THE VOORHIS VOICE
Liberal Voice of the Pomona Valley


  January 2013

www.claremontdems.org





It's Time! Click To Renew Your Membership!

 
MEETINGS AND SPECIAL EVENTS




Friday, January 4, 12-2 PM
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
Issues Committee Luncheon
No speaker: Bring your issue

Friday, January11, 12-2 PM
Monthly Luncheon at the Aladdin Jr Restaurant
 Speaker: Charles Bayer on “Religion & Politics”
3161 North Garey Ave., Pomona

Friday, January 18, 12-2 PM
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
Issues Committee Luncheon
No speaker: Bring your issue

Friday, January 25  12-2 PM
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
Issues Committee Luncheon
No speaker: Bring your issue

Monday, January 28, 7-9 PM
Monthly Membership Meeting at Porter Hall
Speaker: Peter Weinberger, Publisher of Claremont Courier
601 Mayflower Rd., Pilgrim Place Campus, Claremont

Friday, February 1, 12-2pm
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
Issues Committee Luncheon
No speaker: Bring your issue

Friday, February 8, 12-2 PM
Monthly Luncheon; location TBA
Speaker: for Women’s History Month: Susan Castagnetto, Scripps College
Coordinator of Intercollegiate Women's Studies

Friday, February 15, 12-2 PM
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
Issues Committee Luncheon
No speaker: Bring your issue

Friday, February 22  12-2 PM
Rabi’s Café, 930 Central Avenue, Upland 
Issues Committee Luncheon
No speaker: Bring your issue






Nominees for Democratic Club of Claremont Offices


Below are the nominees for two-year offices as of Dec. 12, 2012.  I offered nominees for President an opportunity to explain briefly their program and qualification. Nominations may also be made from the floor at meeting.  - Editor

President (one elected)

Statement of Gar Byrum

 I've been club Vice President for some time now, having the responsibility for being a liaison person with political clubs and electeds. In the future I intend on the club continuing with our activist role. Now that circumstances have changed and we have a new political era for Claremont, with Democratic representation in Congress, and in the State Legislature. It is my hope that we try to influence our elected representatives, and express to them the issues that concern us the most.


Now that we have a super majority in the State Legislature, communicating with our representatives our hopes and concerns may have a positive impact on how we proceed forward as Californians. I've managed the Democratic headquarters in 2008 and I was the elected representative in the 26th Congressional District for President Obama in 2008. I would be honored to represent the club as the new President and continue our great tradition of activism. We have great speakers, but with these difficult times it is important to stress the Democratic values that we hold dear.

Statement of John Forney
 
I am a Democrat because the core values of the Democratic Party align with my core values -- the belief of the inherent worth and dignity of everyone, no exceptions; the values of inclusion in shared prosperity, the idea that society has a responsibility for the vulnerable; the idea that our national security rests on a quality education for all that opens up opportunity for all; the idea that no one is above the law, not even the “too-big-to-jail.”  

In the recent past, I have contributed significant time working to elect Democrats, most recently spending five weeks in Akron, Ohio, in the 2008 election.  In this last election I did calling to California voters from our office in Pomona and called voters in Ohio and Wisconsin from home.   I think I have always been interested and involved in political activity.  Spiritual values of compassion and justice only get expressed politically in an open society.  One cannot read the Hebrew and Christian scriptures without realizing that is chockablock full of politics.  National and state budgets are moral documents, in as much as they reflect who gets included and who gets left out.  As a student I headed the Bradley for Mayor Movement on my campus in Los Angeles and was active in the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War, in which I served as a conscientious objector in the medics. 

In Claremont I have served as Associate Rector of St. Ambrose, and, recently, was instrumental a year ago in bringing Bill McKibben to Claremont for a three-day conference on global warming.  This year I am, with others, organizing a program, “Agenda for a Prophetic Faith,” that will bring several nationally recognized speakers to address issues that were not talked about during the presidential campaign.  This is designed to build on the Brave New Planet conference of last year.   Among the speakers are: James Hansen updating us on global warming, James Carroll speaking to the requirements for a civil society, and United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño on “The Dreamers and a Just Immigration Policy.”

I work in a collaborative fashion, believing that the best ideas are the result of good group process.  I also am a delegator.  Everyone has their unique talents and a healthy organization draws on the contributions of its members.  Consensus is best, when it can be achieved.  I also believe in building on the foundation of past accomplishments as a way of respecting past history of a group.  Finally, healthy politics needs to be fun.  If it’s all “eat your spinach,” folks soon drop out.

