“Come Home America” Message Was Clear Winner at Iowa Straw Poll

Come Home America Ames Message
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W.A.R: Wasted American Resources

The Des Moines news reporter who noted our anti-war message at the entrance of yesterday’s Republican Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, was not present with us long enough to see the real story. Our banners actually got an amazingly good reception! Our group of sign holders were all surprised how many of the thousands of straw poll attendees, even Pawlenty and Santorum t-shirted fans, were responding positively to the “Come Home America” message and banners warning that “Endless War = Endless Debt” and “War IS Taxing”: The anti-war enthusiasm also manifested itself as people from all political (conservative, libertarian, and socially progressive) backgrounds stopped to talk, with many even giving up an hour or two to help us hold the banners.

Endless War: Endless Death
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Endless War: Endless Death

Attendees seemed genuinely interested when we encouraged them to sign our recent “Dear Obama” letter and told them we were part of a non-partisan effort to focus on the most important ISSUES of the day, instead of the promises, slogans, cute winks and other crazy antics of any particular political candidate.

Remember the Constitution
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Remember the Constitution

The truth is that progressives who support social safety nets, funding of public education, and who are opposed to the widening disparity between the wealthiest and the poor in the United States cannot possibly see their goals realized without the US government making a clean break from the last decade of destructive and costly wars.

Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan
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Libertarians will not see a return to adherence to the Constitution, civil liberties and away from national security policing and “War Presidency” empowerment. “Greens” will not see more funding and research diverted to sustainable and environmentally clean energy technologies. And fiscal conservatives cannot possibly get the small, decentralized government they long for while the United States seeks costly world empire and military superpower status.

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All the people’s worthwhile goals are connected by money and are antithetical to the US’ spending on runaway militarism. If the American government continues to be controlled by the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, in defiance of this popular consensus, throwing trillions of hard-earned and increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars on bombs, drone technology, armoring tanks, and outright corporate contractor fraud, none of these other popular group objectives are possible.

Come Home America at Ames
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While the hundreds of national media in Iowa covered the actual, close straw poll finish (near tie) of Michele Bachmann only beating Ron Paul by 152 votes, they did not seem to care or cover the enormous outpouring we witnessed from people of different political backgrounds and loyalties—confirmed by numerous national polls–showing consensus for ending the wars and runaway militarism. Perhaps the “Come Home America” kick-off bannering at the early Iowa Straw Poll event revealed the unique moment we’re in, watching a perfect storm of various rationales coming together.

Stop War at Ames, Iowa
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In any event, look for our Come Home America initiative to represent this convergence and strengthening consensus outside many of Obama’s upcoming speeches as well as other major political events throughout the nation. We hope to mount banners as in the photos of yesterday’s event in Iowa. While politicos and horse race bettors constantly talk of making their selections using the “lesser of two evils”, one thing is clear: It is the issues more than the political personalities that matter and WAR is not the lesser of two evils! It is THE EVIL that poisons and contaminates everything else.

Endless War and Endless Debt
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Endless War and Endless Debt

Less Hawkish in the Hawkeye State?

The Ames Straw Poll, which actually has some predictive value, gave noninterventionists some reasons to smile. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas placed second with 28 percent, just behind Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (29 percent). After finishing third with 14 percent, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who may well have been the most neoconservative candidate in the race, quit. Sadly, he was immediately replaced by his “less boring clone,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who achieved 4 percent with write-in votes.

The two worst of the other candidates, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, finished with 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Among the moderately atrocious, businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also combined for 12 percent. Not-entirely-wretched former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman got 1 percent. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson did not participate.

As I noted last week, Bachmann has infuriated some of the right people by being less than reflexively bellicose. Whether her deviation on Libya reflects mere opportunism or nascent realism is hard to say, though her reported coziness with Frank Gaffney makes me shudder. Still, if we place Bachmann in the center of this nonet, with Paul, Huntsman, Romney, and Cain to the less-Gaffneyesque side and Gingrich, Santorum, Pawlenty, and Perry to the other, we get 41 percent for the former set and 30 percent for the latter. In the 2007 straw poll, Paul was the only candidate who wasn’t running on a Bush-Cheney foreign policy, and he received only 9 percent of the vote. The winner that year, Mitt Romney 1.0, was much more belligerent than either Mitt Romney 2.0 or Michele Bachmann has been so far. Maybe even the Republican base is inching our way.

The Ass Saw the Angel, the A-holes Reached for the Whip

And Balaam rose up in the morning and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

And God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.

And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way and his sword drawn in his hand. And the ass turned aside out of the way and went into the field, and Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the way.

Numbers 22:21-23

America is in peril. A grim specter from yesteryear stalks the land, threatening to starve hardworking defense contractors. Our current wars might be snuffed out before they reach drinking age, and a potential intervention or two might even be aborted.

Trembling yet? You should be, because isolationism is back, and it’s haunting the halls of our capital. All those American bullets, missiles, and drones whizzing about might have lulled you into thinking that everything was fine, but top analysts say otherwise. Two honchos at Freedom House fret:

The debate about America’s world role recently has taken a disturbing direction. Prominent figures in both parties – including a number of the announced Republican presidential hopefuls – have anchored their rhetoric on demands for American withdrawal from various conflict zones and from international engagement generally.

Voices on the political margins – Dennis Kucinich on the left and Rand Paul on the right – are increasingly echoed by figures from the mainstream. Even President Obama has succumbed to the prevailing mood with his unfortunate June reference to “nation building here at home.”

Disturbing! And there’s more:

The isolationism that is gaining momentum is especially pernicious given the prospects for political change in the greater Middle East. If there is an issue where vigorous American leadership and American interests are organically related, it is the contemporary struggle for democracy in the Arab world.

And if there is one place where “vigorous American leadership” is roundly trusted and desired, it is surely the Arab world. But back to those “unfortunate” calls for “nation building here at home.” In June, Christopher Hitchens sniffed out that trend and tore it apart:

This [John Edwards’ lack of sexual sophistication, or something] is dispiriting. But not as small-time and small-minded as the recent line adopted, from Dennis Kucinich to John Boehner and by the National Conference of Mayors, to the effect that any expenditure overseas is a theft from the good people of Waterloo (or, if you insist, Winterset), Iowa. You have heard it: A bridge or a well in Kandahar is one less facility for our hurting heartland. We should be tending to business in our own backyards.

Hitchens will have none of that. What is it with these hicks from Cleveland and Bowling Green and West Chester Township and Waterloo and their sub-constant enthusiasm for shrapnel-ready projects? By the way, Waterloo is the hometown of Hitchens’ latest hate crush, Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann enraged Hitchens by “pathetically advocating that we leave Col. Qaddafi alone”:

For Bachmann to choose this moment to say that the loony of Libya poses no threat is to disqualify herself from any consideration for high office.

Indeed. As Hitchens said elsewhere in the same article,

We need candidates who know about laboratories, drones, trade cycles, and polychrome conurbations both here and overseas.

Especially the drones, because those mobile laboratories of democracy can be used to liberate polychrome conurbations overseas, which will, in turn, raise morale here during the contraction phase of the trade cycle. Everybody wins, so long as the isolationists don’t.

But I’m not too worried about Michele Bachmann slowing down the perpetual-war machine that Hitchens and friends have worked so hard to maintain. Apparently, Frank Gaffney has her ear, and I trust that, whip in hand, he will dispel any reservations about empire from her silly little head.