Tag: national security

PETITION: Tell the Senate to hold confirmation hearings on Steve Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains the body of an online petition, written by the author of this blog post, republished in full.


President Donald Trump has appointed Stephen Kevin “Steve” Bannon, one of Trump’s closest allies and a top White House adviser to Trump, to a seat on the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC is responsible for advising the President on matters affecting America’s national security.

A federal statutory law, section (a)(6) of federal statute 50 U.S. Code 3021, requires that civilian appointees to the NSC receive confirmation by the U.S. Senate for appointment to the NSC. Although the creator of this petition is not an attorney, it appears that Bannon, whose legally holds the offices of Senior Counselor to the President and White House Chief Strategist, would qualify as an individual of the (a)(6) category, meaning that Bannon would be legally required to receive Senate confirmation in order to legally become a member of the NSC.

Confirmation hearings for Bannon’s appointment to the NSC would give Senators opportunities to question Bannon over his work at the far-right website Breitbart, allegations that he physically beat his wife, and his offensive anti-Semitic remarks. It is very much possible that, even with Republicans holding a 52-48 majority in the Senate, Bannon may be rejected by the Senate.

We, the signatories of this petition, hereby call for the U.S. Senate to hold confirmation hearings for the appointment of Stephen Kevin “Steve” Bannon to the National Security Council.

You can sign the petition here.

The progressive response to Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech

Earlier today, Hillary Clinton gave a major speech outlining the Hillary Doctrine, which is Hillary’s internationalist foreign policy. This will be my final blog post criticizing Hillary until after the November 2016 general election, as well as a preview of what forms of criticism I will use in my blog posts against Donald Trump.

Internationalist foreign policy, supported by establishment politicians in both major parties, most notably establishment Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as neocon Republicans like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Paul Ryan, has failed America in many ways. To put that another way, internationalism is destroying America.

Thanks in part to large amounts of Americans’ taxpayer money being spent on wars in the Middle East, policy makers here in America are completely unwilling to appropriate money to fix our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure. America is spending millions upon millions of dollars providing foreign aid in order to prop up right-wing governments like the one in Israel, which has openly discriminated against anyone who isn’t like them. International trade, free-trade policies, and a massive trade deficit with countries like China and Mexico have destroyed American manufacturing, destroyed the economies of entire cities and communities, and have left thousands of blue-collar Americans without a job and a steady source of income. Even worse, America’s interconnectedness with the global financial system could cause a massive economic recession, if not a depression, without our country’s policy makers having any real way to control or prevent the problems that would cause such an economic downturn. American policy makers have no problem sending money and resources to foreign countries to provide aid for disasters that occur within their borders, while local emergency management agencies here in America are understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with disasters that occur right here in America.

Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump is an even bigger threat to America than Hillary Clinton is, was, or will be. Trump has no coherent foreign policy, but, when he has outlined some of his foreign policy measures, many of his ideas are either arguably or obviously more dangerous than anything Hillary supports. While some of Trump’s more isolationist foreign policy stances are common sense, such as reducing or eliminating U.S. ties to NATO, many of his other foreign policy stances are downright scary. Trump wants to open up international ties between the U.S. and North Korea, a country that has publicly threatened to launch a nuclear attack on our great country. We’ve seen what happens when Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton open up ties between the U.S. and a communist country in East Asia…the jobs flow right of our country. Trump is often too chicken to outline some of his most dangerous foreign policy measures, so he’s had great foreign policy experts (sarcasm) like former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight brag about how Trump would be more than willing to use nuclear weapons against our enemies. Trump and people like Bobby Knight have zero understanding that nuclear weapons are the ultimate last resort, as Harry Truman ordered their use against Japan to end World War II. Nowadays, beating Japan is an American tradition on the soccer field, not the war field.

