Why Andy Shallal Should Be Mayor of D.C.

It would make a tremendous difference nationally and internationally to have a real activist, progressive, populist, and democrat as mayor of our nation's capital.  Imagine a leading opponent of war as mayor of the world center of war making.  Imagine major public initiatives to address the massive poverty and racial disparity in the headquarters of the greatest wealth machine on the planet.  Imagine the model set in Washington for school systems elsewhere based on public community schools rather than corporate commodification of mis-education. 

Imagine Congress forced to work in a place with living wage laws, wise environmental practices, free mass transit, perhaps a public bank -- a place where the quality of life rises for all and trickledown propaganda can't utter its first syllable without being mocked.  Imagine the home of the U.S. government as a living breathing counterexample to every acontextual ahistorical anti-intellectual claim for the benefits of violence over diplomacy, monopolistic capitalism over the social good, and brutal pigheadedness over civic engagement and innovation.

I hardly ever promote candidates.  We're not going to vote our way to peace and justice -- much less vote our way to clean, open, verifiable elections with public financing and free, fair media time.  But Washington, D.C., is actually a place where Andy Shallal has a chance to get himself elected.  He's in a 7-way race, and people want a newcomer. 

Andy Shallal! Most of you know who this is.  Andy has been a leading opponent of wars and militarism, of racism, and of extreme materialism.  Andy has testified before Congress, rallied crowds, and gone to jail for justice.  He's helped keep Northrop Grumman from living off DC taxpayers.  He's pushed for higher wages from Wal-Mart, and paid them at his own restaurants.  He's the owner of four -- soon to be six -- Busboys and Poets restaurants, the places where all the best organizations and campaigns find a free space to meet, strategize, communicate, and entertain -- spaces that always seem a bit more integrated by age, race, and background than anywhere else in DC.

Andy is not just a personality, not just a backstory, not just an aura or a brand name.  He has proposals ready to work on.  He wants a moratorium on school closings.  He wants money put back into the minimum wage (what's commonly and misleadingly called "raising" it).  He wants the voting age dropped to 17.  Andy is on the board of trustees of the Institute for Policy Studies.  That's like having your own cabinet already formed, but formed by geniuses and actual small-d democrats. 

I can think of another major city where a mayor was recently elected with great fanfare and great expectations, but the disappointments came quickly.  I don't know how that will work out, but I know that Andy won't disappoint. He also would not want public activist pressure to go away.  We'll need to pressure Andy and the D.C. City Council, we'll need to organize and educate and listen to and learn from our neighbors.  We'll need to keep doing what we do, but we'll do it with the mayor on our side, the mayor of an international city, a city with sister cities on every continent, a city with great influence on public discussion at home and abroad.

This is a campaign for us all, no matter where we live.

Andy is the guest this week on Talk Nation Radio.  Listen here.

His own website is at http://Andy4DC.org

I hate to say it, but we really need you to make a small or large contribution right here.

Social Justice Groups Demand Congress Slash Military Budget, Spend Money on People, Peace, Planet

Glen Davis, Jill Stein (back row), Kymone Freeman, Cheri Honkala, Leslie Ortiz (front row)

Glen Davis, Jill Stein (back row), Kymone Freeman, Cheri Honkala, Leslie Ortiz (front row)

In spite of heavy, wet snow falling on Capitol Hill, a coalition of peace, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, environmental and community groups came together to voice its objections to what it calls “runaway, dangerous military spending.”

In a press conference in the Cannon Office Building, speakers called on the Congressional Budgetary Committee to pass a budget resolution that re-directs military spending to domestic needs that serve “people, peace and the planet.” They then presented their proposed budget and supporting petitions to staffers of  Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Co-Chair of the Budgetary Committee.

After a stand-off on the budget resulting in a government shutdown in October, the Committee has until December 13 to re-negotiate some of the automatic sequestration cuts coming up next year. As it is, the Pentagon budget is due for about a 10% reduction, or $52 billion. Jill Stein of the Green Party’s Shadow Cabinet said that’s not nearly enough.

“We cannot both feed the hungry and feed our children, feed our elders, feed us and fill this absolutely bottomless pit of the military machine,” she said.

