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Charlottesville, Va., Mayor Dave Norris Praises Antiwar Resolution

Charlottesville, Va., Mayor Dave Norris was the first mayor, after the original sponsor, to sign onto the antiwar resolution that was passed on Monday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He signed on immediately upon being invited to. Those early names are the hardest and help encourage others to add their own.

Norris planned to hold a news conference Monday afternoon (video to come) but gave me permission to go ahead and release his statement:

How the Mayors Debated and Passed an Antiwar Resolution

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has just done something it hasn't done since Vietnam, passing a resolution that supports efforts to speed up the ending of our current wars and calls on the President and Congress to "bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs."

Here's a page that organized this: http://www.wardollarshome.org

Activist groups are already taking the opportunity to ask Congress and the President to finally listen to what has, after all, been majority public opinion for a long time.

LiveBlogging US Conference of Mayors Debate on Bring the War $ Home Resolution

Here's the resolution's key language:

"NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. Congress to bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy."

This resolution could have passed in a batch of resolutions without debate, but Mayor Pete Lewis of Auburn, WA, asked that it be pulled, resulting in a debate and vote individually on this resolution.

Lewis expressed horror that such a resolution might have been passed during Vietnam or other previous wars - What would have happened?! But the US Conference of Mayors did pass a resolution in 1971 urging that the US military get out of Vietnam.

11:15 a.m. The US Conference of Mayors is clearly incapable of running a PTA meeting. After this stunning display of incompetence, taking half the morning to do literally nothing, it may do something useful.

11:16 Now the antiwar resolution is up. Pete Lewis speaks first. "I live in a military state." As opposed to WHAT? "Making political statements in this forum about the war I do not believe is proper." He equates this with bashing Vietnam veterans, even as claiming to support the redirection of the funding.

11:18 Another mayor does not introduce himself, but points out the resolution that was passed during Vietnam. He calls this resolution "rather temperate" as it "does not call for an immediate withdrawal." He was Mayor Soglin of Madison, WI.

11:21 Mayor John Dickert of Racine WI mentions meeting with Mayor of Kabul (actual mayor of Kabul, not Karzai) and mentions horrible state of US infrastructure and its low rating. He wants troops cared for at home and resolution passed.

11:23 Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City says the whole topic [of where over half our $$ go] should be ignored and avoided, says the resolution is divisive and not appropriately bipartisan, says Congress should not be "singled out."

11:26 Mayor Randy Hayes of Pendleton SC is from a military city (as opposed to WHAT?). But he thinks the resolution is very restrained and really beyond debate and should be passed. He thinks mayors all actually agree on the substance of the resolution.

11:28 Mayor Craig Lowe of Gainesville FL says this is a resolution that supports troops by trying to bring them home, this is the only resolution anyone has urged him to vote for, and Vietnam veterans have urged him to vote for it. Vote our consciences, he says.

11:31 Mayor Robert G. Sabonjian of Waukegan, IL, says the US military is the biggest organization in the world and out of control, and could control costs if it chose. He sees nothing denigrating to troops or aiding of the enemy in this admirable resolution. The military is full of waste which needs to be called out and be attacked. This money could help fund the educations and healthcare of the families of the troops sent over there.

11:33 Mayor Joy Cooper of Hallandale Beach, FL, says all city budgets have been cut. This resolution is not against troops but in favor of proper spending of money. We need infrastructure, schools, roadways. She supports the resolution and urges others to.

11:34 Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, AZ, says the headlines in the news will be "Mayors Try to End Wars" even if the resolution is actually about the redirection of spending.

11:37 Mayor Raul Salinas of Laredo, TX, wants a "Support Our Troops Unconditionally" amendment.

11:38 Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, CA, reads the text of an amendment that was offered in committee that apparently failed in committee. What he read "supported" troops and also urged that withdrawal be done in a manner not to "destabilize".

Two whereas clauses are added by the amendment. Roughly, they are:

Whereas every member of USCM and the Americans they rep support our brave men and women in uniform and their families. [EVERY AMERICAN WHO LIVES IN A CITY??? ME???]

Whereas the drawdown of troops should be done in a measured way that does not destabilize the region and can accelerate the transfer of regional authority to local authorities.

11:41 Another mayor claims, and Villaraigosa admits he was just informed, the amendment was not offered in committee.

