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You Say You Want a Revolution of Values?

I spoke this past weekend at the Kateri Peace Conference in upstate New York ( http://kateripeaceconference.org ) along with Kathy Kelly, John Horgan, Ellen Grady, James Ricks, Matt Southworth, Walt Chura, and many others.  Watch for the video, because a terrific discussion took place around a series of questions posed by the event organizers.  The following are some of the initial responses I had prepared beforehand.

Why Work Against War

War engages me because of its unique relationship to morality.  Killing is a long-standing taboo.  Killing is often if not always the worst thing that can be done to someone.  But killing on a larger scale, organizing numerous people to kill numerous other people is often treated very differently.  When a government kills its own people, that's generally considered an outrage.  But when a government kills another nation's people, that's not always viewed as a moral problem. In fact a government killing its own people is often used as a justification for another nation to come in and kill more of the first nation's people.  Killing in war, and lesser crimes in war, are given a moral pass or even praised.  A U.S. military sniper bragged on the debut episode this week of NBC's war reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" that he had "160 kills."  Not that he killed 160 people.  The people are erased in his language. "I have 160 kills."  And the show itself is a dramatization of U.S. news coverage of U.S. wars, in which the only participants are Americans.  The 95% of victims in our one-sided slaughters are rarely mentioned in U.S. news coverage, and on this new war-o-tainment show the heroic warriors attack empty fields, blow up guard towers with no guards, kick in doors of uninhabited houses, and spend so much time talking about how "real" it all is that none of them seem to notice that there are no enemies or victims to be found.

Veterans storm Obama campaign offices for PFC Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning Support Network
http://bradleymanning.org

 
This afternoon, in a coordinated action across three major U.S. cities, veterans entered Obama campaign offices, demanding a letter be faxed to the central office, calling for freedom for WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning.  Shortly after the veterans made their demand, a large crowd of allies and occupiers marched to the doors to lend support. Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, in Oakland, said, “Bradley had the courage to step up and do what was right. He blew the whistle. It's time for veterans to stand up for him now, and that's what we're doing today. It's time President Obama ensures that Bradley's mistreatment is accounted for.”

Talk Nation Radio: How Drones Appear from the Receiving End

Rafia Zakaria, a Pakistani-American writer, reports on how drones look from thousands of miles away from the desks at which they are "piloted."  Zakaria is a columnist for the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn, a blogger for Ms. Magazine and for Human Rights Now, and a director for Amnesty International USA.  Drones will not look the same to you after listening to her.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

NBC's Celebrity Warriors: "They barely survived the first week!"

If you sat through the two-hour debut of NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes" on Monday, you heard the promotion for next week's show: "They barely survived the first week!"  And you thought to yourself: "Uh, no, that was me."

What intolerable filth!  In this "reality" show, "celebrities" we've mostly never heard of are paired off with current or former members of the U.S. military to "play" at "missions reminiscent of counterinsurgencies that have taken place all over the world."  It's war for fun.  This sport has all the excitement of golf, but without the same level of danger.  Nobody "barely survived."  Nobody killed anybody.  Nobody's suffering moral anguish from what they've seen and done.  Nobody's lost any limbs.  And nobody's a suicide risk, with the possible exception of the producer.

Just prior to the show's debut, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates, not including the one whose "counterinsurgencies" the show reenacts, released a statement demanding the show's removal from the air:

"Real war is down in the dirt deadly.  People -- military and civilians -- die in ways that are anything but entertaining.  Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence.  War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.  Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public."

In other words, we're dealing here with the crime of war propaganda, not for any particular war, but for the normalization of eternal war on the borders of the empire. 

A crowd protested the show at NBC headquarters in New York on Monday evening, chanting "Shame, Shame, War is not a Game," and delivering a petition bearing thousands of signatures.

The show's first episode opened with co-host and retired general Wesley Clark claiming that soldiers sacrifice for the rest of us.  Dean Cain, an actor who played Superman, remarks that he had never before had to "be a superhero for real."  Numerous other voices go on and on about soldiers' heroism, claiming that they "do this" "for our freedom."  But the "this" turns out to be a game that the contestants describe themselves as "playing."

One of the military "operatives" paired with a celebrity brags about having killed 160 people.  That split-second comment is the only appearance in the two-hour marathon of the enemies or victims of war.  One celebrity asks their partner if he's ever killed anyone, and he replies, "We don't talk about that."  Neither does NBC.  The people whom U.S. troops slaughter in our one-sided occupations or wars are never brought up.

The episode involved training for a mission and then performing the mission as a contest with four people on each team.  The "mission" was to "infiltrate a hostile encampment."  This meant that they had to ride in a helicopter, jump in a lake, climb in a boat, pretend to be shot at by "enemies" not actually shooting or appearing, blow up a guard tower with no guard in it, shoot human-sized paper targets, wade through mud, locate a box of ammunition and move it into a building, and blow up the building by pushing a button.

This stupidity is chock full of exclamations and commentary about real bullets and real explosives that are really real.  It may be the noise of their own voices that prevents anyone involved from discovering that they aren't actually shooting at anyone and no one is actually shooting at them.

