Sunday, February 20, 2011

Letter to Congressman Cuellar regarding his vote against cutting the bloated Pentagon budget

February 20, 2011

336 Cannon H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
fax: 202-225-1641

Dear Congressman Cuellar,

I’m stunned that you voted “no” on the amendment offered by Representatives Barbara Lee and Pete Stark (No. 141) to the continuing resolution that would have insisted that the Pentagon budget be cut back to the level of FY 2008. You’ve previously supported efforts to reduce federal government spending yet when you had an opportunity to really accomplish it you back off.

If you are looking for ways to reduce the deficit, military spending should be the first place you look. The U.S. spends more on our military than the next 18 nations combined, are you actually concerned that we couldn’t defend ourselves with a lot less. Let’s be clear, we have over 700 acknowledged military bases on foreign soil and hundreds of thousands of troops manning them. We also continue to build Cold War era weapons systems while also fighting an illegal war in Iraq and an unnecessary one in Afghanistan. If you really want to be a deficit hawk it’s past time we brought home all our troops from Iraq and that includes the mercenaries we euphemistically call “security contractors”. We need to rapidly phase out our military presence in Afghanistan and cut the number of overseas bases in half.

Many members of Congress from both major political parties have insisted that the Pentagon should not be exempted from spending cuts as Congress works to reduce the federal budget deficit. Remember President Eisenhower’s warning of April 16, 1953, before the American Society of Newspaper Editors:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all in any sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

I hope that you will look for future opportunities to reduce the out-of-control Pentagon budget. I would like to learn why you voted against this amendment.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fordham Institute gives Texas SBOE a "D" for History standards

If  the Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, supported by the likes of the Walton family and the Hoover Institute thinks the State Board of Education did a terrible job on history standards you know it’s bad.

This is how the Fordham Institute views the Texas curriculum standards: “Complex historical issues are obscured with blatant politicizing throughout the document. Biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented. The complicated but undeniable history of separation of church and state is flatly dismissed.”

Fordham describes the way the standards cover racial integration after the end of slavery this way, “During and after Reconstruction, there is no mention of the Black Codes, the Ku Klux Klan, or sharecropping. The term ‘Jim Crow’ never appears. Incredibly, racial segregation is mentioned only in a passing reference to the 1948 integration of the armed forces.” You’d think we never had any racism whatsoever until we solved it all in 1948.

They gave us a D and we in District 5 have Ken Mercer to thank for that. I hope the voters who re-elected him over an experienced college professor, Rebecca Bell-Metereau are happy with their choice. For those of us who voted to replace him there is a silver lining to the state’s budget crisis, at least Texas won’t be buying any books using the new standards anytime soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Response to a letter to the editor in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung

Jim Alston’s letter "Balanced Budget Can Be Achieved Without Raising Taxes" claims all can be fixed just by cutting spending. Anyone who owns a car or a home knows what happens when you cut spending so much that you don’t maintain what you already have, the car stops running and the house falls down around your ears.

Hubert Humphrey, our 38th Vice President, is quoted as saying “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped”.

The proposed 33% cut to Medicaid endanger the sick, needy and handicapped. The similar proposed cuts to education will damage the lives and income potential of the children of our state for a generation. The government of Texas is failing Humphrey’s test. When any government fails such a test it is incumbent on the people to replace that government.

2012 can’t come soon enough.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Remembering the real Ronald Reagan

In all the hoopla over the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth published in this newspaper and others during the past week I’ve seen nothing about his stated dream of a nuclear free world which both our Texas senators recently made every effort to derail by voting against the New Start Treaty.

There was also no word on Reagan’s support for the murderous right-wing Contra’s in Nicaragua whom he financed by selling arms to Iran in violation of U.S. law. Nor was there mention of his funding and training of the right-wing Guatemalan military, which a United Nations commission found to be a "key factor" in that military committing "acts of genocide" causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Mayans and many other nonviolent left-wing activists.

No one wrote that it was under Reagan that the United States armed and supported Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his aggressive war against Iran, which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Those actions, it should be noted, embittered citizens of both countries against the United States. And let us not forget that it was his administration which helped lay the groundwork for Al Qaeda by financing and training an Islamist militant movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan aimed at fighting the Soviet Union.

So yes let’s all remember Ronald Reagan just so long as we remember who he really was.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More on Separation of Church and State

Steve Mis and I agree on one thing “I and those who agree with me believe in the Constitution” we unfortunately understand The Constitution to mean different things. There’s a lot that The Constitution doesn’t say but is implied and left open to future interpretation so as to keep the U.S. Constitution brief and flexible enough to be useful over time. The Courts have repeatedly ruled that any act by any member of government when acting in their official capacity, that means dog catcher on up to U.S. Senator, which favors one religion over another is unconstitutional based on the establishment clause. The key here is that in order for the individual’s freedom to say a prayer to be restricted they must be acting in their official government capacity. So Mr. Mis’ concern that those who believe as I do want to prevent him from expressing his religious beliefs in public is unfounded.

Regarding his suggestion that I implied he’s a bigot, I’m glad to hear that he isn’t but wasn’t my actual point. People are often uncomfortable when they feel that they are different from all the others in the room. Fairness suggests that we not drive that wedge further by offering a sectarian prayer. One of the enduring principles that makes the United States the greatest country in the world is that we believe that all are created equal and hence we all belong. Let us not allow anything to make members of our community feel otherwise.