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Liberalism's Communications Problem

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

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

The Middle East for Dummies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia Conspiracists Claim to Possess Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.

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

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

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

Help "The End of War" Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City to Vote on Resolution Opposing Trump's Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The resolution drafted for Charlottesville's City Council follows:

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

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

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

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

Please sign up on Facebook.

Speakers:

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

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

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

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

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

Please sign up on Facebook.

Flyer PDF.

Alternative Flyer PDF.

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

The Problem With the CIA and Drones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk Nation Radio: Ellen Schrecker on McCarthyism Then and Now

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

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

See: https://www.ellenschrecker.com

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
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and at
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Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next — NYC Event April 3

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

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

Sign up on Facebook.

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

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

Speakers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign up on Facebook.

Print flyer PDF.

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

War Abolition 101: How We Create a Peaceful World

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

Sign up here.

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

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

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

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

Sign up here.

Course Outline and Instructors:

April 10 War can be ended — David Swanson

April 17 War is immoral — Bob Fantina

April 24 War destroys freedom — Barry Sweeney

May 1 War destroys nature — Leah Bolger

May 8 War endangers — Mary Dean

May 15 War impoverishes and wastes — Brian Terrell

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

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

Sign up here.

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

Building A World Beyond War: What Will It Take?

Sponsored by Vermont Stands for a World Beyond War Coalition

Funded by a Mercy Peace Initiative Grant

Speakers will include: David Swanson, Pat Hynes

Click here to register.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

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

Cambridge event: U.S. Never-Ending War in the Time of Trump and How to Stop It

When: Thursday, April 13, 2017, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Where: Friends Meeting House • 5 Longfellow Park • Cambridge, MA 02138

Presentation by David Swanson followed by discussion and book signing.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

(Suggested donation $5.00)

Sponsor:  United for Justice with Peace

info@justicewithpeace.org    justicewithpeace.org

Let's De-Weaponize Space and Earth

An important conference and protest are being planned for Huntsville, Alabama, April 7-9.

The events are called "Pivot Toward War: U.S. Missile Defense and the Weaponization of Space," and are the work of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

World Beyond War is helping to sponsor the conference. At least four of our coordinating committee members plan to be there, and our director will be MCing one of the plenaries. We'll have a table of materials there.

To learn more, go to:
http://space4peace.org/actions/gnconf_2017.htm

To register, download the flyer that's on that page.

If you decide to attend and are willing to help World Beyond War with our table, please reply to this email. Thanks!

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

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

April 4, 2017, 6-8 p.m. Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, D.C.

Speakers:
Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918.

Eugene Puryear, journalist, activist, radio host, and author of Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK, author of books including Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

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

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

Jarrod Grammel, conscientious objector.

Nolan Fontaine, conscientious objector.

Reiner Braun, peace activist based in Germany, co-president International Peace Bureau, Executive Director of the Germany office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.

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

Facebook event sign up.

Flyer PDF.

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

Charlottesville to vote on resolution urging Congress to fund human and environmental needs, not more militarism

On Monday, March 20, 2017, please attend the 7 p.m. Charlottesville City Council Meeting (at City Hall, 605 E. Main Street, on the Downtown Mall near the pavillion). On the agenda is a vote on a resolution to urge Congress to fund human and environmental needs, not more militarism. If you'd like to speak for 3 minutes in support of this resolution, sign up here: http://bit.ly/cvillespeech

To let all City Council Members know you support the resolution, email council@charlottesville.org

Bring your voices to be heard.
Bring your signs to be seen.
Bring your hands to clap.
Join us to speak.
Join us to listen.
And, join us to celebrate.

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

Ask more organizations of all kinds to endorse by emailing david [AT] davidswanson.org.

Charlottesville to Vote on Opposing Trump Budget

We Did It! Now's Our Chance!

Everybody out to oppose war at the next meeting!

At the March 6, 2017, meeting of the Charlottesville City Council, (video here) three members of the council proposed to put on the agenda for a future meeting a vote on a resolution opposing the increased military spending proposed by President Donald Trump. If even just those three (Kristin Szakos, Wes Bellamy, and Bob Fenwick) vote in support of the resolution it will pass. The views of the other two City Council Members (Mike Signer and Kathy Galvin) are unknown.

We are currently assuming, and will confirm as soon as possible, that the vote on the resolution will come at the March 20th, 7 p.m., meeting. We need to be there in large numbers!