Kicking in doors is a big focus of the mission.  This ought to inform thoughtful viewers about what "battlefields" look like in "counter insurgencies."  Our wars are fought in people's homes.  But when these celebrities and the tough guys they worship kick in doors there are no screaming children behind them.  This act of terrorism is transformed into an act of athletic accomplishment.  Blowing up a poor person's house is transformed into an act of special effects, creating a gigantic explosion with the push of a button while being lifted on a rope tied to a helicopter.  When, at the end of the show, it is time to eliminate the worst warrior from future programs, the two worst warmakers thus far pair off in a contest that involves kicking in a door, entering a room, and shooting a bunch of humanoid targets in the head.  I wonder which missions that is reminiscent of.

Muhammad Ali famously remarked, when refusing to participate in war: "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. . . .  No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."  His daughter Laila Ali is a Stars Earn Stripes celebrity contestant blissfully unconcerned about whether or not she has a quarrel with the people who theoretically might inhabit the buildings she's shooting up.  War lovers must feel some satisfaction in having brought Ali's daughter into the fold, along with the late football star and soldier Pat Tillman, who had turned against our wars but for whose charity one of the Stars Earn Stripes celebrities is competing.  When one of the celebrities lies, "I know there's a chance I could die," one imagines he must have in mind friendly fire.  Like Tillman, he would die with no enemy present.  To make the show seem dangerous, the producers show one celebrity, Dolvett Quince, having trouble swimming.

The losing team in each mission/sporting event loses by completing the mission with the slowest time.  Yet the show itself is almost unbearably slow, repetitive (literally replaying the same little snippets of "action"), and so packed with commercial breaks that it's hard to imagine people waiting through them voluntarily.  But the whole thing is a commercial for war, the business of 49% NBC owner General Electric.  No matter how small the audience for this slime, it is likely to be disproportionately made up of young people contemplating enlistment.  And what a massive and deadly lie this show is to them!

These celebrities are unlikely to suffer PTSD or to die in the most common way in which actual members of the military die (suicide).  There's no fear, no horror, no revulsion, no moral crisis.  Asked what their biggest concerns are prior to their "mission" they say things like "how high the helicopter will fly."  This is beyond promoting war as a hell that is somehow necessary as a last resort.  This is war as exciting sport with no moral component, no killing, no dying, no downside.  Now we don't have to be sociopaths to support the military as a jobs program; we can be patrons of the arts (or the sports anyway).

At one point, one of the celebrities, Eve Torres, in tears, says that she appreciates those who do such difficult stunts "every day" as their job. "We do this for fun," she says.  Yet, when her heroes practice these extreme sports they do so with real victims in real nations, generating real enemies.  NBC doesn't include that complication.  Nowhere in Stars Earn Stripes do we hear about the list of countries that Wesley Clark said the Pentagon wanted to attack and overthrow right after 9-11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.  And of course we are not told what he said the motivation for those attacks would be, namely trying to look strong and to dominate the globe.  Clark was outraged to learn that "the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments, it's not to deter conflict; we're going to have to invade countries, and you know my mind was spinning; they wanted us to destabilize the Middle East . . . . They could hardly wait to finish Iraq so that they could move into Syria."  Clark was talking then about the same sort of people who are running the U.S. military now.

Stars Earn Strips could have gone differently.  Imagine if the "mission" were to put out a fire or rescue people from a storm.  Or the mission could have been to save our atmosphere.  Or how about a mission to see who is fastest at building the fastest and most energy efficient trains?  Or . . . anything useful in any way!

The excitement (such as it is) of NBC's "reality show" lies precisely in its being "reminiscent" of war, and not of some beneficial project.  And yet it is not war.  And it may be doomed to low ratings.  If it were war, however, its ratings wouldn't necessarily rise.  Americans don't want to see families slaughtered, children mutilated, whole regions of the world ruined for human life, refugees struggling to survive, cluster bombs and depleted uranium killing for generations.  What's fun about that?

If NBC would like to show the uglier side of war, we've provided resources to get them started at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

Big Peace Gathering in New York State August 17-18

The 14th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference will be held in upstate New York on August 17-18, 2012.

Speakers including Thomas Gumbleton, Kathy Kelly, John Horgan, Clare Grady, David Swanson, Matt Southworth, Walt Chura, and James Ricks will address the topic of revolutionary love.

Learn more: http://kateripeaceconference.org/2012Conference/2012-conference

Who Are the 1 Percent?

What Paul Ryan Has and Obama Wants

According to the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and Democratic political groups have been eager for Romney to pick Ryan, the architect of plans to slash government spending and overhaul entitlement programs that Democrats believe are political losers."  ABC agrees: "The selection of  Ryan as running mate makes it far more likely that Medicare, Social Security, and dramatic spending cuts will be as central to the campaign conversation this fall as jobs and the economy. Adding some of those famed political third rails into the mix is not just a potential risk Romney is willing to take, it is also clearly a potential risk he felt he had to take."

