Monday, March 01, 2010

Lentz, Schneller, and Touey Debate in 7th District

7th Congressional District Debate
February 28, 2010
Peace Center of Delaware County
Co-sponsor: Delaware County Wage Peace and Justice and Delco for Liberty
Moderator: Roger Balson

Participants: Bryan Lentz, Teresa Touey, and Jim Schneller

Focus: Foreign policy

Rough Notes (apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions; there was no microphone and it was sometimes difficult to hear.)

Opening Statements
BL: [blogger’s note – I missed the first minute or two of this] Served in the Army, 82nd Airborne, served in Sinai, Bosnia and Iraq, was jumpmaster, tells a young soldier a parachute is okay. That is like congress – my votes and decisions have an impact on individuals; security is not just terrorist and military, but also energy dependence and global warming

TT: Thanks to organizations for having debate. in late 1980s attended London School of Economics, talked about experience in Australia, worked for Sestak, observed by Australians wanting to learn about US politics and elections. US should be strong militarily, told by Australian that everything hinges on a strong America

JS: Independent conservative. wonders by Gail Connors and Jim Meehan [another Democrat and a Republican also running for the office]. We are in a dire situation, with debt of unforeseen magnitude. contential policies enriching very few, private unconstitutional wars benefiting multinational corporations. corruption.

Prepared Questions

Q: Do you agree with President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?

BL: yes, achievable mission, stabilize government, realistic timeline

TT: Trusts Gen. McChrystal, agree, need to bring Afghanistan into the modern world in regards to infrastructure; they will govern themselves internally, terrorist safe haves are not acceptable.

JS: Afghanistan is a fiasco, respect every service person but concerned, military threat is nil, Congress and the administration fomenting discord, spending money, benefiting government vendors. couldn’t pull troops out overnight though.

Q: Should military spending be cut?

TT: agree with ending the C-17 military transport and [another program whose name I didn’t catch]. do something real about health care, active and retired military health care is expensive

JS: strong concern about spending on military budget. Should reduce spending worldwide, exercise responsibility

BL: Absolutely there are opportunities to save money in the defense budget, ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, save in short tem, need to change [missed words] weapons systems designed for previous wars, such as with the USSR, or because a system is built in someone’s district. However, the Chinooks built here are very useful. Change but preserve pre-eminence in military.

TT: Agree with Sestak on Boeing helicopter being built in Ridley Park. On health care, we all deserve the best health care

Q: Are wars not declared by Congress legal?

JS: absolutely not

BL: According to the Constitution, the president is the Commander in Chief, but the power to make war is given to Congress. The President on occasion needs to deploy on short notice; this has increased in the modern era. Usually war is declared on sovereign nations; can’t declare war on Al Qaeda. For things like World War 2 the president has the obligation to involve Congress

TT: Bush abused executive power of President. We should never again send soldiers into war under false pretences

JS: President sending troops in without a declaration is a recent development.

BL: Actually this was done in the late 1700’s against the French. A declaration is for an all out war. Congress does not always act with alacrity.

TT: soft power, aid and other relief

Q: Is global climate change a security threat?

BL: Yes, the Dept of Defense and the CIA do too. They incorporated global warming into planning documents. Droughts, etc., lead to population migration and displacement, de-stabilization of countries feeds into terrorism. The 82nd was most recently deployed into Haiti. continue being an advocate against dependence on foreign and dirty fuels. Need to be more aggressive. 60% of Iran’s GDP from oil products. Direct link between national security and buying energy for other countries.

TT: Yes. Pursue all new public buildings built with green technologies and use green energy, prepare for green energy jobs. Worked in Boston on this. Agree that defense review includes global warming. The House pass cap and trade. Wants Senate to do the same.

JS: I’m an outdoorsman. security threat – global warming being used to infringe on government procedure. The Dept of Energy is a useless non-producing body. fictionalized research.

Q: Why do terrorists attack us?

TT: Some people believe in violence. We are the wealthiest nation on Earth. Need to show compassion to enemies. Soldiers give out gift bars, etc., to children in Afghanistan.

JS: Our standing in the world. we seek world order. There will always be people nipping at the giant’s tail. Also, oil companies, banks, etc., play chess with our world. Should not elect government who allow this.

