If I Were The President! By Timothy V. Gatto

By Timothy V. Gatto
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Sept. 18, 2010

"Stop Bitching - Start a Revolution"

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

I wrote an article last night, one of the best (IMHO) I’ve ever written. At 3AM my computer automatically went searching for updates, found a few, and proceeded to shut down automatically. Of course, when the computer shut down, it took my three page article and flushed it down the cyber sewer. Needless to say, I was outraged and came very close to putting my foot into the thing, but the rational part of me stepped in and saved the day. I’m going to try to write this article over again, but my expectations are very low.

When I was a young boy… I wanted to be The President of the United States. From time to time, I still wish I was the President, but now…not so much. There are just too many problems to contend with and not enough people that have the answers, or even a clue as to how to solve them. It isn’t that the people in Congress or the advisors to the president are stupid; it’s just that they don’t really care. It seems that many people that are in positions of leadership, fail to provide any answers that are beyond their own agendas’.  This lends credence, especially when it comes to the GOP, that there is a vacuum at the top of their food chain. Unfortunately, the Democrats are also experiencing a lack of leadership. While the Democrats have more leaders than the Republicans, there is a lack of cohesion at the top.

If I woke up one morning and found that I was  the President, after I accepted that fact, maybe if I believed I was dreaming and just decided to go along with this particular dream, these are some of the things I would do.

First of all, I would sign a Presidential signing statement that eliminated Presidential Directives 20 and 51 (Continuity of government in the event of an emergency or natural disaster or a terrorist attack). These two directives create a dictatorship of the executive branch. The President does not need the consent of Congress to enact draconian measures that would enable the executive to have full power over the National Guard and the Reserves, as well as active duty soldiers. He would then have the power to activate any State National Guard without the consent of the Governor in that State.

The military, under Posse Comitatus, is forbidden to act as an agent of law enforcement. The John Warner Defense Bill (The revamped Insurrection Act), does away with Posse Comitatus, and allows the Executive branch to use the military to institute a military backed police State. This measure by the Executive branch does NOT need the consent of Congress or the consent of the individual States. This means that if there is an insurrection (or a “national emergency” in Georgia, the National Guard of New York or Ohio, or any other State’s National Guard can be sent to Georgia to quell any sort of uprising). It seems that we could lose our Democratic Republic with a stroke of a pen.

I would also demand that the Senate and House come up with a bill that would put the focus on the wars we are fighting overseas. The War Powers Act should be revisited and clarified in such a way that the use of military force would be the last response on a critical situation. Of course if we were attacked, the President would still have access to the military in the event military force was required. Within 60 days however, the use of military force would have to be justified to Congress.

These are commonsense approaches for the use of military force. According to the Constitution as it was framed by the people that wrote it, a declaration of war on another nation should be a responsibility of the Congress, not the Executive branch.  Due to technological breakthroughs that have occurred in this age, military responsiveness should be fast and hopefully decisive. At the first chance however, Congress should review the decision on the use of force, and it should be reviewed periodically. This would result in Congressional oversight of our military.

The practice of kidnapping foreign nationals and torturing them must stop. The current President has claimed that our government does not torture. He has also remarked that his administration would be transparent. Why are foreign nationals still subject to extraordinary rendition?  This is a practice that exposes the very worst of our government.

Our relationship with other nations should be examined. So far, the government of Iran has, for all practical reasons, cooperated with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). They are building reactors for energy purposes and enriching uranium to 20% which is permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Brazil, Turkey, Spain and many NATO members and Non-NATO members have nuclear reactors for energy. Why are we singling out Iran’s nuclear program? This is a purely a political move. If Americans were told all of the facts about Iran’s nuclear power program, they would be astonished by the way Iran is demonized. By contrast, Israel has never signed, nor does it intend to sign the NPT. If Israel signed the NPT, they would have to reveal that it has from 300 to 800 nuclear warheads depending on who you ask. Just as Israel hasn’t signed the cluster bomb treaty or the land mine treaty, we none the less support their right wing military state.

It is amazing that Israel is still being supported by the U.S. Our biggest threat to world peace is not the Iranians or the Syrians, it is the Israeli’s. When we prop up their fascist state, we undermine the security of the United States. Even the Turkish government, a long standing ally of the United States and Israel has criticized the Israeli policies that left 9 dead when a ship, under the Turkish flag, was boarded and the people on it attacked in international waters off of Gaza. The Turks have refused to carry out military exercises with Israel that were planned before the Turkish ship was boarded, and in International waters. If I were President I would cut military aid to Israel until they lifted the siege of Gaza and stopped taking land and homes away from Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel will continue to act contrary to International law as long as they know that the world’s only “superpower” will continue to arm them.

The deadlock in Congress over domestic issues is something that I would address forcefully. While this President has seemed to actually speak out about partisan politics, I don’t believe that he isn’t nearly as critical of the behavior of the Republicans as he should be. He should be stumping for his infrastructure bill. This is a policy that hits two targets and is sure to be popular with the people. If Obama backs off on this bill I would want to know why.

