Liberalism's Communications Problem

Liberals in the United States are relatively educated, yet extremely inarticulate when it comes to Trump, his budget proposal, or the U.S. military.

In a typical email, Moveon.org sent out the message this week that nobody should confirm a Supreme Court nominee until it's determined that Trump is a "legitimate president." Until then, the U.S. military should go on slaughtering families for him? And once he's "legitimate" then a horrible fascist Supreme Court nominee should be approved? And what would it take for Trump to become "legitimate." According to the email, it would take proving that Trump didn't collaborate with Putin to rig the U.S. election. According to the linked video, it would take that plus seeing Trump's tax returns, plus proving that Trump is not violating the foreign emoluments clause. All three demands are given a xenophobic slant.

Focus: Syria - Mar 23, 2017


U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces expects to attack Tabqa dam and air base soon - Reuters


SDF will dominate Tabqa dam in next 72 hours: SDF commander declares - syria.liveuamap.com


VIDEO: YPG Footage showing the advance of the US backed SDF across Lake Assad/River Euphrates and towards Tabqa Dam - syria.liveuamap.com


US military helping operation to seize strategic Tabqa dam near Syria’s Raqqa - Al Arabiya English


US Coalition statement on the Syrian Democratic Forces assault near Tabqah dam - Operation Inherent Resolve


Reports starting to come in that US troops have been deployed to Tabqa (via helicopter). This account says 100 troops involved - Shiraz Maher on Twitter”


US special forces cut the main route between Aleppo and Raqqa, after making a surprise airdrop near Tabqah, Syria. - syria.liveuamap.com


Kurdish forces cutoff key ISIL supply line in northern Syria, capturing several villages along the strategic Aleppo-Raqqa Highway - almasdarnews.com


SDF soldier announces that more soldiers will be transported to the peninsula west of Tabqa in some hours - Syrian Civil War Map


Syrian Democratic Forces say need up to 15 days to block, start storming Raqqa - Sputnik


SDF's Talal Selou tells al-Watan's Junblat Shkai SDF would be happy to coordinate with the Syrian Army in Raqqa, if US approves - Aron Lund on Twitter

 

ISIS reportedly redeploys forces from Deir Ezzor To Raqqah - southfront.org

 

US General: "The YPG has a political office in Moscow itself, but the groups that we're providing support to on the ground are not being supported directly by Russian military forces” - Washington Examiner


US State Department warning against travel to Syria and urging US citizens in Syria to depart immediately - Haidar Sumeri on Twitter

 

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Turkey Deputy PM on Raqqa: If you are saying ‘We will bring in the PYD while taking Daesh away’, Turkey will never allow it. We will not be involved - Sputnik


Turkey still determined to play role in final Raqqa assault, set up the Army of Al-Jazirah and Euphrates Tribes - al-monitor.com


Turkey training the Free Syrian Police (FSP) to help out with secondary operations in Aleppo province - al-monitor.com


Turkey expects Russia to close Syrian Kurds' office in Moscow: Foreign Ministry - Sputnik


Turkey not convinced with Russian denial for military base in Afrin - hurriyetdailynews.com


Syrian Kurdish YPG says Turkey shells villages in northwest Afrin, wounding 10 civilians - Reuters


Russian armored vehicles w Russia YPG flags, heading to Afrin border towns, were being heavily shelled by Turkish military - Jack Shahine on Twitter

 

Russian troops go to Syrian area shelled by Turkey, Kurdish YPG says - Channel NewsAsia


Turkey summons Russian envoy, says fired into Kurdish-held Syria after soldier killed by sniper - Reuters


Turkish military says 71 Kurdish militants killed in Syria in last week - Jerusalem Post

 

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Syrian Army troops liberated city of Deir Hafer in Eastern countryside of Aleppo: Reports - southfront.org


ISIS withdraws from last east Aleppo stronghold Deir Hafer - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Army continues routing ISIS in rural Aleppo after Deir Hafer, liberates new village - almasdarnews.com


Qaeda-led Syrian rebels press major assault near Hama, the offensive also includes Free Syrian Army fighters - Reuters


Al-Qaeda rebels seize two more villages in northern Hama - almasdarnews.com


Syrian army prepares Hama counterattack ahead of renewed peace talks - Reuters


Elite Tiger Forces arrive in northern Hama to drive back Al-Qaeda - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Army recaptures two villages in northern Hama counter-offensive - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Army storms jihadist-held Al-Qaboun in east Damascus - almasdarnews.com


Syrian army regains control of Maghazel industrial area in Eastern Damascus - Sputnik


Jaish al-Islam (participant of peace talks) joins Hayat Tahrir al-Sham & Co in advance against government forces In Eastern Damascus - southfront.org


Ahrar-AlSham participates in HTS offensive to cut Homs-Salamiyah supply routes Syria - syria.liveuamap.com


Jihadist rebels mobilize in northeast Latakia for new offensive - almasdarnews.com


Three more Russians lost their lives in Syria: Media - southfront.org


UN-mediated Syria talks resume in Geneva - StarTribune.com


Statement by the UN Special Envoy for Syria on the fifth round of intra-Syrian talks, 23 March 2017 - ReliefWeb


Russia wants Syrian Kurds in Geneva talks despite Turkey’s resistance - ARA News


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

The Middle East for Dummies

The first point I'd like to touch on is the idea that the Middle East is a culturally violent place that can be made less violent by bombing it. The first problem with this is that bombing places makes them more violent, not less. Nobody is shocked or awed into nonviolence, not 14 years ago and not for the past century. The second problem is that the Middle East's violence cannot be compared with that of other cultures without figuring out how to factor out the influence of the West. A hundred years ago, Britain and France carved up Western Asia, and not to spread democracy.

Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices

By Dave Lindorff


(published originally by FAIR.org)

Ryancare wreckage: Don the Con's Health Care Pushes Serious Problems Aside

fdsBy Linn Washington, Jr.

 

The desperate scramble of President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress to salvage a cure for their ailing health care proposal to replace Obamacare completely ignores correcting a deadly problem plaguing the very heart of America’s health care system.

Five Localities Pass Resolutions Against Trump Budget: Three of Them Done Well

New Haven, CT, Charlottesville, VA, and Montgomery County, MD, have passed resolutions opposing the Trump budget's moving of money from everything else to the military, urging that money be moved in the opposite direction.

There Won't Be Another Jimmy Breslin, But We Need More Like Him in the Mainstream Media

By Dave Lindorff

 

There only was and only will be one Jimmy Breslin, and after his death last Sunday at 88, he is no more.

Talk Nation Radio: William Geimer on Why Canada Should Stay Out of Other People's Wars

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/william-geimer-on-why-canada-should-stay-out-of-other-peoples-wars

William Geimer, author, peace activist, is a veteran of the U.S. 82d Airborne Division and Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington and Lee University. After resigning his commission in opposition to the war on Vietnam, he represented conscientious objectors and advised peace groups near Ft. Bragg NC, once representing Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory and Donald Sutherland in negotiations with police. A Canadian citizen, he lives with his wife near Victoria, British Columbia where he is a member of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network. He is the author of Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars and serves as advisor on policy issues of peace and war to Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
 
Total run time: 29:00

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Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Russia Conspiracists Claim to Possess Reality

An Associated Press story on Tuesday came with this headline: "Analysis: Reality catching up with Trump on Russia," and began:

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Reality is catching up with President Donald Trump. Hours after Trump dismissed reports that his campaign associates were being scrutinized for colluding with Russia as 'fake news,' FBI Director James Comey confirmed the investigation is real."

Note the slick sophistry here. Trump never denied that there was an investigation. He denied that he colluded with the Russian government to steal the election. But according to the Associated Press, Trump's denial of those charges is disproven by the fact that someone is investigating them.

If you watched the hearing on Monday, you saw Comey asked how the "intelligence" "community" knew that Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win the election. Comey's answer was nothing but information publicly available for many months, restated as an "assessment." Asked whether the Russian government gave WikiLeaks the Democratic Party emails that showed the DNC sabotaging the Bernie Sanders campaign and denying itself a better shot at winning the general election, Comey said that he "assessed" -- which seemed clearly to mean: speculated based on the absence of any evidence -- that Russia did not do so directly but used a "cutout."

None of this makes it into the AP, which continues:

"The FBI chief also repeatedly insisted there was no evidence to back up Trump's explosive claim that his predecessor wiretapped his New York skyscraper. And Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, knocked down a report about Britain helping President Barack Obama with the alleged surveillance, although the White House had pointed to the report to try to boost Trump's case. Taken together, the disclosures in Monday's lengthy House intelligence committee hearing amounted to an extraordinary undercutting of a president, whose headline-grabbing accusations and Twitter-friendly attacks crumbled quickly under the weight of sworn congressional testimony from some of the nation's top security officials."

Yet, the possibility that the baseless assertions Trump was blurting out were false does nothing whatsoever to prove that the baseless assertions coming from his accusers are true. Nor does this address the comments from NSA whistleblower Bill Binney that the NSA very likely did have material from snooping on Trump for the simple reason that it is systematically snooping on everyone, while the perjurers who deny that to Congress continue to be treated as respectable authorities. Nor is the AP or any other corporate news company addressing the problem of Trump apparently not having access to the U.S. government's information despite being president. Nor is anyone questioning Comey's refusal to mention any details about anyone under investigation now, while he was willing to make public an investigation of Hillary Clinton pre-election at a time when he now claims there was also an investigation of Donald Trump that he chose to keep silent about.

The AP does, however, take the time to inform us that if we disagree with it, we (even those of us pushing for a Trump impeachment on fact-based grounds) are irrational Trump supporters (even as the AP gets around to admitting that no evidence of wrongdoing with Russia has been produced):

"Many of Trump's most ardent supporters are unlikely to be swayed by Monday's spectacle. Still, Trump's credibility and his standing as a reliable ally for his fellow Republicans in Congress are less assured. Even if his advisers are ultimately cleared in the Russia probe, as the White House insists they will be, the investigation could loom over Trump's presidency for months or even years, distracting from the ambitious domestic agenda he's vowed to enact."

