Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, No Justice at Gitmo

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Guinness Book of Warmongering

My son left a 2015 Guinness Book of World Records lying around. It's largely a mix of athletic feats, extravagant spending, freakish body conditions and diseases, and people who do dumb stuff in order to get into the book. It also features two sections focused on mass-murder. One celebrates the technology used to kill people. In that section, the United States is featured almost exclusively. The other section looks more at the wars, killing, and dying. In that section, the United States could not be avoided, but every effort was made.

Starting with the celebration of the tools of death, Guinness chooses to include these awards for the United States of America:

Most sea craft.

Most aircraft.

Most total firepower.

Most expensive super carrier.

Longest range stealth mini-sub.

Most expensive drone.

Most expensive military aircraft program.

Largest air force.

Most common fighter aircraft.

Longest "serving" bomber.

Largest anti-mine naval exercise.

Largest aerial assault using poisoned mice.

First successful combat submarine.

First air-to-air refueling.

First pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific.

First drone launched from a submerged submarine.

Highest number of firearms per person.

First 3-D printed pistol.

 

Wow! Cool! Exciting! Go, Science!

Now, flip to the pages with wars, and the U.S. role seems to shrink a bit. Lots of other nations emerge from the shadows. The United States is listed as spending the most money on militarism and launching the most drone strikes. And if you're paying attention, you'll notice that the "least peaceful" nations (Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria) are all nations that the United States is bombing, and that the nation from which the most refugees have fled (Afghanistan) has seen that happen during a U.S. "liberation" or occupation. But every effort is made to depict war as emerging from somewhere other than the Pentagon.

The deadliest conflict for children is supposedly in Syria, with no mention of Iraq. The list of wars with the highest death tolls since 1955 includes the war on Vietnam, but no mention of Iraq at all. The highest number of civilian deaths in an undeclared war is supposedly Syria, perhaps because somebody is thinking that somebody else "declared" "War!" before destroying Iraq. The "least secure" nukes are supposedly in North Korea. Etc.

A serious look at world records would be a little different. It might look something like this:

 

Nation fighting greatest number of simultaneous wars: United States.

Nation with greatest number of troops stationed abroad: United States.

Nation with greatest number of foreign bases: United States.

Nation with troops in greatest number of nations: United States.

Nation with greatest number of troops at sea: United States.

Nation with greatest military use of outerspace: United States.

Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to the world: United States.

Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to the Middle East: United States.

Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to poor nations: United States.

Nation giving the greatest quantity of weaponry to other nations: United States.

Nation giving the greatest quantity of weaponry to proxy fighters abroad: United States.

Nation whose weaponry is used on both sides of the greatest number of wars: United States.

Nation whose military most often trains two sets of troops to fight against each other: United States.

Nation holding out on ratifying the greatest number of treaties restricting weaponry and war-making: United States.

Only nation that has dropped nuclear bombs on cities: United States.

Nation using and selling the most cluster bombs, depleted uranium weapons, white phosphorus, and napalm: United States.

Nation whose military consumes the most petroleum: United States.

Nation that has overthrown the most other governments: United States.

Nation that has participated in the most wars since World War II: United States.

Nation that has dropped the most bombs since World War II: United States.

Nation that has killed the most people since World War II: United States.

Only nation in which a presidential candidate has been asked in a televised debate if he will be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of his basic duties if elected: United States.

Denying discrimination: Clintonian Political Calculus and the Culture of Hooey

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Hooey –- silly talk/nonsense –- frequently has slimy characteristics and slime is slippery.

Former President Bill Clinton recently slipped on some silly talk when trying to dance around a slime trail oozing from his presidency during the 1990s.

The Really Strangest Dream

Watch the video:

What in the world is he singing about? This: http://davidswanson.org/outlawry

Is Afghanistan the New Old West for Claim-Jumping?

By Bill Distler

"Privatization of Afghanistan's state-owned companies, which controlled many of the country's mineral resources, was ongoing but not complete."  (From the 2011 edition of the U.S. Geological Survey's Minerals Yearbook)

We have been at war in Afghanistan for over 14 years.  This answers the first four journalistic questions of who, what, where, and when, but it doesn’t answer the most important question.  Why?

To understand U.S. involvement in Afghanistan today it might help if we re-learn a common term from the Old West.  The term is “claim-jumping”.  In the history of the Old West, as taught to us by Hollywood movies of the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, claim-jumpers were right up there with the bushwackers, dry-gulchers, cattle rustlers, and horse thieves who played the necessary villains of the story.  Some of our greatest Hollywood heroes, including Audie Murphy (a World War II hero in real life), the Lone Ranger, Gabby Hayes, and John Wayne, had run-ins with these varmints.

