Tomgram: Engelhardt, Living on a Demobilized Planet

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

Planet of the Surreal
Turning 75 in the Age of Trump
By Tom Engelhardt

As I turn 75, there’s no simpler way to put it than this: I’m an old man on a new planet — and, in case it isn’t instantly obvious, that’s not good news on either score.

I still have a memory of being a camp counselor in upstate New York more than half a century ago. I was perhaps 20 years old read more

Mike Gravel Should Be In the Debates

I spoke with Senator Mike Gravel on Thursday and asked him whether it seemed fair to him to be excluded from Democratic Party Presidential Primary debates on the basis of his performance in polls that did not include his name among those whom people could say they supported.

Of course, he said that it did not. But he also raised some additional questions, and told me what he would say if included in a debate.

Gravel said that 70,000 supporters had donated to his campaign. That means he has qualified read more

Calling out lying media and Establishment Dems like Harris and Biden: The BS about Medicare-for-All Has to Stop!

By Dave Lindorff

It is increasingly clear that the wagons have circled both in the Democratic National Committee and in the news media to shut down any possibility of a national health plan as proposed by Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) or Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The media for their part, keep touting — almost a year and a half before Election day, and just under a year after next year’s Democratic primary voting and caucusing, that two “centrists” read more

Is Tulsi Gabbard Qualified?

I want Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic Presidential debates because she speaks out against wars. She raises the topic unasked. She wants various wars ended or not launched. She wants impeachment made automatic for presidents who launch wars. What’s not to love?

I also want Mike Gravel included for the same reason. If anything, he’s even better than Gabbard. But Gravel openly says he doesn’t want to be elected; he just wants to improve the debates. I wish Gabbard would say the same thing. read more

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, I Had an Abortion and Now I’m Not Ashamed

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

Abortion is about women and women only, right? Their bodies, their pregnancies, their lives. This is a common enough assumption, even though my own experience 36 years ago tells me something different — and even though perhaps no one is playing a greater role, when it comes to abortion, than a man who is the center of everyone’s attention these days. You know, the fellow read more

Billionaires and American Politics

Is the United States becoming a plutocracy?

With the manifestly unqualified but immensely rich Donald Trump serving as the nation’s first billionaire president, it’s not hard to draw that conclusion.  And there are numerous other signs, as well, that great wealth has become a central factor in American politics.

Although big money has always played an important role in U.S. political campaigns, its influence has been growing over the past decade.  According to the Center read more

Military Bill Amended for the Better: This Pig Has Really, Really Good Lipstick

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, July 14, 2019

The latest U.S. House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is beyond global in scope and not the least bit defensive, offended Donald Trump’s desire for limitless power and spending in dozens of ways detailed by the people he employs to write things longer than tweets — and that was before it was amended. And the amendments are shockingly good.

If you’re going to pass a stinker of a bill, piling several read more

Remnants of War

July 12, 2019

Intense fighting and hideous attacks battered Afghans throughout their country last week as negotiators in Qatar weighed the benefits and costs of  a peace agreement that might stop the bloodshed.

In Kabul at least 40 people, including one child, were killed in a complex Taliban attack. Dozens of children whose school was partially collapsed by a massive car bomb were injured. Of these, 21 were hospitalized with serious injuries.

New York Times correspondent Mujib Mashal posted (on read more

U.S. House of Representatives Creates Requirement That There Be Some Basis for Any Foreign Bases

By a vote of 219 to 210, at 2:31 p.m. on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar requiring that the U.S. military provide Congress with the cost and the supposed national security benefits of every foreign military base or foreign military operation.

World BEYOND War had flooded Congressional offices with the demand for Yes votes.

Here is the text of the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act as passed:

At the end of subtitle G of title X, insert the following: SEC. 10. REPORT ON FINANCIAL COSTS OF OVERSEAS UNITED STATES MILITARY POSTURE AND OPERATIONS. Not later than March 1, 2020, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the financial costs and national security benefits of each of the following for fiscal year 2019: (1) Operating, improving, and maintaining overseas military infrastructure at installations included on the enduring location master list, including adjustments that take into account direct or in-kind contributions made by the host nations of such enduring locations. (2) Operating, improving, and maintaining overseas military infrastructure supporting forward-deployed forces at overseas contingency locations, including adjustments that take into account direct or in-kind contributions made by the host nations of such enduring locations. (3) Overseas military operations, including support to contingency operations, rotational deployments, and training exercise.

In this video from Wednesday on C-Span, at 5:21, Rep. Omar makes the case for a need to justify foreign military bases, not just blindly fund unlimited and unknown empire. At 5:25 Rep. Adam Smith makes the case as well. One of their colleagues argues in opposition, but it’s difficult to find coherent meaning in what he says, and it’s hard to imagine what a persuasive case could be for the 210 No votes recorded. What could be the advantage of coating the globe with military bases without bothering to know what each one costs or whether each one plausibly makes you safer or actually endangers you?

The closing of U.S. bases and the removal of U.S. military personnel are critical to the elimination of war.

The United States has more than 150,000 military troops deployed outside the United States on more than 800 bases (some estimates are more than 1000) in 160 countries, and all 7 continents. These bases are the central feature of U.S. foreign policy which is one of coercion and threat of military aggression. The U.S. uses these bases in a tangible way to preposition troops and weaponry in the event they are “needed” at a moment’s notice, and also as a manifestation of U.S. imperialism and global domination — a constant implicit threat. Additionally, because of a history of military aggression, countries with U.S. bases are targets for attack.

There are two principal problems with foreign military bases:

  1. All these facilities are integral to preparations for war, and as such undermine international peace and security. The bases serve to proliferate weapons, increase violence, and undermine international stability.
  2. Bases cause social and environmental problems at a local level. Communities living around the bases often experience high levels of rapes committed by foreign soldiers, violent crimes, loss of land or livelihood,

read more