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Archive for June, 2017

Posted by DownWithTyranny on June 6th, 2017

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

NC-03– the Outer Banks and most of the state’s coastal plain from the Virginia border south of Norfolk down past New Bern and Jacksonville. It’s a very red district, R+11, and Walter Jones has been congressman there since 1994 (a year after he switched from Democrat to Republican). Romney beat Obama there, 59% to 41% and Trump did even better– 60.5% to 36.9%– last year. Jones did even better– beating Democrat Ernest Reeves 67.2% to 32.8%.

Jones is a principled, libertarian-leaning social conservative. He votes for progressive legislation quite a lot. In fact his 41.18 ProgressivePunch crucial vote score for 2017 is the highest of any Republican– by far– and better than 17 House Democrats– DINOs like Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-11.11), Henry Cuellar (TX-16.67), Collin Peterson (MN-16.67), Dan Lipinksi (IL-22.22), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-27.78), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-27.78), Ron Kind (WI-27.78), Ami Bera (CA-27.78), Stephanie Murphy (FL-29.41), Kurt Schrader (OR-29.41), Scott Peters (CA-33.33), Jim Costa (37.50), Raul Ruiz (CA-38.89), Lou Correa (CA-38.89), Jacky Rosen (NV-38.89), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-38.89).

Ryan– and Boehner before him– have consistently struck out against Jones, penalizing him in committee assignments and encouraging right-wing nut jobs to run against him in primaries. Last year a deranged Trumpist, Phil Law, ran against Jones in the GOP primary and managed to win just over 20% of the Republican vote. A sleazy right-wing lobbyist, Taylor Griffin, also ran and he nearly got 15% of the primary vote. Reeves, the Democrat, raised no money for the general election but in the primary Griffin spent $345,966 and Law spent $145,404. (Jones spent a total of $693,517 for the primary and general.)

The Republican Establishment hatred for Jones seems to endear him to his own constituents, who like his independence. He’s the most anti-war of all the Republicans in Congress and is famous for once telling a conference of Ron Paul supporters that “Lyndon Johnson’s probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney.” A few days ago he told PJMedia that Congress should stop funding the war in Afghanistan. He opposes Trump sending more troops and opposes the idea of “trying to build empires around the world.” He also pointed out that Congress hasn’t had a debate about the war in Afghanistan since 2001. Jones:

I’m absolutely opposed to it, because if you increase the number of American troops that means the number of Americans to be killed and wounded goes up. And again, I come back to the point, what have we accomplished? We spent over $800 billion dollars. We are very close to $1 trillion in the past 16 years.

We’ve had over 2,200 Americans killed and 20,000 wounded. What have we accomplished? In fact, [Hamid] Karzai, the former leader of Afghanistan, is now trying to get the Russians to negotiate with the Taliban so he can go back into power. It’s now like the Wild West that is wilder than it has ever been… by increasing the number of troops, all you’re doing is increasing the odds of American troops being killed or wounded.

History has proven it doesn’t work going back to the Roman Empire. I mean, anybody that knows history– that’s what [former Marine Corps Commandant] Gen. Charles Krulak has said to me many times– if you know history, you will know that no one is going to change Afghanistan. It is a tribal nation.

More important than the money is young men and women are being killed and wounded and Congress has a constitutional responsibility to debate and vote about sending our young men and women to war, but we don’t do debates like those anymore. Yes, there have been efforts by Democrats and Republicans to put amendments on appropriations bills with money going to Afghanistan, but really no policy debate at all.

We’ve written [Paul Ryan] letters, we talked to him personally and he has not [asked the committees of jurisdiction to mark up a new Authorization for Use of Military Force]. This is going to be an effort of trying to get more and more members of Congress of both parties to come together for no other reason but to say after 16 years is it now a time to debate the issues of our country and our military in Afghanistan, and what’s the definition of victory? After 16 years we have no definition of victory. We’re saying you, not the president, but you have the authority as leader of the House to permit your members of the House to meet their constitutional responsibility of debating war. It’s not up to the president, it’s up to the Speaker of the House and he hasn’t done it.”

