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Chat I Just Had With Homeland Security

After publishing this report I was contacted by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  The individual involved never returned my call.  Instead I heard from Brian Hale who said he had been with Director Morton at the event recently held at the University of Virginia and discussed in my report.  He told me that ICE in fact had nothing to do with contacting activists, that in fact Ed Ryan (who had contacted local residents from an ICE email address) actually worked for Federal Protective Services which used to fall under ICE and still has some ICE email addresses.  I asked Hale, regardless of department, why any branch of Homeland Security was using our money to contact us in a manner that intimidated people out of exercising their First Amendment rights.  Hale told me to ask Federal Protective Services (FPS).

I reached Rob Winchester at FPS.  I asked him about the January 20th MovetoAmend.org "Occupy the Courts" events held here in Charlottesville, Va., and around the country.  He said that FPS inspectors had tried to facilitate events in order to get them permitted and make them legal.  Some of the events, he said, were on federal property.  The intent had been dialogue and not intimidation.  If people were intimidated, he said, he apologized for that.

I told Winchester that the street corner where the Charlottesville event was held is routinely used for demonstrations without permits or authorizations beyond the First Amendment, and that we have never had a problem, but that the FPS contacts instructing people to inform authorities of their plans by certain deadlines and so forth had in fact intimidated people out of exercising their rights. 

Winchester replied that at one location elsewhere in the country some people had "been pushing against the barricades."  I didn't ask what the barricades were doing there.  In another location, he said, "our folks were laughing and joking with the people there."  Mine was the first report of any intimidation, he said.

I pointed out that people who are intimidated by FPS contact do not phone in to the FPS to report that they feel intimidated.  Winchester said that he understood and would pass this along as "lessons learned."  I thanked him for his apology and for understanding.  But this is clearly a work in progress.  Many would like to be free to hold rallies without the presence of a militarized federal force, regardless of whether that force is joking and laughing with us.  Many would like to be left alone to exercise their First Amendment rights undisturbed rather than fund Big Brother to the tune of $75 billion per year, no matter how benevolent the intentions.  The problem is not Ryan or Winchester but the system they have made themselves a part of.

My advice to intimidated activists is to not leave me the only person phoning in to complain.  Phone in.  Phone every day.  Ask for a meeting to discuss the problem.  Call 202-282-8000.

Defense of "Anarchism" in Oakland Occupy or Anywhere Unconvincing

This reply to Hedges and defense of violence completely fails to persuade.

The primary argument seems to be that if you are not in Oakland and familiar with every detail you shalt not offer your advice.  But knowing whether the person who smashed a window was wearing a mask or not hardly eliminates the possibility of usefully commenting on whether it helped or hurt to smash that window.  The defense article describes violent clashes with police and concludes "No one can agree on who attacked first." So, even being there results in important ignorance.  But in a movement publicly and convincingly committed to nonviolence we would all know who attacked first.  It would have to have been the police.  In fact, there would be no "attacked first" but simply "attacked."  In a movement hollowed out by acceptance of "diversity of tactics" (as euphemism for violence) nobody could ever be sure, even if we had witnesses and videos.  Quoting MLK in arguing against what he so persuasively denounced every day for years is a new low.

Do We Approve of Murder Based on Political Party? Pollsters Don't Want You to Know.

A poll published on Wednesday at the Washington Post finds that a majority of even "liberal Democrats" approves of Obama killing US citizens.  Of course, this would almost certainly be different if Obama were a Republican. 

What if an organization with money but no partisanship (are there some?) were to commission a poll from a pollster willing to face a firestorm of attacks from the political parties (are there any such pollsters?), a poll that would ask people all their demographic info, including politics and party identification if any, and ask some of them:

If President Obama had to kill a US citizen to protect the nation, based purely on the word of the President, would you approve?

If President Obama had to imprison a US citizen with no trial to protect the nation, based purely on the word of the President, would you approve?

If President Obama had to launch a war without congressional authorization in order to protect the nation, based purely on the word of the President, would you approve?

If President Obama determined it to be necessary to deploy a nuclear bomb and did so, would you approve?

The poll would ask those questions of a large enough sample to be well represented in each demographic category.  Then a similar sample would be asked the  same questions with Romney substituted for Obama.  Then others would be asked the questions about a President Santorum, and others with Gingrich. 

The results would almost certainly show that many in the United States do indeed place loyalty to political parties or elected officials above matters of life and death -- at least the lives and deaths of others.

This would, of course, be shameful, and if it made it into the corporate news it would make all types of partisanship look bad.  It might, very likely, however, make one brand of partisanship look worst.  I would predict that Republicans would each be highly approving of these abuses by at least one Republican candidate, and that their approval would diminish for the others, and especially for Obama.  Democrats, I expect, would be less approving, but still strongly approving in the case of Obama, but that there would be a particularly significant drop off in approval by Democrats of such crimes if committed by any of the Republicans. 

What pollster would be willing to test these assumptions?

Of course, in reality there is such a thing as being too late.  Opposing abuses when Bush is president, but limiting the opposition at the behest of the Democratic Party, was followed by support for Obama's protection of and continuation and expansion of the crimes.  Now shady Bush policies have become open "legal" practice.  It is too late to take them back from the next Republican president, or any president, without fundamental change to our government.  If we continue down the current path, eventually the partisanship will retreat on this issue and supporters of presidential murder will tend to support it by any president and to imagine that no alternative to that exists.

ICE Director Confronted on Intimidation of Nonviolent Citizen Activism

John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spoke on Monday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  Here's the University's report.  Here's the local newspaper's. Both report only on what Morton said, without mentioning what he was asked about by members of the audience following his opening remarks. 

He could have been asked about record breaking deportations and the recklessness that has deported U.S. citizens.  Perhaps he was. I wasn't there.  But Erin Rose, who was there, sent this report:

"Last night I got up the nerve to go confront the director of ICE, John Morton, where he was giving a lecture on the duties and achievements of ICE at the University of Virginia Law School. I went with Nancy, who is a very gutsy woman and really inspires me. We listened while the director spent one hour explaining what his department does. Besides undocumented people, they also deal with child abusers. (I didn't understand that connection.) He told us that since the beginning of his tenure the death rate among ICE prisoners has gone down from dozens a year to less than 10 a year.  (Were we supposed to clap?)  He also said that incarceration has gone up 50% since he got there. They contract with private corporations and the taxpayer pays the bill. He also said the system needs to be entirely redone, revamped. He gave absolutely no indication what would be necessary or even why....

"... When it was time for questions, Nancy stood up and introduced herself as not a lawyer or a child molester, but just a common citizen who would like to know why ICE considers American citizens who are just disagreeing with their government in a open, planned, peaceful, democratic demonstration, their purview? She referred to our protest against Citizens United [held on January 20th in Charlottesville] and told him that many organizers across the country had been intercepted before the event and monitored during the event by special agents of ICE. He answered that he had no knowledge of it, immediately dismissed it, and went on to the next question.

"So I raised my hand, stood up and told him that I was one of those organizers and that I know of many others -- dozens -- who were contacted and questioned. I asked him how he doesn't know the functions of his own department? When he continued to deny any knowledge of this, I turned to the gentile and learned audience and told them that even though he is not telling them, they should know that this department, which was ostensibly set up to deal with immigration control of foreigners, is now concerning itself with local American citizens that dare to disagree with their government. And that even more disturbing, they are not admitting to this. I stressed that this concerns them and this is what they need to know from this lecture. I then walked out. I was chased by a strange man who caught me just as I left the building, wanting to know what organization I was from. When I asked him what he was doing there, he was vague. Again, he pressed me for information but I blew him off and left quickly. Nancy, who stayed til the end, later told me that she was also approached by this man, who seemed to want to learn as much as he could about us. I went home feeling sick to my stomach and quite depressed. I had expected an explanation in answer to my question, certainly a justification- but not a complete denial. How do you explain this?"

