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Lessons Learnt from the American War on Vietnam

By Debra Sweet      It's worth thinking about how imperialist wars start; how they can end up; how opposition develops externally and domestically. Sometimes waging wars make the aggressor less stable. Sometimes they lose legitimacy. A lot depends on what the opposition does. In this week of anniversaries, let's look back.

New poem: Manure Cannon

BAM!

Echo, like thunder off the shell of the sky-dome.

We, all on the terrace, glance at each other,

Jump to action.

Everyone knows what to do.

Grab something quick,

Fast Track the Good Stuff

The U.S. Senate has been very concerned not to let peace with Iran slip into place too easily, even while a new war in Iraq and Syria proceeds without the formal pretense of Congress "authorizing" or rejecting it.

Both houses of Congress are interested in ramming through the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) on a fast track. The fast track procedure of rushing things through Congress or creating them without Congress seems to be reserved for the least popular ideas our government produces.

What if, instead, a fast track were set up for those items favored by a vast majority of the public, or required for the future habitability of the planet, but which meet resistance from campaign funders, lobbyists, and the corporate media?

Of course I'd rather have clean elections and a publicly accountable Congress if we can't have public initiatives and direct democracy. But in the absence of such utopias, why not use extreme anti-democratic measures to ram through the things people want rather than the things we'd protest if we found out about them? Why not slip one past the plutocrats rather than slipping one past the people? Why not go with voice votes, no debate, and no time to read the details on measures to demilitarize and protect the planet rather than on "trade" agreements that empower corporate lawyers to overturn laws?

I recently read this in an email newsletter from peace advocate Michael Nagler: "The other day I went to test-drive an electric car. When we got through some of the technicalities and were waiting for a red light the salesperson coming with me said, 'So what do you do?' Here it comes, I thought: 'I work with a nonprofit; (gulp, and) we're promoting nonviolence.' After a reflective pause she said quietly, 'Thank you.'"

I've often had that same experience, but increasingly I eagerly reply: "I work on abolishing war." That's what I replied recently in a sandwich shop here in Charlottesville called Baggby's. I didn't get a "thank you," but I got a question as to whether I had known Jack Kidd. I had never heard of Jack Kidd, but Jack Kidd, a retired two-star Air Force general who lived in Charlottesville, had been in Baggby's in the past debating the need to abolish war with some other bigwig general who favored keeping war and militarism going.

So, I read Kidd's book, Prevent War: A New Strategy for America. Of course, I think we need a strategy for earth, not for the United States, if we are going to end war. Kidd, who died in 2013, believed in 2000, when the book was published, that only the United States could lead the way toward peace, that the United States had always meant well, that war could be used to end war, and all sorts of things I can't bring myself to take seriously. And yet, believing everything he still believed, after "waking up" in the early 1980s, as he describes it, Kidd came to recognize the insanity of failing to work for the abolition of war.

This was a man who had bombed German cities in World War II; who believed he'd survived a particularly difficult mission during which he'd shot down lots of German planes, because he'd prayed to God who'd answered his prayer; who'd flown secret nuclear attack plans from Washington to Korea during the Korean war; who'd "served" as Chief of the Joint War Plans Branch and worked on plans for World War III; who believed in the Gulf of Tonkin attack; who had obeyed orders to knowingly fly his plane through nuclear clouds moments after bomb tests -- as self-human experimentation; and yet . . . and yet! And yet Jack Kidd organized retired U.S. and Soviet generals to work for disarmament at the height of the Cold War.

Kidd's book contains numerous proposals to move us away from war. One of them is to fast track disarmament agreements. For that idea alone, his book is worth reading. It's also worth giving to the most hard-core war supporters as a sort of a gentle nudge. It's also worth asking, I think, why Charlottesville has no memorial to this former General who's layed out a plan for peace when it has so many to those whose only accomplishment was losing the U.S. Civil War.

See You in New Jersey This Weekend

Friday, May 8 – Sunday, May 10, 2015

Empire Meadows (Clarion) Hotel
Secaucus, New Jersey

(30 minutes from New York City)

Learn more: http://www.unacconference2015.org

I'll be speaking there Friday evening, May 8, and hope to see you!

—David Swanson

Focus: Hillary Clinton - May 6, 2015


Hillary Clinton's Campaign Declares War Against 'Clinton Cash', with new website and a 42-page report - NationalJournal.com


VIDEO: New Clinton-Backed Web Site Called 'The Briefing': Fact-Checking "Clinton Cash" - YouTube


VIDEO: Media Matters' David Brock Calls "Clinton Cash" Allegations A Classic Smear Based On A 100 Percent Innuendo - MSNBC


Pro-Clinton group called Correct the Record: “Clinton Cash” Debunked - Correct The Record


Bill Clinton defends foundation dismissing the suggestion that  foreign donations influenced American policy - yahoo.com


VIDEO: Bill Clinton Defends Clinton Foundation's Foreign Money - NBC Nightly News


State Department Says No Evidence Donations Influenced Hillary Clinton - Bloomberg Politics


The Clintons, a luxury jet and their $100 million donor from Canada - The Washington Post


The Clintons Pressured Kazakhs To OK Uranium Deal - The Daily Caller


Clinton helped companies that donated to foundation profit off Africa - WashingtonExaminer.com


Boeing gave to Clinton causes after Hillary steered its Russian contract - WashingtonExaminer.com


Billionaire Tied to Russian Mob to Hold Fundraiser for Hillary Clinton - Washington Free Beacon


Hillary Clinton's final trip as secretary of state highlighted conflicts - WashingtonExaminer.com


Bill Clinton Amassed $104.9 Million From 542 Speeches - bayoubuzz.com


The Clintons Incurred Up To $7.4 Million In Capital Gains - The Daily Caller


The Clinton Foundation isn’t a “charity” in any normal sense of the word - Hot Air


New Judicial Watch Lawsuit over Clinton Cover-Up - Breitbart


VIDEO: Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton's Fact-Check Video - Bloomberg


Clinton Cash author: I like Marco Rubio (Audio interview with Peter Schweizer) - POLITICO


--------------------------------------------------

NBC/WSJ POLL: Hillary's unfavorable rating has increased 6% and just 25% of voters give her high marks for being honest - MSNBC


NBC/WSJ POLL: A detailed analysis of Clinton's numbers - NBC News.com


Times/CBS News POLL: Hillary Clinton’s Appeal Survives Scrutiny, her favorability rating has improved by 9% - NYTimes.com


POLLS: Hillary Clinton up or down? Two political surveys with opposite headlines - LA Times


IBD/TIPP POLL: Hillary Clinton Dogged By Trust Issues - Investors.com


WMUR Granite State POLL: Clinton leads but some Democrats looking for alternative, One-third of likely primary voters prefer Warren or Sanders - WMUR Home


