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Who Should Challenge Obama in 2012?

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Debt Is A Crisis

What if the imminent banging of Uncle Sam's skull into the looming debt ceiling isn't a crisis, but the very concept of debt is?  The debt ceiling has been lifted numerous times without fanfare or fainting spells.  All we face this week is a fabricated opportunity to gut social programs and trusts under the guise of a phony crisis and a discourse constricted to exclude taxation of the wealthy or cuts to the war machine.

But what if more deficit spending isn't a safe answer?  I am completely aware that those who want to ruin this country by defunding everything but Wall Street and wars are opposed to deficit spending.  I am familiar with the notion that the Great Depression required deficit spending in order to boost the real economy, after which the government's books could be more readily put in order.  I don't imagine that a nation is the same thing as a household or any such simpletonian hooey.  And yet…

If Bush or Giuliani Had Been Stoltenberg

The murder spree in Norway was apparently the work of a Norwegian, not a group of foreigners, and for various other reasons the comparison is not exact.  Nonetheless, it's tempting to wonder how many people would still be alive today if George W. Bush or Rudy Giuliani had spoken after the 9-11 attacks as Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg just did. 

 

You'll recall that Bush immediately spoke of a "war against terrorism," claimed to have been attacked for being a beacon of freedom, announced that we were all filled with anger, and decreed that we would make no distinction between terrorists and "those who harbored them."  "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" he promised.

 

Now take a 60-second tour of an alternative universe by substituting "the United States" for "Norway" in Stoltenberg's remarks:

 

Even Birds Have Withdrawn From Afghanistan

Comparing the brain sizes of migratory birds and U.S. presidents may not help explain this one.  Birds have been avoiding Afghanistan for some years now.  Afghans with higher educations have been leaving for decades.  War profiteers, and occupation profiteers, and "reconstruction" profiteers seem to know their way out.  But imperial rulers, whether British or Soviet or U.S., seem utterly incapable of withdrawing other people's kids from Afghan wars until no other option remains.

 

Afghan Judges Accuse U.S. of War Crimes

I recently sat down for 90 minutes to speak with six Afghan judges, all of them women, and an English-Dari interpreter, a man.  They spoke to me as individuals.  They aren't preparing any investigations or indictments.  The relevance of their being judges is that they know the law.  They've studied international law, and they were visiting the United States to learn about our legal and political systems.  They believe the United States is guilty of war crimes.

 

I was the one who raised the subject.  I pointed to Italian convictions of CIA agents for kidnapping, Spanish investigations of U.S. officials for torture, etc., and asked what these judges' views were on international law violations, universal jurisdiction, and what appear to be clear crimes committed by the United States in Afghanistan.

 

Salon.com Censors Criticism of Israel and Democrats

Salon.com deleted these paragraphs:

After witnessing Israel's brutal assault of Gaza in 2008, many peace activists also joined the movement for human right and justice in Israel and Palestine, engaging in campaigns to boycott and divest from the occupation, organizing boats and caravans to break through the crippling blockade of Gaza, providing support to non-violent actions against home demolitions and the “apartheid wall” in the West Bank, and challenging the stranglehold that pro-Israel lobbies have on U.S. policy.

Finally, we have been busy trying to insert the anti-war message in the broader movements for social and economic justice. While our message is sometimes rebuffed or marginalized in activities closely linked to the Democratic Party, at every major rally for jobs, civil rights or corporate responsibility, you’ll find anti-war activists.

from this article. Was there some good reason for this?  Was one of the paragraphs just to accompany the other that Salon.com really didn't want?  Or did it really not want both of them? 

This "editing" job goes some way toward answering the question under discussion: why is the peace movement held back?

Our Schools Look Like Our Government

A government that works for Wall Street and a war machine will sooner or later create schools that work for the same ends.

