 1314 on June 12, 2015 by a vote of 219 to 211 (Roll Call 362). We have assigned pluses to the nays because TPA would facilitate the subordination of the national independence of the United States to regional trading blocs."

KENNETH STEPP BELIEVES THAT AMERICA SHOULD RETAIN OUR INDEPENDENCE!





H R 2393: Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015
Vote Date: June 10, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Country of Origin Labeling.
The proposed Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 (H.R. 2393) would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the requirements of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef, chicken, and pork sold in the United States. This vote came after the World Trade Organization's recent ruling against an appeal from the United States to keep its COOL. Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) opposed passage of the bill to repeal COOL. From the House floor, Massie elaborated: "What is the World Trade Organization, and who are they to tell Congress what laws we have to pass? These judges weren't appointed by the President. They weren't confirmed by the Senate. These are not judges from our Constitution. These are extra-constitutional judges, yet they are telling us here in Congress you have got to do this or there will be repercussions."

The House passed H.R. 2393 on June 10, 2015 by a vote of 300 to 131 (Roll Call 333). We have assigned pluses to the nays because this bill would cede national sovereignty over food-related choices and regulations to the WTO. Moreover, this bill would prevent American consumers from knowing where their food comes from."

KENNETH STEPP BELIEVES THAT AMERICANS HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM.  IF WE GET A CAN OF FISH FROM ISIS [those people that lop off Coptic Christian and American and Japanese Journalists heads on YouTube] it should plainly state "PRODUCED IN ISIS" on the side of the can.  I have bought cans of food from overseas--more than I'd buy now.  So what if we get pitched out of the WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO)or even the INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)?  If we do, we'll go it alone and do better without those people that try to regulate us from overseas.  Wasn't Taxation Without Representation the battle cry of the American Revolution?  Why do we turn our backs on the beliefs of our forefathers now?  A Nay vote would protect a Congressman from buying a cancer-laden can of poisoned pork also.  We're all in the same boat.   You wanted the present Congress, so you voted for it!  Are you going to vote for the same group of people next time?





H R 1732: Regulatory Integrity Protection Act
Vote Date: May 12, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
EPA Waters Regulations.





H R 1731: National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015
Vote Date: April 23, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Cyberspace Intelligence Sharing.
The proposed National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPA) of 2015 (H.R. 1731) would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to expand the role of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, designating it the principal federal entity to receive and disseminate information about cyberspace threats from and to private companies and other federal agencies.

Expressing opposition to both H.R. 1731 and H.R. 1560, another related cybersecurity intelligence bill, Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said, "As drafted, these bills violate the Fourth Amendment, override privacy laws, and give the government unwarranted access to the personal information of potentially millions of Americans."

The House passed H.R. 1731 on April 23, 2015 by a vote of 355 to 63 (Roll Call 173). We have assigned pluses to the nays because this bill would further empower the unconstitutional Department of Homeland Security, erode the privacy protections enshrined in the Constitution, and gradually move the United States closer to becoming a police state."

We are pretty close to being a police state already, Buckaroo!  What could a police state do that your police can't do now?  Think about it.





H R 1105: Death Tax Repeal Act
Vote Date: April 16, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Estate Tax Repeal.
H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, would amend the Internal Revenue Code to repeal the estate tax.





H RES 162: Calling on the President to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Vote Date: March 23, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Ukraine Military Aid.
House Resolution 162, which calls on the president "to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity," allows President Obama to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons to defend against aggression from Russia.

The House adopted H. Res. 162 on March 23, 2015 by a vote of 348 to 48 (Roll Call 131). We have assigned pluses to the nays not only because foreign aid is unconstitutional but also because this bill would further interject the United States into a foreign conflict. Allowing the U.S. president to provide lethal arms to Ukraine in order to fight Russia is tantamount to waging a proxy war on Russia without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. The House, by giving such power to the president, is relinquishing one of its constitutional responsibilities."



The Ukraine, former home of Nikita Khruschev, had the opportunity to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (N.A.T.O.  and for you Latin Scholars, nato means "I swim" and we all swim together in N.A.T.O.)  Why did they not join N.A.T.O. at an earlier time?  We should keep on signing up N.A.T.O. members from Mongolia to  Lithuania, but we should act in enlightened self interest, and only accept alliances that are beneficial to the United States.  How does being an ally with the Ukraine benefit the United States?  Russia had better remember that Stalin is gone, the Soviet Union is gone, it's a one power world now, and that power is the United States, so they'd better tow the line!