Now, I was the speaker at the January 20th event, and I never heard anything from ICE -- and that always seems to be the case and always leaves me very skeptical.  So I asked Erin for more information, and she sent me this email that she had received:

Ryan, Edward A <aryan@ice.dhs.gov> wrote:
From: Ryan, Edward A <aryan@ice.dhs.gov>
Subject: January 20, 2012 - Occupy the Courts
To: [Erin and 13 other people.-DS]
Date: Monday, January 23, 2012, 5:32 AM

    To all,

    You were previously identified as an Organizer or part of the planning process for the January 20, 2012, “Occupy the Courts” movement. Federal Protective Service representatives reached out to you before hand to attempt to assist in your planning of the event and facilitate any permitting required and coordinate and provide information regarding any additional entities you might have had to contact.

    As this event is now over, we are always trying to improve in our outreach program. I am asking that by the close of business, January 25, 2012, you provide me with any feedback you can as well as answer the few questions posed below.

    Question 1:

    Were you satisfied in the information that was provided to you during the initial contact by Federal Protective Service representatives?

    Question 2:

    Was the Federal Protective Service able to assist you in your planning process?

    Question 3:

    On the day of your event, were the Federal Protective Service Officers courteous, respectful and helpful?

    Question 4:

    In your opinion, is there anything we could have done better?

    I thank you for your time and the Federal Protective Service looks forward to working with you again.

    Ed Ryan
    Special Agent
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    Federal Protective Service
    (215) 521-2146  Office
    (215) 521-2169  Fax
    edryan@dhs.gov

The event in question was held, as planned and publicly announced, on a street corner in front of a federal court house.  The same location has been used for a peace rally every Thursday afternoon for many years without incident or interference.  During the event, four uniformed "officers" of some sort were visible inside the glass front of the building, watching us.  To my knowledge, they never emerged, and we never entered.  Whether they had any colleagues there without uniforms I couldn't say for sure.

Erin has expressed her concern thus:

"If the stated mission of ICE is to 'uphold public safety by enforcing immigration and customs laws,'  what does ICE  have to do with us, a group of legal American citizens peacefully assembling in our home town? Doesn't that seem weird? I mean, I realize ICE is under the umbrella of Homeland Security -- although I think even the overlap between these two is strange.  However, if these two departments have something in common, it is that they were both set up to deal with foreign and covert threats.  Homeland Security was ostensibly set up to counteract terrorism. Terrorists do not announce their protests by posting flyers all over town. Terrorists do not wave colorful signs to get attention. Just how are two government departments, which were supposedly set up to deal with foreign, covert threats, now concerning themselves with we, the people?"

These seemed like reasonable questions, so I phoned up Ed Ryan to ask him.  I left a voice message at 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday.  I'm still waiting for his helpful call. 

The event in Charlottesville was one of dozens all over the country on January 20th organized by MovetoAmend.org, and reports from elsewhere are that the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Marshalls were very eager to "facilitate" rallies planned in front of court houses.  Concerns about this that have been communicated to me include that it helps to habituate us to accepting official and authoritarian intrusion, inspection, and approval of our decisions to exercise our First Amendment rights, and that it intimidates some people who then choose not to take part in public events at all.  I've seen both of those reactions first-hand.

We're spending $75 billion a year above and beyond the wars and above and beyond the "Defense Department" in order to establish a department focused on "the Homeland," since the "Defense Department" is obviously defending something else entirely.  The result has not just been grotesque profiteering, guarding cows, arming police for war, harassing minorities, and so forth.  It has also been employing people like Ed Ryan to make sure that my friends know Big Brother is watching them when they dare to hold up a poster proclaiming the rights of people over those of corporations. 

Does this seem like good money spent to you?  What if the Homeland really was insecure?  I'm still waiting for the relevant bureaucracy to return my call.

The Election We Should Be Following

For progressives and populists around the country who take an interest in Congressional races there are always a few good challengers we might hope to send to Washington.  Incumbents, we assume, can take care of themselves. 

But in Northern Ohio, redistricting has thrown two incumbents into one district.  It's a heavily Democratic district created purposely to guarantee a number of other districts to Republicans.  The incumbents are both Democrats, both white, both 65, and many imagine that they do similar work in Washington.  In fact, they could not be more different.  One of them does tremendous good for our national politics, working to move our government in a better direction from inside it, just as the rest of us do from the outside.  We cannot afford to lose him.  We would be obliged to work for his reelection even if his opponent were far above average.  The record suggests something else.

A useful example to highlight the contrast between Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is found in the funding of wars.  Between 2001 and 2009, Congresswoman Kaptur voted for $545 billion in war funding, voting Yes over and over again for Bush's wars.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich voted for a total of $17 billion. (See the chart below.) 

In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, Kucinich's was the clearest voice against it.  He circulated evidence of war lies to his colleagues.  He organized many of them to vote No with him.  Kaptur, too, voted No on the authorization.

But once the war had started, many Congress members, including Kaptur, turned around and voted to fund its continuation and escalation, year after year, even as the public turned more and more strongly against the war.  While Kucinich was working to impeach Bush and Cheney, Kaptur was voting to fund their wars.  While Kucinich was advancing resolutions to shift the debate toward ending wars and preventing new ones, Kaptur was claiming wars made us safer and reciting "support the troops" rhetoric, as though what veterans need most is the creation of more injured veterans. 

This distinction matters more than ever as the prospect of a war on Iran looms larger.  Kaptur wants NASA and the Pentagon to work together more closely, while Kucinich opposes the militarization of space.  Kaptur seems to believe the military industrial complex is a beneficial jobs program, whereas Kucinich seems to believe it is what Eisenhower said it would be.

Congresswoman Kaptur has been spending a lot of money on television ads in hopes of defeating Kucinich in the upcoming primary.  Where does her money come from?  Well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), in the current election cycle, she gets 77% of her money from PACs, and 5% from small individual contributors.  Kucinich, in contrast, gets 5% from PACs, and 68% from small individual contributors.  Kucinich does not get money from war contractors.  Kaptur is a different story.  Thus far, in the current election cycle, her fourth biggest "contributor" is a little operation known as General Dynamics.  Her third biggest is Teledyne Technologies.  Tied for seventh place are American Systems Corp and Northrop Grumman.  Tied at 16th are Boeing and Lockheed Martin.  Most of these corporations have been among Kaptur's regular funders in past campaigns as well.  They are also among the leading violators of U.S. laws. 

According to the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (ContractorMisconduct.org), these are the worst four offenders from any industry:

Contractor                           Federal Contract $       Instances of Misconduct        Misconduct $
                                                     (FY2010)                          (Since 1995)                        (Since 1995)

1. Lockheed Martin                      $34367.4m                           57                                       $590.1m

2. Boeing Company                     $19366.6m                            43                                       $1600.5m

3. Northrop Grumman                   $15522.7m                          35                                       $850.7m

4. General Dynamics                  $14908.8m                             13                                        $78.5m

Among the types of misconduct engaged in by these four leaders, as detailed at the above database, are the following: contract fraud, kickbacks, defective pricing, unlicensed exports, emissions violations, groundwater cleanup violations, inflated costs, providing of bribes and sexual favors, nuclear safety violations, nuclear waste storage violations, federal election law violations, radiation exposure, illegal transfer of information to China, violations of the National Labor Relations Act, embezzlement, racial discrimination and retaliation, age discrimination and retaliation, unauthorized weapons sales to foreign nations, retaliation against whistleblowers.  And that's just Lockheed.  In fact, that's just a small sampling of just Lockheed.  Why take money from these companies?