In its proposed “Peace-People-Planet” budget, the coalition outlines ten ways to slash military spending by 25 to 50%, including changing U.S. military policy (“stop policing the world”), ceasing to buy unnecessary weapons systems, and auditing wasteful practices at the Pentagon.

Taxpayer dollars should be used instead to fund social programs, job initiatives and actions to combat climate change, press conference speakers said.

READ THE REST.

War Is Over, if you want it

By Nathan Schneider, http://wagingnonviolence.org/2013/12/war-want/

Even in his proposal for “perpetual peace,” Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant lamented that war “seems inborn in human nature.” Yet he believed it possible to overcome and outlined a strategy for doing so. Just as ambitious today is veteran activist and writer David Swanson, who is part of a group that is beginning to build a coalition broad and strong enough to bring an end to the practice of war as an instrument of ordinary policy. His most recent book, to that point, is War No More: The Case for Abolition. And while he recognizes that challenge of ending war is a daunting one, he argues that it may be less difficult than many of us would think.

What exactly is it that you’re proposing, in a sentence?

We’re organizing groups in the United States and around the world to make a re-energized — and we hope broader and more diverse — push toward the total abolition of the institution of war.

What would a world that had abolished war actually look like?

There would be $2 trillion, roughly $1 trillion of it from the United States, invested in something other than war every year. You can imagine how that might transform health and well-being, sustainable energy, education, housing, or all of the above, and many other things. That redirection of resources would also be likely to spread wealth among more people, as compared to the concentration of wealth facilitated by war spending. Very likely many more lives would be saved by redirected funds than would be spared from dying in wars. But that benefit is not to be minimized. War has become a very deadly form of one-sided slaughter, murdering men, women, and children by the hundreds of thousands. That would end if war ended. One of the greatest sources of environmental destruction would end if war ended — as well as that tremendous waste of resources needed for environmental protection.

Gone too would be the justification for secrecy in government. Civil liberties could no longer be stripped away in the name of fighting an enemy. With enemies gone, international cooperation would flourish. With imperialism gone, it would be possible for the international community to aid abused minorities around the world and assist in natural (so-called) disasters in a way that cannot happen now. Of course, conflicts would remain, but they would be taken to courts, to arbitrators and to the correcting tools of nonviolent action. And of course there are many steps along the way to this final war-free vision, including the step of making militaries actually defensive, rather than offensive — a step that would reduce the U.S. military by at least 90 percent. A world beyond war would benefit from the disappearance of a hugely influential example that teaches groups and individuals the utility of violence.

What makes you think that now is a time when this can happen? It has been tried before, right?

I recently read a proposal to abolish war written in 1992. The authors believed that that was an opportune moment. I’m sure they honestly believed it was. And I’m sure that it, in fact, was — even if there’s a tendency to find such a remark comical in retrospect. Strategic-minded people want to know why 2013 is such a moment, and they can be pointed toward many indicators: opinion polls, the rejection of the proposed missile attack on Syria, increased awareness of war propaganda, the diminishment of drone attacks, the ever-so-slight reduction in military spending, the possibility of peace in Colombia, the growing success of nonviolent conflict resolution, the growing and improving use of nonviolent movements for change, the existentially urgent need for a shifting of resources from destroying the planet to protecting it, the economic need to stop wasting trillions of dollars, the arrival of technologies that allow for instant international collaboration among war resisters. But just as many indicators were available in 1992, albeit different ones, and nobody has developed the means for quantifying such things.

Here’s the key question, I think: If all of those predecessors to Rosa Parks — the many heroes who resisted segregated busing over many decades — hadn’t acted, would Rosa Parks have ever been Rosa Parks? If not, then isn’t the strategic time for a moral and necessary campaign always right now?

What’s the basic strategy?

There are many angles for approaching this task, including education, communications, counter-recruitment, lawsuits, cultural exchange, legislation, treaties, campaigns to resist particular wars or tactics or weapons, and efforts to organize economic interests in support of transition to peaceful industries. Our goal is to strengthen and expand existing efforts by building a broad coalition, influencing the culture, shaping people’s understanding. We need to convincingly make the case that war can be ended, should be ended, is not going to end on its own, and we can make it happen. Our perspective will then change.

