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TBR News April 8, 2020

Apr 08 2020

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April 8,, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
“I have just returned from a trip to Switzerland where I and a collegue did research on a very private but official German/Russian series of meetings in Lugano, Switzerland on the subject of a political/ecomomic union and Germany’sleaving the EU and Nato. More to follow….
This is more information on the subject: The Russians approached the Germans two years ago and opened private discussions about a German-Russian economic union. Russia has a vast amount of natural resources and manpower and Germany is the business and technical leader of Europe. The Nordstream pipeline furor is an example of how the United States thinks it owns all of Europe and will dance to their political and economic tunes. This might have been true in the past but not in the present so the Russian intent is to ally with their former enemy, Germany, and enlarge their growing economic power. The Swiss meetings are designed to plan, with great secrecy, the movement which would have Germany leave both NATO and the EU, reissue their deutsche marks and work in close harmony with Russian ambitions. Germans want to get back their eastern territories the US stole from them in ’45 and gave to Poland and the Russians, who hate the Poles, have agreed to facilitate this desire.
There are other matters I will cover in future postings.

The Table of Contents

  • The President Is Trapped
    • Trump says $70 billion in coronavirus rescue loans authorized. But where’s the cash?
    • Trump threatens to hold WHO funding, then backtracks, amid search for scapegoat
    • Wobbly U.S. fiscal response could deepen coronavirus recession
    • Cancelling student debt was always the right thing to do. Now it’s imperative
    • How To Stay Out of the Military
    • Encyclopedia of American Loons

The President Is Trapped
Trump is utterly unsuited to deal with this crisis, either intellectually or temperamentally.
March 25, 2020
by Peter Wehner
The Atlantic
For his entire adult life, and for his entire presidency, Donald Trump has created his own alternate reality, complete with his own alternate set of facts. He has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive, narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, mendacious, and devoid of empathy.
None of that is new.
But we’re now entering the most dangerous phase of the Trump presidency. The pain and hardship that the United States is only beginning to experience stem from a crisis that the president is utterly unsuited to deal with, either intellectually or temperamentally. When things were going relatively well, the nation could more easily absorb the costs of Trump’s psychological and moral distortions and disfigurements. But those days are behind us. The coronavirus pandemic has created the conditions that can catalyze a destructive set of responses from an individual with Trump’s characterological defects and disordered personality.
We are now in the early phase of a medical and economic tempest unmatched in most of our lifetimes. There’s too much information we don’t have. We don’t know the full severity of the pandemic, or whether a state like New York is a harbinger or an outlier. But we have enough information to know this virus is rapidly transmissible and lethal.
The qualities we most need in a president during this crisis are calmness, wisdom, and reassurance; a command of the facts and the ability to communicate them well; and the capacity to think about the medium and long term while carefully weighing competing options and conflicting needs. We need a leader who can persuade the public to act in ways that are difficult but necessary, who can focus like a laser beam on a problem for a sustained period of time, and who will listen to—and, when necessary, defer to—experts who know far more than he does. We need a president who can draw the nation together rather than drive it apart, who excels at the intricate work of governing, and who works well with elected officials at every level. We need a chief executive whose judgment is not just sound, but exceptional.
There are some 325 million people in America, and it’s hard to think of more than a handful who are more lacking in these qualities than Donald Trump.
But we need to consider something else, which is that the coronavirus pandemic may lead to a rapid and even more worrisome psychological and emotional deterioration in the commander in chief. This is not a certainty, but it’s a possibility we need to be prepared for.
Here’s how this might play out; to some extent, it already has.
Let’s start with what we know. Someone with Trump’s psychological makeup, when faced with facts and events that are unpleasant, that he perceives as a threat to his self-image and public standing, simply denies them. We saw that repeatedly during the early part of the pandemic, when the president was giving false reassurance and spreading false information one day after another.
After a few days in which he was willing to acknowledge the scope and scale of this crisis—he declared himself a “wartime president”—he has now regressed to type, once again becoming a fountain of misinformation. At a press conference yesterday, he declared that he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” which is less than three weeks away, a goal that top epidemiologists and health professionals believe would be catastrophic.
“I think it’s possible. Why not?” he said with a shrug during a town hall hosted by Fox News later in the day. (Why Easter? He explained, “I just thought it was a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline.”) He said this as New York City’s case count is doubling every three days and the U.S. case count is now setting the pace for the world.
As one person who consults with the Trump White House on the coronavirus response put it to me, “He has chosen to imagine the worst is behind us when the worst is clearly ahead of us
After listening to the president’s nearly-two-hour briefing on Monday—in which, among other things, Trump declared, “If it were up to the doctors, they may say … ‘Let’s shut down the entire world.’ … This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you start off with”—a former White House adviser who has worked on past pandemics told me, “This fool will bring the death of thousands needlessly. We have mobilized as a country to shut things down for a time, despite the difficulty. We can work our way back to a semblance of normality if we hold out and let the health system make it through the worst of it.” He added, “But now our own president is undoing all that work and preaching recklessness. Rather than lead us in taking on a difficult challenge, he is dragging us toward failure and suffering. Beyond belief.”
YES AND NO. The thing to understand about Donald Trump is that putting others before self is not something he can do, even temporarily. His attempts to convey facts that don’t serve his perceived self-interest or to express empathy are forced, scripted, and always short-lived, since such reactions are alien to him.
This president does not have the capacity to listen to, synthesize, and internalize information that does not immediately serve his greatest needs: praise, fealty, adoration. “He finds it intolerable when those things are missing,” a clinical psychologist told me. “Praise, applause, and accolades seem to calm him and boost his confidence. There’s no room for that now, and so he’s growing irritable and needing to create some way to get some positive attention.”
She added that the pandemic and its economic fallout “overwhelm Trump’s capacity to understand, are outside of his ability to internalize and process, and [are] beyond his frustration tolerance. He is neither curious nor interested; facts are tossed aside when inconvenient or [when they] contradict his parallel reality, and people are disposable unless they serve him in some way.”
IT’S USEFUL HERE to recall that Trump’s success as a politician has been built on his ability to impose his will and narrative on others, to use his experience on a reality-television show and his skill as a con man to shape public impressions in his favor, even—or perhaps, especially—if those impressions are at odds with reality. He convinced a good chunk of the country that he is a wildly successful businessman and knows more about campaign finance, the Islamic State, the courts, the visa system, trade, taxes, the debt, renewable energy, infrastructure, borders, and drones than anyone else
But in this instance, Trump isn’t facing a political problem he can easily spin his way out of. He’s facing a lethal virus. It doesn’t give a damn what Donald Trump thinks of it or tweets about it. Spin and lies about COVID-19, including that it will soon magically disappear, as Trump claimed it would, don’t work. In fact, they have the opposite effect. Misinformation will cause the virus to increase its deadly spread.
So as the crisis deepens—as the body count increases, hospitals are overwhelmed, and the economy contracts, perhaps dramatically—it’s reasonable to assume that the president will reach for the tools he has used throughout his life: duplicity and denial. He will not allow facts that are at odds with his narrative to pierce his magnetic field of deception.
But what happens to Trump psychologically and emotionally when things don’t turn around in the time period he wants? What happens if the tricks that have allowed him to walk away from scandal after scandal don’t work quite so well, if the doors of escape are bolted shut, and if it dawns on even some of his supporters—people who will watch family members, friends, and neighbors contract the disease, some number of whom will die—that no matter what Trump says, he can’t alter this epidemiological reality?
All of this would likely enrage him, and feed his paranoia.
As the health-care and economic crises worsen, Trump’s hallmarks will be even more fully on display. The president will create new scapegoats. He’ll blame governors for whatever bad news befalls their states. He’ll berate reporters who ask questions that portray him in a less-than-favorable light. He’ll demand even more cultlike coverage from outlets such as Fox News. Because he doesn’t tolerate relationships that are characterized by disagreement or absence of obeisance, before long we’ll see key people removed or silenced when they try to counter a Trump-centered narrative. He’ll try to find shiny objects to divert our attention from his failures.
All of these things are from a playbook the president has used a thousand times. Perhaps they’ll succeed again. But there’s something distinct about this moment, compared with every other moment in the Trump presidency, that could prove to be utterly disorienting and unsettling for the president. Hush-money payments won’t make COVID-19 go away. He cannot distract people from the global pandemic. He can’t wait it out until the next news cycle, because the next news cycle will also be about the pandemic. He can’t easily create another narrative, because he is often sharing the stage with scientists who will not lie on his behalf.
The president will try to blame someone else—but in this case the “someone else” is a virus, not a Mexican immigrant or a reporter with a disability, not a Muslim or a Clinton, not a dead war hero or a family of a fallen soldier, not a special counsel or an NFL player who kneels for the national anthem. He will try to use this crisis to pit one party against the other—but the virus will kill both Republicans and Democrats. He will try to create an alternate story to distract people from an inconvenient truth—but in this case, the public is too afraid, the story is too big, and the carnage will be too great to be distracted from it.
America will make it to the other side of this crisis, as it has after every other crisis. But the struggle will be a good deal harder, and the human cost a good deal higher, because we elected as president a man who is so damaged and so broken in so many ways.
Peter Wehner is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Egan visiting professor at Duke University. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.

