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Brilliant and humane playwright Karen Malpede has produced another play that grabs this country by the lapels, shakes it, caresses its cheek, and kicks its ass. The play is called "Another Life" and the life it leaves me thinking about is the life of our dreams.
The play is not so much a national nightmare or a national fantasy as a surreal reproduction of the mixture of horrors and hopes that most dreaming is: the most gruesome and graphic and taboo of our collective fears without exactly the fear itself, the deepest of longings and desires in immediate and mundane form but recognizable as revelations upon awakened reflection.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has declared that other nations are doing a better job of propagandizing the world and that the United States needs to do more. However, we already invest far more in foreign propaganda than in domestic public media, and virtually nothing in domestic media trust busting. The distinction between our domestic and foreign public media is part of what makes them both so weak in credibility (the other part is the size of the lies they tell), and Bob McChesney is right that we should invest in public media at home that actually reports on the U.S. government as on all others, and then share that abroad (if we actually want to model democracy rather than peddle a load of lies).
I'm already straining to stomach the "we gave them democracy" BS as the Iraqi government murders pro-democracy demonstrators, when somebody sends me an Email reading:
This is to inform that Hezbollah Brigades- Iraq have recently launched several attacks against US occupiers mainly in Baghdad and Basra. Here is a quote of their Press Release documenting their attacks and targets. Links of operations' videos are provided beneath. [omitting Arabic text]
Then it has links to four videos of vehicles getting blown up:
I don't know when or where these were made, but I continue to know these many years later how to decisively prevent an occupying army from getting attacked: BRING EM HOME!
People are doing journalism and the Washington Post is pissed. How to respond? Apparently the answer arrived at by Post editors is to just give up on any Americans who have been informing themselves and target those Americans who believe anything that super important people say. How else to explain an op-ed full of documented lies and published last Friday over the byline of two Democratic senators, Carl Levin and Jack Reed?
Statistically speaking, virtually nobody in the United States of America knows that we spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined, that we could eliminate most of our military and still have the world's largest, that over half of the money our government raises from income taxes and borrowing gets spent on the military, that our wars (outrageously costly as they may be) cost far less than the permanent non-war military budget, or that most of the financial woes of the federal and state governments could be solved just by ending a war in Afghanistan that two-thirds of Americans oppose.
UPDATE: new pie chart.
Sweden banned censorship and guaranteed free speech in 1766, 10 years before the Declaration of Independence in the American British colonies, and -- apart from shameful episodes of caving in to dictatorships and Nazis -- has pretty well kept it in place.
Sweden banned the death penalty and has not used it since 1910.
Now, Sweden has an opportunity to punish the speech of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee with the death penalty by extraditing Julian Assange to the United States to be put on trial.
Dear Sweden, what will you do? You've led the way toward civility. You've banned not only the death penalty but violence up to and including spanking. You gave refuge to Denmark's Jews. You gave birth to my grandfather. Usually I look to you for leadership.
That may sound funny to you, coming from a citizen and resident of a nation with more weapons than the rest of the world combined. But I said leadership, not insanely sadistic militarism.
There's a video available online that has created quite a scandal this week. It shows a fashion designer in Paris telling someone he loves Hitler and that their mothers and forefathers would have all been gassed to death.
I think the staying power of Hitlerian madness is more easily understood when we properly understand that Hitler and the Nazis didn't invent it out of whole cloth but built on a deep tradition that had long dominated European and U.S. culture. I wrote about U.S. influences on Hitler in "War Is A Lie." Another book that should be required reading is "Exterminate the Brutes," by Sven Lindqvist.
Many discussions of lies that launch wars quickly come around to the question "Well then why did they want the war?" There is usually more than one single motive involved, but the motives are not terribly hard to find.
Unlike many soldiers who have been lied to, most of the key war deciders, the masters of war who determine whether or not wars happen, do not in any sense have noble motives for what they do. Though noble motives can be found in the reasoning of some of those involved, even in some of those at the highest levels of decision making, it is very doubtful that such noble intentions alone would ever generate wars.
Ilya Sheyman needs our support to make a run for Congress in Illinois' 10th District
He says he would vote against any war funding, with this exception: "I'd only vote for a fully-funded withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan."
By David Swanson
Remarks in Boca Raton, Fla., February 26, 2011
I really want to thank Nancy Parker and everyone who helped put this event together. I would have come just to hear the other two speakers. I've learned a lot from Sandy Davies and consider his book required reading for all Americans. And it's an honor to speak together with Ben Ferencz who has been advancing the rule of law since the age when -- more so than not -- the United States was a proponent of international justice.
Today's Palm Beach Post's article about Mr. Ferencz and this event begins with this sentence:
"War is such a widespread force in the world that the very idea of treating it as a crime seems both radical and quaint."
