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May 20, 2012

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

John Wolfe.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Wolfe, an attorney based out of Chattanooga, announced his intentions last year to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. So far, he has appeared on the primary ballots in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Louisiana. In Louisiana, he had his strongest showing, winning 12 percent overall with over 15 percent in some congressional districts, qualifying him for Democratic National Convention delegates. However, because certain paperwork had not been filed, the party stripped Wolfe of the delegates. Wolfe says he will sue the party to receive them.

Wolfe will compete for additional delegates at the May 22 Arkansas primary and the May 29 Texas primary. He is the only challenger to Obama in Arkansas, where a May 10 Hendrix College poll of Democrats shows him with 38 percent support, just short of the 45 percent for Obama. Such an outing would top the margin of Texas prison inmate Keith Russell Judd, who finished 18 percent behind Obama with 41 percent in the West Virginia Democratic primary; the strongest showing yet against the incumbent president. Despite these prospects, the Democratic Party of Arkansas has already announced that if Wolfe wins any delegates in their primary, again, due to paperwork, the delegates will not be awarded. Wolfe will appear on the Texas ballot alongside Obama, activist Bob Ely, and historian Darcy Richardson, who ended his campaign last month.

Wolfe has previously run for U.S. Congress as the Democratic Party’s nominee. On his campaign website, he cites the influence “of the Pentagon, Wall Street, and corporations” on the Obama administration as a reason for his challenge, believing these negatively affect “loyal Americans, taxpayers and small businesses.” Wolfe calls for the usage of anti-trust laws to break up large banks, higher taxes on Wall Street, the creation of an “alternative federal reserve” to assist community banks, and the implementation of a single-payer health care system.

With Wikinews, Wolfe discusses his campaign, the presidency of Barack Obama, corporations, energy, the federal budget, immigration, and the nuclear situation in Iran among other issues.

Campaign

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is the status of your lawsuit concerning Louisiana delegates?

John Wolfe: Yeah. We’re still going to file it. I mean the convention is not until September. Now it’s May. So we got what, four months until the convention starts? And all we’re going to ask for relief is to get awarded the delegates.
So yeah we’re getting it ready. We have other campaigning to do. And I’m a lawyer so I’ll be able to do the suit right. But it does take time and energy. It will be filed. I hope to file it Monday [May 14].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat court will it be filed in?

Wolfe: It’s going to be filed in Baton Rouge federal court. That’s where the jurisdiction is.

Louisiana Democratic primary by parish. President Obama won the parishes in black while Wolfe won the parishes in red.
Image: William S. Saturn.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf you qualify for delegates in Arkansas and Texas, in light of what happened in Louisiana, what will you do to avoid having those delegates stripped?

Wolfe: Well, I don’t think we’ll have the same problems in those states. The Louisiana people basically are perpetrating a fraud on the vote. The Democratic Party put me up there. It was a primary. They didn’t have to have a primary. There was a new law saying the Democratic primary was mandatory. It’s a party function. They put me on their ballot. They accepted my money. And then, after that, what they did was have an election, and 17 percent of the people, and this was the Democratic Primary, this wasn’t an open primary, this was just among registered Democratic voters, and I still got 11 or 12 percent. The other guys, there were two other people, together got ten percent: Mr. Ely and Mr. Richardson.
And then despite all that, despite Obama only taking three quarters, the Democratic Party decided to avert, quite flagrantly, the will of the people and assign all the delegates to Mr. Obama, even though their bylaws, the rules themselves say that the results of the primary are binding. Preferential presidential primary results are binding. They forsook their own law in order to make it look like there was unanimous support for Obama. They want a coronation for him instead of just a nomination. They’re treating him again like a king. Who does he think he is? I mean this is ridiculous.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou mentioned open primaries, and Texas and Arkansas have open primaries.

Wolfe: Yeah pretty much open primaries. Arkansas definitely and Texas is unless you’re part of the GOP leadership, then you can’t vote in a Democratic primary. But it’s pretty much open and I think that we’ll do fine in both states.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngSo how do you feel about Republican voters that have no interest in their own primary and so vote for you in the Democratic primary to embarrass Obama?

Wolfe: Well there’s been no proof yet that that’s happened. People say it will happen. But I mean, Republicans have their own races. And so if they were to vote in the Democratic primary, they would forego the right to vote for local and not only just federal candidates that are Republican, but also local people, because your local primaries in Arkansas are held the same time as the congressional. So they would have to basically decide to not vote for anyone they know or like and switch over, just for the purpose of voting against Obama. Now whether that’s going to happen or not, I don’t know. We can talk about that after the primary to see if it did happen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell that might have happened in West Virginia, where there was more voters that participated in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary. So what is your reaction to the showing of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd in that primary?