Goal ThermometerMatt Coffay and Jenny Marshall, progressive Democrats, running for Congress on the opposite side of North Carolina, both supports with what Jones is trying to accomplish. “I firmly agree with Rep. Jones’ opposition to a troop and spending increase in Afghanistan,” Matt told us, “and second his suggestion that Congress hold an open debate about our military involvement there. After maintaining a decade and a half-long military presence, it’s long past time that we reassess– in Jones’ words– how exactly we define “victory” in Afghanistan. America ought to have the smartest, sleekest, most efficient, and most effective military in the world. A troop increase in Afghanistan won’t get us any closer to that goal. And neither will defense spending increases, unless the spending is done intelligently. The new defense budget proposed by Trump includes the construction of 84 new fighter jets, to the tune of billions of dollars for taxpayers–but do those jets really keep us safer? Threats to the United States continue to evolve, and beyond Jones’ call to reexamine Afghanistan, I believe we also need to reexamine how and where we’re allocating our defense spending across the board. Are we spending money to keep Americans safer, and to make our military the best in the world? Or are we spending money for the benefit of the military-industrial complex?”

Jenny added that “The U.S. has spent 1.7 Trillion dollars in direct war appropriations over the last 15 years, but counting the cost of war in dollars neglects the human loss of life and the lingering effects once the bullets have stopped flying. Nita Crawford from Brown University states ‘A full accounting of any war’s burdens cannot be places in columns on a ledger, from the civilians harmed or displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars.’ Yet, we can know the numbers of the ever-rising death toll. 3,407 US and Allied troops, 3,540 US Contractors, 406 humanitarian workers and journalists, 31,419 civilians in Afghanistan alone. The numbers for the wounded are staggering. So, when the war hawks beat their drums remember that war must be the last option because the cost is just too high.”

Back in 2001 there was only one member of Congress with the guts to say NO to Bush and Cheney and their bloodlust when it came to attacking Afghanistan: Oakland Democrat Barbara Lee. She is the model of courageousness in Congress and an inspiration to anyone thinking about taking a difficult vote of conscience. Last night she told us she admires Walter Jones’ own efforts in ending the Afghanistan debacle. “Congressman Jones has been a steadfast leader in the effort to rein in our endless wars and he’s completely right. After a decade and a half in Afghanistan, it’s past time to learn there is no military solution to this conflict. We will continue to urge Speaker Ryan to allow Congress to hold a debate and vote on the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, which is nothing more than a blank check for endless war. Additionally, we will keep demanding that President Trump listen to the war-weary American public and bring our troops home.”

If iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce– who was unanimously reelected by the Wisconsin Democratic Party to head their veterans division this past weekend– beats Paul Ryan in the 2018 midterms, he will be another Democrat with the kind of guts it takes to cast votes of conscience, the way Barbara Lee did. He told us that “Under a Democratic President, Osama bin Laden was taken out. Under Republican leadership, the key to the Oval Office has been handed over to the Russians. What do we have left to gain in Afghanistan after 16 years? Trump made a promise to rid the world of ISIL within 30 days of taking office. Time is up.” He continued:

It might be a subject for debate if those returning from wars were taken care of, but, we’re not. Further draconian cuts to help our heroes once returned are in the proposed budget.

I know Paul Ryan isn’t a fan of working together in a bipartisan manner (i.e. Health care) but, this should be a no brainer for anyone who looks at the subject for more than a few minutes.

When it comes to veterans, I don’t see any partisan lines. Veterans are the only reason why we continue to have the freedom to choose how to think politically.

Veterans don’t ask what party another vet identifies with before offering the shirt off a back– we help however we can because it is the correct thing to do.

Paul Ryan– even though you are afraid to face us in the 1st CD, please do something to show us that you still have some semblance of compassion by letting our troops come home. Do what we did to protect our country– work together to achieve a goal. We all took an oath.

Show us you are capable, and, maybe you won’t need to be so afraid to face us. It’s been over 600 days since you’ve had a town hall.

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