We may not oppose wars largely because of the damage done to the aggressor if we understand war as an evil imposed on the victim. We may not struggle against Pentagon waste so much as against Pentagon efficiency. We may not work to distinguish good from bad drone murders if eliminating drones is part of eliminating warfare. We may find that rejecting missiles into Syria was just a start. We may organize a massive program of conversion to peaceful jobs if we come to understand that war makes us less safe rather than protecting us. If this sounds like a vague strategy, that it in part because this campaign is just forming, groups that have not joined yet will have a major say in shaping it. We’re still settling on a name, and drafting a website. You’re getting a preview, in other words, of an idea whose time has almost come.

Who is involved so far? Who do you think needs to be involved?

Several great organizations are involved, and many terrific individuals. More are being added to our preliminary discussions almost every day. I don’t want to announce who is and isn’t involved yet, as that would seem to give more importance to those earliest on board. We’re really just starting to form what needs to be a global campaign, even while focusing on warmaking where it is found, recognizing that the United States is the world’s leading warmaker.

Involved must be the nations victimized, the nations pressured, the nations complicit, the nations making their own warfare on smaller scales, the nations abused by the presence of U.S. troops permanently stationed there. Involved must be environmentalists who overcome their patriotism and militarism in order to take on our largest consumer of oil, greatest creator of superfund sites, and greatest example of an energy-and-economy regime based on assault and exploitation. Involved must be civil libertarians who step back from treating the symptoms of torture and assassination to face the cause of military spending. Involved must be advocates of open government, of education and of all useful causes neglected by our pursuit of warmaking. Involved must be producers of trains, solar panels, schools and everything that stands to benefit from a transition to a law-abiding, cooperative approach to the world.

Do you expect to see an end to war in your lifetime?

Assuming that I live a long life, we will need to see war largely ended or there will be a huge risk of catastrophic wars, of nuclear apocalypse, and of environmental apocalypse aggravated by investment in war. So we’d darn well better see it end. And of course we can. When Congress was overwhelmed with opposition to dropping missiles on Syria, that was less than 1 percent of us overwhelming them. Imagine if 3 or 4 percent of us got seriously engaged in ending the greatest and most inexcusable evil ever devised. The task is not nearly as great as we imagine, and understanding that properly is not a path to naivety but to success.

The People's Budget Goes to Washington

Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

NewLocation: Cannon House Office Building 402
Washington, DC 20002

Also, join a group photo op at 9:20-9:30 a.m., at Capitol's East Front, House Triangle, near Independence Ave. SE and New Jersey Ave.

Social and economic justice, peace, environmental and community groups are heading to Washington DC to tell Congress: We the People demand a budget that meets our critical needs - by cutting out-of-control, dangerous military spending.

Over one hundred organizationshave signed onto a letter outlining a plan to meet dire human and environmental needs by cutting the dangerous, runaway military budget by 25-50%.

Thousands of individuals have signed on to a petition calling for the same thing.

On December 10 we're delivering it to Congress! Join us and tell Congress this is the only way to end the ongoing financial and humanitarian crisis caused by this reckless and obsolete wartime budget.

Will they listen? We're not holding our breath. But we are going to tell them anyway! And we'll start building our power to compel a People's Budget in the future.

So if you can, come along to Congress on Tuesday. Bring a picture or drawing of something you personally are sacrificing in order to pay for the policy endless war.

Whether you can come or not, please ask your Congress members to attend!
202-225-3121
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

 

RSVP to info@greenshadowcabinet.us for updates.

See you there!

Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, Mark Dunlea, David Swanson

Talk Nation Radio: Andy Shallal on Why He Should Be Mayor of Washington D.C.

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-andy-shallal

Andy Shallal is running for mayor of Washington, D.C. Learn more and support him at http://andy4dc.com

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

Let's Begin Ending War Again

Recently I noticed a post on a social media site honoring Rosa Parks for her refusal to move out of her seat on a segregated bus.  Someone commented underneath, that in fact another individual deserved credit for having done the same thing first.  What happened next was entirely predictable. Post after post by various people brought out the names of all kinds of forerunners of Parks, pushing the date of the first brave resister to segregated buses back further and further -- many decades -- into the past.