Cquote1.svg [The American people] may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that [President Obama’s] not on their side. And they’re right. Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well it shows that Obama’s left a void. His lack of leadership has left a void and people are upset. He should be out there with the people. He should be in those coal mines. He should be in those towns, where those factories have left, and he ought to be out there with the homeowners who’ve been foreclosed on by his campaign contributors. People know this man is nothing but a Wall Street creature. They know that his advisers in the White House are all failed executives of failed banks that have been bailed out: people like Emil [Michael], people like [Jacob] Lew, [William] Daley, they’re all from the big six: the big corporations we had to bail out. Yes. What did they get for their failures? Promoted to the White House. People know that. Most of the guys who are raising his campaign money. They’re sick of it. And that’s why people in West Virginia, and lot of the blue collar people don’t like Obama. It’s his own fault because he is not of the people. He is of Wall Street. People are finally starting to see that.
John Wolfe isn’t [of Wall Street]. John Wolfe worked his way up through. I’ve worked in factories. I’ve worked in grocery stores. I almost cut my thumb off doing agricultural work. When I went to college, I didn’t have any transportation. I had to hitchhike up and down I75 to get an education. So I know what it’s like to work in the real world. I know what it’s like to have to strive hard to get ahead. But Obama doesn’t relate to those people. He’s too professorial. He’s too detached. He is of Wall Street. Those are the people he pals around with: Bob Wolf that Swiss banker is his favorite guy. The guy that loves speculation on Wall Street. He gets paid billions and billions of dollars for failed banks to get back up. Him and Obama are like twins. I mean you see Bob Wolf, you see Obama. I mean, this is the sort of thing people sense. They may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that he’s not on their side. And they’re right.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you feel about the support you received from the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard?

Wolfe: Well, Mr. Kristol can publish whatever he wants to. It sure surprised me. But Mr. Kristol is a very keen observer. I don’t always agree with him on what he writes, but he is one of the most articulate spokesmen in American politics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn the interview you had with The Weekly Standard, you said that you are the only Democratic challenger to Obama that is actively campaigning. What kind of activities do you take part in for the campaign?

Wolfe: Well, what we do is we call people. We make sure we get our message out. We’re on the radio every now and then and we haven’t bought any TV or radio ads yet; they’re a little bit too expensive, but we’re going to try to, here toward the end, to get on the radio to get our message out in a more conventional way. And we have recently bought some inserts, things like that, for the newspaper. And gotten our message out to some of the people in Arkansas. It’s a very expensive thing.
This campaign has been something I’ve wanted to do, but I’ve had to make a lot of personal sacrifices to do it.

Challenging the incumbent

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI mentioned that interview you had with The Weekly Standard. During that interview, you said that you opposed same-sex marriage even though you backed the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. Might this hurt you with Democrats looking for a progressive alternative to Barack Obama?

Wolfe: Yeah my record on so much of the issue, on gay rights, I mean I have a good record on it. In 1979 in Memphis when I was part of the student government, I was the adviser and also the so-called attorney general, I mean, there were issues that came up on the campus where they wanted to ban gay meetings. This was back in ’79. I stood up there in 1979 and told the people they were wrong for doing it. In 2010, before the most conservative audience ever in Cleveland, Tennessee, this is on video tape, I said, no, let’s get rid of don’t ask, don’t tell, it’s not right. If someone wants to serve their country, they should. You only want heterosexuals to spill blood for the country? Don’t you think the sacrifice ought to be equally borne? I came out against don’t ask, don’t tell before anybody else around this section of the country. I don’t think it was right then, and I don’t think it’s right now.

Wolfe speaks at a Congressional candidates forum in 2010.
Image: millermz.

I am for equality. I just have a little bit of a hard time with accepting gay marriage. I got to look into it a little bit more and see what the ramifications of it are. But I think that the idea of hate crimes and longer sentences for hate crimes is a good idea because people do commit those. They don’t just commit it against the individual. They will tend to be recidivist because they don’t just hate an individual, they hate the whole group. And when they do that, of course you have longer sentences because that means their rate of doing it again is going to be higher than somebody that just commits an individual crime against an individual. They’re going against the whole race. The same thing would be true for somebody that wanted to beat up Jewish people, or they wanted to assault Catholics, or whoever. Sure there should be more time. There should be a special classification for hate crimes. I think the idea of no discrimination by the federal government in hiring based on sexual orientation is the right kind of law to make. I think there should be equality.
If you look at what Obama said, it wasn’t even progressive. All he said was this is my personal statement. He didn’t say that North Carolina was wrong [for passing a ban on same-sex marriage]. You have to read the tealeaves when this guy talks. All the guy said was I think that gay marriage is fine with me personally. He didn’t say that we’re going to make a federal law that makes it incumbent upon the states not to outlaw it. He didn’t do that. He’s fine with those kind of laws. He’s not going to go out there and do any more than say what he said. So he didn’t give us an agenda like: are you going to go ahead and have it where you’re going to have a situation, are you going to allow homosexual or same-sex couples to go ahead and have tax deductions? Are you going to allow them to have the same kind of income tax return as a traditional family? He didn’t go through all that. He just made a general statement. Now he’s off the floor as some kind of Caesar; someone vindicating the rights of gay people. His statement was very vague. It’s just very Obama-like. He didn’t really commit to anything. He just said that was his personal opinion.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell, personally, do you believe it is a federal or state issue?

