TIME White House

Behind the Scenes: The Complete Kennedy Assassination Story in 9 Pages

Oct. 2, 1964, cover
The Oct. 2, 1964, cover of TIME TIME

Looking back on the Warren Commission Report, 50 years after its findings on the Kennedy assassination were released

Only a week had passed since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination when his successor in the White House, Lyndon B. Johnson, appointed the Warren Commission to investigate the crime. The nation and its government wanted answers about what had happened, and the Commission was given the task of finding them, releasing their report 50 years ago Wednesday on Sept. 24, 1964.

In the form in which it was delivered to Johnson, the Warren Commission Report was 888 pages long, including photos and diagrams and, by TIME’s count, 706 pages of text.

For the reporters and writers at TIME, that length meant that efficiency was of the essence to publish a response ahead of the magazine’s weekly deadline. As recounted in the publisher’s note from the Oct. 2, 1964, issue, the staff was given a small head start:

While printing presses ran day and night to reprint the full document in various editions, our job was different: we went to work to excerpt the report, cull its most significant detail, and summarize its meaning in a special nine-page section.

The task began on Friday morning, 54 hours before the report’s official release and less than 36 hours before this issue was to go to press. In the Indian Treaty Room of Washington’s old Executive Office Building, advance copies were being handed out to the press from three pushcarts. Near the head of the line that had formed was John Brown, a messenger working for TIME’S Washington Bureau. He placed ten copies in a suitcase and headed for the airport. Less than two hours later, copies were turned over to a team assigned to prepare the special section—Nation Editor Champ Clark, Writers Marshall Loeb and William Johnson, Researchers Harriet Heck and Pat Gordon. They closed their doors and started reading the nearly 300,000 words.

About seven hours later, they were ready for a dinner conference with TIME’S managing editor. The entire section was written, edited, checked and in type not long after our usual press time on Saturday night.

“We worked through the night and into a second night,” recalls Marshall Loeb, now 85. “The mood was one of determination to get the story done.”

In addition to recounting the events that surrounded the assassination, the Commission’s report debunked the major conspiracy theories that had emerged in the year after that day. Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. He and Jack Ruby had no connection. There was no foreign conspiracy, nor was there a domestic one.

But what the report lacked in scandal it made up for in detail. “Its great value comes from the thoroughness with which the Commission carried out its investigation, from its laying to rest many malignant rumors and speculations, and from its fascinating wealth of detail by which future historians can abide,” noted TIME’s story on the report.

Among those details were many that Loeb and his colleagues decided were worth highlighting for TIME’s readers. There was the clear plastic bubble that could have covered the convertible in which the President was driving, had it not been such a nice day. The fact that the plastic wasn’t actually bulletproof in the first place. The “chilling re-enactment of the assassination” that the Commission staged in order to make sure the car would have been visible from the Book Depository window. The list of characteristics of Oswald’s home life: an unusual attachment to his mother, delusions of grandeur, insistence that his wife could not smoke or drink or wear make-up. The Secret Service agents who were out drinking the night before. The failure to secure the buildings along the motorcade route.

“The Warren Commission Report piece was to be the definitive piece for TIME on the Kennedy assassination,” Loeb says, and everyone working on it knew so.

After the special issue was published, Loeb, who had first joined TIME in 1956, would end up spending 30 more years at Time Inc., retiring in 1994 from his job as managing editor of Fortune magazine. Following his retirement, he became editor of the Columbia Journalism Review. So it’s only fitting that, when he looks back on the Warren Commission Report piece, it’s with an editor’s eye that he sees the way those 36 hours of work have stood the test of 50 years.

“I think it was a well-done job — one, to focus the material and, two, picking out which areas of the report to focus on. To this very day, if someone picks up the Warren Commission Report, which is like a big book, and picks up one of our stories about the report, it will look very good,” Loeb says. “There were no huge errors discovered afterward — I mean years afterward, when there was plenty of time to examine it.”

Read TIME’s special section on the Warren Commission Report, free of charge, here in the archives: The Warren Commission Report

Watch a video report on how LIFE acquired Abraham Zapruder’s film of the JFK assassination: How LIFE Brought the Zapruder Film to Light

TIME politics

People Died So I Could Vote

Singing The 1965 Voting Rights Act
President Lyndon B. Johnson presents one of the pens used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) James L. Farmer Jr, Washington DC, August 6, 1965. PhotoQuest—Getty Images

Jocelyn Y. Stewart is a journalist and screenwriter based in Los Angeles

It’s hard not to go to the polls when a generation of African-Americans risked—and sometimes lost—their lives to get you there

When we were growing up in South Los Angeles, my siblings and I often heard my dad’s impromptu sermons about matters of importance: the value of education, the perils of purchasing on credit, the virtue of hard work, and the dire necessity of voting.