The military is another opportunity for the President to score big. Most people in America, according to polls, don’t want us in Afghanistan.  The people don’t understand why we are there and what our policy is. We can hang our placard onto Osama Bin Laden for only so long. Our government‘s intelligence report claims there are only 50 al Qaeda in the country. Also, as far as Bin Laden planning 9/11 in the caves of Afghanistan, that’s simply not true. The planning that they know of, took place in Europe. How does Obama get away with the 9/11 pitch for so long? Don’t any reporters have any shred of decency left?

We spend 48% of the entire world’s military expenditures. (See notes on this) Russia and China spend only about 6%. That means both nations’ expenditures together are only 12%. We have been spending as much, if not more, than when the Cold War was at its height. Why do the American people put up with that?  What is the purpose of being the only “Superpower” on the planet? Are we going to colonize the rest of the world? Why aren’t people asking these questions?

We have opened new military bases in Colombia. We want to put 7,000 soldiers and sailors in Costa Rica along with 40 warships. Where do we get the money to do this when we are in a difficult economic crisis right here in our own country? Everyone knows the truth; we’re borrowing it from China and Japan. It’s not a secret.

These “Free Trade” agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA are killing us. We can’t levy tariffs to make the U.S. more competitive. We continue to outsource our production facilities and buy cheap labor overseas. Why should companies pay someone $10.00 an hour to make suffottiga’s  (made that one up) here in the U.S. when you can employ a person in Bangladesh for 35 cents an hour (and they absolutely love a steady paycheck and companies don’t have to worry about Unions and little things like The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and overtime  or OSHA regulations.

The President has a bully pulpit. Think of the impact a President could make if he didn’t have to worry about getting reelected.  I’ve thought about it for a long time. It’s not only the President’s reelection; it’s also about making sure that Congress is controlled by the President’s political party. We see that now in the mid-term elections. This time you have a new element in the political mix…the Tea Party. This new political combatant will bring a lot of fireworks into the election. Frankly I’m glad they are out there. It would be great if there were A MIXED BAG OF LIBERALS AND SOCIALISTS. Maybe, just maybe, a new element on the political scene will force the politicians to define what it is they actually stand for, instead of finding out after they take their oath of office. In this political season many incumbents were thrown out of office. In reality this was a good thing. The more people that actually participate in campaigns and learn what the issues are make the campaigns much more interesting.

I’m going to the demonstration in Washington on October 2nd. I’ll be splitting my time between the Democratic Socialist table and the Peace group tables. Many people are saying that this rally is nothing more than a Democratic Party Rally. I think it’s much more than that. I think that this rally is the Left’s answer to the Right Wing Tea Party (At least I believe that it is).

If I were President I would watch and listen to what people are saying. I went to another rally on April 24th, 1971 and they said this:

(DC) Demonstration organizers call this rally largest in Washington, DC history; no incidents reported; older people noted in crowd. So many people in the march forced us to start an hour early.

Maybe this rally in Washington on October 2nd will be the “Change that we can believe in”. Frankly, I’m really tired of the talking heads in Washington telling me what everything means as if I can’t understand things for myself.  Obama should really listen to what is said on October 2nd. The entire country should listen to what is said. I’ve been down this road before.

Note -1- The FY2008 budget requests $481.4 billion in discretionary authority for the Department of Defense base budget, an 11.3 percent increase over the projected enacted level for fiscal 2007, for real growth of 8.6 percent; and $141.7 billion to continue the fight in the Global War on Terror (GWOT)

The fiscal year (FY) 2004 Department of Defense (DoD) budget request was $379.9 billion in discretionary budget authority — $15.3 billion above FY 2003. The fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, passed by Congress 07 November 2003, authorizes DoD to spend $401.3 billion. The fiscal 2004 Defense Appropriations Act, which actually provides the money, became law 30 September 2003.

On April 16, 2003 President Bush signed the FY2003 $79 billion wartime supplemental to cover the needs directly arising from Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reconstruction of Iraq. The Defense Department received $62.6 billion as a result of the emergency supplemental bill.

On Nov. 6, 2003 President Bush signed the FY2004 $87.5 billion supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill provides $64.7 billion for military operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, including about $51 billion is for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and $10 billion for Operation Enduring Freedom. The remaining $22.8 billion in non-DOD monies will cover costs with Operation Noble Eagle and support for allies in the war on terror.



The Truth and Its Consequences By Timothy V. Gatto

Let’s Have a Real Protest, Not a Democratic Pep Rally, on October 2nd by Glen Ford

By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition”

Do Not Pity the Democrats by Chris Hedges

from the archives:

Obama Executive Order Seeks to “Synchronize and Integrate” State and Federal Military Forces by Tom Burghardt

National Security & Homeland Security Presidential Directive 51 (2007)

One thought on “If I Were The President! By Timothy V. Gatto

  1. The numbers at the ’71 demonstration were estimated at 1.5 million people. It was the beginning of the end of the Vietnam war. Nobody expected so many people would show up.

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