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For a Year and a Half, No Signs of Torture Ending, Willful Self-Delusion That Torture Has Ended

For the past year and a half we've watched the White House announce the end of torture and immunity for torturers, two policies that appear incompatible and have proven to be so.  We've seen the White House claim the right to torture, and seen that greeted with silence and an averted gaze by those pretending torture is over.  We've seen report after report of ongoing torture greeted with silence from the same pretenders, among whom we must include Congress.  And we've seen civil liberties and human rights groups that refused to support the impeachment of Bush advocate for prosecutions for a while, but continue to back the wars that create the torture.  The ACLU is supporting the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell despite its combination with a war-funding bill.  And as the evidence of ongoing torture begins to sink in, we will see anti-torture advocates begin to understand that prosecutions would have to include prosecutions of Democrat

If You Stop 6 Ships We Will Send 6,000

By David Swanson

I received this by Email from someone who asked to remain anonymous. I've only tweaked it slightly and think it deserves to be read:

FACT: people in Palestine suffer tremendously under the terror of occupation from Israel
FACT: people in Palestine are treated as animals and die on a daily basis due to Israeli blockade of any supplies coming to Palestine
FACT: people in Palestine have no food, no water, no medical supplies and have no chances whatsoever to live a normal human life


People from our planet try to help these civilians. We show our solidarity by sending them food, water sanitation systems, medical supplies, medicine, and many other things that enable them to survive the horrors of Israeli Apartheid and occupation.

The Israeli government chooses to:
- ignore international law
- ignore countless UN resolutions
- ignore international calls for ending the blockade of Gaza

After Throwing Shoes at Bush, Where Is al-Zaidi Now?

By David Swanson

Muntadhar al-Zaidi famously threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in December 2008, kicking off a stream of shoe-throwing protests around Iraq and the world. He then spent nine months in jail. has now posted a four-part video interview in which al-Zaidi reveals, to the certain bewilderment of many Americans, that he has absolutely no notion of "hating us for our freedoms." In fact, al-Zaidi lists completely unrelated grievances not unlike those listed by every other individual ever alleged to have hated us for out freedoms. It's enough to make you almost suspect there was a pattern, if you didn't know better.

The Wonders of the American Way of War

By David Swanson

If a person could approach you on the street, gently caress your cheek, and walk away leaving you with the feeling of having been violently slapped and dowsed with a bucket of ice water, they would approximate Tom Engelhardt's writing, including that in his newest book "The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's."

Let me stipulate from the start that at least three-quarters of the book has nothing to do with Obama, but deals purely with Bush's wars. However, those wars -- which always were and still are our wars and our Congress's wars, and the wars of our grandchildren who will pay for them financially and probably in more serious ways -- have not been fundamentally changed by applying the name of a different emperor to them. What Engelhardt has written over the past several years and collected here on the subject of war needed to be said and will continued to need to be said more loudly with each passing day.

Humanitarian Aid Ships Attacked in International Waters by Israel, With Reports of Dead and Wounded

Calling such a group "Israeli Defense Forces" makes as much sense as calling the occupiers of Iraq and Afghanistan the "Department of Defense". What the hell are any of these people DEFENDING?

Press TV says two dead. Palestine Note says two dead. World Bulletin says two dead.

Pacific Free Press has a report of possibly three dead. Gaza Freedom March says three dead and 30 wounded. Haaretz has this headline: "Report: Several casualties in clash between Gaza aid flotilla, Israel Navy" but if it related to anything in the article, that part of the article has been censored.

Witness Gaza has Tweets that include:

Report from IHH boat..two killed, 31 wounded. No verification but medical emergency can be seen from ship

Israeli soldiers shooting at people, all over the Turkish boat. Watch IHH streaming video

Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed civilians.

Live images from the IHH ship, wounded civilians:

Several casualties in clash between Gaza aid #flotilla, Israel Navy:

The Common Culture of Turkey, the United States, and Iran

By David Swanson

I'd guess roughly 3% of the Americans who watch the new Disney movie Prince of Persia have any idea that Persia and Iran are the same place. A similar number are probably aware of Iranians' demonstrations of sympathy following 9-11 and of Iran's assistance to the United States in Afghanistan in 2001. But surely an even smaller percentage of Americans know that Iran, Turkey, and our own country all fought revolutions against British colonialism, and developed democracies, our own serving as an inspiration for the others, our nation serving as a friend and ally to them. And you could probably fit into one football stadium every American who knows that Turkey's democratic advance succeeded where Iran's failed, principally because Teddy Roosevelt's grandson, working for the CIA, overthrew Iran's elected leader and installed a dictator, whom the United States proceeded to support and arm for decades.