Wolfe: I think it’s a state issue. But I think it’s something that I need to study more because I’m a person really that tries to get beyond identity politics. I’m interested mostly in three things. My interests are: number one, the economy. You get people back to work, then we can quite fighting each other on these social issues. Some of these social issues are accented because there’s a lot of unrest with the economy. We need to worry about three things I think: getting the economy back right, getting out of these commitments like Afghanistan and dictators abroad, we need to get out of that, then we need to protect our civil liberties at home. Those are the three main things that John Wolfe has on his agenda. So I think those are the most important.
The economy is the most important. And I think the economy can’t be reformed until you reform the bank. You noticed yesterday [May 11], JP Morgan lost two billion dollars because they’re pouring billions of dollars into all this speculation, and some of the credit default swaps and derivatives. Well guess what? We’re underwriting that. That’s casino capitalism. I’ve been talking about this all last year and all this year about how bad that’s getting. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. That’s just JP Morgan. We don’t know what the next bank is going to report. We got to underwrite all that. See, Obama’s never made an effort really to separate that out because he’s so ensconced in Wall Street money, and so persuaded by Wall Street advisers right there in the oval office. He won’t even go back to traditional banking to make these people separate casino capitalism from traditional banking. He hasn’t done it. As long as he doesn’t, we’re going to have to underwrite these things. We’re going to have to keep bailing them out, bailing them out, bailing them out. We shouldn’t have to do that. Obama ought to do something about that. People want that done, but he can’t do. He’s handcuffed because he’s afraid of Wall Street.
I would go in there and do just the opposite. I would make sure that was separated. People set their own index. Make it open. Right now these things are traded secretly. Put it out there just like any other stock exchange, and make sure that when people bet money that they got the resources to cover it one way or the other. I mean, you don’t let people go to Las Vegas with two dollars and make a ten dollar bet. We shouldn’t let these people do it either, especially when where we’re guaranteeing it. But Obama is and the man is weakening for Wall Street.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngDo you believe Obama has done any good things as president?

Cquote1.svg If [Obama] would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well, I think it was good doing away with don’t ask, don’t tell. I think the stimulus was a good start but it wasn’t very effective because it wasn’t enough. He’s been too cautious about a lot of things. He tried to increase the taxes on the very well-to-do. The top one fifth own 94 percent of financial wealth in this country. They were saved by the bailouts. They made money when the stock market went down to six thousand so they could invest low… People like that who were saved and benefited by these trillion dollar bailouts should be the ones paying higher tax rates now, but Obama hasn’t emphasized that point. He has not instructed people. He isn’t going out there and telling people the stuff I’m telling you. If he would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view. People get back to work and people make money and people are empowered then businesses make more money too.
It’s not like we want to nationalize resources and take away private capital. We just want to work with feet. The end of the economy is the betterment of the people and not just the accumulation of capital and casino capitalism. It’s not that. You know it’s the betterment of people. Capitalism is a means to an end. It’s not the ends itself. Human needs are not cyclical. Economic cycles of the economy can be cyclical, but that’s why you have to have fair taxes, an interventionist government to make sure that society works for the people and Obama’s not doing that. The man has failed.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWill you support him during the November election or somebody else?

Wolfe: Well, if he says he’ll support me if I win, then I might reciprocate. I think we’ll just have to look at it and see how far and wide he appeals. But I certainly would expect to. I certainly would like to. Sure.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngBut if it was a choice between him and [Mitt] Romney, who would you favor?

Wolfe: Well if it came down to those two, I would just have to see where they are. I expect to support the president, but to me, there’s not a lot of difference between him and Romney on the economy and there’s not that much difference between him and Romney on foreign affairs. There’s not that much difference between him and Romney on civil liberties. The differences are a lot narrower than people think and they mostly arise in areas again of identity politics. It seems to me like Romney is wanting to repeal abortion rights. He even wants to cut back on birth control. It seems to me that he wants us to get involved in even more wars. He wants to actually to increase military spending by 20 percent. His foreign policy advisers are interventionists. They’re neo-cons. They’re dangerous people, who don’t even see Iraq as a mistake, who would like to get us involved even more deeply in areas like Syria and North Korea, places like that. Romney alarms me a lot more than Obama does in that area. I think Romney would probably give too many tax cuts to the well-to-do, the ones that are already very wealthy. I think that Obama would at least put an end to that. I don’t think he pushed quite that hard for a tax increase, but I don’t think he’d even fight for tax reductions either.