I strongly urge congressional Democrats to push for a strong, isolationist, pro-American, and progressive foreign policy that understands that rebuilding America is more important than building an international community, regardless of what the next president wants. Let’s not forget that around or more than 40% of Democrats nationwide, and a majority of Democrats in swing states like New Hampshire and Wisconsin, fundamentally disagree with Hillary’s internationalist foreign policy approach, and Trump’s foreign policy approach is a lot worse.

Bernie Sanders strongly criticizes Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric

From Bernie himself, via a recent campaign email:

I want to say a few things about Donald Trump and specifically about his comments tonight that we should ban all Muslims from coming to the United States, even American Muslims returning home from overseas.

It’s fun for the political media to treat Donald Trump like he’s the lead character in a soap opera or the star player on a baseball team. But the truth is his language is dangerous, especially as it empowers his supporters to act out against Muslims, Latinos, and African-Americans.

Poll after poll shows that I am the candidate best suited to take on Donald Trump and every other Republican running for president.

With multiple opinion polls showing Bernie being the most electable Democratic presidential candidate in hypothetical matchups against Trump, it’s clear that we need to do everything possible to help Bernie to win the Democratic nomination. One thing you can do is vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democracy for America (DfA) online poll. Should Bernie get at least two-thirds of the vote in the online poll, DfA will endorse Bernie.

Right-wing extremists are the biggest threat to America

It’s become inherently clear to me that right-wing extremists are the biggest threat to America today.

Last night, President Barack Obama gave a rare speech from the Oval Office about ISIS, national security, gun control, and the recent San Bernardino shooting. In his speech, Obama said that letting the right define America’s fight against ISIS and other Islamic fundamentalist terror groups as a fight between America and Islam is exactly what ISIS wants. He’s right.

Republicans running for president, such as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, as well as Republican elected officials and right-wing blowhards, support launching a full-scale war against ISIS, spying on American Muslims, and other extreme measures. The truth of the matter is that those type of measures would do little more than play into the ISIS narrative that America is at war with Islam, thus emboldening ISIS and leading to U.S. involvement in yet another long, drawn-out war in the Middle East. Furthermore, Republican and NRA opposition to efforts to ban those on U.S. no-fly lists encourages terrorists to buy guns in order to carry out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

It’s not Islamic fundamentalists that pose the biggest threat to America today. It’s our own country’s right-wing extremists, who want to aid and abet ISIS and other similar terror groups.

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

My letter to Bruce Rauner on Syrian refugee resettlement in Illinois

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post is a letter that I sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) via the contact page on the Illinois state government website for the governor’s office.


Governor Rauner,

This is Aaron Camp, a resident of the Village of Westville in Vermilion County. I am writing to you in regards to resettlement of Syrian refugees in Illinois, which I support. I am strongly critical of your opposition to resettlement of Syrian refugees here in Illinois.

Just a few days ago, terrorists launched multiple coordinated attacks in Paris, France, and the Islamic fundamentalist terror group that is commonly known as ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks. While there needs to be proper screening in place to make sure that terrorists don’t migrate here to the United States among the refugees who are fleeing the terrorists, I believe that Illinois, and the United States as a whole, is more than capable of accepting Syrian refugees who are fleeing war and oppression.

America is a nation of immigrants. In fact, my hometown of Westville was settled by immigrants from dozens of countries many, many years before I was born. In fact, at one time, Westville once had people of 37 different nationalities living in the community. Many other Illinois communities were shaped by immigrants at some point in their histories.

For you to say no to accepting Syrian refugees is, in a way, doing what ISIS wants. One of ISIS’s goals is to terrorize politicians in our state and our country into making reactionary decisions with negative consequences. The negative consequences of not accepting Syrian refugees are numerous, although one of them is that the refusal of American politicians to accept Syrian refugees would likely be used in ISIS propaganda to recruit more ISIS terrorists, which is something that the U.S. and our nation’s allies simply cannot afford.