AP Says the Two Parties Are in Trouble; If Only

Below is an AP article claiming the two parties are in trouble but presenting precious little evidence. The biggest setback either has suffered, according to the article, is either the disgrace of competitive primaries (democracy is aparently healthy for countries but deadly for parties?) or a small third-party effort tipping the balance to one party or the other. (The horror!) The structural changes that Liz Sidoti suggests may weaken parties, such as the Citizens United ruling, promise no improvements on the corruption of our government, but there is also -- thus far -- not a scrap of evidence of any consequent weakening of the two parties. That a lot of people hate the parties is the strongest potential factor mentioned, but it isn't new. Is it growing? If so, how much?

This Is What a United Front Looks Like

By David Swanson

The "supplemental spending bill" in the House has peace groups against it because it funds the escalation of a war in Afghanistan that a majority of Americans oppose, makes us less safe, and kills human beings. It also has environmentalists against it because it subsidizes nuclear power, the industry that cannot compete in a free market except in the arena of catastrophes, where it may out-do BP some day. But the peace groups and environmental groups are not exactly coordinating together as they could be.

Then there's the teachers who support the bill because it could fund teachers, and the labor movement which supports the bill because it would fund jobs, and the victims and those concerned for the victims of all variety of disasters who support the bill because it contains aid.

90 Congressional Candidates and National Organizations Oppose War Spending No Matter What Lipstick Is Applied to It

Sixty-six congressional candidates and 24 national organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, no matter what unrelated measures are packaged into the same bill, and no matter whether the bill appears likely to pass or not. This position contrasts strongly with that of most incumbent congress members who "oppose" and "criticize" the wars. The new Coalition Against War Spending is inviting more candidates, including all incumbents, and national organizations to join. The 66 candidates who have already signed on are from 25 different states, and include 22 Greens, 19 Democrats, 19 Libertarians, 3 Independents, 1 Republican, 1 Socialist, and 1 Peace and Freedom Party member (and more may be added to the website by the time you read this). Fifty-six are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and 10 for the Senate.

$5 Friday:

For $5 Friday I just gave $5 to

As my friend (and book editor) Crystal Yakacki explains (like many websites, this worthy group's website does not explain itself to newcomers and just gives the latest developments):

"The UP is the upper peninsula of Michigan, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The native people there, and local neighborhoods, have been trying to protect a sacred site from a mine by Kennecott Eagle that will not only destroy the sacred site, but pollute the river, kill the fish, and possibly impact the Lake Superior shoreline.

28 Senators Vote No as War Escalation Funding Passes Without Schools Money

So, the Senate has passed $33.5 billion to escalate war in Afghanistan, but left out the school money that House Appropriations Chairman David Obey was going to use to shield his eyes from the blood and gore.  Of course, the House always obeys the Senate, and Obey always obeys the Democratic Party.  But he does have an alternative to passing the war escalation funding without the education money.

These senators voted No, at least 26 out of the 28 because the war was not bad enough:

What Does the New National Security Strategy Say About U.N. Asking the U.S. to Stop CIA Drone Attacks?

Apparently the United Nations is going to ask the United States to please stop using a secret agency to murder numerous people with drones. What the United States might say in response is found in the new National Security Strategy which, like all things hopey and changey, is pretty much like the old National Security Strategy, and which declares:

"Military force, at times, may be necessary to defend our country . . . "

and which could have stopped there, stayed legal, and left well enough alone, but which goes on to announce the familiar non-defensive and illegal justifications for war making:

. . . and allies or to preserve broader peace and security, including by protecting civilians facing a grave humanitarian crisis. . . . The United States must reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests, yet we will also seek to adhere to standards that govern the use of force."

Ray McGovern Asks David Obey to Listen to David Obey

[Editor's note: This letter reveals not only a deep moral truth, but also a technical fact: Chairman David Obey plans to include schools money with the war escalation money, which may mean the Republicans all vote No, which would mean that only 40 Democrats would be needed to stop the bill and force separate votes on its elements. --DS]

Memorandum For: Congressman David Obey
From: A Former Admirer
Subject: Ducking the Challenge

“We can sit, frozen in our own indifference, as President Roosevelt once said…” That’s what you said yesterday in connection with saving teachers’ jobs. Sadly, it also applies—in spades—to saving lives in an unnecessary war.

