February 6, 2010

On Feb. 1 President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2011. The budget calls for a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon's base budget to $549 billion, plus $159 billion to fund the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But citizens aren't sitting by while the Pentagon's budget balloons. On March 20, just after the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, protestors will march on Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.

On Friday evening, March 19, at least 55 Hoosiers and Kentucky residents will board a bus bound for Washington, D.C., for the second peace march since President Obama was elected. Participants will demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

February 6, 2010

Barbara Sha Cox is with Indiana CAFO Watch. What follows is her report on the efforts of Indiana citizens to promote legislation in this year's General Assembly that would require responsible operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and Confined Feeing Operations (CFOs) in Indiana.


Bill 1267 was authored by State Rep. Dave Cheatham, D-North Vernon. This bill required all CAFO and CFO owners to bury their dead animals completely, or, if the animals were in compost, the owners were required to cover the compost area and secure it from animals. This simple requirement would have prevented neighbors from finding dead animal parts in their yards.

February 6, 2010

It is the question that puzzles many of us when we hear about the tragic conclusion of a domestic violence relationship. Why doesn't the victim simply look at herself in the mirror, decide it is time for a change, and head out the door?

Perhaps, though, it is we who need to look in the mirror. Are our communities doing enough to make sure that door is not barred shut?

January 23, 2010

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said I-69 is on the fast track to be completed by 2012.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says the first three sections will be completed three years ahead of schedule.

The governor says all of this could be done within the interstate's $700 million budget. -- Evansville's WFIE, Channel 14. Oct. 23, 2009


Mitch Daniels has a problem. A big problem. His dream of a well-funded patronage machine, in the form of the I-69 extension from Evansville to Crane, is in trouble.

January 23, 2010

Conventional wisdom has it that this past week marked two milestones in U.S. electoral politics. The first, Republican Scott Brown's upset victory over Democratic "favorite" Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy's vacant senate seat; the second, the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Each of these events gave politicians and TV talking heads plenty to chew on. But when the two stories merged into a singular media narrative on the future of the Obama presidency, it became an infotainment spectacular. One with all the hyperbole and punditry associated with that other midwinter entertainment extravaganza: the Super Bowl. Instead of picking winners and losers in the big game, this week's media circus was all about handicapping Obama.

January 23, 2010

I had some face time with Rahm Emmanuel two weeks ago at my friend Owen's. (Owen's brother-in-law is the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.) Rahm said nothing surprising but made his points. He had just finished David Kennedy's 1999 book Freedom from Fear, about WW II, the Depression and, germane to this conversation, the tremendous compromises involved in forging the New Deal.

Politically, he asserted, if you want to make big changes, you have to choose your battles and win the big ones. If health reform goes down, then energy, global warming, financial reform and labor's legislative agenda are all at risk. He stayed right on message.

I posed this to him: "Many Democratic politicians, including our Blue Dog Rep. Baron Hill, tell us in private conversations that they believe we have to get to single payer eventually. What advice would you give on how to get there?" Without a blink, he replied it's "going to be a long haul," and if we don't pass this bill it's going to be even longer. He asserted that this bill begins building the required infrastructure for any future progress.

January 23, 2010

Like abolitionists, civil rights activists and opponents of the wars in Vietnam before them, those who question the endless U.S. war on terror are routinely dismissed as naive.

But what should we call those whose trillion-dollar wars hold no answers for a disturbed Nigerian young man willing to blow up an airplane on Christmas? What about those whose bombs could not prevent a Jordanian spy from killing himself and eight others on a CIA base in Afghanistan?

Predator drones and troop surges could not stop these threats. But U.S. invasions, missiles and torture surely fueled them. And the cycle of violence rolls on.

January 23, 2010

With all of the fear spewing from the conservative Right about hope and change destroying this country, we have seen little to back up their claim over the last year. Wall Street and the financial industries have received billions, while homeowners lose their homes and file for bankruptcy. The military-industrial complex continues to grow while being fed regular doses of cash.

Health care reform proposals went from a universal, single-payer system down to a public option to expanding Medicare for those 55 and older to nothing. However, as the debate comes to a close, health care reform may lead to people forced to buy insurance, or face a financial penalty, and being taxed if fortunate enough to have medical coverage!

Now, the playing field for working people has became more uneven with the ruling by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Overturning a precedent set over 60 years ago, the decision found that corporations, nonprofit organizations and labor unions no longer would be restricted from utilizing their own funds to create and run ad campaigns for the purpose of supporting or defeating candidates.

January 9, 2010

The recent spate of high-profile intelligence failures -- most notably the attempted Christmas Day bombing on board Northwest Airlines fight 253 -- put me in mind of an old Groucho Marx line: "Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms." In the days following the foiled terrorist plot, the usual suspects in and out of official Washington demonstrated their own faulty intelligence.

On one hand, Obama administration officials struggled to save face in the wake of an embarrassing, and potentially catastrophic, security lapse. On the other, a handful of House Republicans sought to score a few political points -- and raise a little campaign money in the bargain -- by politicizing this latest terrorist episode. Meanwhile, syndicated columnists and cable TV pundits were working overtime, spinning the story this way and that. As usual, the ensuing debate over intelligence failures and security breaches generates more heat than light.

January 9, 2010

Earlier this month, Indiana House and Senate committees delivered bipartisan support for a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would permanently cap property taxes. And Governor Daniels insisted that slashing the budget for K-12 education was a necessary "last resort" in response to the state budget woes.

It is tempting to criticize these developments. After all, responding to short-term political expediency by locking in property tax caps is the fiscal equivalent of painting ourselves into a corner and burying land mines under all the exit paths. Ask the folks in California how Proposition 13 is working these days.

But, on second thought, perhaps I should get with the times. If constitutional amendments are the flavor of the moment, I would like to propose my own addition to the Indiana Constitution.

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