The War Resisters League produced a pie chart that shows how much of our tax revenue funds warfare. By the group’s calculations, the government channels 54 percent of the $2.65 trillion it spends each year on military activities. In his recent OtherWords op-ed, Joe Volk suggested taxpayers ask lawmakers this question: “Will Congress keep Pentagon and military contractors rolling in dough, or will it begin to invest in real security to protect the United States from the threats of the 21st century?”
Dr. Rand Paul, son of Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, is a leading candidate to replace Kentucky’s outgoing Republican Senator, Jim Bunning. He’s seizing on the same citizen anger that fuels the tea partiers (Sarah Palin has endorsed him), but as Kentucky’s largest daily newspaper, the Courier-Journal, reports, “despite his independent thinking, much of what he stands for is repulsive to people in the mainstream.” Were it up to Dr. Paul, for instance, it would be perfectly legal for a restaurant to display a “Whites Only” sign. The Courier-Journal reported of Dr. Paul, “he personally would not agree with any form of discrimination,” but believes it is our right as private citizens. In America, Dr. Paul maintains every business should be permitted to conclude help wanted ads with “No gays or Hispanics.” The wide support of Rand Paul loudly confirms OtherWords columnist William A. Collins’ suspicion that America needs to do a lot more than elect an African-American president to create intercultural harmony.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, reports that former “senior officers” in the MI6–the UK’s version of the CIA–are now criticizing U.S. policies and officials for using torture. “Hindsight is easy, but if Bush had placed more emphasis on bringing those responsible to justice rather than on declaring an unwinnable ‘war’ against an undefined enemy, things might have turned out very differently,” they said. William A. Collins called for President Obama to set us on a torture-free path, in his February 22 OtherWords column, in which he noted that American officials appear to be resisting investigations of United States torture policies.
Peeved by an April 9 letter to the editor that attacked OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul, The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson, The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, and other liberal voices, Winston-Salem Journal reader Cyclone Covey weighed in on April 19 with his own two cents. “Kaul’s March 31 column ‘Obstructionist Antics‘ ranks as enduring literature,” Covey wrote. “If columnists tend toward liberalism, it is because their close contact with world tragedies teaches there is something better than illiberalism.” On April 16, the Journal published an earlier letter by reader Dallas D. Lassen, who also defended the liberal columnists that the North Carolina newspaper publishes.
The Bloomington, IL, Pantagraph also ran a letter by an irate reader who hated that column, which predicts the GOP’s demise. “Labeling this party as anti-immigrant or anti-civil rights is extremely offensive to me,” wrote Ben Funk of Normal.
And the Springfield, MO News-Leader published another letter triggered by Kaul’s provocative commentary. “In answer to Donald Kaul’s question on whether or not we need a Republican Party, I have to ask if we need either Democratic or Republican parties,” wrote reader Chris Dalton.
It’s Economics 101, and the National Family Farm Coalition points out what happens with the consolidation of the seed industry: Less competition forces farmers to pay skyrocketing prices. Just like Timothy A. Wise asserted in his OtherWords op-ed, rising seed costs are threatening the viability of our farms and the jobs they sustain.
The much-debated new Senate climate bill is finally ready to be unveiled on April 26. Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are set to announce the broad long-range goals going beyond “cap and trade” (a scheme Janet Redman debunked in her OtherWords op-ed), to reduce our national emissions by more than three-quarters each year by 2050. But will President Obama’s proposal of new drilling for oil stir up even more controversy? The Sierra Club discusses that question.
The next time you read about another tea party protest convened to decry the tax bogeyman, log on to “The Other 95%” website (http://theother95.com). There, you’ll learn that “unlike President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, which went to the wealthiest 2.2%, President Obama’s tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit working and middle class families–95% of all Americans.” Most of us don’t know this. Or read Chuck Collins’ OtherWords op-ed explaining why the middle class gets the shaft when the wealthy dictate our tax code. Or check out the OtherWords op-ed the affluent Gene Mulligan wrote about how he hopes Congress “has the courage to let my tax cuts expire.”
Former NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks opened doors. “Many of the rights we take for granted today were made possible by the courage and tenacity of Ben Hooks and others of his generation who devoted their lives to the relentless pursuit of equality and justice for all,” writes National Urban League CEO and OtherWords contributor Marc Morial, of the civil rights leader, who died April 15 at 85. He “pursued that mission wherever he went–as a soldier, lawyer, judge, preacher, teacher, FCC commissioner, and civil rights leader. As a Sergeant in World War II, assigned to guard European prisoners of war, he suffered the indignity of being refused service at ‘whites only’ restaurants, while his prisoners were allowed to eat. After leaving the military, he pursued a career in law…In 1965 he became the first African-American criminal court judge in the State of Tennessee.” As the first African-American Federal Communications Commission, he struggled to expand minority ownership of radio and TV stations. Dorothy Height, another civil rights leader, died April 20. OtherWords will run a Marian Wright Edelman op-ed about her in our April 26 editorial package.
Pizza and freedom fries have become national security threats. As Marian Wright Edelman recently put it in an OtherWords op-ed: “It’s time to fight childhood obesity.” The U.S. military gets it. A military officers group called “Mission: Readiness” wants to make school lunches healthier, after its new study reported more than a quarter of Americans ages 17-24 are ineligible to enlist because they weigh too much. The group appeared on Capitol Hill to tell Congress about this problem.
The NCAA is mulling the expansion of the men’s college basketball tournament, an inevitability that will mean young athletes will rake in millions more dollars for their schools. Marc Morial’s recent OtherWords op-ed, College Basketball Graduation Rate Insanity and cartoonist Khalil Bendib’s accompanying cartoon highlight this exploitation, which will only deepen as the money increases. And this change would be a great opportunity to follow up on Morial’s suggestion “that schools failing to graduate at least 80 percent of their athletes not only be ineligible for post-season play, but lose all of their athletic scholarships.”