Someone needs to let the President of the United States know that Memorial Day is, at least in theory, a somber remembrance for the nation's war dead. It might have been nice if that someone had done so before Trump showed up in Japan over the weekend --- for talks with that nation's Prime Minister --- and wished U.S. troops stationed with our ally and former WWII foe a "Happy Memorial Day!" It certainly wasn't a happy one around many parts of the U.S. for a number of reasons. But, once again, we try to find the bright spots where we can.
Among the swarm of stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link posted below summary]...
The record swarm of tornado swarms continued on Memorial Day, with some 53 twisters touching down in eight different states on the same day. A man in Ohio was killed when a car flew into his living room and at least 130 were reportedly injured in the Buckeye State, where power was knocked out to more than 5 million residents as of Tuesday morning. "Catastrophic" destruction was seen across many states after Monday marked a record-tying 11th straight day with at least eight tornadoes in the U.S. according to NOAA. Whether media outlets connected the virtually unprecedented storms (and month of flooding in the Midwest and Central U.S. that preceded it) to our worsening climate crisis is another matter entirely;
Speaking of Ohio, at least before the storms, a KKK rally on Saturday brought out 9 Klansmen and between 500 and 600 counter-protesters. At least the folks in Dayton got that one right, if not some of their responses to emergency interruptions during their favorite TV programs as tornadoes swept through the state on Monday;
And, speaking of getting it wrong, there is the far-right evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late, respected minister Billy Graham. Franklin, a Trump supporter who has attacked Indiana Mayor and 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg for being both gay and a practicing Christian at the same time, used his tax-exempt religious pulpit to call for "Christian leaders" to declare a "day of prayer" next Sunday for Donald Trump, who, Franklin says, has been "attacked" by his "enemies" more than "any President in the history of this nation". President Abraham Lincoln dissents;
As the loony right rises, or tries to, we move out west to Fresno, California, which, as we reportedly exclusively back in 2013, single-handedly blocked an attempted statewide "recount" of Prop 37, a state ballot initiative that would have required the labeling of GMO foods. The wingnuttery in Fresno continued over the weekend, as its minor league baseball franchise, the Fresno Grizzlies, "celebrated" Memorial Day with a video tribute that featured a speech by Ronald Reagan and a montage of Americas "enemies" that included Kim Jong Un, Fidel Castro and....wait for it....New York's Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The team eventually apologized to AOC --- hours after their initial apology for the video itself --- though they never bothered to mention that, among other "enemies" shown in the 3 and a half minute video played at the ballpark, anti-fascism and anti-KKK marchers were also singled out. 'Happy' Memorial Day!;
In voting news over the long weekend....the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday put on hold two different earlier rulings from lower federal appeals courts finding that Republicans in both Ohio and Michigan had unconstitutionally gerrymandered their Congressional maps for the past decade. The high court's action was issued without comment as we await their pending decisions on two similar cases the Justices heard earlier this year regarding unlawful partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina and Maryland. That may be a bad omen for those two cases. But, for now, the SCOTUS order blocks the lower court orders to draw new, fair Congressional maps for 2020 in Ohio by June 14 and in Michigan (where new state legislative districts were also ordered) by August 1;
There was better news, for a change, in the state of Texas of all places. The state's legislative session ended on Monday without confirmation of the nomination of Gov. Greg Abbott's Secretary of State David Whitley, thanks to all Senate Democrats refusing to support him. Whitley was forced to resign without the confirmation, which was withheld after the unqualified former travel aid to Abbott had falsely announced in January that 100,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Texas, with 58,000 of them having illegally cast votes since 1996. As it turns out, most of those voters had become naturalized citizens over that period. But that didn't prevent Whitley from instructing the state's County Clerks to purge voters in 30 days unless they could prove their citizenship or from referring the case to the TX Attorney General who promptly ordered criminal investigations for his own part in the attempted purge. The state was sued by three different voting rights groups and a number of naturalized citizens. They were forced to settle by changing voter roll purge rules for the future and paying some $450,000 to plaintiffs for their legal costs and fees;
Finally today, with at least 24 candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and debates set to begin next month, voters have been sizing up how the hopefuls might take on Donald Trump next year (presuming he's the GOP nominee) if they win the nod. Last week, during a Washington Post forum, South Bend, IN Mayor Buttigieg, who was deployed to Afghanistan in the Naval Reserves, cited Trump's draft dodging due to a claimed "disability" during the Vietnam War. When asked about his comments over the weekend on ABC's This Week, rather than backing off of them, Buttigieg doubled-down, revealing a) Trump was, indeed, a draft dodger who now pretends to revere the military, but who was willing to let someone else take his place in Vietnam and b) Mayor Pete is not afraid to stand up, at least rhetorically, to the bully who has become the President of the United States, even after some in the media attempted (as they do) to try and call him out for it...
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"A very small segment of the American population are fighting this war! If the president thinks we should continue the war he ought to call for a draft and spread it out and let everybody serve in this war, not this small segment who are making such a sacrifice!" -- Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), 4/19/07
America needs a military draft. Admittedly, this idea is anathema to many progressives. Nevertheless, it would be good for this nation. It would boost our national security, but it would also be an invaluable part of preventing our so-called "leaders" from taking us into another unnecessary war.
There's no doubt we need more troops. As recently reported in the Los Angeles Times, Air Force personnel are now being used to fill out the Army ranks in Iraq. Military.com reports that in 2005 recruiters missed their target numbers by the widest margin since 1979. While the Department of Defense has said that it met or exceeded its recruitment goals for 2006, they are still having so much trouble getting warm bodies that recruitment of foreigners is being considered, including a proposal to expedite the citizenship process as an added incentive.
According to The Boston Globe, Bush and Defense Secretary Gates "have acknowledged that the total size of the military must be expanded to help alleviate the strain on ground troops, many of whom have been deployed repeatedly in combat theaters." And the Democratic congress has "promise[d] to make increasing the size of the military one of their top legislative priorities in 2007."
In December of 2006, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson "told a news conference that society would benefit from a return to the draft." Of course, a few hours later he backpedaled faster than Rush Limbaugh can say "OxyContin" when the White House disavowed the remark. But he was right when he said our society would benefit from the draft, even if, like a good little soldier, he quickly changed his tune to please his boss.
More recently, in an April 18th article from the Marine Corp Times, Lawrence Korb --- a former senior Pentagon official and now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Advisor to the Center for Defense Information --- said, "The current use of ground forces in Iraq represents a complete misuse of the all-volunteer military." He went on to add that in his view the all-volunteer force is not meant to be used for a protracted ground war, yet that is what they are facing.