AP then cites the media's love for the Russia conspirascandal as evidence of its importance:

"That reality was abundantly clear Monday. Most cable news channels carried Comey and Rogers' five hours of testimony live instead of the first congressional hearing for Neil Gorsuch, Trump's widely praised nominee for the Supreme Court. The Russia hearings came as Trump tried to give a hard sell to Republicans wary of his health care package, a legislative gamble with long-lasting implications for Trump's relationship with his own party."

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” --Karl Rove

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Words Not to Die For

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

City of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress to Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion

Charlottesville, Va., City Council Monday evening, March 20, 2017, passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's budget proposal, which shifts funding to the military from many other programs. The draft resolution brought up for consideration reads as follows. It was passed with a few alterations. The final version should soon be posted online by the City, as should video of the meeting in which it was read aloud and discussed.

Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion 

Whereas President  Donald J. Trump has proposed to  divert $54 billion  from human and environmental spending at home and abroad in order to increase the military budget, bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending; and

Whereas the citizens of Charlottesville already pay  $112.62 million in federal taxes  for military expenditures, an amount that each year could fund locally: 210 elementary school teacher salaries;  127 new clean energy jobs; 169 infrastructure jobs;  94 supported employment opportunities for returning citizens; 1,073 preschool seats for children in Head Start; medical care for 953 military veterans; 231 college scholarships for CHS graduates; 409 Pell Grants for Charlottesville students; healthcare for 3,468 low-income children;  enough wind power to power 8,312 households; healthcare for 1,998 low-income adults;  AND solar panels to provide electricity for 5,134 households.

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program;[1] and

Whereas our community’s human and environmental needs are critical, and our ability to respond to those needs depends on federal funding for education, welfare, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance, transit and environmental protection; and

Whereas the President’s proposal would reduce foreign aid and diplomacy, which help to prevent wars and the victimization of people who become refugees in our  community, and 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing these cuts;

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress, and our representative in particular, to reject the proposal to cut funding for human and environmental needs in favor of military budget increases, and in fact to begin moving in the opposite direction, to increase funding  for human and environmental needs and reduce the military budget.  

1. "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,"  Political Economy Research Institute,
https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

*****

Passage of the resolution followed the proposal of a different version by a large coalition of local groups.

At Monday's meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention.

City Council Member Bob Fenwick, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam with two sons veterans of that in Afghanistan, said that cutting back on military adventurism makes people better off. "We have had enough of war," he declared.

City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.

Also voting in favor were Council Members Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin.

In my view, this is an important statement to Congress, the country, and the world from our city council which has chosen to represent us. Charlottesville did not make a familiar and misleading statement exclusively against spending cuts, which would have fueled predictable and irrelevant demands for smaller government. Charlottesville addressed the reality of money being moved from everywhere else to the military, and urged the deeply moral action of moving money in the opposite direction.

It's worth noting that the assertion that military spending is an economic drain is a reflection of the fact that tax cuts produce more jobs than military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than does never taxing money in the first place. The study cited above does not, of course, assert that military jobs do not exist.

Focus: Syria - Mar 20, 2017

 

Syrian Kurdish YPG aims to expand force to over 100,000 - Reuters


YPG to receive training from Russia in Afrin under new agreement, says spokesman - Rudaw


Text of YPG Spokesman Redur Xelil's statement on agreement made with Russia in relation to Afrin - syria.liveuamap.com


Statement by the Russian Defense Ministry on the agreement with the Kurds; it denies the deployment of a new military base near Afrin - Aron Lund on Twitter


US received no notification on Russian presence in Syria's Afrin: Pentagon - Sputnik


US-backed Kurdish forces seized Karamah town East of Raqqah - southfront.org


SDF liberating train station 18 KM east Raqqa city. - syria.liveuamap.com


SDF-YPG liberated village Cerqa and Tal Fatisah hill - syria.liveuamap.com


SDF has liberated Muhammadiyah water pumping station located 15 km east of the city of Raqqa from ISIS terrorists - Afarin Mamosta on Twitter


Syrian Kurds say ready to take part in Commission on Constitution elaboration - Sputnik


Turkey won't accept 'region of terror' in northern Syria, deputy PM says in comments appearently aimed at a Syrian-Kurdish militia - Daily Mail Online


Turkish Red Crescent to boost aid projects for Syria’s al-Bab - Daily Sabah


US-led coalition conducts 18 strikes in Raqqa as SDF entered city's limits - Sputnik


4,000 USD a reward for IS militants, for killing an American soldier in the battle of Raqqa – #SOHR

 

Al-Qaeda order: 'Do not consult anybody to kill Americans' - pjmedia.com


Pentagon assessing reports of civilian deaths after airstrike in Syria - TheHill


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Syrian army retakes Damascus areas captured by rebels - usatoday.com


Syrian warplanes annihilate militant supply lines East of Damascus - Sputnik


A look at the insurgent groups who launched new offensive in outskirts of Damascus - FDD's Long War Journal


Battle in east Damascus accumulates highest death toll this year, as 100+ Syrian soldiers and jihadist rebels were killed in under 24 hours - almasdarnews.com