H R 749: To reauthorize Federal support for passenger rail programs and for other purposes
Vote Date: March 4, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Amtrak Reauthorization.
The proposed Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (H.R. 749) would authorize $7.2 billion for Amtrak funding over the next four years, through 2019. Representative Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), who opposed the reauthorization of federal funds to Amtrak, noted: "We will shell out $45 every time a passenger steps aboard an Amtrak train. That is $45 per passenger per trip and directly billed to taxpayers, up from $32 from six years ago. Despite endless promises, things aren't getting better."

The House passed H.R. 749 on March 4, 2015 by a vote of 316 to 101 (Roll Call 112). We have assigned pluses to the nays because spending billions of tax dollars for Amtrak transportation is unconstitutional, and the spending has no chance of boosting the prospects of Amtrak to make it self-sufficient."



Hal should have voted against this.  How does this benefit Kentucky?   Hardly at all.  Amtrak only loops through a northern corner of Kentucky.  If it's not good for Kentucky Hal should vote against it.  This is a boondoggle that doesn't even enter the Fifth District.   Kenneth Stepp prefers Federal Money for obsolete systems to be spent in the Fifth District and not elsewhere.





H R 596: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and for other purposes
Vote Date: February 3, 2015Vote: AYE

ObamaCare Repeal. 
Kenneth Stepp would have voted NAY!
 





H R 7: To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.
Vote Date: January 22, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.






H R 240: On Agreeing to the Amendment 1 to H R 240
Vote Date: January 14, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Executive Action on Immigration. 





H R 83: An Act to require the Secretary of the Interior to assemble a team of experts to address the energy needs of the insular areas of the United States and Freely Associated States through the development of energy action plans aimed at promoting access to energy
Vote Date: December 11, 2014Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Omnibus Appropriations.
According to Congressional Quarterly, H.R. 83, dubbed the "CRomnibus bill" (combination of Continuing Resolution and Omnibus), "would provide $1.013 trillion in discretionary appropriations in fiscal 2015 for federal departments and agencies covered by the 12 unfinished fiscal 2015 spending bills. Included in that total is: $20.6 billion for Agriculture; $61.1 billion for Commerce-Justice-Science; $554.2 billion for Defense, including $64 billion for overseas contingency operations associated with the war in Afghanistan, the fight against ISIS and other counterterrorism operations; $34.2 billion for Energy-Water; $43.2 billion for Financial Services; $30 billion for Interior-Environment; $158.2 billion for Labor-HHS-Education; $4.3 billion for the Legislative Branch; $71.8 billion for Military Construction-VA; $52 billion for State-Foreign Operations; and $53.5 billion for Transportation-HUD. The measure contains full fiscal year funding for all departments except for Homeland Security, which would be funded at current levels until Feb. 27, 2015."

The House concurred with the Senate version of the bill on December 11, 2014 by a vote of 219 to 206 (Roll Call 563). We have assigned pluses to the nays because with this fiscal 2015 omnibus appropriations bill Congress is failing to address its fiscally and constitutionally irresponsible budgeting and appropriating process that is currently yielding annual federal deficits measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars that contribute directly to the dramatic growth of our already $18 trillion national debt."

Hal should have voted against this!  We need to get our runaway national debt under control!   The Republican Spendthrift Congress is about to put us under!  Elect more Democrats!





H R 5759: To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief
Vote Date: December 4, 2014Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Executive Action on Immigration.
 





H R 5682: To approve the Keystone XL Pipeline
Vote Date: November 14, 2014Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Keystone XL Pipeline.
 





H R 24: To require a full audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal reserve banks by the Comptroller General of the United States, and for other purposes
Vote Date: September 17, 2014Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Federal Reserve Audit.
 





H R 5078: Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act
Vote Date: September 9, 2014Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Water Regulation.
 





H R 4899: Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act
Vote Date: June 26, 2014Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Oil and Gas Exploration.
 





H R 4870: On Agreeing to the Amendment 69 to H R 4870
Vote Date: June 19, 2014Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Surveillance.
During consideration of the Defense Appropriations bill, Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to prevent defense funds from being used to allow U.S. intelligence agencies to sift through electronic metadata that contains the personal information of U.S. citizens or legal residents. Massie's amendment would also prohibit funds from being used by the NSA for "backdoor" surveillance - requiring or requesting the redesign of a product to facilitate the electronic surveillance of a person who uses it.

