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Who Is Really Hurt by Sequestration Defense Cuts?

March 19, 2013

Posted by Amy Davidson
The New Yorker

When it became clear that sequestration meant most of the military branches would have to suspend tuition assistance—a program that allows active-duty service members to work toward degrees or enroll in vocational-training courses—there was a brief squawk of protest in Congress. A couple of Senators introduced an amendment to the Continuing Resolution—the budget bill to keep the government running—that would keep the funding in place. Kay Hagan, of North Carolina, one of the co-sponsors, wrote that while the Pentagon clearly had “difficult budgetary decisions,” tuition assistance “gives our best and brightest the opportunity to continue developing their skills while on active duty, which will ultimately lead to smoother transitions to civilian life.”

That amendment died in the Senate yesterday. (Hagan and James Inhofe, the other co-sponsor, hope to re-introduce it as a stand-alone bill.) So far, the Army, Air Force, and Marines have all cut off the students in their ranks. Grants that had been processed before March 12th are still in place, but that’s it. Stars and Stripes reported that, at Ramstein Air Base’s education center, phones were ringing “with callers ranging from the distressed to those in disbelief.”

“It has been probably one of the craziest mornings of my career,” said Keith Davis, the chief of education and training at Ramstein, who fielded some of those phone calls. “It has been unbelievable.”

Each of the services is looking for ways to keep its members in class—for example, by cannibalizing G.I. Bill benefits that might have gone to their families. There is also a White House petition, which already has more than the hundred thousand signatures needed for an official response, though there hasn’t been one yet. The immediate prospect is education interrupted: young people with debt but no degree. (And it’s always harder to go back to school than to stay in it.)

That isn’t all. Sequestration requires some forty-one billion dollars in defense cuts this fiscal year. There are exemptions, for example, for military pay. And there are less noble work-arounds, too; as Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote in the Washington Post last week, the F-35 program, whose cost has increased seventy per cent since it was first conceived and is now almost four hundred billion dollars, “will face only a glancing blow from the sequester,” even though it is the biggest single item in the military budget, in part because of contracts that have already gone through.

At the same time, as representatives of the various service branches testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week, they have been left to look for cuts in programs like on-base child care. Lieutenant General Darrell Jones, of the Air Force, testified that “military spouses comprise an estimated twenty-five per cent of our Child and Youth Program workforce,” and so furloughs, in addition to meaning that the hours of day-care centers may be cut or children put on waiting lists, “will create a direct financial hardship to some of our military families.” The Army’s Lieutenant General Howard Bromberg testified that some of the potentially vulnerable programs were “family intervention programs such as New Parent Support Home Visitation and other Family Advocacy programs that prevent domestic violence.” And the week of the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, there will be cuts to scholarships for the children of the troops who died serving there, as well as in Afghanistan.

There are exemptions for health care for active-duty members and “wounded warriors,” but the whole system is likely to slow down as the people who process claims and retirements are furloughed—this at a time when there are six hundred thousand veterans with backlogged disability claims. The average waiting time for benefits claims is two hundred and seventy-three days.

Is there some gamesmanship in the Pentagon’s plans? Could it be smarter about allocating cuts? Probably, but the money has to come from somewhere, and the odds favor it coming from programs and affecting interests that don’t have strong lobbyists. Most of us might not notice it, if we’re not soldiers with marriages falling apart or trying to sign up for a class. The illusion of sequestration harmlessness, brought about by delays in furloughs, is going to end. There is no question that there are very large cuts that could be made to the Defense budget. (Not fighting wars saves money, too.) Sequestration avoids and distracts from them.

The sequester, of course, was never supposed to happen—applying mindless cuts to both domestic and military spending was supposed to be enough to make both sides act. But the Democrats, in particular, may have miscalculated, perhaps in thrall to a cartoon image of Republicans who, upon getting last-minute calls from desperate defense contractors, would run to the floor of Congress to pass some sensible legislation. That image relies, though, on a misunderstanding of both the G.O.P. today and of the Defense budget. As Ryan Lizza recently wrote, there are more Tea Party–influenced Republicans who are comfortable with military cuts. There are also contractors whose calls may be about how to maneuver around sequestration, not stop it. Beyond that, there is a good part of the Defense budget that looks, and functions, like the sort of social spending that reflects more liberal than conservative interests. One way or the other, while Congressmen seem to be learning to love the budgetary laziness sequestration allows them, there are soldiers who won’t get help going to class.

Seen in The New Yorker, Photograph by Jabin Botsford/The New York Times/Redux.


Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/03/who-is-really-hurt-by-defense-cuts.html#ixzz2O2r39ijI

 
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90 Sheriffs and Two Sheriffs Associations Have Pledged to Ignore "Obama Gun Control"

 
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How Did We Get to This Point?

