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How do you get politicians living off legalized bribery to criminalize bribery? How do you persuade the corporate media to report on the interests of flesh-and-blood, non-corporate people? How do you take over a political party when the only other one allowed to compete is worse? These are not koans, but actual problems with a single solution.
It might seem like there are a million solutions: pass state-level clean election laws, build independent media, build a new party, etc. But the fundamental answer is that when the deck is stacked against you, you insist on a new deck. Power, as Frederick Douglas told us, concedes nothing without a demand. We cannot legislate our way out of plutocracy. Instead, we the people must seize power.
In the wake of the latest revelations of what everyone always knew, the largest press conference in the history of the United States has been planned for tomorrow in the Nationals Park baseball stadium in Washington, D.C. The powerful people lining up to apologize for having claimed the ongoing War on Iraq has had nothing to do with oil were deemed too numerous to gather in any indoor facility.
Former Congressman David Obey, who screamed at Congressman Dennis Kucinich in a Democratic caucus meeting for suggesting that oil might be one factor in the war, is currenly on a plane back to Washington to MC the mass apology. The line-up includes each major television, radio, and print news outlet in the United States. Select commentators, columnists, cartoonists, and talking heads of all varieties will represent each organization apologizing.
A year ago BP began filling the Gulf of Mexico with oil.
Last week BP blocked a woman from entering its annual meeting.
Which will prove the bigger mistake?
BP may have chosen the right country to hit with the worst oil disaster in world history. If there's any population that will take seeing its land and water destroyed for corporate profit lying down, it's got to be us. We're split between gratitude and indifference: should we thank BP or just stay out of its way?
Review of "Honor For Us: A Philosophical Analysis, Interpretation, and Defense" By William Lad Sessions, Continuum.
William Lad Sessions is a philosophy professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I was once a philosophy student at the University of Virginia. Both schools have honor codes for their students. I experienced UVA's honor code as one of the most thrilling discoveries of my life. W&L's has inspired Sessions to write a book.
Before Tahrir Square happened almost nobody predicted that President Hosni Mubarak would be forced out of office by a movement that didn't pick up a gun. Had President Barack Obama expected that outcome, he might have publicly backed Mubarak's departure before, rather than after, Mubarak stepped down.
Obama can be seen as overcompensating for that performance in Libya, but there he is placing faith in weapons. Anybody can do that. Egypt still has a long way to go on its path to a just society. But the question of whether Tunisian-Egyptian movements will find success elsewhere is the question of whether people can take the far more challenging step of placing trust in nonviolence.
On Friday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, congress members spoke in defense of Medicare, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other programs that by almost anyone's definition are socialist, programs that were denounced as socialist by opponents of their passage in decades past, programs that would not have been created without the efforts of socialists and the Socialist Party.
I like this article at the Examiner, except for all the military advertisements on the page.
On Wednesday, President Obama gave a speech about the greatest danger facing us. Wars? Environmental collapse? Joblessness? Homelessness? No, the federal deficit. With two years left on the job, Obama proposed a 12-year plan to fix the deficit that won't fix the deficit. And how did he propose to fail at this misbegotten task? The President proposed to end no wars, make no serious cuts to the military, tax no estates or investments, raise no taxes on any billionaires, REDUCE corporate taxes, and give an unelected commission the power to slash Medicare.
This catastrophic class-war on behalf of the war profiteers has "progressives" cheering and collapsing with adoration, because Obama spent half the speech denouncing the Republicans' budget plan. But if you set aside the rhetoric and look at Obama's plan, a different reaction is likely. Step one, he said, is to slash away at domestic spending.
Step two, is to keep increasing military spending until it destroys us all. Obama claimed to have already cut $400 billion from the Pentagon and to want to do so again. But he has increased the Pentagon budget every year, and the $400 billion cut from one place has been more than wasted in another. His plan is not to reduce the Pentagon's budget by a dime.
Step three in Obama's plan is to give an independent commission the power to start killing off ("improving") Medicare. For step four, Obama promised not to renew the Bush tax cuts for billionaires again. But he made that promise before and broke it. Shouldn't the cheering wait until he keeps it this time? Obama added this delicate touch to his vague and almost vacuous plan:
"And as I called for in the State of the Union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive."
