Normalize relations with Cuba. I will personally lead an effort in the House to normalize relations with Cuba, including cessation of current embargoes and sanctions against the Cuban government and its people.  Since the Kennedy administration 50 years ago, the Bay of Pigs fiasco and Kennedy’s ill-advised campaign of subversion and sabotage directed against Cuba in the 1960s and its aftermath, Cuba and the United States have been unnecessarily alienated simply because Cuba had adopted a socialist regime and despite early Cuban overtures to be a trading partner with the United States.  Upon passage of a resolution to normalize relationships between the two countries, I would be delighted to join a contingent of congressional legislators to meet with President Raoul Castro as a first step towards establishing dialogues towards that end.

Opposition to nuclear proliferation; reduction of the U.S. strategic nuclear weapons arsenal; gradual U.S. disarmament as an impetus for nuclear disarmament worldwide

 

The United States spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year in the development and maintenance of the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.  Despite thousand of nuclear warheads and a capability of destroy every major foreign city and the planet many times over, the United States persists in investing in weaponry with limited application.  Perhaps the two largest problems we face globally are nuclear weapons and climate change.  For the U.S., abolishing nuclear weapons and preserving the planet should be imperative matters of national security.  But, by keeping an oversized strategic arsenal in readiness at great expense to American taxpayers and by insisting that the dropping of two atomic weapons in 1945 was morally justified, the U.S. creates an atmosphere that nuclear weapons have a legitimate role in international politics.  At the end of the Cold War, the U.S. had a stockpile of about 23,000 nuclear weapons gradually reduced to 5,736 warheads by 2007.  At face value, this reduction seems more than a token gesture until one ponders what conceivable targets would require more than 100 warheads to destroy.  America must come to terms with a leadership role in influencing other nations to reduce rather than develop or expand their nuclear capabilities.   Given current military technology, I believe we are fast approaching a time when the U.S. can deter other nuclear-armed states, like Russia and China, without itself relying on nuclear weapons.  Modern conventional weapons possess highly lethal, accurate and responsive second-strike capabilities.  Furthermore, we have shown the world only too well our lack of reticence to deploy first strike capabilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc.  Precision conventional weapons are also, unfortunately, usable and a more credible deterrent than nuclear weaponry, which carries the moral implications of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus far only successfully defied by one nation in history.

While I conclude that sanctions, if necessary, should be imposed against Iran to dissuade development of nuclear weapons, I do not support the kind of brutal sanctions which denied Saddam Hussein’s Iraq medical supplies and other imports critical to the well-being of its citizenry.  According to our own CIA approximately 1 million innocent Iraqi men, women and children were killed in the space of those sanctions.  Similar sanctions against Iran will only coalesce favorable U.S. sentiments in Iran with unfavorable attitudes motivated by suffering. Although the revolutionary guards appear to be in control of the country, many Iranian citizens still remember and respect the United States for building universities and hospitals in Iran prior to 1953 when, as a favor to Great Britain, U.S. subversives overthrew a democracy, headed by Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, and installed the now infamous Shah of Iran.  That produced favorable oil prices for Great Britain and set into motion a series of events culminating in the largely theocratic government now in Iran. Sanctions must be restricted to those which adversely effect the Iranian government without making the general populace suffer.  

Those, who already propose preemptive air strikes, are courting folly and flirting with another military black hole.  Given that Iranian facilities reportedly have been built in bunkers below ground and spread around the countryside in anticipation of U.S. and Israeli air strikes, diplomacy may still be our best course of action to limit nuclear research in Iran to power generation and not weaponry.  The diplomatic lines of communication must be left open at all times. Even the West’s master theorist of war and advocate of “total war,” Karl von Clausewitz, once argued that even after hostilities have commenced it is desirable to keep some channels of communication open among belligerents; failure to establish diplomatic ties in peacetime was, he thought, inexcusable.

 

Although I was a young lad at the time, I can still recall the newspaper headlines in 1960, “Israel Has the Bomb!”  During the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, Israel repeatedly gave assurances to the international community that any Israeli forays into nuclear research were strictly for energy purposes.  Of course, that was not the case, much to the consternation of Israel’s Middle East neighbors, particularly Egypt at the time.  It is my position that the best diplomatic strategy to dissuade nuclear weapon production by Iran is to convince Israel to reduce its nuclear arsenal and to work with the United Nations towards a nuclear free Middle East.  The U.S. should set the tone for disarmament by making major reductions in its own nuclear storehouse and thereby convincing Israel to do the same.  Because U.S. policy has long advocated massive nuclear arsenals and weapons superiority to deter adversaries, imagined or real, it is understandable, if equally misguided, that Iran might take a similar approach.   Many other nations, taking America’s lead, have followed that suit.  It is time for the U.S. to promote nuclear disarmament by playing a different hand.