“People died so we could vote,” he’d say.

As a very young kid, I imagined the dying as a scene from a Western movie: good guys vs. bad guys and bodies strewn across a grassy battlefield. In the end the good guys walked away, alive and free to vote. My imaginary battle scene was historically inaccurate, but I came to learn the element of peril was real. And we weren’t talking about faraway countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, but the U.S.A., in the not very distant past.

I came to learn how perilous it had been for black people to vote in the South, especially in the era prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. People of color didn’t return from the poll wearing a splashy red, white and blue “I voted” sticker the way we might now. People of color often weren’t allowed to vote, and if they persisted, and tried organizing others to exercise their rights as Americans, they were often beaten, sometimes killed, for their efforts.

Hence my dad’s “you gotta vote” speeches. At the core of my dad’s fidelity to the ballot was an appreciation for the sacrifices made by everyday people that allowed African Americans—and other people of color—to obtain it.

In the 1950s, when my parents were kids, the NAACP began an effort to register voters in the small rural Louisiana town where they lived. Local African-American residents, like my mother’s father and the father of her friend Curtis Spears Jr., became members and participated in the effort.

One day Curtis’s father returned from town beaten and bloodied. The assault had come at the hands of the town marshal, who later explained it as a case of “mistaken identity.” Not long afterward, the loan on the family’s farm was recalled by the local lending institution. The family was forced to become sharecroppers—a plummet in status and fortune—all because of their desire to vote.

My mother remembers her mother and others memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution and various historical facts before heading to the polls to face questions from a poll worker. But preparation didn’t always help, my dad added.

“They’d ask you: ‘How many bubbles in a bar of soap?” he said.

Any answer was wrong if the poll worker wanted it to be and the bid to vote ended there. Today my parents are avid voters, going to the polls for races that feature only city councilmembers and candidates for sheriff, in addition to the ones for president. They vote with a sense of duty and commitment that might be hard for non-voters to understand.

History explains it.

Our democracy demanded a double portion of faith from older African Americans. It required them to believe in the rights accorded to citizens of this nation, even as the nation denied these same rights to people of color. It required them to march, sit-in, stand up, face police dogs and water hoses until America was forced to do as Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

The true price of the ballot was reinforced many years later, in the mid 1990s, when I met my friend Frank Godden.

At his home near USC, where he was mostly housebound and later blind, Frank, then in his 80s, loved talking about all he’d witnessed in his almost a century of living. He had the longest political memory of anyone I’d ever met. He was a World War II veteran, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and a businessman who’d helped develop a resort community in northern Los Angeles County open to African Americans during segregation when other places of recreation were closed to them.

As a small boy growing up in Live Oak, Florida, he remembered his father telling him: “When you finish school I want you to leave Live Oak, leave the South. You spend too much time trying to be accepted as a citizen.”

The admonition to leave the South baffled him. Frank had eight brothers and sisters, a dog named Scout, a horse named Fannie, and plenty of friends. Life was good, as far as he could see—until the issue of black people voting arose in the early 1920s.

The voting efforts in Live Oak were part of a larger campaign by African Americans in Florida to use the ballot as a means of defeating Jim Crow laws that segregated nearly every part of Southern life, I later learned by reading Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920. This was a time when black men were beaten, black women arrested, and white supporters threatened — all to thwart black voting.

In Live Oak, the town’s black leaders decided to run a candidate for office. They gathered on the porch of the Godden home one Sunday and nominated Frank’s father to run for postmaster. The family was well-known in the Live Oak community — Frank’s father was a livestock farmer and a minister; his mother was a principal at the town’s colored elementary school and a music teacher.

Rev. Godden was elected and, the way Frank remembered it, that vote on the porch was the beginning of the end.

Frank’s father received threats, including a letter that he carried in his wallet. Then one night a carload full of men drove to the Godden house. A man jumped out and lobbed a firebomb that landed on the porch of the home and exploded, leaving a crater that extended into the living room of the home.

Anxious about the possibility of violence, Frank’s parents had sent the children to their grandparents’ house for the evening. So thankfully, nobody was hurt.