Sincerely,
Aaron Camp

Scott Walker panders to anti-immigrant extremists, wants to waste taxpayer money on a Canadian border fence

Just like Phil Mickelson literally did, Scott Walker metaphorically fell on his ass on immigration.
Just like Phil Mickelson literally did while playing golf, Scott Walker metaphorically fell on his ass on immigration.

Scott Walker, in a desperate attempt to pander to the far-right, anti-immigrant extremists fueling the Donald Trump presidential campaign, has suggested erecting a fence along the border between the United States and Canada at the expense of American taxpayers:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is putting a new twist on the topic of securing the border, a staple among the GOP candidates running for president, by pointing north.

Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country’s norther border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review.

Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he wanted to build a wall on the northern border, too. Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

While Republicans have long been high on anti-immigrant bigotry and lunacy, this is one of the most absurd ideas I’ve ever heard from a presidential candidate. Canada poses extremely little risk to U.S. national security, and erecting a border fence along our border with Canada would be nothing more than a giant waste of taxpayer money.

This is what desperation looks like.

Explaining why Scott Walker is a fascist

By my definition of a “fascist”, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is a fascist. That’s because Scott Walker meets every single one of the 14 points of fascism, as compiled by political scientist Dr. Laurence Britt in 2004:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Expressions of Nationalism – In his presidential announcement speech (transcript here), Walker repeatedly talked about his patriotic love for America and used it to advocate for a far-right political agenda. While being patriotic in and of itself isn’t fascism, constant displays of nationalism, combined with all 13 of the other points of fascism that I’ll list below, is fascism.
  2. Disdain for the Importance of Human Rights – As Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has repeatedly disregarded the human rights of the people of Wisconsin, including stripping rights from workers, women, political dissidents, and voters. Since this point largely goes hand in hand with several of the other points of fascism, I’ll explain this in more detail in points 5, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – Walker and his political allies have repeatedly used progressives and others who have protested Walker’s policies in a non-violent manner as a scapegoat to justify their far-right agenda and (falsely) portray Walker as a strong leader. In fact, Walker himself has openly compared non-violent protesters who have criticized his political agenda to the Islamic fundamentalist terror group Islamic State (IS, commonly called ISIS).
  4. The Supremacy of the Military/Avid Militarism – During his presidential campaign announcement, Walker repeatedly used veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to defend his far-right agenda. While Walker and his political allies were enacting legislation stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees in Wisconsin, Walker publicly threatened to use the Wisconsin National Guard, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, against state legislators that opposed Walker’s legislation.
  5. Rampant Sexism – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker and his allies enacted numerous laws that specifically targeted women, including a law prohibiting women who have been illegally paid less than their male counterparts by their employers from suing in the state court system, as well as numerous laws that determine what kind of reproductive health care women can and can’t receive.
  6. A Controlled Mass Media – While there isn’t formal state control of the mass media in Wisconsin, the corporate-controlled mass media in Wisconsin covers political news in an manner that is very biased in favor of Walker and regularly smears political opponents of Walker.
  7. Obsession With National Security – Since he started being taken seriously as a prospective presidential candidate, Walker has displayed an obsession with national security, including, as I described above, comparing non-violent protesters to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.
  8. Religion and Ruling Elite Tied Together – Throughout his political career, Walker has repeatedly shown complete disregard towards the separation of church and state that is supposed to be mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and Walker often deploys a religious tone on the campaign trail. Walker has repeatedly claimed that God is guiding him through his political career, and he and his allies have expanded school voucher programs designed to give taxpayer money to religious schools as Governor of Wisconsin.
  9. Power of Corporations Protected – During his time as Governor of Wisconsin, corporate interests have had virtually complete control of Wisconsin’s state government, including writing state laws through a far-right political organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
  10. Power of Labor Suppressed or Eliminated – I mentioned this in point 4, but Walker has suppressed the power of workers as Governor of Wisconsin, including stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees and allowing non-union workers at unionized places to effectively steal wages and benefits negotiated by a labor union without paying for them in the form of union dues or some other type of payment to the union.
  11. Disdain and Suppression of Intellectuals and the Arts – Walker and his political allies have repeatedly shown a deep-seeded hatred of intellectuals and the arts, most notably stripping University of Wisconsin System (UW System) professors of tenure protections and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from UW System institutions of higher education.
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker’s Wisconsin Capitol Police have illegally and repeatedly arrested non-violent protesters for singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol, which is legally a public forum. Additionally, Walker has refused to even consider issuing pardons to convicted criminals.
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – As Milwaukee County Executive and Governor of Wisconsin, corruption and cronyism have been and are absolutely rampant on Walker’s watch. Political allies of Walker have frequently been appointed to various government posts on the basis of being political allies of Walker, and, as Milwaukee County Executive, five of Walker’s allies were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, crimes involving stealing taxpayer money intended for providing for veterans and their families, campaigning on government time, and illegally funneling campaign donations to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign.
  14. Fraudulent Elections – As Governor of Wisconsin, Walker has enacted voter ID laws designed to keep political opponents of him from voting. Additionally, Walker and his political allies gerrymandered Wisconsin’s congressional and state legislative districts in a manner that his political allies get a considerably higher percentage of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature than his party’s percentage of the statewide vote.