According to the National Priorities Project (CostOfWar.com) Kaptur's Ninth District of Ohio (prior to redistricting) has shelled out over $3.1 billion for wars since 2001.  That expense has been with Kaptur's full cooperation.  And that is an expense measured purely in dollars taken from tax payers to pay for wars.  It does not include further costs for veterans' care, for interest on war debt, for increased fuel prices, or for lost opportunities.  Nor does it include the cost already extracted of several times the $3.1 billion for a base annual military budget that has roughly doubled this decade and done so on the basis of the wars. 

According to a report titled "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military And Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis," (PDF) by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, (October 2009), spending the same dollars on the military (without specifying war spending which would likely make the contrast even greater) produces many fewer jobs than if spent in other industries.  If Ohio's Ninth District's $3.1 billion had been spent on tax cuts for working people, instead of on the military, the people of the Ninth District could have seen a net gain of 9,920 jobs.  That's considering the full impact of jobs lost, directly created, and indirectly created.  Military spending, purely in terms of job creation, is worse than nothing.  Tax cuts -- not for Mitt Romney but for the rest of us -- does more good.

But the same study also shows a better path.  If the $3.1 billion had been taken away from the military and spent instead on clean energy, we would have seen a net gain of 17,050 jobs.  If instead the investment had gone to healthcare, the net gain would have been 24,000 jobs.  And if the choice had been to fund education, the gain in jobs would have been 54,250.  Could Ohio's Ninth District use 54,250 jobs?  Not many people would choose to chase those jobs away in order to support wars based on lies, wars that endanger us, wars that devastate the natural environment, wars that erode our civil liberties, wars that carry a heavy human cost -- not just an economic one.  Not many people, but one of them is Marcy Kaptur.

If you visit Kaptur's campaign website at MarcyKaptur.com, only one specific issue is immediately visible, front and center: celebration of a World War II memorial.  At Kucinich.us there is also only a single issue immediately visible: a petition urging the Congressman's colleagues to stop funding the war in Afghanistan.  In the "Agenda" section of Kaptur's site there is no acknowledgement that war or peace is an issue to be considered at all.  In the "Issues" section of Kucinich's site, there is a section on war and peace that addresses a number of specific wars.

There is also, on the Kucinich site, a lot more detail than on Kaptur's about numerous other issues.  The example of wars and war funding is fairly typical.  In rough terms, Kucinich tends to back peace, justice, and the will of the public, while Kaptur tends to back the very same things when and if the leadership of the Democratic Party happens to do so.  Back on February 25, 2010, she voted to extend the PATRIOT Act without reforms of its abusive procedures.  Kucinich voted No.  Back on October 23, 2007, Kucinich had also voted No on the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, while Kaptur voted Yes.  On December 8, 2010, she voted against the DREAM Act, while Kucinich and a majority of the House and of the Democrats voted for it.  Any elected official will let us down sometimes, but Kaptur is just no Kucinich. 

Many organizations agree. VoteSmart.org lists the rankings of various groups.  Planned Parenthood gives Kucinich a score of 100%, Kaptur 71%.  The ACLU scores Kucinich 94%, Kaptur 75%.  Also favoring Kucinich in their rankings are the Arab American Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of Conservation Voters, Peace Action, the AFL-CIO, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, etc.  I'm not being selective here.  There don't seem to be any progressive analysts scoring Kaptur over Kucinich on anything.  Progressives like Alan Grayson and Barney Frank are urging us to support Kucinich over Kaptur.

How independent and principled a member of Congress is has a direct, and sometimes devastating, impact on their district and the nation and the world.  Kaptur believes a nuclear power plant at the edge of Lake Erie with a bad history of safety violations should be allowed to continue to operate, while Kucinich has asked for it to be repaired or decommissioned.  Only one of these two representatives is putting the safety of the public first. 

I believe people who care about the future of the United States, from Ohio's new Ninth District or anywhere else, should be following and supporting Kucinich's campaign.  If he loses, we lose.  We may not always agree with him.  He may not always be able to win over a majority of his colleagues.  He may sometimes let us down.  But were he not there, votes that helped end the Iraq war would have never been held.  Debates that have helped curtail further war making would simply not have happened.  Articles of impeachment for Bush and Cheney would never have been introduced.  Countless witnesses before House committees would have gotten off without ever facing the important questions.  Many people pushing for single-payer healthcare in their states would have never heard of it.  Our televisions would be better able than they are now to pretend that majority positions on major issues do not exist, because there would not be that one man in the government willing to raise the issue and publicly lobby his colleagues to join him.

We're such defeatists these days, that we either condemn Kucinich's compromises, forgetting that Kaptur outdoes him in that regard 100-fold, or we imagine that because he's so much better he must be doomed to lose.  On the contrary, Kucinich has a long history of winning congressional elections, both primaries and general.  While the redesigned district includes a larger population from Kaptur's former district than from Kucinich's, it includes more Democrats from Kucinich's than from Kaptur's.  Kucinich inspires his supporters, and in primaries it is the relative turnout of tiny percentages of people that decides. 

Who is in Congress or the White House is going to be of far less importance than who is in the streets and what kind of people's movement is developed to nonviolently resist injustice and war.  But without a single voice inside Congress willing to speak up in the ways Kucinich has, the people's movement will suffer.  There's no lesser-evilism required here.  Kucinich is actually a good representative.  There's no partisanship required here.  Love a party or hate them all; regardless, we should reward those who have listened to our demands.  Or why would anyone listen again?

##

The table below shows enacted appropriations, adapted from "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11" by Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service, March 29, 2011, (PDF).  Votes are on final passage of the conference report unless there was no recorded vote.  In that case, the indicated vote is on initial House passage.

Name of Law

Public Law No.

Date Enacted

DOD Funds ($bln)

Kucinich Voted

Kaptur Voted

FY01 Emerg. Supp. Approp. Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the US

P.L. 107-38

9/18/01

13.6

Yes

Yes

FY02 Dept. Of Defense and Emergency Terrorism Response Act

P.L. 107-117

1/10/02

3.4

Yes

Yes

FY02 Emergency Supplemental

P.L. 107-206

8/2/02

13.8

No

Yes

FY03 Consolidated Appropriations

P.L. 108-7

2/20/03

10.0

No

Yes

FY03 Emergency Supplemental

P.L. 108-11

4/16/03

62.6

No

Yes

FY03 DOD Appropriationsa

P.L. 107-248

10/23/02

7.1

No

Yes

FY04 DOD Appropriations Act (rescission of FY03 funds)

P.L. 108-87

9/30/03

-3.5

No

Yes

FY04 Emergency Supplemental

P.L. 108-106

11/6/03

64.9

No

No

FY05 DOD Approps Act, Titles IX & Xb

P.L. 108-287

8/5/04

25.0

No

Yes

FY05 DOD Appropriations Actc

P.L. 108-287

8/5/04

2.1

No

Yes

FY05 Supplemental Appropriations

P.L. 109-13

5/11/05

75.9

No

Yes

FY06 DOD Approps. Act, Title IX

P.L. 109-148

12/30/05

50.0

No

Yes

FY06 DOD Appropriations Actc

P.L. 109-148

12/30/05

0.8

No

Yes

FY06 Emergency Supplemental

P.L. 109-234

6/15/06

66.0

No

Yes

FY07 DOD Appropriations Act

P.L. 109-289

9/29/06

70.5

No

Yes

FY07 Supplemental, Amendment #2 (Did not include Withdrawal Deadlines from Iraq)d