Carly Fiorina: Hillary Clinton 'clearly is not trustworthy' - WashingtonExaminer.com


Hillary Clinton agrees to testify before Benghazi committee on attacks, personal email - Washington Times


Text of Clinton attorney David Kendall's letter to chairman of the Benghazi committee Trey Gowdy - scribd.com


Watchdog blows ethics whistle on Clinton, Reid, Senate Democrat meetings - WashingtonExaminer.com


Hillary monetizes Mother’s Day with call-from-Clinton contest - New York Post

 

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DISSOLVING FASCISM - Reflections 70 Years After the Fall of Nazi Germany

"The fascist madman cannot be made innocuous if [...] he is not tracked down in oneself; if we are not conversant with the social institutions that hatch him daily.”  (1)
-- Wilhelm Reich

With the conquest of Berlin carried out by the Red Army, the Third Reich and the Second World War ended in Europe on May 8th 1945. With the unconditional capitulation of Germany, one of the worst massacres in human history came to its end. What happened under Hitler breaks the categories of conventional thinking in such a way that it has not been possible to really grasp or work through this history to this day. The trauma of National Socialism lies undigested and unresolved in the suppressed psychological underground of the German society and its ramifications persist to this day.

Black man warns his young grandson about the police: A Black Child Fears Cops more than Criminals

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

I was seething inside as I watched the live television coverage of the recent rebellion/riot in Baltimore as we witnessed yet another explosion caused by America’s historic failures to reign in abusive police. Then I received a text message that lead to a conversation that absolutely broke my heart.

The conversation was with my 11-year-old grandson, who himself was seething from what he saw going on in his hometown of Baltimore.

My grandson told me he was mad…mad because police “keep killing black men.”

When I probed further into his anger he said he feared for his own life -– not because of what might happen when he gets older because of what could happen even now if he encountered a police officer.

Michael Gould-Wartofsky: The New Age of Counterinsurgency Policing

In the part of Baltimore hardest hit by the recent riots and arson, more than a third of families live in  poverty, median income is $24,000, the unemployment rate is over 50%, some areas burnt out in the riots of 1968 have never been rebuilt, 

Chicago Protests "Hands Off Yemen - No More Wars For Empire!"

By Chicago World Can't Wait          World Can’t Wait Chicago joined a coalition of other organizations and concerned individuals on April 25 to condemn the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian war on Yemen now underway. Called on short notice, it was good to see 50-75 people with banners and signs saying “Hands Off Yemen” and “Saudi Rulers Are War Criminals” and “No U.S. Intervention.”

Chicago Protests "Hands Off Yemen - No More Wars For Empire!"

By Chicago World Can't Wait          World Can’t Wait Chicago joined a coalition of other organizations and concerned individuals on April 25 to condemn the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian war on Yemen now underway. Called on short notice, it was good to see 50-75 people with banners and signs saying “Hands Off Yemen” and “Saudi Rulers Are War Criminals” and “No U.S. Intervention.”

Chicago Protests "Hands Off Yemen - No More Wars For Empire!"

By Chicago World Can't Wait          World Can’t Wait Chicago joined a coalition of other organizations and concerned individuals on April 25 to condemn the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian war on Yemen now underway. Called on short notice, it was good to see 50-75 people with banners and signs saying “Hands Off Yemen” and “Saudi Rulers Are War Criminals” and “No U.S. Intervention.”

What to say to people who drone on about how good drones are

by Debra Sweet    A few points on the U.S. drone war which will not surprise you, but should be in your arsenal of arguments for people who think drones are an acceptable form of mass murder:

Syria News - May 5, 2015


Nusra-led militants pound Hezbollah, Syria army posts near Lebanon border - THE DAILY STAR


Hezbollah and Syrian army determined to cut off access of ISIS and Nusra Front to any towns near the border - THE DAILY STAR


Lebanese Army Mobilizing to Avert Threats by Jihadists in Syria's Qalamoun - Naharnet


Lebanon Speaker Berri backs Qalamoun fight to oust jihadists - THE DAILY STAR


Sources: al-Nusra evacuates its positions in Qalamoun hills that are difficult to defend to avoid paying a high price - Al-Monitor


Nusra to use anti-tank weapons in Qalamoun battle - Islam Times


PHOTO: Jabhat al-Nusra is giving training in the use of 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles in the Qalamoun - Charles Lister on Twitter


'We’ll Die Before They Make Us Leave': Lebanese Christians Are Ready to Face the Islamic State on Syria's Border - VICE News


Specter of assassinations by jihadist groups revived in Lebanon - THE DAILY STAR


Relatives visit Lebanese captive on Arsal outskirts, one of 25 Lebanese servicemen being held hostage by the Nusra Front and ISIS since August - THE DAILY STAR


Qatar about to seal deal with Nusra to release Lebanese security officers in exchange for prisoners in Roumieh - An-Nahar


ISIS returns bodies of Lebanon soldier, civilian - THE DAILY STAR


Lebanese General Security arrests Tripoli's ISIS emir - THE DAILY STAR


How Al Qaeda's Syrian Affiliate Jabhat al Nusra Is Trying To Take Northern Lebanon - ibtimes.com


Syria army launches offensive on rebel attacks in regime bastion Latakia - Middle East Online


Pro-Assad forces strive for control of Southern Syria - ARA News


Assad army tightens siege of rebel bastion Goutha near Damascus - ZAMAN ALWSL


Syria: Assad regime accused of chlorine gas attack in Idib - ibtimes.co.uk


Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front claimes responsibility for a suicide attack in Damascus - Yahoo News


Inside Aleppo: Syrian activists reveal kidnap and torture at hands of al-Nusra extremists - The Independent


VIDEO: Activists Reveal Torture At The Hands of Al-Nusra - LiveLeak.com


Syria moves to stabilize its ailing currency - The Salt Lake Tribune

 

---------------------------------------------------

De Mistura to kick off separate talks with rival Syria sides - THE DAILY STAR


Iran will take part in new Syria consultations, UN says - Fox News


US not opposed to Iranian participation in Syria talks, supports a political solution - middleeastmonitor.com


EU's Mogherini sees 'major role' for Iran in Syria talks - Yahoo News


Syrian Opposition Coalition: Participation in the Geneva Talks to Consider How To Get Rid of Assad - etilaf.org


Report: Iran Spends $35 Billion a Year to Prop Up Assad - Arutz Sheva


Syria's defense minister in Iran to step up fight against 'terrorists' - THE DAILY STAR


Iran to launch maritime shipping line with Syria - ARA News


CIA-Backed Rebels Fight Alongside al-Qaeda Wing in Northern Syria - Reuters


VIDEO: ICP Asks Syrian Coalition's Khoja of FSA Working With Nusra, He Says “Tactical Alliance" - YouTube