Trump says $70 billion in coronavirus rescue loans authorized. But where’s the cash?
April 7, 2020
by Michelle Price and Pete Schroeder
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Roughly $70 billion of a $350 billion pot of loans to cover the payrolls of ailing small businesses have been originated by U.S. lenders in recent days, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, adding that that money was “essentially loaned.”
n fact, no one, including the administration, seems to know how much of that money has made it into the hands of small businesses, many of which say they have yet to see a penny.
“They’re saying it’s going great but on the street no one’s received any funds yet,” said Sachin Mahajan, who shut down his restaurant, Karma Modern Indian, in the heart of Washington, D.C., on March 16 after business nosedived.
“All the business owners I have spoken with, none of them have seen anything come through yet,” said Mahajan, who submitted his payroll application on Monday, after his bank asked him to resubmit online his Friday paper application.
Neither the U.S. Treasury Department nor the Small Business Administration, which are jointly administering the program, have formal data on disbursements, which are issued by participating banks, a senior administration official told Reuters.
Reuters contacted five major Washington-based bank trade groups, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, all of which said they did not have that data as of Tuesday.
Only one of the groups, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), said it was trying to gather information on loan disbursements from its members.
“As a one-off anecdotal example, one of our largest SBA-lenders is trying to get out disbursements today,” said Paul Merski, an executive director at the ICBA.
“That’s the first one I heard of that would actually be putting cash out the door.”
Wells Fargo & Co, a major small business lender, on Sunday hit a $10 billion cap on loan applications it plans to accept under the program, but on Tuesday said it had yet to disburse any funds to clients. JPMorgan and Bank of America, which have been processing applications since the scheme began on Friday, declined to comment on disbursements.
Launched on Friday as part of a $2.3 trillion congressional economic relief package, the $350 billion program allows small businesses hurt by the coronavirus to apply for government-guaranteed loans with participating banks. Those loans will be forgiven if they are used to cover payroll costs, subject to some conditions.
Speaking on Tuesday, Trump said $70 billion had “been loaned,” but that figure is likely to refer to loans that have been processed by the SBA, as opposed to cash that has been released to businesses, three banking sources said.
They said the amount of money dished out to small businesses is likely to be much smaller because many lenders are still waiting for the SBA and Treasury to issue a loan authorization form – the last piece of the paperwork puzzle required for money to be handed to the customer.
The form lenders had initially been using turned out to be incorrect, according to an SBA email seen by Reuters on Monday and the sources, and a compliant form has yet to be issued.
The cause of the hold-up was not clear, the sources said. SBA and Treasury did not respond to a request for comment on regarding loan authorizations.
Without that paperwork, banks worry loans may not qualify down the line for the government guarantee, or for forgiveness, the sources said. Lenders are also getting mixed signals on how to proceed: Treasury officials have told banks verbally to go ahead and issue loans, on the basis they will be grandfathered into the compliant regime once the correct paperwork is issued.
But some regional SBA offices emailed banks on Monday telling them to hold off, according to two of the sources, and another email seen by Reuters. That has left many banks in limbo, said a spokesman for the Consumer Bankers Association.
“Some banks are disbursing funds but many are concerned without final language from SBA, there could be forgiveness issues down the road,” he said.
Reporting by Michelle Price, Pete Schroeder and Lindsay Dunsmuir in Washington; Additional reporting by Imani Moise and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis

Trump threatens to hold WHO funding, then backtracks, amid search for scapegoat
US president’s early inaction in pandemic has come under renewed scrutiny in recent days as coronavirus death toll grows
April 7, 2020
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
Donald Trump hunted for a new scapegoat on Tuesday in an increasingly frantic attempt to shift blame for thousands of American deaths from the coronavirus, accusing the World Health Organization (WHO) of having “called it wrong” and being “China-centric”.
The US president contradicted himself within minutes, first vowing to put “a very powerful hold” on his government’s funding of the WHO, then insisting such a freeze was only under consideration.
Trump’s early inaction has come under renewed scrutiny in the past day after a New York Times report that Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, warned in a memo in late January that the virus could put millions of Americans at risk and cost trillions of dollars. Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, told the Washington Post that Trump’s missteps “cost tens of thousands of American lives”.
The president has repeatedly denied responsibility and sought to blame China, the Obama administration and the media. On Tuesday, with the US death toll exceeding 12,000, he unleashed a tirade at the WHO, even though it raised the alarm in January, after which he made statements downplaying it and comparing it to the common flu.
“They’ve been wrong about a lot of things,” Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing. “And they had a lot of information early and they didn’t want to – they seemed to be very China centric” – implying that the WHO had toed the line of Beijing’s early efforts to minimise the scale of the outbreak.
Shaking his head peevishly, he added: “They called it wrong, they called it wrong. They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known and they should have known and they probably did know. So we’ll be looking into that very carefully and we’re going to put a hold on money spent [sic] to the WHO.
“We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see. It’s a great thing if it works but when they call every shot wrong, it’s not good.”
But soon after, Trump was asked if the middle of a pandemic was the time to suspend money for the WHO. “No, maybe not,” he replied, backtracking from his earlier remark. “I’m not saying I’m going to do it but we’re going to look at.”
A reporter interjected: “You did say that –”
Trump retorted: “No, I didn’t, I said we’re going to look at it. We’re going to investigate it, we’re going to look at it. But we will look at ending funding, yeah, because you know what, they called it wrong, and if you look back over the years even, everything seems to be very biased toward China. That’s not right.”
The WHO declared Covid-19 a public health emergency on 30 January, nearly a month before Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA”, and proclaimed, “One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.” He eventually declared a national emergency on 13 March.
Trump has long been sceptical about multinational organisations. In its most recent budget proposal, in February, his administration requested a reduction of the American contribution to the WHO from an estimated $122.6m to $57.9m.
On Tuesday, the president also played down January and February memos from Navarro, saying he had not seen them at the time but did “more or less” what his trade adviser suggested by imposing travel restrictions on China. (It was reported this week that nearly 40,000 people have flown from China to the US since the partial ban came into effect on 2 February.)
He would not have wanted to act prematurely, Trump added, when it was not clear how bad the situation would become. “I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else. I’m not going to go out and start screaming, ‘This could happen, this could happen.’ I’m a cheerleader for this country.”
Meanwhile Wisconsin went ahead with an in-person primary election on Tuesday after Republicans and the US and state supreme courts blocked efforts to postpone it. Trump declined to criticise the move and claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting is rife with fraud.
“Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters,” he said. “They go and collect them, they’re fraudulent in many cases, you gotta vote … The mail ballots are corrupt in my opinion.”
When it was pointed out that Trump himself used a mail ballot to vote in last month’s Florida primary, he retorted: “Because I’m allowed to. That’s called out of state. You know why I voted? Because I happen to be in the White House and I won’t be able to go to Florida and vote.”
Research has found that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent. In the five states that have moved to an entirely vote-by-mail systems, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud. Sean Eldridge, the founder of the grassroots community organisation Stand Up America, said: “Trump’s baseless attacks on vote-by-mail are a pathetic attempt to suppress the vote in the middle of a national crisis. He is demanding that voters choose between protecting their health and participating in our democracy.”
He added: “Trump himself voted absentee in the last two elections. His comments tonight show he is a liar and a hypocrite. Congress must intervene now to provide states with the resources they need to implement mail-in voting, online registration, and expanded early voting.”
Evidence is also emerging that people of colour have been hit disproportionately hard by the virus for socioeconomic reasons and vulnerability due to underlying conditions. Black people make up a third of Louisiana’s population but around 70% of the state’s deaths.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the pandemic has shined “a bright light” on the racial disparities. “When all this is over, and as we’ve said, it will end, we will get over coronavirus, but there will still be health disparities, which we really do need to address in the African American community.”