Corporate taxes as a proportion of GDP has decreased since the 1950s.
Image: Guest2625.

Corporations and things are very powerful. The one message Obama has failed to get out is that the corporate tax rate in this country may be 35 percent on paper, see the effective tax rate that these corporations pay, if you just look at the average of what the Fortune 500 pay it’s only 16 percent. So that’s the way it really works because you got lobbyists in Washington that write the accounting rules, that write the tax rules and everything, so the 35 percent thing is just a mirage. All it’s done is whip up … to make people think we’re non-competitive because we have a higher rater on paper than people like Japan or Germany or maybe some like Mexico or some third world country. Right now if you look at the corporate tax collective, they make up the lowest percentage of GDP than ever. I think we’ve paid $200 billion on a $15 trillion economy. So you’re talking about maybe one and a half percent. Under [President Dwight] Eisenhower, the federal tax was collected and corporations made up about 25 percent of the budget receipts. Now they make up maybe nine percent, and corporations now are 15 times as big and powerful as they were under Eisenhower. So the corporation is … they want to make people look like they’re victims. I mean it’s just pathetic.
And the misinformation gets out there. It gets out there because of Fox News, but it also gets out there because Obama doesn’t educate the people and if people knew that, he could change public opinion if he would just educate them to that. But he doesn’t do it because he’s too timid. His whole life has been one where he reaches consensus until he gets along. He goes along and gets along. He’s never had to take a hard stance or anything like that. And that may be why he got elected. It could be that the American people would have rejected him if he’d been an assertive African American man who took hard stances on hard issues, and was very dogmatic. And I think that’s unfortunate because some of a lot America might react that way.

Policy

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s get into policy a little more. How can high energy costs be reduced?

Wolfe: Well, the only way to do that is you’re going to have to try to find alternate sources of energy. You’ve got to make cars that are more fuel efficient. You have to have homes that heat better, that are better insulated. You have to get people to do the things that [President] Jimmy Carter told us to do 35 years ago. If people started doing that more, it would be a lot better. Now we’ve already cut down on some of our energy consumption, but we definitely need to do it more. I think that it’s a shame that gasoline costs as much as it does and it’s a shame that the oil companies have as much power as they do. It’s a shame that Exxon made like 10 billion dollars in one quarter. That’s just really pathetic, and they have all the power, all the tax breaks, all the lobbyists, all the political pull. They’re growing bigger and bigger at our expense.

President Jimmy Carter, pictured in 1980, remarked during a 1977 speech on energy policy that “we must prepare quickly for…strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.” He listed ten principles for a “national energy plan”.
Image: Marion S. Trikosko.

One way to do it too would be to cut down. I think there needs to be some sort of, on the energy futures and things like that, they need to really be careful that people aren’t allowed to run up the price of oil through speculation like they did during 2008. There just wasn’t that much going on in the economy at that time. We were sort of having the onset of a recession and the energy demand worldwide was falling in 2008, yet the price of a barrel of oil went in March of 2008 to $48.00 to about $147.00 at the end of July. So that sort of thing needs to be investigated and any sort of speculative activities that gives rise to that needs to be regulated. I mean, there was no reason for it to triple like that.
And I think also what we need to do is is that we need to ask the oil companies why it is that they’re always a little bit short. It could be that they don’t refine things like they should. They always make it to where the demand is a little bit more than supply just to keep that extra pressure on oil. That needs to be investigated too. That needs to be more tightly regulated because energy is like money. The banks are the same way, energy’s no different. One’s the veins of the economy and one’s the arteries of the economy. And both those things need more federal oversight. They make plenty of profit, no one’s talking about taking them over. But they need to be regulated. And these artificial shortages and things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. You can’t do that. What they got is basically a monopoly. All this would be doing is just like regulating phone companies. There can only be a few people who do it. There’s not going to be that much competition. We know that. So they actually, when a sector of the economy basically is in oligopolistic or monopolistic hands, that the government’s got a right to step in and regulate on behalf of the people, because the more money that goes into energy unnecessarily, just like interest at the bank and things like that, then that hurts other parts of the economy. That means people have less money to spend at Wal-Mart. They have less money to buy furniture. They have less money to buy other goods.
Same with healthcare, that’s why you have to regulate that. It’s somewhat of a monopoly as well considering that the health care industry, the insurance companies don’t have to compete. By law, they’ve been exempt from competition for about 50 or 60 years, which really hasn’t worked out too well. I mean what we have to pay equals six or eight percent of GDP, which is twice what they have to pay in Germany in relation to their GDP. You know Germany out-exports the United States, a country of 70 million, because they don’t have to factor all these health care costs for their products. Health care should be something that is individual and not related to the work. It should be paid for through the taxes. People should be afforded so much health care costs, so many health care costs, like take for instance in Germany, exports go up, prices on exports get more competitive, trade deficit narrows and people have more work because you have more exports.
The United States is hurt. We’re the only one of our competitors that doesn’t have some form of a single payer that controls costs and gives people a choice of doctors. As a result, that has to be built in to the cost of the product and that makes us less competitive, makes the trade balance larger. Germany, again, a nation of 70 million, actual gross dollars, not per capita, gross dollars or Euros, out-exports the United States of America, which has four and a half times the people of Germany, and that’s pathetic.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngOn your campaign website, you propose a reinstatement of the Glass–Steagall Act and creation of an alternative Federal Reserve. These require cooperation with Congress. How can a president work with a hostile congress to accomplish these goals?

