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By David Swanson, special to the International Labor Communications Association
On July 12th I received an Email from the American Federation of Teachers with a soft pink headline and an image of a heart. It said: "Pink Hearts. Not Pink Slips." That sounded nice. The text continued:
"Now is the time to tell the Senate to put our children first. The House of Representatives approved an emergency spending bill that included $10 billion to save educator jobs and $5 billion for Pell Grants. It is now up to the Senate to do its part and approve the same level of assistance when it returns to Washington, D.C., this week."
By David Swanson
The latest hardcopy newsletter from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities opens with an article about poetry about war, which opens with this line: "Many of my favorite poets are soldiers." The author begins with a poet who "has served in the current war in Iraq." Served what we are not told. Then she jumps to Virgil and declares:
"Neither Virgil nor Turner gives us answers to war: they know the questions are more important, and likely answerable only by each of us alone."
So we should each enlist right away in order to answer "the questions"? Or we should all read lots of ambiguous war poetry? Who knows, because this follows:
"What is my responsibility as the gears of human perfidy and greatness grind together?"
Another question that is more important than the answer, no doubt. And yet, what could be more important or - by now - more obvious than the answer?
By David Swanson
The U.S. corporate media pronounces our nation a "democracy" so frequently that sometimes its spokespeople stumble. They can't be unaware that virtually every act of Congress diverges significantly from what the majority of Americans favor. Yet the assumption that somehow the government must follow public opinion creeps in, creating this sort of comedy:
By David Swanson
It's quite a pleasure to spend a morning sitting in Charlottesville, Va., where all the bookstores display thrillers by local boy John Grisham, and read a thriller as good or better than any of Grisham's and written by one of us -- a blogger who supports what is now a strictly leftwing concept: the rule of law.
"Inside Out" by Barry Eisler is written, as are Grisham's novels, like a movie, complete with gratuitous sex interest and predictable plot twists. The illumination it shines on the nature of torture and the politics of torture could be removed. The political analysis of the last 50 pages could be deleted. And 90 percent of the book could be turned into a mindless Hollywood thriller.
By David Swanson
The peace movement has made significant progress in the United States since its low point of late 2008, and just about everything anyone in it has done has been a contribution. If everyone keeps doing what they're doing, and more of it, we might just end some wars, eventually. But I think some techniques are working better than others, and that pursuing the most strategic approaches would make victory likelier sooner and longer-lasting when it comes.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 2010
The unanimous Declaration of the fifty united States of America, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, Guantanamo Bay, Assorted Offshore Oil Rigs, and the U.S. Servicemen and Women serving the Homeland in 177 nations around the globe, as drafted by the President
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to bomb the bejesus out of another people and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and hegemonic station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's Christian God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to employ the most awesome military force the poor corrupt Muslim bastards have ever seen.
By David Swanson
Among the many national organizations opposing further war funding are these: AfterDowningStreet / WarIsACrime.org, Alternet, The American Friends Service Committee, American Homeless Society, The Backbone Campaign, Brave New Films / Rethink Afghanistan, BuzzFlash, Calitics, Campaign Corner: A Home for Progressive Populist Candidates, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, CODE PINK, Consumers for Peace, Democrats.com, The Democratic Activist, Down With Tyranny, End US Wars, FireDogLake, Global Exchange, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Global Peace, Green Change, Iraq Veterans Against the War, JobsForAfghans, Just Foreign Policy, Justice Through Music, Liberty Tree, MichaelMoore.com, Military Families Speak Out, Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), The Nation, National Education Association Peace and Justice Caucus, Peace Action, Peace Majority Report, Progressive America Rising, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Push, Proposition One Campaign, The Rag Blog, TheRealNews.com, TruthDig, United for Peace and Justice, US Labor Against the War, Velvet Revolution, Veterans for Peace, Voters for Peace, Win Without War, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, World Can't Wait, and the Young Turks.
