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A whiff of SCOTUS skunk: The Odor Seeping Out of Our Criminal Justice System

By John Grant


I just thank God I’m out of this place.
              - Henry Lee McCollum

First there was Ferguson, Missouri and the gunning down of an unarmed black youth and the ad-nauseum follow-up emphasizing over-and-over the shooting officer’s fear. Now it’s the release of two half brothers in North Carolina clearly railroaded into convictions and death sentences by a notoriously remorseless, good-'ol-boy district attorney.

TEACH IN in DC

TEACH IN

September 6, 2014

American University
Washington DC

Introduction—Sam Kierstead: 11:00-11:15 AM

“The Limits of Benevolence”— William Blum: 11:15-11:45

“Latin America Panel”—Phil Brenner, Joe Eldridge, Adrienne Pine: 11:45-1:00

Break 1:00 — 1:15 PM

“Manufactured Crisis: Iran’s Missing Nukes”—Gareth Porter: 1:15-1:45

“Militarization of the Globe”—David Vine: 1:45-2:15

“Comparative Imperialism and Anti-Americanism”—Max Friedman: 2:15-2:45

Break 2:45 -- 3:00

“Propaganda and Media”—Chris Simpson and Jared Ball: 3:00-3:55

Break 3:55 -- 4:10

Peter Phillips, Project Censored, on video, then Skype for questions  4:10 - 5:10 

Extended Break— 5:10 -- 5:50

“The Untold History of the United States" -- Screening of the Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone film, 5:50 - 6:50

Peter Kuznick: Discussion and Q&A following the film

Why We Hurt Each Other: Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Truth of the Human Spirit

by Maria Popova published on Brainpickings

 

 

“Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills.”

 

Obama Opened Floodgates for Offshore Fracking in Recent Gulf of Mexico Lease

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In little-noticed news arising out of a recent Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas lease held by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the floodgates have opened for Gulf offshore hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

State Dept. Overseers of Contentious Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Workaround Have Industry, Torture Ties

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and other green groups recently revealed that pipeline giant Enbridge got U.S. State Department permission in response to its request to construct a U.S.-Canada border-crossing tar sands pipeline without earning an obligatory Presidential Permit.

Break the Vengeance Cycle: Why We Should Not Go To War Over James Foley

By John Grant


Back in June 2011, James Foley gave an hour-long interview to an auditorium of students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he had graduated three years earlier with a Master’s degree in journalism. It was 15 days after he had been released from 45 rough days of captivity in Libya. He was a handsome young hero returning to his alma-mater.

War in the Hundred Acre Woods

In the 1920s and 1930s, anybody who was anybody tried to figure out how to rid the world of war. Collectively, I'd say they got three-quarters of the way to an answer. But from 1945 to 2014, they've been ignored when possible (which is most of the time), laughed at when necessary, and on the very rare occasions that require it: attacked.

What a flock of idiots the leading thinkers of a generation all must have been. World War II happened. Therefore, war is eternal.  Everyone knows that.

But slavery abolitionists pushed on despite slavery happening another year, and another year.  Women sought the right to vote in the next election cycle following each one they were barred from.  Undoubtedly war is trickier to get rid off, because governments claim that all the other governments (and any other war makers) must go first or do it simultaneously. The possibility of someone else launching a war, combined with the false notion that war is the best way to defend against war, creates a seemingly permanent maze from which the world cannot emerge.

But difficult is far too easily distorted into impossible.  War will have to be abolished through a careful and gradual practice; it will require cleaning up the corruption of government by war profiteers; it will result in a very different world in just about every way: economically, culturally, morally.  But war will not be abolished at all if the meditations of the abolitionists are buried and not read.

Imagine if children, when they'd just gotten a bit too old for Winnie the Pooh and we're becoming old enough to read serious arguments, were told that A.A. Milne also wrote a book in 1933-1934 called Peace With Honour. Who wouldn't want to know what the creator of Winnie the Pooh thought of war and peace? And who wouldn't be thrilled to discover his wit and humor applied in all seriousness to the case for ending the most horrific enterprise to remain perfectly acceptable in polite society?