As Massie said during debate on his amendment, "The American people are sick of being spied on. Our Founding Fathers wrote an important provision into the Bill of Rights - the Fourth Amendment - and that requires probable cause and a warrant before the government and government agents can snoop on any American."

The House adopted Massie's amendment on June 19, 2014 by a vote of 293-123 (Roll Call 327). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because Massie's amendment seeks to uphold the Constitution and its protection of privacy rights. Any attempt to curtail the surveillance state and restore constitutional protections to Americans is good."

Hal Rogers should have voted YEA to this because because Massie's amendment seeks to uphold the Constitution and its protection of privacy rights. Any attempt to curtail the surveillance state and restore constitutional protections to Americans is good





H R 4870: On Agreeing to the Amendment 51 to H R 4870
Vote Date: June 19, 2014Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Weapons to Syrian Rebels.
During consideration of the Defense Appropriations bill, Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) introduced an amendment that would have prohibited any funding in the bill from being used to provide weapons to Syrian rebels. Fortenberry noted on the House floor that "the rebel movement is a battleground of shifting alliances and bloody conflicts between groups that now include multinational terrorist organizations," that "sending our weapons into this chaotic war zone could inadvertently help these extremists," and that "it has already happened." He added: "The naive notion that we can deliver weapons to vetted, moderate opposition groups at war with other rebel militias gives no guarantee that our weaponry won't be seized or diverted."

The House rejected Fortenberry's amendment on June 19, 2014 by a vote of 167 to 244 (Roll Call 328). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because arming "moderate" rebels in a foreign country is tantamount to going to war, which would require a declaration of war by Congress. Also, the United States should follow the Founders' advice not to become involved in foreign quarrels."



Hal Rogers should have voted YEA to this because arming "moderate" rebels in a foreign country is tantamount to going to war, which would require a declaration of war by Congress. Also, the United States should follow the Founders' advice not to become involved in foreign quarrels.





H R 4870: On Agreeing to the Amendment 52 to H R 4870
Vote Date: June 19, 2014Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Militarizing Local Police.
During consideration of the Defense Appropriations bill, Representative Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) introduced an amendment that would have prohibited any funding in the bill from being used to transfer excess military equipment, such as aircraft (including drones), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and bombs, to local police departments. "Those weapons have no place in our streets, regardless of who may be deploying them," Grayson said in remarks supporting his amendment.

The House rejected Grayson's amendment on June 19, 2014 by a vote of 62 to 355 (Roll Call 329). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the proper role of local police is undermined by converting them into militarized units more suitable for occupying hostile territory than for protecting their local communities from the criminal element. Providing local police with "free" U.S. military equipment also greases the skids for more federal control, leading ultimately to nationalized police beholden to Washington as opposed to independent police departments beholden to local citizens acting through their elected officials."

Hal Rogers should have voted YEA on this.  Kenneth Stepp one lived in just outside a town that had a S.W.A.T. team--which was unnecessary.   We don't need little S.W.A.T. teams roaming the hills of Kentucky.   Providing local police with "free" U.S. military equipment also greases the skids for more federal control, leading ultimately to nationalized police beholden to Washington as opposed to independent police departments beholden to local citizens acting through their elected officials.





H R 4870: On Agreeing to the Amendment 56 to H R 4870
Vote Date: June 19, 2014Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Military Operations in Afghanistan.
During consideration of the Defense Appropriations bill, Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced an amendment that would have barred any funding in the bill from being used "pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF] ... after December 31, 2014," the date that was set as the official end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan. Enacted in 2001 in the wake of 9/11, the AUMF has been invoked numerous times by the executive branch for U.S. military intervention not only in Afghanistan but elsewhere.

The House rejected Lee's amendment on June 19, 2014 by a vote of 157 to 260 (Roll Call 330). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because presidents have been able to claim broad authority to go to war whenever or wherever they choose under the AUMF, despite the fact that the Founding Fathers never intended for one man to make this decision and under the Constitution only Congress may "declare war."

Hal Rogers should have voted YEA for this because  presidents have been able to claim broad authority to go to war whenever or wherever they choose under the AUMF, despite the fact that the Founding Fathers never intended for one man to make this decision and under the Constitution only Congress may "declare war."