Rebels launched a surprise attack through secret tunnels leading to the government-held Old City in Damascus - RT


Why liberation of Damascus’ district Jobar is an important step in eradicating terrorists - Sputnik


On video uploaded online on Mar. 17, the leader of al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria promised to ‘escalate’ operations - FDD's Long War Journal


Government forces capture Al-Qusayr village and train station south of Deir Hafer - southfront.org


Syrian Army attempts to encircle ISIS in Deir Hafer, east Aleppo - almasdarnews.com


ISIS left with one way out of east Aleppo stronghold Deir Hafer - almasdarnews.com


Russian, Syrian jets conduct over 100 airstrikes above east Aleppo: Al-Amaq - almasdarnews.com


VIDEO: Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary group Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba releases video of group operations in Eastern Aleppo - southfront.org


Syrian rebels, civilians leave Homs under new Russian deal - Rudaw


VIDEO: Syrian Army liberates new territory in northern Palmyra - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Army besieged in Aleppo after ISIL cuts off important highway - almasdarnews.com


Islamic State intercepts aid airdropped over Deir Ezzor (PHOTOS) - almasdarnews.com


Syria to consider any military op without gov't approval as invasion, 'whether to liberate Raqqa or any other place': Assad - Sputnik


Full text of Assad statement to Russian media: we are ready to discuss anything including constitution, defending borders is our right - Syrian Arab News Agency


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

Help "The End of War" Win

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Focus: The Anti-Islamic State Offensive in Syria - Mar 17, 2017


Syrian Kurdish YPG says Raqqa attack to start in early April - US News


Kurdish forces renew push towards Raqqa city, Al-Kulayb and Hamad Assad villages liberated from ISIS - almasdarnews.com


VIDEO: US-Backed Kurdish forces celebrate capture of Raqqa provincial village al-Hoos from Islamic State - Yahoo News


Kurds call on Trump to establish safe zones in SDF-held territory in northern Syria - ARA News


Opposition party offices closed, members arrested by the Kurdish Rojava administration - Rudaw


UN report counters Amnesty claim that YPG and SDF have committed ethnic cleansing in Syria - Rudaw


UN says Syrian Kurdish YPG forcibly conscripts men, boys for military service - ekurd


YPG to participate in Raqqa operation: US military officer - Daily Sabah


Syrian Democratic Forces continue to ‘build Arab element’: US coalition - Sputnik


US-led coalition says no plans to incorporate Rojava Peshmergas in fight against ISIS in Syria - ARA News


Coalition spokesman Col. Dorrian estimates ISIS has around 2,000 fighters left in Mosul and 3,000-4,000 in Raqqa - EHSANI2 on Twitter

 

VIDEO: Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Dorrian briefs reporters on Raqqa progress - dvidshub.net


TRANSCRIPT: Department of Defense press briefing by Col. Dorrian - defense.gov


US-led coalition strikes destroy Daesh drone facility near Raqqa - Sputnik


U.S. military likely to send as many as 1,000 more ground troops into Syria ahead of Raqqa offensive, officials say - Washington Post


CIA-backed aid for Syrian rebels frozen after Islamist attack: sources - Reuters


State Dept official says US continues to work with Kurdish YPG in Syria, 'but we also recognize Turkey's concerns' - ARA News


Turkey wants diplomatic solution on Syria's Manbij, defense minister says - Reuters


Turkey prepares new Arab army to fight Kurdish YPG with leaders of some 50 Syrian tribes - kurdistan24.net


Assault on al Raqqa commences, but cooperation between US and Russia coalitions is critical - Lima Charlie News


The roles of the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel in Syria: moving towards the end of the war - Elijah J M


Trump deserves a chance to deal with Russia over Syria - The National Interest

 

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Syrian Army liberates Umm Zulaylah, Tall Ayoub, Hazazeh and Al-Kreen villages in eastern Aleppo, encircles ISIS bastion Deir Hafer - almasdarnews.com


Syrian army further outflanks Deir Hafer from southern direction, gains the villages of Khassaf and Zubayda and hill top - southfront.org


Syrian army retakes Kiyariyah village located directly north of the ISIS-held city of Deir Hafer in Eastern Aleppo - southfront.org


Tiger Forces liberate Harmalah village near ISIL's stronghold Deir Hafer in east Aleppo - almasdarnews.com


Russian airstrikes target the Islamic State’s positions inside the Deir Hafer Plain of east Aleppo - almasdarnews.com


ISIS deploys large fighting force to keep hold of last stronghold Deir Hafer in Aleppo - almasdarnews.com


ISIS actively prepares for protracted defense of Raqqa - southfront.org


Islamic State launches fresh suicidal attacks on Deir Ezzor Airbase - almasdarnews.com


Syrian, Russian jets launch nonstop airstrikes over Deir Ezzor - almasdarnews.com


Syrian army repels ISIS attacks in Deir Ezzor - southfront.org


Syrian army expands buffer-zone around Palmyra - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Army liberates Palmyra gas fields as ISIL's defenses collapse north of city - almasdarnews.com

 

Russia sends 150 demining experts to Syria's Palmyra: agencies - Reuters

 