Now, Milne had served as a war propagandist and soldier in World War I, his 1934 view of Germany as not really wanting war looks (at least at first glance) ludicrous in retrospect, and Milne himself abandoned his opposition to war in order to cheer for World War II.  So we can reject his wisdom as hypocrisy, naiveté, and as having been rejected by the author.  But we'd be depriving ourselves of insight because the author was imperfect, and we'd be prioritizing the ravings of a drunk over statements made during a period of sobriety.  Even the ideal diagnostician of war fever can sound like a different man once he's contracted the disease himself.

In Peace With Honour, Milne shows that he has listened to the rhetoric of the war promoters and found that the "honor" they fight for is essentially prestige (or what is more recently called in the United States, "credibility").  As Milne puts it:

"When a nation talks of its honour, it means its prestige. National prestige is a reputation for the will to war. A nation's honour, then, is measured by a nation's willingness to use force to maintain its reputation as a user of force. If one could imagine the game of tiddleywinks assuming a supreme importance in the eyes of statesmen, and if some innocent savage were to ask why tiddleywinks was so important to Europeans, the answer would be that only by skill at tiddleywinks could a country preserve its reputation as a country skilful at tiddleywinks. Which answer might cause the savage some amusement."

Milne debates popular arguments for war and comes back again and again to ridiculing it as a foolish cultural choice dressed up as necessary or inevitable. Why, he asks, do Christian churches sanction mass murder by bombing of men, women, and children? Would they sanction mass conversion to Islam if it were required to protect their country? No. Would they sanction widespread adultery if population growth were the only path to defense of their country? No. So why do they sanction mass murder?

Milne tries a thought experiment to demonstrate that wars are optional and chosen by individuals who could choose otherwise.  Let us suppose, he says, that an outbreak of war would mean the certain and immediate death of Mussolini, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Sir John Simon, one unnamed cabinet minister chosen by lot on the day war is declared, the ministers responsible for the military, Winston Churchill, two unnamed Generals, two unnamed Admirals, two unnamed directors of armaments firms chosen by lot, Lords Beaverbrook and Rothermere, the editors of The Times and The Morning Post, and corresponding representatives of France. Would there, in this situation, ever be a war?  Milne says definitely not. And therefore was is not "natural" or "inevitable" at all.

Milne makes a similar case around wartime conventions and rules:

"As soon as we begin making rules for war, as soon as we say that this is legitimate warfare and that the other is not, we are admitting that war is merely an agreed way of settling an argument."

But, Milne writes -- accurately depicting the 1945 to 2014 history of a U.N. and NATO-run world -- you cannot make a rule against aggressive war and keep defensive war.  It won't work.  It's self-defeating.  War will roll on under such circumstances, Milne predicts -- and we know he was right.  "To renounce aggression is not enough," writes Milne. "We must also renounce defence."

What do we replace it with? Milne depicts a world of nonviolent dispute resolution, arbitration, and a changed conception of honor or prestige that finds war shameful rather than honorable.  And not just shameful, but mad. He quotes a war supporter remarking, "At the present moment, which may prove to be the eve of another Armageddon, we are not ready." Asks Milne: "Which of these two facts [Armageddon or unpreparedness] is of the more importance to civilization?"

Talk Nation Radio: Fred Ptucha Found Evidence That Gulf of Tonkin Was a Lie

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-fred-ptucha-found-evidence-that-gulf-of-tonkin-was-a-lie

Fred Ptucha is a U.S. Navy veteran who did four tours in Vietnam and who came across evidence that the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 50 years ago this month did not occur, and the United States was lied into a 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

Community or Warzone: Warrior Cops Lose a Round in Missouri

By John Grant

 

On Monday, I decided to spend my evenings flipping back-and-forth between Fox News and MSNBC as the two cable channels dealt with the dueling stories of the United States tiptoeing into a third war in Iraq and the sudden appearance of what appeared to be a police state in a little town outside St Louis. From Monday to Friday, the Ferguson, Missouri story has gone from that of a bizarre and dangerous war zone to one of a relief-filled carnival in the streets.

Historians' Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress

http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/gazapetition.html

We deplore the ongoing attacks against civilians in Gaza and in Israel. We also recognize the disproportionate harm that the Israeli military, which the United States has armed and supported for decades, is inflicting on the population of Gaza.