As a very old man, Frank still remembered the fear his 11-year-old self felt upon returning home and staring into the hole left by the bomb. That day, the family packed up their lives and left Live Oak forever, on a train headed to New Orleans.

“We couldn’t let anybody know we were leaving,” Frank recalled. “We couldn’t even say goodbye to our friends.”

To be American is to appreciate and acknowledge those who died so we could vote, who faced bombs and beatings, and lost farms—and voted anyway. They are owed a debt, payable in the currency of participation in the democratic process.

When I turned 18, my father walked with me, a newly minted voter, to the polling place at the school down the street from our house. My first vote was important enough he felt he had to share it with me. Like my parents, I now consider myself a regular voter. This is not to say that I never miss; I have. But I believe, like they do, that my vote matters.

I’ve heard my father’s words flowing from my mouth when I talk to younger people about voting: people died so we could vote. Now they are my words. Now I understand the battlefield and the soldiers.

In 2000, I traveled to Greenwood, Mississippi, with Endesha Ida Mae Holland, a foot soldier in the Civil Rights movement who had just published a memoir about her life in the Mississippi Delta. She had received an invitation to speak at a literary conference at the University of Mississippi at Oxford (better known by its nickname Ole Miss). This was a place black people could only dream of attending when she was growing up. I accompanied Holland, who had since become a professor at USC and a Pulitzer-prize-nominated playwright, to write a Los Angeles Times magazine profile.

She showed me where she’d once seen the battered body of Emmett Till, an African-American teen who had been killed for reportedly flirting with a white woman, and where she had marched. She showed me where the house she grew up used to be. It had been firebombed because she joined civil rights workers in registering people to vote. Holland’s mother had been afraid that her daughter was stirring up trouble and was opposed to her civil rights activity; she didn’t want to vote. When the house was bombed, Holland’s disabled mother was seriously injured. In our conversations, Holland told me how, at the hospital, not long before she died, her mother whispered to her: “Tote me to vote, gal.”

Voting stories have been to me like family heirlooms; they make it impossible for me to take voting lightly. For Frank, the bombing robbed him of the world as he knew it. It might have stripped him too of his faith in democracy. Instead, Frank became fervent about voting, community involvement, collective action—from the neighborhood block club, to the college alumni association, to his political party. He remained a believer in the democratic process. He followed politics like others follow sports.

In 2008, at the age of 97, Frank did something his parents never did: he casted a vote for an African American to hold the nation’s highest office, then he’d witnessed Barack Obama’s election. Listening to the inauguration, Frank cried tears that carried the weight of generations.

Jocelyn Y. Stewart originally wrote this piece for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Lawmakers Push Increased Access to Emergency Contraception

Bipartisan U.S. Budget Deal Said to Ease Automatic Spending Cuts
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who introduced a bill to increase access to emergency contraception. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill comes ahead of a midterm elections in which women are expected to be a key voting bloc

Updated: September 23, 4:40 p.m. ET

Five Democratic senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would require any federally-funded hospital to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors.

The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014 was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) signing on as co-sponsors. The bill would ensure that any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds provides accurate information and timely access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they can pay for it. It would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to disseminate information on emergency contraception to pharmacists and health care providers.

“As we saw in the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision, and as we’ve seen in state legislatures across the country, Republicans are intent on standing in the way of women and their ability to make their own decisions about their own bodies and their own health care,” Senator Murray told TIME. “This means, now more than ever, it is our job to protect these kinds of decisions for women, their families, and particularly for survivors of sexual assault. Emergency contraception is a critical part of these family planning choices and it’s time Republicans join us in supporting this safe and responsible means of preventing unintended pregnancies.”

“It is unacceptable that a survivor of rape or incest can be denied access to emergency contraception in the emergency room, and therefore forced to carry a pregnancy caused by her attacker,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Decisions about emergency contraception, like all forms of birth control, should be between a woman and her doctor, not her pharmacist, her boss, or her Congressman.”

The bill may face opposition from congressional Republicans, and comes just two months before the midterm elections, in which many expect women to be a decisive voting bloc.

TIME politics

The Secret Service Thinks We Are Fools

USA - Politics - President Obama Campaigns for New Jersey Governor Corzine
A Secret Service agent watches the crowd as President Barrack Obama speaks in Holmdel, N.J. on July 16, 2009. Brooks Kraft—Corbis

Ronald Kessler is the author of The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents.

