Stand with the Marshall Islands

By Jackie Cabasso, Den Hague

From 1948 – 1956 the United States detonated 67 nuclear weapons test explosions over the Marshall Islands, a tiny nation in the South Pacific. During this period, the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima-sized bombs were detonated daily. Several islands were vaporized, others will remain uninhabitable for thousands of years. Many Marshallese died, babies were born with birth defects never seen before, and residents of the islands are still battling with cancers and other radation related diseases.

From March 7 – 16 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the judicial branch of the United Nations, will hear oral arguments in the Marshall Islands’ cases against the UK, India and Pakistan.* The cases concern whether the UK is complying with Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and whether India and Pakistan are complying with what the Marshall Islands contends, building on the 1996 ICJ opinion, is a customary international law obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament, including cessation of the nuclear arms race.

Tony DeBrum, former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands will be making opening statements on behalf of the Marshall Islands on Monday and Tuesday.

These hearings concern preliminary issues as to whether the cases are suitable for adjudication on the merits. While the cases will concern preliminary issues, the substance of the cases will certainly come up in various ways.

I will be in The Hague, working with Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to support the Marshall Islands by doing media outreach and social media. Here’s how you can follow the hearings from wherever you are.

·        Sign up to receive Rick’s daily updates: https://www.wagingpeace.org/sign-up-to-get-daily-email-updates-from-the-hague/

·        Follow me on Twitter @JackieCabasso and retweet. I’ll be live tweeting, using the hashtag #NuclearZero

·        Like and share my Facebook posts at https://www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation/

·         Watch the hearings for yourself. Video webcasts will broadcast live and posted on the International Court of Justice website at: www.icj-cij.org/multimedia

·        Read the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s March 2 press release at https://www.wagingpeace.org/oral-hearings-on-the-marshall-islands-nuclear-disarmament-cases-to-begin-at-the-international-court-of-justice.   

·        For more information about the cases see www.nuclearzero.org.

If you’re in nearby Europe, please consider coming to The Hague to support the Marshall Islands by your presence in the courtroom. Three press releases issued by the ICJ (one for each of the cases) provide the hearing schedule and admission procedures to the court. There is no advance registration procedure.

·        Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/160/18888.pdf

·        Marshall Islands v. Pakistan http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/159/18886.pdf

·        Marshall Islands v. India http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/158/18884.pdf

Please help spread the word. WE STAND WITH THE MARSHALL ISLANDS: NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT HEROES!

*You may be wondering why only three cases only are going forward. In April 2014 the Marshall Islands filed lawsuits against all 9 nuclear-armed states. Regrettably, the United States, Russia, China, France, Israel and North Korea do not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ and are ignoring the cases brought against them.

Pardon Me?

Dear Mr. President,

Forty-five years ago I was convicted of violating the Selective Service Act. Some time later, after completing my parole and graduating from law school, I received a letter from President Carter inviting me to apply for a Presidential pardon. At the time, this opportunity was being afforded to all those who had been convicted of Selective Service Act violations.
 
But in my case, I believe the offer was a mistake. Indeed, I had been convicted of violating the Selective Service Act, but not for refusing induction into the armed services or refusing to register for the draft. My conviction was for attempting, along with several others, to steal Selective Service files from a draft board office, in particular, to steal all the 1-A files, that is, the files of those young men who were subject to immediate induction.
 
In response to the invitation to apply for a pardon, I wrote President Carter a letter, telling him that I thought he had made a mistake. I wrote that I thought he was confused -- that the government should be applying to me for a pardon, not the other way around. And I wasn't prepared to offer my government a pardon at that time.
 
I did not hear back from the President.
 
Well, I'm getting older now, and for several reasons, I have reconsidered. First, I don't want to die holding this grudge that I have held onto for nearly half a century.
 
Second, in the last several years, I have heard many talks, seen a few films, and done some reading about forgiving those responsible for genocides, mass atrocities, and large-scale human rights violations. Often, these have given me much to think about.
 
Third, I was greatly moved by your visit late last year to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution. That was the very prison in which I had begun serving my five-year sentence in November 1971. It was called El Reno Federal Reformatory at that time. I was amazed that you were the first sitting President to have ever visited a federal prison. Your visit showed me you were aware that but for accidents of circumstance often beyond our control, our life experiences could just as easily have been interchanged with those much less fortunate.
 
So I have decided that it would now be appropriate for me, as an individual, to invite you, as the U.S. government official most responsible for our foreign policy, to apply to me for the pardon that I was unwilling to grant at the time of that exchange of letters with President Carter.
 
Now, I have never entertained a request for a pardon before, so I don't have any forms for you to fill out. But I think a simple statement of why the U.S. government should be forgiven for its actions throughout Southeast Asia during those several post-World War II decades should suffice. References to specific crimes would help. I don't intend to give a blanket, President Nixon-type pardon for everything my government did or may have done. Let's keep it to the offenses that we know about.
 
You should also know that this pardon, should it be granted, would come only from me. I have no authority to speak for others harmed by U.S. actions -- whether in the U.S. armed forces or in U.S. prisons, or the millions of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians who suffered as a result of our crimes.
 
But maybe there's an analogy in the realm of pardons to that saying that if you save one life, you save the entire world. Maybe if you receive a pardon from a single person, from me, it can bring you comfort equivalent to having been pardoned by all the relevant parties, if not the entire world.
 
Please also be advised that this pardon does not apply to more recent U.S.
crimes, some of which, e.g., failure to seek accountability for U.S.-committed torture, more directly implicate you, Mr. President.
 
I hope you give strong consideration to accepting this invitation to apply for a pardon for our government's crimes. Please be assured that, unlike any Supreme Court nominee, your application will be dealt with promptly and forthrightly. You certainly can expect a response from me before the end of your term of office.
 
I look forward to hearing from you, and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to extend to you this invitation.
 
Sincerely yours,
Chuck Turchick
Minneapolis, Minnesota
B.O.P. #36784-115

Not a typical TCBH! article, but urgently important: If You and a Spouse Will Both Be 66 by 4/30, a Pot of Money Awaits You

By Dave Lindorff

 

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR BOOMERS "OF A CERTAIN AGE"

 

Syria News - Mar 5 , 2016


In its first week, Syria truce brings sharp drop in violence - AP


Syria accord lays ground for vital progress, say aid chiefs - aa.com


UN delivers aid to rebel towns east of Syria capital - Al Arabiya English


Water returns to Syria’s war-torn Aleppo - Al Arabiya English


Syrians resume peaceful anti-government street protests in rebel-held areas - DW.COM


VIDEO: Syria’s first major public protests in years - Fusion


Truce reached with Syria’s Jaysh al-Islam, opposition groups: Russian MoD - Sputnik International


Islamic State’s governor for Aleppo reportedly killed in airstrike - The Long War Journal


IS, al-Nusra declare mutual ceasefire in southern Syria, it comes after two days of fighting between the two organizations - The Times of Israel


Is ISIS going broke? - CNN


Is the Islamic State hurting? The President’s point man on ISIS speaks out - The New Yorker

 

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

France, Britain, Germany urge Syrian opposition to attend peace talks - Yahoo News


Syria opposition: Circumstances not suitable for peace talks - AP


UN envoy optimistic about the ceasefire, says Syrians should decide Assad's fate - Yahoo News


VIDEO: UN envoy insists Syria peace talks have momentum - France 24


Assad: Syrian ceasefire a ‘glimmer of hope’ - VOA


Putin: Syrian regime poll ‘does not interfere’ with peace process - Al Arabiya English


Large landing warship to deliver supplies for Russian air task force in Syria: source - TASS


Underwater and underhanded: Russian submarines come to the Mideast - Observer


All hands on deck: Russian military sets up high-tech radar system in Syria - Sputnik International


Armenia pulled into Russia-Turkey clash in Syria - Washington Times


Russia has been 'helpful, and… cooperative' in Syria peace process: State Dept - sputniknews.com


GOP foreign policy hawks declare war on Trump, some say they could vote for Hillary Clinton - POLITICO

 

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

Kurds receive no official invitation to join Next Syria peace talks - Sputnik


Syrian peace talks without Kurds 'incomplete', Russian FM says - ekurd.net


Kurdish YPG accuses Syrian Arab opposition in Aleppo of violating deal - ekurd.net


43 YPG, 140 IS forces were killed during clashes on Geri Spi: Kurdish official - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Kurd-led fighters take key hill from Nusra Front - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Turkey ‘protects & supplies’ Al-Nusra camps at its border: Syria’s YPG (VIDEO) - RT News


Russian MoD accuses Turkey of ongoing hostilities in Syria's Aleppo, Idlib as it ensures steady supply of weapons to terrorists and keeps shelling Kurdish militia - Sputnik


Turkey not shelled Syrian Kurdish YPG since truce: Ankara official - ekurd.net


Erdogan accuses Turkey's constitutional court of breaching Constitution, by releasing two journalists arrested for investigating the delivery of weapons from Ankara to radical groups in Syria - Sputnik


Erdoğan: Prosecutors may object to the release of the journalists who unveiled a story on MIT trucks delivering weapons to radical groups in Syria - todayszaman.com


Freed journalist says no response came after seeking MİT’s view on trucks story - Cihan


Turkey seizes control opposition Zaman newspaper linked to Gulen - BBC News


VIDEO: Turkish police raid Zaman HQs, fire tear gas on readers after gov’t takeover - todayszaman.com


Jordan foils Isis terror plot as Saudi Arabia calls for Syria's Arab neighbours to pick a side - ibtimes.co.uk


Saudis ready to give Syrian rebels missiles against Russian warplanes and tanks - debka.com


Newly translated WikiLeaks Saudi cable: Overthrow the Syrian regime 'by all means available', but play nice with Russia – Levant Report


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

Everybody Turn Out for a Day of Peace and Solidarity in New York

What happens when there are endless wars accompanied by militarized policing, spreading racism, erosion of civil rights, and concentration of wealth, but the only news is election news, and none of the candidates wants to talk about shrinking the world's largest military?

