End war, bring that money home -- a controversial proposition, even in SF?

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The link between war and domestic needs has been well understood on the streets, but less so by the politicians.
Steven T. Jones

A substantial majority of Americans support ending the war in Afghanistan, decreasing the military budget, and redirecting that money to domestic needs, a position held even more strongly in liberal San Francisco. Yet three members of the Board of Supervisors this week still opposed a resolution in support of that position, a resolution that was mocked on the cover of today's San Francisco Examiner.

So-called political “moderates” here love to deride progressives and label them out-of-touch with the rest of the country or with what they consider the “real world.” But how sensible and fiscally responsible is it to continue spending more than half of the federal budget on the military, a dollar amount that has more than doubled since Bill Clinton left the White House, when domestic conditions are so bad that tens of thousands of people across the country have been willing to spend months occupying their town squares?

The resolution approved Tuesday on a 8-3 vote – with Sups. Sean Elsbernd, Mark Farrell, and Carmen Chu, consistently the board's most conservative members, in dissent – was similar to resolutions approved in dozens of jurisdictions across the country, most recently in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, Penn. In May, a similar resolution was also approved by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the first such action since the Vietnam War.

The resolution calls for members of Congress to “reduce the military budget, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and redirect the savings to domestic needs.” In support of that position, it notes that we're spending almost $1 trillion per year on the military and war debt, more than 50,000 U.S. troops have been killed or injured in the two conflicts, and that everything from schools to public services to the country's infrastructure needs are severely underfunded.

“It's a way to signal to the federal government – in this case, particularly [Reps.] Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier – that people are fed up with their local economies being plundered to support war,” Janet Weil, who works on resolution like this as part of Code Pink's Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign, told us. San Francisco's resolution was developed by the New Priorities Campaign, a nationwide coalition that includes Code Pink.

But during this week's approval of the measure – which included no discussion and lasted less than a minute – Elsbernd rolled his eyes as the measure came up and then voted against it. Afterward, I asked him why, and he gave a two-pronged answer. He generally opposes local resolutions on international issues, and on this one, he said that pulling all troops out of Afghanistan is an unrealistic position that is out of the national mainstream.

“Is this the appropriate forum to discuss how many troops we should have in Afghanistan? Probably not,” he said.

Yet most people clearly see the connection between lack of resources at home and trying to fight two simultaneous wars and maintain a military presence in 63 countries, something that Weil said has fed the Occupy movement around the country, where signs and public statements have repeatedly made that connection.

“I visited OccupySF and I saw very eloquent anti-war messages on dozens of signs, and that had nothing to do with organizing by Code Pink or other anti-war groups,” Weil said. “For a lot of people, it's such a no-brainer that people don't even bring it up.”

Yet she said that many politicians and mainstream media outlets have been out-of-touch with that reality. For example, while there has been some popular outcry over this week's approval of a provision in the latest defense authorization bill that allows for indefinite military detentions of suspected terrorists captured on U.S. soil, the fact that the bill principally authorizes a whooping $662 billion in new military expenditures has gotten less attention.

“But the Occupy movement has pulsed energy and people into the anti-war movement across the country,” Weil said, predicting that the connection between domestic needs and wasteful military spending will put increasing pressure on the federal government to address the issue.

As for whether local resolutions will help with that process, even moderate political consultant Jim Ross – who mocked this week's anti-war resolution in the Examiner article – correctly noted that San Francisco helped lead the international effort to boycott South Africa and end its apartheid regime, a movement that began with a resolution approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Or, to put it in the bumper sticker mentality that conservatives seem to appreciate: think globally, act locally.

Comments

It's a federal matter and we get to vote on that every 2/4/6 years.

The Supes should focus on the problems they have some control over, i.e. fixing muni, controlling the budget and fixing the streets.

We don't need the Supes getting distracted over this, that and the other. We need them to be focused on the half dozen or so issues they have any legitimate jurisdiction over.

They can start lecturing me on foreign policy when they can demonstrate an ability to mange the budget, and not before.