Wolfe: Well, we still have money left. The president has a lot of authority. He has an army and things like that. He has the federal reserve and things like he’s been giving to European banks, distributed to other countries. We were told. We didn’t find out about until I guess six or seven months ago just how broad the money was and the way the Federal Reserve chose to prioritize and things like that. So, why not give some of that to the community? If you’re gonna give Bank of America that uses this money to speculate an interest rate of one third of one percent, then why aren’t these community banks down here working with people to do real things, why aren’t they getting money instead? They should be.
Cquote1.svg I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country Cquote2.svg
And that’s why I’m talking about there needs to be an alternative, when I say alternative federal reserve, a better way of putting would be the federal reserve needs to reform. That’s the alternative that I would push for. Because we have a lot of people here that don’t work. These small towns have really been hurt by NAFTA. A lot of factories have closed. A lot of people don’t have anything to do. A lot of people have turned to drugs. I mean you got a lot of crystal meth problems in the school. I’m for enforcing the law and everything and the individual responsibility, however, we didn’t have those sorts of problems at the scale we have now, when we had people in factories where people could work, and we had employment opportunities for those with just a high school education. Now we don’t have so much of that anymore. The economy basically has changed. It’s now financial. Forty percent of the profits in this country now are made by the financial sector. It used to be different. Factories used to make more. Service industries used to make more of the national profits. But now it’s the finance. The finance doesn’t require so many people to do it. That’s why the finance is basically based on computer trade, automated means, so human beings are superfluous. Especially because its machines in factories and things that are so efficient. So a lot of things are run by robots.
So we need to have work for people and to do that we have to keep capital in the community and we can’t do that if we’re going to continue to underwrite the speculation. If we’re going to use what capital we have to underwrite the speculation right at big banks. I’m talking about JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. I’m talking about Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Everyone of those require billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, maybe even more. They got some bailouts from Federal Reserve money … and what do they do, they hurt the economy. To cover their own losses and stupidity, they take that money at one third of one percent, and turn around and sponsor credit cards, usually with 16 to 24 percent interest rates. I mean, that’s backed up by the government, we’re actually paying the banks to give us. I mean it’s crazy and I don’t understand why we’re doing that. And we need a president, again this is not Rocket Science, you can spell this out with a chart. I mean, I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country. We’d have a whole new atmosphere. And that’s what I’d do if elected. I’d make people see what’s going on, open their eyes a little bit. The president doesn’t lead people. Without presidential leadership, the people will flounder.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngAt this point, do you believe that the federal budget can be balanced?

Wolfe: No I don’t think it can right now. I think that if you cut spending marginally right now, all you’d do is send the economy into a recession. You eventually got to work toward a balance, but that has to be based on economic growth and not just taking away people’s entitlements. People have paid for their Social Security. People have paid for their Medicare. That’s not welfare. It’s not even an entitlement. What it is is a repayment. People who’ve paid into Social Security, their money goes and they buy bonds, just like foreign creditors buying treasury bonds. They get paid back on principle and interest over time the government guarantees it. It’s no different for Social Security recipients. So they’re just like any other debtor or any other creditor. They’re paid money that they’re dued. We bought our Social Security, it’s not welfare, it’s not even an entitlement, it’s a repayment.

Wolfe sifts through his papers during the December 2011 Lesser-known candidates forum.
Image: Marc Nozell.

So people that try to classify that as some sort of welfare that’s exploding the budget is just disingenuous, especially when you figure the fact that Social Security surplus is just on book. It’s on budget, so therefore, the surplus works to actually reduce the deficit and therefore brings borrowing costs for the government down. So, Social Security has had a very good impact all the way around, and it’s something that’s actually worked to keep people out of poverty. Now, I mean ten percent of the people are in poverty, if we didn’t have social security, 40 percent of the older people would be in poverty. But the Republicans want to undo what works well. Not just the Republicans necessarily, but Blue Dog Democrats and the business class, the elite want to undo what works well for the people, which is Social Security, and they want to keep a failed healthcare system that’s uncompetitive in the world economy. I mean it’s amazing the upside perspective these people have.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your views on immigration?