We also need to sign up in large numbers ahead of time for 3-minute speaking slots. Please do that here: http://bit.ly/cvillespeech (Of fifteen slots, ten go to online sign-ups, five to early arrivals in person.)

Thus far, these organizations have endorsed the resolution: Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville,

We need to reach out to other organizations and ask them to sign on. We'll add them here: http://bit.ly/cvilleresolution

Our Causes Are Connected, Our Movements Should Be Too

Global corporations and international government alliances are pushing war, environmental destruction, economic exploitation, defunding of schools and housing, hateful divisive ideologies, and reductions in rights and liberties as a package wrapped in shiny foil, tied with a bow, and advertised in hundreds of different advertising media.

. . . and in this corner we have local and national organizations, segregated by race and other demographics, raising pitiable sums to fund nonprofit work, each to work against one or another particular item out of the package. Occasionally a movement will propose to take on two or three items at once but be shouted down with cries of “WHAT IS YOUR ONE DEMAND!?”

In my view, not only was Thomas Jefferson right to list all of King George’s wrongs, not only was Martin Luther King Jr. right to propose taking on militarism, racism, and extreme materialism all together, but the way to an effective movement — not just a larger movement, but a coherent movement with a vision for a better future — is to go multi-issue, big-tent, cross-border, and otherwise “intersectional.”

We’re facing environmental disaster. It might be mitigated by a massive investment in clean energy. The only possible source of the kind of money needed is in the institution that is currently doing the most environmental damage — so, taking its funding away serves a double purpose. I’m talking, of course, about the military, to which Trump’s budget would give over 60% of discretionary spending. For what? For “stealing their oil” and “killing their families.” Once you start opposing killing families, the remaining purpose for the military stands out as rather anti-environmental.

But that 60% of discretionary spending is also why the quality of life, life expectancy, health, and happiness of people in the United States doesn’t match up with its level of wealth. You’ve heard all about the wealth hoarded by the billionaires. It’s a drop in the bucket. Throwing the military $700 billion a year, year after year, explains not having free college, free clean energy, free fast trains, beautiful parks, wonderful arts, a basic income guarantee, and why the U.S. isn’t leading the world in actual foreign aid rather then begrudging it a stingy token. I don’t mean that we could choose one of these other things instead of military spending. I mean that we could choose all of them. I’d gladly give Donald Trump the leftover billions too just to shut up. Who cares? The world would be a wonderful place.

I usually don’t include healthcare in the list of things we could fund because we’re already over-funding it. We’re just funding a corrupt system of private insurance companies that wastes a lot of it. This corrupt system is the result of a corrupt system of government defended by increasingly militarized police cracking down on the use of the First Amendment. Failing to connect these issues leaves us fumbling in the dark. Refugees from U.S. wars are blamed for their suffering and then used as justification for more wars.

The wars are fueled by racism and in turn fuel greater racism and bigotry, which does its damage within the United States and at the locations of its wars and its bases around the world. Part of the bigotry fueled by war for centuries is sexism. Part of what keeps the wars going is perverse machismo. We should trace the roots of these fears, as many of those roots can be found in military spending to just the same extent that the lack of funds for teachers can.

Yet we try to address the erosion of civil liberties as though it stands alone. What would be the justification for spying on everyone, for example, if there were no enemies? It sounds fantastic, I suppose, but numerous nations that are not at war do not have enemies. The United States should try it sometime, if only for the novelty.

There is another serious result of putting our resources into wars, though, and that is the generation of so many enemies, so much hatred, such widespread hostility and resentment. There is, of course, a way to overcome the fear of terrorism, and that is to stop engaging in the terrorism that produces blowback.

There is no divide between foreign and domestic. There is no pro-war environmentalism, or crony capitalist human rights work, or racist peacemaking. If the absence of The One Single Demand troubles someone, give them the single demand that they go read a book.

Has Van Jones Lost His Mind, Or Are Sane People Missing the Point?

A rational and moral person might think of the recent U.S. raid in Yemen this way. Here's one small incident out of a war consisting primarily of a massive bombing campaign that has slaughtered innocents by the thousands and is threatening to lead to the starvation of hundreds of thousands. In this one incident some 30 people were murdered, some 10 of them women and children, one of them the 8-year-old sister of a 16-year-old American boy whom President Obama had earlier murdered just after having murdered his father. There wasn't some Very Important Thing accomplished, such as learning the cell phone number of someone suspiciously Muslim or whatever, that an immoral hack could try to claim justified this incident. This was mass murder.