Here's a vicious cycle: rather than funding good schools, we fund the military and its recruiters.  Then we lower the qualifications for teachers as long as the applicants have participated in wars.  We funnel the same "Troops to Teachers" applicants into "public charter schools" too, even though we're paying them public dollars.  And we move the whole program from the Department of Education to the Department of "Defense".  That was President Barack Obama's idea.  Do you like it?  Pretty creative, huh?  One step ahead of those teapartiers!

Balance the Budget on the Backs of Billionaires

By David Swanson, RootsAction.org

The wealthiest nation on earth is not actually obliged to starve our senior citizens.  We don't need a military 670% more expensive than the next largest one on earth.  We don't need to fund health insurance corporations instead of healthcare.  And we don't need tax breaks for billionaires.  In fact, we don't need billionaires.  That's the message RootsAction is taking to Congress.

Tell the World: War Is A Crime

War Is A Crime Fitted T-Shirt

Wars are costly, murderous, immoral, environmentally catastrophic, ruinous to civil liberties and representative government, fatal to honest communications, and . . . illegal. Tell the world with this cool gear from the new War Is A Crime shop.
 
http://www.cafepress.com/warisacrime

Image supplied by Jacob AnikulapoWar Is A Crime Sigg Water Bottle 1.0L

War Is A Crime Aluminum Photo Keychain

War Is A Crime 3" Lapel Sticker (48 pk)

Move the Budget Debate to One of Those Democracies We're Bombing into Place

Imagine how radically different the current debate over the Giant Debt Ceiling Monster would look if we moved it to one of those nations we're bombing into a democracy. Imagine us all still U.S. residents with the same views we have now, but imagine that our representatives in Washington, D.C., were obliged to give a damn what we thought.

Prisoners Have Nothing to Gain By Eating

Prisoners risking death by refusing food in the Pelican Bay supermax, and those hunger striking in solidarity in prisons around California are a judgment of our sickness. "The degree of civilization in a society," said Dostoyevsky, "can be judged by entering its prisons."

Civilization is something we no longer seem to aspire to. The United States locks up more people and a greater percentage of its people than anyone else. We lock them in training centers for anger and violence. We subject them to rape, assault, humiliation, and isolation. We throw the innocent in with the guilty, the young with the old, the nonviolent with the violent, the hopeful with those who've lost all interest in life.

Audio: 'West media flippant on govt. foul-ups'

From Press TV

AUDIO HERE

The West's mainstream media outlets easily ignore serious government issues and only magnify diversionary stories and celebrity scandals, says David Swanson, an author and co-founder of Warisacrime.org.

“When it comes to investigating the claims of national governments and the arguments for wars based on blatant lies, these same media outlets act as dutiful stenographers," David Swanson told Press TV's U.S. Desk in a Sunday interview.

“So it really is giving a quite distorted picture of an aggressive reportorial organization that when it comes to matter of importance...it really isn't," the author of "War Is A Lie" added.

Swanson made a reference to the recent phone hacking scandal by a subsidiary newspaper of media magnate Rupert Murdoch and said that such issues receive media coverage in certain areas such as when a celebrity's phone is for instance also hacked in the scandal.

However, he said, "I just would much prefer that they (Murdoch) were prosecuted for the crimes of selling illegal wars, something that he openly confesses to and doesn't result in the same sort of scandal."

RG/KA/DB

Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson

Book Review by Gar Smith

It’s a good sign when the testimonials on the back of a 440-page autobiography include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Ed Asner and Martin Sheen. But that only hints at the praise directed at S. Brian Willson’s long-awaited memoir. The testimonials continue on the inside — for another seven pages — and include plaudits from Cindy Sheehan, William Blum, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Solomon, Peter Dale Scott, Cynthia McKinney and Country Joe McDonald.

This whopping epic (published by Oakland’s feisty PM Press) tells the story of a Vietnam-era soldier who entered the war as a red-blooded small-town recruit and emerged as a die-hard dissident, driven to expose and oppose not only warfare in general but also the US’ unique role in spreading military terror around the world.