P.L. 110-28

5/25/07

94.5

No

No

FY08 Continuing Resolution

P.L. 110-92

9/29/07

5.2

No

Yes

FY08 DOD Appropriations Act

P.L. 110-116

11/13/07

11.6

No

Yes

FY08 Consolidated Approps. Act

P.L. 110-161

3/11/04

70.0

Not voting

No

FY08 Supplemental, FY09 Bridge Approps. Act (Roll call #431)d, e

P.L. 110-252

6/30/08

157.9

No

No

FY09 Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act

P.L. 110-329

9/30/08

2.5

No

Yes

FY09 Supplemental Approps. Act

P.L. 111-32

6/24/09

80.0

No

No

FY10 Consolidated Appropriations Act

P.L. 111-117

12/16/09

1.4

No

Yes

FY10 DOD Approps. Act, Title IX

P.L. 111-118

12/19/09

127.3

No

Yes

FY10 Supplemental

P.L. 111-212

7/27/10

30.8

No

No

FY11 DOD and Year-Long Continuing Resolutionf

P.L. 112-10

4/15/11

159.1

No

No

TOTAL WAR FUNDING VOTED FOR

 

 

 

$17 billion

$545.3 billion

a.      FY03 Appropriations Act included $7.1 billion in regular FY03 defense appropriations for GWOT thatDOD cannot track; the FY04 DOD Appropriations Act rescinded $3.5 billion in FY03 war monies.

b.      Title IX funds in FY05 do not include a $1.8 billion scoring adjustment that reverses the previousrescission of FY04 funds because this did not change wartime monies.

c.      Reflects funds obligated for Operation Noble Eagle from DOD’s regular appropriations as reported by the Defense Finance Accounting Service.

d.     The House took separate votes on different sections of the bill, which were then combined when sent to the Senate.

e.      The FY08 Supplemental included funds for both FY08 and bridge funds for FY09.

f.       This bill was the final DOD Appropriations Act and the final version of the CR.  It was preceded by seven other CRs.

The Betrayal of the Nobel Peace Prize

Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  

27 of 35 Bush Articles of Impeachment Apply to Obama

When Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush on June 9, 2008, the 35 had been selected from drafts of nearly twice that many articles. 

President Obama has accumulated his own massive list of high crimes and misdemeanors that were unavailable for Bush's list (thing's like openly murdering U.S. citizens, launching massive drone wars, selectively and abusively prosecuting numerous whistleblowers as spies, holding Bradley Manning naked in isolation, attacking Libya without so much as bothering to lie to Congress, etc.).

Nonetheless, it is instructive to review the 35 Bush articles in the Obama age.  It quickly becomes apparent that Obama has either exactly duplicated or closely paralleled most of the 35.  Here's what I mean:

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements.

Click the link to read the article introduced against Bush.  Obama campaigned against this abuse and has routinely engaged in it as president.  Worse, he has established the policy of silently relying on previous Bush or Obama signing statements rather than restating his intention to violate laws each time such intention is relevant to a bill he is signing.

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws.

Obama similarly uses Department of Justice arguments to reverse the commonly understood meaning of laws (bombing Libya is neither war nor hostilities, for example).  And he similarly uses arguments that are kept away from public sight.  While the United Nations, foreign nations, and human rights groups have questioned the legality of drone strikes, Obama has not provided his legal defense or even felt obliged to make any assertion as to which victims were intended and which were "collateral damage."  This week the ACLU sued for release of such information.  In addition, Obama announced in 2009 that he would review all of Bush's signing statements and decide which ones to keep as law and which to discard, but the public has never been told the outcome of that review.

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives.

Obama did this from day one, proclaimed it in front of the Constitution in the National Archives, formalized it in an executive order, signed it into law this past New Year's Eve, and expanded the practice at Bagram.

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

Obama has continued each abuse detailed here and added to them, including through his use of the military to keep journalists away from the BP oil disaster and in an effort to break a strike at the ports of the Pacific Northwest.

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture.

Obama has publicly claimed the power to continue this practice, in fact continued this practice, maintained black sites despite announcing an end to them, and worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor.

Article XX
Imprisoning Children.

Obama has continued this practice and added to it the murdering of children, refusing to say that Abdel-Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki was not intentionally targeted or that he, Obama, does not have the legal power to murder U.S. children.  Non-U.S. children continue to die in significant numbers from drone strikes and by other means (including intentional targeting from helicopter) as part of Obama's escalated war on Afghanistan.

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy.

Obama has claimed the power to torture, worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor, and continued to allow torture.  He has also pressured other nations, including Spain, to drop prosecutorial investigations of U.S. crimes of torture.

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment.

Obama has continued these practices and worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor.

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens.

Obama has continued these practices and worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor and guilty corporations.

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government.

Obama has continued these practices.  In his most recent State of the Union speech he said, "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.  But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible . . . if Iran changes course."  When Iran recently took down a U.S. drone, Obama simply asked that it be returned.

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors.

Obama's Pentagon is no more audited or accountable, nor the routine scandals involving misplaced millions or billions of dollars less frequent.  No-bid contracts have increased.  Privatization has increased.  Secrecy has increased.  The use of Special Forces in secret non-war wars has spread to more nations.  The permanent stationing of U.S. troops has spread to more nations.  Secret agencies, including the CIA, have been given larger war-making roles.  And Obama continued the war on Iraq long beyond the date by which he had promised to end it, and continues to maintain thousands of mercenaries in Iraq, and to use drones in the skies of Iraq.  He has also worked to coverup and protect related crimes by his predecessor.

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq.

Obama's insistence on continuing this practice not just beyond 2008 but beyond 2011, combined with the Iraqi government's refusal to agree, resulted in Obama's decision to comply with the Bush-Maliki treaty to end the war on Iraq by this past New Year's Eve.

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare.

The details have to be changed to apply this article to Obama.  The changes are not in Obama's favor.  Obama met in secret with the CEOs of health insurance corporations and pursued a vision of healthcare reform that they had secretly influenced.  In so doing, he misled Congress and the American people.  He is quite open, in contrast, about his willingness to slash Medicare, as well as Medicaid.

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency.

The victims of Katrina have still not been compensated, nor the environmental and urban damage undone.  Instead the BP oil disaster has been added.  Obama intentionally misled the Congress and the public, downplaying the quantity of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.  He allowed a clean-up operation that was nothing of the sort.  No real clean-up or recovery is planned.  Nor have the corporations or their supposed regulators been held accountable.

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change.

Obama's approach to systematically undermining efforts to address global climate change has included blocking possible global agreements at meetings in Denmark and South Africa, while promoting "clean coal," "natural gas," and "safe fracking."

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The exposing of a secret agent has not been repeated, but retribution against whistleblowers has been taken to new heights with more prosecutions under the Espionage Act than by all previous presidents combined.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001.

We're still waiting.

Now, we come to the launching of the war on Iraq:

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources.

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries.

It was too late for Obama to exactly duplicate these offenses, as the war against Iraq was already underway.  But President Obama has embraced the lies that launched that war.  He claimed in 2010 that the war on Iraq had been launched in order to disarm that nation.  In the news around the world on the day of Obama's most recent State of the Union speech was the anger among Iraqis at the failure of the United States to hold anyone seriously accountable for the 2005 massacre in Haditha.  The story was a useful reminder of how the operations of the U.S. military over the past decade have fueled hostility toward our nation.  President Obama began his speech by claiming the opposite, asserting that the war on Iraq has made us safer and "more respected around the world."  Obama has repeatedly used such rhetoric to pivot to promotion of his escalated war in Afghanistan or other military operations.  Similarly, President Obama misled the nation about the purpose and nature of a war on Libya that has left Libya, like Iraq, in worse shape, and which has left Constitutional war powers in tatters, as the Congress declared itself opposed to the war and the war continued.  Meanwhile misleading propaganda about Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other nations continues to emerge from the Obama administration.  The Director of National Intelligence has just claimed that Iran is a threat to the United States.  While the Iraq War may have "ended," the Authorization for the Use of Military Force has been kept in place allowing Obama to use it as a legal argument for other military operations and abuses of civil rights.  Also emerging with ever greater frankness from the Obama White House and Pentagon, including from the President, is the claim of presidential prerogative to launch military attacks on sovereign nations, involving deaths to both militants and civilians, without any consideration of Congress, the Constitution, the War Powers Resolution, the United Nations or its Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, or any other law. 