So, cutting Medicare and Social Security are unpopular, and Obama benefits from Romney's risky move in picking a runningmate willing to cut them.  That's the story.

Now, however, read this from the New York Times: "The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit."

So Obama too is willing to take the political risk of cutting the popular programs called Medicare and Social Security.  In fact, what Obama wants is not to protect these programs from cuts, but rather to receive appropriate credit from the media corporations for his willingness to cut them.  This, we are about to be told endlessly, is in stark contrast to Romney-Ryan's willingness to cut Medicare and Social Security.  But the biggest contrast seems to be that the media gives Romney and Ryan the credit that Obama covets.

Oh no, Obama supporters will reply, there's a big difference.  Romney wants to cut these programs, while Obama is willing to cut them. Romney is evil, while Obama is noble and gracious in his appeasing of evil.  I'm sorry, but won't the catfood that grandma lives on taste as bitter regardless of whether her income was removed maliciously or accommodatingly?

Oh, but Romney-and-Ryan want to cut more than Obama wants to cut. 

Are you sure?  RR need only triple their demand for Obama to double his.  The longer the debate goes on, the more old people Obama wants to starve to demonstrate his willingness to accommodate.  In fact, exactly how many old people starve -- whether Iranians living under sanctions or Americans living under austerity -- is hardly relevant.  The important thing is to have gone further toward meeting RR's demand than RR went toward meeting yours. 

But what about the demand of the majority of the country that Social Security and Medicare be expanded rather than cut?  What about the popularity of lifting the cap on payroll taxes, lowering the retirement age, and expanding Medicare to include us all?  Will that agenda be advanced by cheering for a compromiser over an unapologetic crapitalist?

Of course not.  What would move both of these reprehensible candidates away from deeper cuts to decent programs, and toward deeper cuts in the war machine, the fossil fuel funding, the bankster bailouts, and the "Bush" tax cuts is an independent movement that makes its minimum demand an absolute bar on any cuts to Social Security or Medicare whatsoever. 

If you don't soon see progressive groups advancing that demand, expect bad times ahead, regardless of who wins the world's worst reality drama.

Lies, Damn Lies, and War Lies

Prepared remarks for Veterans For Peace Convention 2012.
Prepared to follow remarks by Nicolas "Sandy" Davies
Convention theme: "Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean"
Remarks theme: "U.S. Military Expansion since the End of the Cold War"
Accompanying powerpoint:  
http://warisacrime.org/downloads/misleading2.pptx

At my house I can see a hill out the window, and a house on it.  And if I go to that house, I can see another house on the next hill.  The first house is Thomas Jefferson's, and the second James Monroe's.  Jefferson's record is quite mixed, not just as the slave owner for equality and freedom, but also as a developer of the disastrous two-party system and of an even more disastrous U.S. navy and a U.S. military with a centuries' old tradition now of attacking Libya.  Jefferson's version of that attack also introduced suicide-bombing to that region of the globe, as a U.S. ship full of sailors intentionally blew itself up in port.

But it's hard to put that record of blood-drenched hypocrisy up against the record of the doctrine that bears the name of President Monroe.  In fact, there is already something terrifyingly dishonest about calling a barbaric shout of dominance a doctrine, as seems to happen with each president now.  Declaring a bunch of nations independent of another bunch of nations can sound innocent only to those making the declaration, and only if they've already begun to convince themselves that the whole world is their territory, a notion made explicit by Theodore Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.  Latin America was not to be attacked by bad attackers, only by good attackers, meaning either the U.S. military or private U.S. entrepreneurial imperialists seeking nations to rule.

Roosevelt looked beyond Latin America, of course, as the United States, heartbroken at having reached the Pacific and run out of Native American nations to destroy, had moved into the Pacific as well as the Caribbean.  The nation of Japan had put an end to war, with others or itself, in 1614, and remained peaceful for two centuries, developing the sort of culture that flourishes in peace -- an action that has occurred too many times in human history to take seriously the desperate moans of those who like to pretend that war is in our biology.  (And if it were, wouldn't we suffer PTSD from its absence, not its presence?)  In 1872, U.S. General Charles LeGendre had been trying unsuccessfully to get China to attack and occupy Taiwan.  He made the same pitch to the Japanese and found them far more interested.  LeGendre told the Japanese that they needed a Monroe Doctrine for their area of the world, meaning Japanese dominance at the expense of any competitors.  LeGendre pushed the Japanese to attack Taiwan and Okinawa and Korea, actions that shocked the people of Asia.  

U.S. policy became promotion of U.S. imperialism as far as it could reach, and Japanese imperialism beyond that.  Theodore Roosevelt pushed the Monroe Doctrine idea on the Japanese, and by 1905 was openly advocating a Japanese Monroe Doctrine in speeches.  But he expected the Japanese to both adopt the worldview of conquering civilizers, and respect limits -- including by respecting U.S. possessions such as the Philippines, and Hawaii.  Hawaii had been grabbed by the United States as a function of the original Monroe Doctrine, the argument being that the Monroe Doctrine required grabbing Hawaii before the British did -- regardless of whether Hawaii was actually part of the Americas.  President McKinley explained the need to occupy the Philippines as the only means to keep Spain, Germany, or France from taking over a barbaric people who obviously could not be left to their own devices.  But Roosevelt managed, in the end, to simultaneously give the Japanese Korea and turn the Japanese against the United States.  Japanese imperialism became a rival to the United States, up until World War II when another Roosevelt successfully provoked a Japanese attack on U.S. pacific territories in order to persuade the U.S. public to enter another war in Europe.