Vice Presidents (3 elected)
Secretary—Recording (one elected)
Secretary-Correspondence (one elected)              
Treasurer  (one elected)


  Your Elected Representatives 


41st AD
Chris Holden, Majority Whip State Capitol, POB 942849, Sacramento CA 94249-0041 916-319-2041
25th SD Carol Liu State Capitol, Rm 5061, Sacramento CA 95814 916-651-4025
32d CD Judy Chu 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington DC 20515 202-225-
5464



Ten Ways to Reduce the Cost of Government
by Bob Gerecke

  1. Identify federal agencies which have overlapping or duplicate responsibilities, and consolidate them, saving administrative costs.  I don't know which agencies they are, but I'll bet the OMB does.


  2. Eliminate weapons programs which the Congress passed but the Pentagon didn't request.


  3. Allow Medicare to bargain for reduced pharmaceutical prices, reducing the Medicare budget by the projected savings.


  4. Eliminate services which are available from the private sector and which the general public will not have to purchase.  Perhaps some things done for businesses by the Commerce Dept.  Perhaps the National Weather Service (private weather forecasts are free to the public on the internet, TV and radio).  Perhaps the promotional, non-regulatory work on oil exploration and drilling.


  5. Eliminate earmarks which have been included in previously-passed legislation and which haven't yet been spent.


  6. Eliminate the Affordable Care Act provision that the feds will operate a state's insurance exchange if the state doesn't; book the savings.  (The citizens of that state will envy states with an exchange once they find out how it's reducing costs, and they'll eventually force their state government to establish one or will buy coverage on another state's exchange if permitted.)


  7. Eliminate special pension and health insurance provisions for elected officials.  Let them belong to Social Security and to the same pension and health plans as civilian federal employees.


  8. Cap agricultural price supports and other subsidies so that only small farmers benefit.


  9. Eliminate the Joint Strike Fighter, which is outrageously expensive yet performs worse than older models.


  10. Eliminate enforcement of the federal prohibition against marijuana in states which have OK'd its use.


Why Christian Fundamentalists Supported Romney
By Charles Bayer

As recent issues of The Voorhis Voice pointed out, polling data confirm that most fundamentalist Christians did not regard Mormonism, Mitt Romney’s religion, as even a legitimate form of Christianity. But they voted for him anyway! I have been musing about the role religion played in the recent political campaign. By and large, it was far less important than we might have expected.  Given the significant slice of the population made up of evangelical Christians, we have been left to wonder what happened to the social issues they had continually raised. While evangelicals played a heavy-handed part in the devastating Republican primaries, they all but disappeared in the general campaign. If their issues were mentioned in the debates or the ads, I missed it. Mitt Romney’s lurch to the center during the last weeks, all but seem to abandon his far right religious constituency—or did he? Or did it? My guess is he rightly assumed that their support was already secure, and that the center provided his only fertile ground. But why didn’t the Christian right scream in pain at its abandonment? What happened to its religious fervor?

Until recently, even Republicans feared that right-wing religionists would take over the GOP. Barry Goldwater once remarked, "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem.  Frankly these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise.  But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise.  I know.  I’ve tried to deal with them."

So what happened?  One theory is that the evangelical’s power had already passed its “use-by” date.” The evangelicals were already a diminishing contingent in American culture. Billy Graham and Pat Robertson were passé. Jerry Falwell had gone to his reward.  The Moral Majority and its successors were no more. While all that may be true, in the red states, as well as in much of the rest of the county very conservative Christians still constituted a significant population.

Nevertheless their substantial numbers never left the Romney effort.  But one wonders why. I believe there is a reason for the silence. I find the clue in the candidacy of a committed Mormon.  If most evangelical Christians had formerly been sure of anything, it was that Mormonism was a heresy—probably a non-Christian cult. Five years ago Amy Sullivan, editor of the of the Washington Monthly, wrote, "Moderate Republicans aren't the ones who could derail a Romney [2008] candidacy. His obstacle is the evangelical base—a voting bloc that now makes up 30 percent of the Republican electorate. It is hard to overestimate the importance of evangelicalism in the modern Republican Party, and it is nearly impossible to overemphasize the problem evangelicals have with Mormonism. Evangelicals don't have the same vague anti-LDS prejudice that some other Americans do. For them it's a doctrinal thing, based on very specific theological disputes. Romney's journalistic boosters either don't understand these doctrinal issues or try to sidestep them. But ignoring them won't make them go away. To evangelicals, Mormonism isn't just another religion. It’s a cult."

There is no indication that Mitt was abandoned by the evangelicals for doctrinal reasons. They hung with him in spite of his “cultic” identity. You can draw your own conclusion from this phenomenon, but here is mine. For most evangelicals, religion may only be a screen behind which they hide their real commitment. Their real commitment is to a radically conservative social philosophy.  Religion may serve that purpose, but when push comes to shove, right-wing politics trumps religious fervor.