We happen. That's what. We turn out for a Day of Solidarity and Peace in New York City on Sunday, March 13th. We start by signing up at http://peaceandsolidarity.org and inviting all of our friends to do so. If we can't come, we invite all of our friends anywhere near New York to sign up and be there. We sit down and think of every person we remember hearing ask "But what can we do?" and we tell them: You can do this.

We stopped the war mongers who wanted to rip up the agreement with Iran last year, and the political progress in Iran reflects the wisdom of diplomacy as an alternative to yet more war. We stopped a massive bombing campaign of Syria in 2013. Our brothers and sisters just this month stopped the construction of a U.S. military base in Okinawa.

But U.S. weapons and bases are spreading across the globe, ships are sailing provocatively toward China, drones are murdering in numerous nations with a new base just opened in Cameroon. The U.S. military is assisting Saudi Arabia in bombing Yemeni families with U.S. weapons. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is being accepted as permanent. And the U.S. wars in Iraq and Libya left behind such hell that the U.S. government is hoping to use more war to "fix" it -- and to add another overthrow in Syria.

Why will no candidate (in the two-party system) propose a serious reduction in military spending and war making, foreswear the use of killer drones, commit to making reparations to the nations recently attacked, or agree to join the International Criminal Court and to sign onto the many treaties limiting warfare on which the United States is a holdout? Because not enough of us have turned out and made noise, and brought new people into the movement.

Will you join us in New York City on March 13th to say "Money for Jobs and People's Needs, not War! Rebuild Flint! Rebuild our Cities! End the wars! Defend the Black Lives Matter movement! Aid the world, stop bombing it!"

Peace Poets, Raymond Nat Turner, Lynne Stewart, Ramsey Clark, and other speakers will be there.

Will your organization help spread the word? Please let us know and get listed as part of this effort by emailing UNACpeace [at] gmail.com. Can you help in other ways? Have ideas for how to make this stronger? Please write to that same address.

In a presidential debate in December a moderator asked one of the candidates: "Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief? . . . You are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians?"

The candidate mumbled something in response instead of shouting Hell No, as any decent person was obliged to do and as we will do on the Day of Peace and Solidarity. How are your lungs? Ready to make some noise? Join us!

Free Bowe Bergdahl!

By Phillip Butler, PhD, CDR, USN (ret.)

Robert Bowdrie “Bowe” Bergdahl was held as a POW by the Taliban for 5 years and now for over a year by the U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He has received constant treatment from an Army psychiatrist but he has not been returned to his family and home in Hailey, Idaho. Thus in my opinion his recovery and reintegration process has probably done more harm than good by continuing his isolation from the world. But his treatment after repatriation is more about politics than his service or U.S. Army procedures. Consequently, after what he has gone through and endured, he should be freed with an honorable discharge and all of his pay and benefits. Anything less would be an injustice.

Bowe was born in 1986, to Robert and Jani Bergdahl. He and his sister Skye were home-schooled by Jani in Hailey, Idaho. He received a GED certificate through the College of Southern Idaho when he was in his early 20s. He studied and practiced fencing, martial arts and ballet, but has never owned a car, and has ridden his bicycle everywhere. Bowe also spent time in a Buddhist monastery. In 2006 he entered basic training in the United States Coast Guard but was discharged after 26 days for psychological reasons and received an "uncharacterized discharge." In 2008 he enlisted in the United States Army and graduated from the infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was then assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. So why was he enlisted in the Army and assigned to combat after being released from the Coast Guard for psychological reasons?

Bowe was known to be a quiet loner but not a troublemaker. He studied maps of Afghanistan and was learning to speak Pashto according to other soldiers with him. His unit was sent to an outpost named Mest-Malak in Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. On June 30, 2009, only a year after his enlistment, Private First Class Bergdahl went missing from his unit. The exact circumstances of his disappearance and subsequent capture are not clearly known. But what is clearly known is that Bowe Bergdahl was a prisoner of war of the Afghanistan Taliban for the next 5 years.

There are subsequent claims that soldiers were killed as a result of Bowe’s disappearance and capture. But a review of media reports shows that Sergeant Bergdahl’s critics appear to be blaming him for every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance. Thus began the politicization of Bowe’s life, during the 5 years of his captivity, during the prisoner exchange that freed Bowe by President Obama, and now with decisions relating to punishment by the Army.

Bowe has related that he was tortured, beaten, and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after an escape attempt. He also told medical officials that he was locked in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time as punishment for trying to escape. He was aPOW for 5 years by himself with no other Americans, and no prior training on how to conduct himself or to resist as a POW.

A personal note here: I was held for 8 years as a POW in Vietnam, along with hundreds of other American airmen as time went along after my capture. I was trained prior in a Navy survival school. And I was a Navy Lieutenant, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. So unlike Bowe, not only did I have training for the possible eventuality of being captured but I was also with fellow Americans. We were able to support each other and resist as an organized, military, team. What a difference from the circumstances of PFC Bowe Bergdahl. What a difference we experienced upon repatriation, welcomed as returning heroes. Bowe is being court martialed.

At first when the recommendation for Non Judicial Punishment was made public, Senator John McCain, let it be known that if there were no more severe punishment for Sergeant Bergdahl, the Senate Armed Services Committee of which Senator McCain is chair, would hold its own hearing. He said “I am not prejudging, OK, but it is well-known that in the searches for Bergdahl, after-we know now-he deserted, there are allegations that some American soldiers were killed or wounded, or at the very least put their lives in danger, searching for what is clearly a deserter. We need to have a hearing on that.” Senator McCain thus ignored the fact that no soldiers had been killed or wounded while searching for Sergeant Bergdahl.

Senator McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee also decides on promotions and assignments for high-ranking military officers - like General Robert Abrams. And now General Abrams is the general who has decided to disregard the recommendation of NJP for Sgt. Bergdahl. On December 14th, 2015, General Abrams announced his decision that Sergeant Bergdahl will face a general court-martial and the possibility of life in prison.

So here we are, and here Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is. A one-year experienced Private First Class soldier, now facing a possible life-in-prison penalty in an Army Court Martial. But this is what always happens when very junior military people are made to suffer for much greater transgressions. The greater questions are of course being ignored: Why and how did our military come to be so politicized? Why are we fighting in Afghanistan in the first place? What President and Administration got us in illegally and immorally, from the beginning? Why aren’t they being punished?

We all need to examine what is really going on here. The upcoming court martial of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is just a signpost of a much deeper, cancerous infection. And punishing this low-ranking man who never should have been in the Army in the first place is anathema to any kind of justice.Free Bowe Bergdahl!

Phillip Butler, PhD CDR, USN, (ret.)
President,
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 46

Profile in lack of courage: Sen. Warren has Betrayed the Cause the Put Her in the Senate and Once Made Her a Hero to Millions

By Dave Lindorff

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren just had a chance to turn the tide in this rigged Democratic primary season last Tuesday, and she ran away from it.

Are We Willing to Pay the Price for Peace?

BrianPointing3Premiering around the end of March will be one of the best films I’ve ever seen on peace activism: Paying the Price for Peace produced by Bo Boudart and others. The film focuses on S. Brian Willson while also informing the viewer on the state of U.S. warmaking and what can be done about it.

This is a story of courageous sacrifice, dedication, excitement, adventure, solidarity, and a service truly worthy of thanking the story’s hero for. If you’re imagining that war will give your life meaning, take a look at this film and see what trying to end war could do for you.

If you dislike war or poverty or environmental destruction, take a look at this film for examples of how we can all do more to make the world better. The film inspires, rather than shaming. But it inspires with examples that many find difficult to emulate.

“You have to be willing to risk life, limb, and prison,” Willson says in the film. “Then you’re free.”

There are things I myself don’t risk because I have a family to take care of. There are things I don’t risk because I believe I can do more good writing. And then there are things I don’t risk for really no good reason at all.

I recently read a comment from someone urging others not to protest at Trump rallies, for fear someone would be killed. History does not repeat, and comparisons are always strained, but would it have been good advice not to protest Adolf Hitler’s first rally? Because someone might get killed? Doesn’t that now sound ridiculous? Don’t we have a moral duty to protest all of these candidates who support the bombing of human beings in distant lands?

If that sounds outrageous, you should really, really see Paying the Price for Peace.

Brian Willson “served” in the U.S. military in Vietnam. His job was to assess the success or failure of bombing missions. He was literally sent to examine the damage. Frequently, what he found were undefended fishing villages that had been bombed with 500 lb. bombs from not very high up, and then napalmed. He found burned bodies, sometimes in such heaps he couldn’t get over them.

Here was a good kid, star athlete, high school valedictorian, doing what he’d been told, thinking as he’d been carefully taught to think. And he concluded that war and a great many other things were fundamentally lies. He came back to the United States ready to search for and promote other ways of living. He’s been doing so ever since and will likely keep doing so for years to come, much to our benefit.

In the movie, we see Willson’s decades of travels, protests, talks, demonstrations, fastings, and bicycling tours. We see him leading by example in his personal life, living peacefully and in an environmentally sustainable manner. We also see how passionately he and others have risked everything.

During protests of the war on Vietnam shown in the film, a veteran says, “If the American people sit down and just hold their fingers up and say ‘peace,’ they don’t deserve any better than Agnew or Nixon or the rest of the people they’ve got here, because they’re doing nothing and they’re as guilty as anyone who pulled the trigger in Vietnam.”

