Mar
22

Five Localities Pass Resolutions Against Trump Budget: Three of Them Done Well

New Haven, CT, Charlottesville, VA, and Montgomery County, MD, have passed resolutions opposing the Trump budget's moving of money from everything else to the military, urging that money be moved in the opposite direction.

Mar
21

Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump

Tag: Impeachment

The last time a U.S. president faced a strong movement for impeachment for actual impeachable offenses, one of the major road blocks was fear that an unpopular vice president would take his place, and this road block was removed when Spiro Agnew resigned in the face of criminal charges of cheating on his taxes.

As every American is aware, including even those who have never heard of impeachment, the primary problem with impeaching Trump is the horror of a president Pence. For a long time I tried to explain to people that this was stupid. Pence is already running the show. Impeachment is about placing the executive branch under the rule of law, not about the trivial matter of what individual holds what office for a few years. A President Pence with a Congress that impeaches people would be better than King Donald with Congress acting as court jesters. Impeachment and removal from office are two different things. Et cetera. It doesn't matter how many reasons you provide, the U.S. public may never support impeachment of Trump as long as Pence is vice president.

I recommend reading a book by Jimmy Breslin about the impeachment of Richard Nixon called How the Good Guys Finally Won. The book is a hagiographic account of then Majority Leader Tip O'Neill's role in pushing the impeachment of Nixon through the Congress. O'Neill does deserve great praise, in fact. It's impossible to imagine any member of Congress fulfilling their oath of office to the same extent today. While we all know that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was rammed through Congress against the will of the people by the House Republican leadership, it's perhaps less known how the House Democratic leadership pushed for the impeachment of Nixon. Members of Congress who moved to impeach Nixon, including the leadership, moved in response to public pressure.

Mar
21

Talk Nation Radio: William Geimer on Why Canada Should Stay Out of Other People's Wars

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/william-geimer-on-why-canada-should-stay-out-of-other-peoples-wars

William Geimer, author, peace activist, is a veteran of the U.S. 82d Airborne Division and Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington and Lee University. After resigning his commission in opposition to the war on Vietnam, he represented conscientious objectors and advised peace groups near Ft. Bragg NC, once representing Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory and Donald Sutherland in negotiations with police. A Canadian citizen, he lives with his wife near Victoria, British Columbia where he is a member of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network. He is the author of Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars and serves as advisor on policy issues of peace and war to Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.   Total run time: 29:00

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

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Mar
21

Russia Conspiracists Claim to Possess Reality

Tag: Media

An Associated Press story on Tuesday came with this headline: "Analysis: Reality catching up with Trump on Russia," and began:

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Reality is catching up with President Donald Trump. Hours after Trump dismissed reports that his campaign associates were being scrutinized for colluding with Russia as 'fake news,' FBI Director James Comey confirmed the investigation is real."

Note the slick sophistry here. Trump never denied that there was an investigation. He denied that he colluded with the Russian government to steal the election. But according to the Associated Press, Trump's denial of those charges is disproven by the fact that someone is investigating them.

If you watched the hearing on Monday, you saw Comey asked how the "intelligence" "community" knew that Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win the election. Comey's answer was nothing but information publicly available for many months, restated as an "assessment." Asked whether the Russian government gave WikiLeaks the Democratic Party emails that showed the DNC sabotaging the Bernie Sanders campaign and denying itself a better shot at winning the general election, Comey said that he "assessed" -- which seemed clearly to mean: speculated based on the absence of any evidence -- that Russia did not do so directly but used a "cutout."

None of this makes it into the AP, which continues:

"The FBI chief also repeatedly insisted there was no evidence to back up Trump's explosive claim that his predecessor wiretapped his New York skyscraper. And Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, knocked down a report about Britain helping President Barack Obama with the alleged surveillance, although the White House had pointed to the report to try to boost Trump's case. Taken together, the disclosures in Monday's lengthy House intelligence committee hearing amounted to an extraordinary undercutting of a president, whose headline-grabbing accusations and Twitter-friendly attacks crumbled quickly under the weight of sworn congressional testimony from some of the nation's top security officials."