One sees behind this pious screen a substantial dose of racism, classism, xenophobia, nationalism,  faith in guns and gun violence—and a series of other convictions buried in right-wing causes.  None of these things naturally flows from the Christian affirmation. These hard right sociological concerns, not Christian faith, may be at the core of the identity of many Christian fundamentalists.  So what they knew to be a cultic candidate was simply put aside because he and his Party represented far more important commitments. Religion didn’t really matter. How conservative Christianity managed to migrate from doctrine to right-wing social theory still puzzles me.  But that is a subject for a future column.



 California Assembly Democrats Announce Committee Assignments


 
THE CHAIRS: Assembly Speaker John Perez appointed the following committee chairs yesterday:



F-35: The Jet That Ate the Budget
by Winslow T. Wheeler

The New York Times reported on December 12, 2012 that Canada has rethought plans to buy 65 F-35 jets on the grounds that they are too expensive - Editor

“United States is making a gigantic investment in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, billed by its advocates as the next— by their count the fifth —generation of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat aircraft. Claimed to be near invisible to radar and able to dominate any future battlefield, the F-35 will replace most of the air-combat aircraft in the inventories of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and at least nine foreign allies, and it will be in those inventories for the next 55 years. It's no secret, however, that the program— the most expensive in American history — is a calamity.

“In May 2012, we learned that the Pentagon increased the price tag for the F-35 by another $289 million— just the latest in a long string of cost increases — and that the program is expected to account for a whopping 38 percent of Pentagon procurement for defense programs, assuming its cost will grow no more. Its many problems are acknowledged by its listing in proposals for Pentagon spending reductions by leaders from across the political spectrum, including Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and budget gurus such as former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Alice Rivlin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and Office of Management and Budget.

“How bad is it? A review of the F-35's cost, schedule, and performance — three essential measures of any Pentagon program — shows the problems are fundamental and still growing. First, with regard to cost . . .  the F-35 is simply unaffordable. Although the plane was originally billed as a low-cost solution, major cost increases have plagued the program throughout the last decade. Last year, Pentagon leadership told Congress the acquisition price had increased another 16 percent, from $328.3 billion to $379.4 billion for the 2,457 aircraft to be bought. Not to worry, however - they pledged to finally reverse the growth.

“The result?  In February, 2012 the price increased another 4 percent to $395.7 billion and then even further in April. Don't expect the cost overruns to end there: The test program is only 20 percent complete, the Government Accountability Office has reported, and the toughest tests are yet to come. Overall, the program's cost has grown 75 percent from its original 2001 estimate of $226.5 billion — and that was for a larger buy of 2,866 aircraft.

“Hundreds of F-35s will be built before 2019 . . . The additional cost to engineer modifications to fix the inevitable deficiencies that will be uncovered is unknown, but it is sure to exceed the $534 million already known from tests so far. The total program unit cost for each individual F-35, now at $161 million, is only a temporary plateau. Expect yet another increase in early 2013, when a new round of budget restrictions is sure to hit the Pentagon, and the F-35 will take more hits in the form of reducing the numbers to be bought, thereby increasing the unit cost of each plane.

“A final note on expense: The F-35 will actually cost multiples of the $395.7 billion cited above. That is the current estimate only to acquire it, not the full life-cycle cost to operate it. The current appraisal for operations and support is $1.1 trillion — making for a grand total of $1.5 trillion, or more than the annual GDP of Spain. And that estimate is wildly optimistic: It assumes the F-35 will only be 42 percent more expensive to operate than an F-16, but the F-35 is much more complex. The only other "fifth generation" aircraft, the F-22 from the same manufacturer, is in some respects less complex than the F-35, but in 2010, it cost 300 percent more to operate per hour than the F-16. To be very conservative, expect the F-35 to be twice the operating and support cost of the F-16. . . . 

“The F-35 isn't only expensive — it's way behind schedule. The first plan was to have an initial batch of F-35s available for combat in 2010. Then first deployment was to be 2012. More recently, the military services have said the deployment date is "to be determined." A new target date of 2019 has been informally suggested in testimony — almost 10 years late. . . .

 “This mediocrity is not overcome by the F-35's "fifth-generation" characteristics, the most prominent of which is its "stealth." Despite what many believe, "stealth" is not invisibility to radar; it is limited-detection ranges against some radar types at some angles. Put another way, certain radars, some of them quite antiquated, can see "stealthy" aircraft at quite long ranges, and even the susceptible radars can see the F-35 at certain angles. The ultimate demonstration of this shortcoming occurred in the 1999 Kosovo war, when 1960s vintage Soviet radar and missile equipment shot down a "stealthy" F-117 bomber and severely damaged a second.