Wobbly U.S. fiscal response could deepen coronavirus recession
April 8, 2020
by Howard Schneider, David Lawder
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s massive effort to nurse the economy through the coronavirus crisis was billed as a send-money-and-don’t-sweat-the-details flood of cash to people and businesses in a $22 trillion system that has ground to a halt
So far, the checks are not in the mail.
From technological glitches to confusion over the fine points of policy, the delays are mounting. The federal government’s muddled response risks deepening and lengthening a recession already historic for the speed of its onset.
States are struggling to process a historic mountain of unemployment claims on outdated technology. Large corporations, including companies slammed by the “social distancing” edicts keeping people at home, remain in the dark on the details of promised loans. Small businesses by the millions are desperately seeking cash, while banks still lack the right paperwork days into a lending program.
The Federal Reserve, quick to throw a backstop under large portions of the financial system and major corporations through open-ended bond purchases, has yet to complete a promised “Main Street” program of an all-encompassing safety net of credit.
Making matters worse, the original $2.3 trillion in aid that was passed by Congress late last month isn’t nearly enough, businesses warn.
Every day that passes without federal money getting to people is “an unnecessary hit to businesses and households across the U.S.,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.
FAST LAW, SLOW EXECUTION
Speed was considered of the essence when the so-called CARES Act became law on March 27, committing the $2.3 trillion to make up for the wages and incomes lost after Americans were ordered to stay home to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
It was a rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington, with both liberal and conservative economists mostly agreeing this was not the time to argue philosophical points about moral hazard, misplaced incentives, or the dangers of public debt, but to get money to people before they were bankrupt or hungry.
As infections of COVID-19, the respiratory illness spread by the coronavirus, rose in the United States, so did concerns that without a broad government backstop, businesses would fail and households default on loans at such a scale that it would collapse the financial system as well. Instead of a quick “V-shaped” recession, with a deep drop but a fast and sharp rebound, delay could generate more chronic, systemic problems.
But theory and practice have diverged.
States have struggled just with the sheer volume of unemployment claims, which rocketed from about a couple hundred thousand a week in what was an era of historically low unemployment to millions (Read more here ) at a time. More than half, including California, New York and Pennsylvania, still rely on decades-old mainframe systems based on the COBOL language first introduced in 1959.
Efforts to extend benefits to the gig worker economy, a key element of the rescue bill, have not yet been explained on state unemployment websites. The timetable for a different bit of individual assistance, checks of up to $1,200 per person, is also unclear.
Major corporations, including airlines, due for direct loans under the $2.3 trillion emergency legislation are still waiting for detailed guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department on how and when it will show up.
Perhaps most unnerving to America’s millions of mom-and-pop restaurants, smaller manufacturers, and other small businesses considered the spine of the U.S. economy, the promise of quick checks and forgivable loans has fallen flat.
When the $350 billion “Payroll Protection Program” was launched last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said small entrepreneurs as of last Friday could “walk into a bank … and get money.”
Instead, there has been a maze of red tape.
Lenders have complained about conflicting or incomplete information from Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Businesses say banks have not been responsive or limited access to existing customers.
“This has been a mess,” one business banker in the Midwest told Reuters.
The rollout has been so patchy that the Fed had to step in on Monday with a blanket offer to banks to take the small business loans into a new program of its own.
Even band-aid emergency cash hasn’t shown up. Borrowers applying under the SBA’s disaster loan program last Monday could check a box to receive $10,000 as an advance on the loan in three days. More than a week later, several borrowers told Reuters they hadn’t received the money.
The SBA did not respond to a request for information. Mnuchin on Tuesday asked Congress for an additional $250 billion for the program because the demand by businesses has been so great.
Most Trump administration officials have acknowledged hiccups, but also maintain they’ll meet the aim of the legislation – to help people and businesses before rent payments, bond payments and food bills come due.
“I can assure you, the president has instructed us to get this money into the economy fast,” Mnuchin told Fox Business Network on Tuesday. Treasury is meeting with airline advisers and “working very quickly” on getting them loans, he added.
President Donald Trump, under pressure over the administration’s overall COVID-19 response and facing re-election in November, has denied problems. On Saturday, Trump said he hadn’t heard of any glitches in a small business lending program, and berated a reporter who asked. “That’s so false. We’re way ahead of schedules,” he said.
WAITING ON THE FED
The Fed has already rolled out many programs at scale and with a speed unmatched during the 2008 financial crisis.
But the U.S. central bank’s ultimate rescue effort is still in the works – a potential $4.5 trillion program that could open its vault to mid-size and smaller companies, municipal governments, and perhaps even less creditworthy corporations pushed to the brink because of the current health crisis.
Like Mnuchin, Fed officials have promised details “soon.”
Until that happens key parts of the “real” economy are in a sort of suspended animation waiting to know what sort of lifeline is coming, how quickly and on what terms.
Cities, states, counties and other government entities are unable to borrow in the $4 trillion municipal bond market except at extremely high short-term rates as their sales and income tax revenues plunge.
“You can’t raise new money for your water system or your middle school or any of that because there’s no buyers for it, so you’ve got a lot of deals that are essentially shelved,” said Emily Brock, policy director for the Government Finance Officers Association.
She said if the Fed buys up secondary-market securities, there will be room for new issuance.
“We’re asking the Federal Reserve to be that savvy investor, to make other investors feel comfortable to help to drive down the yields that we’re seeing,” Brock said.
Reporting by David Lawder and Howard Schneider; Additional reporting by Ann Saphir in San Francisco and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Heather Timmons and Paul Simao