Well, what should we do? The film is packed with ideas, and shows them to us in action. When Ronald Reagan’s Contras were massacring civilians, Brian Willson and many others from the United States, at serious risk to themselves, went to Nicaragua and walked through the war zone observing and recording — and speaking against U.S. policy.

blood on the tracks s brian willsonMost famously, Willson and others sat on train tracks in California to prevent the shipment of weapons bound for Latin America. The military train intentionally sped up and ran Willson over. It was a risk he’d been aware of and been willing to take. He lost the lower portion of both of his legs. Others, during the protests of those weapons shipments, had limbs broken by police or were locked up for months. Willson’s injury didn’t slow him down.

When he traveled abroad after that horrific crime, people in places like Nicaragua saw him as a Yankee who had paid the price that they pay when they challenge abusive powers. Willson’s actions were actions of solidarity as well as resistance, and were understood as such.

The film shows us others who have risked or paid similar prices, and others who have done small bits in the same direction (I’m in the film briefly). Included are Occupy activists facing (militarized) police violence, and whistleblowers facing prison. Daniel Ellsberg says in the film that we also need people who will risk their reelections. Indeed.

And we need more Brian Willsons. But we are quite fortunate to have the one we have. Here’s a veteran who cares about veterans but keeps matters in proper perspective, caring also about the vast majority of victims of U.S. wars. If the victims of the Vietnam War were all listed on the memorial in Washington, D.C., Willson says, it would stretch at least as far as from its current location to the base of the Washington Monument.

“If we were willing to risk our lives for a war,” says veteran Leah Bolger in the movie, “surely we can risk some discomfort for peace.”

Here’s a service that would lead me to sincerely thank you for your service: spread the word about Paying the Price for Peace.

memorial3

The Congressional Progressive Caucus Believes in War

Each year the Congressional Progressive Caucus releases a weaker and weaker budget proposal. This year they asked for input first. I sent them this and communicated with them about it, so I know they read it. An excerpt:

"Last year's Congressional Progressive Caucus budget proposed to cut military spending by, in my calculation, 1%. In fact, no statement from the Progressive Caucus even mentioned the existence of military spending; you had to hunt through the numbers to find the 1% cut. This was not the case in other recent years, when the CPC prominently proposed to end wars and cut particular weapons. With all due respect, how is this censoring of any mention of the military evidence of progressing, rather than regressing?"

I should clarify that when the Progressive Caucus prominently proposed serious cuts to militarism, George W. Bush was president, and that the CPC will no doubt discover a distaste for mass murder if Trump is inaugurated.

But what about now?

This year's initial press release and email from the CPC again pretends that the majority of the budget (which goes to militarism) just doesn't exist. Its slightly longer summary includes, near the bottom:

"Sustainable Defense: Promoting peace And Security

  • Modernizes our defense system to create sustainable Pentagon spending
  • Ends funding for unsustainable wars
  • Increases funding for diplomacy and strategic humanitarian aid
  • Adds robust funding for refugee resettlement programs"

That's (relative) progress. But what does it mean exactly? What does a budget pie chart look like? Does 50 to 60 percent still go into war preparations? The "full budget" tells us this:

"SUSTAINABLE DEFENSE: PROMOTING PEACE AND SECURITY

"Pentagon spending has doubled over the last decade at the expense of investments in working families. But as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, we need a leaner, more agile force to combat realistic twenty-first century threats."

[Note that the latest plan is to keep the war on Afghanistan going for decades, and that the CPC has not lifted a finger to end it. So, if that war doesn't "draw to a close," do we still get the "leaner force"? And what does "agile" mean? And who gets killed in the "realistic" "agile" wars? The same war in Afghanistan was "drawing to a close" in identical language in last year's CPC budget.]

"The People's Budget responsibly [is there some other way?] ends operations in Afghanistan, brings our troops home, focuses Pentagon spending on modern security threats instead of Cold War - era weapons and contracts, and invests in a massive job creation program that will help workers transition into civilian jobs."

[In fact, Congress has to actually end that war, but it's right for a decent budget proposal to assume it's ended. However, what about the war in Iraq and Syria? The drone wars in several nations? The bases spreading like a virus across the globe? The U.S. role in the Saudi slaughter in Yemen? The new war in Libya? Why only end the one war that people are already pretending has "ended"? That said, transition to a peace economy is exactly the right idea, which is why it's a shame that, despite there supposedly being a progressive caucus, only three Congress members have signed onto this bill. And where are the numbers in this budget? How much is "massive"?]

"The People's Budget also increases investments in diplomacy, sustainable development, and humanitarian assistance to address the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq. The Congressional Progressive Caucus does not support Pentagon cuts mandated by sequestration and believes there are more responsible savings achievable that will not harm service members and veterans."

[Whoa. If you have actually thought through the advantages to the so-called "service members" of the "massive" job creation program, what can you possibly mean by suggesting that cutting the military would "harm" them? Clearly, the CPC has not actually thought that through or given any moral reflection at all to its proposal to fund the most expensive military in the history of the earth in order to benefit its troops. This comes naturally to Congress members, of course, as they've been conditioned to think of military spending as justified by the jobs it provides in their districts. They should pause for a moment, though, and think about how they would explain that benefit to children whose parents were killed by a missile from a U.S. drone.]

"End Emergency War Funding Beginning in FY2017 – Our budget limits Overseas Contingency (OCO) funding to redeployment out of Afghanistan in FY2017 and zeroes out OCO thereafter, saving $761 billion compared to current law."

[This is clearly following the misleading practice of multiplying everything by 10 and then hiding in some footnote that all "savings" will be "over 10 years." So let's say this is actually $76.1 billion. That's still (relative) progress and a good beginning. Now, surely we'll hear about the serious cuts....]

"It is time to swiftly and safely end the war in Afghanistan and end the policy of funding endless war. An expedited withdrawal from Afghanistan would save billions. Further, the use of emergency funding via the OCO account masks the true impact of war spending and should be discontinued."

[True enough.]

"Reduce Base Pentagon Spending – We reduce baseline military spending to ensure Pentagon spending does not continue to contribute significantly to our fiscal burden, and establishes a responsible targeted approach towards a sustainable defense budget."

[Hey, pick your favorite reasons. But where did the numbers go, all of a sudden? How much do you reduce it?]

"The People's Budget would repeal the damaging across-the-board cuts and caps proposed by the Budget Control Act, while providing significant savings through the enactment of reforms, endorsed in bipartisan fiscal reform proposals. It redirects funding to priorities such as caring for our veterans, Congressional Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), smart diplomacy, and environmental cleanup and climate change mitigation programs within the DOD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan."

[This is where one has to start worrying. The numbers have disappeared. The cuts currently required by law are "damaging" (and too large?). The CPC wants people who are trained and armed to kill and destroy to work on programs that help us better survive climate change. Is the CPC aware that the military is our top creator of climate change, that significant military cuts would not just "mitigate" climate change but actually reduce it?]

"Adjusting to Pentagon Downsizing and Investing in Non-Defense Manufacturing – The People’s Budget increases investments in DOD's Office of Economic Adjustment to assist state and local governments to respond to major defense program shifts by helping communities adjust to defense contract losses.

"Fully funding initiatives like the DOT’s Federal Ship Financing Program and significantly increasing federal agency procurement of sustainable technology from communities impacted by Pentagon cuts will help provide a just transition for defense manufacturing workers and ensure that the U.S. manufacturing base remains vibrant."

[Great! How much is "fully"?]

"Modernizing our Defense Posture – Our budget achieves a smaller force structure with fewer personnel through attrition. A modern defense strategy must focus our armed forces on their strengths of crisis response, smart security, and deterrence. Our military needs to adapt to current threats and challenges, particularly cyberwarfare, nuclear proliferation, and combatting non-state actors. No savings are obtained by reducing military personnel wages or benefits, including TRICARE and pensions. The proportion of private contractor personnel would be significantly reduced and their work transitioned to civilian personnel, curbing needles "outsourcing" that creates excessive cost overruns. Additional reforms include the decommissioning of our Cold War-era nuclear weapons infrastructure, as outlined by the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act, and reducing procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) spending by making smarter procurement choices."

Attrition? Do they, then, defund recruitment? They don't say. Cyberwarfare? Combatting non-state actors? Aren't these jobs for police? Not reducing personnel except through attrition, in order to not "harm" the personnel? Yet an investment in a "massive" non-military jobs program that none of the military personnel will have time to find employment in? The SANE Act does not, in fact, "decommission ... nuclear weapons infrastructure." It blocks the creation of certain types of insane new additions to the "nuclear weapons infrastructure," presumably allowing the existing "infrastructure" to phase out through the "attrition" of either being shut down as too old or killing us all.

"Audit the Pentagon – As the only federal agency that cannot be audited, the Pentagon loses tens of billions of dollars annually to waste, fraud, and abuse. It is past time to check the wasteful practices with little oversight that weaken our financial outlook and ultimately, our national security."

[Get it? When the Pentagon wastes money instead of buying more weapons, our national security is weakened. So, any money saved by eliminating the waste will have to go into more weapons. Putting it into education or housing would endanger us. Or are we willing to run that risk? In that case, if we know that the Pentagon wastes tens of billions, why not back at least a cut of $20 billion now?]

"Diplomacy and Development – The People's Budget increases investment in diplomacy and development to stabilize key regions of the world through supporting the United States' leadership in the United Nations, smart security, providing vital governance, development and humanitarian assistance, and increasing the tools to combat the horrors of drug and human trafficking and nuclear proliferation. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of people forcibly displaced throughout the world has reached the highest level ever recorded at a staggering 59.5 million people. The People's Budget recognizes this and provides robust funding for refugee resettlement programs. Our plan rebalances goals and risks to achieve a more effective mix of defense, diplomacy, and development aid. By adopting this new global security posture, investing in domestic priorities and creating a cost-effective military aligned with 21st century threats, the U.S. can achieve significant deficit reduction goals while simultaneously enhancing global security."