Soldiers Who Refuse to Kill

One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war. Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse. In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time. Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.

Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty. President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office. Condon never "served" a day, in either the military "service" or prison.

Talk Nation Radio: Hidden History of the War on Iraq and Its Oil

Greg Muttitt, visiting from the U.K., is the author of a new book on Iraq that is making a lot of news.  It's called Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq. Noami Klein calls Muttitt's book "nothing short of a secret history of the war." Muttitt uncovers new and authoritative evidence that the war was, from initial conception through to the current day, driven by interest in oil.  And he tells a story of successful nonviolent resistance in Iraq, led by the oil workers, that has prevented the enactment of an oil law aimed at benefitting foreign corporations at the expense of the Iraqi people.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

We've Lost a Great One

Daniel Fearn has died.  We will miss him badly.  The entire Impeach for Peace and Justice section of this website was his doing:

http://warisacrime.org/ifpj

Best Southern Corporate Editorial Ever

One cannot always count on words of wisdom from the editorials published by corporate newspaper chains in the Southern United States, or anywhere else.  This one is far from perfect, but remarkably great.  This was published by the Charlottesville Daily Progress on Tuesday and adapted by them from their corporate sister the Richmond Times Dispatch.  Possibly numerous other Media General (Warren Buffet) newspapers printed the same or similar:

"Would cuts in defense spending be a bad thing?

"Gov. Bob McDonnell suggested President Obama hold Congress in session until it hammers out a deal to avert what is known as sequestration — whose effects on Virginia could be profound."

Note that this editorial is about to challenge the claims of the state's Transvaginal Governor who is also trying to get himself nominated for U.S. Veep on the Romney ticket.  Not only that, but a gang of U.S. Senators including the previous Republican presidential nominee John McCain recently stopped in Virginia on a tour of swing states hyping the danger to the U.S. economy of any cuts to the military budget.  This editorial does not name those senators but does handily reject their bogus claims.

"Sequestration is the term applied to automatic budget cuts that will take effect Jan. 2 unless Congress acts now to prevent them. They are the result of last year’s Budget Control Act. That law tasked a special committee with finding $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade. If it failed, automatic cuts — half of them in defense spending, half in domestic discretionary spending — would kick in. The committee failed."

Of course "defense" is code for military, even while few would pretend that attacking Libya or Syria or continuing in Afghanistan or drone bombing Pakistan or Yemen, etc., is defensive.  The code is well understood and virtually unavoidable in a corporate newspaper.  You'll recall that there was huge public pushback against the Super Congress, that the public told pollsters we favored taxing the rich and cutting the military.  The Super Congress failed to push through a deal to enlarge the military and continue tax cuts on the wealthy.  And rightly so.  But Congress is intent on accomplishing post-2012-election what the Super Congress couldn't do.

"Without action soon, the first of $600 billion in defense spending cuts will start to bite. That could mean the loss of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of jobs here in the commonwealth — which is the No. 2 recipient of federal defense outlays. That is a frightening prospect indeed."

Note, however, that dollars don't translate simply and predictably into jobs.  When the military had less money several years ago, it also produced more jobs. Also, the $600 billion is "over 10 years," and might as well be called $1200 billion "over 20 years" for all such monkeying with the numbers enlightens us.  It's $60 billion "over one year," but reduced from that in order to put more of the cutting later in the 10-year period. $50 billion or less, cut from $1.2 trillion or so in total military spending can only frighten people who are truly intent on being frightened.  Of course, fear is what allows military spending on this kind of scale to begin with.

"But it is not in itself a sufficient reason to oppose the cuts. National defense is not a jobs program. Many of the very arguments conservative Republicans have made with regard to government spending over the years — about inefficiency, about the displacement of private investment, about gargantuan bureaucracies doling out contracts to the politically connected — might apply just as well to the Pentagon as to any other government agency."

This is a stunning bit of honest sanity.  Reflect on the earthshattering, "debate" crashing, impoliteness of introducing this bit of truth to the public.  Of course it's also the understatement of the year.  Spending on the military produces fewer jobs than spending on education, energy, infrastructure, or even tax cuts for working people, because it is so incredibly wasteful.  How wasteful?  We don't know, since it's the only department that is never audited.  But we know that it routinely misplaces billions -- with a b -- of dollars, something no other department is allowed to do.  We also know that in much of the world spending money on killing in order to generate jobs would be viewed as sociopathic.

"What’s more, the alarms being rung about the hollowing out of the military sound considerably less grim when put in context. For example, ask yourself this: Was the U.S. military on the brink of collapse in 2007? Few people would answer yes. Yet if sequestration occurs, then military spending would revert to — you guessed it — 2007 levels. That doesn’t sound quite so horrible."