In many US communities, cops are the ‘terrorists’: Police Need to Be Demilitarized and Remade as ‘Peace Officers’

By Dave Lindorff


The apparent murder by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, of Mike Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black youth who was shot a number of times while he was allegedly on his knees with his hands up in the air, pleading “Don’t shoot, I’m not armed,” is exposing everything that is wrong with policing in the US today.


A Meditation on Peacemaking: Americans Need to Break the Cycle of War

By John Grant


All we are saying is give peace a chance
             -John Lennon


Nixon's Treason Now Acknowledged

A George Will column this week, reviewing a book by Ken Hughes called Chasing Shadows, mentions almost in passing that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks that appeared likely to end the war on Vietnam until he intervened.  As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war.

Will treats the matter as a technicality, citing the law against private diplomacy rather than the principle that one shouldn't undermine a government's attempts to halt an episode of mass-murder.

You'd almost have to already know what Will was referring to if you were going to pick up on the fact that Nixon secretly prevented peace while publicly pretending he had a peace plan.  And you'd have to be independently aware that once Nixon got elected, he continued the war for years, the total carnage coming to include the deaths of 4 million Vietnamese plus hundreds of thousands of Cambodians and Laotians, with the deaths from bombs not previously exploded continuing on a major scale to this day, and, of course, the 58,000 Americans killed in the war who are listed on a wall in D.C. as if somehow more worthy than all the others.

Will is not the only one to acknowledge what Nixon did.  The Smithsonian reported on Nixon's treason last year, on the occasion of new tapes of Lyndon Johnson being released.  But the Smithsonian didn't call it treason; it treated the matter more as hard-nosed election strategizing.  Ken Hughes himself published an article on the History News Network two years ago saying almost exactly what Will's column said this week. But the publication used the headline "LBJ Thought Nixon Committed Treason to Win the 1968 Election."  Of course LBJ thought all kinds of things, sane and otherwise.  The first two words of the headline ought to have been deleted.

The point is that it's now apparently become fashionable to acknowledge, but minimize, what Nixon did. 

Will's focus is on Hughes' theory that Nixon's plan to break into or even firebomb the Brookings Institution was driven by his desire to recover evidence of his own treasonous sabotaging of peace, and that Watergate grew from Nixon's desire to coverup that horrendous crime.  This differs from various theories as to what Nixon was so desperate to steal from Brookings (that he was after evidence that Kennedy murdered Diem, or evidence that LBJ halted the bombing of Vietnam just before the election to help Humphrey win, etc.) It certainly seems that Nixon had reasons for wanting files from Brookings that his staff did not share his views on the importance of. And covering up his own crimes was always a bigger motivation for Nixon than exposing someone else's.  Nixon was after Daniel Ellsberg, not because Ellsberg had exposed Nixon's predecessors' high crimes and misdemeanors, but because Nixon feared what Ellsberg might have on him.

But Nixon's sabotaging of peace in 1968 has been known for many years.  And that explanation of the Brookings incident has been written about for years, and written about in a context that doesn't bury the significance of the story.  One need only turn to writings by Robert Parry (for example here, and in the book pictured on that page).  Writes Parry:

"One of the Washington press corps' most misguided sayings – that 'the cover-up is worse than the crime' – derived from the failure to understand the full scope of Nixon’s crimes of state."

The way Parry tells the story might explain why the Washington Post prefers George Will's version:

"Rostow's 'The "X" Envelope,' which was finally opened in 1994 and is now largely declassified, reveals that Johnson had come to know a great deal about Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage from FBI wiretaps. In addition, tapes of presidential phone conversations, which were released in 2008, show Johnson complaining to key Republicans about the gambit and even confronting Nixon personally.

"In other words, the file that Nixon so desperately wanted to find was not primarily about how Johnson handled the 1968 bombing halt but rather how Nixon's campaign obstructed the peace talks by giving assurances to South Vietnamese leaders that Nixon would get them a better result.

"After becoming President, Nixon did extend and expand the conflict, much as South Vietnamese leaders had hoped. Ultimately, however, after more than 20,000 more Americans and possibly a million more Vietnamese had died, Nixon accepted a peace deal in 1972 similar to what Johnson was negotiating in 1968. After U.S. troops finally departed, the South Vietnamese government soon fell to the North and the Vietcong."