1,000 Servicemen of 5th Legion completed training by Russian instructors in Damascus (PHOTOS) - southfront.org


Syria peace talks in Astana close with no sign of rebels - Reuters


Syrian opposition ignored Astana talks after Erdogan's failure in meeting with Putin: source - southfront.org


New round of Astana talks on Syria to be held in May: Russian official - Kurdpress News Aganecy

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Trump’s Budget Counts on Us to Be Dumber Than He

Donald Trump does not always in every way appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed. Yet there is great wisdom to be found in some of his assumptions of stupidity on the part of the rest of us. If I act like a real jackass, he thinks, the media will give me tons of free airtime, and I'll be nominated. If I pretend to oppose corrupt power, the Democrats will nominate the living embodiment of corrupt power, and I'll be president. If I cut everything that everybody values out of the budget but move the money to the military, my spineless war-adoring opponents will tie one hand behind their backs before they even try to put up a fight.

Is he right about us? Here's Richard Trumka, top labor leader in the United States, opposing Trump's budget at length, without ever mentioning the existence of the U.S. military. Here's the Sierra Club, top environmental group, doing the same. Here are 100 Christian "faith leaders" doing the same thing.

For all anyone hearing from these and countless other liberal organizations and interest groups outraged by particular budget cuts would know, the money being taken away from various agencies and departments is being put into mythical tax cuts. Despite the fact that Trump proposed the same sized budget as last year's, with a huge amount of money moved from almost everywhere else into the military, his one-handed opponents are regurgitating their familiar old shouts of "no cuts!" which translate into many ears as "big gummint!"

A madman, who has just been handed the most expensive military ever to exist, is proposing to make it much larger, is drone-murdering at a pace to shame his predecessor, is proposing to launch a war on North Korea, has openly trumpeted practices of stealing oil and killing families, and unless he starts a nuclear war will kill far more people with his budget than with any weapons. But try finding opposition to war in the March for Science or the Women's March. Only after a major public effort did we compel the People's Climate March to mention a preference for peace over war.

Most of the Democrats in Congress, and even more so the media coverage of them, are following the same line as the liberal organizations. Schumer gives no indication that the military exists at all. Pelosi gives a brief nod to her desire that it remain somewhere around its current gargantuan size, pushing the idea that it's good for us but that we wouldn't want to have too much of that good. Sanders has a reasonable statement on his website, but news reports depict him as droning on about tax cuts for billionaires and cuts in services, as if that were what was happening here. Someone should ask Sanders to compare the wealth of U.S. billionaires to the size of U.S. military spending in a single year, and then in 10 years.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, even if it does nothing other than good statements, cannot always be counted on even for that, but did come through this time and should be thanked and credited for it, as should Barbara Lee.

This disastrous budget may need 60 senators' support. It may be doomed. It may offer a golden opportunity to educate the public on the tradeoffs between militarism and useful spending. But if the general run of the so-called opposition has its way, we will emerge from this process with much of the public imagining that a struggle exists between libertarians and socialists, that non-military programs are expensive, and that the military is free. Also that bipartisanship is extinct:

If we're going to stop this disastrous trend, it's going to take building up local pressure. Some cities are stepping in to lead.

City to Vote on Resolution Opposing Trump's Budget

Charlottesville, Va., City Council has on its agenda for Monday, March 20th, a vote on a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's proposal to shift $54 billion from human and environmental needs to military spending. The resolution calls on Congress to shift funds in the opposite direction.

The resolution is endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville, Clergy and Laity United for Peace and Justice.

Trump's budget proposal would cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31%, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13%, the State Department by 28%, the Department of Agriculture by 21%, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by 100%, the Institute of Museum and Library Services by 100%, and the National Endowment for the Arts by 100%.

Military spending would rise by $54 billion to something over 60% of discretionary spending, a percentage not seen since the Cold War. Then, according to reports, Trump will ask for $33 billion more off-the-books as a supplemental budget for the current (not the next) fiscal year for the military to spend on programs that candidate Trump denounced such as the F-35, and including $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to spend building a wall and detaining and deporting immigrants. Assuming a similar future supplement to the fiscal year 2018 budget, actual discretionary spending could see over 65% go to militarism.

Trump's budget proposal does not fund any of the infrastructure he promised during his election campaign.

"The Sierra Club supports full funding of the Environmental Protection Agency so that it can adequately protect communities through enforcement of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and other important laws," said John Cruickshank, Chair of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club.

"We cannot look away any longer. Last week ground troops entered Syria and the press barely mentioned it. The week before, Pathfinders returned from combat in Africa. Who knew we are fighting in Africa? We have military deployed to over 150 countries. How many countries are there?" asked Daniel Saint of the Charlottesville chapter of Veterans For Peace. "President Obama, in his last State of the Union Address, proudly claimed that the United States spends more than the next eight countries combined--China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, India, Germany, and Japan. Combined! Now Trump wants to dramatically expand adding another $54 billion. It costs $12 thousand to drill a well bringing fresh water to a village with no clean source of drinking water. For just the budget increase proposed by Trump, we could provide 4.5 million new wells across Africa, India and Latin America. Imagine if children from around the world grew up with a vision of the United States as bringing clean drinking water rather than bomb fragments stamped 'made in the USA.' Would our children and grandchildren be safer with new fresh wells or more nuclear weapons?"

