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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!
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?
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.
Keiko 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."
In 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?
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.
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 ),
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Just saying her name sounds like a joke: Baroness Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner, Gräfin, née Countess Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. And when she began talking about ending war in mid-nineteenth century Austria it wasn't her name that was treated as a joke. Yet by the turn of the century, her idea seemed to be one whose time had come.
Bertha von Suttner's novel "Ground Arms," or "Lay Down Your Arms," was widely described as the "Uncle Tom's Cabin" of war abolition. It was doing and would accomplish for war what Harriet Beecher Stowe's book had for slavery. I can't encourage you strongly enough to take a quick break from the inanities of presidential debates and football announcers and buy the book, borrow the book, or read it free online.
Who knew rats were new to DC? I could have sworn I'd seen them around for years. I could have sworn the piles of trash following inaugurations, fourths of july, and tastes of dc left swarms of rats behind. I could have sworn that every time I've been in Freedom Plaza since October 6th it's been cleaner than 15th Street. Do you have any serious reason to believe your new found awareness of rats, like some people's new found awareness of the homeless people who have been there for decades, doesn't come more from the observing than from what is being observed? Did you know that the occupation of Freedom Plaza is campaigning for the investment in public services that would begin at long last to address this longstanding problem? Did you know that detailed reports, proposals, analyses, and yes demands can be found at http://occupywashingtondc.org ? Were you aware of the rat explosion and disease explosion in cities our military has bombed - which I'm sure the Post will be getting around to covering very very soon? Can you prove the DC rat population isn't expanding city-wide because so many people have found it appropriate to discard their copies of the Washington Post, thus providing lots of nesting material?
To Charlottesville Daily Progress:
On New Year's Eve the President signed a bill giving himself and future presidents the power to imprison anyone, including US citizens, forever with no trial, whether through the military or otherwise. President Obama stretched these outrageous powers even further in an unconstitutional law-altering signing statement. Congressman Robert Hurt voted against the Defense Authorization Act because it tosses out our Constitutional rights.
While this issue had been a major controversy for months, and the Daily Progress has never yet mentioned it in a news story, you addressed it in an editorial on January 9th, but your editorial simply argued for the flexibility of not always using the military because the legitimate justice system can reduce terrorism.
Nowhere do you mention that the final version of the bill gave the president that flexibility and more, that he now claims the power to imprison anyone forever without any formal process whatsoever. Nowhere do you mention that a week after the President signed the bill, Afghan President Karzai demanded that all Afghan prisoners be turned over within a month. And nowhere do you even touch on the question of the right to habeas corpus, the right not to be punished for treason unless convicted in open court on the testimony of two witnesses, the right to be secure in your person, or the right to a speedy and public trial and a jury trial.
Are all civil rights of simply negligible importance in comparison with fear of terrorism? Among the many many things that kill more of us than terrorism are dogs, and they're our "best friend." Take a deep breath please.
Note to Self:
Knock it off. They can't hear you.
I was on the Marc Steiner Show today talking Iran War with Reza Marashi, Research Director for the National Iranian American Council, who was excellent, and Charles "Sam" Faddis, who was a pro-war propagandist. LISTEN.
Bad idea #1: listen to Jack Abramoff.
Bad idea #2: this one I heard from Jack Abramoff who was holding forth on ethical and unethical bribery the other day on National Plutocracy Radio: If you give a candidate money because you love your country that's good. If you give a candidate money because you want a particular favor, that's bad (or, one might add, Abramoffian). The problem of course is that most people can't afford to give money, so your well-intentioned money perverts the government no matter how well-intentioned. It also opens a loophole for all the people who just want those particular favors.
Bad idea #3: leave a loophole for labor unions. This one you can hear from labor unions, which is why all the bills to amend the constitution and undo corporate rights introduced in Congress thus far abide by it. But labor unions are vastly overspent and would still be vastly overspent in a world with a tiny loophole just for unions because the mega corporations would create things that looked like unions to exploit the loophole, on top of which none of the bills will get anywhere unless they remove the loophole.
Bad idea #4: put energy into requiring disclosure of legal bribery rather than prevention of legal bribery. Most of what has already been disclosed about our government is widely unknown. Most of what is known is not acted on. Most of what is acted on is continued just the same. What's needed is an end to corporate personhood and financial speech.