Parry even puts Nixon's action in the context of a pattern of actions that includes Ronald Reagan's election following sabotage of President Carter's hostage negotiations with Iran.  Parry has written as well about LBJ's failure to expose Nixon as part of a pattern of Democratic Party spinelessness.  There's President Clinton's failure to pursue Iran-Contra, Al Gore's failure to protest a Supreme Court coup, John Kerry's failure to protest apparent election fraud in Ohio, etc. 

A less partisan and less contemporary context might include Nixon's phony pro-peace election campaign with those of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and other presidents elected to stay out of wars that they promptly jumped into.  And that pattern might include candidate Obama's innumerable campaign-rally promises to end the war in Iraq, which as president he kept going for years, attempted to prolong further, and has begun trying to restart now that an opportunity has presented itself -- meanwhile having tripled troop levels in Afghanistan, attacked Libya, created a new kind of war with drones in multiple nations, and pushed the U.S. military into a greater and more active presence in numerous African and Asian countries.

It's almost universally maintained by those who have expressed any opinion on the matter that if the public had known about Nixon's treason while he was president, all hell would have broken loose.  Are we really such idiots that we've now slipped into routinely acknowledging the truth of the matter but raising no hell whatsoever?  Do we really care so much about personalities and vengeance that Nixon's crime means nothing if Nixon is dead?  Isn't the need to end wars and spying and government secrets, to make diplomacy public and nonviolent, a need that presses itself fiercely upon us regardless of how many decades it will take before we learn every offensive thing our current top officials are up to?

Talk Nation Radio: Ben Ferencz, Last Living Nuremberg Prosecutor, on War Today

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ben-ferencz-last-living-nuremberg-prosecutor-on-war-today

Benjamin Ferencz was a prosecutor at Nuremberg and at age 94 is still focused on the problem of applying the rule of law to a world plagued by war. His website is http://benferencz.org

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://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Video of Agent Orange Workshop at the 29th Annual Convention of Veterans For Peace

Theme: Abolish War on the Planet and the Poor
Hosted by VFP Chapter 099 Western North Carolina on July 23rd -27th 2014
The University of North Carolina at Asheville
all videos by Dan Shea

Dan Shea tells a personal story of how Agent Orange affected his life and took his son Casey and introduces an Agent Orange Facebook Page for other survivors to tell their stories and keep informed https://www.facebook.com/SurvivingAgentOrange But since he was doing the filming no video of his presentation. Dan Shea is a marine  veteran of (Vietnam 1968), Agent Orange survivor, former member of the VFP National Board of Directors and current member of the Core Committee of the the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. Dan is a poet, visual artist and currently hosts a monthly cable TV program Veterans For Peace Forum. He  is an active member of Portland, Oregon VFP Chapter 72 and keeps a blog at http://dsheavfp72.wordpress.

Paul Cox:  AO Workshop (1) VFP Convention July 2014

Paul Cox giving update overview of our work, legislation & AO hotspots remediation clean up work being done. Paul is a Vietnam veteran and a founder of VFP chapter 69 in San Francisco. He has been working on Agent Orange since 2005 with the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC), a VFP National Campaign. He has been back to Vietnam thrice in recent years to investigate the lingering, disturbing effects of AO on the Vietnamese people and the environment.

Susan Schnall:  AO Workshop (2) VFP Convention July 2014

Susan Schnall served as a Navy nurse during the Vietnam conflict, caring for returning soldiers and marines at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. She was tried and convicted by a general court martial for anti-war activities in 1969. She been working with the VAORRC for the past several years and has vistied Viet Nam several times. Two years ago she brought a delegation of science/public health professionals to meet with families affected by the U.S. use of Agent Orange/Dioxin during the conflict and to survey the diozin contaminated land and remediation efforts. Susan is vice president of the NYC chapter of VFP.

Chuck Searcy: AO Workshop (3) Community Base Rehabilitation

Chuck Searcy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966 & served in the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion in Saigon 1967-1968. He has been living and working in Vietnam since January 1995, currently as International Advisor for Project RENEW, a mine action program in Quang Tri Province to clean up cluster bombs, landmines and other unexploded ordnance remaining along the DMZ.