What we understand as the civil rights movement was successfully started after a great many failed attempts -- by organizations as well as individuals.  The same goes for the suffragette movement or the labor movement or the abolition of slavery.  Even the Occupy movement was the umpteenth time a lot of activists had attempted such a thing, and chances are that eventually the Occupy movement will be seen as one in a long line of failed predecessors to something more successful.

I've been discussing with people whom I consider key organizers of such a project the possibility of a newly energized movement to abolish war.  One thing we're looking at, of course, is failed past attempts to do the same.  Some of those attempts have been quite recent.  Some are ongoing.  How, we must ask ourselves, can we strengthen what's already underway, learn from what's been tried before, and create the spark that this time, at long last, after over a century's preliminaries, catches fire? 

Momentum for the abolition of war began to grow in the late 19th century, and then again, much more strongly, after World War I, in a different manner after World War II, again after the Cold War, and -- just maybe -- again right now.  Arguably the 1920s and 1930s have seen the strongest popular sentiment for war abolition in the United States.  We're not at that level now.  But we do have the advantage of being able to study the past 80 years of struggle.  Of course, anti-war efforts have had great successes as well as failures, but war remains.  And it doesn't remain on the margins, like slavery.  It remains, front and center, as the United States' principal public program.  Standing armies are so well accepted that most people aren't sure what the phrase means.  Wars are so common that most Americans cannot name all the nations their own is at war with.

A proposal on "Abolishing the War System" that I've just been reading (from Marcus Raskin at the Institute for Policy Studies) takes us back to 1992 and provides much useful material to draw on.  Raskin's preface and Brian D'Agostino's introduction suggest that the moment in which they were writing was a particularly opportune moment for a campaign to abolish war.  I'm sure they honestly believed it was.  And I'm sure that it, in fact, was -- even if there's a tendency to find such a remark comical in retrospect.  Strategic-minded people want to know why 2013 is such a moment, and they can be pointed toward many indicators: opinion polls, the rejection of the proposed missile attack on Syria, increased awareness of war propaganda, the diminishment of drone attacks, the ever-so-slight reduction in military spending, the possibility of peace in Colombia, the growing success of nonviolent conflict resolution, the growing and improving use of nonviolent movements for change, the existentially urgent need for a shifting of resources from destroying the planet to protecting it, the economic need to stop wasting trillions of dollars, the arrival of technologies that allow for instant international collaboration among war resisters, etc. But just as many indicators were available in 1992, albeit different ones, and nobody has developed the means for quantifying such things.  However, here's the key question, I think: If all of those predecessors to Rosa Parks hadn't acted, would Rosa Parks have ever been Rosa Parks?  If not, then isn't the strategic time for a moral and necessary campaign always right now?

Raskin's "Abolishing the War System" is not an argument to persuade anyone against war, not a plan for organizing a mass movement, not a system for reaching out to new constituencies or creating economic or political pressure against war.  Raskin's book is primarily a draft treaty that should be, but never has been, enacted.  The treaty aims to take the United States and the world to an important part-way step, most of the way perhaps, toward war abolition.  In compliance with this treaty, nations would maintain only "nonoffensive defense," which is to say: air defense and border and coast guard forces, but not offensive weapons aimed at attacking other nations far from one's own.  Foreign bases would be gone.  Aircraft carriers would be gone.  Nuclear and chemical and biological weapons would be gone.  Drones over distant lands would have been gone before they appeared.  Cluster bombs would be done away with. 

The argument for nonoffensive defense is, I think, fairly straightforward.  Many wealthy nations spend under $100 billion each year on military defense -- some of which nations fit major offensive weapons systems into that budget.  The United States spends $1 trillion each year on military defense and (mostly) offense.  The result is a broken budget, missed opportunities, and lots of catastrophic foreign wars.  So, the case for cutting $900 billion from war spending each year in the U.S. is the case for fully funding schools, parks, green energy, and actual humanitarian aid. It is not the case for completely abolishing the military.  If the United States were to be attacked it could defend itself in any manner it chose, including militarily. 