"Indivisible Charlottesville, along with thousands of Indivisible organizations across America, is committed to resisting the Trump administration's efforts to reverse the progress of the last century, and to building a diverse country that can face the challenges of the next one," said David Singerman. "Trump plans to destroy the programs that let Virginians drink clean water, breathe clean air, live in affordable housing, attend some of the world's best universities, and sleep without fear of chemical and industrial accidents. He would do this in order to pile money into what's already the strongest military in history, and in order to cruelly build walls across our borders and end aid programs that give succor to the most vulnerable people in the world."

"Not only is the military the wrong place to put more money," said David Swanson, director of World Beyond War, "but nobody can even say where all that money goes. The Department of so-called Defense, which President Trump says has created a hornet's nest of the Middle East, is the one department never audited."

"We have knownfor many years that the Department's business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty," Chairs John McCain (R-AZ) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees said recently in a joint statement. "The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability."

"If we can stop a Muslim ban," added Swanson, "we can stop an immoral budget too!"

A CNN poll on March 1-4 asked for opinions on this proposal: "Increase military spending by cutting funding for the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other non-defense agencies." Nationally, 58% disapproved, and 41% approved. 

Charlottesville provides an example of how federal budget priorities are out of line with popular opinion. Using the calculations of the National Priorities Project at CostofWar.com, "Every hour, taxpayers in Charlottesville, Virginia are paying $12,258 for Department of Defense in 2016." That's $107.4 million in a year. Much of military spending is in other departments. The National Priorities Project provides the numbers for a few of them: $4.1 million from Charlottesville for nuclear weapons, $2.6 million for weapons for foreign governments, $12.6 million for "homeland security," and $6.9 million for the 2016 off-the-books extra slush fund. That's $133.6 million, not counting various other expenses, and not counting the extra $54 billion or an additional $30 billion, which would bring the cost to Charlottesville up by another $16 million to $149.6 million.

According to National Priorities Project, that is enough money to provide 1,850 Elementary School Teachers for 1 Year, or 2,019 Clean Energy Jobs Created for 1 Year, or 2,692 Infrastructure Jobs Created for 1 Year, or 1,496 Jobs with Supports Created in High Poverty Communities for 1 Year, or 16,788 Head Start Slots for Children for 1 Year, or 14,479 Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for 1 Year, or 4,504 Scholarships for University Students for 4 Years, or 6,431 Students Receiving Pell Grants of $5,815 for 4 Years, or 63,103 Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or 168,519 Households with Wind Power for 1 Year, or 42,024 Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or 104,093 Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year. Each of these items is more than Charlottesville, which does not have 104,093 households, could possibly use.

The resolution drafted for Charlottesville's City Council follows:

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

Whereas Mayor Mike Signer has declared Charlottesville a capital of resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.[i]

Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[ii], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[iii],

Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iv],

Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[v],

Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[vi], end hunger and starvation on earth[vii], convert the U.S. to clean energy[viii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it's needed on the planet[ix], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[x], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[xi],

Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xii],

Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xiii],

Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiv],

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xv],

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.

 


[i] "Signer Declares City a 'Capital of Resistance' Against Trump, Daily Progress, January 31, 2017, http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/politics/signer-declares-city-a-capital-of-resistance-against-trump/article_12108161-fccd-53bb-89e4-b7d5dc8494e0.html

[ii] "Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending," The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0

[iii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans' care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states

[iv] "43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes," World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / "Europe's Refugee Crisis Was Made in America,"The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america

[v] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, "Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we've spent in the Middle East . . . and we're nowhere, actually if you think about it we're less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there's not even a contest . . .  we have a hornet's nest . . . ." http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html

[vi] "Free College: We Can Afford It," The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693

[vii] "The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger," Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

[viii] "Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch," Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org

[ix] "Clean Water for a Healthy World," UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf

[x] "Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries," The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

[xi] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending

[xii] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf

[xiii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33

[xiv] "Fight Climate Change, Not Wars," Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars

[xv] "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update," Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Walled In

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers:  I’ll be on the road this week, so the next post won’t be until Tuesday, March 21st. Tom]

President Blowback
How the Invasion of Iraq Came Home
By Tom Engelhardt

If you want to know where President Donald Trump came from, if you want to trace the long winding road (or escalator) that brought him to the Oval Office, don’t look to reality TV or Twitter or even the rise of the alt-right. Look someplace far more improbable: Iraq.

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next — San Francisco Event May 25

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

A century since World War I and a half-century since Vietnam, a group of authors will discuss new lessons learned and new activism underway.​

World War I was advertised as a war to end all wars. Big nations have been trying to use war to end war for a century now with little success. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke against the U.S. war in Vietnam, he proposed ending the institution of war, not mending it. Has the time come at last to end all war?

6-8 p.m. May 25, 2017, Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Please sign up on Facebook.