H R 4435: On Agreeing to the Amendment 13 to H R 4435
Vote Date: May 22, 2014Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Indefinite Military Detention.

During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2015 (NDAA, H.R. 4435), Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) introduced an amendment to prohibit the indefinite military detention of any person detained under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force authority in the United States, its territories, or possessions by providing immediate transfer to a trial and proceedings by a court. It also would strike language that would provide for mandatory military custody of covered parties.

The House rejected Smith's amendment on May 22, 2014 by a vote of 191 to 230 (Roll Call 234). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because any attempt to limit or prohibit indefinite military detention is desirable, especially since persons detained may include U.S. citizens. Indefinite military detention is a blatant violation of the Sixth Amendment, and an executive who can wield such powers is akin to a monarch or dictator. As Rep. Smith said during consideration of the amendment: "That is an enormous amount of power to give the Executive: to take someone and lock them up without due process. It is not necessary. This President has not used the authority. President George W. Bush did not use it after about 2002 and then only in a couple of instances. It is not necessary. It is an enormous amount of power to grant the Executive, and I believe places liberty and freedom at risk in this country."

Hal Rogers should have voted YEA for the amendment because pluses to the yeas because any attempt to limit or prohibit indefinite military detention is desirable, especially since persons detained may include U.S. citizens. Indefinite military detention is a blatant violation of the Sixth Amendment, and an executive who can wield such powers is akin to a monarch or dictator.






H R 4435: On Agreeing to the Amendment 17 to H R 4435
Vote Date: May 22, 2014Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Use of Military Force.

During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2015 (NDAA, H.R. 4435), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced an amendment to sunset the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force 12 months after the enactment of the 2015 NDAA.

The House rejected Schiff's amendment on May 22, 2014 by a vote of 191 to 233 (Roll Call 237). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, while granted by Congress, gives the president almost unlimited powers to invade countries, overthrow governments, and assassinate people under the pretext of waging the "war on terror." Congress essentially handed over its constitutional authority to declare war to the executive branch, thus giving the executive unconstitutional abilities. Any attempt to end the Authorization for the Use of Military Force is a step in the right direction."

      Hal Rogers should have voted YEA to this amendment because  the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, while granted by Congress, gives the president almost unlimited powers to invade countries, overthrow governments, and assassinate people under the pretext of waging the "war on terror." Congress essentially handed over its constitutional authority to declare war to the executive branch.





H R 4152: To provide for the costs of loan guarantees for Ukraine
Vote Date: April 1, 2014Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Ukraine Aid.

This bill (H.R. 4152), as amended by the Senate (see Senate vote below), would provide $150 million for direct aid to Ukraine. It would also provide for loan guarantees (meaning that U.S. taxpayers would be stuck holding the bag if the loans are not paid). And it would impose sanctions on Russian and ex-Ukrainian officials deemed responsible for the crisis in the Ukraine.

[ The Senate version of this legislation - offered in the form of a substitute amendment to the House version, H.R. 4152 - would provide $150 million for direct aid to Ukraine. It would also provide for loan guarantees (meaning that the U.S. taxpayers would be stuck holding the bag if the loans are not paid). And it would impose sanctions on Russian and ex-Ukrainian officials deemed responsible for the crisis in the Ukraine. ]

The House voted for this legislation on April 1, 2014 by a vote of 378 to 34 (Roll Call 149). We have assigned pluses to the nays because foreign aid is unconstitutional. The rationale for providing U.S. aid to Ukraine is that the country needs our assistance to resist Russian hegemony and build "democracy." Yet the oligarchs wielding power in Ukraine are hardly "democrats," and (because money is fungible) U.S. assistance could effectively be funneled to Russia in the form of Ukrainian energy and debt payments."



Hal Rogers should have voted NAY to this bill, because The rationale for providing U.S. aid to Ukraine is that the country needs our assistance to resist Russian hegemony and build "democracy." Yet the oligarchs wielding power in Ukraine are hardly "democrats," and (because money is fungible) U.S. assistance could effectively be funneled to Russia in the form of Ukrainian energy and debt payments.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cancer Deaths per 100,000 in certain countries.