Focus: New York and the Closed Primary System - Apr 18, 2016


NY voters file lawsuit over alleged election fraud claiming party affiliation changed without their consent, calls for an open primary - NY Daily News


Election fraud: Why are voter registrations changing? - Heavy.com


As registration mix-ups are reported, should NY Democrats switch to open primaries? - inquisitr.com


Discussion: NY voters to file suit calling closed primary 'a threat to our democratic system', claim party affiliation mysteriously changed - Reddit


Voter registration problem: Help us file an emergency injunction by describing your voter registration issue! - Election Justice USA


Independent voters could make polling sites a nightmare, officials bracing for a mess because they expect many Sanders voters will show up who can’t vote - New York Post


Independents may feel the Bern, but they can’t vote in New York’s closed primary - The Washington Post


Meet the people barred from voting In New York's presidential primary - ThinkProgress


N.Y. must do more to reverse state’s bad voter rate - NY Daily News


Primary rules test American democracy, How convoluted has the presidential selection process become? - CNN


Trumps closest confidants can’t vote for him because they’re still Democrats - World News Highlights


Donald Trump couldn’t vote in 2012 Republican primary - NY Daily News

 

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

Trump to RNC: Reform nomination system or ‘have a rough July at that convention’ - The Washington Post


VIDEO: Trump to RNC: Change rules or you’re going to have a rough Convention. People want their vote, to be represented properly - Grabien


Trump op-ed: Let me ask America a question: How has the electoral ‘system’ been working out for you and your family? - WSJ


Trump Convention Manager Manafort: We're trying to let voters decide who the nominee should be, not the party bosses -  RealClearPolitics


VIDEO: Trump convention manager Paul Manafort: "This Week" ABC full Interview - YouTube


Republican leaders consider rewriting convention rules - POLITICO


RNC Chair Preibus urges against changing convention rules before Cleveland - usatoday.com


Priebus blasted for 'major breach of trust' by top RNC officials - Washington Times


Trump supporters take American flag and walk out of GOP convention in Georgia as Cruz backers are chosen as delegates despite the Donald's primary victory - Daily Mail Online


Donald Trump: Cruz staged ‘attack' in Georgia to steal delegates - breitbart.com


Donald Trump fans protest as Miami Republicans pick convention delegates - Miami Herald


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

What's the Truth Hidden by the "Super Predators" Lie?

The desire to punish for the joy of punishing, for revenge, or for racist or sadistic domination has always had certain difficulties hiding behind the pretense of punishing for protection from danger. Creating fear of (young, black, male) "super predators" was a propaganda tactic for politicians like Hillary Clinton that bore some similarity to the efforts by politicians like Hillary Clinton to create fear of Iraqi weapons that didn't exist. The latter was meant to hide U.S. aggression toward Iraq. The former was meant to hide mad, raging punitive vindictiveness that sought to put lots of people in cages for lots of time regardless of the damage done.

One of the difficulties that pretending to punish people for public safety has in hiding real motives for mass incarceration is that the people whom the punishers most want to lock up for the longest time (or execute) are generally the least likely people to commit another crime (even if guilty of the first one). A 2009 study cited in the remarkable new book, Boy With a Knife, found that those who had been incarcerated for homicide were the very least likely to commit any kind of crime. In California in 2011 almost 49% of prisoners released later returned to prison for new criminal convictions, but that figure was less than 1% for those released who had been convicted of murder.

Part of the explanation for this may be that those convicted of murder were kept longer in prison and that older people are less likely to murder than younger people. But many studies have also found that prison has the opposite effect of rehabilitation, that people who learn to survive in prison are learning how not to survive when released, and that being released with the label of "felon" and little to no assistance in finding employment or income makes rehabilitation less likely. But even the theory that age is a factor or a theory that prison actually rehabilitates people cuts against the theory of the "super predator," of the subhuman monster incapable of reform.

There's also overwhelming evidence that locking up children makes them more likely to commit crimes as adults. This is true in general, and most children who are locked up are locked up for minor, non-violent crimes, the sorts of crimes that tend to be repeated a lot more than murder does. Yet, the United States, now the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would put an end to such practices, locks up children in adult prisons and tells itself this outrage is justified by the need to protect the public from what Hillary Clinton used to call "super predators." The U.S. tries about 250,000 children in adult courts each year, not because this serves the children or adults or society, but because of a general sense of hatred of and fear of those children. Wildly out of proportion to actual levels of crime, 62% of the children tried in adult courts are African American.

Boy With a Knife provides this context but principally tells the true account of a crime and its punishment. In 1993 in Massachusetts a white boy named Karter Reed fatally stabbed another boy. Nothing excuses that action anymore than anything excuses flying an airplane into the World Trade Center. But learning the events that led up to it explains it, just as learning what U.S. foreign policy was during the 1990s explains 9/11. Reed was denied a father by incarceration. Reed grew up in a culture of violence and danger. Reed believed, just like the Pentagon, that being armed with deadly weaponry would keep him safe. Reed panicked and lashed out, not bombing Libya but sticking a knife into another boy's stomach. He did so not imagining the boy would die. Nobody dies from such things on television, after all. He did so in a crowded school classroom full of adults there to break up a fight, adults who were guaranteed to witness his action and to apprehend him.

Karter was tried in adult court and sent away to adult prison following a trial in which he was falsely presented as a monster who had killed joyfully. Beyond the actual crime, which was indeed monstrous, Karter was prosecuted for supposedly being rebellious, anti-social, cool and calculating, enjoying murder and reveling in it -- all of which happened not to be true, but none of which had anything to do with the suffering of the victim, the victim's loved-ones, the witnesses, or the community. How many decades should be added to a child's sentence in hell for having smiled or for having broken trivial prison rules since being locked up pre-trial? How is restitution made or justice restored by locking a child in a cage until he's old?

The answer, it seems, is: with great difficulty and struggle and rarity. Karter Reed's story is one of redemption, of beating the odds, of rehabilitating himself despite prison, not because of it. It's one of the better stories from among the thousands of stories that we know so little of and that should not have to exist.