But, someone might protest, why is it sufficient to shoot down planes when they reach our border? Isn't it better to blow them up in their own country just before they head our way?

The direct answer to that question is that we've been trying that approach for three-quarters of a century and it hasn't been working.  It's been generating enemies, not removing them.  It's been killing innocents, not imminent threats.  We've become so open about this that the White House has redefined "imminent" to mean eventual and theoretical.

The indirect answer is that, I believe, Raskin's treaty could benefit from a better vision of success, assuming such a vision can be added without losing the practical part-way step created by the treaty.  The treaty is excellent on the establishment of a structure for disarmament, inspections, verification.  It bans exports and imports of weapons.  The treaty and accompanying text are also excellent on the need to abolish the CIA, NSA, and all secret agencies of war.  "Intelligence" agencies should be internationalized and opened to the public, Raskin wrote, as if the internet already existed but with Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden hired by the government to do as ordinary labor what they in reality ended up doing as heroic acts of defiance.  The National Security Act of 1947 must go, Raskin writes.  The U.N. Charter must be upheld.

Here's where it starts to get dicey.  Raskin wants to reform the membership, structure, and veto powers of members in the U.N. Security Council.  But his treaty is written as if that reform has been accomplished.  Power all flows to the United Nations, reformed or otherwise.  A "nonlethal" (but not nonviolent) U.N. Peace Force is strengthened by the treaty.  Raskin also supports the creation of an international criminal court; of course it has since been created, but under the shadow of an unreformed United Nations.

Raskin explicitly traces the lineage of war abolition movements back to Salmon Oliver Levinson who led the organizing that created the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  Raskin faults the Pact for lacking a "collective security arrangement." Levinson, and his allies, in Congress and without, would have objected that this lack was an advantage, not a flaw.  A "collective security arrangement" along the lines of the United Nations is a sanction to use war-making as a tool with which to eliminate war-making.  This approach, as Raskin acknowledges, has been a failure.  But Raskin begins his draft treaty by recommitting nations to the U.N. Charter, not the Kellogg-Briand Pact, that is to say: to an agreement that sanctions certain wars, and not to an agreement that bans all war.

Now the Kellogg-Briand Pact is widely ignored and violated.  But then, as Raskin notes, so is the U.N. Charter.  Why ask nations to recommit to it, except because they are violating it?  Through the course of this book, Raskin happens to note various other laws that are routinely ignored: the Humphrey Hawkins Act, the Nuremberg Principles, the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty in which the U.S. committed to general and complete disarmament, etc.  Yet, Raskin wants to create a new law, hoping it will be complied with as well as being formally established. 

There's no reason the Kellogg-Briand Pact and/or the vision of its creators shouldn't be a part of our work, and there are many reasons why it should be.  When those dreaded mythical bombers approach our shores, defended purely by every possible defensive weapon known to humankind, what if bombing the land from which those planes departed was not what came to mind?  What if other actions were the focus of our thoughts in contemplating such scenarios?  The imaginary government that sent the planes (or drones or boats or whatever) could be prosecuted in a court.  Arbitration could be taken to a court.  Sanctions could be imposed on the government responsible.  International legal, trade, political, and moral pressure could be organized.  Nonviolent protesters could be sent to the nation responsible.  Nonviolent flotillas of boats and hot air balloons could interfere.  Video of any suffering created could be immediately made visible in public spaces in the nation responsible and around the world.  And, of course, if the attack planes came from no nation at all, then all the nations of the world could be pressured to cooperate in criminal apprehension and prosecution of those responsible -- an idea we might have done well to think of some 12 years ago, some 9 years after Raskin's drafting of his treaty.  But, but, but, what if all of that failed?  Well then, we could add to it in our handicapped imaginations the use of every defensive weapon available to any department of what we actually call, but don't think of as, Defense.