[Never mind what created the refugees! O.K., yes, this is needed, but where are the numbers?]

At the end of the CPC budget, just like last year's, are a few pages of actual numbers, where you can find, just like last year, a $6 billion, or roughly 1%, cut to the "base" spending of the Department of so-called Defense. You also find $104 billion investment in infrastructure, and $68 billion in additional job creation, plus $94 billion to make college, not free, but "affordable." There's no single-payer healthcare here, but the godforsaken "public option." There's also $1 billion for public financing of election campaigns.

The vast difference between the modest expenditures on public goods and the tiny military cuts is made up by taxing financial transactions, carbon, capital gains, etc. All such taxes are goods in and of themselves. But the sort of investment in transition to sustainable energy that we actually need, plus the restraint in murdering large numbers of people that those large numbers of people need, can only come from serious cuts to the military. The $76.1 billion cut to the slush fund is a good start. But much more serious cuts are needed to so-called Defense, to Energy, to so-called Homeland Security, to the CIA and NSA and so on. The habit of refusing to imagine serious change didn't begin with Hillary Clinton for President. It's deeply ingrained in Washington.

Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, The Grief of Others and the Boasts of Candidates

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

The War Monument to End All War Monuments

“Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” –Orwell

The U.S. government has reached the bottom of the barrel. Having packed every square inch of the National Mall with monuments to every war they wanted to admit to, including the wars on Vietnam and Korea, and including the two world wars, our dear leaders have decided that another World War I monument is needed, and that it will be built in Pershing Park (named in 1981 for a World War I general by then already sufficiently forgotten).

War Memorial.indd

That’s presumably not a reincarnated WWI vet on the bench above, but a young soldier inhaling the glory of past noble slaughters.

This new glorification of mass killing is supposed to be finished by Armistice Day 2018, or what we now know as the opposite of Armistice Day, namely Veterans Day. The symbolism is stark. At the century mark of the conclusion of the war to end all wars, a peace holiday that was transformed into a war holiday during the war on Korea will be celebrated by an empire intent on glorifying all past wars in order to keep having new ones.

A WWI memorial is the reductio ad absurdum of the argument for glorifying all wars. When Victor Berger pointed out that all WWI gave the United States was the flu and prohibition, it was too early to add WWII and the military industrial complex and the oppression of the Middle East that would be resented to this day to that list. But the U.S. public resoundingly agreed with him. Public disgust created the most peaceful period in U.S. history following the armistice. The U.S. government was compelled by popular action to take the lead in legally banning all war with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which is still on the books. Public demand also almost created a requirement for a public referendum before the United States could (illegally) launch a war — a step that might have radically changed the past 100 years.

wwic

Where’s a memorial to those who went to prison for speaking against the madness of the “Great War”? Where’s even the most basic information on how the war was sold, and how it was understood once it ended? Nothing of the sort is to be found on the website of the monument makers. Woodrow Wilson’s lies about the Lusitania and German atrocities in Belgium created the modern field of war propaganda and led to widespread doubt, misplaced as it turned out, of later tales of Nazi atrocities. But the people intent on memorializing wars once the wars are old enough to not mean anything mention none of that. In fact, they simply quote Wilson’s malarkey without comment, as if it bore some relationship to what actually happened. This would be like carving Colin Powell’s U.N. Speech onto an Iraq War memorial in 2103, which I’m sure has already been planned. Quoth Wilson:

“The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them…. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.”

This was just after Wilson had won an election falsely promising peace, and immediately after the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Hines Page, sent a cable to Wilson on March 5, 1917, reading in part:

“The pressure of this approaching crisis, I am certain, has gone beyond the ability of the Morgan financial agency for the British and French governments. The financial necessities of the Allies are too great and urgent for any private agency to handle, for every such agency has to encounter business rivalries and sectional antagonism. It is not improbable that the only way of maintaining our present preeminent trade position and averting a panic is by declaring war on Germany.”

When peace had been made with Germany ending World War I, President Wilson and his allies punished the entire population of Germany, leading numerous wise observers to accurately predict World War II. Jane Addams, E.D. Morel, John Maynard Keynes, and others predicted that the harsh vindictiveness of the treaty would lead to a new war. They seem to have been right. Combined with other factors, including Western preference for Nazism over Communism, and a growing arms race, bitter resentment in Germany did lead to a new war. Ferdinand Foch claimed the treaty was too lenient on Germany and would therefore create a new war, which is of course also true if one considers the possibility of having completely destroyed Germany or something close to that. Woodrow Wilson predicted that failure of the United States to join the League of Nations would lead to a new war, but it is far from clear that joining the League would have prevented the war.

Oblivious, and honoring Wilson as the Obama of his day, our monument makers just quote what Wilson said rather than what he did: “It must be a peace without victory…Victory would mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor’s terms imposed upon the vanquished. It would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last.” As devotees of our current president would say: at least he knew what he should have done, and that’s what matters.

When peace came, Wilson kept U.S. troops in Russia to fight the Soviets, despite earlier claims that U.S. troops were in Russia in order to defeat Germany and intercept supplies bound for Germany. Senator Hiram Johnson (P-CA) had famously said of the launching of the war: “The first casualty when war comes, is truth.” He now had something to say about the failure to end the war when the peace treaty had been signed. Johnson denounced the ongoing fighting in Russia and quoted from the Chicago Tribune when it claimed that the goal was to help Europe collect Russia’s debt.

The monument website displays a tasteful selection of WWI posters. No “mad brute” depiction of Germans as apes. No Jesus siting down his rifle for God. And the role of WWI in generating the permanent propaganda of patriotic war normalization is thoughtlessly hyped: The “Star Spangled Banner” became a national song to be played at sporting events during World War I, thus reviving, a century after the War of 1812, another pointless war that got the United States nothing but death, disease, and a burned capital.

I need to thank Sam Husseini to alerting me to the fact that the WWI monument people held a press conference, which he attended, at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Here’s audio of what they told him when he raised concerns. Rather than discuss what in the world the point of the war could have been, it seems that the monument makers predictably enough talked about the “brotherhood” of the troops. But when Sam asked whether that brotherhood extended across nationalities, as it did during the Christmas Truce, they responded by talking about the greatness of the United States. Here’s an excerpt:

“And looking at photographs from Vietnam and there’s themes that you see … from WWI of the way people support each other and the way conflict changes everybody. But this is a really interesting opportunity because it is that starting point for the United States. . . .

“Does that sense of brotherhood transcend nationality?”

“Well, yeah, I mean you ask me what’s the factor here . It’s not a glorification of war that we’re dealing with here, it’s ultimately a glorification of humanity and the coming together of all these different races for the United States. So, in the compositions there’s not a single figure that’s alienated, every single figure is interconnected with the rest. These are touching the other figures or they’re looking at each other. There’s no sense of isolationism or aloneness. That’s much more of a modern concept. So going back to the idea that there’s this sense of unity in the universe, this sense of order. And that’s what the relief was about….”

“My question was is this brotherhood constrained by nationality and you seem to be saying that it is.”

“No, I’m not saying that.”

So, apparently in the new version of World War I the military and the nation had already been integrated, and the civil rights movement wouldn’t be needed, and nobody was being lynched? I actually wouldn’t object to a historically accurate monument to racial harmony and diversity. If that’s what these guys think they’re building, I say: build it! Just leave out World War I, OK?

The winning monument design was apparently called “The Weight of Sacrifice.” It’s a temple to human sacrifice. The trick will be to get people in the 21st century to believe that the human sacrifice was for some good purpose — and that it could be again.  Never underestimate the power of propaganda.

Bring Pink Mist to Army Recruitment Offices

Bring spray bottles of pink liquid to military recruitment offices and displays.
Spray them.
Tell potential recruits: Be all that you can be. And this could be you.

“Pink mist. That’s what they call it.
“When one of your mates hasn’t just bought it,
“but goes in a flash, from being there to not.
“A direct hit. An I.E.D. An R.P.G. stuck in the gut.”

Those are lines from a play called Pink Mist written in verse by Owen Sheers about three young lads from Bristol who sign up for war in Afghanistan.
Read it. Perform it. It begins like this:

“Three boys went to Catterick.
“It was January,
“snow pitchen on the Severn,
“turning the brown mud white,
“fishermen blowing on their fingerless gloves,
“the current pulling their fishing lines tight.
“That’s how it was the morning when
“the three of us did what boys always have
“And left our homes for war.”

It’s a lie, of course. Boys haven’t always. Most boys don’t now in the most war mad nations on earth. And boys in many nations don’t at all. And that has always been so, especially before there were nations.

The boys are recruited by more lies:

“I wanted something else — him.
“The man looking back at me,
“the one with the uniform, the gun.
“The one going somewhere, getting something done.”

What about staying somewhere and getting something done? What about going somewhere and getting something other than killing people done?

They joined also for pay and a better future, the chance to support a family. A society in which you cannot support a family without signing up to go and kill people in a distant land is clearly the least civilized sort of society imaginable, and yet it motivates itself to kill those people in large part from its sense of superiority.

They joined for the same reason some people join the groups Westerners go off to fight against: nobody respected them until a recruiter did.

Off at war in Afghanistan, the first time one of their buddies is killed, they become motivated by revenge:
“It wasn’t just doing a job any more.
“It was about killing them.”

