Tag Archives: United States Congress

Do Drones Undermine Democracy? – NYTimes.com

Do Drones Undermine Democracy? – NYTimes.com.

Sunday Review

Do Drones Undermine Democracy?

Washington

IN democracies like ours, there have always been deep bonds between the public and its wars. Citizens have historically participated in decisions to take military action, through their elected representatives, helping to ensure broad support for wars and a willingness to share the costs, both human and economic, of enduring them.

In America, our Constitution explicitly divided the president’s role as commander in chief in war from Congress’s role in declaring war. Yet these links and this division of labor are now under siege as a result of a technology that our founding fathers never could have imagined.

[…]

We don’t have a draft anymore; less than 0.5 percent of Americans over 18 serve in the active-duty military. We do not declare war anymore; the last time Congress actually did so was in 1942 — against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. We don’t buy war bonds or pay war taxes anymore. During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased war bonds that brought the government $185 billion; in the last decade, we bought none and instead gave the richest 5 percent of Americans a tax break.

And now we possess a technology that removes the last political barriers to war. The strongest appeal of unmanned systems is that we don’t have to send someone’s son or daughter into harm’s way. But when politicians can avoid the political consequences of the condolence letter — and the impact that military casualties have on voters and on the news media — they no longer treat the previously weighty matters of war and peace the same way.

For the first 200 years of American democracy, engaging in combat and bearing risk — both personal and political — went hand in hand. In the age of drones, that is no longer the case.

[…]

WITHOUT any actual political debate, we have set an enormous precedent, blurring the civilian and military roles in war and circumventing the Constitution’s mandate for authorizing it. Freeing the executive branch to act as it chooses may be appealing to some now, but many future scenarios will be less clear-cut. And each political party will very likely have a different view, depending on who is in the White House.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents – The Washington Post

Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents – The Washington Post.

Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents

BUTLER, Pa. — One day after his shift at the steel mill, Gary Myers drove home in his 10-year-old Pontiac and told his wife he was going to run for Congress.The odds were long. At 34, ­Myers was the shift foreman at the “hot mill” of the Armco plant here. He had no political experience and little or no money, and he was a Republican in a district that tilted Democratic.But standing in the dining room, still in his work clothes, he said he felt voters deserved a better choice.Three years later, he won.

Back when Myers entered Congress in 1975, it wasn’t nearly so unusual for a person with few assets besides a home to win and serve in Congress. Though lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been more prosperous than other Americans, others of that time included a barber, a pipe fitter and a house painter. A handful had even organized into what was called the “Blue Collar Caucus.”

But the financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since then, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The Washington Post.

[…]

Read the full story here: The Washington Post

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Filed under income, inequality, politicians, politics, society, USA

McCaul, Issa top list of wealthiest members of Congress – 2chambers – The Washington Post

McCaul, Issa top list of wealthiest members of Congress – 2chambers – The Washington Post.

Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 09/06/2011

McCaul, Issa top list of wealthiest members of Congress

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Filed under ethics (in politics), politics, politics & business, USA

Pomeroy Is Health Industry’s Well-Placed Friend – NYTimes.com

Pomeroy Is Health Industry’s Well-Placed Friend – NYTimes.com.

The Champions

Ex-Lawmaker Still a Friend of Hospitals

WASHINGTON — Earl Pomeroy figured that Plan A was his career in Congress, where, over nearly two decades, as a North Dakota congressman he became a powerful advocate for the hospital industry.

Now, after losing re-election last year despite hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from grateful hospital executives, doctors and other industry officials, he has moved on to Plan B: promoting their cause as a lobbyist.

While that kind of shift is familiar in Washington, in Mr. Pomeroy’s case there is a special twist. House members are banned from lobbying on Capitol Hill for a year after leaving office (Mr. Pomeroy’s term ended in January), but Mr. Pomeroy, a Democrat, has teamed up with his former chief of staff, who is not subject to the restriction, as a lobbying partner.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans – Magazine – The Atlantic

How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans – Magazine – The Atlantic.

How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans

An insider’s six-step plan to fix Congress

By Mickey Edwards

Angry and frustrated, American voters went to the polls in November 2010 to “take back” their country. Just as they had done in 2008. And 2006. And repeatedly for decades, whether it was Republicans or Democrats from whom they were taking the country back. No matter who was put in charge, things didn’t get better. They won’t this time, either; spending levels may go down, taxes may go up, budgets will change, but American government will go on the way it has, not as a collective enterprise but as a battle between warring tribes.

If we are truly a democracy—if voters get to size up candidates for a public office and choose the one they want—why don’t the elections seem to change anything? […]
Read tghe full story here: The Atlantic

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