Cancelling student debt was always the right thing to do. Now it’s imperative
With a global pandemic and economic depression looming, we can’t settle for half-measures. Cancel all student debt
April 7, 2020
by Astra Taylor
The Guardian
In 2011, when the pain of the 2008 economic crisis was still being acutely felt, grassroots activists began fighting for debt abolition. Since then, we have consistently been told by public officials from both parties that our demands were unrealistic and impractical, but we’ve kept organizing.
Coronavirus has changed the calculus. With a global pandemic and economic depression looming, the case for cancelling debt, especially student debt, has taken on a new urgency. The economy is entering freefall and millions are unable to pay their bills. With a fourth stimulus package on the horizon, now is the time for debtors to get organized and fight for what’s right – full student loan abolition.
Overnight the Democratic party has undergone a tectonic shift in regards to debt relief. The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, has paused all medical and student debt owed to the state. The other week, representatives Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley introduced a coronavirus-timed piece of legislation that would forgive at least $30,000 of student debt per borrower. Similarly, Democrats in the House and Senate, led by Elizabeth Warren, pushed for a suspension of student loan payments and a $10,000 “payoff” for all federal student loan borrowers to be included in the stimulus package, but were blocked by the opposition.
Yet even Republicans, who just used a public health crisis to pull off a staggering corporate cash grab, have been forced to give some ground. The Department of Education announced that most student loan borrowers will be able to suspend payments for six months without accruing interest and they are also halting collection on defaulted federal student loans “until further notice”.
Around the world, mortgage and bill collections are being paused, utility shutoffs for overdue accounts are being prevented, and foreclosures and evictions halted. It turns out that changing the rules that dictate our daily financial agreements is possible after all, and can happen with remarkable speed. The challenge moving forward is ensuring that some of these changes stick. This crisis offers a chance to not just hit the pause button and offer temporary relief for those who are in distress, but to permanently change the rules so that untold millions of people aren’t so vulnerable to begin with.
Completely eliminating student debt would be a good place to start. All federal student debt can be erased in an instant using authority Congress has already vested in the Department of Education. But it will take a movement to push public officials to actually do it.
We can’t repeat the mistakes of 2008, when the bank bailout program left the financial sector stronger than ever while millions of families lost their homes and jobs. This time around we need a “people’s bailout” that includes a far-reaching program of debt cancellation to help those who are not just physically vulnerable but financially precarious better weather the coming storm.
The fact that Joe Biden is currently the Democratic frontrunner only underscores the need for grassroots pressure. Unlike Bernie Sanders, who made student and medical debt cancellation a core part of presidential candidacy long before the coronavirus hit, Biden is no friend of debtors – unsurprising for a politician from Delaware, the credit card capital of the world.
Don’t forget that the famous chant that rang out at Occupy Wall Street – “banks got bailed out, we got sold out” – was a rejoinder to the fact the Obama-Biden administration left millions of homeowners in the lurch, with black families hit hardest of all. We can’t afford to let our leaders make the same mistakes again.
Biden’s track record on student debt offers another indication that he is ill-equipped to meet the moment. Consider, for example, the fact that Obama blocked tens of thousands of defrauded for-profit college borrowers who were legally entitled to relief, leaving them at the mercy of Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos. They also ignored the activists who pleaded with them to stop social security garnishment on the growing number of senior citizens in default on their student loans.
Biden’s higher education platform is a hodge-podge of measures including increased grant funding, some adjustments to income-based repayments and public service loan forgiveness, and to allow those with private student debt to discharge their debt in bankruptcy–in other words, undoing the very 2005 bill he fought long and hard to pass. Since then the nation’s total student loan burden has spiked from approximately $500m to over $1.7tn. Recently, in an attempt to appeal to younger voters, Biden has boasted about having adopted aspects of Sanders’ higher education plan, but his proposals still pale in comparison to those of the senator from Vermont.
Even under normal circumstances, Biden’s half-measures would be inadequate. But at a time when the economy is going haywire and life is about to get much more difficult for poor and working people, they are unconscionable.
Just as they did after 2008, working people need and are entitled to assistance – including, but not limited to, student debt relief. Public officials should cancel all student debt immediately. Every cancelled payment would turn into cash used to purchase things like rent and food instead. Research shows that eliminating all student debt could potentially boost GDP by an estimated $108bn a year for 10 years. That’s one reason calls to pause collection or fiddle with interest aren’t enough. Everyone will benefit from the economic stimulus provided by a full jubilee, not only the approximately 45 million borrowers who would see their balances disappear. Now that’s a bailout regular people can get behind.
Unfortunately, most politicians rarely do the right thing of their own accord. That’s why the Debt Collective, a union for debtors I helped found, has launched a scaled-up student debt strike to push for a full jubilee. Over half of all student debtors are already not paying their loans in one form or another (because they already defaulted, are in forbearance or deferral, or because their income level lets them lower their payments to $0 a month) and many more will be unable to pay next month. Instead of struggling alone and being ashamed, debtors need to come out of the shadows and declare themselves on strike.
Corporate interests are well organized and have secured trillions of dollars of no-strings-attached public money for their efforts. The vast majority of Americans are indebted, and they should make their voices heard, demanding debt relief as an essential part of a sane and just response to the coming downturn.
We must recognize that the coronavirus outbreak is a dual crisis. It is a biological and medical emergency that exposes a deeper political and economic disaster. For millions of Americans, life was difficult even before the disease hit and now things are untenable. With jobs and income lost people will take on more debt, and huge numbers will spiral into default.
Ultimately, we need way more than debt write-downs or even debt abolition to heal what ails us. We need to rewrite the rules of the economy so that people don’t have to live in perpetual financial peril. The vast majority of working people are not indebted because they live beyond their means, but because they are denied the means to live. The case for things such as paid sick leave, universal healthcare, guaranteed housing, a public banking system, cross border-cooperation and debt abolition has never been stronger.
These days, the words “crisis” and “apocalyptic” couldn’t be more apt. The first term comes from the ancient Greek and means the turning point in an illness – death or recovery, two stark alternatives. The root of “apocalypse” means to reveal or uncover. This is the truth this apocalyptic moment unveils: to truly cure ourselves and survive this crisis we are going to need way more than a vaccine. We need to think big and completely transform our economy from the ground up, prioritizing public welfare and ecological stability over private profit, before the next big disaster hits.