Here's what Obama said in that State of the Union:
"So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years."
At least until this speech informed them of their children's hopeless future on the unchanging path of militarism, people were beginning to talk, just in recent weeks, about the need to challenge Obama. The only real solution will be turning DC's Freedom Plaza into Tahrir Square and shutting this machine down. But a first step is publicly committing to not support Obama as long as he works for the war machine.
Obama's speech on the deficit on Wednesday was a flop. He proposed to end no wars, make no serious cuts to the military, REDUCE corporate taxes, tax no estates or investments, raise no taxes on any billionaires, and give an unelected commission the power to slash Medicare.
Obama began by blaming tax cuts, wars, and healthcare:
Spain is pursuing a case against former top U.S. officials who authorized the use of torture, including David Addington, Jay Bybee, Douglas Feith, William Haynes, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. U.S. activist groups have been encouraging Spain in this endeavor.
You would be doing more good with your hard earned pay.
Written for the forthcoming collection, "Why Peace?"
More than any other description, except for perhaps husband and father, I have been for the past six years a peace activist. Yet, I hesitate on the question of how to tell my personal story of experience with war. I recently visited Afghanistan briefly, in order to speak with people who have experienced war. I've spoken with many U.S. soldiers and non-U.S. victims of war. But I have no experience of war. Being in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, doesn't change that; by the time a crime had been transformed into a war, the war had been moved elsewhere.
Tuesday marks 150 years since the start of the U.S. Civil War. Newspapers everywhere are proclaiming it the deadliest war in U.S. history, the costliest U.S. war in terms of the loss of human life. That claim, like most things we say about the Civil War, is false.
Most humans, it will surprise our newspapers to learn, are not U.S. citizens. World War II killed 100 times as many people as the U.S. Civil War, with World War I not far behind. U.S. wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq are among those that have killed far more human beings than the Civil War killed.
The South, we're told, merely wanted to be independent; slavery had nothing to do with it. Of course, this is nonsense. The South wanted to be independent in order to maintain slavery.
In an electoral system corrupted by money, media, and parties, the U.S. people are offered a choice every four years between two hideously awful candidates for an office that increasingly resembles an imperial throne. And increasingly the primary motivation of voters is to oppose the candidate they believe is the greater evil.
By David Swanson, Truthout
Kabul, Afghanistan - The United States, on the verge of shutting down its own government for lack of funds, just forked over another $50 million for a peace jirga (or council) to negotiate peace in Afghanistan or at least sponsor an upcoming conference in the United Arab Emirates and - perhaps more so - bribe Taliban fighters to temporarily stop fighting.
In the good old days of Bybee and Yoo, before we let them get away with it, thereby guaranteeing worse things to come, Justice Department memos "legalizing" the crime of aggressive war were secret. Now they're published quickly, and there's a new one out on Libya (PDF). It begins:
"The President had the constitutional authority to direct the use of military force in Libya because
he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest. Prior congressional approval was not constitutionally required to use military force in the limited operations under consideration. April 1, 2011."
April Fools! Ha Ha! They had me going.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- I joined a delegation of Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers for a meeting with interested professors at a private university in Kabul on Wednesday.
After a presentation from our side, the professors each spoke in turn. Unlike some previous meetings, there were no real denunciations of the very idea of peace. But the first professor to speak, the ony woman in the group, explained how horrible the wars of the past 40 years had been, all of which she blamed -- reasonably enough -- on the United States. During the civil war, she said, nine groups divided up and fought over Kabul. Not a living thing could be seen in the streets. So, people welcomed the Taliban for security even if they had to give up schools. They were focused on living through the night. She wanted peace, but would simply not stand for any negotiating with the Taliban.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- I've been fortunate to meet some very talented photographers and film-makers here in Afghanistan. We're planning an Afghan Film Festival for the United States this fall.
One film director Sahraa Karimi has produced an engaging and illuminating documentary called "Afghan Women Behind the Wheel." When she told me the title with a bit of an accent, I thought the last word was "Veil." It could almost as well have been. The film is about the limited rights and options of women in a country that is not just poor and war-ravaged, but in which many men passionately believe women to be inferior.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Afghanistan is full of wonderful people and could be a really terrific place to live. But first my government back home in the United States would have to stop murdering civilians over here.