Irish VFP Member Edward Horgan to Appear in Ennis Court for Attempting to Inspect US Military Planes at Shannon

Shannonwatch and Veterans for Peace member Edward Horgan will appear in Ennis District Court tomorrow, Friday April 15th, to answer a charge that he entered a part of Shannon Airport to which persons were not permitted, contrary to airport byelaws. Dr Horgan was attempting to do what the authorities have repeatedly refused to do, which is to inspect US military aircraft in order to establish if they were in breach of international laws at Shannon.

On April 18th 2015, Dr Horgan was on his way to a peace conference in London when he saw four US Hercules C-130 jets lined up just beyond the Aer Lingus plane he was about to board. Knowing that the Gardaí were almost certainly not going to search them or to inform the public of the nature of these plane's reasons for being at Shannon, he felt compelled to search them.

In relation to the charges faced by Dr Horgan, John Lannon of Shannonwatch said: 
 

"There are many unanswered questions about the US military and CIA use of Shannon, and about the type of operations they are engaged in. We have provided the Gardaí with information indicating complicity in torture, weapons transportation and war crimes but they have done nothing. Placing the onus on civil society organisations and individuals to produce concrete evidence, and then arresting and charging them when they try to get it, is not how the law should be enforced. But that is what has happened in Edward Horgan's case."

Despite government claims that US military planes at Shannon are all completely unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives and are not part of military exercises or operations, Shannonwatch have evidence to the contrary. In September 2013, for example, a similar plane to the ones Edward Horgan was attempting to inspect was photographed at Shannon with a 30mm cannon mounted on the side.

"On that basis alone Dr Horgan was perfectly justified in inspecting the 4 Hercules jets he saw parked on the tarmac at Shannon" said John Lannon.

For more information phone 087 8225087 or email shannonwatch@gmail.com.

War Is A Lie: What Your Taxes Buy

By David Swanson
Remarks prepared for April 14 eventin Bellingham, Wash.

I believe that people in the United States often tend to have a particular hatred for taxes for three reasons above all others, but that many are not entirely clear in their thinking about these reasons. They are:

1) Unlike in many other countries, in the United States you don't really get very much for your taxes, so they seem like theft rather than a fair exchange.

2) To a greater extent than in many countries, U.S. taxes are not fairly applied. Working people often end up paying more than some very wealthy non-working people, as well as more than some very wealthy non-working non-people, otherwise known as corporations.

3) U.S. taxes originated as means to pay for wars, which were meant to be temporary, but our government has created a system of permanent war and permanent taxes (the majority of which go every year to wars and preparations for wars). Even those who cheer for wars can be upset when they find out the price tag. And those who recognize wars as immoral, counter-productive, one-sided slaughters of human beings see the resources wasted on wars as adding to the disaster of militarism in a major way because of what could have been done with those resources instead.

A bit more on these three points:

Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next and Steven Hill's Europe's Promise provide glimpses of what it must be like to pay taxes and receive something substantive in return. There are countries where, in exchange for your taxes, you receive guaranteed top-quality education from preschool through college, guaranteed comprehensive healthcare, up-to-date and relatively sustainable systems of parks, transportation, energy, and infrastructure, as well as laws guaranteeing paid parental leave and sick leave and vacation and retirement. These countries have better health, greater life-expectancy, smaller carbon footprints, higher happiness, and the freedoms and choices that come with not having to struggle for security all your life.

A governor of New York not long ago proposed spending a relatively paltry sum on college education for prisoners, to reduce recidivism, crime, and the greater expense of additional incarceration (and perhaps also to improve people's lives and those of their families and communities). The public threw such a fit that he withdrew the proposal. That would sound crazy in Europe, but in a country where most people have no easy way to go to college, a situation could have been created in which the simplest way to get to college would have been to commit a crime. Perhaps it was right to oppose that, but only if we instead create free college for all who want it.

The money now dodging taxes in Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming likely dwarfs that found in Panama. The wealthy do not pay payroll taxes on most of their income. They don't pay taxes, or pay outrageously low taxes, on wealth, on financial transactions, on estates, on what's hidden in shell companies, on what rolls in from work done by others. Corporate owners' rank and file employees sometimes pay higher tax rates than they do. This sort of injustice breeds deep resentment, and as we've all been trained to admire the skills of the wealthy (or the so-called "successful") no matter how they cheat, the resentment becomes focused primarily on the IRS.

If you hate taxes but dutifully cheer for wars, it's lucky you also oppose school funding sufficient to produce historical literacy. Taxes are a byproduct of wars. Were it not for wars and war propaganda, this country would have never begun paying taxes. If we were to end wars, and only if we were to end wars, we could consider ending taxes too.

Between 1789 and 1815, tariffs produced 90 percent of government revenue. But taxes were needed for wars, including wars against protesters of the taxes -- such as President Washington's quashing of the Whiskey Rebellion.

A property tax was put in place in 1789 in order to build up a Navy. More taxes were needed in 1798 because of the troublesome French. But taxation really got going with the War of 1812 and took many forms, sales taxes, land taxes, etc.

The income tax was brought to you courtesy of the Civil War. The North began an income tax in 1862, and the Confederacy in 1863, both of them progressive and graduated. The income tax and the inheritance tax were dropped by 1872, and big taxation did not come back until World War I and its accompanying propaganda campaign. The Great War included an income tax, an estate tax, a munitions tax, an excess profits tax, and other big taxes on corporations and luxuries. Some of these taxes vanished after the war, but the income tax didn't. However, most ordinary people were still not seriously touched by taxation, which drew heavily from the wealthy.