Think about a culture in which killing large numbers of people you know nothing about, people who barely even show up in your antiwar plays based on the remembrances of your troops, is “just a job.” It’s society-wide sociopathy. The boys in this book speak of the pride of doing the “job you trained for.” They also speak of it as a game, as the realization of their childhood playing at war.

These three end up, respectively, dead, legless, and traumatized. Their horrors are the story. Their victims, the people of Afghanistan, barely register, and never achieve the level of names or speaking roles. That they are being killed is clear, but they are only specified at all in one incident that involves killing a man, his wife, and a two-year-old girl.

Of course the pain that war brings to the aggressors and their loved ones back home is more than enough to end this monstrosity called war. The stupidity of friendly-fire deaths is prominent in the play. The notion of any higher purpose or of any purpose at all for the war is missing.

One of the soldiers hopes for an end to war:
“and well, I guess I hope it’ll change, somehow.
“Till then, if people knew what it is,
“that would be enough.
“How the loss becomes the reason,
“and how the reason’s an abuse of love.”

TSA goons steal woman’s shoes, bracelet at BWI

In the never-ending saga of TSA theft and stupidity — and did I say theft? — we have the latest episode (that we know of): at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the goons saw yet another tasty treat they wanted to sample. So they pretended that said items were dangerous and confiscated them — er, sorry, encouraged the passenger to give them up. (As we know, since they tell us all the time, especially at their main propaganda organ, they don’t confiscate anything.) From the story in the Baltimore Sun:


Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Donald Trump and the Remaking of America

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

How a Hillary or Bernie Government Would Relate to the World

By David Swanson, teleSUR

By world standards, a U.S. government led by President Bernie Sanders would be exceptionally militarized and very much an outlier in terms of its disregard for the standards of international law and its lack of respect for the sovereignty of other nations.

By comparison to a U.S. government led by a hyper-militarist President Hillary Clinton, a Bernie government would be the peaceful, law-abiding, and humanitarian Age of Aquarius.

Bernie Sanders lacks any transformative vision of peace, international cooperation, the rule of law, or transition to a peaceful economy.

Senator Sanders has been unwilling to propose any significant reduction in military spending, despite the boon it would be to his campaign, which faces criticism over planned taxes to pay for desired domestic programs. Just stating "I would cut aggressive and counterproductive military weapons and operations," would eliminate the need to ever raise taxes on a non-billionaire to pay for anything ever again, but Sanders won't state that. I've communicated with his campaign, which has declined thus far to tell me what level of military spending Sanders favors, but it seems clear it would not be dramatically different from the world-record levels of spending now current.

Candidate Sanders tells us he would continue to kill people with drones, he would continue the wars but seek more partners and funders abroad. He rather grotesquely wants Saudi Arabia to "get its hands dirty." He also has a long history of justifying military spending as a jobs program, and of merging his support for the needs of veterans with glorification of war making. While he eventually opposed the Gulf War and then the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Sanders supported wars in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Sanders lacks any transformative vision of peace, international cooperation, the rule of law, or transition to a peaceful economy. He does not propose to eliminate nuclear weapons or join the International Criminal Court or ban weapons in space or stop antagonizing Russia. He's offered no proposal for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, or other diplomatic initiative in Syria / Iraq. There's reason to hope only that a Sanders White House would be a bit less bellicose than Obama's -- and the chief reason to hope that is that Sanders would almost certainly not include Hillary Clinton in his cabinet.

Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 largely because she'd been in the Senate in time to vote for the Iraq invasion, while Barack Obama had not. That they'd both later voted repeatedly to fund that war seemed lost both on those defending Clinton's vote and those claiming Obama for the peace movement.

Prior to 2008 we already knew Clinton's history. She had pushed her husband in a militaristic direction throughout his presidency, including on Yugoslavia and Iraq. The 1998 Iraq Liberation Act had laid the groundwork for the war to come. She's urged Bill Clinton to bomb Kosovo in violation of the U.N. Charter and against the will of Congress. She'd not only voted for the war on Iraq, and against an amendment to pursue inspections first, but she'd promoted all of Bush-Cheney's lies as her own, despite having been well informed of the facts. She'd then continued to defend her actions for years, and to argue for continuing and escalating the war.

In 2006, Democrats had won Congressional victories principally on the public demand to end the war on Iraq. Clinton protégé and future despot of Chicago Rahm Emanuel openly told the Washington Post that the Democrats would keep the war on Iraq going in order to run against it again in 2008, and that's what Hillary Clinton did. In time for the 2008 primaries, she turned against the Iraq war and began lying that she'd never supported it and only ever wanted inspections pursued, a lie she has articulated in recent weeks as well.

None of this has changed in the past 8 years. On top of it we can add the following. Hillary Clinton turned the U.S. State Department into an arm of the military, redefined "diplomacy" to mean the communication of threats of violence, made diplomats work as marketing staff for weapons companies, waived restrictions on arms sales to brutal governments that donated to her personal foundation, led the advocacy for escalation in Afghanistan, led the lobbying for a war to overthrow the government of Libya creating the disaster now found there, backed a military coup in Honduras, defended dictators and torturers in Tunisia and Egypt until the last possible moment, and in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia until the present moment, threatened assault on Iran and lied about Iranian nukes even after finally being compelled to support the nuclear agreement with Iran, supported the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, opposed opportunities for peace in Syria at every turn, and much much more. Clinton had in fact joined Republicans in pushing for the disarmament of Syria as early as 2004. On Afghanistan, Libya, and the attack on Osama bin Laden, Secretary of State Clinton was more hawkish than Secretary of "Defense" Robert Gates.

Much of the additional information we know comes from WikiLeaks which exposed the Clinton State Department as a cynical Machiavellian club for contemptuous rogues out to dominate the world for the sake of corporate profits. The fault here lies not with Chelsea Manning for exposing these outrages, but with Clinton for leading them. But her attitude toward whistleblowers like Manning and Edward Snowden has exposed another difference with Sanders, to Sanders' advantage. A Hillary Clinton administration promises to be as secretive and vindictive as Obama's.

A Sanders White House would not cut off the free weaponry and legal immunity for Israel, but a Clinton White House would expand on those policies, offer unlimited support to openly racist Israeli assaults on and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Sanders has proposed normalizing relations with Iran, while Clinton has denounced that idea and demanded that all (meaning nuclear) options be "on the table." If peace should come to Syria with Assad still in power, Clinton can be expected to continue the line she has already promoted, namely that Obama should have overthrown Assad with massive force long ago. Sanders, in contrast, could be expected to breathe a sigh of relief and focus on domestic matters until the next crisis develops.

While Clinton has accused Sanders of heresy for disagreeing with Obama's disastrous domestic policies, she herself has frequently criticized Obama's foreign policies for being insufficiently militaristic. Clinton does not hide who she is. She's fear mongered 9/11 in a debate. She's giggled jubilantly while bragging about the murder of Muamar Gadaffi. She's suggested the possibility of "obliterating" Iran. She talks up her dedication to the Israeli rightwing in public as well as behind closed doors with donors. Donors like Boeing have successfully hired her, while Secretary of State, to personally market their products to foreign governments.

I've asked the Clinton campaign what her military budget proposal would be, and have thus far heard nothing back, but it's hard to imagine how she could do what she would do without raising it, and it's easy to imagine that her election would boost the campaign to add young women to the selective service draft registry.

Pollsters imagine that Donald Trump's negatives make him easily defeatable, but they imagined that in the primaries as well. Polls also suggest that Hillary would be weaker than Bernie in a general election and that many Bernie supporters might not support Hillary. Imagine an election in which the mad militarist with the comb-over fear mongers Muslims but accurately accuses Clinton of lying about Iraq and helping to create ISIS. Would she counter with the promise of another bigger, better war? Would such a situation create a new opportunity to move public opinion against war? What would peace advocates do? How many would hold their nose and flee the country? What would Henry Kissinger advise?

White power and the ‘model minority’ myth: Officer Peter Liang Highlights the Asian-American Identity Crisis

By Jess Guh

 

The conviction of Peter Liang is the best thing that has happened to Asian Americans since the Immigration and Nationality Act of the 1960s. It’s also an embarrassingly example of how bewildered the minds of some Asian Americans are when it comes to race.

Nuclear Annihilation of a Radical Message on Israel: The Case of Concepcion Picciotto

By Sam Husseini

There were some lovely, moving moments in the memorial service of Concepcion Picciotto at Luther's Place Church on Saturday. 
 
Concepcion is known -- with William Thomas, who died a few years ago -- for leading what is apparently the longest protest in U.S. history: Against nuclear weapons in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. She died last month. 
 
As WTOP -- the local news station -- noted today: "Picciotto’s nuke vigil became a permanent fixture across from the White House for five consecutive presidents, including President Barack Obama, but not one of the presidents ever spoke to her."
 
Tom Siemer, with trembling hands holding the microphone, sobbed "I built nuclear weapons for 23 years" and then that Concepcion "was so unselfish" -- as she literally died to the end for peace, with failing health, virtually homeless, continuing the vigil. She was almost like a protester who immolates oneself, but in slow motion. 
 
At the memorial service, the speakers included former CIA man Ray McGovern who noted the Washington Post's apparent proclivity for questioning Concepcion's sanity, and asked who was the mad one here given the Post's apparent view that her desire to prevent nuclear war was at best quaint. Her lawyer, who spoke first and long, did some of the same, but seemed at one point to frame the nuclear threat stemming from the doctrine of MAD, mutually assured destruction, as a simple relic of the Cold War. He almost echoed a patronizing tone that one might hear from the Post, referring to his arguments with her, barely disguising an eyeroll. 
 