I can't join in antiwar rallies over here, where I would be happy to speak against the crimes of my own government, because it's not considered safe for foreigners, especially Americans, to go near such scenes. Why? Well, imagine if this were happening in the United States and a citizen of the nation responsible were to come visiting:
A definite pattern has been established of killing civilians from the air and on the ground.
The United States has made clear its intention to continue and escalate this behavior.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- In honor of April 4, 1967, and April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out against war and when he was killed, I spent my first full day in Afghanistan on April 4, 2011, avoiding violence and discussing nonviolent activism with those practicing it here.
The previous night I had spoken with a number of foreign aid and development workers here in Kabul, all of whom were upset, both at Afghans who in recent days had killed workers like themselves and at a preacher in Florida whose burning of a Koran had enraged Taliban types from a safe distance. Attacks in multiple cities on April 1st and 2nd looked planned and coordinated. April 3rd saw a nonviolent protest in Jalalabad, where Badshah Khan, the great nonviolence leader of the past century, is buried.
DUBAI, UAE -- I was on my way to Afghanistan and have delayed the final leg of the trip a day to see whether being American is compatible with not getting blown up. The problem seems to be that, in addition to the U.S. military occupying the country for almost a decade and routinely murdering random innocent people, some bigoted jerk in Florida is creating a big stink about how much he hates Islam and enjoys burning copies of the Koran.
The Koran-burning preacher claims that he's just burned a book, not killed anyone. Of course, nothing excuses those who actually engage in killing, no matter what inspired their rage. But the preacher hasn't just burned a book. He's preached hatred. He's added deep insult to injury. The results were predictable, or at the very least are predictable now, while he shows no sign of relenting.
So President Obama has been quoted calling his war in Libya a turd sandwich, while Juan Cole calls it philanthropy, and Ed Schultz praises it as vengeance against this month's Adolph Hitler. The last time we bombed this particular Hitler we took out his daughter, among other people.
How is Schultz's spitting mad hatred as war justification squared with Cole's humanitarian generosity? The answer is easy. They prefer different condiments on their turd sandwiches. Which is why wars are always packaged in multiple and mutually contradictory propaganda campaigns.
From Black Agenda Radio
Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, at Champaign, says the U.S. is involved in an “all-out war” of “plunder and aggression” in Libya. “This is the first major outright power grab by the United States and the major colonial, imperial powers against Africa in the 21st century," says Boyle.
“Humanitarian” Bombing Bogus
David Swanson, peace activist and publisher of the we site “War Is A Crime,” says President Obama’s claims that “humanitarian” motivation is nonsense. “If there were an Obama doctrine that said: Where there is a humanitarian crisis, we’re going to go bomb people, we’d be bombing our own puppet dictators.”
Western Military Occupation Likely
“When the U.S. invades another country, which happens frequently, we generally leave U.S. military bases there,” says Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, in San Diego. “The countries who are bombing Libya don’t really know who the opposition is,” says Cohn. “It could be al Qaida.”
Whose Interests Are Served?
Ali Ahmida, an historian of Libya and chairman of the political science department at the University of New England, is generally sympathetic to the rebels. But, he worries that the revolt could be “hijacked for other people’s agendas.”
Obama’s Haiti Policy is “Deeply Cynical”
Haiti’s recent presidential elections, which offered a choice of only two rightwing candidates and for which only about a quarter of the population turned out, will produce a government that has “absolutely no constitutional or popular credibility.” Brian Concannon, Jr., of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, calls President Obama’s claim that the U.S. is bringing democracy to Haiti is “deeply cynical.”
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 4:00pm ET on PRN. Length: One hour.
President Obama on Monday said he would "never hesitate" to use the U.S. military "unilaterally" to defend "interests" and "values," including "maintaining the flow of commerce." Fear of exactly that led the founders of this republic to give Congress the exclusive power to declare war. James Madison did not believe any single individual could be trusted with such power:
"The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast, ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."