11:41 Mayor Brown of Knoxville TN says he is a Vietnam vet and supports the amendment.

11:42 Vicechair of committee urges passage.

11:42 Another mayor veteran backs the amendment, and with it the resolution.

11:43 Another mayor says support the troops, oppose the wars, get the money home.

11:44 Another mayor wants to add in the president, add "As soon as strategically possible", and add "to reduce the national debt." Amounting to another amendment or three.

11:45 Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia PA says nothing for a while. He wouldn't want the president telling him how to deply police. He thinks we can fund both worldwide endless wars and our cities.

11:50 The amendment adding two whereas clauses passes.

11:50 New amendment proposed and passed to change second Resolved clause to something like

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. President and Congress as soon as strategically possible to bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy, and reduce the national debt."

11:52 Whole resolution passes.

Tim Kaine Avoids Topic of Wars

Did you hear the one about the Ex Democratic Party Chairman and the peace activist walking into the coffee shop?

That was Tim Kaine and me on Saturday.

He's the former governor of Virginia, former DNC Chair, and current candidate for the US Senate.

He arrived nearly an hour late for his event here in Charlottesville at a local coffee shop. I met him outside and walked in with him to ask him a question on the way, knowing I'd have to leave before he got around to taking questions as part of the event itself.

I pointed out to him that the US Conference of Mayors was expected to vote on Monday to ask Congress to end its unpopular wars in order to direct the spending to something useful. Would you, if elected, I asked him, vote to continue funding these wars?

One possible answer, a democratic if not Democratic one, would have been this: "No."

Another would have been: "That depends . . . . "

Congress Finally Finds Its Purse

For years there was debate on Capitol Hill over whether or not Congress could end a war by cutting off the funding. Despite the Constitution's clarity, and the clarity of numerous precedents, Senator Russ Feingold was obliged to hold hearings to explain to his colleagues what the power of the purse is. That debate is over.

Those who pretended for years they didn't have the power to cut off the dollar spigot have dropped the pretense. Now it's purely about whether they have the will. The reason for this shift, of course, is that they are actually close to having the will.

On May 26th the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 416 to 5 an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2012 sponsored by John Conyers and 17 other congress members that (if left in by the Senate) blocks the use of any funds in that act to put US troops or contractors on the ground in Libya.

Weaknesses of this move include:

Bloombergvilles of the Future

We're years behind Tunisia and Egypt in public understanding of how government of, by, and for the people works, but some in the United States have been inspired and begun forming a path that has real potential. In New York City, students, academics, activists, and workers have joined together to resist the global-national-local agenda of plutocracy being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg.

The numbers are small, but the alliance joining workers with students important. And the approach is exactly right. This group is attempting to interfere with the work of City Hall until City Hall comes to represent the people of New York City. And they are attempting to do this, not for an hour or a day, but until they are satisfied that the tide is turning in a better direction.

See this blog: http://bloombergvillenow.org

And this one: http://nocutsny.wordpress.com

And this one: http://www.nycisnot4sale.com

UVA/Reagan War Hawk Defends Obama's War

When a national television program this week needed to find a spokesperson for the right of presidents to launch wars without congressional authorization, it turned -- to the great shame of us University of Virginia alumni -- to Robert Turner. He is the co-founder of the University of Virginia's Center for National Security Law.

Obama's Libya Defense Makes Bush's Lawyers Look Smart

The arguments made to "legalize" war, torture, warrantless spying, and other crimes by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and their gang are looking rational, well-reasoned, and impeccably researched in comparison with Obama's latest "legalization" of the Libya War.

Here's the key section from Wednesday's report to Congress:

House Bill Would Block the Use of Funds to Prepare Signing Statements

Bill text.

"In addition, the bill eliminates the 'Youth Media Campaign,' prohibits funds for the EOP to prepare “signing statements,” which has been used in the past to undermine or circumvent laws passed by Congress, and requires reports on the costs and regulatory burdens caused by the flawed Dodd-Frank financial legislation."

Congress Members Sue Obama to End Libya War

On Wednesday in federal court, 10 members of the U.S. Congress sued President Obama in an attempt to end U.S. involvement in a war in Libya.

These are the plaintiffs: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Howard Coble (R-NC), John Duncan (R-TN), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), John Conyers (D-MI), Ron Paul (R-TX), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Tim Johnson (R-IL), and Dan Burton (R-IN).