How To Stay Out of the Military
(Primer on Draft Resistance)
by David Wiggins

The legal requirement to register for the draft demands a decision: give up your freedom and your conscience, or conscientiously resist. All the good reasons that would prevent a free man from volunteering for military service, also apply to resisting the draft. How in a “free country” can the first requirement of a young man, when he comes of age, be to sign up to accept orders to kill for the state in an organized way? There is never a need to compel a free man to take up a cause that is both necessary and just; but a man who is drafted is never free, and thus his cause can never be assumed to be either necessary or just.
The draft is not simply an academic interest. There is not enough military manpower to sustain the commitments the President has already undertaken. We constantly hear that our troops are “stretched too thin.” To assist the United States, both the President and Secretary of State have made serious requests for significant military manpower contributions from other nations. These requests have largely fallen on deaf ears. The President has repeatedly stated he will not “back down” meaning, we must assume, that the military forces will continue to be “thinly stretched.” Where will they find relief? It appears they are looking at young Americans who are free to volunteer for military duty, but in good conscience, choose not to do so.
With certain exceptions, all men residing in the United States are required to register for the draft within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The obligation of a man to register is imposed by the Military Selective Service Act, which establishes and governs the operations of the Selective Service System.
In addition to the Military Selective Service Act, the “Health Care Personnel Delivery System” was authorized by Congress in 1987 to deal with large-scale casualties that outstripped the active-duty military’s ability to handle them. If implemented, the bill would require a mass registration of male and female health care workers between the ages of 20 and 45. At this time; however, the Selective Service has no statutory authority to draft medical personnel. That authorization would be provided by legislation to be introduced and passed in Congress at the time of a national defense mobilization. That “M-Day” legislative package has not been made available for public comment or congressional debate. See the Center on Conscience and War’s “Health Care Professionals and the Draft” for details regarding the Health Care Personnel Delivery System.
The Pentagon is considering other “special skills” drafts, to include military linguists, computer experts, or engineers, which could arise from other immediate needs. “We’re going to elevate that kind of draft to be a priority,” said Lewis Brodsky, acting director of the Selective Service System.
A bill before the House Armed Services Committee would require the induction of young men into the military “to receive basic military training and education for a period of up to one year.” Representatives Nick Smith and Curt Weldon sponsored the bill, called the “Universal Military Training and Service Act,” introduced last fall. The measure is currently before the Armed Services Committee. Youth & Militarism Magazine, published by the American Friends Service Committee, contains an excellent article, “It’s Not Your Father’s Draft,” describing this proposed draft.
Deciding What To Do
Deciding what to do when faced with Registration or the Draft can be a difficult and life-altering decision. If you choose to resist, it is helpful to keep two things in mind:
First, if you stand by your convictions, you cannot lose, and the government cannot win. The government may handcuff you or lock you up, but they cannot make you fight. If you give up any freedom, it is completely on your terms. In contrast, if you allow yourself to be coerced into military duties you risk death, disease, and disability, all for a cause you do not believe in.
Second, if you choose to resist, you will be treated as an adversary by the government. The government is no longer your friend – if it ever was. You can expect the Selective Service to use every legal method and argument at their disposal to get you to abandon your convictions and to follow orders.
Keep records carefully, and make your own file of every transaction with the Selective Service, including phone calls. Do not rely on oral promises from Selective Service officials. Put things in writing, and attach receipts and even envelopes to the correspondence in your file. A second set of those records should be in the custody of someone you can rely on to forward copies as needed. When you make a record of a transaction with Selective Service, you should send a copy to Selective Service for inclusion in your file with the Area Office. When local boards become operational, you can see and copy information in your file. You can authorize others to do so on your behalf. Send your letters and claims to Selective Service by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Observe all deadlines scrupulously. Be sure to include your Selective Service number. Sign and date all papers submitted.
Get help. Check out how the counselor you are consulting was trained. Most attorneys know nothing about Selective Service law; ask their qualifications. Draft counselors will tend to know about qualified attorneys. There are two qualified national counseling organizations: The Center on Conscience & War (CCW), and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO).
Choosing To Not Register
On a percentage basis, not registering is the most likely way to prevent you from being drafted. The book Chance and Circumstance states that between 250,000 and 2 million males did not register for the draft during the Vietnam War. According to reports from the Selective Service System, forty percent of the men who are required to register for the draft don’t register in the sixty-day time period required by law. At least one or two percent still haven’t registered by the time they are twenty. At age 26 they are no longer allowed to register. Thus, the number of permanent non-registrants increases daily. There is a known minimum of at least 300,000 people, perhaps a million, who are becoming permanent non-registrants.
If you refuse to register with Selective Service, you’ll receive threatening letters, at first politely reminding you to register, then threatening prosecution, finally informing you that your name has been turned over to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. These sound scary, but they’re mostly bluff. No one has been formally charged since 1986.
In the early 1980s, 21 men were indicted for refusal to register: 19 of those 21 were public resisters. Wherever there were trials, the rates of registration actually went down. This resistance halted prosecutions
Penalties for Failure to Register
The penalty for failing to register can be up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $250,000. In peacetime, with registration only, the regular maximum penalties are four months and/or $2500. If you don’t register, you become ineligible for federal student aid, federal job training or civil service employment. Below, is a summary of the penalties you will face:
STUDENT FINANCIAL AID
Men, born after December 31, 1959, who aren’t registered with Selective Service won’t qualify for Federal student loans or grant programs. This includes Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans.
CITIZENSHIP
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) makes registration with Selective Service a condition for U.S. citizenship if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.
FEDERAL JOB TRAINING
The Workforce Investment Act (formerly called the Job Training Partnership Act – JTPA) offers programs that can train young men for jobs in auto mechanics and other skills. This program is only open to those men who register with Selective Service. This applies only to men born after December 31, 1959.
FEDERAL JOBS
A man must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service. This applies only to men born after December 31, 1959.
Some states have added additional penalties for those who fail to register. See State Legislation.
A tactic used by many states is to require driver license applicant’s to register. These states require a consent statement on all applications or renewals for driver’s permits, licenses, and identification cards. The statement tells the applicant that by submitting the application he is consenting to his registration with the Selective Service if so required by Federal law. Transmission of applicant data to the Selective Service is accomplished electronically through an existing arrangement each state has with the data sharing system of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
As of August 28, 2003, 32 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted driver’s license laws supporting SSS registration. They are: (1) Enacted and Implemented – Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia; (2) Enacted But Not Yet Implemented – Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin
Aid for Those Who Do Not Register
The good news is that there are alternative funds for financial aid for those who cannot register for war because they believe registration is wrong. A few colleges will provide scholarships to make up for the government money denied. Mennonites, the Church of the Brethren, Quakers, Presbyterians and Lutherans have such limited assistance funds to support non-registrants in their own groups. There is a general fund, the Fund for Education and Training (FEAT), which supports those who do not qualify for the other programs. FEAT also would aid those who are denied job-training programs for refusing to register for the draft.
Appealing the Penalties for Failure to Register
A non-registrant may not be denied any benefit if he can “show by a preponderance of evidence” that his failure to register was not knowing and willful. You will have to describe, in detail, the circumstances you believe prevented you from registering and provide copies of documents showing any periods when you were hospitalized, institutionalized, or incarcerated occurring between your 18th and 26th birthdays. If you are a non-citizen, you may be required to provide documents that show when you entered the United States
The benefit agency official handling your case, not the Selective Service, will determine whether you have shown that your failure to register was not a knowing and willful failure to register. The final decision regarding your eligibility for the benefit that you seek will be made by that same agency, (for example, for student financial aid, this would be the Department of Education.) With some agencies, an appeals process is available.
Registering Late, Change of Address
Legally, at any moment until your twenty-sixth birthday, Selective Service must accept your draft registration card. Some young men delay registration until the year in which they turn 21, or even until just before turning 26. This method takes advantage of the way the draft lottery works.
A lottery based on birthdays determines the order in which registered men are called up by Selective Service. The first to be called, in a sequence determined by the lottery, will be men whose 20th birthday falls during that year, followed, if needed, by those aged 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. In other words, under present law, which might change with a new draft, Selective Service would first select randomly among those who turned 20 in the calendar year of the call-up. In practice, while it’s possible that a draft could move beyond the age-20 selection group, the odds are against it.
It is important to remember that, once registered, even if it is the day before your 26th birthday, you are once again eligible for federal and state assistance.
Change of Address
Registrants are required to notify Selective Service within ten days of any changes to any of the information provided on the registration card, such as a change of address. According to the Center on Conscience and War, very few registrants are doing so. A registrant must report changes until January 1 of the year he turns 26. To notify Selective Service, mark your change(s) on the Change Information Form attached to the Registration acknowledgment Card and mail it to Selective Service, or complete a Change of Information Form, SSS Form 2, which you can obtain at any U.S. Post Office or U.S. Embassy or Consulate office. You may also notify Selective Service of any change by letter, but be sure to include your full name, Social Security Account Number, Selective Service Number, and date of birth, as well as your new mailing address
If the registrant forgets to notify the Selective Service of any address changes, or if the Selective Service loses that notification, the Selective Service may have difficulty finding and notifying the registrant of induction in case of a draft.
If you don’t register before you turn 26, you will not be allowed to register, even if you change your mind. You’d then be permanently barred from such benefits, unless Congress or the courts act to change the law. A person who fails to register by age 26 may use the same appeals process as described above, under the section “Choosing To Not Register.”
Registering But Resisting Induction
If you decide to register:
• Find a post office for your registration that has an accessible photocopier.
• Print in legible black ink across the middle of the registration form: I AM A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR TO WAR IN ANY FORM. This is not a classification, but it may help you later to document your position as a CO. Selective Service makes no record of this declaration in its computer files, but they do make a microfilm record of the registration card. You should make a copy of your card for your file.