Army of Conquest backed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Coalition comprises mostly Islamist groups, the most prominent being Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham - AFP


VIDEO: Syrian Rebels Hit Syrian Army Vehicle With TOW ATGM In Idlib - YouTube


The U.S. $500-million program to train anti-Islamic State fighters appears stalled - LA Times


VIDEO: Activists: 52 killed civilians in U.S.-led airstrike in Syria - YouTube


Pentagon: US Military Says Coalition Airstrikes Killed ISIS Fighters, Not Syrian Civilians - breitbart.com


Syrian Archbishop: Obama Must Stop ISIS' Slaughter of Christians (VIDEO) - Newsmax


Syria accuses Turkey of providing supporting fire and logistical help enabling "terrorist groups" to capture the Syrian city of Idlib - Reuters


Turkey May Have Found Syrian Horse To Back In Ahrar al Sham, But US Disagrees - ibtimes.com


Turkistan Islamic Party had significant role in recent Idlib offensive - The Long War Journal


Turkey Opposition Puts $16B Price Tag on Neighborhood Wars - VOA


Turkish military puts brakes on a Syrian intervention - Al-Monitor


Fertilizer, Also Suited for Bombs, Flows to ISIS Territory From Turkey - NYTimes.com


Syria crisis: Spooked by rebel gains, Jordan doubles down vs. Islamic State - CSMonitor.com


Palestinian Delegation to Meet With Syrian Government in Damascus - syrianobserver.com


The Defenders of Yarmouk, Pro-Assad Palestinian militias are fighting a grinding battle to the death against the Islamic State - Foreign Policy

 

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Talk Nation Radio: Kathy Kelly: Fog of War Is Not the Problem

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-kathy-kelly-fog-of-war-is-not-the-problem

Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( http://vcnv.org ) a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare. During each of fourteen trips to Afghanistan, since 2010, Kathy Kelly, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She is just out of prison for having protested drone murders at Whiteman Airforce Base in Missouri. Kelly discusses the state of peace and war.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

The U.S. Bill of Rights Rewritten to Match Reality

There just might be a big boost in government honesty soon, as both houses of Congress have now passed with two-thirds votes and sent to the states for ratification a potential 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution bearing the unofficial title "The Truth in Advertising Amendment." This is the text as passed by Congress:

Amendment 28

Preamble: The first through tenth articles of amendment to the Constitution of the United States are hereby repealed.

1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, apart from tax breaks for churches, and other than appropriate surveillance, entrapment, and drone strikes for members of any non-established religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof except where that exercise withholds taxes that fund war; or abridging the freedom of campaign bribery in any way or the freedom of speech from within adequate caged areas at an appropriate distance from potential listeners, unless that speech reveals wrongdoing by the government; or of the press cartel or of its right to propagandize for war; or the right of white people peaceably to assemble when not organizing a union, opposing a war, or protesting injustice, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, and to peaceably contemplate the Government's wisdom in ignoring any demands.

2. A well-armed world, being necessary to the profits of the weapons makers, the right of the people, police, government, and foreign nations to keep and bear any weapon they can afford to purchase, shall not be infringed, nor facts about the damage done be openly discussed.

3. No soldier shall, in time of peace be educated in the optional, unnecessary, counterproductive, uncontrollable, murderous, and trauma-inducing nature of war, nor any war veteran be quartered in any house without the proper funding or loan to purchase or rent that house in a manner to be prescribed by law.

4. The right of white people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated much, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized, unless the Government deems it appropriate to collect any electronic or other communication, or to record or film any behavior, or to kidnap, imprison, torture, or murder any person.

5. No police officer shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger, in which cases fuggedaboutit; nor shall any white person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall any high-ranking official be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor any non-whistleblower be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, except as stipulated in section 4; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation, unless someone has smoked marijuana.

6. In all criminal prosecutions of extremely wealthy defendants, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty million dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the White House Office of Legal Counsel.

8. Excessive bail shall not be required of white people, nor excessive fines imposed on high-ranking officials, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted on non-whistleblowers, nor on anyone who has not been designated a military-aged male.

9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, including the right to shop.

10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people, at the discretion of the President.

Watching Shadows of Liberty

A powerful new film on what's wrong with the U.S. media is now being screened around the country. It's called Shadows of Liberty and you can set up a screening of it as part of an upcoming international week of actions for whistleblowers called Stand Up For Truth. Or you can buy the DVD or catch it on Link TV. (Here in Charlottesville I'll be speaking at the event, May 19, 7 p.m. at The Bridge.)

Judith Miller is on a rehabilitative book tour; the Washington Post recently reported that a victim of Baltimore police murder broke his own spine; and recently leaked emails from the State Department asked Sony to entertain us into proper war support. The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner was just blocked, for now, but the existence of those mega-monopolies in their current form is at the root of the problem, according to Shadows of Liberty.

Allowing for-profit companies to decide what we learn about the world and our government, allowing those companies to consolidate into a tiny cartel controlling the formerly public airwaves, allowing them to be owned by much larger companies that rely on the government for weapons contracts, and allowing them to determine politicians' access to the public and to bribe politicians with "campaign contributions" -- this, in the analysis of Shadows of Liberty, this subservience of public space to private profit is what creates news that misinforms, that takes no interest in the poor, that propagandizes for wars, and that shuts out any journalist who steps out of line.

The film is not primarily analysis, but example. The first example is of Roberta Baskin's reports for CBS on Nike's labor abuses in Asia. CBS killed her big story in exchange for Nike paying CBS so much money that CBS agreed to have all of its "journalists" wear Nike logos during their olympics "coverage."

Another example from CBS in the film is the shooting down of TWA flight 800 by the U.S. Navy, a case of media cowardice and government intimidation, which I wrote about here. As Shadows of Liberty points out, CBS was at the time owned by Westinghouse which had big military contracts. As a for-profit business, there was no question where it would side between one good reporter and the Pentagon. (This is exactly why the owner of the Washington Post shouldn't be someone with much larger funding flowing in from the CIA.)

The New York Timesseemed impressed by an earlier film devoted entirely to the TWA flight 800 mass-killing. The Times favored a new investigation but lamented the supposed lack of any entity that could credibly perform an investigation. The U.S. government comes off as so untrustworthy in the film that it can't be trusted to re-investigate itself. So a leading newspaper, whose job it ought to be to investigate the government, feels at a loss for what to do without a government that can credibly and voluntarily perform the media's own job for it and hold itself accountable. Pathetic. If only Nike were offering to pay the New York Times to investigate the government!