My family and I had taken an interest in alternative treatments for cancers.  We were interested in the oxygen treatment where a person drinks a mixture of a glass of distilled water mixed with three drops of a special type of hydrogen peroxide that is safe for human internal consumption.  An article I read stated that that procedure is fairly commonly used as a treatment in the nations of Austria, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Russia, but not in the United States.  If the treatment is effective, you would expect the other nations to have a lower cancer death rate than does the United States.  Let's look at the basic figures:
Nation         Death Rate From All Cancers per 100,000 Persons

United States           123.8

Austria                    123.6
Cuba                       143.6
Germany                 127.5
Italy                         124.2
Mexico                      81.5
Russia                     129.8
 Average of the 6:   121.7             

That could be taken as evidence that alternate medicine treatment of cancer including oxygen and hydrogen peroxide therapy have beneficial effects where used.
Kenneth Stepp.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

ALLIANCES

Allies Are Not Like Facebook Friends: US Should Drop Useless and Dangerous Alliances


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If America ends up at war, it almost certainly will be on behalf of one ally or another. Washington collects allies like most people collect Facebook "friends." The vast majority of U.S. allies are security liabilities, tripwires for conflict and war.
Perhaps even worse, American officials constantly abase themselves, determined to reassure the very countries which the U.S. is defending at great cost and risk. Indeed, America's most hawkish politicians, who routinely posture like reincarnations of Winston Churchill, routinely talk of sacrificing U.S. lives, wealth, and security for the benefit of other nations. For instance, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) recently worried, "What ally around the world can feel safe in their alliance with us?" The more relevant question should be with what ally can America feel safe?
Instead of relentlessly collecting more international dependents, Washington policymakers should drop Allies In Name Only (AINOs). The U.S. should return to a more traditional standard for alliances: Join with other nations only when doing so advances American security. Alas, that rarely is the case today.
Indeed, contra the scare-mongering of hawkish politicians such as Sen. Rubio and his GOP compatriots, the strategic environment today is remarkably benign for the U.S. The world is messy, to be sure, but that's always been the case. The number of big conflicts is down. More important, America faces no hegemonic threat or peer competitor and is allied with every major industrialized state other than China and Russia.
All of Washington's recent wars have been over -- from America's standpoint -- unimportant, indeed, sometimes frivolous stakes. The Islamic State, Libya and Iraq were regional problems for U.S. allies with minimal impact on America. Iran and North Korea are ugly actors, but mostly for Washington's dependents. The two would face destruction if they attacked America. The latest crisis du jour, Yemen, worries Riyadh but is not even a speed bump for the globe's sole superpower. Yet Washington now is involved in another sectarian proxy war through its totalitarian "ally" Saudi Arabia.
Terrorism remains a genuine threat, but falls far short of the sort of existential danger posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Worse, terrorism typically is a response to foreign intervention and occupation. Washington has inadvertently encouraged terrorism by backing authoritarian regimes, joining foreign conflicts, and creating enemies overseas. America has done some of the worst damage to itself when protecting the interests of allies -- fighting their wars, killing their enemies, backing their campaigns, advancing their interests.
Adding unnecessary allies obviously makes this problem worse. In Ukraine, for instance, the Obama administration is under pressure to treat a non-ally as an ally -- arming and/or defending Russia's neighbor -- which would yield a proxy war with Russia, a nuclear-armed state which considers border security a vital interest. Bringing Ukraine (and Georgia) into NATO would be even more dangerous, inviting a geopolitical game of chicken over minimal stakes. Neither country has ever been considered even a marginal security concern of America. In contrast, both were long ruled by Moscow, which sees their links to the West as a form of encirclement, capping the extension of NATO up to Russia's borders.
Of course, both nations have been treated unfairly and badly by Moscow. But that doesn't justify a military alliance with the U.S. Alliances should be based on interest, not charity. They should not be an end, an independent security interest, but a means to an end, to protect America. Adding troubled states with limited military capabilities and unresolved conflicts turns the purpose of alliances on their head.
The U.S. long eschewed alliances and other "foreign entanglements," against which George Washington had warned. Even in World War I, a foolish imperial slugfest of no concern to America, Woodrow Wilson brought in the U.S. only as an "associated power." Popular and congressional opposition then prevented Wilson from guaranteeing the allied powers' post-war territorial seizures. Nevertheless, Washington's involvement was a catastrophic mistake, making possible the Versailles Treaty, which turned out to be only a generational truce before the combatants returned to fight a second and far bloodier round.