“The bottom line: The F-35 is not the wonder its advocates claim. It is a gigantic performance disappointment, and in some respects a step backward. The problems, integral to the design, cannot be fixed without starting from a clean sheet of paper. It's time for Defense Secretary Panetta, the U.S. military services, and Congress to face the facts: The F-35 is an unaffordable mediocrity, and the program will not be fixed by any combination of hardware tweaks or cost-control projects. There is only one thing to do with the F-35: Junk it. “

Winslow T. Wheeler is Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information, Washington DC



Rethinking Life in Prison for Lesser Crimes
by John Tierney

“. . . . Three decades of stricter drug laws, reduced parole and rigid sentencing rules have lengthened prison terms and more than tripled the percentage of Americans behind bars. The United States has the highest reported rate of incarceration of any country: about one in 100 adults, a total of nearly 2.3 million people in prison or jail. But today there is growing sentiment that these policies have gone too far . . . .

 “State spending on corrections, after adjusting for inflation, has more than tripled in the past three decades, making it the fastest-growing budgetary cost except Medicaid. Even though the prison population has leveled off in the past several years, the costs remain so high that states are being forced to reduce spending in other areas.

“Three decades ago, California spent 10 percent of its budget on higher education and 3 percent on prisons. In recent years the prison share of the budget rose above 10 percent while the share for higher education fell below 8 percent. As university administrators in California increase tuition to cover their deficits, they complain that the state spends much more on each prisoner — nearly $50,000 per year — than on each student. . . Half a million people are now in prison or jail for drug offenses, about 10 times the number in 1980, and there have been especially sharp increases in incarceration rates for women and for people over 55, long past the peak age for violent crime. In all, about 1.3 million people, more than half of those behind bars, are in prison or jail for nonviolent offenses. Researchers note that the policies have done little to stem the flow of illegal drugs. And they say goals like keeping street violence in check could be achieved without the expense of locking up so many criminals for so long. “
Source: New York Times 11 Dec. 2012

“With little in the way of real debate or scrutiny, the House voted 301 to 118 to extend the FISA Amendments Act for five years, an unfortunate law passed in 2008 that expanded the government’s power to conduct surveillance without warrants in the future. It also retroactively approved the George W. Bush administration’s unlawful snooping in broad violation of Americans’ constitutionally protected privacy.

“Moving in the other direction, Judge Forrest, of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, on Sept 12 permanently enjoined a controversial provision of a 2011 law in which Congress codified expansive interpretations of a president’s authority to detain individuals indefinitely, beyond the real needs of the war in Afghanistan, the campaign against Al Qaeda or legitimate counterterrorism efforts in general.

“The ruling follows a temporary injunction granted in May against the law, which goes beyond the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks to people who are part of or “substantially” supported Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” hostile to the United States or its allies. Chris Hedges, a journalist who formerly worked for this newspaper, and several supporters of WikiLeaks said it was too imprecise about the conduct that could lead to someone’s detention and exactly who could be detained.

“The plaintiffs said the statute chilled their First Amendment rights because they feared the government might claim their activities made them supporters of an enemy force and subject to detention. Judge Forrest agreed, saying the Constitution requires more specificity when “defining an individual’s core liberties.” She was especially troubled by the government’s inability to define terms like “substantially supported” and “associated forces,” despite ample opportunity to do so during the course of the lawsuit. She also was swayed by what she saw as the government’s failure to eliminate the plaintiffs’ fears by unequivocally stating that no First Amendment-protected activities would subject them to indefinite military detention.”

Source: New York Times September 14, 2012



2013 NDAA Does NOT Prohibit Arrest Without Trial
By Ivan Light

The Feinstein/Lee amendment to the 2013 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) claims in its title to prohibit the arrest and indefinite incarceration of US citizens without trial. This amendment is section 1033 (b) (1) of the law.  In fact, Feinstein/Lee does not accomplish this purpose. First, the Feinstein/Lee amendment was not passed by the House of Representatives so it does not amend the existing NDAA. Second, the Feinstein/Lee text, as written, still permits the President to arrest any American citizen in the United States for any reason and to hold that citizen without trial for any period of time.  Under currently existing law, if the President chooses, ten million citizens could be sentenced to concentration camps, and held there for life under harsh conditions.  Worse, the Justice Department recently obtained from the US Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, a repeal of the prior injunction on the NDAA’s authorization to lock up U.S. citizens without trial for life.  President Obama endorsed this DOJ appeal as a result of which the original NDAA authorization is now back in force.  Apparently, President Obama wants that authority. If Congress wants to prohibit the Executive from imprisoning citizens without trial, and holding them in prison for life,  Congress needs to pass an amendment that specifically repeals the existing NDAA authorization to do exactly that. Congress has now refused to do this.  Folks, we already live in a police state.



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The Voorhis Voice is published by the Democratic Club of Claremont, PO Box 1201, Claremont CA 91711.  The newsletter’s name commemorates the late Jerry Voorhis, a talented and courageous Congress member from Claremont.

Newsletter Editor

Ivan Light: Email him at claremontdemocrats@yahoo.com


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