World War II, which has in this and many other ways never ended, changed all that. The income tax became mainstream. By the end of World War II over 90% of U.S. workers were filing tax returns and the income tax had become the single biggest source of government funding. It was called "the Victory Tax." In a Disney cartoon, the narrator warned Donald Duck that "It takes taxes to beat the Axis!" An Irving Berlin song was titled "I Paid My Income Tax Today." Among the lyrics: "You see those bombers in the sky? Rockefeller helped to build them, So did I!"

Lucky me! We've never stopped building the bombers or paying the taxes. But the U.S. government has slashed taxes on corporations and on the wealthy and borrowed heavily. Increasingly the burden to pay is on working people, and what's paid for is largely the ongoing permanent preparations for war. Currently about 54% of discretionary spending goes into militarism. Imagine if, during tax week debates and interviews, the media were to ask presidential candidates whether they think 54% is low, high, or just right. We'd learn what they think about basic spending priorities, and many TV viewers might learn for the first time what our government's current spending priorities are.

The typical U.S. debate between spending more money on the one hand, and spending less money while building a bigger military on the other, is at odds with the reality in which the military takes a majority of the money, and in which additional big chunks go toward making the United States #1 in prisons and highways and fracking, etc. We need a debate not just on how much money the government gets, but on where it gets it from and what it spends it on. There's a movement called the Global Day of Action on Military Spending that cites UN reports to the effect that the world each year is spending about $25 billion on life-saving assistance to those harmed by wars and natural disasters, but $1,776 billion on creating more wars.

We could radically transform for the better the lives of people in the United States and abroad, with money to spare, if we moved a fraction of the U.S. military budget to productive peaceful spending.

Focus: Hillary Clinton and Honduras - Apr 15, 2016


Hillary Clinton claims Honduran coup not illegal, government ‘followed the law’ when military ousted the President in 2009 - ThinkProgress


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton defend her role in Honduras coup when questioned by Juan González - Democracy Now!


VIDEO: 'She’s baldly lying': Expert Dana Frank responds to Hillary Clinton's defense of her role in Honduras coup - Democracy Now!


Death squads are back in Honduras, activists tell Congress - theintercept.com


How Hillary Clinton militarized US policy in Honduras, used a State Dept office involved in counterinsurgency to aid the coup regime - The Nation


Hillary Clinton needs to answer for ‘regime change' in Honduras - huffingtonpost.com


Hillary Clinton's emails and the Honduras coup - CEPR


Critical difference between Sanders and Clinton on whether children who fled violence in Central American countries, particularly Honduras, should be allowed to stay in the United States - Truthdig


‘Basta Hillary’ protesters in New York say Clinton ‘has blood on her hands’ destabilizing their Latin American homelands - latest.com


VIDEO: ‘Basta Hillary’ protesters in New York say Clinton ‘has blood on her hands’ destabilizing their Latin American homelands - YouTube


ARCHIVE: Obama says coup in Honduras is illegal - Reuters


ARCHIVE: Cable: American Embassy 2009 analysis of the forced removal of the Honduras president, asserting that it constituted an 'illegal and unconstitutional coup' - NYTimes.com


ARCHIVE: Legitimizing the Illegitimate: The Honduran show elections and the challenge ahead - NACLA


ARCHIVE: Hounduras: After the coup - Human Rights Watch


How Hillary helped ruin Haiti, Much of the blame for the country chaotic political scene can be pinned on Clinton’s State Department whose handpicked president made things worse - The Daily Beast


Tough questions about Haiti for Hillary Clinton - counterpunch.org


Hillary Clinton and Haiti: extract from Seitenfus’ book - counterpunch.org


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

Hysterical Cold-War Style US Reporting as 2 Unarmed Russian Jets Buzz US Destroyer Sailing Near Russian Port

By Dave Lindorff

 

US news reports on an incident Tuesday in which two Russian jet fighters buzzed very close to a US destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, in the Baltic Sea, make it sound like a serious threat in which the US might have been justified in defending itself against a simulated attack on the high seas.

Nowhere in the reports in the US was it mentioned that the Cook was itself engaging in provocative behavior.

The Science of Killing Has Become an Impractical Instrument of Political Domination

Surveying the U.S.’s imminent defeat in Vietnam in his 1972 book, Roots of War, Richard Barnet observed, “…at the very moment the number one nation has perfected the science of killing, it has become an impractical instrument of political domination.”
 
Since the 1980s, the U.S. has systematically violated the U.N.

Tomgram: William Astore, Words About War Matter

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

The Habit of Thought That Made U.S. #1 in Prisons and Wars

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune
Remarks prepared for April 12 event in Baltimore.

I'm going to start with a few brief opening remarks about what I think is the habit of thought that has made the United States #1 in the world in prisons and wars. And then I'll be glad to try to answer as many questions as you think of. These remarks will be published online at American Herald Tribune.

No matter how long I debunk and refute and mock and condemn arguments for wars, I continue over and over again to conclude that I'm still giving advocates for war too much credit. How ever little I take seriously as rational ideas the notions that U.S. wars can be defensive or humanitarian or peace-keeping, it's always too much. Wars' supporters, in large part, do not themselves actually hold such beliefs. Rather they have a lust for war that must be examined outside of any question of utilitarian impact.

