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Candidate Offers Other Planks

May 29, 1988

Thank you for mentioning some of the tenets of my campaign in the article, "Status Quo the Likely Winner . . . ." (Times, May 22). I would like to add a few points not brought out in the article which might clarify my differences with my opponent, (U.S. Rep.) Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica), in the minds of the voter.

First of all, I disagree with Levine's attitude of disparagement toward the Sandinistas and his continuing support for military aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, despite well-documented and ongoing atrocities against their own peoples. When contacted last year, statements by members of his staff indicated that he was unaware that Nicaragua held elections in 1984 in which seven parties participated, that the Nicaraguan Congress is composed of party representatives in proportion to votes cast, and that their constitution provides for national elections to be held every six years, next in 1990.

His staff also gave no indication that he is aware that under the Sandinistas, and despite the Contra war, Nicaraguan literacy and health care have improved remarkably, placing Nicaragua second in these categories behind only Costa Rica in the region. Levine and I differ also in that he has not come out for an end to our embargo of all trade with Nicaragua nor for the payment of reparations to their people as called for by the World Court, as I have. But these are only outer manifestations of more fundamental differences.

Perhaps the most substantive points which I differ with Levine on and, unfortunately, with many other congressional Democrats as well, is upon the proper and appropriate level of military and defense spending, and over the question of whether it is proper, necessary, or desirable for nations such as our own to maintain and direct military force unilaterally.

Though Levine frequently bemoans the unavailability of funds for environmental cleanup and for a true national health care system, he simply puts the blame upon the Reagan Administration without making the connection between the fact that we are now the world's greatest debtor with the biggest peacetime military buildup in the history of the world with an annual military budget of $300 billion.

It is doubtful that Levine would have been able to accumulate over $800,000 in his campaign fund if he had called for cutbacks in the overall level of military spending. And Levine's support for military aid to Israel, which at $3.2 billion a year is currently 400 times greater annually than (his) much-heralded Estuaries Cleanup fund which allocates a total of $7.5 million to the cleanup of the Santa Monica Bay and a list of other estuaries around the country, is such that he was even willing to vote in favor of Contra aid when it was appended to the Israeli military aid bill. And this despite the fact that there are growing numbers in the American Jewish community that feel that the current U.S. policy of making Israel a sort of "united crusade" for funneling military aid to repressive regimes (South Africa, Iran, and Guatemala, to name only three) without the knowledge of American voters is doing more to damage Israel's credibility in the eyes of the world and to endanger its continued survival than anything else.

Some of the other points of substantive disagreement between myself and Levine include the responsibility of elected representatives to inform themselves and their constituents on such issues as the complicity of the CIA and the world banking community in fostering our national drug epidemic in order to finance secret wars and make huge money-laundering profits, the use of covert operations to destabilize and overthrow governments which attempt to provide improvements in social conditions, the way we have consistently provided military aid and torture training to countries with repressive labor conditions in order to keep wages low and profits high, and how this policy has hurt our own work force by leading to job export while eroding our own productive capacity.

As for where I stand on these issues, many of my positions can be inferred, of course, from my criticisms of Levine and the others in Congress who claim to be liberal, yet do little or nothing to clarify issues and aggressively attack impediments to progress. Much like an apathetic electorate, they wait for the presidential candidates to educate and lead, blaming them when they don't.

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