You are hereBlogs / davidswanson's blog
Yet on September 1st, in a statement that's anything but out of the ordinary, the Daily Progress reported Charlottesville School Board Member Ned Michie's objection to a resolution in support of events celebrating the International Day of Peace:
"I'm all in favor of peace and non-violence," Michie said, "but, for instance… to the extent that any of the events are really sort of anti-war events, I'm not necessarily comfortable with supporting that."
It's a funny thing about peace and war: you really do have to choose between them. They don't mix any better than freedom and slavery. You can't favor peace without opposing war. In fact, you can't support peace without opposing the machinery that makes wars likely. And that machinery is all over Charlottesville, where it provides many local residents with jobs.
Nonetheless, job creation is something else you can't support without opposing what President Dwight Eisenhower 50 years ago warned of as the "military-industrial complex."
How can that be? Let me explain.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, like Jeanette Rankin before her, bravely stood alone in Congress against a vote for war, the vote in 2001 for the so-called Authorization to Use Military Force, a Constitutionally dubious passing of the war decision buck to President Bush and his successors. A majority of Americans now believes that the Afghanistan War that followed that authorization never should have been begun and should, in fact, be ended. So, the Congresswoman, along with initial cosponsors Jones, Woolsey, Grijalva, Conyers, and Honda, is offering us a second chance, a chance to get our response to 9-11 right, to restore war powers to the Congress, and to impose the will of the people on that body.
Congresswoman Lee has sent her colleagues this letter, which we should each send them ourselves by email, fax, phone, carrier pigeon, and by nailing it to their cathedral doors:
"Dear Colleague:"Please join me as an original cosponsor of the 'Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act of 2011.' This legislation repeals the joint resolution providing overly-broad authorization to the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those involved in attacking our nation and to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States."This broad authorization of force has had far-reaching implications which shake the very foundations of our great nation and democracy. It has been used to justify warrantless surveillance and wiretapping activities, indefinite detention practices that fly in the face of our constitutional values, extrajudicial targeted-killing operations, and an ever-growing and indefinite pursuit of an ill-defined enemy abroad."We must repeal this authorization for use of military force, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and re-focus our energy and efforts into those actions which truly improve our national security, including developing emerging economies and diplomatic efforts. Please join me as an original cosponsor of this legislation to remove this overly-broad blank check for war anytime, anywhere."For more information or to cosponsor this measure, please contact Teddy Miller in my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5.2661."Sincerely,
Member of Congress"
To repeal Public Law 107–40.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. LEE of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on _______
To repeal Public Law 107–40.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force’’.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDING.
Congress finds that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.
SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PUBLIC LAW 107–40.
Effective 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.
STOP THE WAR COALITION Newsletter No.1217 6 September 2011 Email email@example.com Tel: 020 7801 2768 Web: http://stopwar.org.uk Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition IN THIS NEWSLETTER: 1) 9/11 ANNIVERSARY: STATEMENT BY STOP THE WAR COALITION 2) TONY BENN: WHY I'LL BE IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE ON 8 OCTOBER 3) LIBYA, NATO AND THE ARAB SPRING: PUBLIC MEETING 4) BREAKING THE SILENCE AGAINST 10 YEARS OF WAR 5) LONDON ACTIVISTS MEETING: 8 SEPTEMBER 6) EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON AUSTERITY AND CUTS: 1 OCTOBER ********************************
Did you know that redirecting a fraction of our military spending to education, green energy, healthcare, and tax cuts would create a job for every unemployed or underemployed person in the country (including those losing war industry jobs during this conversion)? It's true.
Did you know we're fighting drone wars that create enemies by killing innocents, in large part because the CIA created a bureaucracy for drone wars and wants to use it? Now you do.
We've got a choice to make between the military industrial complex and our future. Experts from around the country will help us make it at this conference: http://MIC50.org
Why Register Now:
1. Only if you register ahead of time can you get food at the conference.
2. Only if you register ahead can you pay a discounted rate.
Everyone should pay only what they can afford, even if it's nothing! But you need to register!
