November 2016 Archives

"Federal Fumbles" 2016: The Report Has Arrived

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It's officially a new political tradition. Yesterday, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) released an entirely new edition of his incisive, accessible report "Federal Fumbles," which spotlights instances of government waste at taxpayer's expense. The inaugural volume brought to light a profligate program in which Syrian rebels were trained at a cost of $4 million per rebel; a grant provided by the National Endowment for the Arts which subsidized silent performances of Shakespeare plays; a study on Russian tobacco use by the National Institutes of Health; several drug purchases in which different federal agencies were charged wildly disparate rates for the same medications; and 96 other examples of our nation's feckless and injurious financial practices. This year's report is equally informative and engaging, exposing $247 billion dollars' worth of unnecessary spending:

FumblesFinal.jpg

If we educate ourselves on the way our taxpayer dollars are being used and the ways in which further waste can be prevented, we can make a difference; and Senator Lankford, by highlighting even a few of the countless poor choices resulting in our $19 trillion-dollar debt, is taking an important step in the right direction.


PR Mississippi Protest

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Those of us who respect human rights should refuse to "unite behind" fascism and fear. Those of us who believe in the sanctity of the environment should decline to accept a climate change denier as our leader. Those who uphold the rights of women should never support a rapist and misogynist as president. Those who believe in the brotherhood of mankind should disown someone whose power rests on racism and resentment.

That awful Wednesday morning, waking up to the realization that the system (not the people) had elected a dangerous demagogue as president, a few of us at Ole Miss decided to protest. Standing there, in the cold, holding signs reaffirming that "Black Lives Matter," that "Love Still Trumps Hate," and that we were "In Solidarity with the Muslim Community" (I added one reading, "Get Your Laws Off My Body -- Pro Woman, Pro Choice"), made me feel that the struggle continued. Through protest and principle, we shall overcome.

#NotMyPresident

Say No to TPP at the Polls

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UPDATE: It's nearly been a year since we first launched our "Say No to TPP" initiative on PlanetGreen, and voters have indeed made the security of American jobs a priority in this election. The people have spoken -- Donald Trump is now officially our next President-elect, and it's high time we all put aside the vitriolic rhetoric of the past months and rally around our nation's new opportunity for renewed international prominence and economic regenesis. Thank you all for reading our varied perspectives on the election.

The election is rapidly approaching, and the race is still closer than anyone expected. In these final days both candidates are stating their concluding reasons why they are better suited for the presidency than their adversaries: Hillary Clinton stresses her foreign policy shrewdness and her opponent's volatility, while Donald Trump returns to his core messages of bringing back our jobs and strengthening our national economy.

The vital issue of trade has proved to be a priority for voters this election cycle, and for good reason. Past deals such as NAFTA continue to fuel both the exodus of American manufacturing and the influx of immigrants from Mexico, and these disastrous effects do impact our daily lives - by hindering true economic recovery, by diminishing our international status, and by flooding our store shelves with imported products posing risks to our health and safety.

These threats to our persons and our collective prosperity are real, but not only has the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge the failure of NAFTA, it has proposed an even larger-scale repetition of that mistake, commonly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This would allow unlimited free trade with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, and leave open the possibility that China or Russia could potentially join the agreement in future years. An incomplete sampling of the TPP's unconscionable provisions:

→ A mandatory arbitration system would be instituted, in which foreign companies could challenge U.S. laws without ever setting foot in United States courts. The adjudicatory panel, known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, would be composed of corporate lawyers who would rotate between the roles of practitioner and judge. However, even though alien businesses could remotely strike down our statutes, the government would have to resort to a foreign judiciary to enforce the few regulatory safeguards in the agreement.
→ Pharmaceutical companies holding United States patents would be given longer terms of monopoly than provided for anywhere in our patent law. This would artificially raise the prices of many lifesaving medications and obstruct free competition by prohibiting the production of generic alternatives.
→ The United States would lose its sovereignty, supplanted by the foreign rule of the ISDS, and citizens would lose many rights guaranteed them by our national legislation: the Wagner Act, fracking regulations, food safety measures, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, and even the Sherman and Clayton Acts are in danger. Adding insult to injury, taxpayers could be forced to compensate extrinsic businesses for profit "losses" engendered by these essential measures.
→ Private Internet service providers would not only be allowed to monitor users' activities, they would be granted the authority to remove consumers' content and cut off web access without any semblance of due process.

Even though Hillary Clinton was forced by Bernie Sanders' supporters to rescind her support for these measures, she initially backed the TPP, and her running mate Tim Kaine has since stated that both are "flexible" on trade issues; and Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe has corroborated that she will not abide by her promise if elected. Donald Trump, however, has consistently opposed both TPP and NAFTA and pledged to restore fair international trade standards if elected. The election will decide this crucial controversy, and with it the future of our declining cities; the safety of the food on our tables; our right to national sovereignty; the personal security promised us by the Fourth Amendment; and the economic liberties of the free market.

That's why it's imperative that we can't support a candidate that may have halfheartedly promised fair trade, but has repeatedly wavered on that vow and whose record distinctly demonstrates the duplicity of her assurance. In two days, we will decide our fiscal future for decades ahead - and we must have the courage to reject the deleterious provisions of the TPP and stand up for national self-determination.

That's why I, for one, am not ashamed to say that I'm putting my eggs in the "basket of deplorables" this year.

How Are We Even Having this Conversation?

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And how many more times will I be asking myself this question over the next days?

Tomorrow's presidential election presents a host of conundrums. Voting for a third-party candidate that represents one's moral principles, like Green Party candidate Jill Stein, is an attractive option... and one that those of us in deep-red states like Mississippi have the advantage of taking. However, especially in the swing states, there are reasons to consider voting for a candidate who, however flawed she may be, does not have a history of sexual assault... who has paid taxes within the past decade... who has not based her entire campaign on racist and xenophobic rhetoric, demonizing entire races, religions and ethnicities... who does not threaten to "rough up" those who peacefully protest her policies... who has not threatened to deny the right of women to control their own bodies... who at least makes a pretense, however specious, of encouraging unity rather than fostering hate.

Voting for a misogynistic, racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, violent, regressive-minded "billionaire" should not even be on the table.

Yet, these near-incredible conversations are taking place.

In public policy class last week, my fellow students debated the logistics of breaking apart families with the soon-to-be-created "deportation force" (suggesting sticking "anchor babies" in foster care or orphanages while deporting their criminal parents). Discussions with Trump supporters are no less mindblowing: allegations that Clinton favors "open borders" and is thrilled by late-term abortions (which, by the way, have been outlawed except in the case of the mothers' life sine Roe v. Wade) abound.

Don't get me wrong: Hillary does have many deeply troubling positions on a number of issues, from Palestine to the minimum wage to free health care to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

But the solution is not to vote for Trump (or his TPP-touting, funerals-for-fetuses running mate, Mike Pence).

The Republican Party, in the words of its nominee, is "not sending their best" to run for president. "They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs." (Viz. Trump's defense of noted trafficker Joseph Weichselbaum.) "They're bringing crime." (Viz. the only candidate with two court dates -- for fraud and child rape -- set for after the election.) "They're rapists."

But let us forbear from putting everyone in the basket of deplorables just yet: "And some" of Trump's supporters, "I assume, are good people."

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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