Q & A Discussion: AO Workshop (4)

Democracy...going, going gone: Leaving Brennan as CIA Director Means the Triumph of Secret Government

By Dave Lindorff


Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says that John Brennan, the director of the CIA who has finally admitted that he lied when he angrily and repeatedly insisted that the agency did not spy on staff members of the Senate committee charged with oversight US intelligence agencies, “has a lot of work to do,” before she can forgive him for lying to and spying on her committee.


Assault on Gaza: The Moral Agonies of Asymmetrical Diplomacy

By John Grant


At a birthday dinner with friends last night, the Israeli assault on Gaza came up. One friend said having to helplessly watch the violence infuriated him and made him ill. Another said it made him want to cry.

When Irving Berlin Called Warmakers Worse Than the Devil, and Everybody Sang

From this wonderful song book:

By Irving Berlin in 1914 (100 years ago):
 

Stay Down Here Where You Belong

Down below
Down below
Sat the Devil talking to his son
Who wanted to go
Up above
Up above
He cried, "It's getting too warm for me down here and so
I'm going up on Earth where I can have a little fun”.
The Devil simply shook his head and answered his son:
Stay down here where you belong
The folks who live above you don't know right from wrong.
To please their kings they've all gone out to war
And not a one of them knows what he's fighting for.
Way up above they say that I'm a Devil and I'm bad
Kings up there are bigger devils than your dad.
They're breaking the hearts of mothers
Making butchers out of brothers
You'll find more hell up there than there is
down below.
Kings up there
They don't care
For the mothers who must stay at home
Their sorrows to bear
Stay at home
Don't you roam
Although it's warm down below,
you'll find it's warmer up there
If e'er you went up there, my son,
I know you'd be surprised
You'd find a lot of people are not civilized.

Another one:

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.
I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps—
His night is marching on.
I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"
We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!
In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom—and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich—
Our god is marching on.

And one more:

Bring Back My Daddy To Me

A sweet little girl, with bright golden curls,
Sat playing with toys on the floor,
Her dad went away, to enter the fray,
At the start of this long bitter war;
Her mother said, "Dear your birthday is near,
Tomorrow your presents I'll buy."
The dear little child, quickly looked up and smiled,
And said with a tear in her eye:
"I don't want a dress or a do-ly,
'Cause dollies get broken 'round here,
I don't want the skates, the books or the slates,
You bought for my birthday last year;
If you'll bring the present I ask for,
Dear Mother, how happy I'll be;
You can give all my toys To some poor girls and boys,
But bring back my Daddy to me!"

100 Years of War – 100 Years of Peace and the Peace Movement, 1914 – 2014

By Peter van den Dungen

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. … It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. --Andrew Carnegie

Since this is a strategy conference of the peace and anti-war movement, and since it is being held against the background of the centenary of the First World War, I will confine my comments largely to issues the centenary should focus on and to the way in which the peace movement can contribute to the anniversary events which will be spreading out over the coming four years. The numerous commemorative events not only in Europe but around the world offer an opportunity to the anti-war and peace movement to publicise and advance its agenda.

Counting the Presidents' Bodies

"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged," said Noam Chomsky prior to the last few presidencies, none of which is likely to have changed his analysis.

But what if you applied such principles retroactively back to George Washington and every U.S. president since?  What if you graded presidents, not on personality or style or popularity, but on how many deaths they caused or prevented?

Al Carroll's new book is called Presidents' Body Counts: The Twelve Worst and Four Best American Presidents: Based on How Many Lived or Died Because of Their Actions.

I think this is a model for how history ought to be examined, despite serious flaws.  Carroll's project may ultimately be impossible.  How do you score presidents on the areas of criminal enterprise they opened up for their successors?  Could you have really had a Nixon without a Truman?  Carroll is aware of these difficulties, and also of the overarching lesson that giving single individuals such royal powers as presidents have been given inevitably leads to disaster.  But I think he still falls short.

Carroll attempts to step outside his own biases and look at the facts.  But how does one include sins of omission? How does one score numbers of deaths across centuries, given dramatic growth in populations?  And what about the deaths that Carroll happens to approve of?  He gives Lincoln and FDR credit for the Civil War and World War II while marking all other presidents down for their wars (although marking FDR down for certain atrocities during his war); he has swallowed the humanitarian war advocates' mythology about Bosnia; and he omits dozens of smaller military operations from any mention at all.  And Carroll's current day partisanship seems to be showing as he credits Obama with ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that the war in Afghanistan has not been ended and the war in Iraq, which Obama was forced to end, he has now found a way of restarting.