BL: We don’t’ have to speculate – they tell us. We are an obstacle to their vision of the world, based on their narrow view of their religion. They get others to carry them out – suicide bombings. We can have an impact, as TT says, via soft power. In Iraq I was doing reconstruction, building wells, schools. Improve the lives of people. We should make those efforts. Answer to Osama is an active military.

Q: Should we cut nuclear weapons?

JS: No. Nuclear power has immense possibilities. The Dept. of Energy has done little research on this.

B: We should fulfill our obligations. If we are asking others not to build nuclear weapons we should cut ours. We’ve made some progress in cutting.

TT: We need an excellent inventory of nukes in the world. Iraq is an example of scariness of nukes. We need to talk to the Chinese about putting pressure on Iraq.

Audience Questions

Q: For JS, what do you mean by US foments war?

JS: Our cooperation with underlying and very powerful economic structure of our world. We have a responsibility not to see very unhappy situations like tyrants such as Shah of Iran.

Q: Iran, 1953, Iranian revolution, why do we keep getting involved in other countries?

TT: We have a responsibility to maintain sanity in the world.

BL: We did intervene in Iran and we should resist this unless there is a direct threat to the US.

Q: Why are we the ones to always step in, why not the UK, Australia, etc?

TT: I believe in international pressure. We are the strongest nation in the world. Build international consensus.

JS: Don’t believe in nuclear proliferation is an issue. The media is misleading us. Use international negotiations. don’t concede.

BL: International coalitions. Always a tension. The bigger the coalition the less freedom to act as we see fit. Debate over how we prosecute terrorists. Military and federal courts are both legal. With military courts we get no cooperation from international community. For example, France and Spain won’t participate or provide information. But they will for cases in federal courts.

Q: Should we pressure Israel to end blockade of Gaza?

BL: The blockade and the humanitarian effects of it should end. We should encourage Israel but can’t make them.

JS: International community should act but the US should support Israel.

TT: Respect Israel as an important in region. not in short run but yes in long run.

Q: Explain how your military service informs your politics

BL: I’ve been in the Sinai, Bosnia and Iraq; I see policy in effect on the ground.

Q: Policy support to keep nukes away from terrorists?

TT: We need an inventory of all nukes; it is really important to do civic work.

BL: An area where we have to have international cooperation.

Q: When does economic security justify military action in foreign countries?

BL: Only use military force when threat to the security as a nation. Go for cost of oil? No. Only when eminent threat to national security.

JS: Issue with Iraq with scorch and burn and didn’t solve problem. Should have acted faster, go in and get out.

TT; There is non in that regard. It was okay to execute the pirate in Somalia and to go to Haiti.

Q: Does Congress have any way of knowing what the CIA is doing?

B: We have an oversight committee that is supposed to do that.

TT: It is about oversight, need accountability

JS: The important fact is these are matters we are not being told about. Congress needs to change immediately. People are running rogue with our government.

Q: does out system work for anything other than corporations?

BL: According to recent Supreme Court decision corporations can spend as much as they want to influence elections. This is problematic for all of us. SCOTUS decision a mistake. Gatherings like these are important. Citizens should get involved and advocate for who they think is the best candidate.

TT: In my MA thesis I advocated for campaign finance reform. Lack of it leads to things like no bid contract to Halliburton.

JS: Domino effect, triple threat to balance of power. I am extremely pro-business, free trade. But we have much to worry about. If you can find an honest candidate support them.

Closing Statements

BL: Thanks audience. Foreign policy is very important. For a long time we were not led well in this area. We are the strongest country in the world. We need to use our power in a judicious and mart way. Can’t operate from fear. Transforming military an dforeign policy.

TT: Thanks audience and organizers. Restore Glass-Steagal Act. Mortgage based securities. Wall Street bailout. Gaming the system in unacceptable.

JS: Nice to see so many people here. Visit Parties make back room deals, lobbyists. Use the Internet to peruse aspects of foreign policy not covered by the newspapers.

Personal Observations: The moderator did a great job keeping things on track and focuses. The timekeeper kept answers within the allotted time limits. One suggestion – have a microphone for the speakers at future debates. I sometimes had trouble hearing Touey and Schneller, who do not speak as forcefully as Lentz does. As for the candidates, both Touey and Schneller read their opening and closing statements; Lentz spoke naturally for his. He appeared the most knowledgeable and the most prepared. The others seem to be nice people but they are not in Lentz’s league.

Personal note: On the drive there and back I listened to Roseanne Cash’s “The List.” Good music.

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