Speakers:

Jackie Cabasso, executive director of Western States Legal Foundation, North American Coordinator of Mayors for Peace, co-chair of United for Peace and Justice.

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, lecturer, writer, activist, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, author of books including Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

David Hartsough, activist, co-founder of World Beyond War, author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist.

Adam Hochschild, author of books including To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918.

Sponsored by World Beyond War, and Center on Conscience and War, with thanks to San Francisco Public Library.

Please sign up on Facebook.

Flyer PDF.

Alternative Flyer PDF.

Website: http://worldbeyondwar.org/100SF

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Winning World War II in the Twenty-First Century

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

The other day, I walked across much of Manhattan Island on the street where I grew up. Once upon a time, in a space of just four blocks along that very street there were four movie theaters (no small wonder in the 1950s). Only The Paris Theater, somewhat the worse for wear, still stands. Tao, a pan-Asian restaurant, has replaced one of them; the other two were obliterated, their buildings razed and built anew in a city that regularly eats itself for breakfast.

The Problem With the CIA and Drones

Thanks to a recent Wall Street Journal article, I've been hearing from Democratic partisans that President Trump has done something brand new, and that it amounts to tearing up the War Powers Resolution by giving the CIA the power to make war.

Now, I am seeking to build support for abolishing the CIA, and for impeaching Donald Trump, and for banning weaponized drones. So I'm not exactly a fan of murder by robot or a partisan Republican. And I'm all in favor of any new reasons (fact-based or otherwise) people might find to try to put an end to government killings. But I think there's some confusion we'd be better off without.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to make war, a power it has relinquished since 1941. President George W. Bush went through certain vestigial formalities of lying to Congress and obtaining vague authorizations. President Barack Obama, in launching a war on Libya, intentionally avoided any appearance of Congress having any role whatsoever. He also radically expanded drone wars in several countries (and "special" operations in numerous countries) -- in the case of Yemen predictably escalating it into a wider air and ground war, again without Congress. In Syria and Iraq he used foreign troops, then U.S. "advisors" combined with bombings to inch his way into new wars.

Obama oversaw the creation of the CIA's drone war operations. And while he advertised in the New York Times his role in picking whom to murder, he did not actually give the order each time. He delegated that power to subordinates. The Wall Street Journal's article suggests that Obama never gave the CIA the role of deciding whom to murder. This is contradicted by numerous reports over the years suggesting otherwise, including those claiming that, late in his presidency, Obama took that power away. But even those reports admit that very little is known and nothing officially stated about the CIA's role, and that the CIA has remained closely involved. We also know from a former drone pilot turned whistleblower that the CIA's drone pilots have always actually been Air Force pilots anyway:

"The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been."

The one partial transcript we have of a drone murder, out of all the hundreds of transcripts and videos that likely exist, depicts blood thirsty sadists eager to kill. The many thousands of reports we have on specific drone murders have not identified a single one in which any of the criteria that President Obama established for them was met. We know of no victims who could not have been arrested instead, or who were "an imminent and continuing threat to the United States of America," or whose killing involved zero risk of killing civilians.

Supposedly, the greater the role of the military, and the lesser the role of the CIA, the greater the capacity of Congress for oversight. That's a great argument for abolishing the CIA. But, in reality, we have yet to see the vaguest hint of Congressional oversight. Congress has not informed the public of the nature of the drone wars. We've seen no additional transcripts and no videos. Congress has not made use of the Constitution or even the War Powers Resolution to halt or even limit the drone murders in any way. Congress has not objected to the failure of Presidents Obama or Trump to meet Obama's self-imposed criteria. Nor has it created its own criteria.

Trump and his subordinates are using drone missiles at a faster pace even than Obama did. Trump has moved weaponized drones to the border of North Korea. And the story that Trump is giving the CIA freer rein to murder people with drones could possibly be true and is as likely as not a story Trump intentionally promoted. But this is at most a return to a policy that Obama created and then claimed to have ended. And it is at most a fine distinction of roles in operations that involved and still involve both the CIA and the military, as well as the NSA. The question of which of those entities is making a key decision should end the pretense that the president is making all of the decisions. And not a single bit of it is in any way in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Charter, the War Powers Resolution, the Kellogg Briand Pact, the Hague Convention of 1899, or the laws against murder that are on the books in each nation where the U.S. government is murdering people.

Focus: Libya - Mar 14, 2017


Eastern Libyan army says they have retaken oil ports, counterattack included ground, air and naval forces - Reuters


VIDEO: Pro-Haftar forces launch offensive to retake Libya oil terminals - YouTube


VIDEO: LNA fighter in Ras Lanuf showing SDB / allies vehicles and GRAD missiles destroyed during the offensive of today - Tom Feneux on Twitter


Eastern Libya oil corporation cancels unity agreement with Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation - The Libya Observer


Joint statement on Libya by France, Italy, UK and US: Oil must remain under the exclusive control of the National Oil Corporation - France-Diplomatie


Libya crude oil output falls 13% over the last 2 weeks, after field and port closings - Bloomberg