According to a statement from Congressman Kucinich:

Occupy Public Space

Washington Post Wants Endless War

The Pentagon Washington Post has yet to mention Section 1034 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2012, but you can expect it -- if it passes the Senate -- to show up in many a future editorial, as it will give presidents the "legal" (although unconstitutional) power to launch and continue wars, something the Washington Post adores.  A Post editorial on Monday demanded that no withdrawal of troops be made from Afghanistan.  Never mind these promises:

"After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home … [O]ur troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended – because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own." – President Barack Obama, 1 December 2009

Dear John Pistole, Administrator of Transportation Searches and Abuse

I ran into some of your employees, John, at Boston Logan airport, believe it or not. In fact, I had no choice but to run into them or I couldn't get home.

Now, I had just flown from London to Boston without blowing up the airplane, and in fact the Heathrow coppers have their own Insecurity Theater similar to yours. But that didn't matter. I couldn't continue on to our nation's corporate headquarters on the Potomac without being further treated as a mass-murderer, as all my compatriots so happily submit to. One has to wonder if some people actually take it as a sick compliment in some sort of dark fantasy.

What If Britain Drops Out of All US Wars?

LONDON -- Before long public pressure might just lead Britain to drop out of participation in US wars, a move that would seriously damage future pretenses of acting as an international coalition.

I've spent the past few days here in London talking with leaders of the Stop the War Coalition, sitting in on a weekly planning meeting, and attending a day-long conference on building opposition to the Afghanistan and Libya wars. This movement is strong, smart, well-organized, and eager to work with other peace movements around the world.

The Antiwar Movement 10 Years On

Remarks from a plenary at the Stop the War Coalition's June 11, 2011, conference in London on "Afghanistan and the War on Terror: 10 Years On."

I want to thank the Stop the War Coalition and Lindsey German in particular for having invited me here, and for having invited me to a similar conference five years ago. Maybe in 2016 we can meet under better circumstances. I'm especially glad to have come back to Europe because George W. Bush can no longer do so. He recently canceled a trip to Switzerland because an indictment for torture awaited him there.

It is an honor to speak together with Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Sanasino Al-Yemen, Mohammed Kozbar, and George Galloway, whose wonderful TV show I was on yesterday.

Imperialism in the 21st Century

Remarks from a session at the Stop the War Coalition's June 11, 2011, conference in London on "Afghanistan and the War on Terror: 10 Years On."

I want to thank the Stop the War Coalition and Lindsey German in particular for having invited me here. And it is an honor to speak together with Steve Bell and Kevin Ovenden, and I'm sorry Joe Glenton was unable to be here. Kevin and I will be on "The Real Deal" with George Galloway tomorrow, so please watch.

Afghanistan was supposed to be the campaign promise that President Barack Obama actually kept. He said he would escalate that war and enlarge the military and strike into Pakistan, and sure enough he did. But he made another promise since the election that we actually want him to keep, and he's going to violate it before the next election. Clearly we need an activist force apart from elections to address this.

How Should The West Engage With the Muslim World?

By David Swanson

Opening Remarks at a Dialogue With Islam.

I want to thank Shahinoor Ali and http://dialoguewithislam.org for inviting me and I'm honored to speak together with Dr. Azzam Tamami.

I don't know about the West, but I have some thoughts on the United States. I recently flew from California to Washington, D.C., and when the plane landed, the pilot came on the intercom to tell everyone to celebrate: our government had killed Osama bin Laden. This was better than winning the Super Bowl, he said.

Set aside for a moment the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being -- which despite the pilot's prompting nobody on the plane did. In purely Realpolitik terms, killing prominent individuals whom we've previously supported has never resolved anything.

If Killing Were As Evil As Flirting

I, Robert Gates, resign my position as Secretary of Defense of the United States of America with deep regret for actions that do not reflect my true values. For decades I have experienced a steady lapse of judgment for which I accept full responsibility. I lied about the strength of the Soviet Union and failed to see its collapse coming. I lied about abandoning Afghanistan and went on funding terrorists. I've been lying about cutting the military budget while actually increasing it. I've pushed for war escalations and fought against withdrawals. I'm sincerely sorry for these mistakes. I apologize to those my actions have killed, wounded, disemboweled, traumatized, or driven suicidal. Above all I apologize to my wife.