Pick up a copy of a 1040EZ US income tax form with all the instructions, particularly pages 36-37. Here are those two pages in a PDF. You'll discover that the U.S. government only spends 22% of its money on "National defense, veterans, and foreign affairs." The form admits that you could leave out the "foreign affairs" part and still be at 21%.
However, take a look now at the pie chart created by the War Resisters League, which shows 54% of the budget going to the military.
21% and 54% aren't even close to each other. This is not "good enough for government work." This is our money. What gives?
Here's her website. She's not asking for money yet, but is asking people to sign up and keep informed. She won't spam you. You will want to know what she's doing. Please sign up now!
What: Winograd to Kick Off Campaign for Harman's Vacated Seat
When: Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 am
Where: In front of Fox Drug of Torrance (Old Town), 1327 El Prado, Torrance, 90501
Marcy Winograd, a veteran high school teacher and anti-war activist, will announce her candidacy in the June Special Election in California's 36th congressional district race.
In the recent June, 2010, Democratic Party primary, Winograd received 41% of the vote against now-resigning representative Jane Harman.
Says Winograd, "Our platform, then and now, is Jobs, Not Wars. Each week we spend 2-billion taxpayer dollars on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, while people at home are suffering without adequate jobs, housing, or health care. In Congress, I will fight to put people back to work in productive ways and to protect our social safety net from corporate greed and war profiteering."
Winograd adds, "Now is the time to join the international call for greater democracy, and to restore the people's voice to the people's House."
The founder of Progressive Democrats of America's Los Angeles chapter, Winograd calls herself "the true progressive" in the race.
An educator for fifteen years, Winograd teaches English at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, where she engages her students in civics, journalism, and debate.
Says Winograd, "I am not a career politician, jumping ship in search of a better opportunity. I am a long-time community organizer, rooted in the labor and peace movements. I am here to serve."
Anti-War Activist Enters California Special Election
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Marcy Winograd, an anti-war activist, will join the special election race for California’s 36th district Saturday in Torrance, toward the southern end of the coastal, Los Angeles-area district.
In 2010, Winograd held Rep. Jane Harman to just 59 percent in the Democratic primary. Harman will resign her seat Monday to take over a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Winograd enters a crowded primary field that includes Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D), California Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) and Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb (R). A handful of other Democrats are expected to run as well.
The top two finishers in the all-party primary will advance to the general. Gov. Jerry Brown has two weeks from Monday to set the date for the special election.
Founder of the Los Angeles chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America, Winograd teaches English at Crenshaw High School in South Central Los Angeles.
In a press release, Winograd said her platform would focus on shifting the billions of dollars spent on the military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to domestic issues that need more funding. “In Congress, I will fight to put people back to work in productive ways and to protect our social safety net from corporate greed and war profiteering,” she said.
“I am not a career politician, jumping ship in search of a better opportunity,” Winograd said. “I am a long-time community organizer, rooted in the labor and peace movements. I am here to serve.”
2.24.11 Best-selling author and political analyst David Swanson joins Coy for an extended conversation about the events in Wisconsin. Swanson breaks down the comments made by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during the recent prank call by an imposter claiming to be well known philanthropist and political advocate David Koch. He also addresses the idea of a “class war” which we may or may not be witnessing in the Packer state. Finally, the two discuss the movement right here in Charlottesville to give UVA employees a “living wage.” Be sure to check out his most recent book War is a Lie.
The idea that wars are waged out of humanitarian concern may not at first appear even worthy of response. Wars kill humans. What can be humanitarian about that? But look at the sort of rhetoric that successfully sells new wars:
"This conflict started Aug. 2, when the dictator of Iraq invaded a small and helpless neighbor. Kuwait, a member of the Arab League and a member of the United Nations, was crushed, its people brutalized. Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait; tonight, the battle has been joined."
Thus spoke President Bush the Elder upon launching the Gulf War in 1991. He didn't say he wanted to kill people. He said he wanted to liberate helpless victims from their oppressors, an idea that would be considered leftist in domestic politics, but an idea that seems to create genuine support for wars. And here's President Clinton speaking about Yugoslavia eight years later:
In the Great Law. Supposedly. The thing is, I can't find the text online. How GREAT can that law really be? Can anybody find it?
That was the argument made in a U.S. bestseller in 2009 written by a WWII historian whose father had raised the US flag on Iwo Jima. And the Roosevelt he had in mind was Teddy, not Franklin.
Needless to say, although countless people will say it quite angrily in my Email inbox in response to this article, you cannot simply blame an event on actions that occurred years before. A war is started by the people who start that war, in that instant, and there is no way for them to wiggle out of that responsibility. But, as everyone is eager to recognize when the context is more comfortable, all actions have consequences, and those consequences have further consequences. (As a warning that may further temper the vitriol, I would like to point out that Teddy was not a Democrat.)