Its excuses after this weekend's breach are ridiculous and revealing of a troubled culture. The agency needs a new, outside director to clean house.

If you want to know what is wrong with the Secret Service, take a look at the statement the agency issued after a deranged intruder managed to enter the White House for the first time since the Secret Service closed off public access to the mansion during World War II.

According to the Secret Service, the Uniformed Division officers who did nothing to apprehend 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez after he hopped over the White House fence “showed tremendous restraint.” The agency is so arrogant that it thinks it can make such an obviously ridiculous statement and the public will buy it because we are fools.

But the Secret Service is not fooling the FBI. Senior FBI officials are horrified by the Secret Service’s handling of the matter and are laughing at its effort to cover up its own failure by brazenly praising the officers’ “restraint.”

The FBI’s reaction is well founded. In protecting the White House, the Secret Service Uniformed Division officers and the Uniformed Division’s Emergency Response Team, armed with P90 submachine guns, are supposed to be the first line of defense. But they were either asleep or just not paying attention when Gonzales sprinted across the lawn. They thus failed to unleash the agency’s Belgian Malinois dogs, which are cross-trained to sniff out explosives and to attack an intruder and take him or her down.

Having failed to unleash the dogs in time, the officers should have taken out the intruder with a bullet. When it comes to protecting the president, officers and agents must make split-second decisions to avoid an assassination. Courts have given the Secret Service much wider latitude than other law enforcement agencies in use of deadly force.

In Gonzalez’ case, no one knew if he was concealing a bomb or weapons of mass destruction. If it turned out he had them, it would have been too late to kill him once he was in the White House. While President Obama had just left the White House, he might have decided to return. Gonzalez’s act of racing into the White House by definition meant that he was a threat to the president. The Secret Service was derelict in its duty to protect the president by failing to eliminate that threat.

While all of this may seem obvious, apparently it is not to Obama, who has defended the Secret Service and its leaders even as it let Michaele and Tareq Salahi and a third intruder, Carlos Allen, into a White House state dinner even though they were not on the guest list. The president continued to defend the agency even as 11 agents had to be sent home from Colombia for hiring prostitutes when Obama was about to visit (a story which I broke).

Yet these scandals are the tip of the iceberg. As reported in my book The First Family Detail, while agents are brave and dedicated, Secret Service management perpetuates a culture that condones laxness and cutting corners. Under pressure from White House political staffs or presidential campaign staffs, Secret Service management tells agents to let people into events without magnetometer or metal detector screening. Assassins concealing grenades or other weapons could theoretically enter an event and easily assassinate the president or a presidential candidate. When it comes to firearms requalification and physical fitness, the Secret Service either doesn’t allow agents time to fulfill the requirements or asks agents to fill out their own test scores.

All this has led to poor morale and a high turnover rate. Tired agents and officers are forced to work long overtime hours, contributing to the sort of inattention that took place when Gonzalez scaled the White House fence. The Secret Service has refused to update its sensors around the White House with the latest technologically advanced devices for detecting intrusions and weapons of mass destruction. Its arrogance extended to leaving the doors to the White House unlocked on the presumption that its personnel could handle any threat.

No congressional hearings or internal reviews are going to fix the agency. Only an outside director with a fresh perspective—comparable to Robert S. Mueller III when he took over as FBI director—would be capable of reforming Secret Service management, shaking up the agency, and changing the culture that fosters corner cutting and punishes agents who question it.

But given Obama’s lack of judgment, that is not going to happen. An assassination nullifies American democracy. But Obama will continue to insist that he has confidence in the Secret Service despite the risk to his own life and the lives of his family members, who would be prime targets of an attack by ISIS terrorists on the vulnerable White House.

“We don’t have enough people or the equipment to do protection the way they advertise they do,” a veteran current agent (who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to fear of losing his job) says. “And how we have not had an incident up to this point is truly amazing—a miracle.”

Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the author of The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Anti-Obama Ad Compares President to a Bad Online Date

Critics are saying the Republican group is capitalizing on NFL news by comparing Obama to an abusive boyfriend

An outside Republican group, Americans for Shared Prosperity, is running a new ad that compares President Obama to a bad boyfriend. The 60-second spot features a woman talking about a man she met online in 2008 with a seemingly perfect profile: “smart, handsome, charming articulate.” But since, their relationship has soured.