I'm referring here to the mental processes of both top officials deciding to wage war, and ordinary members of the U.S. public expressing their approval. Of course, the two are not identical. Motives of profit are hushed up, while phony motives such as waging wars in order to "support the troops" are manufactured for public consumption but never ever mentioned in the private emails of war makers. Nonetheless, there is great overlap in the thinking of all members of a culture, including the thinking of cynical politicians in a corrupt regime, and there are points on which virtually all politicians, from best to worst, agree without giving the matter any thought.

One part of the common lust for war is the desire to punish wrongdoers. This motivation overlaps with revenge when depicted as a response to some wrong done to "us." It overlaps with defensiveness when depicted as punishing some person, force, or group that constitutes a dangerous threat. It overlaps with the drives for power and domination when presented as punishing a challenger to the authority of the U.S. government, or of the U.S. government and the handful of oligarchs who constitute "the international community." But this drive to punish can be distinguished as an important motivation that often seems to underpin more superficial rationalizations.

Look at a typical "humanitarian" war, such as the war to rescue Libyan civilians from imminent slaughter in 2011 or the war to rescue mountaintop dwellers from ISIS in 2013 which is ongoing and escalating. In both cases, the humanitarian rationale was essentially false. Gadaffi did not threaten to massacre civilians. The U.S. did not try to rescue civilians from ISIS; some were rescued by Kurds, some had no interest in being rescued. In both the case of Libya and that of ISIS, war supporters piled all sorts of other rationales on top of the humanitarian one, many of these related to punishment, including punishment of ISIS for beheading U.S. citizens with knives. Old grievances, some of them based on dubious claims themselves, were dredged up against Qadaffi. TV host Ed Schultz, for example, suddenly developed a passion for punishing Qadaffi for crimes that as far as I know hadn't disturbed Schultz's sleep for years prior if ever. Americans who could have all fit on a single and readily available airplane supposedly needed to be saved from the ISIS menace by a bombing campaign that focused on an oil-rich area, not on the threatened mountaintop.

In both cases, also, the humanitarian excuse was quickly abandoned. The rescues were quickly forgotten as the U.S. entered into a war to quickly overthrow the Libyan government and a war to slowly "destroy ISIS." In both cases, few questions were raised about this switch, and to many it was not perceived as a switch. Once you rescue helpless innocents from an evil menace, punishing the evil menace is just a normal follow through like completing a golf swing over your shoulder. In this way of thinking, the humanitarian argument isn't seen as a deceitful way to get a war started but as a justification for continuing the war until the wrongdoers are properly punished.

Look at a typical "defensive" war by the United States, like the vicious aggression against Iraq in 2003. Mixed in with all the lies about the supposed threat from Iraq was plenty of talk about punishing Iraq for violating UN resolutions and for that common reason given for bombing the people of a foreign nation: the tyrant of Iraq had "killed his own people" -- using, as is common, U.S. weapons. Similarly, the Gulf War had been punishment for the invasion of Kuwait, and the war on Afghanistan has been 15 years and counting of punishment for 9/11 of people who for the most part had never heard of 9/11.

What makes me turn from factually correcting a rational belief that these wars are somehow defensive to lamenting an irrational desire to punish somebody regardless of the consequences is the fact that when the wars are exposed as counterproductive, many of their supporters go right on supporting them and talking about the need to punish those who do evil -- even if the punishment itself constitutes a greater evil. Numerous top officials in the U.S. military and so-called intelligence so-called community admit the day after they retire that the drone wars and occupations are counterproductive, that they are generating more enemies than they are killing. This fact is casually referred to as self-evident in editorials by the biggest U.S. newspapers and in reports by U.N. rapporteurs, but never ever as an argument for ending these policies.

The global war on terrorism is predictably and admittedly generating more terrorism, and its supporters just don't care. The world's most expensive military, with troops in the most places and engagement in the most wars, creates for itself the most resentment and blowback, and the solution of the true believers is even more militarism.

What is the purpose of a war that brings more war? One answer can be found in listening to ordinary war supporters who ask whether war opponents want to just "let them get away with it," and in the remarks of President Obama who claims to be murdering with drones only individuals who could not possibly be apprehended and prosecuted. But, in fact, none of his victims has even been indicted, many if not most of them could easily have been apprehended, and most have not even been identified by name. The point of throwing around the word "prosecution" in discussing the new kill policy, as in discussing the old imprison-without-trial-and-torture policy is to convey the idea that what is being done is punishment.

We find, in fact, the drive to punish in arguments for wars going back for centuries. The Mexicans had to be punished for invading the United States, whether they did so or not. The Spanish had to be punished for blowing up the Maine, whether they did so or not. King George had to be punished for his crimes, the South had to be punished for seceding, the Vietnamese had to be punished for Tonkin whether it happened or not, etc. An especially curious thing about the drive to punish, as we see in foreign and domestic policy alike, is that it seems to be largely satisfied entirely regardless of whether the correct person is punished. And if the right person is punished, that person's background is of little concern.

Was ISIS created by the invasion of Iraq and the arming of fighters in Syria? Who cares? Does the bombing of ISIS kill innocents and boost ISIS recruiting? Who cares? Was a murderer and rapist brutally abused as a child? Who cares? Does DNA prove that he didn't do it at all? As long as that evidence can be kept from the judge or jury, who really cares? The important thing is to punish somebody.

