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"You elected this president. You reelected this president. . . . Stop being chumps!" --Van Jones
Going in, I was of mixed views regarding Sunday's rally in Washington, D.C., to save the earth's climate from the tar sands pipeline. I still am.
Why on a Sunday when there's no government around to protest, shut down, or interfere with?
And why all the pro-Obama rhetoric? Robert Kennedy, Jr., was among the celebrities getting arrested at the White House in the days leading up, and his comment to the media was typical. Obama won't allow the tar sands pipeline, he said, because Obama has "a strong moral core" and doesn't do really evil things.
As a belief, that's of course delusional. This is the same president who sorts through a list of men, women, and children to have executed every other Tuesday, and who jokes about it. This is the guy who's derailed international climate protection efforts for years. This is the guy who refused the demand to oppose the tar sands pipeline before last year's election. If he had been compelled to take a stand as a candidate there would be no need for this effort to bring him around as a lame duck.
As a tactic, rather than a belief, the approach of the organizers of Sunday's rally is at least worth questioning. For one thing, people are going to hear such comments and take them for beliefs. People are going to believe that the president would never do anything really evil. In which case, why bother to turn out and rally in protest of what he's doing? Or if we do turn out, why communicate any serious threat of inconvenience to the president? On the contrary, why not make the protest into a campaign rally for the president through which we try, post-election, to alter the platform on which the actual candidate campaigned?
The advantage to the expect-the-best-and-the-facts-be-damned approach is clear. Lots of people like it. You can't have a mass rally without lots of people. The organizers of this event are not primarily to blame for how the U.S. public thinks and behaves. But, then again, if you're trying to maximize your crowd at all costs, hadn't you better really truly maximize it? Sunday's rally probably suffered from being held on a bitterly cold day, but I suspect that most people who planned to come did come; and I've seen more people on the Mall in the summer for no reason at all, and many times more people on the Mall in the winter for an inauguration (which, in terms of policy based activism, is also nothing at all).
What if the celebrities generating the news with arrests at the White House were to speak the truth? What if they committed to nonviolently interfering with the operations of a government destroying the climate? What if they committed to opposing the Democratic and Republican parties as long as this is their agenda? What if they said honestly and accurately that the personality of a president matters less than the pressures applied to him, that this president can do good or evil, and that it is our job to compel him to do good?
Sunday's rally, MC'd by former anti-Republican-war activist Lennox Yearwood, looked like an Obama rally. The posters and banners displayed a modified Obama campaign logo, modified to read "Forward on Climate." One of the speakers on the stage, Van Jones, declared, "I had the honor of working for this president." He addressed his remarks to the president and appealed to his morality and supposed good works: "President Obama, all the good that you have done . . . will be wiped out" if you allow the tar sands pipeline.
The pretense in these speeches, including one by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, was consistently that Obama has not already approved part of the pipeline, that he is guilty of inaction, that the government is failing to act, that what's needed is action -- as if our government were not actively promoting the use of, and using vast quantities of fossil fuels, not to mention fighting wars to control the stuff.
Van Jones ended his remarks by addressing himself to "the next generation." And this is what he had to say: "Stop being chumps! You elected this president. You reelected this president. You gave him the chance to make history. He needs to give you the chance to have a future. Stop being chumps! Stop being chumps and fight for your future, thank you very much."
Reading these words, one would imagine that the obvious meaning they carry is "Stop electing people like this who work for parties like this and serve financial interests like these." What could be a more obvious interpretation? You elected this guy twice. He's a lame duck now. You've lost your leverage. Stop being such chumps!
Nothing could be further, I think, from what Van Jones meant or what that crowd on Sunday believed he meant. This was a speaker who had, just moments before, expressed his pride in having worked in Obama's White House. The fact that this crowd of Obama-branded "activists" had elected him twice was not mentioned in relation to their chumpiness but as grounds for establishing their right to insist that he not destroy the planet's atmosphere. They would be chumps if they didn't hold more rallies like this one.
Wait, you might ask, doesn't everyone have the right to insist that powerful governments not destroy the earth's atmosphere?
Well, maybe, but in Van Jones' thinking, those who committed to voting for Obama twice, no matter what he did, and who have committed to voting for another Democrat no matter what he or she will do, deserve particular attention when they make demands. Paradoxically, those who can be counted on regardless, who demand nothing and therefore offer nothing, should be the ones who especially get to make demands and have them heard and honored.
Needless to say, it doesn't actually work that way.