AFSP bashes Obama for recent NSA spying scandals and the president’s foreign policy as if they were personal transgressions. “He’s in my emails and text messages, spying on me but ignoring real threats,” the woman says. The ad goes on to critique Obamacare: “He thinks the only thing I care about is free birth control, but he won’t even let me keep my doctor.”

Some have slammed the spot for seemingly comparing Obama to an abusive partner. The woman says her relationship with “Barack” was on the rocks in 2008 but she “stuck with him because he promised he’d be better. He’s great at promises.” Critics say the ad’s language echoes too closely that of the recent #WhyIStayed movement in which domestic abuse victims explained why they remained with their abuser. Many listed false promises of change among the reasons for staying.

Others have lambasted the ad for being condescending to women by assuming they can only understand politics through the language of dating:

The ad is airing in North Carolina, where Democratic Senator Kay Hagan will has a tough reelection battle ahead of him. Head of the outside group, Californian multimillionaire John Jordan, told Politico that he was disturbed when the democrats cast Republican policy as a “war on women” in the 2012 cycle and that this ad and another one yet-to-air will push back against that notion. He says this ad was designed “to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t.” He added, “The purpose of this is to treat women voters more like adults.”

TIME politics

The Female Presidential Candidate You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Victoria Claflin Woodhull
Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838 - 1927), the first woman to run for US president from a nationally recognized ticket Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Sept. 23, 1838: Victoria Claflin Woodhull, a future presidential candidate, is born

These days, Hillary Clinton is making headlines as the potential female President of the United States — and she hasn’t even declared that she’s running. But, though a Clinton run would still be history-making, it was more than a century ago that the U.S. saw its first major-party female presidential candidate: Victoria Claflin Woodhull.

Woodhull — who was born this day, Sept. 23, in 1838 in Homer, Ohio — challenged Ulysses S. Grant in the 1872 presidential election as the Equal Rights Party candidate. Her bid was unsuccessful, and she’s mostly faded from history except as a frequent sidebar to articles about other women running for the highest office. (For example: TIME wrote about her in 1964 when Senator Margaret Chase Smith ran, and again in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro ran for VP.)

Still, she campaigned with flair, publicly proclaiming her beliefs in, as TIME put it in 1964, “spiritualism, vegetarianism, short skirts, legalized prostitution, and free love.”

A suffragist whom other suffragists tended to keep at arm’s length, Woodhull was often described in terms her women’s movement peers might have eschewed: “beautiful,” “bosomy” and “not entirely scrupulous.”

She and her younger sister Tennessee got their start as healthcare practitioners of dubious merit, peddling elixirs, psychic healing and metaphysical remedies. One big sale was enough to launch the pair, however. TIME recounted how in 1984:

Inspired, she said, by a vision of Demosthenes, Woodhull and her sister went to New York and arranged to introduce themselves to the newly widowed Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, 84. With her ‘magnetic treatment’ Tennessee soothed the railroad tycoon so successfully that he backed the young sisters in opening a lucrative stock brokerage.

Woodhull used her earnings to start a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, which supported her political ambitions as well as her pet causes. It’s unclear whether her activism ultimately helped or hurt the women’s movement, but it certainly garnered attention. She was nothing if not dramatic:

As an orator, Woodhull bowed to no man. ‘We mean treason; we mean secession…’ she declared. ‘We are plotting revolution; we will [overthrow] this bogus Republic and plant a government of righteousness in its stead.’ When someone dared to ask whether she practiced her preachings of free love, she defiantly answered, ‘Yes! I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may.’

When her fellow suffragists questioned Woodhull’s place in the movement, however, Stanton defended her. “If Victoria Woodhull must be crucified,” she said, “let men drive the spikes.”

As a presidential candidate, Woodhull was not quite crucified, but met an ignominious end on election night, which she spent in jail on an obscenity charge.

“She got very few votes,” TIME commented drily.

Read the full profiles of Woodhull here, in TIME’s archives: Madam Candidate (1964) and Braving Scorn and Threats (1984)

TIME White House

Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service

A rare look into the life of the silent guards who keep watch over the White House

Photographer Brooks Kraft, a regular contributor to TIME, has been shooting the White House for 14 years, spanning a period that includes the 2000 election controversy, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Iraq War, a global financial crisis and more.

Through Kraft’s work at 1600 Pennsylvania there has been the quiet force behind the camera, silent and standing sentry, that quite literally keeps life going at the White House: The Secret Service.