I said this book was a model, not the ultimate achievement of the genre.  Carroll is of course right to denounce historians who examine "leadership" and "presidential caliber" as little better than celebrity tabloid writers.  And his book, whether one agrees with his selections and rankings, makes illuminating reading that would benefit any classroom.  Simplistic, it is not.  Much of each section is devoted to who else gets the blame for particular horrors.  To pretend that in blaming a president for something Carroll has asserted that nobody else is to blame for it would require cutting out a large percentage of the book.  Carroll also devotes space to what plausibly could have been done by each president rather than what that president did.

Our airports, cities, and states are named for butchers, Carroll writes, and correcting that does not require that we get the butchers into the perfect ranking.  Yet, for what it's worth, here is Carroll's ranking of the worst of the worst, beginning with the very worst of them all: Nixon, Reagan, Jackson, Buchanan, Polk, Filmore, Clinton, Ford, Truman, McKinley, Bush II, Andrew Johnson.  And here's his ranking of the best, beginning with number 1: Lincoln, Van Buren, Carter, Grant.  Carroll includes positive deeds by Nixon, and negative deeds by Carter, etc.  But this is where he comes out..

In fact, Carroll includes enough information on these and other presidents, that he may end up reinforcing your disagreement with him on the rankings.  I've always considered Truman the worst of the worst, and when Carroll lays the Cold War -- and all the actual wars it included -- at Truman's feet, he seems to make the case (although U.S. policy did not exactly transform when the Cold War ended). 

The book, I think, works best if read straight through and then re-arranged or collated in your head.  Carroll treats presidential horrors in terms of categories that don't make the most sense.  First come genocides, then the allowance of or provocation of genocides, then slavery as a subcategory of genocide, then atrocities during wars, then something called "mass death by incompetence or ideological blindness" (which ends up including, in order from greatest to fewest deaths: "deregulation," the Cold War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the U.S. Civil War [blaming Buchanan for it, while giving Lincoln credit for it], the "war" on drugs, the War of 1812, the Panama Canal, Hurricane Katrina, and the Branch Davidians), then "Other American Wars of Aggression," etc.  Wars of nonaggression (or something?) never make the lists.  I'd have preferred one list that combined all the sections and included all the wars, as well as all other acts of commission and omission causing or alleviating mass suffering.

Carroll also includes good deeds by presidents, including instances of war avoidance, and including disarmament successes.  I think this section could be significantly expanded and truly is a model for the sort of history books we need.  And we need them with something else in precisely this section: heroism.  Gore Vidal recounted JFK saying "What would Lincoln have been without a war? Just a railroad lawyer." Indeed, without his "good war," Lincoln might have been as thoroughly ignored as Coolidge by Carroll, despite the creation by the latter's administration of a treaty banning war, and the avoidance by his administration of any major war making.  But what if future Kennedys saw the later JFK who turned against wars, and paid a price for it, as a model of greatness, as well as viewing the rogues gallery of past butchers as just what they were?

Honduran child refugees and the US border: Bleedback of a US Imperial Wound

By John Grant

 

In Spanish, the word hondura means “depth; profundity.” The related word hondomeans “deep, low; bottom.” Hondon means “dell, glen, deep hole.” An example given in my dictionary is meterse en honduras, “to go beyond one’s depth.”

On KPFA's 'Project Censored' program: Discussing Homeland Security's Labeling of ThisCantBeHappening! as a 'Threat'

By Dave Lindorff

 

Dave Lindorff is interviewed by Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips of Project Censored on their June 27 program on San Francisco public radio station KPFA. Lindorff tells Huff and Phillips about how TCBH! learned, from a Department of Homeland Security document obtained recently thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filing by the Partnership for Civil Justice, that ThisCantBeHappening! had been labeled a "threat" by the DHS.

Meme with Wings: Are Western Anti-Fracking Activists Funded by Putin's Russia?

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At a June 19 speaking event at London's Chatham House, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen claimed the Russian government is covertly working to discredit hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the west from afar.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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