There are probably more innocent men and women in prison in the United States now than there were people in prison here total -- innocent and guilty -- 30 years ago, or than there are total people in prison (proportionately or as an absolute number) in most nations on earth.

I don't mean that people are locked up for actions that shouldn't be considered crimes, although they are. I don't mean that people are policed and indicted and prosecuted by a racist system that makes some people far more likely to end up in prison than other people guilty of the same actions, although that is true, just as it's also true that the justice system works better for the wealthy than for the poor. I am referring rather to men and women who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they simply did not commit. I'm not even counting Guantanamo or Bagram or immigrants' prisons. I'm talking about the prisons just up the road, full of people from just down the road.

I don't know whether wrongful convictions have increased as a percentage of convictions. What has indisputably increased is the number of convictions and the lengths of sentences. The prison population has skyrocketed. It's multiplied several fold. And it's done so during a political climate that has rewarded legislators, judges, prosecutors, and police for locking people up -- and not for preventing the conviction of innocents. This growth does not correlate in any way with an underlying growth in crime. Nor have U.S. wars multiplied as the result of greater lawlessness among dictators who've fallen out of favor in Washington.

At the same time, evidence has emerged of a pattern of wrongful convictions. This emerging evidence is largely the result of prosecutions during the 1980s, primarily for rape but also for murder, before DNA testing had come into its own, but when evidence (including semen and blood) was sometimes preserved. Other factors have contributed: messy murderers, rapists who didn't use condoms, advances in DNA science that helps to convict the guilty as well as to free the innocent, avenues for appeal that were in some ways wider before the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and the heroic work of a relative handful of people.

An examination of the plea bargains and trials that put people behind bars ought to make clear to anyone that many of those convicted are innocent. But DNA exonerations have opened a lot of eyes to that fact. The trouble is that most convicts do not have anything that can be tested for DNA to prove their guilt or innocence. There are very likely hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the U.S. prison system. Are they innocent of everything? Are they saints? Of course not. They are innocent of the crimes for which they were punished. In the minds of many that doesn't matter. After all, they are poor, they are black, they have bad friends, they were in bad places. This is the thinking that supports bombing foreign nations. Did everyone in that foreign nation supposedly blow up an airplane decades ago? Of course not, but they are Muslim, they have dark skin, they hate us for our freedoms. If we're punishing them for the wrong crime, it all evens out because we're punishing them for some other crime or for their general criminal evilness.

Peter Enns has just published a book called Incarceration Nation that makes the case that punitiveness in U.S. public attitudes has played a huge role in the growth of mass incarceration. It may also have played a huge role in the growth of the permanent state of war. In absolute numbers and per-capita the United States dwarfs the rest of the world in war making and incarceration, and has seen huge growth in both in recent years. Enns cites studies finding that U.S. mass incarceration may actually increase rather than reduce crime. That finding has impacted U.S. debates on criminal punishment like a massive oak falling in a deserted forest. Nobody cares. What does it matter if mass incarceration increases crime? That's not the point. The point is to punish. And many are willing to be treated as criminals in airports, in banks, in schools, in their own neighborhoods, if it means that criminals are being severely punished. Many are willing to give the police the benefit of every doubt if racial and religious groups demonized by war propaganda are alleged to be a threat nearby.

Ending the U.S. system of counterproductive criminal punishment is as unthinkable in U.S. politics as ending the counterproductive "destroying of ISIS."

These ideas have to be unthinkable, because thinking about them could lead to radical change. Militarism and incarceration drain incredible resources from actually beneficial projects, they do horrendous damage to their victims and those victims' families, but also to prison guards, police, and members of the U.S. military. They increase racism, sexism, homophobia, and violence. They erode civil liberties. They destroy communities. They spread hatred and violence. They ruin lives. Their damage spreads for generations. Why is the United States tops in both of these evils? Are they connected?

Public opinion matters in any society. The United States is very far from democratic, but a cheap and easy way to gain electoral support while simultaneously pleasing ones funders has been to press policies labeled tough on crime and tough on terrorism. That these policies may increase crime and terrorism in comparison with other available and unconsidered options doesn't change this fact as long as people cry out for punishment at all costs. Careers in Washington, D.C., are not typically advanced by opposing wars. Prosecutors are not typically celebrated or rewarded for refraining from prosecuting the innocent. This problem is so universal as to go almost unnoticed.

I recently noticed a study by U.S. academics in the Journal of Peace Research, a study of whether the loss of lives or dollars increased or decreased U.S. public support for wars. The study only considered the loss of U.S. lives, even though the single biggest result of U.S. wars is the killing of foreigners. The possibility that the loss of non-U.S. lives could have any impact on U.S. support for wars was not deemed worthy even of consideration. The same could be said in many contexts for the prosecution of innocents in U.S. courts.

Scientists at Yale University who run experiments observing babies and toddlers claim that very, very young U.S. citizens exhibit a desire to see wrongdoers punished, even at a cost to themselves or others. These are, however, very young people who have been rapidly inhaling U.S. culture for months or years. And if we accept the unproven and perhaps unprovable claim that babies are somehow born with such desires, we still have to accept that 96% of humanity seems to set them aside in ways that people in the United States, when they grow older, do not.