Senate Votes 80 to 18 Against Requesting Nonbinding Nonspecified Timetable to Ever Leave Afghanistan

Feingold's amendment just received 18 votes from

Baucus (D-MT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murray (D-WA)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Specter (D-PA)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Wyden (D-OR)

Rep Barbara Lee Will Bring Amendment to Block War Escalation Funding

By David Swanson

At 5 p.m. this evening, the House Appropriations Committee will begin marking up a bill to spend another $33.5 billion on escalating the war in Afghanistan. Various useful projects will be packaged into the bill in order to provide congress members with assorted lame excuses for voting yes.

Among those speaking and voting against the war funding in committee will be Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who just told me that her thinking is as follows: "Since Congress last authorized and appropriated funds to increase our military engagement in this near decade long war, instances of civilian casualties have more than doubled compared to last year and there is still no end in sight to this conflict."

Lee said that she will continue "calling for a separate supplemental on military spending so that Members can have a true up or down vote on this issue without it being conflated with issues like education spending or relief for Haiti."

Rep. Chellie Pingress Asks Pelosi for a Clean Vote on the War Funding

Here's a PDF of a letter that Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine just sent to Nancy Pelosi asking for a clean vote on the war escalation funding (without funding for useful things included in the same vote).

As motivation not to comply, Pingree includes some deafening silence on how she'll vote if the lipstick is left on the pig.

Tasini Takes on Rangel in NY-15, and Within Days an Important Political Club Nearly Switches Its Loyalty

Just got this from the Tasini campaign:

Jonathan Tasini, candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 15th Congressional District in New York, released this statement regarding the results of the May 26th endorsement vote at the Three Parks Political Club.

Last night, voters at a key political club in the 15th Congressional District confirmed what I have heard from voters in the streets, at subway stops and in one-on-one discussion: the people of the 15th Congressional District are ready for a new voice.

I have been in the race for the 15th Congressional District for less than three weeks. Yet, last night, I forced a 40-year incumbent into three rounds of balloting for the endorsement of the Three Parks Independent Democratic Club, and nearly defeated my opponent.

David Swanson COOP Radio May 24th 2010

May 24th 2010 radio interview with David Swanson, along with radio host Reginald Angus Argue. This show was originally broadcast on COOP Radio (102.7 fm CFRO ) out of Vancouver BC Canada, on the radio show called Monday Brown Bagger.

The One Thing We Can Agree on Is Peace

By David Swanson

Anna Janek is a Republican candidate for Congress from West Bloomfield, Mich. She says: "Socialism, Communism, Welfare-ism, Globalism, Fascism, Obama-ism…it's all the same: State control of the Human Spirit under the guise of benevolence."

Marcy Winograd is a Democratic candidate for Congress from Los Angeles, Calif. She promises to "establish a new federal agency to employ millions of Americans building rapid transit and repairing bridges, ports, water treatment plants and other infrastructure."

What could Janek and Winograd possibly agree on?

Winograd on healthcare, says: "We need Medicare for All – or a single-payer system that pays doctors, nurses, and other health care providers from a single fund."

Best of the Blogs

US project approaching doom in Afghanistan?

Starving Old People Is Funny!

Oh Perfect

The Black Hole of Bagram

Canada Asserts Canadian Rendition Victim Maher Arar’s Case Not a Threat to Diplomatic Relations As U.S. Government Has Claimed

"Corporations Profit from Permanent War: Memorial Day 2010," by Bill Quigley

Breaking! Obama Cabinet Official Looks Backward!

Two Weeks From Today We Get To See If California Voters Are Ready To Give Dishonest Incumbents The Ole Heave-Ho

Petraeus’ Challenge to Obama

Squabble in Administration over Rule of War, Khadr, Drones

Don’t reward violence in Iraq

Stop $33.5 Billion for War Escalation

UPDATE 5/27 5:00 pm: House Appropriations Committee Hearing Postponed.  (Now let's change postponed to canceled!)

UPDATE 5/27 12:30 pm: Ray McGovern asks David Obey to Listen to David Obey, and Obey plans to include the schools money, which may mean Republicans vote No, which would mean we only need 40 Democrats.