• Make a photocopy of your registration form for your own records. Date it, fold and seal it, and mail it to yourself. The postmark confirms the date.
• Put a complete statement of your conscientious objector beliefs on file with your religious body, the CCW, the CCCO, or any other counseling agency.
After registration, Selective Service will send a “registration acknowledgement” letter, which repeats the information the registrant gave on the form and supplies a Selective Service Number. If any of the information is incorrect, the registrant may return the accompanying Form 3B to correct any mistakes. The registrant can retain this letter, Form 3A, as proof of his registration.
Before anyone can be drafted, Congress and the President would have to enact legislation authorizing new draft calls. If this happens, one can apply for various postponements and reclassifications to delay induction, or to avoid it entirely.
Filing for postponement or reclassification
Selective Service regulations are filled with loopholes, postponements, and reclassifications for those who will not or cannot be drafted. A registrant can file a claim only after receipt of an order to report for induction and before the day he is scheduled to report (this means within 10 days). If you were called up, you would receive an induction notice requiring you to report on a certain date not less than 10 days from the date of the notice, to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) unless you filed a claim for exemption or deferment. Filing a claim involves no more than checking a box on a form, and submitting it to the Selective Service.
After the Selective Service receives the claim, they will send you more forms to complete. You must apply for any and all exemptions for which you think you may qualify, and/or for classification as a conscientious objector. A registrant automatically gets his induction delayed if he files a claim for reclassification. He is also entitled to file for a postponement if he is a student or if he has an emergency beyond his control, such as a serious illness or death in his immediate family. The induction date will be postponed until the draft board evaluates the validity of the claim. The Selective Service publishes a booklet titled “Information for Registrants” which lists each category of claim for postponement of induction into the armed forces and each type of reclassification to become exempt from the draft. Under each heading (accessible by the web) is a detailed description of the qualifications and requirements for each category. The major headings are listed below.
Postponements
1. Student Postponements
2. Emergency Postponements
3. Religious Holiday Postponements
4. Other Postponements
-State or National Examination Scheduled
-Military Academy Acceptance
-Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Applicant
-Acceptance for Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Program
Reclassifications
1. Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the Public Health Service (Class 1-C)
2. Deferment of Certain Members of a Reserve Component or Students Taking Military Training (Class 1-D-D)
3. Exemption of Certain Members of a Reserve Component or Student Taking Military Training (Class 1-D-E)
4. Conscientious Objectors Available for Noncombatant Military Service Only (Class 1-A-O)
5. Conscientious Objectors to All Military Service (Class 1-O)
6. Conscientious Objectors to All Military Service (Separated from Military Service) (Class 1-O-S)
7. Registrant Deferred Because of Study Preparing for the Ministry (Class 2-D)
8. Registrant Deferred Because of Hardship to Dependents (Class 3-A)
9. Registrant Deferred Because of Hardship to Dependents (Separated from Military Service) (Class 3-A-S)
10. Registrant Who Has Completed Military Service (Class 4-A)
11. Registrant Who Has Performed Military Service for a Foreign Nation (Class 4-A-A)
12. Official Deferred by Law (Class 4-B)
13. Alien or Dual National (Class 4-C)
14. Treaty Alien (Class 4-T)
15. Minister of Religion (Class 4-D)
16. Registrant Exempted from Service Because of the Death of His Parent or Sibling While Serving in the Armed Forces or Whose Parent or Sibling is in a Captured or Missing in Action Status (Class 4-G)
17. Registrant Not Acceptable for Military Service (Class 4-F)
For a hard copy of the above information, write to Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009, and ask for “Information for Registrants.” Enclose $1 for processing, payable to Superintendent of Documents. The CCCO, CCW and other counseling agencies will probably also have copies of this document available.
Conscientious Objectors
Conscientious Objection is the category of reclassification of most interest to the majority of draft resisters. In fact, every draft resister is a conscientious objector in his own way. According to the Selective Service, a conscientious objector is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles. Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don’t have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical, but according to the Selective Service, a man’s reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man’s lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.
Be aware that, while similar, regulations regarding Conscientious Objection differ for members of the military forces. For more information on claiming Conscientious Objector status while a member of the Armed Forces, see “Advice For Conscientious Objectors in the Armed Forces” by Robert Seeley on the CCCO website.
Conscientious objectors should begin to document their claims well in advance of being drafted since otherwise, their time will be very limited. COs should have prepared in advance a file which documents their beliefs. At the minimum, this file should include the photocopy of the registration card, a comprehensive statement of beliefs, and letters of support for this statement. The CCW website has articles with detailed instructions on how to prepare your statement of beliefs and letters of support. There, you may also sign on to the Conscientious Objector Affirmation. Such evidence can be presented to the local board that will hear the claim for a CO classification. Compiling this file should be done with supervision from a qualified draft counselor or agency such as CCW or CCCO.
If you have one, get on record with your religious organization, especially if there is an official registrar. File a provisional version of your claim with them and/or with the CCW or CCCO. Request an analysis of your claim with your counselor. Arrange for letters of support (signed and dated) and documentation of your belief and a life-style consistent with your claim. Arrange for witnesses and an advisor in advance of your hearing.
If you don’t have legal advice, get it. Keep your own file about your beliefs about war and the draft. Keep records of all transactions with the Selective Service System. Many local peace centers have information. The Center on Conscience & Warfare (CCW) provides a counseling service by mail and phone, and publishes aids for thinking out what you believe and what to do. So does the CCCO, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.
Be sure to learn the procedure for obtaining conscientious objection status.
In general, once a man gets a notice that he has been found qualified for military service (i.e., receives an induction letter), he has the opportunity to make a claim for classification as a conscientious objector (CO). If a registrant believes he can qualify for Class 1-O, he should complete the Claim Documentation Form, Conscientious Objector (SSS Form 22), provided by his Area Office and return the form to the Area Office with documents and written statements to support his claim. Form 22 asks the applicant to answer three questions.
1. Describe your beliefs that are the reasons for your claiming conscientious objection to combatant military training and service or to all military training and service.
2. Describe how and when you acquired these beliefs
3. Explain what most clearly shows that your beliefs are deeply held. You may wish to include a description of how your beliefs affect the way you live.
You should begin preparing answers to these questions as soon as you decide to claim Conscientious Objector status. The Center on Conscience and War provides an excellent worksheet to help you.
A registrant making a claim for Conscientious Objection is required to appear before his local board to explain his beliefs. Claimants for hardship or ministerial classification may also request a personal appearance. At a personal appearance you will have at least twenty minutes, and may present up to three witnesses. You may be accompanied by an advisor, and may request that the meeting be open. You cannot use a recorder at the meeting; but you can submit your own summary within five days after the hearing.
If a claim of conscientious objector status is granted, Selective Service regulations state that the registrant must perform alternative service. Of course, one may also choose to resist or refuse alternative service for reasons of conscience. Likely Alternative Service jobs are in the fields of conservation, caring for the very young or very old, education, or health care. Length of service in the program will equal the amount of time a man would have been assigned to the military.
Appealing a Claim That Is Denied
The local board will decide whether to grant or deny a CO classification based on the evidence a registrant has presented. If your claim is rejected, you will receive a new induction date. The CCCO, CCW, and others can help you find lawyers and/or counselors to help you through the lengthy appeals process. The board must give reasons for rejection of your claim. You may appeal a Local Board’s decision to a Selective Service District Appeal Board. If the Appeal Board also denies your claim, but the vote is not unanimous, you may further appeal the decision to the National Appeal Board
Refusing Induction
You do, in good conscience, object to Registration and the Draft. This does not change simply because the Selective Service denies your claim. Since there is currently no draft, there are no rules governing those who refuse induction. Historically, draft resisters have been prosecuted and penalized in some manner. You can expect the same. If you choose to refuse induction or were successful using one of the methods described above, you will join a long line of conscientious objectors proud to have defended their freedom to make their own conscientious decisions, and your freedom to do the same. For their stories, check out one of the many books currently available on conscientious objectors and conscientious objection. If you let your conscience be your guide, not your fear or doubt or uncertainty, you will always make a good decision, you will always be free, and you will never regret it.
Contact Information
• Center on Conscience & War (NISBCO)
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009
202-483-2220
800-379-2679
Fax: 202-483-1246
nisbco@nisbco.org
• Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO)
1515 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102
215-563-8787
Fax 215-567-2096
info@objector.org
• CCCO West
630 20th Street Oakland, CA 94612
510-465-1617
Fax 510-465-2459
info@objector.org
References
Organizations
• The Selective Service System
• The Center on Conscience & War (CCW)
• The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO)
• The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Articles
• “Medical Workers Face Military Draft” WorldNet Daily
• “It’s Not Your Father’s Draft” Youth & Militarism Magazine
Appendix 1: SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
Here is a brief overview of what would occur if the United States returned to a draft:
1. CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT AUTHORIZE A DRAFT
A crisis occurs which requires more troops than the volunteer military can supply. Congress passes and the President signs legislation that starts a draft.
2. THE LOTTERY
The lottery would establish the priority of call based on the birth dates of registrants. The first men drafted would be those turning age 20 during the calendar year of the lottery. For example, if a draft were held in 1998, those men born in 1978 would be considered first. If a young man turns 21 in the year of the draft, he would be in the second priority, in turning 22 he would be in the third priority, and so forth until the year in which he turns 26 at which time he is over the age of liability. Younger men would not be called in that year until men in the 20–25 age group are called
3. ALL PARTS OF SELECTIVE SERVICE ARE ACTIVATED
The Agency activates and orders its State Directors and Reserve Forces Officers to report for duty. See also Agency Structure.
4. PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND MORAL EVALUATION OF REGISTRANTS
Registrants with low lottery numbers are ordered to report for a physical, mental, and moral evaluation at a Military Entrance Processing Station to determine whether they are fit for military service. Once he is notified of the results of the evaluation, a registrant will be given 10 days to file a claim for exemption, postponement, or deferment. See also Classifications.
5. LOCAL AND APPEAL BOARDS ACTIVATED AND INDUCTION NOTICES SENT
Local and Appeal Boards will process registrant claims. Those who pass the military evaluation will receive induction orders. An inductee will have 10 days to report to a local Military Entrance Processing Station for induction.
The registrant appeal process begins when a registrant is dissatisfied with his Local Board’s decision about his reclassification request and initiates an appeal. The first line of appeal is to the District Appeal Board. In the case of non-unanimous decisions of the District Appeal Board, the registrant may appeal to the President through the National Appeal Board.
6. FIRST DRAFTEES ARE INDUCTED
According to current plans, Selective Service must deliver the first inductees to the military within 193 days from the onset of a crisis.