Still, the author of the book Just Babies is onto something. He cites the phenomenon of internet lynch mobs. A video of a woman putting a cat in a dumpster can result in death threats. The exoneration of a man who witnessed a vicious crime and did not prevent it has led to widespread efforts to ruin his life. People not involved in these incidents in any way, hear about them and organize ways to cause punishment. That inclination to punish, to lynch, to "bring to justice," is also an inclination that has helped kill millions of people in the Middle East in recent decades and helped ruin millions of lives at the hands of the U.S. police and prison system.

If I'm right about this, then we could help reduce and end wars and reduce and eliminate incarceration by eliminating or radically reducing and reforming the desire to punish wrongdoers for the sake of that punishment, for the Schadenfreude, the punishment for punishment's sake. And we might be able to advance that cause by developing restorative justice at home and abroad.

I recommend Rebecca Gordon's new book, American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. But I don't want to see Bush or Obama or Rumsfeld or Hillary Clinton suffer. I want to see understanding of their crimes developed, repetition of their crimes deterred, restitution for their crimes attempted, remorse and reconciliation advanced. In urging yet another people's tribunal without the power to punish, Gordon urges the importance of making reparations and accomplishing public acknowledgment. The first such tribunal I testified at regarding Bush-Cheney war crimes was in January 2006, over a decade ago. The trick will clearly be to do one and simultaneously purchase a television network. The important point here, however, is that the desire for truth and reconciliation without punishment is not uncommon. Even in the United States there are many cases of murder victims' families opposing excessive punishment of those convicted of the murder. And there are families of 9/11 victims who have opposed from the start using 9/11 as an excuse for wars.

One year ago today Baltimore police murdered Freddie Gray, and many believed that because the police had done it, it was punishment -- for something. When people protested, police were brought in from all over the area, including police who had been trained in occupying enemy territory in Israel, police with weapons given them by the U.S. military, police trained by the federal government to think of themselves as at war with the public rather than serving the public.

The people of the city of Baltimore gave the federal government in taxes last year $606 million just for the Department of so-called Defense, not counting wars, not counting so-called Homeland Security, not counting nukes in the Department of Energy or Mercenaries in the Department of State or veterans care or debt on past spending. The people of Baltimore handed over further millions to pay for those things, possibly $1 billion in all. And another billion this year, and another the next. It's not clear what the people of Baltimore get for that beyond chaos, disaster and hatred of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, a militarized police force, the damage to U.S. troops from Baltimore, the erosion of our civil rights, the destruction of our natural environment, and the lack of funding for human needs.

Activist groups seem to be making these connections with events titled things like "From Ferguson to Palestine." A group in Los Angeles called Fight for the Soul of Our Cities is planning a march and rally on April 22nd against the militarization of police. There's a huge opportunity available if opponents of war and incarceration recognize that they are up against the same forces, the same mental habits, the same propaganda, the same corruption. If we can build a bigger movement, we can achieve bigger goals. But if we build that movement around the desire to punish the latest warmonger or police chief we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. We may get farther in the long run if we build a movement around a vision of a world without wars, prisons, or poverty -- and without the desire to punish people.

Why Do Ethics Classes Fantasize About Murder So Much?

At a post-screening discussion where I questioned the director of Eye in the Sky about the disconnect between his drone-kill movie and reality, he launched into a bunch of thought-experiment stuff of the sort I've tried to avoid since finishing my master's in philosophy. Mostly I've avoided hanging out with torture supporters.

If this were a philosophy paper I would now tell you that I am going to show that consequentialism is the most useful ethical framework. Then I would show you that. Then I would tell you I'd just shown you that. And the annoyingness would be only beginning. Luckily, I'm out of school and have told you my central concern in the headline.

Consequentialism, the idea that we should base our actions on the good or bad of the expected consequences, has always been very troubling to philosophy professors, possibly because of some of these reasons:

> It leaves ethics up to humans without any sort of pseudo-divine guidance.

> It means otherwise brilliant people like Immanuel Kant were quite wrong.

> Concluding that consequentialism is the way to go would eliminate the entire academic discipline of debating what is the way to go.

Focus: New York and the Closed Primary System - Apr 13, 2016


Early primary deadlines frustrate New Yorkers left unable to vote, 2.9 million not registered Democrats or Republicans as of April - Guardian


New York election officials worry about crush of ineligible voters, their phone bank is flooded with people who want to vote but can't - WNYW


Independents make last-ditch effort to vote In NY's primary - Gothamist


College students flock to see Bernie Sanders, but can they vote for him? - buffalonews.com


New York's closed primary could be Bernie Sanders' Achilles' heel - MSNBC


Could New York's closed primary cost Bernie Sanders? - globalcomment.com


NY State Assembly Bill A9661: Motion to make NY primary an open primary which permits persons registered, but not enrolled in a party, to vote - nysenate.gov


A guide to the Clinton-Sanders New York primary, by region - POLITICO


An early tableau of the New York primary - counterpunch.org


Prospects are bright for Hillary Clinton in closed primaries ahead - CSMonitor.com


Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon against Bernie Sanders: Democratic voters - The Washington Post


The fight for open primaries - openprimaries.org


'This system is so rigged': Sanders won 8 of the 9 past primary contests by double digits but Hillary got more delegates factoring in superdelegates - Salon.com


Consultant: Superdelegate system is ‘cushy patronage' - The Daily Caller


VIDEO: Dark money, lobbyists serving as superdelegates could decide the 2016 race - Democracy Now!