"The leadership has not yet determined exactly how the votes will be structured — whether a bifurcated vote will send a single bill back to the Senate, or whether the House will vote on two separate pieces of legislation."
This quote from the following article leave more questions than answers. If it's not separate bills, what is it? Are these phony votes followed by a real one on the whole package? Or do they pass the war escalation funding and then vote on the other things as an amendment, or vice versa?
CQ POLITICS NEWS
June 29, 2010 – 1:44 p.m.
House Democrats Plan Split Vote on War Supplemental
House Republican leaders made it clear Tuesday that they won’t support a supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan if it includes billions of dollars in added domestic spending.
As we watch General David Petraeus's Senate confirmation hearing this morning to become Quagmire Commander, check out this background info:
1. Why Petraeus Won't Salvage This War
2. Gen. Petraeus and the 'Surge' Myth
3. Petraeus: Withdrawal timeline does not mean "switching off the lights"
4. Petraeus for President 2012
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who will openly tell you he does whatever President Obama and Speaker Pelosi instruct, can bring the war escalation funding to the House floor despite the opposition of Appropriations Chairman David Obey. This is because the House passed the bill without the war escalation funding and sent it to the Senate, which has now sent it back to the House.
The current plan is to pass a single bill that includes both the war money and some lipstick (disaster relief, etc.). This will require keeping the lipstick thin enough to win some Republican votes and slathering it on thick enough to win a lot of Democratic votes (which can also be won through campaign funding, earmarks, committee positions, PR stunts, etc.).
One trick that will apparrently be used to win Democrats' support is the inclusion of extra, meaningless votes, just for show, on the two components of the bill. They'll vote on the war escalation funding, and lots of Democrats will vote No. And they'll vote on the disaster relief, etc., and lots of Republicans will vote No. Both elements will pass, but nothing will have been done. Then they'll hold a meaningful vote on the whole bill, and lots of the Democrats who just moments before pretended to oppose war escalation will vote for the bill that funds it.
This can only work if Nancy Pelosi is correct in her belief that we're all a bunch of morons.
You'll be told that they've scaled back the war funding. What they've just done is remove the few crumbs that were intended for potentially useful civilian aid in Afghanistan. Meanwhile they've increased the military funding, which is all for escalating the war and therefore cannot plausible be squeezed into the same sentence with "scaled back."
You'll be told that separate votes were held and that your representative opposed the war funding. This is nonsense. The only way to oppose war funding is to try to stop it, which means voting against it no matter what else is included.
Call your Representative through the Capitol Hill switchboard: (202) 224-3121 and send them an Email here.
They've just been asked by the House Majority Whip how they will vote in the pretend vote on the war funding alone and how they will vote on the actual bill with everything that's in it. Demand to know what answers they gave. Report those answers at http://defundwar.org
If we can stop this thing through Thursday, we'll have a break over which to continue building opposition, a break during which more news (always bad) will keep coming in from Afghanistan, a July 4th break during which we will celebrate opposition to another foreign occupation.
By David Swanson
Bruce Fein concludes his new book, "American Empire: Before the Fall," by demolishing the worldview of Henry Kissinger as expressed in a Washington Post column last year. Of course it's also the worldview of the Washington Post and most of its readers. We must continue wars to save face. We must imagine we can win wars because facing defeat is too painful. We must talk about winning hearts and minds while increasing the bombings. We must plow ahead at full speed to demonstrate our determination, regardless of what it is we've determined to do.
It's useful to remember that Congress and the presidents bailed out with our money people who appear guilty of serious crimes, and is now debating whether to slightly regulate their ongoing crimes, but criminal prosecutions are still not flowing down like waters into Wall Street.
Schechter's book reads like a long blog entry blockquoting numerous other blogs. It's not an indictment, but a wakeup call to prosecutors and to the rest of us.
Want to end killing by militaries or resisters or terrorists or robbers or angry spouses or disgruntled former employees and former home owners?
Want to use something other than killing people to solve our problems?
Then we have to join the civilized world, which has ceased to publicly teach that killing is good by doing it through government (except when aiding in our wars).