March 28, 2012

By David Sheldon

David Sheldon, is the founder and president of Michigan Stop Smart Meters and this link provides valuable updates to this serious worldwide concern.


Why are smart meters now being forced upon us?  The easy answer would be because it is profitable for the utility industry to do so.  It is not hard to conjure up a bogeyman in the big bad corporation.  But Detroit Edison had an enviable reputation, built over many decades, as a reliable provider of electric service, and as a business that treated its customers fairly.  In a free market, corporations, in pursuing their own best interests, tend to realize their own goals by doing the things that best meet the needs of their customers.

But wait a minute – who or what made it so profitable of late for Detroit Edison and most of the other utilities in this country to, all of a sudden, so mistreat their customers?  Why did they all decide to risk their customer goodwill and the security of the entire electric grid on unproven technology?

One must come to grips with the fact that it was decisions by policy makers at the national and international levels that brought all this on us.  There is a breakneck rush to install these cancer causing surveillance devices on every home and business in practically every industrial nation.  How and why were such decisions reached, and how did it happen that essentially the same decisions were being made at about the same time in all these nations?

We all like to believe that democracy matters, that we can elect politicians to carry out the will of “the people”.  In school most of us learned that this country is great because, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, we have “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

But was this ever strictly true?  And if it was once true, is it still true? One of the troubling things about our “democratic” republic is that certain things, at the national level, keep moving always in the same direction, no matter who we elect to Congress or the Presidency.  One of those things, we think, is an inexorable tendency for laws to be passed and policies implemented, often by executive fiat, that chip away at our privacy, our civil liberties and our personal autonomy.

One of the drivers of this is the fact that this nation always seems to be on a war footing – whether it is a cold war or a hot one.  We can have differing opinions as to the wisdom of becoming involved in this or that conflict – but the long run tendency of things is that we have now what then retiring President Eisenhower warned us of in 1961 – the permanent military-industrial complex.  With that we have an increasingly powerful and all intrusive national security state.

But there is another driver that has arisen in the last few decades and that may better explain why the whole industrialized world is seeking to increase its monitoring and control of what goes on in individual homes and businesses.  While most people today do respect our natural environment and want reasonable steps taken to protect it, there is also an environmental extremism that, if not checked and balanced against other values, will lead to a society where our national government, or possibly even a world government, will be telling us all how we must live.

This environmental extremism plays right into the hands of yet another driving force – the belief in some quarters that scientists, engineers and elite policymakers can better manage “society’s resources” than we can through our individual decisions and market forces.  This movement once went under the name “technocracy” and had its heyday in the 1930s.  Our nation repudiated that doctrine then but the “technocrats” never really gave up and are re-introducing their program under the guise of protecting the environment.  It may well be that the real danger to our once free and constitutional republic will come not from the socialists or from the fascists, but from these technocrats – who are neither of the left nor of the right.

Policies have been put in place – particularly in the last 20 years – during the administrations of two Republican presidents and two Democratic presidents, that are based on the notion of practically doing away with private property rights and individual freedom of action.  Instead these policies would establish an order of things where a central government will tell us all where we may or may not live, how much energy each of us may use, how much water we can consume, how much and what kind of food each of us may eat, how much land we can occupy, how much we may travel, and a hundred other things.

All this is being done supposedly in order to radically reduce the world’s “carbon footprint” and to make the world a paradise for every species but our own.  The first President Bush got us started on this program when, at the Rio Conference in 1991, he informally committed this nation, to something called “Agenda 21”.  Because it was an informal commitment and not a treaty, he needed no ratification by the U.S. Senate.  Yet policies began to be implemented by Executive Orders through many federal agencies.  This program continued under President Clinton.

During the term of the second President Bush, laws were pushed through Congress to outlaw the incandescent light bulb, to outlaw toilets with 3 gallon tanks, and then to establish something called a “smart grid”.  It was a comprehensive plan to establish a system whereby government, acting through the electric, gas and water utilities, could monitor and perhaps ultimately control resource use at each and every individual home and business.  Of course we were told at first that these programs would be “voluntary” on the part of homeowners and businesses who would be rewarded with lower rates for their “participation.”

Part of this “smart grid” would be the “smart meters”.  These, when fully integrated with a new generation of “smart appliances” would enable the utility companies to know exactly how much energy we are using at any given moment and even which appliances we are using at any given time.  But we were promised, in the federal legislation, that these smart meters would be voluntary – that they would not be forced on homeowners.

Then came the “stimulus bill” under President Obama.  There was appropriated the sum of 3.5 billion dollars to virtually stampede all the utility companies to convert their meters to smart meters.  This was to cover up to 50% of the cost of the new meters.  The other half would be recovered by having the various state regulatory bodies approve passing those costs on to electricity customers through their monthly bills.

Now let’s step back for a moment.  Was it the people of the United States who wanted this new system?  Did the people create a market demand for the new meters?  Did the people ever communicate to their legislative representatives that they wanted society transformed in this way?  I think we all know the answers to these questions are NO.

