U.S. Right Wing Gets Restless About Afghan War

Here’s some encouraging news: While the American left seems to be willing to give Obama a pass on the whole Guantanamo, assassinations, Iraq megabases, undeclared drone wars all over, ever-expanding military budgets, Afghanistan escalation thing, the American right may be starting to grow skeptical.

A couple of data points:

  • Grover Norquist (he who so successfully holds legislators’ feet to the fire about their anti-tax-raising pledges) invokes the spirit of Ronald Reagan (specifically, his hasty retreat from Lebanon) in encouraging conservatives to start questioning America’s wars.

    Norquist said conservatives recognize the weakness of the arguments for the war, which is why they don’t often make them.

    He scoffed at the notion that fighting two wars was making American stronger. “Being tied up there does not advance American power,” he said. “If you’ve got a fist in the tar baby Iraq and you’ve got a fist in the tar baby Afghanistan, then who’s afraid of you?”

  • A new poll finds support for the Afghanistan War is weak on the right. Two-thirds of self-identified conservatives polled think the U.S. should reduce troop levels in Afghanistan or withdraw completely, and fewer than half say they think the war was worth fighting.

Meanwhile, Obama squad member Jeh C. Johnson, now the Department of Defense’s general counsel, gave a speech at a Pentagon commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. claiming that King would support the war were he alive today.

At the fifth convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association in Washington, D.C. that opened on , Susan B. Anthony submitted two resolutions concerning tax resistance:

Resolved, That the thanks of woman suffrage are due to the Misses [Julia & Abby] Smith, of Glastonbury, Connecticut, for their patriotic resistance to the tyranny of taxation without representation, and that all women tax payers through the country should follow their example.

Resolved, That the best means of agitating at the present hour is for all women to insist on their right of representation by actually presenting their votes at every election, and for all property-holding women to refuse to pay another dollar of tax until their right of representation is recognized.

A similar resolution was put forward at the convention:

Resolved, That as the duties of citizens are the outgrowth of their rights, a class denied the common rights of citizenship should be exempt from all duties to the State. Hence the Misses Smith, of Glastonbury, Conn. and Abby Kelly Foster, of Worcester, Mass., who refused to pay taxes because not allowed to vote, suffered gross injustice and oppression at the hands of State officials, who seized and sold their property for taxes.

Here’s how United Press covered the Chicago property tax strikes of the 1930s as they were taking place:

Taxpayers’ Strike Made Chicago “Broke”

Citizens Refuse to Pay Taxes; 140 Million Not Collected During Past Four Years

Editor’s Note — Chicago is not alone in its financial muddle. A score of major American cities are drifting toward the same bog. The Chicago crisis may be duplicated over all the country.

This concluding installment of a series of stories about Chicago’s plight tells how and why taxpayers went on “strike,” precipitating the city into its struggle against bankruptcy.

By Ray Black
United Press Staff Correspondent

A taxpayers’ revolt brought Chicago to the brink of bankruptcy.

“Taxes are too high; assessments are unfair,” home owners, shop keepers and business men protested. “We won’t pay.”

They did not pay. More than $140,000,000 in taxes for remains unpaid. While 88 per cent of the taxes was sent in, only 65 per cent of the assessments was met and the and tax statements lie on the city treasurer’s desk unsent.

The muddle dates from a reassessment a few years ago. Middle class folk complained that $15,000,000,000 in personal property, trust estates, bank deposits and other holdings of the rich had been left off the tax rolls. Irate home owners organized, retained attorneys.

A test case was brought in behalf of Mrs. Lillian Cisar, an Oak Park widow. She refused to pay taxes on her home because the assessment was unfair.

County Judge Edmund K. Jarecki heard the case.

Tax Rolls Void

“Scandalous and a crying shame,” he said of the tax apportionment. “What can be fair about an assessment that deliberately omits $15,000,000,000 of taxable wealth?”

Judge Jarecki declared the and tax rolls void. Since the roll was based on that of , it also presumably is illegal.

The decision was appealed to the Illinois supreme court . Unless the high court reverses Judge Jarecki, the whole taxing scheme of the city and county will have to be revamped before taxpayers can be compelled to pay.

Last Tuesday, Superior Judge Charles A. Williams issued a writ of mandamus compelling the board of review to place the $15,000,000,000 of personal property in the tax lists. If the supreme court upholds that order, enough valuation would be added to cut the tax rate in half.

But how soon the complicated tangle suits, appeals and writs can be cleared up so money will actually start pouring into municipal coffers again is problematical. The state legislature, meeting in special session to pass laws to remake the tax machinery, is at logger heads. One relief bill was killed in a test vote. It will be reconsidered next week.

As the matter stands, citizens howled about their taxes, refused to pay them and a court upheld them. They are in revolt with legal sanction.

Thieves Stole Money

Appeals of officials and civic leaders that home owners pay now and trust to later court rulings for reapportionment have gone unheeded. Not a cent in taxes has been paid since Judge Jarecki’s ruling.

The Chicago Tribune, in an editorial headed “A Stout Thief on a Starved Jackass,” placed the blame in these words:

“The voters elected officials to steal the public funds. The officials stole the funds. To replenish them, they raised taxation and stole more funds.

“Theft and taxation climbed together. Corruption and collapse were twins from one cradle.

“This impossible structure of graft was about to fall of its own weight when bad times came to take the taxpayers on the other flank. That settled it. In Chicago the very machinery for levying taxes had to break down under its sins. Other cities went to ruin without that added cause.

“American democracy has given its demagogic and dishonest political system enough rope, but the system has hung not itself, but the democracy. Charlatans of reform, brainless windbags, greedy almoners, sour bigots and fat scoundrels have crossed the country as a plague of locusts and the fields are bare.”

Whatever the cause, the crisis grows hourly more acute. There is a tenseness even where want, cold and hunger have not yet laid clutch.