Clinton aide: Sanders 'trying to rig the system' by wooing superdelegates - CNNPolitics.com


Some Democrats accuse Sanders supporters of harassing convention delegates - Washington Post


How Bernie pitches to superdelegates, Sanders' efforts to woo party elites are meeting with mixed success - POLITICO


What would happen if superdelegates had to vote for the candidate who won their state? - The Washington Post

 

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

Donald Trump blasts 'crooked shenanigans' in primary process - AP


Donald Trump rages against the machine, issues a dire warning to his supporters: You're getting ripped off - CNN


VIDEO: Trump: The system is rigged, it's crooked - YouTube


Colorado protest planned after Trump loss - usatoday.com


Donald Trump confirms that his children will not be voting for him in New York - The Independent


Donald Trump's support deeper than it looks - POLITICO


POLL: Donald Trump wins in ‘Real New Yorker’ category - WSJ


POLL (Associated Press/GfK): GOP voters think candidate with most votes should win nomination - CBS News


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

Clinton has a delegate lead thanks to 6 Deep South states: The Democratic Convention Pledged Delegates Story Nobody Talks About

By Dave Lindorff

 

Bernie Sanders is behind Hillary Clinton in the number of pledged delegates he has amassed over the course of just under two and a half weeks of primaries and caucuses. Her advantage in pledged delegates has fallen over the last month and a half from a high point of just over 300 to a current 213.

Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, A Mother Confronts the Wounded Ego of the Century

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

Talk Nation Radio: Gregory Shupak on the Case Against Bombing ISIS

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-gregory-shupak-on-the-case-against-bombing-isis

Dr. Gregory Shupak has a PhD in Literary Studies and teaches Media Studies at the University of Guelph in Toronto. He is an activist and a fiction writer and his political analysis appears regularly on Jacobin, Middle East Eye, and elsewhere.He discusses these topics:

"The Case Against Bombing ISIS"

and

"Abolish the Military"

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

Ten Revealing War Lies

Read the initial remarks as an article at teleSUR.

Introducing IOGCC: The Most Powerful Oil and Gas Lobby You’ve Never Heard Of

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) is far from a household name, but a new investigation published by InsideClimate News' Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Lisa Song may have just put what is likely the most powerful oil and gas lobbying node you've never heard of on the map.

Image Credit: Google Maps

The problem’s that Clinton IS qualified for president: Is Bernie’s ‘Political Revolution’ the Real Thing or a Pathetic Joke?

By Dave Lindorff

 

Bernie Sanders had a shining moment last week at a massive rally in Philadelphia at the Temple University Liacouras Sports Center. The high point came when he mentioned that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had implied that he was “not qualified” to be president -- a charge that she has continued to make in a tense campaign for the April 19 Democratic primary in New York state.

Tomgram: William Hartung, What a Waste, the U.S. Military

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

New poem by ThisCantBeHappening! resident poet Gary Lindorff: 'We are not all in the same boat'

If the 5% disappeared

And the 95% became the 100%

There would be a tomorrow.

We could buy maybe another hundred years

Ending Human Violence is a Task for Each of Us

Do you think that ending human violence is impossible? Do you believe that even aiming to do so is unrealistic? Well, you might be right. But you might also be interested to know that there are a lot of people around the world who are committed to trying. And, if you think the aim is worthwhile, you could be one of them.

Focus: New York and the Closed Primary System - Apr 11, 2016


New York's primary is ‘closed shut' to certain voters, experts say its rules prevent people from voting for their preferred candidate - ThinkProgress


The ‘wacky’ delegate rules: a New York primary primer - The Buffalo News


NY election boards inundated with calls from voters “pissed off" about registration issues - Gothamist


New York election fraud? Voters have reported problems with their registrations - Heavy.com


Can New York change to an open primary election? Voters are pushing for the State to set new rules before April 19 - Heavy.com


Protest NY's closed primary: event set for Thursday, April 14 at 12 PM at NYC City Hall - facebook.com


Two of Trump’s kids will not be voting for their father during New York’s closed primary because they missed the October deadline to register for a political party - TheBlaze.com

 

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

Trump: Primary process 'corrupt' on both Republican and Democratic sides - TheHill


VIDEO: Trump complaining about the primary process: Whether it’s me, or whether it’s Bernie Sanders... the system is corrupt - Reuters


Ordinary primary voters feel sidelined, it turns out that the world’s foremost democracy is not so purely democratic - New York Times


Closed primaries threaten our democratic ideals, a political parties’ stranglehold on the system - centralfloridafuture.com


ARCHIVE: Why Trump wins: Open primaries, maybe? - nbc.com


ARCHIVE: A stolen election: Without closed primaries, early voting system and archaic registration rules, Bernie Sanders wins - The News Hub


ARCHIVE: Bernie Sanders won Michigan due to an “open” primary. What does this mean for Hillary Clinton? - dailynewsbin.com


ARCHIVE: Arizona’s closed primary part of reason for long lines - AP


ARCHIVE: Sick of political parties, unaffiliated voters are changing politics - NPR


LIST: Presidential primary or caucus type (closed or open) by State - FairVote


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

Speaking Events

David Swanson at St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, October 5, 2016.

David Swanson in Fairbanks, Alaska, October 22, 2016.

Find Events Here.

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