Wolfe: Well I think we need a guest worker program and let’s do it. I mean right now we got crops ripening in the field and in Alabama and Georgia, people not there to harvest. Let the Mexicans come in, or the people from down below, the southern, Latin American folks who want to come to the United States. Let them come in and work under a guest worker program just like [former] President [George W.] Bush, [Senator John] McCain, and Obama always wanted to do. Then when the harvest is over they can go back home with their money and help their families. That’s the way it should work.
We do need agricultural workers, and I think we need workers in the domestic area, and there’s other places where the illegal immigrants are needed as well in restaurant work, hotel work, and some type of domestic work, because they’ve done a lot of the work that Americans wouldn’t do. But we do have to keep tabs on it and the guest worker program is the best way to do it. And I think if you are worried about the factories, and the construction jobs that may be going to illegals, then the easiest way to remedy that and the parties won’t do it because they’re both too deep in the Chamber of Commerce money, but all you have to do is to give the businesses that play by the rules the right to sue the ones that don’t under the series of unfair uncompetitive practices under the FTC rules. If you would just give the affected businesses, standing to sue, which I don’t think they have right now, then the whole thing would end. But they won’t do that. It would be the surest way to solve the problem.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI have one final question. It’s on foreign policy. How can the president deal with the nuclear situation in Iran?

Wolfe: Well, the best thing to do is not to panic. We have a lot of nuclear superiority. Iran is at a stage right now where I think they’ve only enriched up to the level of 20. There’s no proof that they have a nuclear weapon. There’s no proof even according to our generals that they have a nuclear weapons program right now or the intent to build one. You just listen to what people say, the generals and stuff, and even the Israeli generals, the ones that have retired from the Israeli intelligence, some of their retired military persons don’t think a strike would be good. I don’t think it would be either. I mean you’d just radicalize a country of 70 million people. We should have diplomatic relations with Iran. We need to restore those. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have an ambassador here.
We need to open a dialogue with Iran. We did that with Russia. We did it with China. When Russia was a nuclear power, the Soviet Union, we had a hotline between [U.S. President John] Kennedy and [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev and then between every American president and Soviet premier after that. No reason we shouldn’t do it here with Iran. They have 79 million people. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have their ambassador in Washington. We need to keep the lines of communication open. Just talking doesn’t calibrate anyone’s philosophy but it does us give an opportunity to see what’s going on. It opens things up a little bit and maybe we can learn more by having a channel than just turning the whole CV on them.
Cquote1.svg A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Cquote2.svg
There’s a lot of things about Iran I don’t like. Some of the rantings and things about the Holocaust, that it didn’t happen and that sort of thing, if that’s actually what he said, we don’t know if the translations are always right. But anybody that would have a conference to deny that, you know, that’s not good. I don’t like that. But we have to deal with them as they are and not necessarily what they might be with some of these ridiculous historical interpretations they might make. Despite all that, they’re still a power that has to be reckoned with. They represent a lot of people. Iran has 79 million people. No reason we can’t talk to them.
A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Now I don’t think that they’re much of a threat at this time. I mean Israel’s got a lot more power. We have sea power all around Iran. We have one submarine that can annihilate the whole country probably in about 20 minutes. You know, submarines are outposts. Israel’s got 300 nuclear weapons, maybe more. Some of Israel’s weapons are neutron bombs. Mordechai Vanunu, the fellow who spent some time in Israeli prison, a Christian who spent time in Israeli prison on account of the fact he told the world the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
What we need basically is a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. We can’t expect the Arab countries to denuclearize if Israel doesn’t. Israel has our protection now. Israel shouldn’t unconditionally denuclearize, but if we give, we don’t have a defense treaty with Israel, we need a formal defense treaty, then we should expect them to denuclearize. We never have signed that and we should.



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December 23, 2010

Obama signs landmark law overturning \’don\’t ask, don\’t tell\’

Obama signs landmark law overturning ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

United States President Barack Obama has officially repealed the law prohibiting openly homosexual people from serving in the U.S. military. Campaigners have praised the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) as a historic advance for gay rights.

United States President Barack Obama
Image: United States Senate.

The new law was signed into effect by Obama yesterday morning. DADT, in effect for 17 years, was repealed by the United States Senate on Saturday. The military will cease enforcement of the policy in 60 days time, after the Pentagon has certified to Congress that it, and the military are ready to implement the new law.

“This is a very good day,” Obama told a crowd of soldiers and senior military officials. “This morning I’m proud to sign a law that will bring an end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country that they love.” Obama added that the government would “not drag their feet” and they were “committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently.”

He added the law would strengthen national security and the U.S. military. “No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance because they happen to be gay,” he said.

Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, praised the new ruling. “Clearly, this is President Obama’s Lyndon Johnson moment in history,” he said. “A measure of dignity has been restored to thousands of service members on active duty, and to over a million gay veterans who served in silence.”