The extraordinary circumstances of World War II led to a genuine and justifiable alliance. During the Cold War the U.S. created what were intended to be temporary alliances. This policy was justified by the vulnerability of America's war-ravaged friends and hostility of the great communist powers, China and the Soviet Union. But even Dwight Eisenhower warned against turning the Europeans into permanent dependents. It makes no sense for Washington to retain responsibility for defending a continent with a larger economy and population than America -- and vastly greater resources than its only serious potential threat, Russia.
Much the same has happened in Asia, which Washington filled with allies after World War II. Even as Japan became the world's second economic power Tokyo relied on the American military. South Korea now has 40 times the GDP and twice the population of the North, yet Washington is responsible for the South's defense.
The problem is not just wasted resources, but tripwires for war. Alliances deter, but they also ensure involvement if deterrence fails, as it often does. And lending smaller states the services of a superpower's military changes their behavior, causing them to be more confrontational, even reckless. America and China aren't likely to come to blows over, say, Hawaii, which Beijing has no intention of attacking. But conflict could erupt over irrelevant allied territorial disputes, such as the Senkaku Islands and Scarborough Reef, claimed by Japan and the Philippines, respectively, and China.
Unfortunately, commitments to marginal allies determine basic U.S. defense strategy. Should America be prepared to fight one, one and a half, two, or more wars at once? These prospective conflicts invariably involve allies, not America directly. After all, what state can actually harm the U.S.? Other than Russia (and to a much more limited degree China) with its ICBMs, there is none. If war comes, it will involve Korea, Japan, the Persian Gulf, or Europe. The greater the number of dependent allies, the larger the number of possible wars. But when the interests involved are unimportant and the nations involved are capable of defending themselves, why is Washington sacrificing its people's lives and wealth for other states?
The U.S. should start defenestrating AINOs. Most of these nations would remain close. With all of them commerce should be free, culture should be shared, people should be friends, and governments should cooperate. In some cases military coordination may be called for, when the U.S. and other nations share vital objectives.
However, Washington should stop defending South Korea. With an overwhelming resource advantage, the South should deter North Korean adventurism and build cooperative regional relationships to preserve security in Northeast Asia. Despite historic tensions, Seoul should build ties with Japan, another American dependent which should transcend the past and create a military sufficient constrain a growing China. Washington should base relationships on equality rather than dependence.
The U.S. also should end its European defense dole. Today, NATO is effectively North America and the Others. Yet the Europeans collectively are wealthier and more populous than the U.S. They should take over NATO or set up their own alliance. No doubt there still would be important occasions for Washington to work militarily with these nations, which share history and values. But they, not America, should secure Europe.
Even more so the U.S. should not turn conflict-prone nations like Georgia and Ukraine into allies. Europe, not America, should protect the continent's eastern reaches and police North Africa, such as Libya. If the Europeans prefer not to pacify their neighborhood, Washington certainly shouldn't do so. Life might not be fair for Russia's immediate neighbors, but that's no reason to make them U.S. "allies."
Washington should be particularly wary about turning less important and less democratic states into allies. America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were misguided. Neither nation warrants a long-term security commitment or permanent military garrison. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are at most "frenemies," which Washington should deal with as circumstances warrant. Americans should refuse to allow such nations to drag the U.S. into extraneous conflicts, like that in Yemen.
Washington still has an interest in preventing a hostile, hegemonic power from dominating Eurasia. But that possibility isn't likely for decades to come. Russia is a declining power, despite Vladimir Putin's pretensions. Europe is unlikely to ever marry economic strength with political unity and military power, let alone direct its resources against America. India must raise its people out of poverty before it will be ready to impose its will on the international system.
The People's Republic of China is most likely to become a superpower peer of America. However, the PRC remains relatively poor and faces enormous economic and political challenges. China is surrounded by states with which it has fought in the past -- and which remain interested in restraining Beijing's ambitions. The U.S. should watch warily, but act only if the PRC threatens far more than a border scrape with a well-heeled U.S. ally.
America has benefitted much from its relative geographical isolation. It rarely needed allies in the past. It requires even fewer allies today. When appropriate, Washington should cooperate with like-minded states to promote shared objectives. In the rare case, the U.S. should make an alliance to advance American security. But Washington should beware allowing the tail to wag the dog. Washington should create alliances to deter and win wars, not go to war to promote and preserve alliances.
Geopolitics is not a grand version of Facebook, with the objective of amassing as many "friends" as possible. While America's faux warriors see allies as another reason for promiscuous war-making, alliances instead should reduce the likelihood of conflict. Since most of Washington's military pacts endanger the U.S., America should be dropping, not adding, allies.