In the course of this mass murder, one American taking part in it was killed.

The first paragraph above is of virtually no interest to the U.S. media. The second paragraph above is of intense and passionate interest. But there is a very different point that this interest misses. Much of the media coverage suggests that the One American being killed was a very negative thing for Donald Trump. I'd suggest that it was a very negative thing for the man killed and his family and loved ones, but not necessarily a bad thing for Donald Trump or Lockheed Martin. Here's why.

A Model City Resolution to Resist and Overcome

Resolution Proposed for __________, ___

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Pelosi: Resister Without a Clue. A 10 point rant.

Sam Husseini just asked Nancy Pelosi why she won't support an impeachment investigation for Trump. Her answer is on video.

The transcript is probably less embarrassing than the video for the former Speaker who was never much of a, you know, speaker.

SH - ... And if I could, to Leader Pelosi, you said that there are no grounds for impeachment against Donald Trump, but legal scholars from Catherine Ross at GW to Laurence Tribe at Harvard say there is. Laurence Tribe recently said, "Congress cannot give consent to a President's violation of the domestic emoluments clause."

NP - We have to ... the case is being made about the emoluments, and you have to have evidence, and the rest, but the case has not fully been made. The fact is, is that when I was Speaker, after we won in '06, in '07 people wanted me to impeach President Bush because the war in Iraq. But there's a big - I've never recovered with the Left on this subject for not impeaching President Bush because of the war in Iraq. Well, you don't impeach somebody because you don't like their policies. When they break the law, that's when you have grounds for impeachment. And at the time of the war I said, as a top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, "The intelligence does not support the threat," and so did Senator Bob Graham. But the administration was making this strong case with the American people, and perhaps misrepresenting the American people could be cause for impeachment. If so, there's plenty of grounds right now with the current President, but it just, just isn't the case. That doesn't mean nobody's listening to cases that are being made in a very scientific, methodical way, as to whether there are grounds for impeachment. But the fact is, is that many of, we're trying to unite the country, and many of the President's supporters are just not ready to accept the fact that their judgment just might not have been so great in voting for him, and by the time the case is made perhaps they'll be ready to accept that. It's very hard, impeachment. It's very, very hard.

Uh huh. Sort of like stringing words together coherently: very, very hard. But important.

Some basic lessons in law and history for Rep. Pelosi:

1. When we began the drive to impeach Bush it was over violations of law, including violations that traditionally Congress most gave a darn about, including the felonies committed when lying to Congress. We later produced dozens of articles of impeachment, and I published a book together with a former federal prosecutor outlining how to prosecute each of the dozens of crimes found in each of 60 articles.

2. High Crimes and Misdemeanors is not literally crimes, and an impeachment trial is not a criminal trial, which can follow in a court of law. At issue in impeachment is abuse of power, including crimes that violate the highest law of the land, the Constitution, without violating the U.S. Code.

3. The "left" that wanted Bush impeached consisted of roughly half the U.S. public in opinion polls even with zero action for impeachment on capitol hill and Pelosi warning everyone against it.

4. The purpose of impeaching Bush was not to spite Bush but to prevent the expansion of imperial presidential power that has continued ever since the failure to impeach Bush.

5. When we introduced the case for impeaching Trump at http://impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org it was based around violations of the rule of law that numerous legal scholars had predicted he would be violating as soon as he took office. The case was made before Trump became president. It has not been unmade.

6. Opening an investigation may require pretending the case has not already been made, but -- by the same token -- it does not require that the case have been made. It requires only that there be a basis for an investigation.

7. An impeachment investigation uses the power of subpoena to request relevant documents, such as Donald Trump's taxes. By precedent, when such a request is refused, that refusal is an impeachable offense. A Congress without an understanding of how these powers work is a Congress that has cut itself off at the knees and then rolled Nancy Pelosi out to tell us how to win marathons.

8. Uniting the deeply despised Democratic and Republican parties as they exist in Washington D.C. is not the same thing as uniting the country. And many of us don't give a rats behind about either cause in comparison with preventing climate change, war, starvation, poverty, mass-incarceration, and homelessness.

9. The way to educate portions of the population that you believe are lagging in understanding is not to sit back and do nothing until they magically become ready. It is to present your case to them. That's what impeachment hearings typically have done.

10. That the public was opposed to impeaching Bill Clinton, at least for lying about sex, is as relevant to the general popularity of serious impeachment proceedings as Bernie Sanders' crowds are to the public approval of the Democratic National Committee.