Cquote1.svg No longer will tens of thousands of Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country that they love. Cquote2.svg

—United States President Barack Obama

Obama has been an advocate for overturning the ban on gays serving in the military. Under the law, enacted in 1993, over 13,000 members of the U.S. military have been dismissed. Supporters of DADT have said the new ruling will damage the morale of troops. Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said earlier this month more scrutiny would be needed before the law was repealed.

A report by The Pentagon earlier this month concluded most U.S. service personnel do not believe reform of the rules on gays and lesbians serving in the military would affect morale, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. The report found only 30% believed that changing the law would have a negative effect.

Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, the highest-ranking officer investigated under the DADT policy, said: “I’m just incredibly proud of our country and of this military that so many service members will be able to serve with dignity and integrity. It’s actually taken a day or two to sink in, because it seemed so unbelievable at the time.”



Related news

  • “Pentagon ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ poll shows support for repeal” — Wikinews, December 2, 2010
  • “US Supreme Court refuses to block “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in US Military” — Wikinews, November 13, 2010
  • “Obama’s first State of the Union speech focuses on economy, jobs” — Wikinews, January 28, 2010
  • Death of 4000th U.S. soldier in Iraq shines spotlight on gays in the military” — Wikinews, April 9, 2008

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December 2, 2010

Pentagon \’don\’t ask don\’t tell\’ poll shows support for repeal

Pentagon ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ poll shows support for repeal

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lt. Dan Choi—an openly gay man in the Army—is an advocate of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
Image: West Point Photography.

Arizona Senator John McCain opposes the change.
Image: Dan Raustadt.

Of 400,000 serving members of the United States military and their families surveyed, most do not believe reform of the rules on gays and lesbians serving in the military would affect morale, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. A survey conducted by The Pentagon has concluded only 30% believed that changing the law would have a negative effect. The report also noted that those who have served with people they know or suspect to be gay have found unit cohesion to not be a problem.

The report was produced by Jeh C. Johnson, chief counsel at the Pentagon, and General Carter F. Ham, an U.S. Army commander in Europe. Opposition to reform was highest amongst troops in combat units and among members of the United States Marine Corps, where 40% and 46% oppose changes to the policy respectively. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has stated that the survey shows that reform “would not be the wrenching, traumatic change many had feared” and asked the Senate to support an end to the current policy.

The current policy—often referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell”—was passed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and has led to the discharge of over 13,000 troops since 1994. A 2006 study by the University of California estimated that the cost of enforcing the policy is approximately $363 million, including the value of military training that is lost when a member of the armed services is sent home. Most other Western nations allow gay people to serve openly in the military.

Democratic leaders including President Barack Obama support repeal and hope to pass it before the Christmas break. Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain believes that more scrutiny is needed before repeal during war-time. The authors of the report believe otherwise, stating that they “do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.”



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February 23, 2010

General Petraeus: Fight for Afghan town Marja is \’just the initial operation\’

General Petraeus: Fight for Afghan town Marja is ‘just the initial operation’

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command
Image: U.S. Army, SSG Lorie L. Jewell.

General David Petraeus, the U.S. general who oversees the war in Afghanistan, says the fight for the southern town of Marja — called Operation Moshtarak — is just the first operation in a long campaign.

Petraeus says the battle of Marja is just the beginning. “This is just the initial operation of what will be a 12- to 18-month campaign, as General [Stanley] McChrystal and his team have mapped it out,” he said.

During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Petraeus said the enemy is formidable. He did not predict how long the operation in Marja, a traditional Taliban stronghold, would continue. He said only that the fighting is tough. “When we go on the offensive, when we take away sanctuaries and safe havens from the Taliban and the other extremist elements that we and our Afghan and coalition partners are fighting in that country, they are going to fight back. And we are seeing that in Marjah. We will see that in other areas,” he said.

The general spoke from Tampa, Florida, where he heads the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

He noted the difficulties encountered in Iraq when former President George W. Bush sent in additional troops in what was called a “surge.” Petraeus was asked if, once again, Americans should prepare for significant losses. “They will be tough. They were tough in Iraq. Look, I have repeatedly said these types of efforts are hard and they are hard all the time. I do not use words like optimistic or pessimist. I use realist. And the reality is it is hard, but we are there for a very important reason and we cannot forget that,” he said.

So far, 12 NATO troops have died in the offensive. Three others were reported killed in separate, unrelated incidents in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Operation Moshtarak is the largest military action against insurgents since the War in Afghanistan began in 2001 by the United States invasion of the country.

Cquote1.svg They will be tough. They were tough in Iraq. […] I do not use words like optimistic or pessimist. I use realist. And the reality is it is hard, but we are there for a very important reason and we cannot forget that. Cquote2.svg

—General David Petraeus

Petraus was also asked about the military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which President Barack Obama has pledged to end. While refusing to comment directly on the policy, Petraus responded by saying stating that he hadn’t exerpeinced any problems with gays and lesbians in the military in the past. “I served, in fact, in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations and, frankly, you know, over time you said, ‘Hey, how’s this guy’s shooting?’ Or, ‘How is her analysis?’ or what have you,” he said.