There is no quantitative way to measure whether Obama's additions to the presidential powers accumulated by Bush and Bush's predecessors equals or exceeds those added by Bush.  But measured against the pre-Bush baseline, or against the written rule of law, Obama's power abuses far outstrip Bush's, while in the category of immediate death count Bush retains a significant lead.

Would Romney or Gingrich be even worse?  That's quite likely.  If we continue to self-censor on these matters, Obama Part II will also be significantly worse.  A popular movement against these abuses could make any White House occupant better than the current one, even if it's the same individual.  Remember what Howard Zinn taught: It's not who is sitting in the White House; it's who is doing the sit-ins.

A Crazy Republican Attack That Obama Himself Agrees With

Imagine if a bunch of the craziest war-hungry Republicans in the House filmed themselves in a nutty bat-guano video packed with lies addressed to the President of the United States.  And then imagine President Barack Obama almost immediately agreeing with them.  I can think of two ways in which such a series of events could go unnoticed, as it just has

First, it could be about something insignificant. But this was about undoing the automatic cuts to the military mandated by the failure of the Supercommittee (remember, the top news story of a few months back?).  The military, across various departments, swallows over half of federal discretionary spending, and there's no greater obsession in the corporate media than the great Spending vs. Cuts issue.  This is NOT insignificant.

Second, it could be about something that the elites of both major parties agree on, the media therefore ignores, most Republican voters love, and Democratic voters pretend not to notice because the President is a Democrat and an election is less than a year away.

If you're guessing the second option, you are right. (Tell them what they've won, Leon!)  You are now the proud owners of the most expensive military ever seen, plus coming increases that will be presented as "cuts."

When the Supercommittee failed, automatic federal budget cuts were to kick in -- half to things we need and half to the bloated military.  The military cuts would take us back to 2004 spending.  We seem to have survived 2004 and the years preceding it OK.

The Pentagon claims to be making other cuts already, but they are "cuts" to dream budgets resulting in actual budget increases -- and that's not even counting increased war spending through other departments.

House Republicans have sent President Obama this crazy video opposing military cuts and introduced legislation to slash 10% of non-military government jobs instead. In the Senate, John McCain is said to be working on a similar bill.

Meanwhile "Defense" Secretary Leon Panetta has just announced the Obama Administration's position: They will oppose the automatic cuts, or any other actual cuts, to the military. This will mean severe cuts to education, transportation, and -- as President Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech -- to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

At last Thursday's press conference the first question following Panetta's remarks was:

"Mr. Secretary, you talked a little bit on this, but over the next 10 years, do you see any other year than this year where the actual spending will go down from year to year? And just to the American public more broadly, how do you sort of explain what appears to be contradictory, as you talk about, repeatedly, this $500 billion in cuts in a Defense Department budget that is actually going to be increasing over time?"

Panetta had no substantive answer.  And he didn't need one.  The media almost unanimously put out the false story that the military was undergoing serious cuts.  That first year's cut, by the way, is 1%, to be followed by nine years of larger increases. 

You might have forgotten that in 2008, three times in three presidential debates, Senator John McCain proposed cutting the military, while Senator Obama campaigned on increasing it -- one promise he has actually kept. 

Lately supporters have been saying that the President will become the Obama of our Dreams once he's a lame duck.  But the history and the logic of lame duck officials is that they become less, not more, representative of the public will.  And the public will is strongly in favor of major cuts to the military.

Others may be inclined to suggest that while Obama and Panetta are increasing the military and calling it "cuts," they are actually cutting the budget for wars.  Some may have been misled by this line in the State of the Union: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

But in reality, Obama and Panetta are proposing to cut the war budget by only $27 billion.  Meanwhile, the $27 billion has already been spent elsewhere in the Pentagon budget.  Plus military spending is on the rise in other departments.  Plus any new wars and confrontations -- like in Iran or Syria -- will offer the opportunity for supplemental bills.  And less expensive but more secretive and equally deadly wars are underway, investment will increase in drones and special forces, and I have doubts we could rebuild our nation here at home for $13.5 billion even if we had it, while continuing to dump over $1 trillion into preparations for the crime of war year after year.

We do have the option to resist.

##

David Swanson is a campaigner for RootsAction.org and author of "War Is A Lie."

Audio: On Air Debate on Corporate Personhood and Citizens United

Here's the audio of a debate on the Rob Schilling Show on the question of whether corporations should have Constitutional personhood and whether Citizens United v. FEC was properly decided.  David Swanson v. Charles Buddy Weber.

LISTEN: MP3.

15 Things More Important Than Newt's Sex Life on the Moon

1. A war on Iran could kill us all. President Obama said in the State of the Union: "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.  But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible . . . if Iran changes course." So, unless Iran, which the Secretary of Defense says is not developing a nuclear weapon, ceases developing a nuclear weapon, we're going to war.  Sound familiar?  Ever seen this movie before?  Actually, we've seen it in every single war ever fought by any nation.  The best defense against the lies of the Department of Defense is good preparation.  Read this book: http://WarIsALie.org

Use these resources: http://DontAttackIran.org

Join or create an event on February 4: http://worldcantwait.net

2. Occupation of DC under threat. The Park Service plans to try to remove all tents from both DC occupations (Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square) at noon on Monday, January 30th. Be there. Be nonviolent.  Be determined.  Be relentless.

Rise like Lions after slumber: In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew: Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many -- they are few

3. California could solve healthcare. California has until Tuesday and is two senators away from enacting single-payer healthcare.  This is far more significant that anything that has been done at the national level for healthcare.  This solves the problem in one state and creates a model for the other 49.  You can help: http://warisacrime.org/node/60764

4. Corporate personhood is on the defensive.  The Montana Supreme Court has refused to comply with Citizens United.  Cities and states are taking action.  Stronger bills are being introduced in Congress all the time.  The latest is HJRes 100.  Rallies were just held in over 100 towns and cities.  Join this movement: http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5236

5. They're raising military spending and calling it "cuts." The supposed cuts in all the headlines are cuts to dream budgets, leaving actual increases.  Small but real cuts would result from following the law after the Super Committee's failure (remember them?).  But bills in both houses would block all actual cuts to the military, and President Obama agrees with that agenda.  This will mean severe cuts to education, transportation, and -- as Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech -- to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. http://warisacrime.org/node/60747

Why Peace 6.  New classic book on peace just out. An amazing new book that you will treasure has just been published.  It is first-person stories of war and peace and activism from all over the world, from victims, refugees, journalists, lawyers, and participants in numerous wars.  Every story is personal and moving.  There is not a drop of corporate media disinterestedness in the book.  You may know some of the authors and now you'll know them better.  It's 600 pages but you'll be sorry when you reach the end. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Peace-Marc-Guttman/dp/0984980202

7. Guess who says the anthrax attacks were pinned on the wrong guy (again)? The Department of Justice. Anybody else, and Obama would have charged them with "espionage".  http://warisacrime.org/node/60765

8. We're re-occupying the Philippines, by jingo! On the plus side, we have not yet been told that this will benefit "our little brown brothers" (whether they like it or not). http://warisacrime.org/node/60746

9. Prevent Fukushima in Vermont. A Fukushima-style nuclear power plant in Vermont legally must shut down, but in reality is up and running. We can close it. http://warisacrime.org/node/60745

10. They hate us for our bases.  As in many other places around the world, in Japan and Korea, people are risking their lives to resist U.S. military base construction. Japan: http://warisacrime.org/node/60718 -- Korea: http://warisacrime.org/node/60743