This post originally appeared at Forbes online.

Thursday, March 19, 2015



"American People Must Say No to Washington's Foolish Policy of Constant War

"American foreign policy is controlled by fools. What else can one conclude from the bipartisan demand that the U.S. intervene everywhere all the time, irrespective of consequences? No matter how disastrous the outcome, the War Lobby insists that the idea was sound. Any problems obviously result, it is claimed, from execution, a matter of doing too little: too few troops engaged, too few foreigners killed, too few nations bombed, too few societies transformed, too few countries occupied, too few years involved, too few dollars spent. As new conflicts rage across the Middle East, the interventionist caucus' dismal record has become increasingly embarrassing."
Kenneth Stepp agrees with Doug Bandow.  We need to oust Hal Rogers and his interventionist caucus from Congress and replace them with people like Kenneth
Stepp who PUT AMERICA FIRST.    SURE PEOPLE IN FOREIGN LANDS ARE KILLING EACH OTHER.   SUNNIs KILL SHIITES, AND SHIITES KILL KURDS.  SUPPOSE THEY GAVE A WAR AND NO ONE CAME?  THE POLICY OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC WHEN THEY WERE IN THAT PART OF THE WORLD WAS TO STEER CLEAR OF THE LOCALS--BECAUSE OF THE LOCALS' SINFUL NATURE.  NOW, THE LOCALS OF MESOPOTAMIA WANT TO HAVE A BLOODBATH WITH EACH OTHER AND HAL ROGERS AND HIS INTERVENTIONIST CAUCUS WANT US TO PARTICIPATE.   LET'S GET OUR TROOPS OUT OF THERE.  WE DON'T NEED HAND TO HAND COMBAT WITH ISIS.  BRING OUR TROOPS HOME, NOW.  BRING OUR INTERVENTIONIST CAUCUS CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS HOME NOW AND REPLACE THEM WITH PEOPLE LIKE KENNETH STEPP WHO PUT AMERICA FIRST IN FOREIGN POLICY DECISIONS.  WHAT DO WE GAIN BY FIGHTING ISIS HAND-TO-HAND?   HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT WITH SUICIDAL PEOPLE IS STUPID.  IT COSTS US THE LIVES OF TOO MANY OF AMERICA'S SONS AND DAUGHTERS.  LET'S BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!  KENNETH STEPP.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

NEW INTERNET TAX.

KENNETH STEPP OPPOSES ANY NEW INTERNET TAX.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

SPENDTHRIFT REPUBLICANS!

HAL ROGERS AND THE NATIONAL DEBT!

"U.S. Debt Deadline Prompts Emergency Measures

 


Posted: Updated:

CAPITOL STORM

(Adds background)

"WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday said it would start using emergency cash measures to allow the government to keep paying the nation's bills once it hits the legal debt limit in about a week.

"Congress is expected to face another contentious debate over raising the U.S. legal borrowing authority, which is due to expire on March 15. If it stretches to the final deadline, the timing would coincide with the debate over government agency funding for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

"The Congressional Budget Office said this week that if Congress does not raise the federal debt limit, the Treasury Department will exhaust all of its borrowing capacity and run out of cash in October or November, slightly later than a previous forecast.

"To avoid running out of room to borrow, Treasury said it will suspend issuance of state and local government series securities, known as "slugs," next Friday.

"In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, U.S. Treasury Jack Lew urged Congress to raise the borrowing cap "as soon as possible."

"In 2011, a debt limit standoff in Congress brought the United States close to an unprecedented debt default before it was resolved with a budget deal that put in place automatic spending constraints that last through 2021. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)"

You remember how Hal Rogers and all those "good ol' boys" that control Washington avoided a government shutdown during the election campaign by giving the government an infinity debt ceiling, with the proviso that it expired March 15, 2015 and regular government would resume with limits on government borrowing being set at whatever debt the government had managed to run up during the interim?   WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!  The six months has run out!  The statutory limits on government borrowing resumes March 15, 2015, which is a week from tomorrow.  Kenneth Stepp opposed the infinity debt ceiling for the Federal government!  That runs out in eight days.  It's time to pay the piper!  You can see the Rogers  Years on the chart--from 1981 to the present.  Why do you keep re-electing the man?  Do you think you can spend your way into prosperity?