The general also noted his opposition to torture saying, “Whenever we have, perhaps, taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside.” He added, “We end up paying a price for it ultimately. Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are non-biodegradable. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s Afghanistan strategy got a vote of confidence Sunday from retired General Colin Powell, who served as President Bush’s Secretary of State during his first term in office.

Powell said it is a good, comprehensive plan. But at the same time, he acknowledged he has concerns about whether or not the Afghan government can follow-up once the NATO operation pushes the Taliban out. “I hope their capability will increase. The Afghan National Army is improved but clearly not up to U.S. standards yet. And the police force – they have a lot to prove, they do not yet have the confidence of the people,” he said.

Powell was interviewed on the CBS television program Face the Nation.



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March 19, 2009

US supports UN gay rights declaration

US supports UN gay rights declaration – Wikinews, the free news source

US supports UN gay rights declaration

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Obama administration announced on March 18, 2009 that the United States, in a reversal of position, would support the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity.

67 UN member states (green) have signed or say they will sign the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. 57 UN member states (red) have signed an opposing declaration.

The United States will become the 67th signatory to the non-binding document, which was proposed by France and the Netherlands and “condemn[s] the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health”.

US State Department Spokesman Robert A. Wood

Accepting the proposal, which according to US State Department spokesman Robert Wood “commits us to no legal obligations”, would nonetheless be a reversal from the Bush administration’s refusal to sign. According to Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality, “the administration’s leadership on this issue will be a powerful rebuke of an earlier Bush administration position that sought to deny the universal application of human rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals”.

57 UN member nations, however, including many but not all members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, have signed a counter-declaration introduced by Syria saying that normalization of LGBT rights would lead to “the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including pedophilia.” Vatican City also opposes the resolution but on its introduction made a statement condemning legal discrimination against LGBT persons.

Homosexuality or homosexual behavior is illegal in some 70 UN member nations and punishable by death in seven.

The United States’ adoption of the document comes as the Obama administration faces continued criticism from gay rights advocates on the subject of homosexual individuals serving in the United States military. While Obama has stated he would repeal Bill Clinton’s 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise and end restrictions on gays, bisexuals and lesbians serving in the military, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that he has had “one brief conversation with the president” on the subject; meanwhile, a US House bill to end the ban is losing its primary sponsor, Ellen Tauscher, to the State Department and no complementary piece of legislation has been introduced to the Senate.

France’s proposal of the document is one of several instances in the course of the Sarkozy administration where France and the Vatican have been at odds on issues of sexuality. France’s foreign ministry, in response to comments by Pope Benedict rejecting the distribution of condoms in Africa to prevent AIDS, led EU member nations in rejecting the Pope’s position. In September 2008, France openly affronted the Vatican by appointing an openly gay man, Denis Tillinac, as its ambassador to the Holy See; the Vatican rejected the appointment.



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June 2, 2005

Department of Defense denies federal funding to schools that ban military recruiting

Department of Defense denies federal funding to schools that ban military recruiting

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Thursday, June 2, 2005

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The U.S. Defense Department has denied federal funding to two law schools because they do not allow military recruiters on campus. Now the U.S. House of Representatives is putting forward a new law that would require the Secretary of Defense to compile a list of colleges and universities that don’t allow the military to recruit on campus.

Vermont Law School has already been denied federal funding.

William Mitchell College of Law and Vermont Law School (not affiliated with the University of Vermont) have already been barred from federal funding for violating the Solomon amendment, a 10-year old law that “the armed forces cannot be denied access to students”. Legislators recently passed a measure that would require the Secretary of Defense to provide a list of schools whose cooperation it is unsatisfied with.

Representative Cliff Sterns (R-FL) is pushing through the House an amendment that would toughen the Solomon amendment, a law which states “Any college that prohibits the U.S. military from establishing or operating an ROTC unit on campus or denies military recruiters access to students is ineligible for federal funding.” Sterns’ amendment is part of the Defense Department Authorization Act.

Sterns claims that Yale University is discriminating against military recruiters. Yale denies this. Rich Jacobs, a representative of Yale, in a prepared statement, said “Yale has sought to comply fully with the Solomon amendment as it applies to ROTC and Yale university.” Yale gives ROTC a room on campus, but does not help arrange interviews. According to Yale’s website, “The defense department’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, which prevents openly [public] gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from serving in the military, violates the school’s non-discrimination policy.” The Defense Department has declined to sign the school’s non-discriminatory policy.

In the fall the U.S. Supreme Court is lined up to hear a case involving several colleges and regarding military recruitment at universities.

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