11. Torture lawyer John Yoo badly loses debate.  Professor Yoo agreed to debate a sane person, with predictable but still satisfying result: http://warisacrime.org/node/60738

12. The State of the Union speech only sounded good if you were screaming in terror.  http://warisacrime.org/node/60727

13. United National Antiwar Coalition Conference. Don't miss this! https://nationalpeaceconference.org

14. Occupy Spring! The National Occupation of Washington DC starts on March 30, 2012. http://nowdc.org

slideshow 1

15. No Immunity for Mortgage Fraudsters! The Obama Administration has been working on a mortgage fraud settlement that itself amounts to fraud, but attorneys general in several states are pushing back. Obama's speeches stress fairness and equality, but a settlement granting immunity to big banks is not fair. Robosigning and other fraudulent practices are ongoing.  The White House is offering the banks a plea bargain in the middle of a crime spree.  Attorneys general in Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, California, and other states are pushing in the right direction. Tell leading state attorneys general not to settle for less than an adequate settlement. http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5322

Lots More Upcoming Events More Important Than Newt's Sex Life:

http://warisacrime.org/content/upcoming-events

Jan. 30, 2012, Washington, D.C.,  Briefing on Iran Warmongering

Jan. 31, 2012, Washington, D.C.,  Occupy Peace House

Feb. 3, 2012, Everywhere, Protest NDAA

Feb. 4, 2012, Don't Attack Iran Events

Feb. 25-26, David Swanson speaking in Hilton Head, SC

March 2-6, 2012, Washington, D.C., Occupy AIPAC

March 16-18, 2012, New York, NY,  Left Forum

March 23-25, 2012, Stamford, Ct., United National Antiwar Coalition Conference

March 22-25, 2012, Washington, D.C., Split This Rock Poetry Festival

March 30, 2012, National Occupation of Washington DC (NOW DC)  and on FaceBook

March 30, 2012, Global March to Jerusalem

March 30 - April 1, Brussels, Belgium, No to NATO

April 3, 2012, David Swanson at McNally Jackson Books in New York, NY.

April 11-13, 2012, Virginia,  SOA Direct Action Training Camp

May 1, 2012,  General Strike

May 1 - 18, 2012, March from Madison to Chicago

May 18 - 20, 2012, Chicago, Challenge the NATO War Makers

May 19, 2012, David Swanson speaking in Rockville, Md., to Peace Action Montgomery.

July 4, 2012, Philadelphia,  99% Convention

July 14, 2012, David Swanson at Peacestock 2012 in Wisconsin.

Park Police to Try to Remove All Tents From Both DC Occupations at Noon on Monday January 30th -- BE THERE!

Be nonviolent.  Be determined.  Be relentless.

Rise like Lions after slumber: In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew: Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many — they are few

Panetta: Military Spending Is Going Up

On Thursday, Leon Panetta held a press conference announcing what he called "cuts" to military spending.  The first question following his remarks pointed out that the "cuts" are to dream budgets, while the actual spending will be increased over Panetta's 10-year plan.  Is there any year, the reporter asked, out of the 10 years in question, other than the first one, 2013, in which spending will actually decrease at all?  Panetta replied that he was proposing really truly to cut the projected dream budgets that he had hoped for.  In other words, he did not answer the question.

Now, there are additional minor cuts "on the table" as the saying goes, cuts that Panetta has described as disastrous, cuts that would take U.S. military spending back to about 2007 2004 levels, cuts nowhere close to what a majority of the country favors.  (How we survived 2007 2004 and all the years preceding it has never been explained.)  Earlier this week, Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee sent President Obama a video denouncing these cuts.  They are, of course, the cuts mandated by the legislation that created the Super Committee, which failed, resulting in supposedly automatic cuts.

The video (available here) is itself packed with lies.  It falsely claims that cuts have already been made.  It uses dollar figures derived from lumping 10 years of budgets together to make cuts sound 10 times larger.  It pretends the automatic cuts would all be to the military, whereas many could be to the State Department and other subsidiary arms of the military.  These Republicans propose slashing 10% of non-military government jobs and describe this as saving jobs, even though non-military spending produces more jobs for the same dollars than military spending does.  And of course there is no mention in this video or in any official discussion of exactly how outrageously huge the U.S. military has become.  But a crazy video, and a bill to go with it, can not only pass the House and make its way into the Senate (Senator John McCain is already working on companion legislation), but the President is already in agreement with this bill's primary purpose of undoing any actual cuts to the military.  The history of lame duck officials, by the way, is that of becoming less, not more, representative of the public will. Caveat emptor!

In 2004 2008, three times in three debates Senator John McCain proposed cutting military spending and Obama avoided the topic. Candidate Obama proposed significantly enlarging the largest military the world had ever seen.  And he has done so.  He now proposes not to cut it while pretending to cut it.  The best bit of rhetoric in this week's State of the Union address was this:

"Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home." 

On Thursday, Panetta put that in real dollar terms.  Setting aside any possible supplemental spending bills, and ignoring increased war participation by the CIA, the State Department, etc., and apart from the much larger "non-war" military spending that continues to inch upward, not downward, Panetta claimed that, if Congress would agree, we would spend $88 billion on wars next year, instead of $115 billion this year.  That $115 billion is fairly typical of the past decade, in which we have spent between $100 billion and $200 billion on wars each year (not counting veterans care, fuel price impacts, lost opportunities, debt interest, etc.)  I suspect it also does not include Libya.  So, we're saving $27 billion, maybe.  Take half of that for debt, and we've got $13.5 billion with which to do our nation-building right here at home.  Let's be generous and round it up to $100 billion. That's still in comparison with an overall war and "security" budget of well over $1 trillion annually.  And $13.5 billion is less than a quarter of the $60 billion Panetta now claims he will save purely through "increased efficiency."  (Granted, that actually could be done in the Pentagon if it were not, you know, the Pentagon.)

The talk of cuts serves more than a political purpose for Panetta and Obama.  It also serves to justify actual cuts to services for troops and veterans even while increasing spending on weapons and occupying new nations.  Also announced on Thursday, Obama is working on re-occupying the Philippines.  To his credit, there has been no mention of the benefits to "our little brown brothers."  There will be an increased Asian presence, Panetta said.  The Marines will maintain their Pacific presence, he noted in particular, horribly smashing the hopes of the entire population of Okinawa.  There will be no cuts to bombers.  We will have a "posture forward" and be able to "penetrate defenses" strengthening "the ability to project power in denied areas," also known as other people's countries.  But healthcare fees and deductibles for troops and veterans will have to go up, Panetta said.  

The second question asked at Panetta's press conference (how did actual reporters get in there?) was why a tiny reduction following a massive increase in troops in Afghanistan was really sufficient.  Panetta was unable to explain.  Can you?

Japanese Delegation Wants the U.S. Out of Okinawa

A 24-member delegation from Japan is in Washington, D.C., this week opposing the presence and new construction of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.  Participating are members of the Japanese House of Councilors, of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, and of city governments in Okinawa, as well as leading protest organizers and the heads of several important organizations opposed to the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Okinawa.

The famously stingy U.S. tax payer, frequently seen bitterly protesting outrageously wasteful spending of a few million dollars, is paying billions of dollars to maintain and expand some 90 military bases in Japan (and to make those who profit from such business filthy rich).  Thirty-four of those bases, containing 74% of their total land area, are in Okinawa, which itself contains only 0.6% of Japanese land.  Okinawa is dominated by U.S. military bases and has been for 67 years since the U.S. forcibly appropriated much of the best land.

The people of Okinawa tell pollsters year after year that they oppose the bases.  Year after year they elect government officials who oppose the bases.  Year after year they march, sit-in, protest, and demand to be heard.  Year after year, the national Japanese government confronts the issue and fails to take any decisive steps to resolve it.  Year after year, the people of the United States remain blissfully unaware that, as in so many other places around the world, our military occupation of Okinawa is ruining people's lives.