Another example in the bad media highlight reel in Shadows of Liberty is the case of Gary Webb's reporting on the CIA and crack cocaine, also the subject of a recent movie. Another is, inevitably, the propaganda that launched the 2003 attack on Iraq. I just read an analysis of Judith Miller's role that blamed her principally for not correcting her "mistakes" when the lies were exposed. I disagree. I blame her principally for publishing claims that were ludicrous at the time and which she never would have published if made by any non-governmental entity or any of 199 of the 200 national governments on earth. Only the U.S. government gets that treatment from its U.S. media partners in crime -- and in fact only certain elements within the U.S. government. While Colin Powell lied to the world and much of the world laughed, but the U.S. media bowed down, his son pushed through yet more media consolidation. I agree with the recommendation of Shadows of Liberty to blame the media owners, but that doesn't subtract any blame from the employees.

To the credit of Shadows of Liberty it includes among the stories it tells some examples of complete media silence. The story of Sibel Edmonds, for example, was totally whited out by the U.S. mega-media, although not abroad. Another example would be Operation Merlin (the CIA's giving of nuclear plans to Iran), not to mention the extension of Operation Merlin to Iraq. Dan Ellsberg says in the film that a government official will tell the big newspapers to leave a story alone, and the other outlets will "follow the lead of silence."

The U.S. public airwaves were given to private companies in 1934 with big limits on monopolies later stripped out by Reagan and Clinton and the Congresses that worked with them. The 1996 Telecom Act signed by Clinton created the mega-monopolies that have destroyed local news and already guaranteed his wife a 2016 presidential nomination on the basis of the money she'll spend on TV ads.

The bad media's greatest hits are finding a miniature progressive echo-chamber but are not, in fact, isolated cases. Rather they are extreme examples that have taught lessons to countless other "journalists" who have sought to keep their jobs by never stepping out of line in the first place.

The problem with the corporate media is not particular incidents, but how it always reports on everything including the government (which always means well) and wars (there must always be more) and the economy (it must grow and enrich investors) and people (they are helpless and powerless). The particular story lines that do the most damage are not always inherently the worst. Rather, they are those that make it into the general corporate echo-chamber.

The Washington Post sometimes admits exactly what it does wrong but counts on most people never to notice, because such articles will not be repeated and discussed in all the papers and on all the shows.

According to Shadows of Liberty, 40-70% of "news" is based on ideas that come from corporate PR departments. Another good chunk, I suspect, comes from government PR departments. A plurality in the U.S. in the last poll I saw believed Iraq had benefitted from the war on Iraq and was grateful. A Gallup poll of 65 countries at the end of 2013 found the U.S. widely believed the be the greatest threat to peace on earth, but within the U.S., as a glaring result of nothing but ludicrous propaganda, Iran was deemed worthy of that honor.

The Tonight Show regularly asks people if they can name a senator and then if they can name some cartoon character, etc., showing that people know stupid stuff. Ha ha. But that's how the corporate media shapes people, and clearly the U.S. government doesn't object enough to do anything about it. If nobody knows your name, they won't be protesting you anytime soon. And there's never any need to worry about being reelected.

Shadows of Liberty is long on problem and short on solution, but its value is in exposing people to an understanding of the problem. And the solution offered is just right, as far as it goes. The solution offered is to keep the internet open and use it. I agree. And one of the ways in which we ought to use it is to popularize foreign reporting on the United States that outdoes domestic reporting. If media tends to report well only on nations in which it is not based, and yet it's all equally accessible online, we need to start finding and reading the media about our country produced in others. In the process, perhaps we can develop some sense of caring what 95% of humanity thinks about this 5%. And in that process perhaps we can weaken nationalism just a bit.

Independent media is the solution proposed, not public media, and not a restoration of the corporate media to its earlier not-quite-so-awful form. The shrinking of newsrooms is to be lamented, of course, but perhaps the recruitment of foreign news rooms and independent bloggers can mitigate that loss in a way that imploring the monopolists to do better won't achieve. I think that part of the solution is creating better independent media, but part of it is finding, reading, appreciating, and using independent and foreign media. And part of that shift in attitude should be dropping the absurd idea of "objectivity," understood as point-of-viewlessness. Another part should be redefining our reality to exist without the blessing of the corporate media, so that we can be inspired to build activist movements whether or not they are on corporate TV. This includes, of course, persuading independent media to invest in stories that are ignored by corporations, not just focus on retelling in a better way the stories the corporations tell wrong.

Independent media has long been the most bang we could get for a buck donated to a useful cause. The next year-and-a-half is a real opportunity, because a completely broken U.S. election system expects hundreds of millions of dollars from well-meaning people to be given to candidates to give to the TV networks to whom we gave our airwaves. What if we withheld some of that money and built up our own media and activism structures? And why think of the two (media and activism) as separate? I think the jury is still out on The Intercept as new independent media, but it's already far superior to the Washington Post.

No independent media will be perfect. I wish Shadows of Liberty didn't glorify the American revolution to sounds of cannon fire. Later we hear President Reagan calling the Contras "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers" while the film shows dead bodies -- as if the American revolution produced none of those. But the point that free press, as theoretically provided by the first amendment, is critical to self-governance is right on. The first step in creating freedom of the press is publicly identifying its absence and the causes.

Engelhardt: Counting Bodies, Then and Now

Who Counts? 

Body Counts, Drones, and “Collateral Damage” (aka “Bug Splat”)

By Tom Engelhardt

The Ugly Myth of U.S. Exceptionalism

      For inexplicable reasons, the United States citizenry clings to the idea of 'exceptionalism', that heady concept that says that the U.S. is different from and better than all the rest of the world, and therefore has a sacred obligation to spread its goodness around the globe. In 2014, President Barack Obama said this: "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being."

Too Little Whistleblowing on Vietman

The Lasting Pain from Vietnam Silence

May 1, 2015

Editor Note:  Many reflections on America’s final days in Vietnam miss the point, pondering whether the war could have been won or lamenting the fate of U.S. collaborators left behind. The bigger questions are why did the U.S. go to war and why wasn’t the bloodletting stopped sooner, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern reflects.