Again, this is simple and obvious but staggeringly new.  It renders ludicrous countless "news" reports that have been published by these papers.

"Even after adjusting for inflation, Pentagon spending is now almost double what it was in 2000. And that leaves out the billions lavished on Homeland Security. And the further billions spent on ongoing military operations abroad, which add more than another hundred billion to the tab."

This too is new and different, pointing out that the "Homeland Security" budget is added on top of the Pentagon's.  But let's not forget State, Energy, CIA, and all the other departments that include military spending, plus the expense of caring for the veterans our wars keep producing.  The total cost of the military is about $1.2 trillion per year, many times what any other nation spends, more than all other nations combined, and more than half of federal discretionary spending.

"True, federal defense outlays are smaller as a share of the federal budget than they have been in many years,"

Oops.  That's not true, not when all military ("defense") expenses are counted.

"and they are smaller as a percentage of gross domestic product than at any time since World War II. But this is not a very useful comparison. It implies that whenever Washington creates a hugely expensive new entitlement program, or whenever the economy booms, Pentagon spending should be jacked up just to keep the proportions steady."

Wow.  This is amazingly decent and dismissive of an entire genre of public "discourse."  The Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly stressed to Congress that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP.  Even though it's high and has been rising each of the past 15 years as a dollar amount adjusted for inflation, as a percentage of the federal discretionary budget, and as a percentage of global military spending, the theory indeed seems to be that if we have more money we should buy more weapons because we can.  This requires a psychiatrist, not an economist.

"The real question is how much the U.S. needs to spend to maintain military dominance. To help answer it, consider a more useful comparison: For every dollar the world spends on military outlays, America accounts for 46 cents. China, a distant second, comes in at about 7 cents."

Hmm.  Is that the real question?  Isn't the real question how the United States can best keep its nation safe?  Isn't it at the very least an open question whether striving to dominate the globe is making us safer or putting us at risk? The answer above to the wrong question is dramatically understated, and yet hugely important and worldview shattering for many potential readers.  I hope they read it.

"Gov. McDonnell is right to worry about the effect of defense spending cuts here in Virginia. Congress should pass legislation to stave off the sequestration meat ax. However, it needs to make judicious cuts to the defense budget. Overseas bases, redundant weapons systems, even force structures should all be on the table. The nation currently borrows 43 cents of every dollar it spends. And there is simply no way to fix that problem without including military cuts as part of the solution."

Wouldn't you know they'd reach the wrong conclusion after so much good rhetoric.  The sequestration meat ax would cut that $1.2 trillion budget by about $50 billion.  It should be cut by much more.  Cutting back to merely three times the size of China would allow us not only to pay off debt but to make college free, eliminate student loans, develop a massive green energy program, and update our infrastructure.  Those are the tradeoffs that should have been mentioned.  The mass murder of non-Americans that is generated by the war momentum that Eisenhower warned us war spending would create might also merit consideration.  Nonetheless, I doubt I shall ever see this good an editorial in my local paper again.

KPFT's The Monitor Takes on Violence

Listen here.

The theme of this week’s show: Guns and Media

  • RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have launched a campaign targeting NBC’s new program, “Stars Earn Stripes,” a reality show co-hosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark and co-starring Todd Palin, which the network is advertising during the Olympics. We discuss this with David Swanson
  • Another mass shooting, this time in Wisconsin, has people wondering what can be done about gun violence, the gun lobby and the debate about second amendment protections. We discuss this with Ladd Everitt

More about this week’s guests:

David Swanson

David Swanson holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org

In April 2012, Swanson began working for Veterans For Peace. Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio.

Quote: “NBC is marketing its new show during the Olympics as the next big sport, featuring former Olympic athletes, but the sport is war, with — so they tell us — real bullets, real explosives, and real danger. If NBC is really risking blowing off the head or arm or leg of Sarah Palin’s husband and the other stars, then we’ve regressed to ancient Rome. Bread and circuses are now Big Macs and NBC war-o-tainment shows. I suspect and hope that in fact NBC is not putting these people at risk and nobody is going to die on Stars Earn Stripes (note, link does not take you to the NBC show page). And I am certain that the 95 percent of casualties in U.S. wars who rarely get mentioned on any NBC program, namely the non-Americans, will not be featured. We will not see children and grandparents blown to pieces. We will not see cluster bombs picked up as toys. We may see doors kicked in, but not the screaming terrified families behind them. NBC is sanitizing and normalizing war as a sport. Gone is any concept of war as an emergency, any notion of war time as separate from peace time. We are into permanent war, and war for its own sake.”

—————————————————————————————

Ladd Everitt

Ladd Everitt is the Director of Communications of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He has served as the Director of Communications of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence since May 2006.  In this position, he is responsible for developing and managing a wide range of communications activities in support of the organization’s overall mission.