Don't take it from me. Take it from the book being published today that will mainstream the movement to end corporate personhood: "Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do, And What You Can Do About It," by Jeff Clements with foreword by Bill Moyers.
Clements traces the development of the legal doctrine of corporate personhood back long before the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision two years ago this month, in particular to President Richard Nixon's appointment of Lewis Powell to the Supreme Court in 1972. Led by Powell's radical new conception of corporate rights, Clements shows, the court began striking down laws that protected living breathing persons' rights in areas including the environment, tobacco, public health, food, drugs, financial regulation, and elections.
This is where I can't go because I spoke.
And three of my friends got the same deal.
And in the next courtroom over our other friends were convicted by a jury of opposing torture.
And right across the hall our other friend completed her probation for having interrupted Netanyahu even though he thanked her and bragged about how she'd be treated worse in Iran, even though the assault she suffered in the US Capitol put her in a neck brace.
It was a great day for the First Amendment in Washington today.
Now, we're only banned for 6 months, and we can get invitations in writing from Congress or the Supreme Court to come and protest them as a way around the ban (I wonder how that's going to work).
We did happen to be in a Senate committee hearing when we spoke, but they were speaking quite endlessly about corporate trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea. They said they'd try to help some of the people they threw out of work. I asked why they didn't just leave them their jobs. I was arrested. Then they spoke a lot about Korean tariffs vs US tariffs on beef, and one of us criminals asked why we really needed to ship beef back and forth across the Pacific. Handcuffs on her. This was in October. Here we are in January finding out what is to be done to us to protect the Homeland.
It turns out we're not a threat to the Homeland at all, just to one little hill.
The push to attack Iran has been on for so long that entire categories of arguments for it (such as that the Iranians are fueling the Iraqi resistance) have come and gone. At DontAttackIran.org we've been collecting the arguments for and against attacking Iran for years. We've campaigned against an attack, but never been able to claim a success, because decisions not to launch wars are never announced, because those pushing for wars never give up, and because those believing what their government tells them think the Pentagon never campaigns for wars but is forced into them defensively on short notice by attacks from evildoers.
Scott Horton will host an online chat with you and David Swanson this Saturday, January 7th from 5 to 7 pm ET about Swanson's new book When the World Outlawed War, "a masterful account of how people in the United States and around the world worked to abolish war as a legitimate act of state policy and won in 1928, outlawing war with a treaty that is still on the books."
At the first meeting of the new Charlottesville, Va., City Council Tuesday evening, four of the five city council members publicly expressed their intention to support a resolution asking Congress to reduce military spending, a resolution likely to be discussed and voted on at the council's next meeting on the evening of January 16th, Martin Luther King Day. The fifth member expressed no view, so the possibility exists for unanimous support. One of the four members who expressed support for the draft resolution that we had proposed added that he would like to see it amended to also oppose the launching of a war against Iran. Another member also expressed an interest in revising the draft in some unspecified way prior to the next meeting.
The City of Charlottesville posts videos of its meetings online, but the video that can be downloaded and edited includes no audio, so I'm unable to show you just the relevant bits of the meeting. However, you can find them with the handy-dandy guide below this video:
First come 3-minute public comments from some of us in support of the resolution. Scroll ahead to . . . 17:07 for Brandon Collins, immediately followed at 20:43 by David Swanson. Jump ahead to 34:36 for Kirk Bowers, and to 38:30 for Nancy Carpenter. Then at 47:20 Stratton speaks on another issue but connects it very well to this one.
Following public comments, each of the five city council members replied briefly. First new member Kathy Galvin spoke on other topics and did not mention the resolution at all. Next, at 53:28 new member Dede Smith spoke in support of the resolution, and at 54:22 Kristin Szakos did so as well but suggested that it should be voted on at the next meeting on MLK Day, while at 55:10 Dave Norris spoke in support of the resolution and of adding to it opposition to attacking Iran. Norris's term as mayor ended at this meeting, but as mayor in 2011 he had been an early supporter of the resolution passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors asking Congress to reduce military spending. Brand new mayor Satyendra Huja spoke last and did not touch the topic at that point.