Yet, the possibility that the baseless assertions Trump was blurting out were false does nothing whatsoever to prove that the baseless assertions coming from his accusers are true. Nor does this address the comments from NSA whistleblower Bill Binney that the NSA very likely did have material from snooping on Trump for the simple reason that it is systematically snooping on everyone, while the perjurers who deny that to Congress continue to be treated as respectable authorities. Nor is the AP or any other corporate news company addressing the problem of Trump apparently not having access to the U.S. government's information despite being president. Nor is anyone questioning Comey's refusal to mention any details about anyone under investigation now, while he was willing to make public an investigation of Hillary Clinton pre-election at a time when he now claims there was also an investigation of Donald Trump that he chose to keep silent about.

The AP does, however, take the time to inform us that if we disagree with it, we (even those of us pushing for a Trump impeachment on fact-based grounds) are irrational Trump supporters (even as the AP gets around to admitting that no evidence of wrongdoing with Russia has been produced):

"Many of Trump's most ardent supporters are unlikely to be swayed by Monday's spectacle. Still, Trump's credibility and his standing as a reliable ally for his fellow Republicans in Congress are less assured. Even if his advisers are ultimately cleared in the Russia probe, as the White House insists they will be, the investigation could loom over Trump's presidency for months or even years, distracting from the ambitious domestic agenda he's vowed to enact."

AP then cites the media's love for the Russia conspirascandal as evidence of its importance:

"That reality was abundantly clear Monday. Most cable news channels carried Comey and Rogers' five hours of testimony live instead of the first congressional hearing for Neil Gorsuch, Trump's widely praised nominee for the Supreme Court. The Russia hearings came as Trump tried to give a hard sell to Republicans wary of his health care package, a legislative gamble with long-lasting implications for Trump's relationship with his own party."

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” --Karl Rove

Mar
21

Mike Signer: Profile in Cowardice

Tag: Political Ideas

A footnote to the City of Charlottesville's courageous passing of a resolution this week asking Congress to move money from the military to human and environmental needs, rather than the reverse, was the cowardly abstention of Mayor Mike Signer from the vote.

I don't always agree with the other four city council members on everything, or even know enough to have an opinion on much of what they do, but they have all repeatedly been willing to stick their necks out for things they apparently care about for moral reasons. Even Council Member Kathy Galvin, who in my view marred Monday's resolution by adding to it some nonsense about U.S. troops fighting to protect you and your rights (even as we're poorer and have fewer rights with every new war started and never ended) believed things had gotten so bad she would vote aye.

(The Council would have passed the resolution 3-0 without the rah-rah-troops bit that garnered Galvin's vote. I asked Council Member Kristin Szakos whether she herself believed that bit, and she said she imagined most of the troops did. By that logic, the City Council should also declare climate change to be a myth and angels to be real.)

Bob Fenwick and Kristin Szakos had the courage and decency to speak against war and military spending, and Wes Bellamy -- who has never been afraid to speak on anything -- publicly challenged the Mayor on his abstention and the apparent hypocrisy in it. Signer had previously declared Charlottesville a "capital of the resistance" to Trump. But when an opportunity arose to ask Congress to resist Trump's agenda, Signer weaseled out of it.

What were Signer's reasons? They were not what he told us. Szakos had explained publicly at Monday's meeting and at the meeting two weeks earlier what the City Council's policy was on passing resolutions on issues larger than Charlottesville. Signer claimed on Monday not to know about that policy. Clearly he hadn't wanted to know about it, or he would have looked into it during the past two weeks. He declared on Monday that passing a resolution on a national issue would open the door to an endless string of them. So he abstained. And then, within five minutes of the 4-0 vote without him, he joined in a 5-0 vote for a different resolution urging Congress to fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- a resolution that did not mention the military but opened the very same door that Signer pretended to be in horror of opening.