Mr. Everitt has served in a volunteer capacity with the D.C. Crisis Response Team, a group which offers comfort, support and referral services to victims and survivors of homicide in the District of Columbia. From 2002-2007, he served as the volunteer President of the D.C. Chapter of the Million Mom March. Under his direction, the chapter conducted events for victims and survivors of gun violence, published letters and editorials in local and national periodicals, participated in press conferences and demonstrations calling for sensible gun laws, networked with other community groups who are interested in stemming the tide of gun violence, and authored a comprehensive resource book for victims and survivors, which was used by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Ladd relocated to the District of Columbia from New York in September of 1993 to pursue a Masters degree in U.S. Foreign Policy at American University.  After completing his degree, he worked as a Research Associate with the U.S.‑Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington, DC, and as a Chief of Policy Development for the Air Force Association in Arlington, Virginia.

A statement from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence issued in the wake of the incident in Colorado read in part: “Reports indicate that the shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes wore body armor and was armed with two Glock handguns, a tactical shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle. He also released some type of chemical gas into the theater during the massacre. Twelve fatalities have been reported so far, with approximately 38 moviegoers injured, including 16 critically.  “Sadly, there is nothing novel about this tragedy. It is yet another massacre perpetuated by a homicidal maniac who was given easy access to lethal, military-style firepower.     “The pro-gun movement has told us that bloodbaths like Aurora are the price we must pay to guarantee freedom and individual liberty in the United States. Rational Americans should reject such radical ideology and demand immediate reform of our gun laws.  “The truth is that there is no greater threat to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ than the wanton gun violence that continues to destroy American families and communities. Until our legislators stand up to the extreme leadership of the National Rifle Association and enact laws to assure the thorough screening of gun buyers, tragedies like Aurora will continue to haunt America. It is long past time to put public safety back on the agenda in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislatures.”

The  Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has also released a statement about the shooting in Wisconsin. You can read it here.

ladd callout

Beyond the Two-State Solution

Fast forward to 2048. The world is greatly changed, and in this year China invades France, occupying Paris and a good portion of the nation. The French are massacred, evicted, raped, chased, and terrorized. Towns are destroyed. Every town and village has its name changed to a Chinese name, and its prior existence erased from any history books produced from then forward.

Portions of France not yet under Chinese control shelter refugees by the millions. French citizens captured in their homes are held as "prisoners of war" and freed to become refugees in distant parts of France. China changes the name of its occupied areas from France to Chance. The remaining parts of the country are just referred to by their local (Chinese) names, as if they were part of no nation at all and yet somehow Chinese in the end.

Military Industrial Complex = the top opponent of all that is good & just

www.boilingfrogspost.com

Podcast Show #91: the Military Industrial Complex= the top opponent of all that is good & just

The Boiling Frogs Presents David Swanson

Author and peace activist David Swanson joins us to discuss our nation’s perpetual war status, the latest in the peace activists’ movement, and the disappearance of Anti-Republicans from peace movement since Barack Obama’s presidency. He talks about the need for overcoming Americans’ understanding of the war machine as a jobs engine and militarism as a normal way of life, and for broader understanding of the Military Industrial Complex as the top opponent of all that is good and just, broader-based opposition to not only domestic surveillance drones but also our killer drones abroad, and more!

David Swansonis an activist, blogger and author, and a founder of WarIsACrime.Org. He was press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, is co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, and a board member of ProgressiveDemocrats of America, the Backbone Campaign, and Voters for Peace.  Mr. Swanson has authored several books including Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union,War Is A Lie, When the World Outlawed War, and The Military Industrial Complex at 50. To learn more about David Swanson visit http://davidswanson.org

Here is our guest David Swanson unplugged!http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2012/08/06/podcast-show-91-the-military-industrial-complex-the-top-opponent-of-all-that-is-good-just/

Sibel Edmonds

Veterans For Peace National Convention in Miami to Feature Alice Walker, Phil Donahue

Veterans For Peace
216 South Meramec Ave
St. Louis MO 63105
http://veteransforpeace.org
(314) 725-6005(office)
(314) 725-7103 (fax)
For Immediate Release - August 1, 2012

Veterans For Peace will hold its 2012 National Convention in Miami, Fla., August 8-11. The event, which includes speeches, films, workshops, and musical entertainment, is open to the public and will feature prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, film producer Phil Donahue, activist Roy Bourgeois, and many other speakers.  The text of a public service announcement follows the list of speakers below.

The theme of this 27th annual convention will be "Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean."

"No region in the world these days," said Veterans For Peace President Leah Bolger, "is as much on the forward march toward liberation. We are in the third century of the struggle to abolish the Monroe Doctrine. Advances (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay) exist side-by-side with setbacks engineered by U.S. imperialism (Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, etc.). We in the United States have a moral responsibility to change our government's view of Latin American and Caribbean nations as being our 'backyard' and sources of cheap labor and natural resources. It is time for our government to stop bullying the region and show respect and recognition for rights to national sovereignty."

The full schedule and registration information are available at http://vfpnationalconvention.org

Alice Walker
Pulitzer prize winning novelist and poet, teacher, and activist.  Ms Walker will be a keynote speaker at the banquet Saturday, August 11th.