By Ray McGovern

Ecclesiastessays there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. The fortieth anniversary of the ugly end of the U.S. adventure in Vietnam is a time to speak – and especially of the squandered opportunities that existed earlier in the war to blow the whistle and stop the killing.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - May 2, 2015


VIDEO: 'Clinton Cash’ author Peter Schweize responds to criticism - MSNBC


VIDEO: 'Clinton Cash’ author Peter Schweize defends book - Fox News


Charges fly over alleged Indian money to Clintons to push nuclear deal - The Times of India


Hotelier Alleges He Paid Off Hillary Clinton to push India nuclear deal - Oyster.com


Indian Congress Wants Inquiry Into 'Clinton Cash' Donations Of Party Leader - Breitbart


VIDEO: White House on Clinton Foundation: No evidence to indicate that those contributions had any impact on any policy decisions - ijreview


Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal - NYTimes.com


Canadian Charity's Revenue Dropped Substantially the Year Hillary Clinton Resigned as Secretary of State - Breitbart


Uranium Company's Lobbyist Podesta Has Clinton Ties - The Daily Caller


Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Podesta Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar - Steve Horn


Bill Clinton paid $2.5 million in speaking fees by firms that lobbied Hillary - ibtimes


181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary's State Department - Vox


Goldman Paid Bill Clinton $200,000 For Speech Before Bank Lobbied Hillary Clinton - ibtimes


Clinton cash — the GE-Algeria connection - Power Line


GE CEO: I will not release the Hillary emails during the period in which GE was donating to the Clinton Foundation - The Daily Caller


Inside Morocco’s Campaign To Influence Hillary Clinton and Other U.S. Leaders - The Intercept


Firms tied to Clintons profited in post-quake Haiti - Fox News


VIDEO (Full Report): The Tangled Clinton Web – Fox News Reporting


11 Explosive Clinton Cash Facts Mainstream Media Confirm are Accurate - Government Accountability Institute


Twenty-Plus Errors, Fabrications, And Distortions In Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash - Media Matters for America


------------------------------------------------------------

Canadian Partnership Shielded Identities of 1,100 Donors to Clinton Foundation - NYTimes.com

 

Clinton charity never provided foreign donor data as required under White House agreement, Boston group admits to mistakes - Boston Globe


Clinton charities will refile tax returns after Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments - Reuters


VIDEO: Clinton Broke Confirmation Hearing Promise To Disclose Foreign Donations - CBS


VIDEO: State Department Spokeswoman: I Don't 'Automatically Assume Problematic' Hillary Broke White House Disclosure Agreement - Breitbart


Common Cause Urges Independent Audit of Donations to Clinton Foundation - Common Cause


Watchdog: Clinton foundation got $140 million in cash and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid, bulk of windfall spent on administration, travel, salaries and bonuses - New York Post


VIDEO: Report: Clinton Foundation gives only 10 percent to charity - Fox News


Clinton Foundation in tailspin, Donors are having second thoughts about big giving as accusations fly about Hillary Clinton’s role - POLITICO


Clinton Charities Raked in Millions of Taxpayer Dollars - Washington Free Beacon


Clinton Foundation distributed useless drugs to AIDS patients - wnd.com

 

JW Sues State Dept for Clinton's iPad and iPhone Records - judicialwatch.org


Watchdog blasts State Dept., Clintons after four-year battle for documents - Fox News


State Department allowing Clinton Foundation to approve emails for release - WashingtonExaminer.com


Trey Gowdy: I might take Hillary Clinton's word on emails if it’s under oath - Washington Times


Boehner on Hillary emails: 'These things just don't go away' - WashingtonExaminer.com


------------------------------------------------------

POLL: Americans doubt Clinton's honesty after emails - AP


POLL: 63% Think Hillary Clinton May Have Helped Foreign Donors As Secretary of State - Rasmussen Reports


POLL: In Virginia Republicans gaining on Clinton - The Washington Post


POLL: Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul closest Republicans to Hillary Clinton in Iowa - Washington Times


Want to know what sets Bernie Sanders apart from Hillary Clinton? Look at their donors - Vox


Hillary Clinton a Free Trader, or Not, Depending on the Moment - Bloomberg Politics


Why Larry Flynt Is Endorsing Hillary Clinton (VIDEO) - Bloomberg Politics

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

To unsubscribe reply with “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Anthony "Tony" Podesta began lobbying in late 2013 on behalf of a company co-owned by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum aiming to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the global market. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, former top climate change adviser to President Barack Obama and current top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton's 2016 bid for president

Tony Podesta Golden Pass LNG

Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Anthony "Tony" Podesta began lobbying in late 2013 on behalf of a company co-owned by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum aiming to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the global market. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, former top climate change adviser to President Barack Obama and current top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton's 2016 bid for president

Tony Podesta Golden Pass LNG

Invest in Activism, Not Bernie Sanders

Yes, Bernie Sanders would be a far superior president to Hillary Clinton.

That requires a bit of elaboration. Something I just scraped off my shoe would be a far superior president to Hillary Clinton, but Sanders would actually be good in a whole lot of ways. He has numerous imperfections, but the contrast with Clinton is like day to night.

I'd rather have him running than not.

But please do not give him or Hillary or the wonderful Jill Stein or any other candidate a dime or a moment of your life. Instead, join the movement that's in the streets of Baltimore opposing police murder, that's in the halls of the United Nations pushing to abolish nukes, that's blocking mountaintop removal, divesting from Israel, advancing renewable energy, and struggling to create fair elections through steps like automatic registration in Oregon, and pushing legislation to provide free media, match small donors, give each voter a tax credit to contribute, or take the power to establish plutocracy away from the Supreme Court. 

I'm not against elections. I think we should have one some day. At the presidential level we do not currently have elections. That office is not up for election; it is up for sale.

The point is not that we should abandon all hope or that when the going gets tough we should just give up. The point is that there is a huge opportunity here. Hillary Clinton expects to bring in billions (with a B) in bribery for her campaign (primary and general). To begin to compete with Hillary, Sanders would have to bring in a big chunk of that, at least some hundreds of millions of dollars.

For that kind of money we could create a television network dedicated to peace and justice and democracy from here on out. Or we could open a counter-recruiting office next-door to every military recruitment office in the United States. Or we could organize and bus people in for the largest and longest march on Washington against racism, militarism, extreme materialism, and the corruption of our elections ever seen, complete with food supplies and bail funds for as long as it takes. Instead of a march for nothing, how about an occupation for no more Bushes or Clintons or anyone like them?

The complete breakdown of the presidential election system is made obvious to some by the pairing of another Clinton against another Bush. Sanders muddies that clear picture, but only if you imagine he actually has a chance. On that basis, some will now propose to take a year away from policy-based principled activism, after which, the thinking will go, what's another half a year for hold-your-nose lesserevilist Clinton campaigning? And, please understand, by entering the Democratic primaries, Sanders has committed to supporting the Democratic Party nominee and to encouraging his supporters to support her.

Activism gave women the right to vote. Activism got kids out of factories. Activism got the Navy out of Vieques. Activism won the last civil rights movement. Activism has always been the driving force for change. Two years of "registering voters" busy work out of every four years, and the reliance on corrupt figures that it creates, drains away our activism. It was activism that forced President Bush in 2008 to end the war on Iraq as of 2011 in a treaty signed by himself and Iraqi President Maliki. It was the antiwar uproar of the Bush years that led Congress members to think twice about voting for a new war in 2013 and has left them incapable of formally supporting the new war in Iraq that President Obama launched in 2014 despite the feelings of any number of people who believed that voting for him was somehow a significant act.