End corporate welfare.  Restore those regulations to Wall Street, which had stabilized our economy from the Great Depression through the Reagan era, including full reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act.  Provide taxpayers with tools to end corporate welfare – subsidies, giveaways, bailouts and waste.  End corporate personhood by fighting for constitutional amendments, which revisit and overrule Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886).  Subordinate corporate power to sovereignties of the people by using federal charters with clear social contracts, and by supporting neighborhood businesses and guilds of local economies.  Crack down on corporate crime and close off-shore reincorporation tax loopholes as well as ban government contracts and subsidies for companies that pollute or relocate headquarters to offshore tax havens.  Audit the Federal Reserve.

 

The rights, liberties and economic well-being of over 300 million Americans have been eroded by the demands of roughly 1,500 mega-corporations, resulting in an increase in Washington lobbyists from 3,470 in 1976 to currently over 35,000.  The economic situation in the United States today reveals a huge and ever-widening gap in wealth distribution.  The hemorrhaging of American jobs is turning our economic crisis into a political one, and, should we again make the mistake of electing more democrats and republicans into office in November, thinking they can beat back the waves with continued corporate concessions, the street protests and riots now prevalent in Turkey, Greece, Latvia and Iceland will become commonplace in the U.S., as well.  If we are going to bring about progressive change it must be through structural changes.  If the corporate structure is going to be challenged, then we must challenge the two-party system.  The financial bailout is indicative of how two-party/corporate politics is destroying the nation.  It does not bother with structural or systemic changes at all.  Congress has decided to work within the same failed financial system.  Consequently, the very people who helped create the failures were put in charge of their resolution.  Understandably, but regrettably, they do not discuss ideas, issues or meaningful reform.  There is no major effort to think outside the box.

As a consequence, in the third quarter of 2009, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs reported $3.6 billion and $3.2 billion in profits, respectively.  The Wall Street Journal has reported that major U.S. banks and securities firms paid their employees a record high $140 billon in 2009.  Goldman Sachs alone will pay $23 billion in bonuses just one year after tax payer funds kept that firm from going under.  For the average working man and woman in America circumstances are much different.  Nearly 940,000 homes received default notices or were repossessed by banks in the third quarter of 2009 alone, up 11 percent from the previous quarter and 23 percent from a year earlier.  Foreclosure filings are at record levels.  Real unemployment is over 18%, and one third of American workers (50 million people) make less than ten dollars per hour while CEOs of mega-corporations make $10,000/hour.  Top economic advisor Lawrence Summers has overseen transfer of trillions of dollars in loans, loan guarantees and cash infusions to Wall Street firms he formerly represented.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has presided over hundreds of billions in government bailouts to the biggest financial institutions and protected criminally gargantuan executive salaries and bonuses

While congress lets the foxes watch the henhouse, the former chairman of AIG, Maurice Greenberg, has concluded that the 170 billion dollar congressional effort to bail out that firm has failed, and the company should have been allowed to file Chapter 11 and restructure.   While the Federal Reserve has reported that U.S. households lost over $5 trillion or nearly 10% of their combined wealth in 2008, it has become clear that a capitalistic bankruptcy on Wall Street has come close to bankrupting our socialist, governmental intervention.  All this has gone on with the tacit approval of both democrats and republicans in congress.  Some, who saw that the train had already left the station, decided to seduce votes in 2008 by voting against T.A.R.P., knowing full well that the legislation would pass and doing nothing to convince other congressmen to vote against the measure.  They were on the train and did not pull the emergency cord; they simply did not get their ticket punched.  Seventy Wall Street and corporate lobbyists per congressman is a ratio of influence peddling which guarantees democrat and republican incumbents will not prioritize interests of average citizens over banks, investment firms and corporations.  As a Green Party congressman, however, should lobbyists come knocking on my door, I will kick them down the hall to the nearest democrat or republican!

William Black, former bank regulator at the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Company, described our current economic crisis as the result of “endemic fraud” on the part of the financial industries perpetrated with the aid of nearly all sectors of government.  Current “reform” efforts on derivatives (i.e., contracts that acquire value from market values of securities to which they are linked and are used to gamble on market fluctuations or to insure against losses) exempt virtually all of the most problematic derivatives.  Black also concludes that foreclosures, while topping all records, are actually very low compared to delinquent payments.  Many such delinquencies are not officially counted as foreclosures to understate losses, and these fraudulent accounting processes have helped make a false case for unprecedented executive bonuses.  Accordingly, the banks involved may be deeply insolvent and continuing to lose money, but on the eve of yet another crisis when interest rates rebound (an inevitability), congress has done nothing to correct the problem.

 

Since the Great Depression, attempts to reform “rogue capitalism” have either failed or been reversed to enable profit motives, rather than the common good, to drive production.  To investigate the 1929 crash, FDR’s Senate established the Pecora Commission which exposed high levels of criminality and led to many regulations and reforms, including the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, designed to protect depositors from high-risk speculation be separating commercial banks from investment banks.  Glass-Steagall also established the FDIC to insure the former but not the latter.  After decades of buying off democrats and republicans with $300 million in lobbying efforts, the Clinton administration signed into law the Financial Services Modernization Act and repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999.  Unregulated speculation, accounting scams among savings and loan businesses, 30 to 1 leveraging of assets devoid of capital, and bundling bad-risk mortgages enabled banks to fraudulently claim rates of growth exceeding 50% each year.  When investors flooded high returns with ephemeral capital, the bubble inflated.  When it burst, well over 1,000 banks failed at a cost to the American tax payer of $125 billion.