Encyclopedia of American Loons
Mark Sircus
Marc Sircus is a near-legendary crank and promoter of cancer woo, perhaps most familiar for his Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, which is not something you should get involved with under any circumstances. Sircus, like many quacks, are fond of adding meaningless alphabet soups to his name, and usually titles himself with “O.M.D” (“oriental medicine doctor”, which does emphatically not have anything to do with doctor or medicine, but does convey a hint of racism), as well as “Ac.” (probably “acupuncturist”) and “DM (P)”, which is new to us but may have something to do with pastoral medicine. None of the “credentials” are worth the price of the paper on which they are printed, if they are printed anywhere at all, but they are apparently good for marketing purposes. We encourage people to ponder why Sircus feels the need to add meaningless letters to his name in his promotion materials given that readers are unlikely to have the faintest clue what they are supposed to be short for, and Sircus presumably knows that they don’t.
Sircus is so into cancer woo that he is even associated with the delusional rantings of Tullio Simoncini (both are apparently sources trusted by people like Joe Mercola). According to Sircus, “[c]ancer is, fundamentally, a relatively simple oxygen deficiency disease and the use of bicarbonate increases oxygen carrying and reaching capacity.” Or in other words: “I don’t have the faintest clue about physiology, but I am merrily making up nonsense” (explanation here if you need it). The idea that sodium bicarbonate is an efficacious treatment for cancer must count as one of the most idiotic (and vile) disciplines of cancer woo out there – though the competition is fierce – relying as it does on blatantly false, conspiracy-theory driven delusions about what cancer actually is. According to Sircus, however, and his book Winning the War on Cancer, “[s]odium bicarbonate happens to be one of our most useful medicines because bicarbonate physiology is fundamental to life and health.” This is not how “because” works (and that is not the only problem with the claim). Sircus has observed, though, that many chemotherapy treatments include sodium bicarbonate, and asks whether it could be that the results one sees when using chemo and sodium bicarbonate is the result of the latter rather than the former, and promptly concludes that it is. “There are no studies separating the effects of bicarbonate from the toxic chemotherapy agents, nor will there ever be,” claims Sircus, suggesting a conspiracy. In reality, of course –Sircus isn’t even close to reality – sodium bicarbonate has been provided as part of a chemotherapy regimens not to treat the tumor but to protect the kidneys, given that certain chemotherapy regimens cause massive tumor cell lysis, though it is less commonly added these days since questions have been raised over whether it is actually beneficial. (Moreover, a controlled trial where one group of cancer patients only gets sodium bicarbonate without chemo is not very likely to pass ethical review boards, for obvious reasons.) Bah, details: Sircus has a panacea and a conspiracy theory to underpin the claims on its behalf; details are irrelevant. Instead, Sircus goes on to claim that baking soda can cure H1N1, too.
Sircus is the leader of something called the International Medical Veritas Association (remember Badger’s Law!), which is apparently different from the infamous HIV/AIDS-denialist, antivaccine Medical Veritas International organization (Badger’s Law predicts such confusing similarities among these kinds of organizations), and also writes the IMVA blog. A telling entry on the blog is his “Cancer Still a Mystery to Medical Science”, discussed here. You can already guess the gambit he tries to use, can’t you? Yes, there is still a lot of stuff scientists don’t know about cancer – that’s why they do research – and no, that doesn’t mean that you get to fill the gaps with whatever unsupported bullshit you fancy. In fact, Sircus goes one step further: he is claiming that physicians are deliberately making money by “complicating” the subject of cancer. To Sircus and the quacks, cancer isn’t “complicated;” the complexity of cancer is just part of a conspiracy, and/or the myopia of scientists blinded by the “reigning paradigm” that cancer has something to do with cells or DNA (the “cherished chosen belief system” of scientists and physicians who defend it with “fanatical fervor”); according to Sircus, that is “just […] a theory”. The rest of the post is a long list of familiar cancer quackery, including vitamin C quackery, where Sircus cites a recent study published in Cancer Research to support his case – or rather, he doesn’t cite the study, but a news story about the study that completely misrepresents its findings, and then ignorantly proclaims that “[o]ncologists never made it to first grade as far as knowledge of nutrition and its role in health and disease.” It’s hard to decide whether to laugh or to cry.
So, what’s really the cause of cancer? Well, I think it’s worth quoting him at some length: “The germ theory of cancer is quite legitimate though medical authorities continue to crucify Dr. Tullio Simoncini for his focus on fungus and yeast as a central part of the cancer paradigm. Long before Simoncini walked the earth we have had research connecting fungus to cancer. Fungus is a microbe, and many scientists believe viruses, fungi and bacteria are all different stages of the microbe life cycle. Neither Dr. Dannenberg nor Dr. Simoncini is a medical heretic but many subjects in our contemporary civilization are just too taboo.” One would have liked to know a bit more about the “many” scientists who don’t know the difference between fungi, viruses and bacteria (some suggestions as to where Sircus picked up the idea here), though even that claim isn’t nearly as ridiculous as the idea that Simoncini is anything resembling a legitimate scientist, however.
Sircus is, of course, also an anti-vaccine activist, advocating (in his post “String the Bastards Up”) killing scientists at the CDC for crimes existing only in his feverish imagination: “I think these people should be lined up against a wall. Actually there is no punishment that could possibly compensate for the suffering of autism and the tragedy of vaccine deaths” and “I am calling for the conviction and the worst possible punishment under the law for certain people in government who are in the medical field.” It’s unlikely that explaining to him that vaccines demonstrably do not cause autism would help much. This is what might happen if you are unable to distinguish reasonings from violent, paranoid fever dreams. And instead of executing them, “we are letting doctors in white coats inject poisonous heavy metals into babies and paying them well for it,” laments Sircus. As telling as his baseless, conspiracy-driven hatemongering against those who are actually helping people, is the fact that no vitriol is directed against his fellow bicarbonate sodium-quacks, who are demonstrably killing people, and being paid for it, by injecting people in desperate situations with what is, in effect, poison.
Part of it all is, of course, motivated by Sircus’s hatred for real medical doctors, in particular oncologists: “Oncologists certainly don’t cure cancer since it’s illegal to even speak about curing cancer and since most of their patients die no matter what the doctors say or do.” None of those claims are remotely true of course. It is, however, true that real doctors tend to reject most of the nonsense Sircus promotes, which makes it hard for people like Sircus not to ascribe them malicious intentions. As for his own views, we are still waiting for his magnum opus, the (ostensibly) 3000-page Conquering cancer, which supposedly sums up Sircus’s various views on the topic (one recent(?) addition being electrochemical cancer quackery, discussed here), as well as his fundamental misunderstandings and lack of understanding of basic biology, physiology or medicine.
Another one of his inventions is “natural allopathic medicine”, which according to him and his e-book is a “new therapeutic principle that revolutionizes both allopathic and naturopathic medicine offering a radical shift in medical thought and practice” that focuses on “pH management, cell voltage, magnesium and iodine medicine, cannabinoid medicine, carbon dioxide medicine, re-mineralization of the body, increasing oxygen transport and oxygenation of the tissues, opening up of blood vessels, saturation and healing of cells with concentrated nutrition via superfoods, breathing retraining, emotional transformation processing, detoxification and removal of heavy metals and radioactive particles.” Apparently you can use it to treat Ebola: “Instead of using toxic pharmaceuticals that diminish the immune system by further driving down nutritional status we use we treat and cure through the fulfillment of nutritional law.” It’s hard not to suspect that his success criterion is “no one complained”. Evidence? “Just ask an emergency-room or intensive-care-ward doctor right after he has injected magnesium chloride or sodium bicarbonate to save someone’s life.” I think we can safely say that emergency room doctors are not using magnesium chloride or sodium bicarbonate in emergency situations for their nutritional value. He doesn’t offer any other evidence for any of his claims, apart from some cherry picking and misrepresentations of some papers thrown together in a speculative jumble.
Diagnosis: When you, regarding a topic you know nothing about, disagree with everyone who knows anything about it, you should at least stop to consider the possibility that you are wrong before you conclude that everyone else is in a nefarious conspiracy against you. But that’s what people like Sircus, who have staked their careers on the second of those options, need you not to do. It does seem, however, that Sircus is a true believer rather than an outright fraud, though it’s an interesting question whether there really is a legitimate distinction to draw when you encounter characters like Mark Sircus.