And what about the people in all the industrial nations of Europe and South America and South Africa?  Is it just coincidence that the same policies were being quietly implemented in all industrial nations?

We are talking here of ‘smart meters’, but we could as well be talking about so many other facets of the modern surveillance society.  We could be speaking of the over proliferation of cell phones that are bombarding us with cancer causing radiation and constantly, without our knowledge, reporting our GPS locations back to big telephone company and big brother. So how did it all happen?  Was it the warfare and national security state, the global warming crowd or the technocrats?  Or all of the above?  Do we still have “government of the people, by the people and for the people”?  If not, what are we going to do about it?

For further information on Smart Meters visit michiganstopsmartmeters.com.


 
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Dear Elected Representatives…  Local, State, and Federal

It is amazing that after thousands of years of history with different forms of oppressive government, America is the first successful attempt, in modern times, to build a nation on the principles of freedom. Our Founding Fathers discovered that the most essential values of a representative government were those practiced by ancient Israel and the Anglo-Saxons. These well read men referred to many writings on the ancient principles of natural law to formulate our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. One such document unknown to many Americans is the Law of Nations defining the duties and obligations of states, its representatives, and individuals for maintaining a civil society. The goal of our Founding Fathers was to allow unlimited freedom with safeguards to avoid the spread of corruption which we are all now so familiar. What our Founding Fathers devised was nothing less than a miracle!

On February 07, 1788, in a letter to Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington wrote: “It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other, in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national government.”

On December 09, 1787, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison wrote: “It is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle.”

How will people sustain such a miracle? The only answer is… through strong self-government! But, a strong self-government can only be realized precinct by precinct.

The people of America deserve leadership, truth, and the facts! By the lack of leadership, truth, and disingenuous omission of the facts, our local, state, and federal representatives have failed the American people. And, yes… the American people have failed to retain the knowledge necessary to rule their own country.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The article nearest my heart is the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of all which, taken together, composes the state, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern. The affairs of the larger sections, of counties, of states, and of the Union, not admitting personal transactions by the people, will be delegated to agents elected by themselves; and representation will thus be substituted where personal action becomes impracticable. Yet, even over these representative organs, should they become corrupt and perverted, the division into wards, constituting the people… a regularly organized power, enables them by that organization to crush, regularly and peaceably, the usurpations of their unfaithful agents, and rescues them from the dreadful necessity of doing it insurrectionally. In this way we shall be as republican as a large society can be, and secure the continuance of purity in our government by the salutary, peaceable, and regular control of the people.” [“Ward” and “Precinct” are synonymous]

Our Founding Fathers were fully aware that they must create a system of government that would allow People’s Law rather than Ruler’s Law to prevail. Under Ruler’s Law, government assumes all power and imposes its will on the people. At the time, our Founding Fathers lived under Ruler’s Law, and for them, that was not an option.

Any representative of the people unwilling to educate, promote, and enlighten the people of the true business of the wards and precincts, the root of people’s law, does not deserve to represent a free people. To represent means to serve and fulfill the wishes of the people with dignity, honor, and truth… it is time for truth!

This miracle formula has been hidden from the people for so many years it was nearly lost! I believe, by design, this knowledge has been allowed to escape the American people… but no more! More and more people are learning the true business of the wards and precincts… and the days are numbered for those representatives unwilling to promote the truth.

Our Founding Fathers rediscovered the ancient principles of People’s Law and Natural Law, determined to establish Rule of Law based on those ancient principles. All of our Founding Fathers lived under Ruler’s Law… not to be confused with the Rule of Law. They envisioned Power of the People”.… not Parliamentary Supremacy. George Washington wrote: The power under the Constitution will always be in the People.”.

I have worked endless hours in an attempt to enlighten the American people of the true business of the wards and precincts. This is where local people are actively engaged running their government by electing their precinct representative. For years, these positions have been virtually vacant thus eliminating any chance for true representation of, for, and by the people. This is reprehensible and can no longer be tolerated. For this reason, I am writing you, and I call on you to inspire the American people through the knowledge of their rightful place, duties, and obligations as citizens of a free nation.

I’m asking you to join me in this effort of reeducating the American people and to enlighten and encourage them to fulfill their obligations as citizens. They have a right to know and your obligation is to them… not self-interest!

If you are interested in the advancement of truth, and wish to make a statement of your commitment to educate, promote, and enlighten the people of the true business of the wards and precincts, please contact me (Please… no boilerplate responses!) using the contact from at http://www.nationalprecinctalliance.org/contact . All responses, or lack thereof, will be made public.

I would like to end with this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian executed by Hitler… “to not speak is to speak; to not act is to act”.

My Very Best,
Phil Glass
National Precinct Alliance

 
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