 



Phil Donahue
Media personality, writer, and film producer.
Mr. Donahue will present the film “Body of War,” which he produced, Wednesday, August 8th.

 

 

 

 




Father Roy Bourgeois
Activist and priest, founder of the human rights organization “School of the Americas Watch.”  Father Bourgeois will be a keynote speaker at the banquet Saturday, August 11th.




Marleine Bastien
Haitian-American activist and Congressional candidate, Executive Director of “Haitian Women of America.”  Ms Bastien will be a speaker at the opening plenary Thursday, August 9th.

 

 



Ann Wright
Retired Army colonel and former diplomat, author and activist.  Ms Wright will co-facilitate a workshop about drones with Medea Benjamin, and will moderate a panel on Military Sexual Trauma.

 




Medea Benjamin
Activist and author, founder of anti-war organization “Code Pink,” and fair trade advocacy group “Global Exchange.”  Ms Benjamin will co-facilitate a workshop about drones with Ann Wright and will speak at the Friday evening event.

 

 


Leah Bolger
Retired Navy commander and activist, President of Veterans For Peace.   Ms Bolger will speak at the opening plenary on Thursday, August 9th.


 

 


David Swanson
Author, activist, and radio host.  Mr. Swanson will co-facilitate a workshop entitled, Misleading America:  U. S. Military Expansion Since the End of the Cold War.


 

 



Mike Reid
Executive Director of Veterans For Peace.  Mr. Reid will host the Saturday Banquet.


 



Paula Caplan
PH.D., Fellow, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School;Associate, DuBois Institute, Harvard University.  Ms. Caplan will facilitate the plenary workshop on War Trauma.


 

 



Camilo Mejia
First veteran from Iraq to publicly challenge the morality of the war and refuse to fight.  Author of The Road from Ar Ramadi.   Mr. Mejia will emcee the opening plenary on Thursday, August 9th.

 

 



Charlie Clements
Carr Center's Executive Director, widely respected human rights activist and public health physician.  Dr.   Clements will host an Academy Award winning documentary about his experiences as a guerrilla doctor in El Salvador in the 1980's, Witness to War.

 



Bruce Gagnon
Executive Director of Global Network, deeply involved in JeJu Island Action.  Mr. Gagnon will co-facilitate the workshop entitled,  Obama’s Pivot Toward Asia-Pacific:  Dangerous, Destabilizing and Costly.


 



Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Producer of film, American Autumn:  An Occudoc.  Mr. Trainor will host a showing of the film on Thursday, August 9th.

 

 



John Lindsay Poland
Research and advocacy director of Fellowship of Reconciliation and founder of Colombia's Peace Team.  Mr. Poland will host the workshop entitled, The Pentagon in Latin America and the Caribbean.




 

PSA text:

Veterans For Peace invites you to attend its 27th annual national convention August 8 - 11 at the Miami Marriott - Biscayne Bay (1633 North Bayshore Drive, Miami). The convention features Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker and Father Roy Bourgeois (initiator of the School of the Americas Watch at Fort Benning, GA) at the culminating Saturday night banquet with steel pan entertainment provided by pannist David DeSousa. Phil Donahue hosts Body of War, his film about Iraq veteran Tomas Young on opening night Wednesday. Marleine Bastien, Leah Bolger, DeAnne Graham and Camilo Mejia present at the opening plenary Thursday morning, and Medea Benjamin, Max Rameau, Dr. Jill Stein, and Rep. Frederica Wilson speak at the "Veterans Meet the Community" program Friday evening at Trinity Episcopal Catherdral, next door to the Marriott.

Movies (free and open to the public) are featured each day at lunch and in the evening. All activities except Friday night's event will be in the 3rd floor ballroom of the Marriott. Banquet tickets are $60, 4 for $200, or a table of 10 for $450. Exciting and informative workshops and plenaries take place all day Thursday and Friday (War Trauma/PTSD, Agent Orange, No War on Iran, Close Down the School of the Americas, Active-Duty GI Resistance, etc). A one-day pass is $25. For more information (including a schedule of events, workshops, and plenaries) visit www.vfpnationalconvention.org, or contact Patrick McCann at 240-271-2246 or unityact2@aol.com.

#

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

##

Harry Truman and Memory of Mass Murder

Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."

Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German?  There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did.  Yet we debate, every August 6th or so, whether Truman was willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Japanese lives in order to scare Russians with his nuclear bombs.  He was willing; he was not willing; he was willing.  Left out of this debate is the obvious possibility that killing as many Japanese as possible was among Truman's goals.

Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy

By Robert Fisk, The Independent

Has there ever been a Middle Eastern war of such hypocrisy? A war of such cowardice and such mean morality, of such false rhetoric and such public humiliation? I'm not talking about the physical victims of the Syrian tragedy. I'm referring to the utter lies and mendacity of our masters and our own public opinion – eastern as well as western – in response to the slaughter, a vicious pantomime more worthy of Swiftian satire than Tolstoy or Shakespeare.

