With information overload from the 24/7 media circus it is easy to miss some interesting or important news items. Here are some you may have missed.     

Citizens United at 13  

This year marks the 13th anniversary of Citizens United. This decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ended a century of restrictions on donations to political candidates. It allowed, corporations, other groups, and individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. The only limitation was they couldn't coordinate directly with a candidate's campaign. The result was an avalanche of $4.5 billion dollars in the decade following the 2010 decision to buy elections. Most of this money was donated by a few super wealthy individuals.   “Our politics should not be a tug of war between billionaires on the right and billionaires on the left...” writes Mathew Rothschild, the former director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “Citizens United makes a mockery of the ideal that we all have an equal voice in our democracy.”   Billionaire Warren Buffet agrees and has said, “Let only individuals contribute with sensible limits per election. Otherwise, we are well on our way to ensuring that a government of the moneyed, by the moneyed, and for the moneyed shall not perish from the earth.”   Polls indicate 75% of Americans – 66% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats – support overturning Citizens United. But as political science researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page inform us, “...the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”   For 13 years citizens across the country have been trying to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn this ridiculous and destructive court ruling. Why is good change so hard to achieve?  

Ignoring the Lessons of Afghanistan in Ukraine  

Wars are a sink hole for tax dollars. This is well known and one would think Congress would take steps to prevent waste, fraud and corruption with spending on Ukraine. But this is not the case. In July, Senate Democrats blocked creating an inspector general to oversee spending for the war in Ukraine.   Congress has so far authorized $113 billion in spending for Ukraine. John Sopko, the former Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, says “If that much money is coming in, you know some of it is going to be stolen...” Even more of it is going to be wasted or simply disappear in to the fog of war.   The Pentagon's has an abysmal record for lax financial accountability. There is no reason to believe they will do better in Ukraine. The military contractors, weapons manufacturers, and various merchants of death will reap the bounty. One has to be ignorant or naive to really believe the war in Ukraine is about defending freedom, democracy or opposing Russian aggression in Ukraine.  

Speaking or the costs of war...  

We should not forget the human costs of war. The New York Times reports the total number of Ukrainian and Russian troops killed or wounded is around 500.000. This does not include civilian deaths and injuries. The estimated number of killed in action is 120,000 Russian and 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers.  

Guantanamo still open after 21 years  

Amnesty International says the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba represents grave violations of human rights by the U.S. government.  Erika Guevara-Rosas, director for the Americas, says, “It’s tragic that 21 years after the opening of an offshore detention facility specifically designed to evade the rule of law, the US government continues to detain 35 men (as of October 2022) ...Most have never even been charged with a crime. None has had a fair trial. Many of the detainees were tortured.”   We should be ashamed. We certainly have no room to criticize other governments for human rights abuses.  

Who manages the economy better?   

“By nearly every objective measure, Democrats manage the economy better than Republicans.” Christina Lorey writing in Up North News, November 22, 2022.   Recessions have happened 17 times in the last 100 years. Thirteen of them began under Republican presidents. Since Carter was president, federal budget deficits have increased  under every Republican and shrunk under every Democrat president. At $3.1 trillion Trump is #1. His administration more than doubled G.W. Bush's $1.41 trillion deficit. Biden is second with $2.8 trillion due to pandemic bailout spending and record Pentagon budgets. The figures on economic growth, job creation and household incomes show similar patterns of increasing under Democratic presidents.   What Republicans do better is media spin and deceiving American voters.  

Protecting birds?  

Opponents of wind power like to claim that birds are killed by wind turbines. The Sierra Club reports that this concern is greatly exaggerated. They cite research that concludes fossil fuel based electric generation kills 15 times the number of birds as wind power, Cell phone and radio towers kill 20 times as many. Domestic cats are the real problem, killing 7000 times more than wind turbines (an estimated 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds).   Wind power is a net benefit for birds and bats because it helps mitigate climate change. But the apologists for the fossil fuel industries want to discredit green energy solutions.  

More lies from Ron Johnson

Wisconsin's Senator is well known for supporting COVID quack cures and opposing vaccinations. In a Fox news interview he recently claimed that COVID was “pre-planned” by unnamed elites to take away human rights and “take total control over our lives.”   A quote from Claire King Sargent, an activist for electing women, applies to Ron. She said, “I think it’s about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we’ve been voting for boobs long enough.”  

Children win climate change lawsuit  

A Montana judge has ruled that young people have a constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment. Sixteen youths (age 14-22) sued the state of Montana for its promoting fossil fuel industries and exacerbating climate change. The youth claimed the state had harmed them by weakening environmental laws and ignoring climate change.   They did this because Montana’s Republican controlled legislature had changed the Montana Environmental Policy Act to prohibit state agencies from considering greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts while conducting environmental reviews. They also made it more difficult for citizens to challenge environmental permits.   This will be appealed and probably overturned. But this is the first time a such a suit has had any success. We can only hope it will lead to more environmental justice.