Members of the delegation spoke at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., Monday night.  Toshio Ikemiyagi thanked people who came to hear them and pointed out that we all looked healthy and alert.  That, he said, is because you have all had sleep.  You've been able to sleep at night without deafening jet noise, he said.  Ikemiyagi is the lead attorney on a lawsuit challenging the Kadena Air Base's noise pollution.  He played us a video on Monday of what it is like.  For the people who live there, he said, the war that ended 67 years ago has never ended.

keikoKeiko Itokazu, a Member of the Japanese National Diet, depicted in this painting, said the Okinawan people had been heartbroken since having been unable to protect a 12-year-old girl from gang rape by U.S. troops in 1995.  The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan gives U.S. troops immunity from Japanese prosecution.  Between 1979 and 2008, U.S. forces in Okinawa caused 1,439 accidents (487 of them airplane related), and 5,584 criminal cases (559 of them involving violent crimes).  The list includes fatal driving incidents, residential break-ins, taxi robberies, sexual violence, and other serious crimes against local citizens.

I spoke recently with Maria Allwine who describes herself as "a former Marine Corps spouse."  She said, "It is common practice for military personnel to use Japanese women as 'mama-sans,' exchanging house cleaning and sexual favors for money.  Nothing new, but it's given a wink and a nod by military brass.  Those who don't cheat are considered abnormal by their peers."

The sex police are as absent as the skinflints from their usual place of prominence in U.S. political debate when it comes to occupying other people's countries.  Imagine, however, just for a moment, that even one Japanese military base existed in the United States, and imagine that even one Japanese soldier committed a single crime.  Can you imagine some things that U.S. television talking heads might say?

Our military is trying to build yet more bases in Okinawa.  Why, you ask?  Word around town is that even the Pentagon thinks it serves no purpose, but the Marine Corps likes to hold onto anything it's got.  The Marines have even named one of their bases in Okinawa for Smedley Butler, the author of "War Is A Racket," and a man whom the Marines once imprisoned at Quantico for having spoken badly of Benito Mussolini.  Don't look for logic.  Look for petty rivalry and power, combined with unaccountability and we the people missing in action.

The least popular base in Okinawa is probably Futenma Air Base, which sits in the middle of a city, near schools, a hospital, and houses -- houses which military helicopters have been known to crash into.  The Marine Corps plans to bring the accident-prone MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to Futenma in 2012.  Overwhelmingly, the people of Okinawa want the base closed, and do not want it relocated to a less populated area, and do not want it combined with another existing base.  For the past 16 years, residents of Henoko, a location under consideration for relocation of the base, have held a continuous sit-in protest without pause.  They have also risked their lives hanging onto a floating platform in the ocean, surrounded by supportive fishing boats, successfully preventing the military from surveying the site for construction.

Hiroshi Ashitomi has been a leader of the nonviolent resistance in Henoko for 16 years.  "We use our own bodies," he said on Monday, "to resist aggressive actions by the Japanese government."  Pointing to the picture of Gandhi in the collage on the wall at Busboys, Ashitomi said, "We follow the example of Gandhi.  It is not easy.  We receive threats from the police.  But we are determined to use nonviolent resistance, and we get a lot of support from all over Japan.  We are trying to protect the environment, so many young people from all over Japan come to our tent and participate in our resistance."

dugongIn fact, the environment and the rights of certain endangered species have come to dominate the anti-base movement in Okinawa.  Apparently the rights of humans are far less interesting than the rights of the black naped tern, the blue coral, or above all the dugong.  The dugong is the manatee-like creature in this photo.  Osamu Makishi of the Citizens' Network for Okinawan Biodiversity spoke movingly about these species and their ecosystem on Monday, which he said are protected by treaty.

The Japanese delegation is meeting with Congress Members, including Senator Jim Webb on Wednesday, urging them to close and consolidate bases.  I once accompanied a group of Italians on almost identical visits to Congress.  The people of Vicenza, Italy, oppose the bases the U.S. military and the national Italian government impose on them, just as the people of Okinawa do.  The congress members and staffers we met with at that time gave not the slightest damn for human rights or the environment or popular opinion.  I don't think any of the Japanese delegates expect to encounter such humanity this week either.  Their hope is to highlight the financial costs to the United States of the occupation of Japan.  My hope is that we can help them by telling our misrepresentatives that we agree with the members of the delegation.  If you're inclined to help, please call your rep and two senators with that message.

Specifically, the delegation is asking for the closure of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station; cancellation of plans to construct a new Marine Corps air base at Cape Henoko; reduction of unbearable noise caused by air operations at Kadena Air Base; withdrawal of any proposal to integrate Futenma's helicopter squadrons into Kadena's operations; an end to the construction of six new helipads in the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa; and revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to allow fair prosecutions of crimes.

Ultimately, however, the members of the delegation want the bases all to be closed.  And they do not want them relocated to Guam or Australia or anywhere else, except perhaps to the United States.  Itokazu suggested that the U.S. government could save money and produce jobs by bringing bases home.  But, of course, we don't want a military occupation any more than Japan does, and the same money would produce more jobs if spent on a non-military industry.

Base opponents in Okinawa work with others in Korea, Guam, and Hawaii, and with former residents of Diego Garcia, as well as others around the world.  An international conference called "Dialogue Under Occupation" was held in Okinawa last summer.  In fact, people are working extremely hard in cities around the world to shut down or prevent the construction of giant military bases that we in the United States pay for and are endangered by but have very little awareness of.

John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies (see http://closethebase.org ) believes Futenma can be closed and can serve as a model for closing more.  It is very difficult, however, Feffer says, to accomplish base closings cleanly without some sort of asterisk attached.  When a base was closed in Seoul, Korea, a new one was opened outside it.  When bases were closed in the Philippines, a Visiting Forces Agreement was drawn up.  Yet, the Navy left Vieques, and the President of Ecuador seems to have found the magic formula in his proposal that any U.S. base in Ecuador be matched by an Ecuadorean base in Florida.

Here is another proposal: bring in the IAEA for inspections.  No independent organization has verified U.S. claims to no longer be storing nuclear weapons in Japan.  On the model of Iran, if full inspections are not permitted by, say, Thursday, or even if they are, we should seriously consider launching preemptive strikes against ourselves.  The Constitution that the United States imposed on Japan 65 years ago forbids war preparation, yet the United States trains its forces in Japan to fight wars elsewhere in the world.  Are we spreading democracy or hypocrisy? Are we building trust or animosity?  

Ikemiyagi says democracy requires U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa.  As with the location of nuclear power plants in Japan, he says, the Japanese government wants the military bases out of sight.  If Tokyo wants bases, he says, then put them in Tokyo.  The people of Okinawa have had enough. 

Haven't we all?

The State of Obama's 2008 Promises

Presidential candidate Barack Obama won the Democratic primary last time around largely on the strength of his extremely limited and inconsistent opposition to the war on Iraq.  Then he chose as his running mate Senator Joe Biden, a man who had led efforts in the U.S. Senate to support the invasion. Obama's staff told reporters that he would be inclined to keep Robert Gates on as Secretary of War (or "Defense") -- exactly the same plan proposed by Senator John McCain's campaign. Obama said he'd like Colin Powell to be a part of his administration, and repeatedly announced that his cabinet would include Republicans. Obama had approached leading warmonger Congressman Rahm Emanuel about becoming his chief of staff.

How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back.  It was time for a peace dividend as well as a little sanity in public spending.  Among the cosponsors of a bill to begin economic conversion in the late 1980s was a guy by the name of Leon Panetta.

Standing in the way was Congressman Newt Gingrich (Republican, Lockheed Martin).