2.21.11 Best-selling author David Swanson joins Coy to discuss the labor unrest in Wisconsin. Be sure to check out his most recent book War is a Lie.
Michael Nagler tells this story:
UPDATE: Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor from the World War II Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and founding father of the International Criminal Court, will make an important statement on U.S. foreign policy at an event with David Swanson and Sandy Davies in Boca Raton on Feb. 26, 2011.
David Swanson and Nicolas "Sandy" Davies in South Florida on Feb. 26, 2011
David Swanson will discuss and sign copies of "War Is A Lie".
Sandy Davies will discuss and sign copies of "Blood on Our Hands".
3-5 p.m. Saturday, February 26, 2011
Saint Andrews Estates South Auditorium
6045 Verde Trail South
Boca Raton, FL 33433
PLEASE RSVP to nparker0511 at gmail dot com
Sponsored by Progressive Democrats of America
"While most media continue to ignore the US-installed disaster in Iraq, author Nicolas Davies refuses to do so, and his book 'Blood on our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq' could not be released at a better time. This sweeping work covers US policy in Iraq that spans decades, and is written as a call to action for the US to begin following international law—not just in Iraq, but everywhere. For it was the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq that, more than perhaps anything else, continues to defile what is left of the tattered reputation of the US." -Dahr Jamail
"David Swanson’s War Is A Lie may be the most comprehensive antiwar statement available in the English language." — Kevin Young
"Not since General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket has a simpler, more brilliant, or truer book been published." — Geoffrey Millard
“David Swanson despises war and lying, and unmasks them both with rare intelligence. I learn something new on every page.” — Jeff Cohen
When a satirist published a phony U.S. government report in 1967 that recommended against allowing peace to ever break out, most people seemed to fall for the prank. Members of the news media were either in on the joke or victims. The copy I have is marked up with a yellow highlighter by someone who grew angrier and angrier through the book's pages. Toward the end, when the authors of the "report" advocated reviving slavery, the previous owner of my copy scrawled "BULL SHIT" in all caps across two pages.
This will be a familiar experience to anyone who has ever used both Twitter and sarcasm. No matter how outrageous the joke, there are those who will take it seriously and who will insist on taking it seriously even after having been let in on the joke. Thus the "Report From Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace" still has believers in its authenticity despite being an obvious prank.
Speaking of Sex: An interview with Christopher Ryan
The psychologist and co-author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality looks at what the evidence says about humans’ “natural” state.
SPECIAL BOOK EXCERPT: War is A Lie
“There has probably never been a war that hasn’t been explained as an absolutely necessary, inevitable, and unavoidable last resort.”
Making Friends in High Places
Three American peace activists meet their young Afghani counterparts.
From THE HUMANIST
If Bradley Manning turns out to be the hero he appears to be, he will not be the first "detained" at Quantico.
In fact, Quantico once locked up the most decorated Marine in history, a Marine who would have been running the Marine Corps rather than getting locked up by it if he had known how to brown-nose the swivel-chair commanders as he called them, a Marine who had helped create Quantico years before, the first senior officer in the U.S. military to be arrested in the 65 years following the Civil War, and a serious fearless principled democratic hero whose heroism had nothing to do with the nasty tasks he took on as a U.S. Marine.
And do you know what they locked him up for? For revealing that Benito Mussolini had run a little girl over in his car and not even stopped.
Also on CounterSpin today, public interest groups and media activists of all stripes lined up to oppose the Comcast-NBC merger. And among the coalition of anti-merger activists was... Bloomberg, the media company owned by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. So what did they want? And did they get it? Journalist Aram Roston took a look at Bloomberg's media policy activism in a new piece for the Nation magazine. He'll join us to talk about it.
Video: Bread and Puppets Circus Explains Everything - With Music, Magic, and Headless People on Stilts
The U.S. Economy:
Bread and Puppets Circus
Random Row Bookstore
Feb 17, 2011
Video by David Swanson
In the wake of WMD-liar Curveball's videotaped confession, Colin Powell is demanding to know why nobody warned him about Curveball's unreliability. The trouble is, they did.
Can you imagine having an opportunity to address the United Nations Security Council about a matter of great global importance, with all the world's media watching, and using it to… well, to make shit up – to lie with a straight face, and with a CIA director propped up behind you, I mean to spew one world-class, for-the-record-books stream of bull, to utter nary a breath without a couple of whoppers in it, and to look like you really mean it all? What gall. What an insult to the entire world that would be.
Colin Powell doesn't have to imagine such a thing. He has to live with it. He did it on February 5, 2003. It's on videotape.
As we approach the 8th anniversary of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, and having just passed the 20th anniversary of another, it's worth reflecting on what's been accomplished through two wars and the intervening sanctions that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright so famously approved of even at the cost of a half million children's lives.