3. Only if you register ahead can we best plan the conference and let you know how to get involved.
Here's a simple proposal. I'm sure it's too much to ask for, but I'm asking anyway. Let's set aside a single month, say the month of April, following each federal election, and for that single month behave like the citizens and elected officials of a normal representative republic.
Advisor to presidential candidates arrested:
Two Years Ago Obama Decided Not to Prosecute Torturers
Now We Get An Account of Why
By David Swanson
If you can think back all the way to January 2009, back when wars were ending, Guantanamo was closing, the Pentagon was getting oversight, employees were going to have free choice, the rich would start paying taxes, the air would be getting cleaner, and so forth, you'll recall that the Obama transition team was acting super populist and high-tech.
They had questions from ordinary people for the President Elect submitted on their website and voted up or down. The top question at the end of the voting had come from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and it was this:
"Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor - ideally Patrick Fitzgerald - to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?"
-Bob Fertik, New York City
No, not 29 million job offers. I'm no better at applying for jobs than you are, and my town offers nothing but dead-end McJobs or positions in the military industrial complex, just like yours. I mean I just spotted an easy way to create 29 million jobs, one for every unemployed or underemployed U.S. worker.
No, I'm not about to say "Just raise taxes on gazillionaires and hire people to build stuff." I'm all in favor of that, for lots of reasons, including the political corruption created by a concentration of wealth. We might have to disempower gazillionaires before we can enact any sensible policies, including the one I'm about to propose, but it can itself be done without raising a dime in revenue. This means that the President, who has broad, albeit unconstitutional, powers to move funding around from one program to another could do this himself. Or Congress could.
Last year I reviewed a book called "Apocalypse Never" that made a powerful case for our options being limited to two: either we get rid of nuclear weapons or humanity will be destroyed. I noted then a deep flaw in the case: the author accepted nuclear energy as something we could survive, focusing his opposition purely on nuclear weaponry.
A new film makes the additional case I was looking for. "Knocking on the Devil's Door: Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy" by Gary Null could not come at a better time. Not far from where I write this, a nuclear plant at Lake Anna was damaged in a recent earthquake. Whether the damage was severe or not -- this time -- is unclear.
Sigmund Freud once mentioned the defense offered by a man who was accused by his neighbor of having returned a kettle in a damaged condition. In the first place, he had returned the kettle undamaged; in the second place it already had holes in it when he borrowed it; and in the third place, he had never borrowed it at all.
That man's name?
On "Morning Joe" on MSNBC on Thursday, the former Vice President claimed that the intelligence used to invade Iraq had been sound and accurate; the faulty intelligence was all Bill Clinton's fault; the invasion didn't do any damage but rather it was the Iraqis who damaged Iraq; and any invasion causes horrific things to happen, that just comes with the territory.
It is difficult to watch this video without both crying and being inspired. Ashley Joppa-Hagemann recounts her husband's struggles before he killed himself to avoid an eighth or ninth tour in the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars. Ashley confronted Donald Rumsfeld last week over the lies that led her husband to enlist. This led to her appearing on Democracy Now on Tuesday and being featured in Amy Goodman's column:
"One person convinced by Rumsfeld’s rhetoric was Jared August Hagemann.
An upcoming Charlottesville conference highlights the importance of whistleblowers when addressing the corruption present in military contracting
YOU MAY have heard something about a budget crisis in Washington this summer. Were you aware that in the midst of it the House of Representatives passed a military spending bill larger than ever before?
U.S. military spending across numerous departments has increased dramatically during the past decade and now makes up about half of federal discretionary spending. Yet the Defense Department has not been fully audited in 20 years, and as of 2001 it could not account for $2.3 trillion out of the $10 trillion or so it had been given during that time. More recently, President Obama has been waging his “days, not weeks” war in Libya for months without a dime appropriated by Congress, relying instead on the loose change lying around at the Pentagon.