There were glimmers of Concepcion's radicalness certainly during the service -- she wasn't outright cooped into a banal liberal symbol as Martin Luther King often has been, but, critically, the word "Israel" was not uttered at the memorial in the church. This was incredible since it was hard to go three minutes talking with Concepcion without her talking about Israel -- either its crimes or the incredible threat posed by its unacknowledged nuclear weapons. Her work stressed things that so few do: Israel is perhaps the greatest threat because it has a massive nuclear arsenal, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, uses violence with incredible impunity and it is an expansionist settler colonial state. 
 
And Concepcion was not -- as some, including Caitlin Gibson of the Washington Post have referred to her as -- an anti nuclear "proliferation" activist. She was for disarmament. Concepcion was clear: "Live by the bomb, die by the bomb." Her point was the U.S. and other nuclear powers live by the bomb and must stop. She was about disarming the current nuclear weapons states; not simply preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons to more states. After all, it is largely the policy of the U.S. government that current nuclear weapons states should maintain them and others should be denied them. The U.S. government occasionally does wage or threaten wars over this issue. 
 
Concepcion focusing on Israel was at times even jarring even to me -- a Palestinian American -- when I'd talk to her. Don't take my word for it, look up some videos of her. She doesn't go long before mentioning Israel. And if you think it through, for very good reason. 
 
The word "Israel" was finally uttered from the microphone -- after a hundred or so people left the church and went to the site of her long-standing protest in front of the White House, setup there photo-op style by Medea Benjamin of CodePink. 
 
It was left to Simin Royanian, an Iranian-American activist and analyst to utter the word when finally granted the mic. She noted Concepcion's staunch opposition to Israel's Zionism and said she was always supportive of Palestinian and other liberation movements in the Mideast. 
 
Perhaps it's thus with all prophets -- the moment they die, many around them push aside their central statements that seem inconvenient but were actually the center-line to their dedication and integrity. 
 
But, no, Concepcion was largely ignored in life. John Steinbach, longtime antinuclear peace activist and co-coordinator of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee told me: "Concepcion wasn't taken serious by a lot of groups. I can't tell you the number of times I tried to get mainstream peace groups that had protests in Lafayette Square to include or invite or at least acknowledge her vigil which was right there. It never happened." In contrast, Steinbach notes: "The Japanese [nuclear bomb] survivors loved and respected her and always wanted to spend time with her." 
 
The memorial service did feature a Japanese representative reading a statement from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee. Unfortunately, it also offered a fair number of clichés -- "We Shall Overcome" and a lengthy homily presuming to praise the prophetic voice while ignoring much of the substance of it, instead repeatedly invoking the song "Turn, Turn, Turn". 
 
But there was nothing cliché about Concepcion. 
 
She had a pointed, high pitched, Spanish accented voice and would utter totally political incorrect statements. "Don't Be a Lemming -- Save Yourself -- Renounce Genocidal Weapons" read her sign. "Silence is a war crime." She'd be good at staying on message as they say, repeating what her signs would say. "Bush is war criminal" she'd repeat. 
 
And she held signs on Israel up high and unapologetic: "Judaism YES / Zionism NO" and "Disarm IsraHell -- 200 Illegal Nucs -- Save the World -- Save the Children" and "Stop Funding Israeli Terrorism."
 
Great stuff. 
 
But she did make political statements on Israel that I would never make; and I didn't delved into her personal struggles with other activists, which were apparently contentious at times. One sign she'd hold up was "One Nation Under Israel" (which featured a U.S. flag with a star from the Israeli flag on it) and another: "Terrorists Are Us -- 'Holocaust:' A Word Used by Zionists to perpetrate Crimes Against Humanity" (with a swastika scrawled in) -- which featured the website of Neturei Karta - Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism
 
The Nazi "Holocaust" isn't just a "word" that's been used for murderous purposes of course, but also an actual historical fact. But she didn't write that it was "just" that, though many may have read it that way. Nor do I subscribe to the view that the U.S. is "Under Israel". In fact, I don't much see nations any more. I mostly see forces: imperialism, colonialism, corporate capitalism, white supremacy and misogyny asserting their power and how other forces resist and are complicit with them. 
 
But I've not seen any of Concepcion's signs on Israel any more at the memorial, which is continuing and seems to be sanitizing itself. As I write, the vigil does have one sign about an upcoming protest against AIPAC -- so it's apparently still alright to criticize rightwing Zionist groups -- and perhaps unintentionally pump them up -- but not the more liberal varieties. This type of framing divorces the centrality of Israel's nuclear weapons, which the U.S. government has rendered it forbidden to speak of, from the anti-nuclear work on the vigil. 
 
Really, did you catch that? It's illegal for U.S. officials to talk about Israel's nuclear arsenal. As Grant Smith has found: "Under two known gag orders -- punishable by imprisonment -- U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program." So perhaps score one for the "One Nation Under Israel" camp. 
 
But ignoring Israel's nuclear weapons has the ironic effect of the naive viewer wondering "why pick on Israel?" -- since the Israeli nuclear arsenal -- which was the brainchild of liberal Zionists Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres -- is sidelined instead of being front and center. 
 
Concepcion was certainly difficult, at least for me, to talk with. I tried helping her find housing at one point, which might have lead to connections that might have helped, it was hard to tell at times, but she was undoubtedly a handful -- only housing around the White House would do of course. As if that were selfish of her. I end up wishing I were more patient in trying to help her; God knows she was patient with us. 
 
Still, I wished that the protest would be more understandable, it certainly came off as eccentric at times. But I think that can be fixed without it being effectively sanitized, which seems where it is headed. 
 
Front and center are now typical banal signs, which were back bench material for Concepcion: "War Is Not the Answer". Really? I've got news for you: War often is the answer. War can be exactly the answer if the question is how to effectively dominate the planet, which it often is to many. 
 
The memorial service put on for Concepcion featured a rendition of "Ain't Gonna Study War No More." I disagree. We actually haven't studied war nearly enough. The "peace movement" needs to get over itself and talk about war: the death, destruction, flying limbs and stench of it in precise terms if it has any interest in actually changing things and not just feeling superior to those dreaded Republicans. 
 
Fast disappearing from the vigil is what was central to Concepcion: by embracing a radical humanity, discerning the taboos of the establishment, she rightly raged against them. At the current rate, I fully expect "Free Tibet" signs to pop up at the vigil. 
 
In my chatting with her occasionally over the years, I think Concepcion pointed to a central truth -- that colonialism and Zionism were central forces threatening the planet. And that central truth is continually obscured by people talking about neo-conservatives or liberal interventionists instead of seeing an entire neo-colonial project at work, or perhaps not so "neo" at times -- just plain colonial. And one should be clear: She didn't really single out Israel as some do -- she'd talk about unmentionable U.S. "terrorism" and "war crimes" as easily as Israeli. 
 
If she seemed to become overly persistent on imperialism and Zionism and Israel's unacknowledged threat to humanity, I think it was a reaction not just to those threats and officialdom and not just to corporate media -- but also "progressive" activists' silence on central questions of nuclear armed Zionism. 
 
Unfortunately, her own memorial service became a monument to that silence.

One-Hour Special: Mary Anne Grady Flores from Jail on Why She Protested Killer Drones

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/one-hour-special-mary-anne-grady-flores-from-jail-on-why-she-protested-killer-drones

Mary Anne Grady Flores speaks in this 1-hour special from inside the jail near Syracuse, N.Y., where she has been imprisoned for 6 months for protesting drone murders at Hancock Air Base.

Total run time: 56:00

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

Focus: The New York Times on Hillary Clinton and the Libya War - Feb 29, 2016


Hillary Clinton, ‘smart power’ and a dictator’s fall: Libya as a failed state and terrorist haven, 769 readers comments (Part 1) - New York Times


New Libya with ‘very little time left': militias fanning civil war and Islamic State rising out of chaos, 196 reader comments (Part 2) - New York Times


In their own words: the Libya tragedy, interviews with decision makers involved in the intervention about what went wrong - New York Times


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton’s legacy in Libya, as secretary of state she pressed the Obama administration to intervene militarily - New York Times


VIDEO ARCHIVE: Hillary Clinton laughing comment on Qaddafi death: we came, we saw, he died - YouTube


The New York Times accurately portrays Hillary Clinton as an unrepentant warmonger, who will call her on it? - Reason.com


The New York Times' cover-up of Hillary's illegal Libyan war - Frontpage Mag


NYT is whitewashing Clinton and her war on Libya - M of A


NY Times shamelessly whitewashes Hillary’s intervention in Libya - independentsentinel.com


ARCHIVE: Hillary Clinton Libya war genocide narrative rejected by U.S. intelligence, undercutting her primary argument for using the U.S. military to remove Qaddafi from power - Washington Times


BOOK REVIEW: Daughter of empire in its heyday: Diana Johnstone dissects Hillary Clinton in ‘Queen of Chaos’ - counterpunch.org

 

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

DNC vice chair Tulsi Gabbard resigns and endorses Sanders, blasts Clinton’s 'interventionist, regime change policies' - Salon.com


VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard on endorsing Sanders: we need a commander in chief who do not waste precious lives and money on wars - YouTube


Bill Clinton gets into heated exchange with Benghazi protesters - CNNPolitics.com


VIDEO: Protesters talk Benghazi four at Bill Clinton rally for Hillary 2016 - YouTube


Robert Kagan's Premature and Wrongheaded Decision to Endorse Clinton - PJ Media


Robert Kagan op-ed: Trump is the GOP’s frankenstein monster, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton - The Washington Post


Trump's spotty memory on Libya: In a February 2011 video he called for U.S. intervention in Libya - US News


VIDEO: Donald Trump flip flop on Gaddafi & Libya 2011 - 2016 - YouTube


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

An Open Letter to the People of West Papua

James Burrowes & Robert J. Burrowes

Wa wa wa wa.