Signer also said that he objected to a footnote to a clause that had been in a previous version of the resolution. The fact that the clause was no longer in there ought to have eliminated this objection. In addition, the objection was nothing more than Signer's utter failure to comprehend the report in the footnote. This was the already-deleted clause:

"Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program."

This was the footnote: "'The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,' Political Economy Research Institute,https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update "

Signer's objection was that military spending does produce some jobs, as if the assertion had been that military jobs are not real. Had Signer bothered to ask for guidance he would have learned that the point, rather, was that military spending produces fewer jobs than tax cuts (as well as many fewer jobs than other types of spending). It's literally worse than nothing economically (as well as morally, pragmatically, etc.).

But if Signer's stated reasons for abstaining were transparent nonsense, what were his real reasons? Why would he blissfully ignore Martin Niemöller's famous quote, read to the Council by Adele Roof?

At first glance, one might say that he was courageously defying public opinion, as if anti-democratic stances are noble. Most of the people in the meeting on Monday stood when I asked for a show of support. National polls show support for the position taken in the resolution.

But Signer, I suspect, has a different constituency from the other City Council Members. And I don't just mean his deference to those who funded his high-end campaign, and whose taxes he is so eager to lower (and those in need be damned). I mean that Signer clearly has ambitions for higher office, and he has them within the terminally corrupted Democratic Party.

The elite in this party milk rhetorical opposition to Trump for all it's worth but would clearly prefer 8 years of Trump to replacing him with anyone resembling Bernie Sanders. The elite in this party and their funders are steadfastly speaking against budget cuts to social programs while refusing to mention even the existence of the U.S. military. This inept "resistance" is what led a Trump fan to stumble into Monday's meeting and declare his opposition to big gummint, despite the fact that Trump's budget proposal proposes the same size government as last year. How would anyone know any different, with the people Signer aspires to join denouncing cuts rather than opposing the moving of money from everything decent and good to the military?

When the Titanic was going down, the band continued to play music, and a handful of political ancestors of our mayor maneuvered to get themselves front-row seats for the concert, contented grins on their faces.

Mar
21

City of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress to Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Charlottesville, Va., City Council Monday evening, March 20, 2017, passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's budget proposal, which shifts funding to the military from many other programs. The draft resolution brought up for consideration reads as follows. It was passed with a few alterations. The final version should soon be posted online by the City, as should video of the meeting in which it was read aloud and discussed.

Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion 

Whereas President  Donald J. Trump has proposed to  divert $54 billion  from human and environmental spending at home and abroad in order to increase the military budget, bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending; and

Whereas the citizens of Charlottesville already pay  $112.62 million in federal taxes  for military expenditures, an amount that each year could fund locally: 210 elementary school teacher salaries;  127 new clean energy jobs; 169 infrastructure jobs;  94 supported employment opportunities for returning citizens; 1,073 preschool seats for children in Head Start; medical care for 953 military veterans; 231 college scholarships for CHS graduates; 409 Pell Grants for Charlottesville students; healthcare for 3,468 low-income children;  enough wind power to power 8,312 households; healthcare for 1,998 low-income adults;  AND solar panels to provide electricity for 5,134 households.

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program;[1] and

Whereas our community’s human and environmental needs are critical, and our ability to respond to those needs depends on federal funding for education, welfare, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance, transit and environmental protection; and

Whereas the President’s proposal would reduce foreign aid and diplomacy, which help to prevent wars and the victimization of people who become refugees in our  community, and 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing these cuts;

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress, and our representative in particular, to reject the proposal to cut funding for human and environmental needs in favor of military budget increases, and in fact to begin moving in the opposite direction, to increase funding  for human and environmental needs and reduce the military budget.  