The United States could reduce its military spending by at least 80 percent and still be the world’s top military spender. If the purpose of all this profligacy were truly defensive, wouldn’t a military merely as large as any other country’s do the job? When little cuts around the edges were forced into the discussion, wouldn’t the top priorities for elimination be unpopular wars, foreign bases, nuclear weapons and space weapons rather than health care for veterans? If something shameful were not motivating our self-destructive imperial overreach, wouldn’t the wonders of market competition be given a chance, instead of the current practice of handing out cost-plus contracts to cronies for jobs they are never expected to complete?
Alan Grayson says "This is a textbook for a college-level course on what it means to be a thinking, feeling American. I recommend it to everyone with a head and heart."
He's talking about this book: http://planamerica.org It's called "Fix America! How Each of Us Can Help All of Us."
I'm proud to have contributed two chapters to it, but even gladder to have read it. What a wealth of information and inspiration. This is a collection of the best recent blogging from the perspective of some truly progressive editors looking for guidance in how we should be thinking, talking, strategizing, and organizing. Contributors include friends of mine, authors I knew I'd benefit from, and others relatively new to me.
They include: Robert Abston, Linda Beale, Beth Becker, Denis Campbell, Cory Doctorow, Barry Eisler, Al Franken, Joshua Holland, Karoli Kuns, George Lakoff, Jon Nichols, Matt Osborne, Ralph Paine, Lee Papa, Robert Pollin, Kenneth Quinnell, Jennie Rigg, Coleen Rowley, Linda Salter, Richard Spisak Jr., The Punk Patriot, Joan Walsh, and Cassandra Vert.
Cassandra Vert edited the book along with Abston and Spisak, and Vert contributed the greatest number of chapters, each of them extremely informative and inspiring. True to the name Cassandra, Vert predicts the future. But she predicts multiple possible futures, depending on what actions we choose to take. I'm hoping that this Cassandra is listened to.
A coalition of community organizers, peace activists, left, liberal, progressive groupsand supporting organizations are calling on volunteers to join them October 6, 2011, for an "occupation" of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C.
U.S.author, blogger, and activist David Swanson says the event is being organized to take over Freedom Plaza to "nonviolently resist what our government is doing."
Swanson told Press TV's U.S. Desk on Monday that "we are going to occupy Freedom Plaza in the middle of Washington D.C., the name of which is very similar of course to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, and from there we are going to expand to shut down offices, buildings, streets, hallways, to nonviolently, strictly nonviolently resist what our government is doing."
This was forwarded to me by a trusted friend from another trusted friend who spoke with someone whose neighbor's daughter works at North Anna, the nuclear plant in Virginia, not far from last week's earthquake.
No, that's not three confirmed sources, but I am writing a book, working jobs, and organizing a conference. Take the following for what it's worth, and please do the reporting.
"During the quake the administration building buckled. White steam began pouring our of the stacks. There is chaos at the power station. __________ said that two NY Times reporters are investigating - ________ and ____________. He wants to get a Geiger counter and take readings near the plant. He also said that when they were first building the plant some W & M professors told them it was not safe to build it on the fault. I will let you know what else I hear."
Our current wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia, and our smaller military operations in over 100 other countries are part of what President Eisenhower warned of 50 years ago in speaking of the Military Industrial Complex. We spend over half our federal budget on the military. We could cut it by 85% and still have the world's largest. No nation has tried anything like this before, and it's not clear we can survive it. We're shortchanging everything else to fund wars and overseas bases that make us less safe. There's a crisis in our towns, but in the midst of a phony budget crisis in Washington, the House passed the largest military budget ever. It's time for us to rein in the military insustrial complex after 50 years. If you go to MIC50 dot org you can sign up for a conference in Charlottesville that will host over 20 prominent speakers from around the country. MIC50 dot org. That's M I C five zero dot org. See you there. Peace.
While the evidence suggests that President Obama is not terribly bright and has just benefited from succeeding a downright moron, and while voluminous evidence to which I am privileged suggests that my 9-year-old niece Hallie is extremely intelligent, consider just this one way in which Hallie would make a wiser president than Barack.