We have recently been discussing your ongoing courageous struggle to liberate yourselves from more than 100 years of occupation, first by the Netherlands, briefly and brutally by Japan during World War II, and now by Indonesia. In that regard, we would each like to share a brief message with you, our friends from West Papua.

DNC defection: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Surprise Endorsement Gives Sanders a Chance to Change the Whole Primary Game

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Just as the media, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s landslide win in South Carolina’s Democratic primary Saturday, are predictably writing the obituary for Bernie Sanders’ upstart and uphill campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has handed him an opportunity to jolt the American people awake.

New TCBH! poem by resident poet gary Lindorff: 'The Pink Bear'


Wow. I had a dream that went on all night.
 
There was a pink bear sighting in Alaska.
 
Then there were pink bear sightings
In South Dakota and Colorado,
All thought to be hoaxes but then
The New York Times published a photo, front page;
It looked real enough.
 
The article interviewed a hiker
Who reported talking to the Pink Bear.
He said it was standing up.
When asked what the bear said
The hiker said he couldn’t repeat it;
The bear was talking trash.
The hiker said the bear was heading for Washington.
 
What happened next is hard to believe.
(I mean in my dream it was hard to believe.)
There were signs that great changes are coming:
Mount Shasta was waking up, sending out a plume of ash.
Native Americans warning, This is it.

Détente and the New Cold Wars, a Global Policy Perspective

By Karl Meyer

                The possibility of war between nuclear armed powers is returning as a real threat to the security of people all over the world. Climate change, waste of limited resources, and the economic pressures of excess population growth on the carrying capacity of Earth are fueled by military spending. These threats are felt first by the most economically vulnerable regions and countries. They also drive local civil wars and regional resource and territorial wars.

                In our view, the expansionist exceptionalism of United States neo-imperialist policies is the principal driver in the renewal of Cold War hostilities among the United States, Russia and China.

                To solve these problems will require agreement and cooperation among all affected countries, with strong leadership by the world’s major powers. Given the present Charter structure of the United Nations, this means, at the very least, the five permanent members of the Security Council.
 

                The policy fantasy that stands in the way of addressing major world problems cooperatively is the idea among ignorant or venal politicians that the United States can retain and expand the boundaries of “sole superpower” domination that were achieved briefly after the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union. The most damaging foreign policy error of Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, all foreign policy novices, was that they yielded to entrenched bureaucratic military/ industrial/ Congressional/governmental establishment advice and pressure to take advantage of temporary Russian weakness, and the less developed military strength of China, in order to extend the military umbrella of NATO membership into Eastern Europe and Central Asia. They pushed to ring the frontiers of Russia with new alliances, missile sites and military bases, and to extend military alliances and bases around the Pacific perimeter of China. These actions have sent a very aggressive and threatening message to the governments of Russia and China, which are getting stronger every year, and are pushing back.
 

                A second harmful error of the Bush and Obama regimes has been their belief that they could take advantage of popular unrest and revolts in Middle Eastern countries to knock off dictatorial governments and, by aiding oppressed rebel groups, establish friendly client governments in these countries. They failed to secure a stable, reliable client government in Iraq, in fact brought in a government more influenced by Iran. They are well on the road to a similar failure in Afghanistan. They failed miserably in Libya, and are failing in a terribly tragic way in Syria. How many successive tragic failures do U.S. policy elites have to experience before learning that they have neither the right nor the capability to control the future political development of these countries? Each country must sort out political and economic arrangements according to its unique balances of power and social context, without excessive outside interference. Those forces that have the strength and organization to prevail do not intend to become subservient neo-colonial clients of the United States, once their temporary need for patronage has been resolved.
 

                United States policy must stop poking and provoking Russia and China along their frontiers, and return to a strategy of seeking negotiated peaceful coexistence, and balancing of regional interests among the major powers, the United States, Russia and China, with appropriate respect for the interests of secondary powers, India, Pakistan, Iran, Brazil, Britain, Germany, France, Indonesia, Japan, etc. (Incidentally, in spite of their horrible, homicidal record of brutalizing the people of weaker countries, Nixon and Kissinger were balance-of-power realists who advanced a strategy of détente, and negotiated weapons control treaties with Russia and China, and Reagan acceded to Gorbachev’s initiatives, leading to the end of the earlier Cold Wars. These gains have been undermined by the policies of succeeding administrations.)

                With active cooperation among the great powers and large reductions in wasteful competitive military spending, all countries could cooperatively address the threats from climate change, water shortages, regional underdevelopment, and economic pressures caused by population growth.  They might also resolve civil wars and smaller scale regional wars (such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine/Israel and Ukraine) through unified international pressure for  negotiated  settlements based on power sharing among all major political factions and forces within each country.

                Peace movements and civil society movements cannot dictate the policies of governments or multi-national corporations. Our role, through agitation and education, is to restrain their abuses of power as much as may be possible, and to influence the political context of their decision making as much as may be possible, through mass organization and mobilization.

                In summary, the essential key to addressing real threats to international security and peace, as well as to resolving smaller wars and regional conflicts, is to reverse the present trend toward Cold Wars with Russia and China. The world needs active cooperation among the United States, Russia, China and other influential countries, through agreement and cooperation within the United Nations framework. We need to return actively to the vision set forth in the United Nations Charter, and abandon the fantasy of unipolar world domination.
 

Karl Meyer, a longtime colleague of and adviser to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, is a fifty year veteran of nonviolent action for peace and justice and the founding coordinator of Nashville Greenlands environmental and social justice community.

An Offer the Candidates Shouldn't Refuse

 

 


VIPS Offers Advice to Candidates

 

 

Editor Note: Former Secretary of State Clinton, whose campaign is brimming with establishment foreign policy advisers, has chided Democratic rival Sen. Sanders for lacking a roster of experts. But ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says an untapped resource for any candidate is the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

By Ray McGovern

A Memo to: Dr. Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Dr. Jill Stein, and Donald Trump

I’m just sayin’... Who Cares About Democratic Primary Results in South Carolina -- a State Democrats Will Lose in November?

By Dave Lindorff

 

            I'll be the first to admit I'm no pollster or even political scientist, but when I read that Bernie Sanders is going to be crushed by Hillary Clinton in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, the state that fired the opening shots in the Civil War and that only last year took down a Confederate battle flag in front of the capitol building, I have to shake my head at the absurdity of it.

A Cease-Fire to Re-Load or to Build Peace?

A cease-fire, even a partial one by only some of the parties to the war in Syria, is the perfect first step -- but only if it's widely understood as a first step.

Almost none of the news coverage I've seen speaks to what purpose the cease-fire serves. And most of it focuses on the cease-fire's limitations and who predicts someone else will violate it, and who openly promises to violate it. The big outside parties, or at least Russia, plus the Syrian government, will go right on bombing selected targets, which will go right on shooting back, while Turkey has announced that ceasing to kill Kurds would just be taking the whole thing a bit too far (Kurds the United States is arming against other people the United States is arming, by the way).

The United States distrusts Russia on this, while Russia distrusts the United States, various Syrian opposition groups distrust each other and the Syrian government, everybody distrusts Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- the Turks and Saudis most of all, and U.S. neocons remain obsessed with Iranian evil. The predictions of failure could be self-fulfilling, as they seem to have been before.

Vague talk of a "political solution," which parties take to mean completely incompatible things, is not a second step designed to make a cease-fire succeed. It's a fifth or sixth or seventh step. The second step that is missing, after ceasing to directly kill people, is to cease facilitating the killing of people by others.

This was what was needed when Russia proposed peace in 2012 and the United States brushed it aside. This is what was needed after the chemical weapons agreement in 2013. Instead the United States held off on bombing, under public and international pressure, but escalated its arming and training of others to kill, and its winking at Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's and others' fueling of the violence.

Truth be told, this was what was needed when President Barack Obama was allowing Hillary Clinton to convince him to overthrow the government of Libya in 2011. Outside parties need an agreement to cease supplying weapons and fighters, and an agreement to supply unprecedented levels of humanitarian aid. The goal should be disarming those who would kill, supporting those who would join the violence out of economic need, and countering the highly successful propaganda of groups that live off the assaults on them by outside nations.

ISIS is thriving in Libya now and going after the oil there. Italy, which has a shameful history in Libya, is showing some reluctance to worsening the situation there by continuing to attack. The point is not that local forces can defeat ISIS but that nonviolence would do less harm than violence in the short, middle, and long term. Hillary Clinton, for her part, is bordering on the criminally insane, or at least the criminal, as she just spoke about Libya in her most recent debate on the model of a permanent occupation of Germany, Japan, or Korea. So much for hope and change.

The second step, the public commitment to which could make the first step work, would involve the United States withdrawing from the region and insisting on Turkey and Saudi Arabia and others ceasing to fuel the violence. It would involve Russia and Iran pulling out all forces and canceling backwards ideas like Russia's new proposal to arm Armenia. Russia should ship nothing but food and medicine to Syria. The United States should do the same and commit to no longer seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government -- not because it's a good government, but because it has to be overthrown nonviolently by forces that actually mean well, not by a distant imperial power.

Secretary of State John Kerry's already announced plan B is to partition Syria, meaning to continue to fuel the mass murder and suffering, while hoping to diminish the size of the state allied to Iran and Russia, in favor of empowering the terrorists that the United States empowered in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Iraq in the 2000s and right now in Yemen. The U.S. delusion that yet another overthrow, yet again empowering small groups of killers, will fix things is a root cause of the conflict at this point. But so is the Russian delusion that bombing just the right people will bring peace and stability. Both nations have stumbled into a cease-fire, but seem to think of it as an opportunity to appease a bit of global outrage while reloading. If you want to know how the cease-fire is going, watch the weapons companies' stocks.