Founded in 1865 to squash the production of counterfeit U.S. currency, today the Secret Service bears the burden of responsibility to protect the President and other VIPs, including the President’s family, presidential candidates and visiting dignitaries.

In light of recent security breaches at the White House, TIME takes a closer look at the men responsible for ensuring the President’s safety.

 

TIME politics

Rangel: It’s Time for a War Tax and a Reinstated Draft

Representative Charles Rangel Interview
Representative Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Friday, June 6, 2014. Bloomberg—Getty Images

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is a combat veteran and former Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

Everyone in America needs a real stake in any decision to go to war

While I am optimistic about our Commander-in-Chief’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, I voted against the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2015 that would grant the President the authority to provide funds to train and arm Syrian rebels against the enemy. I opposed the amendment because I strongly believe amassing additional debt to go to war should involve all of America debating the matter. That is why I have called for levying a war tax in addition to bringing back the military draft. Both the war surcharge and conscription will give everyone in America a real stake in any decision on going to war, and compel the public to think twice before they make a commitment to send their loved ones into harm’s way.

As a Korean War veteran, I know the plight of war. Our military is the best in the world, but war is unpredictable and chaotic. In the event that the conflict in Iraq and Syria necessitates American troops on the ground, everyone should share the sacrifices instead of the small few who are already carrying that burden.

For a decade I have been calling for the reinstatement of the draft because our military personnel and their families bear a tremendous cost each time we send them to fight. Since 2001, nearly 7,000 soldiers have paid for these wars with their lives. More than 52,000 have been wounded, many narrowly saved by the miracle of modern medicine. The 3.3 million military households have become a virtual military class who are unfairly shouldering the brunt of war. Many men and women in uniform serve multiple tours, as many as 10, and 25 percent of America’s active duty military personnel suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is unacceptable that on average 22 veterans die by suicide every day. If war is truly necessary, we should all come together in defense of our nation, not just one percent of America.

In addition to the significant number of precious lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have accumulated too much debt to finance these wars. The United States has borrowed almost $2 trillion to fund our military engagements on foreign soil. It is estimated that the total cost would be close to $6 trillion; we continue to pay a heavy toll for these conflicts. Each dollar spent on war is a dollar not spent on education, energy, housing, or healthcare. We cannot afford to tread this same path when we are slashing domestic programs that are the lifelines for so many Americans. I will soon introduce a bill that will impose war tax to ensure that we do not have to choose between further gutting the social safety net and adding to the $17.7 trillion of national debt.

I continue to believe that under President Obama’s leadership, the international community will rid itself of this cancer. Secretary of State John Kerry has reported that nearly 30 countries have stepped up to support the fight against ISIS. These countries intend to provide financial resources, intelligence, equipment and training. Furthermore, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that their government also does not want President Barack Obama to send American ground troops to fight in Iraq. Nevertheless we must be prepared for the worst.

ISIS militants are a real threat. They have already killed two American journalists and thousands of Syrians and Iraqis in their brutal attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate. If left unchecked, they can jeopardize our core interests abroad and at home. We must share the burden in diminishing their impact to our national security. Containing their spread will help America and our allies to feel safe whether at home or abroad. Reinstating the draft and imposing the war tax will ensure that our safety is sustainable, our financial engagements abroad are not borrowed, and that all Americans have a role in defending and protecting our nation.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) is a combat veteran and former Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Republicans Condemn Maine Gubernatorial Candidate for Controversial Video

The Republican party is denouncing a promotional video for candidate Mike Michaud made by a local blogger which contains lewd lyrics about Senator Susan Collins

The Maine Republican Party denounced a video promoting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud on Friday. The soundtrack to the video, a rap song, contains the lyrics, “I’m the King of Maine. I’ve got Susan Collins giving everyone brain,” a slang reference to oral sex. (They lyrics began around the 1:58 mark in the video above.)

Michaud’s campaign said the candidate had no involvement with the production of the video, which was created by local blogger Alex Steed and his production company Knack Factory. “We had no control over this video just like we have no control over news coverage,” campaign spokesman David Farmer told the Portland Press Herald. “Mike doesn’t even listen to rap.” The campaign said it contacted Steed as soon as it divined the meaning of the lyrics and asked him to take the video down from the Bangor Daily News site, which he did.

Steed tweeted on Friday morning confirming that Michaud had nothing to do with choosing the song.

The tweet linked to a post on Bangor Daily News that explained Steed and Knack Factory did not know the meaning of “giving brain” when they created the video and chose the song by Maine rapper Spose.