Infants live in the moment, and toddlers can't plan much beyond the next day or so, but as we grow we become able to consider longer periods of time. Obama seems able to manage consideration of the next funding cycle, for example. Hallie seems to do considerably better than that:
"August 28, 2011
"President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
"Dear President Obama,
"Shrinking government" in American political discourse has, for decades now, meant the following. We enlarge the government's budget through taxation and penalties on working people and through borrowing and printing money. We not only tax the wealthy and corporations less, but we massively subsidize them with public funds. We move away from taxes and fees meant to limit the damage greed can do to the world, and we defund regulation of and law enforcement against the oligarchy. We transfer an ever greater share of the budget to the military. We expand the domestic and international surveillance-police states while merging the two. This, again, we call "shrinking government."
If Snoopy had ever pointed out to Charlie Brown that Lucy was just going to yank the football away again at the last second, Charlie would have only heard barking.
I hope all the good people chattering away about how cutting Social Security would be political suicide, and therefore won't happen, can hear more than barking in the following.
In the best case scenario, and least likely outcome, the Super Congress will fail to produce a plan or to pass one through the actual Congress. In that case, the backup disaster plan will kick in and deem itself passed automatically. Those who had voted against setting up this deal will claim innocence. The others will claim that their only other choice had been Armageddon.
The Military Industrial Complex at 50 is adding speakers and participants.
The lowest rate for registering ends September 1st, so register now:
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Mr. Naiman edits the Just Foreign Policy daily news summary and writes on U.S. foreign policy at Huffington Post. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East.
Dave Norris is the Mayor of Charlottesville. He was the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge until June 2011. Norris has been employed as Executive Director of PACEM, the Associate Director of Madison House, the Interim Director of PHAR (the Public Housing Association of Residents, and the former Chairman of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
David Swanson, author of War is a Lie, discusses “The Military Industrial Complex at 50” national conference in Charlottesville, VA from September 16-18; the paltry defense spending cuts decried by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as a “doomsday mechanism” that will endanger national security; how Swanson helped turn former Congressman Bill Delahunt against the wars; and Paul Krugman’s half-serious plan to boost the economy by preparing for an alien invasion.
MP3 here. (12:54)
David Swanson is Co-Founder of WarIsACrime.org (formerly After Downing Street), creator of ProsecuteBushCheney.org, Washington Director of Democrats.com and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, the Backbone Campaign, Voters for Peace and the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution. He was the press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and worked three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call "Secretary of War," makes a weak case. Panetta considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget. But consider the budger from which that is to be cut. It includes, each year, about $545 billion for the "base" military budget, at least $200 billion extra each year for wars (Panetta uses Afghanistan and Libya as reasons not to cut spending, and Congress has never yet appropriated a dime for Libya), $71 billion for "Homeland" security, $19 billion for nuclear weapons, $8 billion for a miscellaneous Pentagon slush fund, $53 billion (that we know of) for spying and secret operations agencies, $129 billion for veterans, $18 billion for military "aid" and other foreign affairs, $68 billion for pensions, $185 billion for debt interest, and additional major budgets for the State Department and U.S.A.I.D. (Panetta has also cited the State Dept. as a concern.)
In other words, we're talking about subtracting $35 billion from well over a trillion. That's a cut of less than 3.5 percent.
China spends about $114 billion per year on its military. No other nation spends anything remotely close to that. Let's generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China's budget to double it to $228 billion. And let's assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because . . . well, just because we're we and they're they. Now we're at $456 billion. How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as "doomsday"? Is the danger here really and truly to the people of this country? Or is it the threat to the profits of the weapons makers that has Panetta panicking? Does that motivation also explain the Pentagon's desire to cut benefits to troops rather than weaponry?
Former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism Richard Clarke suggests that former CIA Director George Tenet blocked the sharing of information within the government on two members of al Qaeda in the United States, information that Clarke believes could have prevented 911. The CIA admits it knew about the two future hijackers but claims the Director was not informed.
"In early 2000, a number of more junior personnel (including FBI agents on detail to CIA) did see travel information on individuals who later became hijackers but the significance of the data was not adequately recognized at the time."