Think locally, act locally. And leave the rest to those who understand it.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

The John Birch Society got control of a few city's and local boards of some sort. They had a push to have these cities pass ridiculous resolutions to have the USA get out of the United Nations. The company our progressives keep.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

When will the average SF liberal realize that they're not the center of the universe? Or even this city?

They are our servants. And the last election showed massive support for Lee and his focus on jobs and the local economy.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

They are not our servants, they are our elected representatives, and they are simply amplifying a position held by many of their constituents, one that has a direct impact of this city's resources. Every city and county in the country passes political resolutions, and it's just dumb to think they somehow mean that policymakers also can't deal with other issues. Did you read the part where this took less than a minute? Do you think they might have fixed Muni or come up with some magical way to produce private sector jobs during that time? C'mon, people, you just sound ridiculous when you say our representatives should simply focused on potholes and business tax cuts rather than addressing the more fundamental problems plaguing this society.

Posted by steven on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 11:57 am

over Avalos as an indicator that the voters first and foremost want non-ideological competence in our elected officials. The voters don't want to save the whale, end poverty, bring about world peace and sing kumbaya. They want muni to work and the roads fixed and the city to be safe. And jobs, jobs, jobs. The rest, frankly, is fluff and icing on the cake.

I'll vote at the State and Federal levels to change the world. I voted Lee because he was focused on (pardon the cliche) getting it done and not inventing a new world order.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

if ending the war is good or bad, I would guess most people in the city for that, it's should our provincial airheads be spending time and resources on this.

Elsbernd's opinion on foreign policy is just as moot as is Avalos.

How would our entitled progressives feel about living in a city that passed meaningless motions on banning abortion and for prop 8? I'm sure there are millions of progressives stuck in backward spots in the US, where their genius is not recognized by their fellow extremists on the right.

There's something about being an out of touch true believer that makes it OK for them to pretend to speak for people, when they have no such mandate to do so.

Here's a good link that shows how America's true believers are always trying to pull this non sense. Avalos and right wing jesus freaks share the same pathology.

http://www.au-oc.org/issues/in-god-we-trust-comes-to-lake-forest

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

The passing of this resolution is one of many tools that can be used by our locally elected officials to accomplish the very tasks we elect them to perform (i.e. fixing muni, ensuring public health, safety, etc).

San Francisco is broke. Imagine if only fractions of what Congress is granting to the military could be diverted in to Federal Assistance programs to help cash strapped cities, counties, and states. If done we could reverse job loss trends, save critical services, refund schools, etc.

While the resolution will not likely show immediate return, it has the potential to influence other local governments to do the same, subsequently drumming up more pertinent political pressure.

And please note that the reading and passing of the resolution did not take more than a couple minutes. I have a hard time believing that this resolution has been the primary focus of any of our Supervisors.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

No one is paying attention. No one paid attention before when they did this, and no one will pay attention now.

It's a feel good moment for our self important man child progressives.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

The war budget is pure madness and so is Nancy Pelosi for saying Aye to H.R. 1540. Clearly she does not know how to rep SF. What will it take to stop spending money on weapons?

Pigeons in the pay to play $helling it out for H.R.1540 to pass

* Honeywell
* DuPont
* Polartec
* Green Technology Solutions
* Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition
* ADS
* W.L. Gore and Associates (goodbye gor-tex, too gory)
* Darn Tough Vermont
* Insight Technology
* London Bride Trading Company
* Milliken
* New Balance (goodbye running shoes, too unbalanced)
* Otis Technology
* Pelican Products
* Surefire
* International Textile Group
* Wiley X
* Royal Ten Cate
* Bates Footwear
* ESS
* Benchmade
* Bluewater Defense
* Brookwood Companies Incorporated
* Outdoor Research
* Smith Optics
* Leading Technology Composites
* Wild Things

Organizations Opposing H.R.1540

* Environmentalists Against War
* Progressive Democrats of America

America, we can do better. Looks like the Peace Action PAC didn't move the money on the vote. Time for an Occupy PAC.

Posted by Daydream on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 12:38 am

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