I worked as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich for president in 2004. I watched him make all the right points and win the most standing ovations in debates with the other Democrats. The reports the next day tended to mention him in the last paragraph as having also been there. And if you asked people in the room cheering for him they'd say "Yeah, I'd vote for him if he had a chance." And inwardly, and sometimes outwardly, I'd rage at them: "Imagine the chance he'd have if all you morons weren't bowing down to your televisions? Why show up and act as if you have an independent brain if you're just going to do what your television told you to do?"

So, here I am in the role of "that jerk" telling Bernie Sanders fanatics that it's hopeless -- a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom if ever there was one. But we have limited time, energy, and money. I don't think saving the planet is hopeless. I just think the best place to put our resources is into uncorrupted, principled, policy-driven, nonviolent, creative activism -- including the activism needed to create fair, open, verifiable elections.

Sure, we now have the internet in a slightly larger way than a decade ago. Sure, a few more people are disgusted enough with Clinton without yet being disgusted with the whole broken system. Sanders is coming to speak in a very small church in my town next week and I'll probably go listen. Any tiny influence the corporate media will allow him on the conversation, so much the better. Maybe with only two Democrats running they'll be forced to allow him a few seconds here and there. Maybe he'll point out that a corrupt corporate hack who voted for the war on Iraq was unacceptable last time and should be again. And yet, she'll be accepted.

The price has been rising. The media has been worsening. Sanders will be skillfully marginalized and mocked. Hillary will avoid debating him. And the election will place either a Democratic or a Republican catastrophe in the White House. Not because I have some sort of wisdom due to having been around a few years. Not because I'm in a bad mood. But because the media monopolies that Clinton's husband facilitated have demonstrably grown more powerful than ever, and elections have grown more corrupted by money -- Just ask Hillary who pretends to oppose it.

Now anything is technically possible. But considering the scandals already known about Hillary Clinton, what sort of new one could make a difference? None that I can even imagine. She could suffer some unfortunate sudden illness or accident, but in that unlikely and undesirable scenario, the media would hand the election to the Republican, even blame Sanders for Clinton's illness or death. You think I'm kidding? The Washington Post just suggested that a victim of Baltimore Police murder broke his own spine.

There's no need for any hard feelings at all among those who mean well. You think the smartest strategy is raising funds for Bernie, we can still be the best of friends. I just happen to disagree. The real question is not whether the next President will be a walking disaster, but what sort of popular movement will have been developed to resist it.

Sandy Tolan: The One-State Conundrum

Here’s a punchline the Obama administration could affix to the Middle East right now: With allies like these, who needs enemies?

40 years after Vietnam: Celebrating the End of One War, and Witnessing the Start of a New One Here at Home

By Dave Lindorff


It was 40 years ago today that the last troops from America’s criminal war against the people of Vietnam scurried ignominiously onto a helicopter on the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and fled the country where US forces had killed some 3-4 million people in the name of “fighting Communism.” 


Grand Canyon Sized Outrage Over Plans for Grand Canyon

"What a horrible idea! Leave this magnificent place as nature made it!" — Mikell Werder

"NO! NO! NO! Leave our natural wonder ALONE!" — cathy blaivas

RootsAction.org has posted a lot of petitions, but most have not gathered 30,000 signatures in the first day. This one's off to an enthusiastic start and includes comments like these.

"The Grand Canyon is a world treasure; leave it alone!" — Carol & David Moudry

"Developing the Grand Canyon would be and is one of the worst ideas ever!!! Where will this money grubbing desire stop?" — Joseph Gleason

What has people so upset? One of the most deservedly celebrated natural wonders in North America is also among the most endangered. Plans for uranium mining, a tourist tram line, and massive "development" threaten the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. So we're going to deliver this petition to the U.S. Forest Service.

A mining company, Energy Fuels Resources, is seeking to reopen the Canyon Mine uranium mine near the south rim of the Grand Canyon and sink an additional 1,200 feet of shaft to reach ore. A proposed 1.6-mile tramway would take tourists from new commercial developments on the canyon's rim to the canyon's floor. The nearby town of Tusayan, Ariz., is proposing a mega-development that the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park has called one of the greatest threats in the park's 96-year history. The Stilo Development Group, based in Italy, would build in Kaibab National Forest, and profit from, 2,000 homes, 3 million square feet of commercial space, a spa, a dude ranch, and even a water slide -- with no source of water identified. Porca miseria, cosa farete, amici nostri italiani?!

People are taking this very seriously:

"This leaves me speechless. What has become of America? If we allow even the Grand Canyon to become a sacrifice zone for profit, maybe America isn't worth saving. I have visited the Grand Canyon, and it is magnificent. Let's keep it that way." — Lucia Dutton

"It boggles the mind that anyone would even consider developing this unparalleled resource. This is only shameless profiteering." — Rod Danner

It boggles the mind because even as we go merrily about rendering the earth uninhabitable, we expect the Grand Canyon to remain unharmed. Instead it could exist for millions of years with human-made touristy crap clinging all over it. There may be few if any people to see it, but we still know it will be that way, and it upsets people. I mean, what if our grandchildren survive and have to look at it? So, we're asking the Forest Service to reject the town's special use permit.

Numerous petition signers are denouncing greed:

"What hideous, short-sighted proposals. Must every natural wonder be peed-upon by developers/profit making interests? Hearing of this makes me sick at heart, especially since commercial interests get their way so much of the time in the U.S. where nothing is sacred except for the dollar. The uranium mine proposal is equally appalling. What is the end use of this uranium …for another Fukushima? …for depleted uranium in missiles and bullets (which cause birth defects, cancer, immunity problems as in Iraq). These development ideas are not meant to serve the public; they are for individual short-term-profit...where everything and everybody is for sale. Do not sell out the Grand Canyon." — Kathy Hamilton

"This whole area is known to the world as a beautiful wonder which would be protected forever by any other nation. The Forest Service is our only hope for protection of our treasured Grand Canyon here in the US, as corporate greed has overrun our very government! PLEASE PROTECT IT!" — Dorothy Richmond

People who've seen other spots ruined want this one spared:

"Really? you want to spoil that beautiful place? Just came back from Phoenix and that has been over built and ruined with only fountains and Wisconsin style grass to replace the beauty of the desert. Please leave the Grand Canyon alone." — Joan Ouellette

"The Grand Canyon is too important to sell off. It is irreplaceable, and the kind of development under consideration will destroy this Natural Wonder forever. Doesn't the Grand Canyon belong to all of us? Doesn't the Grand Canyon belong to Future Generations? Is there nothing more important than profits anymore? Do not sell what belongs to ME. Do not sell what belongs to YOU. Do not sell what belongs to OUR FUTURE. Thank you." — marcus white

"Anyone asking the Hopis about these plans?" — Lynne Lee

A number of commenters appeal to enlightened capitalism:

"Please do not allow any construction whatsoever in or near the glorious Grand Canyon, which is not only a national treasure but a treasure for the entire planet - worth so much more than any amount of uranium or additional tourist dollars! Indeed, many tourists will avoid an over-exploited Grand." — Judi Avery

"The fact that it is unspoiled by development is the major attraction. This is just more pandering to corporations if development and mining is allowed." — Marshall A. Boyler

Some ask the Forest Service to do its job:

"I had the impression that this was set aside to be preserved for future generations, not EXPLOITED/destroyed by this one. DO YOUR JOB." — jon cooper

Some ask those involved to find their lost souls:

"The natural world does not exist for human plunder and commercial profit. It is inconceivable to me that anyone could visit the canyon and completely miss its beauty and sacredness. Anyone who can stand on the edge of this awesome site and scheme about how to make money has truly lost his/her soul." — Wallace Schultz

A Preview of Coming Wars: Do Black Lives Matter in Africa?