South Carolina Democratic Party Means Well

The chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party called to complain that I was being unfair to him, and maybe he was right. But I'd simply urged the need to avoid any appearance of bias, and if the chairman doesn't understand that, he's in for a heck of a lot more criticism than he's ever imagined. This is his bio on the party website at 11:15 a.m. ET on Friday, February 26, just after he called me:

The Washington Times had prompted Harrison's call with this article:

. . . What his bio on the party’s Web page doesn’t mention, though, is that Mr. Harrison is also a principal at the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm founded by brothers Tony and John Podesta — the same John Podesta who is chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Harrison’s day job is likely to get more scrutiny as the presidential campaign turns to South Carolina and questions continue to swirl about whether the Democratic Party apparatus is fairly treating Mrs. Clinton’s challenger, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. . . .

“If you want to avoid appearances of conflict of interest, you need to be completely open and reveal that,” said David Swanson, a spokesman at Rootsaction.org, a progressive online group that also has organized a petition asking for the ouster of the head of the Democratic National Committee. “Someone can be in favor of one candidate and still conduct a fair primary election, but if they’re hiding that they have close ties — beyond just electoral interest, but with actual monetary interests — that starts to look bad.”

Harrison called me up and recounted his long connections with staffers for Bernie Sanders, and said that he had been the first to invite Sanders to come speak even before he was officially a candidate. Harrison said he'd also had Sanders as the first ever guest in his video series called "Chair Chats." Here's that video:

And here's one with Hillary Clinton, which has about half as many views.

Harrison said he'd offered Sanders the party's resources and conference room, that his own Deputy Executive Director had gone to work for the Sanders campaign, that anything he and the party had done for Clinton they'd done for Sanders, and that I could ask the Sanders campaign and they'd say as much.

I said I was certain they would indeed, whether true or not, but that I had merely answered a reporter's question on one point, that of Harrison's bio on the party site leaving out what he did for a living, namely that he worked for a Clinton-affiliated organization. Amazingly, Harrison claimed not to know whether his bio included that info or not. He blamed me for not investigating it myself, while he himself claimed not to have looked into it either. And he assured me that if I "googled" him I'd see that he worked for the Podesta Group.

But isn't that the point, I asked? If I google Santorum I'll find something else entirely, but that's what Google shows, not what Santorum chooses to display. If everyone can find out that your paycheck comes from a Clinton-associated group, but that's left out of your bio, how does that look? Harrison promised to look into it and to make sure that it said from now on right at the top: "Jamie Harrison, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Principle at the Podesta Group...."

I said I thought that would be a good idea.

The Podesta Group was founded by John and Tony Podesta, the former serving also as Hillary Clinton's campaign chair.

I explained to Harrison that my concern was not over any actual unfair treatment I knew him to have engaged in, but over the appearance of it in a context that had everyone understandably on the lookout for bias. I pointed out to him that the DNC Chair was quite openly on Hillary Clinton's side, had sought to minimize debates and hide them on Saturday nights and other times of low viewership, had sought to deny Sanders access to his own voter files, had just opened up the Democratic Party to money from corporate lobbyists to benefit one candidate, had refused to release the results in Iowa, etc., and that the Party had its superdelegates lined up for Hillary in open defiance of popular will.

Harrison said he agreed with me that the superdelegate system and the electoral college for that matter should be scrapped. And he agreed with my blaming the DNC, which he pointed out was not the South Carolina Democratic Party.

The funny thing is, after I hung up, I looked at Harrison's bio on the Podesta Group website. That bio is very open about his Democratic Party identifications. And they include this: "Member of the DNC Executive Committee."

The 2016 Election's Obama Problem

I was looking for love in all the wrong places
Looking for love in too many faces
Searching your eyes, looking for traces
Of what I'm dreaming of  --Waylon Jennings

Why do the Republican presidential debates resemble world wrestling matches without all the formality and politeness?

Why do the Democratic presidential debates always end up with the two candidates deeply respecting the other's admirable efforts to destroy everything decent in the world?

Because the Republicans are going after voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the U.S. government, including the man running it, Barack Obama, while the Democrats are going after voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the U.S. government but in love with the man running it.

Senator Bernie Sanders explains that we need the opposite of what Obama's been doing, then claims to agree with Obama. Why? Because he wants to win over voters who think exactly that, who believe that Obama has done everything wrong but who love Obama despite, or even because, of his disastrous conduct. Sanders knows that many of the same voters feel (that's the key word) the same way about Hillary Clinton.

Pick up a book called I [Heart] Obama by Erin Aubry Kaplan. In it, she explains that she and others she's asked love Obama for his looks, his voice, his poise, his attitude, his facial expressions, and his skin color. She and others she quotes fell in love with him before they'd learned anything about his political performance. And whatever they later learned entirely confirmed their sentiments. If he did something terrible, they imagined he'd tried to do something good. If he failed, they loved his failure and blamed it on his racist opponents. Because racists hate him, one must love him, they feel.

Kaplan hoped for change, but when Obama didn't meet her expectations she condemned anyone so misguided as to complain. Then she blamed the public for not rising up and complaining, without which Obama couldn't very well be expected to do anything, could he? But even when Obama didn't do the right thing, you could be sure he knew what the right thing to do would have been. And that was good enough. Hell, that was better. And if he lied about it, that was better than truth. Even his bullshit smelled sweet. Kaplan writes:

"Does the fact that  his 'Hope/Change' campaign was more a matter of brilliant branding than anything else diminish the fact that hope and change are exactly what black folks need?"

Perish the thought!

Racists would even object to Obama murdering people. Not the Obamaphiles Kaplan quotes: "'I know it's hard for people to look at the drones, to look at why he doesn't do this thing or that thing,' says Ward. 'But the tightrope is one that he has to walk. I have a friend in the South who says she's seen bars with calendars on the walls that count down the days to when Obama gets assassinated.'"

Get it? Racists want to murder Obama, so he should go on murdering all those dark-skinned foreigners, and you should shut up about it and love him even if you hate what he's doing.

Do the old people and black people backing Hillary Clinton in primaries associate her with Obama and his lovable odiousness? Or do they associate her with the Democratic Party and identify with that party as they might with a racial group? Or do they want to feel the warm tingles of watching a woman, instead of a man, pilot the empire over the cliff? Are good people going to double down on tokenism while the fascists prepare to play their trump card?

The answer is, of course, not to elect all white guys. The answer is to end the election obsession, and build a movement. And when we must have an election, elect the best person. Democrats need to stop loving the people who have created everything Sanders wants to fix. Obama and Hillary do not love you back, my friends. They're using you. They have nothing but contempt for you. And if the morning ever comes, you'll hate yourself in it.

Republicans, of course, need to stop bowing down before a fascist clown who openly tells them that he only loves himself and they should love him too. For him, you are beneath contempt, unworthy even of notice. You'd better hope the Democrats don't run the woman you hate against him, because then he'll be president, you'll be the woman scorned, you'll hate yourselves more than the Democrats hate you, and most people will give up hope for the electoral system -- which will of course turn out to be even worse than falling for false hope with a nice smile.

A Big Lie: Hollywood Producers’ Failure to Fulfill 1942 Pledge Perpetuated Prejudice

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Hollywood honchos told a big lie 74-years ago.

That lie told in 1942 is a link in the sordid chain of perceptions and practices that have produced the present brouhaha surrounding the 2016 Oscar awards featuring an all-white bevy of acting category nominations.

Libya News - Feb 26, 2016


Secret's out: French special forces, along with U.S., U.K. teams, fighting Islamic State in Libya - The Japan Times


France’s ‘secret war’ against IS in Libya: Defence Minister launches an investigation alleging 'breaches of national defence' - France 24


UK Special Forces spearheading 'secret war' against IS in Libya - Mirror Online


French forces arrived in Libya to support Haftar in Benghazi, a common operations room has been set up - middleeastmonitor.com


Deploying land troops in Libya ‘unthinkable’ and ‘absurd': Italy Defense Minister - EUROPE ONLINE


Italy seeks to keep allies in check, tries to persuade them to limit action in Libya until a unity government is in place - Reuters


Libya’s neighbours to meet March 21 in Tunisia on ending IS crisis - Africanews


Bombing of Libya looms as neighboring states seek to seal the borders and build refugee towns - The North Africa Journal


US rules out leading coalition to stop IS in Libya - Worldbulletin News


U.S. unable to halt IS march towards Libyan oil - OilPrice.com


Hunting Boko Haram: U.S. extends its drone war deeper into Africa with secretive base - theintercept.com


Libya’s warring governments launch separate assaults on IS - The National


PHOTOS: Benghazi celebrates after government forces seize control of areas once controlled by Islamic militants - ibtimes.com


Libyan Tobruk-based parliament to move to Benghazi within week - sputniknews.com


Libya unity government vote stalls after threats, Washington strongly condemns all attempts to obstruct the political process - AFP


UN cites torture, murder, violations and abuses in lawless Libya - United Nations


Investigation by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Libya (Short Version) - United Nations


Investigation by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Libya (Long Version) - United Nations

 

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

‘Bravo!’ In email Clinton’s friend praises her for convincing a reluctant President Obama to take military action in Libya - In These Times


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton answers a question about her support for the 2011 Libya war which toppled Qaddafi and led to five years of anarchy - CNN


ARCHIVE: Emails show Clinton’s interest in arming Libyan rebels despite prohibitions - Fox News


Assange: Vote for Hillary Clinton is ‘vote for endless, stupid war' which spreads terrorism - RT News


Gowdy: Benghazi findings likely public before summer, ‘our committee continues to break an immense amount of new ground' - Washington Examiner


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.

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