UPDATE 5/27 12:30 pm: Rep Barbara Lee Will Bring Amendment to Block War Escalation Funding, and Rep. Chellie Pingress Asks Pelosi for a Clean Vote on the War Funding

UPDATE 5/27 11:30 am: Senate now voting overwhelmingly against requesting a non-specified non-binding timetable for eventually leaving Afghanistan.

UPDATE: House Appropriations Committee mark-up starts at 5 p.m. and may run late, Thursday, in room 2359 Rayburn House Office Building: webcast.

The Senate is voting now, the House Appropriations committee tomorrow, and the full House after June 7.  This means we need to be phoning senators today.  But the House remains our best chance.  So call these members of the Appropriations Committee now.  And call your own representative this week, and plan to meet them in person next week.

House Appropriations Committee Members to Call:
Chairman David Obey (202) 225-3365
Sam Farr, California (202) 225-2861
Michael Honda, California (202) 225-2631
Marcy Kaptur, Ohio (202) 225-4146
Barbara Lee, California (202) 225-2661
José E. Serrano, New York (202) 225-4361

How to reach your representative and your two senators:
Capitol Hill Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Keep track of where your representative stands at

photo by James Nord

What to say:
If you do not try to block the war escalation funding, I will try to block your reelection in November.  If you support peace, I will support you.  Please commit publicly to voting No, no matter what nice things that could be passed separately are packaged into the same vote.  Please join the 58 congressional candidates from every political party who have signed a statement against war spending at  Also ask them to support the War Is Making You Poor Act, and support it yourself.

Draft version of the bill: PDF.

Congressional Candidates Opposing War Spending Now Include Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Independents, and Socialists

Fifty-eight congressional candidates and 20 activist organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and inviting more candidates, incumbents, and organizations to join them.  The 58 candidates, from 25 different states, include 19 Democrats, 18 Greens, 17 Libertarians, 2 Independents, 1 Republican, and 1 Socialist (and more may be added to the website by the time you read this). Forty-nine are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and nine for the Senate.

UPDATE: Here's where Senator Coburn's opposition stands. And education funding is out, possibly because the House needs Republicans to pass the war escalation money.


Republican, Socialist Join Opposition to War Funding

Congressional Candidates Opposing War Spending Now Include Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Independents, and Socialists

Fifty-eight congressional candidates and 20 activist organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and inviting more candidates, incumbents, and organizations to join them.  The 58 candidates, from 25 different states, include 19 Democrats, 18 Greens, 17 Libertarians, 2 Independents, 1 Republican, and 1 Socialist (and more may be added to the website by the time you read this). Forty-nine are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and nine for the Senate.

They do not all agree with each other on many topics, including their reasons for opposing war spending.  But they all back this short statement:

Jim Dean's Sorta Kinda Support for Marcy Winograd

By David Swanson

Progressive organizations set up to promote and fund progressive congressional candidates tend, as a rule, not to do so. Candidates like the Democrats and Greens listed here tend not to get support. Candidates like Joe Sestak and Bill Halter attract the lion's share of progressive backing, not because they could pass any progressive platform test (they couldn't), but because of the awfulness of the incumbents they are opposing. Give it a few years, and perhaps the awfulness of Sestak and Halter will lead to a "progressive" focus on replacing them.

Audio: Nicole Sandler and David Swanson

Tell Senate Judiciary Committee to Find Out If Kagan Will Expand or Curtail Executive Abuses


Whether the nominee’s views as a justice would reflect the positions she has taken as a solicitor general is admittedly unclear. Indeed, the roles of senior Justice Department officials and Supreme Court justices hold little in common.

House May Not Vote on War Escalation Funds Until After June 7

But Chairman David Obey's House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to address it on Thursday. These five members of that committee voted No on war money last June:
Sam Farr, California
Michael Honda, California
Marcy Kaptur, Ohio
Barbara Lee, California
José E. Serrano, New York

The "Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act" Is an Act, and Worse: A Power-Grab

Here's a way for presidents to more tightly control another central duty of Congress: spending, while the easiest way to reduce the most unnecessary spending would be to END THE WARS.

Fear, War, Greed, Disaster, and Journalism

By David Swanson

The Independent Film Channel is airing a series of four programs this week that illustrate the kind of media we need in this country. The four programs, titled "Fear," "War," "Greed," and "Disaster," feature the reporting of four independent unembedded journalists: Max Blumenthal, Nir Rosen, Charlie LeDuff, and Andrew Berends. The 30-minute episodes premiere Monday, May 24 through Thursday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.


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