To fully clarify, in order for one to meet my definition of a “fascist”, one must meet all 14 points of fascism that I displayed above. As I explained point-by-point, Scott Walker fully meets my criteria of a fascist.

Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States

Earlier today, a framework was announced in the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany) in an effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies. There is a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Already, Republican politicians have used the announcement of a framework in the Iran nuclear talks to threaten to blow up any Iran nuclear deal. Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, has, once again, promised to blow up any Iran nuclear deal if he’s elected president. Not to be outdone by Walker, Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, one of 47 U.S. Senators to sign the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, compared the P5+1 framework with the Iranian government to the 1938 Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement allowed German dictator Adolf Hitler to annex the Sudetenland, or areas of what is now the Czech Republic that had a large percentage of German-speaking people prior to World War II. Not to be outdone by his own false equivalence, Kirk went as far as to call for a nuclear attack on Iran, saying that anything that would result in sanctions on Iran being lifted would “end with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran”.

It’s not just hawkish American politicians who are trying to sabotage diplomacy with Iran. Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud party and the Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, reiterated Israel’s commitment to sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal, saying that Israeli officials will continue their efforts to “explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement”.

Make no mistake about it, Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States. People like those U.S. Senators who signed the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, people like those in Israel who support their own country’s self-destruction, and people like those Republican presidential candidates who call for the U.S. to “stand with Israel” by opposing diplomacy with Iran are putting America at risk of a nuclear attack by Iran. That’s because sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies.

If you’re standing with Israel and opposing diplomacy with Iran, you’re effectively opposing the national security of the United States of America.

George W. Bush-era CIA torture program violated human rights and made America less secure

The report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s program of torturing enemy combatants who were captured by the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, which was active during the administration of former Republican President George W. Bush, has been declassified, and here is the executive summary of the report.

According to the report, the George W. Bush-era CIA’s detention and torture program, among other things:

  • Didn’t help the CIA get intelligence from detainees
  • Violated the human rights of detainees
  • Put American national security at an even greater risk by impeding national security efforts at other federal agencies
  • Wasted American taxpayers’ money
  • Detained individuals who didn’t meet the legal standard for detention
  • Was badly mismanaged and unaccountable
  • Hurt our country’s standing in the world

Additionally, the George W. Bush-era CIA lied to Congress and the media about the detention and torture program’s activities, and had repeatedly impeded oversight by various government entities, including the Office of the CIA Inspector General.

Long story short, the CIA’s program of torturing enemy combatants in U.S. custody was one of the most disgusting things that the U.S. federal government has ever done and served no purpose whatsoever. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other officials involved in the program should be charged with perjury, war crimes, and other applicable offenses.