Our celebrity emperors attract a great deal of personal affection or hatred, so when I suggest an alternative to packaging a rally for the climate as a belated campaign event, it may be heard as a suggestion to burn Obama in effigy. What if there were a third option, namely that of simply demanding the protection of our climate?
We might lose some of those who enjoyed burning Bush in effigy and some of those who enjoy depicting themselves as friends of the Obama family. But would we really lose that many? If the celebrities and organizers took such an honest policy-based approach, if the organizations put in the same money and hired the same busses, etc., how much smaller would Sunday's unimpressive rally have really been?
(And couldn't such a crowd be enlarged enough to more than compensate for any loss, by the simple tactic of promising ahead of time to keep the speeches to a half-hour total and to begin the march on time? I'd pay money to go to that rally.)
The problem, of course, is that the celebrities and organizers themselves tend to think like Obama campaign workers. It's not an act. It's not a tactic aimed at maximizing turnout. And it's not their fault that they, and so many others, think that way.
But imagine a realistic, policy-based approach that began to build an independent movement around principled demands. It would have the potential to grow. It would have the potential to threaten massive non-cooperation with evil. It would have the energy of Occupy. It would have the potential to make a glorious declaration out of what now appears to be self-mockery when oversmall crowds of hungover campaign workers shout "This is what democracy looks like!" as they plod along a permitted parade route.
No. It really isn't.
Bradley Manning has been in jail awaiting trial for nearly 1,000 days for exposing war crimes, corruption, and widespread abuse. Demonstrations have been organized internationally.
When he returns to court in Fort Meade, MD, for a pretrial hearing from February 26 to March 1, Judge Denise Lind will rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss charges for lack of a speedy trial. Defense lawyer David Coombs has laid out the ways in which the government has violated the 5th and 6th Constitutional Amendments, Rule for Court Martial 707, and Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 10 in taking this long to try Bradley Manning. Prosecutors were supposed to arraign Manning within 120 days but took well over 600. They’re also supposed to remain actively diligent throughout the proceedings, but Coombs has showed substantial periods of their inactivity and needless delay. Bradley’s due process rights have been clearly violated, and the only legal remedy is to dismiss charges.
Judge Lind should dismiss the charges with prejudice, if she determines the government intentionally delayed Manning’s trial, which would set the young Army private free. She could also dismiss without prejudice, which would allow the government to retry the case and restart the speedy trial clock. If she does not dismiss the charges, she will condone the government’s unconstitutional delays and the deprivation of Bradley’s due process rights.
We will also hear Bradley’s updated plea offer, in which he’s expected to offer to plead guilty to several lesser-included offenses, which could carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. The government can still charge as planned, including using the Espionage Act and UCMJ Article 104, alleging Manning indirectly “aided the enemy” simply because he knew Al Qaeda could access WikiLeaks.
By the time that pretrial hearing begins, Bradley will have been in jail for over 1,000 days. In response to this historic abuse, supporters around the country and around the world are planning demonstrations, rallies, and marches on February 23. From California, to Florida, to Italy, to Germany, supporters of PFC Manning will make their protests known.
Tucson, AZ Feb 23, 11am-5pm
Write Bradley Manning for Valentine's Day!
A little known fact about Valentine's Day is that it originated not as a romantic holiday, but as a way to honor a crusader for social equality.
Show heart! Write a letter of support to Bradley!
We think that Valentine's Day is a fitting time to send Bradley a message of support. You can send cards and letters to the following address:
Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211
You can also submit a picture of yourself with a message of support holding a sign that reads "I Am Bradley Manning" to http//iam.bradleymanning.org.
Bradley's attorney David Coombs has said, "the best evidence for me that I am not standing alone when I stand for Brad is a website called 'I Am Bradley Manning'. I personally have to tell you, I go to this site at least once a day. I go to this site when I need to recharge my batteries after working a long day on the case, and I just peruse the photographs – people with a simple statement in front of their face, “I am Bradley Manning.” The power of those simple words is amazing."
We agree. Thank you for supporting Bradley Manning!
By Robert C. Koehler
You’re young and prone to trouble. You get triggered quickly. Someone tells you that you’ve screwed up and you’re about to lash back. Then, instead, you think:
1. Look at the other person.
2. Say “OK.”
3. Stay calm.
This is what you do. And nothing happens, except that the moment passes and life goes on. Got it?
This beautiful video created by Jim T in San Diego. We were both part of the protest in So Cal on this day 10 years ago. Jim has supplied a sound track and included photos from every major city on the planet from that day.