Willson returned home to become a leading war resister — a man whose dogged determination to confront the war machine lead him to fast on the steps of the US capital and eventually cost him both legs — severed on September 1, 1987, when he was run over by an ammunitions-filled locomotive on the first day of a nonviolent protest on the railroad tracks leading to the Concord Weapons Station.

READ THE REST AT Berkeley Daily Planet.

Murdoch Has Blood on His Hands

Nailing Rupert Murdoch for his employees' phone tapping or bribery would be a little like bringing down Al Capone for tax fraud, or George W. Bush for torture. I'd be glad to see it happen but there'd still be something perverse about it.

I remember how outraged Americans were in 2005 learning about our government's warrantless spying, or for that matter how furious some of my compatriots become when a census form expects them to reveal how many bathrooms are in their home.

I'm entirely supportive of outrage. I just have larger crimes in mind. Specifically this:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
"Article 20
"1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law."

The Fox News Channel is endless propaganda for war, and various other deadly policies. As Robin Beste points out,

House defund Libya war

LISTEN: Black Agenda Radio with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, on the Progressive Radio Network – Week of July 11, 2011

Anti-War Forces Weak in the House

David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime, calls congressional efforts to halt President Obama’s war on Libya a “huge muddle.” A bid to defund the Libya operation failed by 199 to 229, and legislation to cut off money for the war in Afghanistan garnered only 97 votes.

I think you really have somewhere around 97 members of the House that are really serious about ending wars,” says Swanson. “You have 199 who will put up some kind of pretense,” but at least half of them are not really serious.

Dems and Labor: A Suicide Pact

Labor gives money and manpower to Democratic politicians, who then vote like servants of huge corporations, according to a commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon. The “murder-suicide” nature of the pact is exemplified by the National Education Association’s (NEA) early endorsement of President Obama’s reelection, despite the administration’s relentless attacks on public school teachers.

Arnie Duncan “Racist” and “Insane”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared that Detroit will have “no viable future” as a community if it doesn’t buckle under to Obama’s draconian “Race to the Top” program of high stakes testing, teacher insecurity, and forced charterization. That’s “insane,” says Tom Stephens, a Detroit lawyer and activist, adding, “I thought it was clearly a racist statement” that Duncan would have never directed against a predominantly white city.

Fear” and “Panic” Among School Teachers

Delegates to the National Education Association’s Chicago convention voted down a proposal to demand that Arne Duncan be fired. Among those on the losing side was Joyce Schon, of the Equal Opportunity Now Caucus of BAMN, By Any Means Necessary. “There was too much fear, too much panic, and too much lack of confidence in their own power and their own abilities to stand up for their own dignity and for the future of their students,” says Schon.

Victory for Affirmative Action in Michigan

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 2, the measure that outlawed affirmative action in Michigan public education, is unconstitutional. George Washington, representing the BAMN-affiliated Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, argued that Proposition 2 created “a separate and unequal system of political rights. Every group in Michigan can petition to the University of Michigan for special admission programs to benefit their members except racial minorities.” In effect, says Atty. Washington, Proposition 2 created a category of citizen with less rights than others.

It’s Race, Stupid

For more than 60 years, Black unemployment levels have been stuck at roughly twice that of whites. The grim ratio persists in good times and in bad across three generations. Andy Kroll, who wrote the article “The 60-Year Unemployment Scandal,” found that neither educational disparities nor de-industrialization nor other “race-neutral” factors explained the gap. In the end, “it comes down to discrimination in hiring and racism,” says Kroll.

The Texas chain-dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. at the hands of three white men shocked the nation, in 1998. An award-winning documentary on the victim, titled “Byrd: The Life and Tragic Death of James Byrd, Jr.” is now available on Amazon.com, says the film's creator, Eligah “Ricky” Jason. “This documentary focuses on Byrd as a person. It puts a face on the man.”

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 4:00pm ET on PRN. Length: One hour.

Going Neutral on Obama? Not on a Moving Train!