Support VAPD. I just gave them $5. Can you?
The Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee David Obey has stalled the war escalation funding until jobs and schools are funded. Please call and thank him, and ask him to just fund jobs and schools while blocking the war funding permanently. 202-225-3365
If Pelosi produces stand-alone bills, one for the war escalation, and one for useful non-murderous investments, this will mean that:
1. More than 40 Democrats refuse to vote for war even with lipstick applied;
2. Pretending these unrelated matters had to be combined in one bill was for purposes of lipstick;
3. The leadership of the Democratic Party is more closely alligned with Republican members of the House than Democrats when it comes to our biggest public program: war.
DEFAZIO URGES NEW POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN
WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today in a speech on the House floor, urged President Obama to reconsider his policy in Afghanistan in light of the replacement of General McChrystal.
A copy of DeFazio’s comments on the House floor today are below:
“The President has been given a unique opportunity today with the firing of General McChrystal who was the principle author and advocate of the surge strategy in Afghanistan.
His theory was that it would be a clear, hold and transfer to the Afghan police who don’t exist, to the security forces who are in disarray and to the government which doesn’t exist in any meaningful way outside of the Capitol. There is unbelievable corruption rife throughout the Karzi government, the police, and security forces.
Tighe Barry from Code Pink has been arrested in the US in the past for nonviolent peace activism. Now he's tried to go to Canada from Detroit for lunch and he's being held in Windsor Jail for ... what? Tell the US State Dept to get him out: 1-888-407-4747.
It's a step.
A baby step.
Kucinich Amendment Protects Democracy from the Stain of Big Oil
Washington D.C. (June 24, 2010) – The House of Representatives today unanimously passed an amendment by Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to HR 5175, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Elections (DISCLOSE) Act. The amendment will prevent companies that receive federal leases that allow them to drill in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) from spending unlimited amounts of money to influence campaigns and elections.
“If the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico has taught us anything, it is that oil companies put profits above the delicate and complex ecological systems on which we all depend. Prevention of future such disasters begins with curbing their excessive political influence.
America Can't Solve Crises Because It's a Company-Owned Town
Top Democrat: Fire McChrystal
Another World Is Possible, Another Detroit Is Happening
Viewpoint with James Zogby (Raed Jarrar Video)
Cause and effect in the War on Terror
How Is McChrystal Doing at Fulfilling His Plan?
Meanwhile in THIS secret back room the administration is giving away the Internet to its corporate sponsors
CCR Demands Return of Property and Evidence Seized by Israel from Flotilla
Write to the Forgotten Prisoners in Guantánamo
The Horrifying Scumbag Playbook
This is what happens when you let an escalation happen before funding it. The congress critters claim the funding is for "troops on the ground" as if defunding them would mean they had to go without dinner. That the escalation has gone ahead unfunded might be grounds for impeachment, but it is not an excuse to insist on funding it. If Congress doesn't fund it, the troops must be brought back home.
By David Swanson
The video embeded at the bottom of this article and posted on the frontpage of http://congressmanwithguts.com may be the best corporate television interview ever. Not the funniest or most entertaining, but the most willing to directly and clearly expose the most forbidden topics and insist on the most needed changes in perspective.
The CongressmanWithGuts website is Congressman Alan Grayson's public and participatory demonstration of a simple fact that should be made known to a few hundred congress members who have not grasped it: If you do what the public wants and reach out to the public, you can raise your own funds and not depend on the Party Leadership to fund your campaigns. This, of course, is what allows you to do what the public, and not the Party Leadership, wants.
The National Education Association Peace and Justice Caucus has joined 110 other organizations and congressional candidates in opposing any more funding of foreign wars. While the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has stalled further war escalation funding until Congress funds teachers, teachers themselves do not want the war escalation funded at all, and certainly not with school funding used as pretty packaging on the same piece of legislation.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer spoke Tuesday morning in a large private room (the Columbus Room) at Union Station in Washington, D.C. and took questions. He had no answers for the questions I put to him.