On February 15, 2003, the world protested a long-announced pending war of aggression by the United States against Iraq. The protest was the largest in world history, and we haven't topped it since. It persuaded many nations of the world and the United Nations to oppose the war. It built an international movement that went on to limit, reduce, and prevent wars, including thus far a fullscale war on Iran, as well as to educate a new generation about the evils of war. This movement helped to delegitimize warmaking, a process still not complete.
by Chicago Chapter World Can't Wait Haven't we all felt outraged and frustrated when we read another horror story about the devastating impact of climate chaos on life around the planet? Yet decades of international conferences and non-binding 'agreements' have done nothing to moderate the spreading destruction.
Instead, our government has sabotaged those talks and passed draconian laws to brand environmental activists as "terrorists." We must and can come together to consider this situation, deeply, and dedicate ourselves to reversing it - because humanity and the planet come first. And we're doing that, here in Chicago, at the Climate Crisis Conference on February 16!
2/17/13 -12-4PM (Arrive at 11:30am)-Rally at the National Mall and March to the White House. The climate crisis is creating weather patterns that aren't just extreme -- they're downright freaky. Our leaders can't sit around and twiddle their thumbs anymore, and it's up to activists like you to make sure they get the memo.
The climate crisis is creating weather patterns that aren't just extreme -- they're downright freaky. Our leaders can't sit around and twiddle their thumbs anymore, and it's up to activists like you to make sure they get the memo.
By Mike Ferner
On that day, for thefirst time in human history, people of every nation on earth said “NO” to a war before it began.
By the 10’s of millions, starting in New Zealand and Australia and sweeping westward over the globe for 24 hours, peoplepoured into streets and public places to shout with one voice, “NO WAR ON IRAQ!”
In the face of this overwhelming, universal cry for peace, the US and UK repeatedly lied and invaded Iraq, which says all that needs saying about the supposed “democracies” we live in. Even the staid New York Times was moved to admit that “there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.”
By Dave Lindorff
The US government doesn't like Iran. I get that. It claims, on pretty dubious grounds, that Iran might be planning, at some point down the road, to take some of the uranium it is processing into nuclear fuel to a higher level of purity and make it into an atomic bomb.
Before you read the news release, however, about the planned upcoming rally in response, please read John "End War" Walsh's insightful background exposing "US Goading Japan into Confrontation With China: Will Japan Take the Bait?" published a few days ago at Anti-war.com, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House and several other anti-war sites. With all the imperial wars that have been launched and are being launched by the US in the Mid-east, we often forget about the US-announced "China Pivot" occuring on the other side of the world. Please help spread the information of the underlying issues as well as notice about this upcoming rally in NYC on Feb 19th, a real chance to demonstrate against the emerging militarism of Japan's Prime Minister Abe. If your peace group wants to join the rally and/or endorse their effort, plea
by World Can't Wait, Hawai'i Chapter Friday night was the first night of the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Chinatown. Lions danced in the streets. Drumming bounced off the walls of surrounding buildings, and tens of thousands of firecrackers created constant noise. Thousands of residents, tourists and GI's filled the streets. Our huge grey drone replica hovered over the celebration - a sober reminder of U.S. warfare in 2013.
As the preparations for the 2nd anniversary of the 14th February Revolution get underway, the field activities have warmed up extensively. At the same time supportive actions by the friends of Bahrain have risen sharply and are expected to become more widespread. In several cities around the world the pro-democracy activists have line up programmes of actions to express support to the Revolution that the Anglo-American alliance continues to target with various political and security means. The enmity of this alliance to the aspirations of Bahrain has been laid open especially the British Government dispatched several teams and personnel to help the Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship repress the people. Despite the claims by some British officials to the contrary, Bahrainis continue to suffer repression in the form of torture, and collective punishment.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Many millions around the world are convinced they know imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from closely examining the ‘whodunit’ contentions surrounding his contentious conviction for the December 9, 1981 slaying of a Philadelphia policeman.
Peace Essay Rules
In 800 words or less answer the question: How can we obey the law against war?
Please include your: (1) name, (2) age (if under 19), (3) mailing address, (4) phone number, (5) email address, and (6) year and school that you first learned about the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
Mail your Peace Essay – postmarked by April 14, 2013 – to: Peace Desk, 213 S. Wheaton Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60187
Peace Essays will be judged by members of the West Suburban Faith- Based Peace Coalition (WSFPC) (www.FaithPeace.org) based on:
(1) Knowledge of the Kellogg-Briand Pact
(2) Insight into how the Pact influences U.S. foreign policy
(3) Creativity in recommendations regarding compliance
(4) Quality of the Peace Essay prose
The author of the best essay will receive $1,000. Also, if the award winner identifies the school where she/he learned about the Kellogg- Briand Pact, a book – When the World Outlawed War, by David Swanson – will be donated to the school library. The WSFPC will also send the best Peace Essays to key members of the U.S. Congress.