Now, enjoy lots of unrelated discussion or jump way ahead to 2:35:30 for Pat Lloyd, another member of the public who speaks up for the resolution. Then skip ahead to 2:49:48 at which point Mayor Huja says that he too supports the resolution, and Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones asks the five members to submit any proposed edits to the resolution to him (or to "staff") by the end of this week.
The book that I present to the Mayor in the video can be found at http://MIC50.org
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice is supporting this resolution.
UPDATE: Meeting will be on 17th, not 16th.
If you watch the above pitch for Oxytocin as the hormone of morality, it will quickly become clear that this guy and the rest of us actually know very little about how our brains and blood and bodies work. In fact, another guy claims that oxytocin is the hormone of ethnocentrism, not of universal love. Of course it's being marketed as a spray that can make people trust you. And a little reflection can make you realize that there is an enormous gap between personal relations and war making. If you trust your boss at the Pentagon more will you work for war less? Would we really want the peace movement purged of everyone in it who isn't terribly nice or trusting?
There is, however, in the above video something I find particularly interesting. It's the part where he says that testosterone may be an opponent of oxytocin but it also makes people (or at least men) more eager to punish immoral actions by others. Now, I have no idea if that is true or as simple as described. I would be willing to bet that description will change soon if it hasn't already. What interests me is the possibility of thinking of the punishment of war as sharing a motivation with war — whether or not that motivation is tied to testosterone.
Of course, I want war makers punished if it will prevent and deter war making, but I want them punished with prison and rehab. I don't want them punished with war. The idea behind the United Nations, and the League of Nations before it, not to mention NATO, is to use war to punish war. This results, of course, in lots of wars that merely pretend to punish war. And that would not be the case if we were not considering war an available option. Europe has stopped thinking of war as an option internally, but not abroad. The United States thinks of little other than war in foreign relations, and is beginning to train domestic police to make war on their own. What we need is not so much the right hormone as the right way of thinking. That way of thinking will of course exist in a complex physical event within brains, but "complex" is the key word. If peace can be sprayed up somebody's nose, today's scientists are nowhere near knowing how, and a general inclination to trust or love does not begin to approach it.
Monday morning at 7 PT on Lila Garrett’s CONNECT THE DOTS we’ll review the old year and prioritize the new with:
DAVID SWANSON covering the NDAA (Nat’l. Defense Authorization Act) which has been signed into law. It gives the President absolute power over anyone he accuses of terrorism, including Americans. No formal charge is mandated, and there is no right to trial. There goes the two premises on which our justice system is based… presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. And while our democracy struggles to survive this assault…..
DAVID SEGAL Exec Director of “Demand Progress” covers SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act HR 3261) an Internet piracy bill presumably to protect copyright for the entertainment business. But it has the potential to severely censor the Internet. It needs mass phone calls to Congress to be stopped.
GAR ALPEROWITZ discusses his new book, AMERICA BEYOND CAPITALISM. Where are we headed in 2012? Monday morning at 7 on CONNECT THE DOTS.
Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)
KPFK 90.7 FM in LA; 98.7 Santa Barbara: 93.7 San Diego
Airs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.
To pod cast or download the broadcast just use this link:
Each show is on line for three months.
Let me be clear.
Obama has always claimed the power to wage war on anyone anywhere, to search, seize, imprison, rendition, torture, or murder anyone. He has in fact openly murdered US citizens, among many other human beings.
Obama asked Congress to legislate the power for U.S. presidents to imprison anyone without any trial or any legal-looking process whatsoever, and to not make an exception for U.S. citizens.
Obama came close to getting what he wanted.
He got the power to imprison without trial.
Obama then engaged for the umpteenth time in an abuse as dangerous in itself as any other. He rewrote the law as he signed it. In doing so, Obama gave himself the power to imprison without even military kangaroo courts and without even the formality of pretended "status review hearings."
And the vast majority of organizations and individuals who would have raised hell and resisted this had Obama been a Republican, did not do a god damned thing about it.
Of course, for most of them, the opposition they would have exercised had Obama been a Republican, would have been shallow and phony and motivated by an immediate interest in generating negative press. Any actual concern over Republican presidents possessing these outrageous powers would, of course, have led to opposition to Obama seizing them, since what Obama seizes will remain for each of his successors.
For details on what was going on during the football games and drinking of New Year's Eve go here.
Hell of a way to start a year, people.
Let's step it up a bit, huh?