This Is Not Your Grandparents' Resistance

I want to disagree, in part, with a recent recommendation that John Steinbeck's The Moon Is Down be used as a guide to resisting the outrages of the Trump regime. I think you could present the basic plot to an average middle school student today, and they would point out the fundamental flaw quite quickly.

Here's the plot. Nazis armed with machine guns take over a small Norwegian town that has a 12-member army, instantly killing 6, injuring 3, and sending 3 into hiding. The Nazis want all the townsfolk to cooperate, including by working in a coal mine so that coal can be shipped out to help the Nazis in the war, as well as -- of course -- generally providing food, shoveling snow, and keeping things running in the town. The townsfolk bitterly resent the occupation. Yet they generally cooperate in all ways, except when they find opportunities to kill a German soldier or two. They send to England for dynamite with which to blow up bridges. No other resistance tactics even occur to them.

Does something occur to you? Does it occur to you that a mine won't run if the miners all refuse to enter it? The fact that this occurs to a great many people today is the result of intellectual and practical progress. We know now that nonviolent tools are the most likely to succeed. We have models and plans for potential situations. This response -- unthinkable through most of human history -- has almost become common sense today.

In part, that's because of the real history of Norway. A strong case has been made that Norway avoided developing its own brand of Nazism in the 1930s by means of using strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and nonviolent occupations to democratize its society, rather than the violent approach used in some other countries. Norway also used, not just violence, but largely nonviolent resistance (as well as violence against non-living things, aka sabotage) to resist Nazi occupation.

Leaders of the Norwegian resistance were, appropriately enough, school teachers, who refused to cooperate with a puppet government, and inspired others to do the same. U.S. teachers should be, and in some cases are, leading resistance to Trump's agenda for the United States. So should local and state governments. So should prominent individuals and organizations of all sorts. I think this is what the article linked above has in mind, too, in recommending The Moon Is Down. But that tale needs updating.

Even so, The Moon Is Down, begins to get close to what's needed. It was a controversial book, and is a good book, because it depicts the Nazis occupying Norway as human beings, just as the people obeying orders to yank Muslims off airplanes in the United States today are human beings. Steinbeck depicts foreign occupations as hopeless and dreams of being welcomed with flowers and chocolates as insane -- something the United States has been in desperate need of learning these past 16 years. The Nazis fail to occupy the town in the story not because they are racists or sexists or haven't donated to the Clinton Foundation, but because there is no way to occupy someone else's town successfully, whether or not the people of the town have been "disarmed."

The Moon Is Down makes the powerful point that the victims of war do not excuse the crimes because the crimes are part of a war. After all, most of them have never attended any U.S. university, so they don't know any better. When the Nazi commander orders the mayor to order the killing of one of his citizens for the crime of murdering a German soldier, he asks if they will punish their own troops for the crime of killing six Norwegian soldiers. Murder is murder, after all, even -- I would bet Steinbeck might agree -- when a flying robot is used.

But the idea that today Norwegian villagers occupied by German troops would be wisest to engage in assassination, as opposed to mass non-violent resistance live streamed on the internet, seems hopelessly outdated. If we want to resist strategically, if we want to transform positively, we will have to update our toolkit dramatically. Looking back at how people thought 75 years ago should serve us primarily as an inspiring reminder of how far we've come, and thereby as an indication of how much further we can go in changing the way we think and act. The permanent military state into which Trump now wants to dump 65% of discretionary spending was begun by people who basically didn't know any more about how societies can work than Aristotle knew about evolution. Perhaps we should reconsider our devotion to their manner of resistance -- which is, after all, what the Pentagon believes it is leading.

Talk Nation Radio: Michael Kazin on the Peace Activists Who Warned Against World War I

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-michael-kazin-on-the-peace-activists-who-warned-against-world-war-i

Michael Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University and editor of Dissent, a magazine of politics and culture which has been published since 1954. His main interest is the history of politics and social movements in the United States. Kazin writes frequently for such publications and websites as The New York Times, Foreign Affairs , The Nation, and The Daily Beast.

His most recent book is War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918. We discuss World War I, World War II, and peace activism.

Kazin will be speaking on April 4, 2017, at this event:

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

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

April 4, 2017, 6-8 p.m. Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, D.C.

Speakers:
Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918.

Eugene Puryear, journalist, activist, radio host, and author of Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK, author of books including Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

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

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

Jarrod Grammel, conscientious objector.

Nolan Fontaine, conscientious objector.

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

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

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