For more information please contact Frank Goetz at email@example.com
Everyone who respects the Law should work for Peace.
Most People understand that war is destructive but few know that it is illegal. On August 27, 1928 many countries signed a treaty called the Kellogg-Briand Pact which outlawed war. After ratification by the U.S. Senate the following year this Pact became the supreme law of the land in the United States and sixty- five other countries. How can we respect the law if most of us are ignorant of its existence? Members of the Peace Community have decided to: 1) educate the population on why this law was passed, and 2) encourage insight and creative expression on how we can bring our country into compliance.
213 S. Wheaton Avenue Wheaton, IL 60187 Phone: 630-510-8500 ext. 104 firstname.lastname@example.org
By Norman Solomon
A lot of what we say and do becomes habit-forming. Groundhog Day 2013 could serve as a reminder that some political habits should be kicked. Here are a few:
** “Defense budget”
No, it’s not a defense budget. It’s a military budget.
But countless people and organizations keep saying they want to cut “the defense budget” or reduce “defense spending.”
Anyone who wants to challenge the warfare state should dispense with this misnomer. We don’t object to “defense” -- what we do oppose, vehemently, is military spending that has nothing to do with real defense and everything to do with killing people, enforcing geopolitical control and making vast profits for military contractors. And no, they’re not “defense contractors.”
President Eisenhower’s farewell address didn’t warn against a “defense-industrial complex.”
U.S. war criminals are speaking and promoting their latest books in various cities around the country in January and Feb. 2013. Check this out to see if any are in your area. We will help and publicize your protest. Reproducible leaflets and posters are available on: http://warcriminalswatch.org/index.php/downloadable-materials
By Michael Uhl
Jonathan Schell‘s probing review of Nick Turse’s new book Kill Anything That Moves originated on Tom Dispatch and migrated to Salon, where it appeared under the head “Vietnam was even more horrific than we thought.”
The 100,000+ circulation New York CityIndypendent newspaper has chosen 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Cheri Honkala and campaign manager Ben Manski to serve as members of an alternative "Shadow Cabinet" for the coming session. Honkala will serve as HUD Secretary, and Manski as director the FEC. Write the editors of the Indypendent:
"As one presidential term ends and another begins, we want to take this opportunity to reject the pomp of inauguration and reignite the radical imagination. Instead of settling for empty suits and ugly compromisers, we’ve tossed Obama’s cabinet out of White House and reached out to thinkers and doers, those least likely to be nominated but most deserving of being heard and best qualified to make change, and nominated them to our own Shadow Cabinet."
We have reproduced the changes that Honkala and Manski propose, below. Enjoy!
My first order of business as the new Housing and Urban Development secretary will be to end homelessness and revamp the HOPE VI grant program. Currently, there are more abandoned properties in this country than there are homeless people, and the solution is obvious: combine the two. Dr. Jill Stein and I ran on a platform of the Green New Deal, which is based on the principle that all Americans have a right to safe, decent and accessible affordable housing. I will work to further this goal.
Current HUD programs are grossly inadequate and have massive undesirable consequences. A salient example is the failed HOPE VI program. This program, begun in 1993, was designed to revitalize and remedy problems with public housing by departing from the former “housing project” model and moving toward mixed-use development. While a laudable goal, the program has failed and has only made the housing crisis for America’s poor worse. Grants are being used to demolish existing public housing in order to rebuild new “mixed-use” units. There is, however, no requirement that the new construction have a “one-to-one” replacement of the former housing units. Additionally, “mixed use” has been used to develop mixed-income housing, which shrinks the number of units available to the poor and amounts to nothing less than the usurpation of housing from the poor to be given at subsidized rates to the middle class.
The result of this failed program, in cities from Louisville, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, to the Bay Area in California, is the displacement of U.S. families who can least afford such a change. Families are being uprooted from communities they have lived in for generations and shipped to remote communities without access to transit or employment centers and in many cases left homeless. Rather than solving problems with low-income housing, the HOPE VI program merely hides the poor from the view.