Reading Nick Turse's new book, Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, raises the question of whether black lives in Africa matter to the U.S. military any more than black lives in the United States matter to the police lately trained and armed by that military.

Turse scouts out the still little told tale of U.S. military expansion into Africa over the past 14 years, and primarily over the past 6 years. Five to eight thousand U.S. troops plus mercenaries are training, arming, and fighting alongside and against African militaries and rebel groups in nearly every nation in Africa. Major land and water routes to bring in the U.S. armaments, and all the accouterments of bases housing U.S. troops, have been established to avoid the local suspicions created by building and improving airports. And yet, the U.S. military has proceeded to acquire local agreements to make use of 29 international airports and gotten to work building and improving runways at a number of them.

The U.S. militarization of Africa includes airstrikes and commando raids in Libya; "black ops" missions and drone murders in Somalia; a proxy war in Mali; secretive actions in Chad; anti-piracy operations that result in increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea; wide-ranging drone operations out of bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, and the Seychelles; "special" operations out of bases in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; CIA bungling in Somalia; over a dozen joint training exercises a year; arming and training of soldiers in places like Uganda, Burundi, and Kenya; a "joint special operations" operation in Burkina Faso; base construction aimed at accommodating future "surges" of troops; legions of mercenary spies; the expansion of a former French foreign legion base in Djibouti and joint war-making with France in Mali (Turse must be reminded of that other wonderfully successful U.S. takeover of French colonialism known as the war on Vietnam).

AFRICOM (Africa Command) is in fact headquartered in Germany with plans to be based at the giant new U.S. base built in Vicenza, Italy, against the will of the Vicentini. Important parts of AFRICOM's structure are in Sigonella, Sicily; Rota, Spain; Aruba; and Souda Bay, Greece -- all U.S. military outposts.

Recent U.S. military actions in Africa are mostly quiet interventions that stand a good chance of leading to enough chaos to be used as justifications for future public "interventions" in the form of larger wars that will be marketed without mention of their causation. Future famous evil forces that may one day be threatening U.S. homes with vague but scary Islamic and demonic threats in U.S. "news" reports are discussed in Turse's book now and are arising now in response to militarism rarely discussed in corporate U.S. news media.

AFRICOM is advancing with as much secrecy as it can, trying to maintain the pretense of self-governance by local government "partners," as well as to avoid the scrutiny of the world. So, it hasn't been invited by public demand. It isn't riding in to prevent some horror. There has been no public debate or decision by the U.S. public. Why, then, is the United States moving U.S. war making into Africa?

AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham explains the U.S. militarization of Africa as a response to the problems it may in the future manage to create: "The absolute imperative for the United States military is to protect America, Americans, and American interests [clearly something other than Americans]; in our case, in my case, to protect us from threats that may emerge from the African continent." Asked to identify such a threat in current existence, AFRICOM cannot do so, struggling instead to pretend that African rebels are part of al Qaeda because Osama bin Laden once praised them. During the course of AFRICOM's operations, violence has been expanding, insurgent groups proliferating, terrorism rising, and failed states multiplying -- and not by coincidence.

The reference to "American interests" may be a clue to real motivations. The word "profit" may have been accidentally omitted. In any case, the stated purposes are not working out very well.

The 2011 war on Libya led to war in Mali and anarchy in Libya. And less public operations have been no less disastrous. U.S.-backed war in Mali led to attacks in Algeria, Niger, and Libya. The U.S. response to greater violence in Libya has been still more violence. The U.S. embassy in Tunisia was attacked and burned. Congolese soldiers trained by the United States have mass raped women and girls, matching the atrocities committed by U.S.-trained Ethiopian soldiers. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has arisen. The Central African Republic has had a coup. The Great Lakes region has seen violence rise. South Sudan, which the United States helped to create, has fallen into civil war and humanitarian disaster. Et cetera. This is not entirely new. U.S. roles in instigating long wars in Congo, Sudan, and elsewhere predate the current Africa "pivot." African nations, like nations in the rest of the world, tend to believe the United States is the greatest threat to peace on earth.

Turse reports that AFRICOM's spokesman Benjamin Benson used to claim the Gulf of Guinea as the sole supposed success story, until doing so became so untenable that he began claiming he'd never done so. Turse also reports that the Benghazi disaster, contrary to what common sense might suggest, became a basis for further expansion of U.S. militarism in Africa. When something's not working, try more of it! Says Greg Wilderman, the Military Construction Program manager for Naval Facilities Engineering Command, "We will be in Africa for some time to come. There's lots more to do there."

Someone recently told me that China had threatened to cut of U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson's profits from casinos in China if he continued to fund Congress members who insisted on going to war with Iran. The alleged motivation for this was that China can better buy oil from Iran if Iran is not at war. True or not, this fits Turse's description of China's approach to Africa. The U.S. relies heavily on war making. China relies more on aid and funding. The U.S. creates a nation doomed to collapse (South Sudan) and China buys its oil. This of course raises an interesting question: Why can't the United States leave the world in peace and still, like China, make itself welcome through aid and assistance, and still, like China, buy up the fossil fuels with which to destroy life on earth by means other than warfare?

The other pressing question raised by the Obama government's militarization of Africa, of course, is: Can you imagine the ear-splitting everlasting biblical proportions of the outrage had a white Republican done this?

##

Graphic from TomDispatch.

A Better Way to Read the First Amendment

Madison's Music: On Reading the First Amendment, a new book by Burt Neuborne, at first appears an unlikely work to serve much purpose today. Who wants to celebrate slave owner James Madison's view of freedom as embodied in a long outdated Constitution in desperate need of updating or rewriting? And who wants to hear it from a former legal director of the ACLU who just signed a petition supporting the hiring of Harold Koh, defender of drone murders and presidential wars of aggression, to teach human rights law at New York University, a petition by a bunch of stuffy corrupted professors countering the moral stand being taken by students?

