Take Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. This so-called liberal recently stripped from a defense bill any reference to curbs on sexual assault in the military. Levin is chairman of the Armed Services Committee so he can do as he pleases even if it means trampling on justice.
Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York wanted to give military prosecutors rather than commanders the power to decide whether to try sexual assault cases. Her aim: increase the number of women and men who report sexual assaults without fear of retaliation by commanders.
Levin says no. He’s boss. Yet it’s hardly a democracy when one man out of 315 million Americans can decide what the law should be.
Levin is a long-time supporter of the military even when it is wrong. So he stacks the deck, compiling a witness list of people who support keeping sexual assault in the chain of military command.
The serious problem in the armed forces with sexual assault on women and men be damned. Levin is the Lone Great Decider.
“It is the chain of command that must be held accountable if it fails to change a military culture,” Levin pontificates.
That says it all: military culture, a rape culture, a culture that badly needs to be destroyed.
War hawk nominated
President Obama continues to name the wealthy and the warmongers to major positions and as his advisers. The latest Obama appointment: Susan Rice as national security adviser—madame war hawk.
“Rice’s willingness to utter demonstrable falsehoods to defend actions by the United States is troubling,” Stephen Zunes of Truthout says.
Just as troubling is her eagerness to have the nation go to war. She urged war in Iraq 10 years ago despite the judgment of analysts and reporters repudiating the lies told by President G.W. Bush.
Still, Rice cried out: “It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat.”
She made this claim despite the fact that Iraq jettisoned chemical and biological weapons and disbanded its nuclear program.
When Secretary of State Colin Powell libeled Iraq with transparently false claims, Rice exclaimed: “Powell proved that Iraq had those weapons and is hiding them.”
Her openness to still another war in the Middle East was apparent last fall when she announced that “there is no daylight” between America and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu pushing for an attack on Iran.
Congress flunks test
Debt on college student loans is $1 trillion a year. The average is $40,000 per student. Yet Congress allowed the student loan interest to double to 6.8 effective Monday.
Congress should be doing everything to increase college ranks instead of discouraging them. But that’s the congressional way: encourage business but harm the people who need help most. Banks get loans from the Federal Reserve at the fantastic rate of 0.75 percent.
College education should be free as it once was in California. Instead, the federal government makes 36 percent on every dollar it lends to students. It will make $51 billion from student loans this year. Next year: double that amount.
Harry Reid once again proved his piss-poor leadership. Reid, Senate majority leader from Nevada, refused to consider a bipartisan plan to keep the interest rate temporarily at 3.4 percent, wrongly calling it “a Republican solution.”
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.