Audio: Public Radio Debate on NBC's New War Entertainment Show

I debated a host and another guest on the topic of NBC's forthcoming reality war competition murder-o-tainment show on 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio.  You can listen and add your voice to the online discussion here. Or listen to  the audio here.

Talk Nation Radio: Leah Bolger on the Upcoming National Convention of Veterans For Peace

Leah Bolger is the current, and the first female, president of Veterans For Peace, which is holding a national convention in Miami, Fla., August 8-12, 2012.  The event is open to the public and speakers include Alice Walker, Phil Donahue, Roy Bourgeois, Marleine Bastien, and many others.  Bolger explains the work of Veterans For Peace and its dedication to eliminating war. See http://veteransforpeace.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

Help an Actvist in Need

Rain has been one of our most determined, dedicated, and reliable peace and justice activists in Virginia.  Now she needs our help. Helping her will help us all.  Please chip in! --David Swanson

Gloria Steinem says:

Help a Feminist in Need!

The Gloria Steinem office came across this story of Rain Burroughs, a feminist who lives with her daughter in Richmond, VA, who are at risk of losing their home! Please watch the video below and go here to make a donation. Every little bit helps!

David Swanson: Man of Peace

This is the second in a series of profiles and interviews Antiwar.com is conducting this summer with activists who have made it their life’s work to challenge the mighty bulwarks of the U.S. national security state.

David Swanson

If you haven’t seen David Swanson, chances are you’ve read his blogs and articles — invariably with headlines like “Pepper Sprayed for Peace” and declaring things like “Freedom Plaza is now ours — and we’re never giving it back.” You’ve listened to his radio show, and see his comments in various antiwar forums and in your mind, willingly or not, picture a stereotype: a wild-eyed hippie, long hair, tattoos. Maybe an earring or two. A beard.

READ THE REST AT ANTIWAR.COM

City on the Ledge

I just read a terrific novel set in contemporary Quito, Ecuador, with the main characters employees of the U.S. State Department and the CIA.

This is not an easy one to write about without spoiling the plot.  Let me just say that it's politically and psychologically insightful.  It doesn't simplify or glorify.  It doesn't beautify or brutalize human behavior.  And you will find yourself trusting that it's going somewhere good, but you will not be able to say exactly where.

If Bradley Manning didn't exist we would have to invent him.  Kraske has invented a narrative that takes us inside the workings of our government in a way that no collection of State Department cables ever could.  For better or worse, I suspect he's taken us to a place very closely resembling the real thing.

 

Audio: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot Discuss NBC's New War Reality Show

Charlottesville Right Now: 7-30-12 David Swanson

David Swanson from davidswanson.org joins the show to discuss a new NBC show called Stars Earn Stripes that turns war into a reality show. LISTEN.

And then ...

Do Something About It!

NBC Invents War-o-tainment

If you've watched the Olympics on NBC you've probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin, and with no apparent role for reality. 

The ads brag about the use of real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably wouldn't try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in "war competition" on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes"  will be shot and killed is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).

RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.

"Stars Earn Stripes" is being produced by the TV “genius” behind Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Husband Todd Palin is a “Stars Earn Stripes” co-star.) NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event.  But the sport it's exhibiting is war.

On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly.  NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs.  Other nations' media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.

NBC news programs have repeatedly used retired generals, pretending independence but getting their pro-war talking points from the Pentagon. See New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand and Glenn Greenwald: The Pulizer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV.

In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events.  Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda.  While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can't seem to get enough of our tax dollars.  In the spirit of transferring veterans' care to the realm of private charity, "Stars Earn Stripes" will give prize money each week to "military-based charities" in order to "send a message." 

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy -- rather, as financial profit.  (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war.  And consider for a moment who that retired general is.  During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark, civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him. See Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians.

StarsEarnStripes.org  is asking NBC to stop treating war as a sport, and to air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months.  We've provided some resources to help NBC research and show the reality of war, at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

69 Nations Have More U.S. Troops Than Olympic Athletes

Here is a link to a list of U.S. troops deployed to various nations around the world: PDF. These are permanent deployments openly admitted to by the U.S. military.  When U.S. Special Forces drive off a bridge in Mali, as recently happened, we discover that U.S. troops are in Mali in greater numbers than we knew, but those troops aren't listed here or considered in the calculation below.  No secret forces are considered here, no allied forces funded or trained or armed by the United States, and of course no drones.

Here is a link to the number of athletes participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics from countries around the world: Link.

Video: Greg Muttitt on the Untold Story of the War on Iraq for Oil

Greg Muttitt Speaks About His Book "Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq"
Charlottesville, VA
July 24, 2012
Random Row Books

Talk Nation Radio: Clinical Psychologist Bruce Levine Says U.S. Citizenry Particularly Inactive

Clinical psychologist Bruce Levine says the U.S. public is particularly inactive.  Levine explains how we got this way, and how we might be cured.  Levine is the author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.  He also contributed a chapter to The Military Industrial Complex at 50.  Levine's website is http://brucelevine.net

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

<object autostart="false" data="http://davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/talknationradio/talknationradio_20120725.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

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

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