Hoyer's topic was fiscal responsibility, and he said that his proposals -- which were all pure vagueness -- would be appropriate to enact "as soon as the economy is fully recovered." Don't hold your breath.
Hoyer, as is the custom, bragged about cutting and trying to cut particular weapons systems. So I asked him how he could have neglected to mention two closely related points (as is the custom):
1-He's been increasing the overall military budget.
2-He's been funding the escalation of war completely off the books.
He replied that all such issues should be "on the table." But he did not explain his failure to put them there or suggest how he would act on them.
None of the assembled Washington Press Corpse followed up.
By James E. Jennings, Conscience International/US Academics for Peace
Monday's 6-3 Supreme Court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project found that humanitarian groups can be judged guilty of aiding and abetting terrorism merely by holding peaceful dialogue and engaging in political discussions with proscribed organizations. Those convicted may be sentenced to up 15 years in prison.
On its face, this is an infringement of the constitutional right of free speech. It means that people engaged in such contacts can be jailed for meeting with, providing humanitarian aid to, or discussing political goals and activities with groups that are on the terror list. The decision also affects Americans' rights of freedom of travel, association, conscience, and religion when dealing with banned, or so-called "terrorist" organizations. Today's ruling disallows such contacts, even if the intent is peaceful. Blessed are the peacemakers, but not in America!
By David Swanson
Over the past half century we've made tremendous progress while sliding backwards quite destructively. The progress has come in our domestic relations. We do unbelievably better (not perfectly by any means, but radically better than 50 years ago) at treating people decently even if they aren't white, male, Protestant, educated, handsome, or even heterosexual (there's still particularly room for improvement on that last one). This progress has drastically improved the lives of millions.
By David Swanson
There are lots of ways to change Congress that falsely appear easy, that would alter the rules and patterns of behavior if only Congress were already fixed and willing to make the changes, or if we owned the television networks, or if people could suddenly hear what they're paid good money never to hear. But I've got a way to change Congress that is actually easy.
Congress lacks leadership. There is a progressive caucus, but it has never fought for anything. It doesn't fund its members' campaigns. It doesn't withhold votes needed for passing bills. It just does rhetoric. There are committees, but they don't subpoena, they don't send the police to pick up witnesses, they don't fine witnesses who refuse to answer questions. Congress thinks oversight was an oversight. If asked to put future generations into debt to fund wars, Congress asks "Would you like a side of drones with that?" Congress doesn't want power.
By David Swanson
Way back in January, the ocean was still ocean, oil still oil, and combining the two had not yet occurred to us. The Conch Republic, the Florida Keys, was -- in retrospect -- a secure and pristine paradise.
The danger was of sunburn, not of crude oil on your skin or toxic chemicals in the air you breathed.
While I was there with my family, we enjoyed the sand, sun, and sea. But we wanted to see more pelicans. We wanted to see lots of pelicans.
So we went to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.
For Five Dollar Friday I just gave $5 to Veterans for Peace. I hope you'll do the same. This is the most principled and strategic party-independent peace group we've got. I hope you'll also consider joining. I'm not and would never be a veteran, but I am a member of Vets for Peace. Check them out: http://veteransforpeace.org
The tide is turning against war.
We've permanently shut down the Army Experience Center!
We've kept student information from recruiters in Maryland!
The war escalation supplemental funding has stalled!
The attack on Kandahar has been stalled!
The majority of the public is on our side!
Even our puppet president doesn't want the war!
By Daniel Bass, Political Director, Segal for Congress
I want to let you know about an exciting event in DC for Rhode Island Congressional candidate David Segal the evening of Thursday, June 17th at the Big Hunt at 1345 Connecticut Avenue (Dupont Circle) from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Segal is a close friend who has been a progressive champion in Rhode Island as a State Representative and Providence City Councilman, and he’s running for the seat being vacated by Congressman Patrick Kennedy.