Later, he apologized directly to Michaud for the mistake:

Republicans nonetheless condemned Michaud, a member of Congress, for the video. “It is absolutely appalling and completely inexcusable that Michael Michaud would make a video with such a vulgar reference to Susan Collins,” Maine Republican Party spokeswoman Deborah Sanderson said in a statement. “In his quest to win votes from a younger generation, Congressman Michaud has gone way over the line by participating in this depraved insult to Maine’s senior senator.”

Rap and pop music has a long history of making misogynistic references to politicians. In the song “Grillz,” Nelly raps, “Gotta bill in my mouth like Hillary Rodham.” Eminem raps “And I’ll invite Sarah Palin out to dinner then nail her, ‘Baby say hello to my little friend,'” in “We Made You.” And in Beyoncé’s recent song, “Partition,” she sing, “He Monica Lewinski’d all on my gown.”

TIME politics

Jon Huntsman: It’s Time to Break the Gridlock

National Clean Energy Summit 7.0 In Las Vegas
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. speaks at the National Clean Energy Summit 7.0 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on September 4, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. David Becker—Getty Images

Jon Huntsman was Utah's governor from 2005-09 and subsequently served as the U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore.

The 'National Strategic Agenda' will agree to agree 75 percent of the time to effect change in Washington

Is it interesting when two people agree? How about a group of people? What if they can’t agree on everything, but they can agree on 75 percent of things?

The framers of the U.S. Constitution used 75 percent as the threshold for agreement on issues of the greatest consequence. Any changes to our Constitution must be ratified by 75 percent of the states. History has shown us that this level of consensus isn’t just-good-enough, it is strong. It solves problems and gives citizens confidence in their government.

A new group of American leaders met this week and agreed to agree at least 75 percent of the time in order to develop a policy framework that we are calling the National Strategic Agenda—something that we believe will shape the national conversation around the next presidential election.

Our group is called No Labels. We are current and former elected officials from state, local and federal governments. We are a mix of Democrats and Republicans. And we decided that if 75 percent was good enough to build the foundation of our great nation, it is good enough for us.

Agreement, as it turns out, can be more interesting than disagreement—perhaps because, right now, it feels so rare. What we came up with this week is, objectively, far more interesting than any of the partisan fights that will continue to crowd the airwaves between now and November 4th.

Our first area of agreement was the easiest: Washington, D.C. is beyond gridlocked. It’s dysfunctional and it needs to change. We can’t wait any longer to move past re-election tactics and instead develop an actual process for solving our nation’s most pressing problems.

We also united around four goals:

  • Create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years;
  • Balance of the federal budget by 2030;
  • Secure Medicare and Social Security for another 75 years; and
  • Make America energy secure by 2024.

The discussion that followed was the harder part, as we sought to begin answering the big question of: How do we achieve these goals?

We don’t have all the answers, yet, to the question of “how,” but our conversation is off to a very good start.

For example, there was consensus that the role of the executive (i.e. the president and governors) is critical, and that leaders aren’t necessarily people who know all the answers, but rather people who bring parties to the table and get them to discover the answers, together.

There was a common view that trust is essential for government officials to work together…and that trust only happens when people talk to each other.

And there was collective relief when we realized none of us wanted to place blame anymore. We are instead energized by the prospect of charting a new course.

Throughout the discussions at the No Labels National Ideas Meeting, references were made to leaders who have worked together, who have found that 75-percent consensus level and made history as as result. Many conference attendees mentioned President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neil. They also referenced President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich.

These historic examples are helpful, but the most inspiring, to me, were far more current: State legislators from both parties and various states who commended their governors for reaching across aisles. Mayors who described town halls where they have found consensus among their constituents. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell moderated one of our panel discussions and summed these stories up well by saying: “There is no substitute for listening.”

I believe that the winds of change were started at our meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. Now, we will move them out of the capital and across the country, where they can develop into a blueprint we can bring back to Washington at the right time, for use by a new president and a new Congress.

One year from now, in October of 2015, the No Labels National Strategic Agenda will be ready. It will be a gift for the right leaders, providing them with both direction and substance. Perhaps most importantly, our work will create a new politics of problem solving — something that will help unite our country. And since we can only stand strong when united, unity is a goal we can all agree on.

Jon Huntsman was Utah’s governor from 2005-09 and subsequently served as the U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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