2 Experts: After Libya port battle, oil below $45? - Barrons.com


Tribal gathering in Benghazi affirms support for Haftar - libyaherald.com


Libya's eastern parliament quits UN peace deal with Tripoli - AP


Eastern Libya head Saleh: UN-backed Government of National Accord head Al-Sarraj 'just a Libyan citizen and not a side in the dialogue' - Libya Prospect


Libya's eastern parliament calls for elections next year - The Tribune


30 HoR members meeting in Tripoli announce continued support for the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement - libyaherald.com


Tripoli State Council chairman Abdulrahman Sewehli thanks Qatari emir for his support - libyaherald.com


Violent clashes erupt in Tripoli leaving several casualties - The Libya Observer


West Tripoli clashes force evacuation of central business area - libyaherald.com


Here is what we know about Tripoli tension - The Libya Observer


----------------------------------------------------------------

 

Russia appears to deploy forces in Egypt, eyes on Libya role - sources - Reuters


Lavrov says he has heard nothing about presence of Russian troops in Egypt - TASS


Libya's eastern parliament speaker says Russia offered aid - ABC News


Eastern Libya government ready to implement arms contracts with Russia reached under Gaddafi - Sputnik


Hafter envoy Badri again in Moscow - libyaherald.com


Russian private security firm RSB had armed men in east Libya - Reuters


Russia's RSB-group demined plant in Libya on country's official request: CEO - Sputnik


AFRICOM commander very concerned over Russian meddling in Libya - militarytimes.com


Libya: Why the EU is looking to Russia - CNN.com


Eastern Libya premier in Egypt to seek support for Dignity Operation - The Libya Observer


Egypt condemned Al-Qaeda attacks against oil facilities in Libya  - Daily News Egypt


Egypt scrambled to save Libya's Haftar over lost oil-fields - alaraby.co.uk


'Egypt seizes weapons headed to Gaza from Libya' - Jerusalem Post


'Egypt intercepts Libyan surface-to-air missiles in Sinai' - Jerusalem Post


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Talk Nation Radio: Ellen Schrecker on McCarthyism Then and Now

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talknationradio-20170315

Ellen Schrecker is a retired professor of American history at Yeshiva University and a leading authority on McCarthyism. Her books include Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America and No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism in the Universities. We discuss the history of McCarthyism and its current manifestations.

See: https://www.ellenschrecker.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next — NYC Event April 3

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

An event to mark 100 years since the United States entered World War I, and 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous speech against war. A new movement to end all war is growing.

Sign up on Facebook.

April 3rd, 2017, at NYU
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Vanderbilt Hall Rm 210
NYU School of Law
40 Washington Sq. S.

Speakers:

Joanne Sheehan, Coordinator of War Resisters League New England, former Chair of War Resisters’ International, and co-editor of Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns.

Glen Ford, activist, journalist, radio host, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report.

Alice Slater, New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, member of the Global Council of Abolition 2000, member of the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War.

Deborah Karpatkin, Co-General Counsel to the New York Civil Liberties Union, member of the NYC Bar Association, serving on its Military Affairs and Sex and Law Committees.

David Swanson, director of World Beyond War, author of books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.

Maria Santelli, executive director of Center on Conscience and War, founding director of the New Mexico GI Rights Hotline.

Sponsored by World Beyond War, and Center on Conscience and War, with thanks to NYU.

Sign up on Facebook.

Print flyer PDF.

Website: http://worldbeyondwar.org/100NY

War Abolition 101: How We Create a Peaceful World

Register for Online Course: How to Get to a World Beyond War

Sign up here.

How can we make the best argument for shifting from war to peace? How can we become more effective advocates and activists for ending particular wars, ending all wars, pursuing disarmament, and creating systems that maintain peace? Here’s a chance to learn from World Beyond War experts as part of a study group and to do so at your own schedule.

The course will be taught April 10 to June 5, 2017. Prior to the start date, you will be sent a link to a new website and means to access the course. Each week, an instructor will provide text and video, and interact with participants in a chat room. Each week, an instructor will assign an optional written assignment, and will return the assignment to the student with detailed feedback. Submissions and feedback can be shared with everyone taking the course or kept private between a student and the instructor, at the student’s choice.

The cost of the course is the same for someone completing all, some, or none of the assignments.

A certificate will be provided to those who complete all assignments.

Sign up here.

Course Outline and Instructors:

April 10 War can be ended — David Swanson

April 17 War is immoral — Bob Fantina

April 24 War destroys freedom — Barry Sweeney

May 1 War destroys nature — Leah Bolger

May 8 War endangers — Mary Dean

May 15 War impoverishes and wastes — Brian Terrell

May 22 There are alternatives to war / What is an Alternative Global Security System? — Tony Jenkins

May 29 War Will Not Go Away Unless We Make It / How to organize for Peace & Justice — David Swanson and Mary Dean

Sign up here.

Vermont Event: Building A World Beyond War: What Will It Take?

Building A World Beyond War: What Will It Take?

Sponsored by Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War Coalition

Funded by a Mercy Peace Initiative Grant

Speakers will include: David Swanson, Pat Hynes

Click here to register.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

9 AM to 4 PM
Winooski School District
60 Normand Street
Winooski, VT 05404

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