I will immediately institute a moratorium on the disbursement of any further HOPE VI monies. The requirements for obtaining such a grant must be amended. In the first instance, the demolition of housing should be a last resort. Many units have been family homes for generations, and the immoral destruction of these homes must end. In those instances where rebuilding is the best option, the program must require a one-to-one replacement of any demolished unit. Furthermore, these new units must be reserved for low-income families who depend on public housing. Finally, the siting of additional or new units must be in urban centers with access to transit and jobs and not in undesirable and remote areas that burden residents with crippling commutes.
As my first order of business, I will END homelessness by housing our veterans, our seniors and our low-income families. We will empty the shelters and fill the homes!
The recommendations above are but the beginning: With the Green New Deal we could make all of this and more a reality. I invite you all to follow Jill Stein and me this year as we work with others to bring the Green New deal to life and make it a reality because the next generation deserves just that!
Cheri Honkala is a nationally known advocate for the poor and homeless, co-founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and co-founder and National Coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She was the Green Party’s nominee for vice president in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
"Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between [people], and their beliefs — in religion, literature, colleges and schools — democracy in all public and private life…” ~ Walt Whitman
Until now, the United States has had no federal agency primarily responsible for the strengthening of domestic democracy. We therefore reform the existing Federal Elections Commission into a new Federal Democracy Commission, whose mandate is fourfold:
1. Convening of constitutional conventions at least once every 30 years so as to ensure that the basic law of these United States is the law of the living, not the dead. Currently, such a convention may be initiated at the request of the States. Until the Constitution may be amended so as to make constitutional reform a more regular practice, the role of the Federal Democracy Commission in the convening of constitutional conventions shall be to encourage and make transparent the existing amendment process.
2. The implementation and enforcement of the Voter Bill of Rights, as enacted by Congress, as well as existing voting rights and election law. The Voter Bill of Rights is a 10-point consensus platform of the modern day voting rights movement and may be read in its current incarnation at http://
3. Ensuring federal support for the principles of democratic federalism,in which environmental, human rights, education, and commercial laws and regulations enacted by our national government are understood to establish a floor, not a ceiling, to actions by our state and local governments. This means, for example, that the Federal Democracy Commission will intervene to ensure that the federal government will encourage local and state reforms such as public utilities, community wireless, wage and hour minimums, clean water, human rights, and standards and services that are more ambitious than those offered by higher levels of government.
4. Strengthening the practice of economic democracy through public education, publicity, training and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms intended to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory.
The Federal Democracy Commission is an independent, nonpartisan regulatory agency. Its six commissioners are nonpartisan, meaning that those who have run for partisan office, worked for a political party, or served as an officer of a registered political party may not serve as commissioners.
The commissioners are nominated by a select committee that includes one representative of each political party that has won at least 1 percent of the national vote in the previous election cycle. Those nominated are then appointed by the President and approved by Congress.
Ben Manski is the executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, a pro-democracy strategy center he founded in 2004. He is a former co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, and this past year was Jill Stein’s presidential campaign manager. He is also a co-founder of Move to Amend. Manski will serve as the executive secretary of the Federal Democracy Commission, as he is disqualified from serving as a commissioner.
Why is it that the best-laid plans never work out… or, at least, they don’t work out like you planned them? More to the point, why haven’t I learned this lesson by now? I always find myself surprised that the things I thought were a ‘done deal’ tend to crumble quicker than coffee cake. What I have learned is that when things do appear to fall apart, it is generally meant to be, and opens the door for whatever comes next.
There is a growing national movement to end the drone warfare that has been expanded during the Obama years. Even as Obama gives an inaugural speech that many thought to be inspiring and suggestive of change, reports indicate that the drone program continues to escalate. So, we must continue to do everything we can to stop the killer drones.
By Norman Solomon
With President Obama’s second term underway and huge decisions looming on Capitol Hill, consider this statement from Howard Zinn: “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.”
With so much at stake, we can’t afford to forget our role. For starters, it must include public clarity.
Let’s face it: despite often nice-sounding rhetoric from the president, this administration has continued with a wide range of policies antithetical to progressive values.
Corporate power, climate change and perpetual war are running amok while civil liberties and economic fairness take a beating. President Obama has even put Social Security and Medicare on the table for cuts.
By Debra Sweet While we walked from the Supreme Court, past the US District Court, the FBI, and to the White House last Friday to protest eleven years of illegitimate imprisonment at Guantanamo, Hamid Karzai was meeting inside with Barack Obama. As my friend Anna, who lives in Kabul, said while walking beside me, "Karzai has his list of requirements to stay on the job."