Support Antiwar.com

They're libertarian, I'm leftist. They want to close all public schools, I want to create a massive jobs program in green energy. And yet I tell you this:

Support http://antiwar.com because I need it to turn to for news on our wars

Go there right now and tell me if you've ever seen a more convenient, comprehensive, and compelling source of news on our numerous ongoing wars.

Antiwar.com needs our support in order to keep doing what it's doing, including Antiwar Radio.

Give them a hand!

Shrinking the Withdrawal from Afghanistan and Calling it a Steeper Withdrawal

The New York Times has this headline:

"Steeper Pullout Is Raised as Option for Afghanistan"

over an article that takes what was earlier reported as a possible withdrawl of 5,000 troops and contractors (or 2.5% of the 200,000 in Afghanistan) and reduces it to:

"3,000 to 5,000 troops."

I am assuming that actually means troops AND contractors, rather than troops plus a similar number of contractors as well.

According to the NY Times, the withdrawal in July could be EVEN MORE that that. Wow! But no number is given. Instead the idea of withdrawing a mere 30,000 is pushed off into the distant future as an ultimate goal.

Our Tahrir Square: DC's Freedom Plaza on October 6th

When other nations' governments go off track, their people do something about it. In Tunisia and Egypt people have nonviolently claimed power in a way that has inspired Americans in Wisconsin and other states, as well as the people of Spain and the rest of the world.

Washington, D.C., is the weakest point in our democracy, without which state-level reform cannot succeed. Most Americans want our wars ended, our corporations and billionaires taxed, and our rights expanded rather than curtailed. We want our money invested in jobs and green energy, not a global military that can't stop itself. Our government in Washington goes in the opposite direction, opposing popular will on these major issues, regardless of personality or party.

House Voting Now on Ending Libya War

UPDATE: HRes292 passed. HCR51 failed.

*****

The U.S. House of Representatives today will vote on two resolutions.

H.C.R. 51 sponsored by Dennis Kucinich would -- if also passed by the Senate -- have the force of law and end the Libya War. If this does not pass, Rep. Jerrold Nadler said on the floor this morning, there are no circumstances in which a president will not be able to go to war at his/her whim.

Fearing that Kucinich's resolution might pass, Speaker John Boehner has introduced H.Res. 292, a toothless resolution that would not carry any force and not even go to the Senate for a vote. This resolution admits that the war is unauthorized but does not end it or even suggest ending it.

Congress members are speaking in support of congressional power but bowing to partisan power and presidential power. They need to hear from you.

Call (202) 224-3121

Tell your representative you want a lawmaker, not a court jester.

Live Tweeting Vote on Ending Libya War

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Boehner Repairs Constitution Using Spray-on Suntan

Speaker of the House John Boehner is expected to bring to a vote on Friday a remarkable resolution called H. Res. 292. This document restores a damaged U.S. Constitution to its full glory in much the way that a spray-on sunless tanning product could restore a collaterally damaged victim who had been liberated by white phosphorous.

Boehner has delayed a vote on a straightforward resolution (H.C.R. 51) that would end U.S. war in Libya. Here's the full text:

"Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution."

Poverty Is A Lie

Yes, yes, poverty exists, just as war does, and the two feed off each other. When I titled a book "War Is A Lie" I meant that the justifications offered for wars were false and that the idea that we must always have wars is false. Our government doesn't market new poverty campaigns in the same way it does wars. It markets campaigns to dismantle healthcare and pension systems or to eliminate foreign aid or to restrict organizing rights. But our culture pushes the false notion that poverty must always be with us.

Is That Even Legal?

If the U.S. Constitution says one thing, a treaty ratified by the United States says another, a law passed by Congress yet another, and another law passed by Congress another thing still, while a signing statement radically changes that last law but itself differs with an executive order, all of which statements of law conflict with a number of memos drafted by the Office of Legal Council (some secret and some leaked), but a President has announced that the law is something completely different from all of this, and in practice the government defies all of the above including the presidential announcement . . . in such a case, the obvious but possibly pointless question arises: what's legal?

The above theoretical example of legal confusion sounds extreme, but it is not far off the actual situation with regard to some of our most important public policies. Take the example of U.S. warmaking in Libya. Is that legal?

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