But Neuborne's main thesis is not the worship of James Madison, and he merely suffers the same blindness to war as the rest of his society, believing, as he writes, that the world is "dependent on the anchor of American power" (whether the world wants it or not). While legalizing murder may not be a problem for Neuborne's view of the Constitution, legalizing bribery is. And that's where Madison's Music becomes useful. Each time the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of plutocracy it is ruling against precedents, common sense, basic decency, and a coherent and plausible reading of the Bill of Rights that reads the various amendments as aimed at strengthening democracy.

It's also ruling against a Constitution that nowhere gave it, the Supreme Court, any right to rule on any such things. While there is, sadly, no way to read the Supreme Court out of the Constitution, it can be quite easily understood as subject to the laws of Congress rather than vice versa. Not that today's Congress gets us any closer to democracy than does today's Supreme Court, but when our culture is ready for reform, the paths available will be numerous and each and every institution subject to reform or abolition.

The first amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Neuborne, to his credit, does not choose to read this as the ACLU does, namely as including a defense of bribery and private election spending.

Madison's original draft, severely edited by the Senate -- one of those institutions worthy of abolition, and one for which Madison himself was in part to blame -- began with protection of both religious and secular conscience. The final draft begins by forbidding the government from imposing religion, and then forbids it from prohibiting anyone's religion. The point is to establish, in an eighteenth century manner, the freedom of thought. From thought, one moves on to speech, and from ordinary speech one moves on to the press. Each of these is guaranteed freedom. Beyond speech and press, the trajectory of an idea in a democracy proceeds to mass action: the right to assemble; and beyond that there remains the right to petition the government.

As Neuborne points out, the first amendment depicts a functioning democracy; it doesn't simply list unrelated rights. Nor is freedom of speech the only real right it lists, with the other rights being simply particular instances of it. Rather, freedom of thought and press and assembly and petition are unique rights with their own purposes. But none of them are ends in themselves. The purpose of the whole array of rights is to shape a government and a society in which popular thought (at one time of wealthy white males, later expanded) has at least some significant impact on public policy. Currently, of course, it does not, and Neuborne puts much of the blame for that on the Supreme Court's choices over the centuries, well meaning and otherwise, in how to read the first amendment.

As Neuborne suggests, the right to petition the government has been neglected. Nothing goes to a vote in the House of so-called Representatives unless approved by the majority party leader. Forty-one senators representing a tiny sliver of the population can stop almost any bill in the Senate. A democratic understanding of the right of petition might allow the public to compel votes in Congress on matters of public interest. In fact, I think this understanding would not be a new one. Jefferson's Manual, which is part of the rules of the House, allows for petitions and memorials, which are often submitted to Congress by local and state governments and groups. And at least in the case of impeachment proceedings, it lists a petition and memorial (written statement of facts accompanying the petition) as one of the means of initiating impeachment proceedings. I know because thousands of us collected millions of signatures on petitions to begin the impeachment of President George W. Bush, the desirability of which also reached a majority in public opinion polls despite zero action or discussion in Washington. The public was unable to even compel a vote. Our grievances were not redressed.

The right of assembly has been confined in free-speech cages, the right of free press has been corporate-monopolized, and the right of free speech has been shriveled away in the right places and expanded in the wrong places.

I'm not convinced by those who argue against all limits on speech. Speech is, appropriately enough, not considered free when it comes to threats, blackmail, extortion, false statements causing harm, obscenity, "fighting words," commercial speech urging illegal action, or egregiously false and misleading commercial speech. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is a party, "any propaganda for war" must be prohibited, a standard which, if enforced, would eliminate a big chunk of U.S. television viewing.

So, we must choose where to allow speech and where not to, and as Neuborne documents, this is currently done with zero respect for logic. Spending money to elect a plutocratic-friendly candidate is considered "pure speech," deserving of the highest protection, but contributing money to that candidate's campaign is "indirect speech," deserving of a bit less protection and therefore subject to limits. Meanwhile burning a draft card is merely "communicative conduct" and when a voter writes in a name as a protest vote that gets no protection at all and can be banned. The Supremes do not allow judges to hear cases in which one litigant is a major benefactor of the judge, yet allow elected officials to govern people who buy them their seats. Corporations get first amendment rights despite lacking the human dignity to qualify for the fifth amendment's right to remain silent; are we supposed to pretend corporations are human or not? The Court upheld an Indiana voter ID requirement despite understanding that it would disproportionately harm the poor and despite not a single case of voter fraud being found anywhere in Indiana. If the right to outspend anyone else and effectively buy a candidate an election is the highest form of protected speech, why is the right to vote the lowest? Why are long lines to vote in poor neighborhoods allowed? Why can districts be gerrymandered to guarantee election of a candidate or party? Why can a criminal conviction strip away the right to vote? Why can elections be designed to benefit a two-party duopoly rather than the voters?

Neuborne writes that, "the robust third-party culture of the nineteenth century rested on ease of ballot access and the ability to cross-endorse. The Supreme Court has wiped out both, leaving a Republicrat cartel that stifles new ideas that might threaten the status quo."

Neuborne suggests many of the usual, and very good, solutions: creating free media on our air waves, providing tax credits to effectively give every person money to spend on elections, matching small donations as New York City does, creating automatic registration as Oregon just did, creating an election day holiday. Neuborne proposes a duty to vote, allowing an opt-out -- I'd rather add an option to vote for "none of the above." But the real solution is a popular movement that compels one or more branches of our government to view its purpose as supporting democracy, not just bombing other countries in its name.

Which brings us to the primary thing our government does, which even its detractors among law professors approve, namely war. To his credit, Neuborne favors the right to conscientious objection, as well as the free-speech right of groups or individuals to teach nonviolent action techniques to groups labeled "terrorist." Yet he supports hiring as a teacher of so-called human rights law a man who used his law background to tell Congress it had no war powers, to legitimate a brutal and blatantly illegal attack on Libya that has left behind a possibly permanent catastrophe from which helpless people are fleeing by boat, and to sanction the practice of murdering men, women, and children in large numbers by missile from drone.

I would love to see the explanation from Professor Neuborne as to how it can be the government's right to murder him (and anyone near him) with a hellfire missile, while it is simultaneously his right to be secure in his person against unreasonable search and seizure, his right not to be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, his right to a speedy and public trial, his right to be informed of the accusation and to be confronted by the witnesses, his right to subpoena witnesses, his right to a trial by jury, and his right not to suffer cruel or unusual punishment.

‘F*%king horrible’: The Public Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

In August 1936 nearly 20,000 excited spectators filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. That hanging would be the last public execution in America.

Andrew Cockburn: How Assassination Sold Drugs and Promoted Terrorism

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

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