How often have we been told that we can't have a serious nonviolent movement resisting our government's destructive path as long as the Democrats are better than the Republicans?

How often have we been told that we can't back third-party candidates as long as the Democrats are better than the Republicans?

This week has seen an inordinate number of realizations that the Democrats are as bad as or worse than the Republicans. And what has the response been?

Activist groups are proposing not to donate money to President Barack Obama. Some have even suggested declining to volunteer for him. Most responses have been even weaker than that. Citizens have transformed themselves into pundits and announced that Obama will not be reelected.

Congresspeak: The Language of Impotence

The House of Representatives would be better off speaking Arabic. See if you can make heads or tails of this.

The House voted down a bill to end the Libya War.

At the same time, it passed a nonbinding House-only resolution that said the President "shall not" use ground troops in Libya, the war is unauthorized, and Congress could defund the war if it wanted to. The resolution requested that all kinds of information be reported to Congress by the President, much of which has not been reported by the specified deadline.

Next, the House passed an amendment blocking any funds, beginning in October, for troops or contractors on the ground in Libya.

At the same time, the House passed an amendment requiring that when the war is completed (and presumably the U.S. has control of Tripoli), the U.S. troops on the ground there must dig up the bodies of other U.S. troops buried there during a war 206 years ago.

Killing Old People Is Fiscally Responsible

"The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain," a nameless Democrat told the Washington Post regarding President Obama's latest proposal to massively cut Social Security, against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, in order to fund a military 670% larger than the next largest in the world, keep in place tax cuts for billionaires, fail to tax corporations or estates or investments or carbon, and balance a budget that nobody gives a rat's ass about balancing when Wall Street comes asking for handouts.

We Just Stopped Congress From Giving the Power of War to Presidents

"What's the point?"  "We never win!"  "Why bother trying?"
 
This time we won.

This is the point.  Congressman Buck McKeon and Senator John McCain proposed to give Obama and all future presidents dramatically expanded powers to launch wars.  They wanted to do so as part of the same "Defense Authorization Act" in which the House was restricting Obama's warmaking in Libya. 

Activist groups like RootsAction pushed back.  A great deal of support was generated for an amendment to strip the offending language out in the House, but the amendment failed.  RootsAction, and other organizations, demanded that the Senate remove it:

Imagine a MoveOn That Doesn't Answer to Democrats

On Friday I read in the New York Times that President Obama would be happy to cut $200 billion out of Medicare in order to inflict pain on his Democratic base, part of an imagined tradeoff in which the two parties inflict pain on their imagined bases in order to reduce the deficit without imposing sensible taxes on billionaires or shrinking military spending to sane levels. Also on Friday I got an Email from True Majority asking me to celebrate Obama's defense of Medicare.

We've progressed from "I feel your pain" to "I inflict your pain," and we're being told to like it.

John Dean Does Not Know How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas

Am I the only one who noticed that ex-Nixon lawyer John Dean's article "John Dean Knows How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas" concludes thus: "In short, nothing is going to happen to Clarence Thomas." Talk about false advertising!

But Dean left out of consideration one strategy, the same one that five years ago he argued against pursuing with Bush and Cheney, whom many of us at that time wanted removed from office. The strategy is the one now being advanced by RootsAction: Impeach Clarence Thomas.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn Rorschach Test

There's a great deal of disappointment, even distress, in the air as news spreads that Dominique Strauss-Kahn might not be charged with rape (or attempted rape, or sexual assault). He's guilty, the victim's character is being attacked in order to protect him, and the Culture of Rape will emerge triumphant once again -- or so I'm being told by various Emails, Tweets, etc.

On the other hand, the whole thing was a conspiracy to facilitate the pillaging of the Greek people and the replacement of DSK at the IMF by a robber baron more loyal to the Austerity Agenda. Or so I have been assured.

In addition, the entire episode illustrates the danger in recklessly charging people -- especially famous and important people -- with crimes, until they have first been proven guilty. Or so we are learning from Thoughtful pundits.

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