Richard Sheridan

Perhaps this entry should be considered more of an intermission from our regular fare. Richard Sheridan is a local colorful of Dallas known for disrupting (or frequently speaking before) the Dallas City Council proceedings, making broad accusations of electronic vote fraud and claiming that a county commissioner “serves Satan.” Indeed, in 2015 Sheridan even ran for Mayor of Dallas and received an impressive 28 votes. Not entirely pleased with the results, Sheridan’s used his concession speech – on a voicemail left for local reporter Dan Koller – to declare how “extremely happy” he was that “Sodomite” Leland Burk lost to Jennifer Staubach Gates; Sheridan was apparently displeased that reporters hadn’t focused sufficiently intensely on Leland Burk being gay, whereas Sheridan himself “think I did a pretty good job of communicating to voters.” Then he proceeded to tell Koller, the reporter, that “you, sir, are cunt, bitch, coward, Mr. Koller. Dan Koller is a cunt, bitch, coward. And I don’t think you have one testicle, sir. You’re a sorry-ass, you’re a disgrace to our city, you’re a propagandist to the Sodomites […] And when I see you, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but minimally your eardrums will hurt, you motherfucker. Because the word fuck means abuse and if you’re in the gay lifestyle, the mothers that bring their children up in the world, wanting to do good, want to live a good life, and you go with the Sodomites? You motherfucker, cunt, coward Dan Koller.”
In 2016 he pled no contest to incidents of spray-painting “666” graffiti targeting the gay community. Sheridan called the spray-painting “an act of love” and claimed that the “rabid” gay community was persecuting him over the incidents in a bloodthirsty quest for vengeance: “this is what will happen to anyone who dares to call out the immorality of the Gay lifestyle, to reference the Bible in saying that the Gay community is violating Gods laws,” Sheridan lamented.
In 2013 Sheridan ran for the District 13 seat on the Dallas City Council, gaining some attention for handing out posters at a council meeting that showed pictures of three openly gay candidates covered with an X, and later stating that “God’s voice was heard in Dallas Saturday. No openly gay LGBT City Councilmember!!”
Diagnosis: No more than a village idiot, though not, apparently, a particularly pleasant specimen.

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