As Mary Beth Sullivan recounts ( http://MIC50.org ),

War and Being and Nothingness

The best book I've read in a very long time is a new one: "The End of War" by John Horgan. Its conclusions will be vigorously resisted by many and yet, in a certain light, considered perfectly obvious to some others. The central conclusion -- that ending the institution of war is entirely up to us to choose -- was, arguably, reached by (among many others before and since) John Paul Sartre sitting in a café utilizing exactly no research.

Horgan is a writer for "Scientific American," and approaches the question of whether war can be ended as a scientist. It's all about research. He concludes that war can be ended, has in various times and places been ended, and is in the process (an entirely reversible process) of being ended on the earth right now.

Constitutional Amendment to Create Public Financing Introduced by Kucinich

I recently recommened a comprehensive Constitutional amendment addressing the corruption of our elections.

The largest piece of it, largely inspired by an amendment drafted by Russell Simmons, had not been introduced in Congress . . .  until now.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes100 which proposes this Constitutional Amendment:

    Section 1. All campaigns for President and Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be financed entirely with public funds. No contributions shall be permitted to any candidate for Federal office from any other source, including the candidate.
    Section 2. No expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate for Federal office, or in opposition to any candidate for Federal office, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
    Section 3. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds.
    Section 4. The Congress shall, by statute, provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Article.
    Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This does not state that corporations are not people or bribery is not speech or the moon is not made of cheese, but it proceeds accordingly and handles the corruption of our elections as effectively as anything I've seen.  No amendment is completely comprehensive, but no completely comprehensive amendment is likely to get passed (or even read).  I also doubt very much that Congress will ever advance any such amendment, at least until there is a serious threat from two-thirds of the states to circumvent Congress with a Constitutional Convention. 

But if there is an amendment to build the list of cosponsors on, this looks like the one.  This looks to me like something that the anti-corporate-personhood movement, the clean elections movement, the peace movement, and every other cause for peace, justice, or representative government should get behind.  I don't mean get behind a politician or a party or censor your own complete demands.  I mean get every possible Congress member to cosponsor this bill, which exists because of our movement.

Blocking funding without providing public financing is a half-solution.  Limiting private election spending while leaving loopholes is no solution.  Prohibiting private spending, creating public financing, and making those laws enforceable is a huge chunk of the solution.

We can all remember "H J Res 100".  Now to ask our misrepresentatives to sign on!

Booing the Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. An important rule to live by. So is this corollary: Friends don't let friends watch presidential primary debates.

I think the clip at this link is a safe dose bit.ly/xVAIF6 and I have survived it myself or I would not urge it on others.

I recommend it to you only because I believe it is important for us to stop and ask what it means for a group of people who tend to promote both Christianity and the combination of Christianity with politics to have just booed the golden rule.

Video of Charlottesville City Council Passing Resolution Against War on Iran

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Speaking to the resolution:
David Swanson (activist and author) 11:30
Larry Bishop (activist) 19:45
Tony Russell (activist) 21:15
Helena Cobban (author) 27:40
Ira Bashkow (U. of VA anthropology professor) 31:30
Brandon Collins (activist) 35:20
Stratton Slatis (sp?) 44:45
Councilmember Dede Smith 48:00
Councilmember Dave Norris 49:30
Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos 50:20
Councilmember Kathy Galvin 55:15
Mayor Satyendra Huja 56:35
Council discussion (15 minutes) 1:02:30

If Dr. King Were in Charlottesville Tonight

Martin Luther King Jr. stood up and opposed the war in Vietnam for the last three years of his life.  He did not believe that by doing so he was failing to do something that goes by the name "supporting the troops."  In fact his interest was in the well being of those men and women when he said:

"A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: 'This way of settling differences is not just.' This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Let us not hide acceptance of the mass murder of which war consists behind the patriotism of troops and flags.  Howard Zinn spoke the truth when he said "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable."

Let us not suppose that self-governance does not involve us, that using our money to kill in our name is none of our affair.

51 years ago today President Eisenhower warned of the danger posed by the Military Industrial Complex. He said "The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government."

Well, let us say this: not in our city.

Our City Council opposed attacking Iraq, and that stand was part of an effort that has educated the country.  There are more ears prepared to hear warnings of war today.  And the push for war is almost identical.  Iran is not allowing inspections.  The inspections that are not happening have found a weapons program. Never mind that the Secretary of Defense says it isn't true.  Never mind that the New York Times has already had to apologize, several years ahead of schedule.  Never mind that if all the claims were true there would still be no moral or legal ground for war.

The UN Charter forbids war, the Kellogg Briand Pact forbids war, the Hague Convention of 1899 requires that we take this dispute to arbitration. 

We face the danger of a war with a nation three times the size and with many times the armaments of Iraq, a nation that has not attacked another in centuries, a nation which ours has almost completely surrounded, economically sanctioned, flown drones over, and funded terrorism within its borders, a nation we continue to threaten.  Yes, we.  You and I, unless we say otherwise.

Our lives begin to end, said Martin Luther King Jr, the day we become silent about things that matter. Let's not begin to end our lives tonight.  Let's begin to end the institution of war instead.

Corporate Personhood Cannot Withstand Organized Persons

There are many schemes now for undoing the doctrines under which corporations claim constitutional rights and bribery is deemed constitutionally protected "speech." Every single one of these schemes depends on a massive movement of public pressure all across the homeland formerly known as the United States of America. With such a movement, few of the schemes can fail. Without it, we're just building castles in the air. Nonetheless, the best scheme can best facilitate the organizing of the movement.

The Military Industrial Complex at 50

MIC50 Front Cover

Published today, MLK Day 2012: The Military Industrial Complex at 50 is the most comprehensive collection available explaining what the military industrial complex (MIC) is, where it comes from, what damage it does, what further destruction it threatens, and what can be done and is being done to chart a different course.

Get your copy: http://MIC50.org

The authors (from within and without the MIC) include: Ellen Brown - Paul Chappell - Helena Cobban - Ben Davis - Jeff Fogel - Bunny Greenhouse - Bruce Gagnon - Clare Hanrahan - John Heuer - Steve Horn - Robert Jensen - Karen Kwiatkowski - Judith Le Blanc - Bruce Levine - Ray McGovern - Wally Myers - Robert Naiman - Gareth Porter - Chris Rodda - Allen Ruff - Mia Austin Scoggins - Tony Russell - Lisa Savage - Mary Beth Sullivan - Coleman Smith - Dave Shreve - David Swanson - Pat Elder - Jonathan Williams - Ann Wright.

Short bios of the authors are available here http://davidswanson.org/node/3511

The book is available at MIC50.org in paperback, bulk discount, audio, PDF, kindle, Epub, and iPad/iPhone.

The MIC, this book expertly argues, kills large numbers of people, endangers us, hollows out our economy, transfers our wealth to a tiny elite, devastates the natural environment, and threatens civil liberties, the rule of law, and representative government.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower found the nerve in his farewell speech in 1961 to articulate one of the most prescient, potentially valuable, and tragically as yet unheeded warnings of human history:

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous ris e of misplaced power exists and will persist.

    "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

This collection shows that the "total influence" of the MIC has increased, the disastrous rise of misplaced power is no longer merely a potential event, our liberties and democratic processes are in a state of collapse, and that Ike himself disastrously misinformed the citizenry when he claimed that the very monster he warned of had been "compelled" by the need for "defense."

Get your copy: http://MIC50.org

Occupy the Courts!

How Much Is an Earth, and Do You Have One in Extra Large?

A new book suggests that "It's the economy, stupid," may be more than political strategy; it may also be the key to environmental sustainability. The book is "Green Washed: Why We Can't Buy Our Way to a Green Planet," by Kendra Pierre-Louis. The argument developed is not just that the consumer choices of an individual won't save the planet without collective action, but also that the only collective action that will save us is abandoning the whole idea of consumer choices.

Informed Activist

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