I believe we are faced with yet another, more devastating economic crisis, directly attributable to unhampered insider relations of congress and Wall Street. Dangerously rogue capitalistic profiteering has remained unfettered because it has been linked to democrats and republicans retaining their seats.   If elected to congress, I will expose that relationship on the floor of the House of Representatives.  If Wall Street collapses again, we will not be able to raise another $3 or $4 trillion to bail-out the system, even if we were foolish enough to do so.  Our commitments now total over $12 trillion, and an $800 billion limit was placed on the Federal Reserve.  If congress operates under the false assumption that some banks, largely the result of unregulated mergers, are “too big to fail,” then I will lead the fight to break them up, just as Teddy Roosevelt had done with Standard Oil and other mega-corporations.  I also will make a priority the immediate and full reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and other safeguards against another Wall Street collapse.

 

By the end of the Vietnam War, after costs of that war eroded the war on poverty and LBJ’s Great Society, and we began to reach the peak and predicted decline in domestic oil production around the early 1970s, the U.S. transformed from a producer to a consumer.  Two people in most households began to work to maintain that consumptive lifestyle, the credit card was invented, and Americans began to borrow much more than they could afford to maintain a profligate lifestyle.  We began to use force to satiate our thirst for cheap oil and other resources domestically unsustainable.  The decline started after WWII when we had 2/3 of the globe’s gold reserves and over half of the world’s manufacturing capacity, in large part to rebuilding of European and Asian factories demolished by the war.  American manufacturing accounted for 1/3 of world exports.  Foreign trade was very positive, and imports were less than half of American exports.  Less than 30 years later, all those tables had turnd. The bombed-out foreign factories had been replaced by state-of-the-art technologies designed to out-compete American manufacturers. Manufacturing jobs are declining fast in America, and the total public debt is over $11 trillion.

That economic vulnerability (households, and ultimately our nation, unable to live within their means) has been a structural problem which has enabled bankers, speculators and investment brokers to take America’s financial system hostage.  Collaborators in the abduction have been globalization (e.g., NAFTA, which has driven 2 million Mexican farmers from their land and often to our borders since 1994) and the deregulation of Wall Street.   During the Clinton years, democrats leaped into bed with corporations and Wall Street speculators, using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as ill-disguised slush funds.  Consequently, more and more private capital becomes concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.  Technological advancements, such as the computer, combined with greater and greater division of labor, generate larger units of production at the expense of smaller businesses.  Einstein recognized this trend in 1949 when he wrote about the dangers of legislative bodies being selected “by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature.”  As a consequence, so-called representatives of the people do not protect the interests of the underprivileged.  Unsurprisingly, salaries for the lower 90 percent of American workers, when adjusted for inflation, continue to decline in the United States, while corporate profits continue skyrocket.  Over 50 million Americans are categorized as poor while tens of millions more are in a state of virtual poverty once taxes and other deductions are taken from their paychecks.  If elected to congress, I will fight to reverse that trend and to strengthen those public and private institutions designed to safeguard workers, which every congress since Ronald Reagan, motivated by corporate campaign donations, has actively or tacitly jeopardized.

With democrat and republican parties obligingly concerned with re-election, first and foremost, American government has shifted power away from the people and directly to economic and social interest groups (e.g., military, medical and Wall Street corporations).  Likewise, we have seen erasures of boundaries between public and private interests historically paralleled by Germany and Italy in the early twentieth century.  The working class has borrowed itself into debt to make up for drops in wages.  The national treasury, burdening the backs of taxpayers, is being drained for corporate welfare.  The moment China, oil-rich nations and international investors stop buying U.S. Treasury bonds, the U.S. dollar will go the way of Confederate money when England stopped buying cotton bonds during the American Civil War.  If the dollar loses much of its value, the manias of gross national product, unsustainable growth, consumer goods and comfortable life style will no longer provide the diversions necessary to induce passivity. The beleaguered population will be forced to face the worsening reality. Then traditional standards and roles of government will likely undergo a transformation and not for the better.  Our two-party government has already resorted to fraud to retain power and manipulate the electorate.  In time of severe economic crisis and social strife more stringent measures will be employed. There are many systemic failures which account for this tenuous time in our history, not the least of which is a two-party political system sustained by and indentured to corporate money.  That is one reason I ask for your vote in November.  Otherwise, we have no hope of accomplishing the structural and systemic changes needed to right the ship of state.  If we sift through the ruins of powerful civilizations and examine causes of their decay, one common denominator has been retention of power by a privileged and corrupt minority with no qualms about achieving personal gains at the cost of the common good, a preference for short-term benefits of the elite over the long-term benefits of the majority.  That dangerous choice has already been made by democrats and republicans in congress, elected time and time again not by the power of ideas but by the power of money, campaign donations from the corporate elite.  Reversing our national fortunes requires systemic changes only feasible through the election of third party representatives in congress.  As the Green Party candidate in this 2nd Connecticut Congressional District, I submit to you that I am the best person for that job.