1. "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,"  Political Economy Research Institute,https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

*****

Passage of the resolution followed the proposal of a different version by a large coalition of local groups.

At Monday's meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention.

City Council Member Bob Fenwick, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam with two sons veterans of that in Afghanistan, said that cutting back on military adventurism makes people better off. "We have had enough of war," he declared.

City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.

Also voting in favor were Council Members Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin.

In my view, this is an important statement to Congress, the country, and the world from our city council which has chosen to represent us. Charlottesville did not make a familiar and misleading statement exclusively against spending cuts, which would have fueled predictable and irrelevant demands for smaller government. Charlottesville addressed the reality of money being moved from everywhere else to the military, and urged the deeply moral action of moving money in the opposite direction.

It's worth noting that the assertion that military spending is an economic drain is a reflection of the fact that tax cuts produce more jobs than military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than does never taxing money in the first place. The study cited above does not, of course, assert that military jobs do not exist.

Mar
19

Help "The End of War" Win

Tag: Peace and War

This wonderful song is nominated to win an important award.

Go here to vote for it.

Mar
17

Trump’s Budget Counts on Us to Be Dumber Than He

Tag: Peace and War

Donald Trump does not always in every way appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed. Yet there is great wisdom to be found in some of his assumptions of stupidity on the part of the rest of us. If I act like a real jackass, he thinks, the media will give me tons of free airtime, and I'll be nominated. If I pretend to oppose corrupt power, the Democrats will nominate the living embodiment of corrupt power, and I'll be president. If I cut everything that everybody values out of the budget but move the money to the military, my spineless war-adoring opponents will tie one hand behind their backs before they even try to put up a fight.

Is he right about us? Here's Richard Trumka, top labor leader in the United States, opposing Trump's budget at length, without ever mentioning the existence of the U.S. military. Here's the Sierra Club, top environmental group, doing the same. Here are 100 Christian "faith leaders" doing the same thing.

For all anyone hearing from these and countless other liberal organizations and interest groups outraged by particular budget cuts would know, the money being taken away from various agencies and departments is being put into mythical tax cuts. Despite the fact that Trump proposed the same sized budget as last year's, with a huge amount of money moved from almost everywhere else into the military, his one-handed opponents are regurgitating their familiar old shouts of "no cuts!" which translate into many ears as "big gummint!"

A madman, who has just been handed the most expensive military ever to exist, is proposing to make it much larger, is drone-murdering at a pace to shame his predecessor, is proposing to launch a war on North Korea, has openly trumpeted practices of stealing oil and killing families, and unless he starts a nuclear war will kill far more people with his budget than with any weapons. But try finding opposition to war in the March for Science or the Women's March. Only after a major public effort did we compel the People's Climate March to mention a preference for peace over war.

Most of the Democrats in Congress, and even more so the media coverage of them, are following the same line as the liberal organizations. Schumer gives no indication that the military exists at all. Pelosi gives a brief nod to her desire that it remain somewhere around its current gargantuan size, pushing the idea that it's good for us but that we wouldn't want to have too much of that good. Sanders has a reasonable statement on his website, but news reports depict him as droning on about tax cuts for billionaires and cuts in services, as if that were what was happening here. Someone should ask Sanders to compare the wealth of U.S. billionaires to the size of U.S. military spending in a single year, and then in 10 years.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, even if it does nothing other than good statements, cannot always be counted on even for that, but did come through this time and should be thanked and credited for it, as should Barbara Lee.

This disastrous budget may need 60 senators' support. It may be doomed. It may offer a golden opportunity to educate the public on the tradeoffs between militarism and useful spending. But if the general run of the so-called opposition has its way, we will emerge from this process with much of the public imagining that a struggle exists between libertarians and socialists, that non-military programs are expensive, and that the military is free. Also that bipartisanship is extinct:

If we're going to stop this disastrous trend, it's going to take building up local pressure. Some cities are stepping in to lead.

World Beyond War

RootsAction.org

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

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