I find it hard to imagine that if the United States took a chunk of that $900 billion and gave the world schools and medicine there would be a lot of attacks planned against it.  Others find it hard to imagine anything could stop such attacks from inexplicably materializing.  How do we shift such a perspective?  I think it has to be by pointing to a first step in combination with outlining an image of the final goal.  That means thinking beyond the idea of using war to prevent war.  That idea leads straight to the question "Which nation(s) will dominate the United Nations?"  Waiting to transform the United Nations into a fair, democratic, and yet universally respected, institution before dramatically reducing the military and beginning a virtuous cycle of further disarmament, may be a roadblock.  The United Nations is in the process of legalizing drone wars.  The U.N. just might be a bigger hurdle than the U.S. Senate in the cause of peace -- although, admittedly, these are all chicken-and-egg dilemmas.

If we can get people understanding what a world without militaries will look like and show them a partial step in that direction -- one that makes sense to them because they see where we're headed -- it just might be that this time beginning the ending of war will have been an idea whose time had come.

What Didn't Kill Mandela Made Him Stronger

Nelson Mandela's story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life.  Worse, we don't tell such stories in many of our novels.

A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs.  He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation.  He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory.  He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable.  He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away.  But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.

Mandela was a rebel before he had a cause.  He was a fighter and a boxer.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that South Africa benefited greatly from the fact that Mandela did not emerge from prison earlier: "Had he come out earlier, we would have had the angry, aggressive Madiba. As a result of the experience that he had there, he mellowed. ... Suffering either embitters you or, mercifully, ennobles you.  And with Madiba, thankfully for us, the latter happened."

Mandela emerged able to propose reconciliation because he'd had the time to think it through, because he'd had the experience of overcoming the prisons' brutality, because he'd been safely locked up while others outside were killed or tortured, and also -- critically -- because he had the authority to be heard and respected by those distrustful of nonviolence. 

The CIA had Mandela prosecuted in 1963.  He might have been given the death penalty.  Alan Paton testified in court that if Mandela and other defendants were killed the government would have no one to negotiate with (this at a time when both sides would have rather died than negotiate anything). 

The U.S. government considered Mandela a terrorist until 2008, when he was a 90-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner (and most Nobel Peace Prize winners were not yet in the habit of engaging in terrorism). 

But many here in the United States and around the world brought pressure to bear on the Apartheid government of South Africa in a manner similar to what is now being developed to pressure Israel.  The times were changing.  A door was just cracking open.  And Mandela negotiated it right off its hinges, even as violence rolled on in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, and the Middle East.  Mandela showed another way -- or, rather, the first and only way that involved actually accomplishing positive change.

Mandela had flaws, and traits that many would consider flaws.  Either his sex life or his economic reform agenda (not that he stood by the latter) would have disqualified him from politics in the United States even had he not been on the list of terrorists.  His second wife suffered in the movement outside the prisons, turning toward anger and hatred even as her husband turned toward empathy and forgiveness. 

Mandela did not adopt an ideology or a religion that imposed nonviolence on him.  Rather, he found his way to tools that would work effectively, and to the state of mind that would give him the strength to implement them.  He found, not only empathy but great humility.  He sought fair elections but not a candidacy.  Urged to become a candidate he committed to serving only one term.  As the election results came in, reports are that he stopped the counting before his lead could grow so large as to exclude minority parties from the government. He credited the movement with the victory and invited his former jailer to his inauguration. 

Danny Schechter has produced a fantastic new book about Mandela, called Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela.  It's based on the making of a documentary series that's based on the making of the new film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is in turn based primarily on Mandela's autobiography.

In the book, Schechter speculates on how the corporate media will cover Mandela's death.  "Which Mandela will be memorialized? Will it be the leader who built a movement and a military organization to fight injustice? Or a man of inspiration with a great smile whom we admire because of the long years suffered behind bars?"  It's a rhetorical question now and always was, but I wish the answer could have been something other than those two choices.  I wish the answer were Mandela the man who negotiated a peaceful change, who forgave, who apologized, who sympathized, who showed a way for nations to live up to the standards of our children, whom we routinely urge to settle their problems with words rather than aggravating their problems with violence. 

The United States needs that example when speaking with Iran.  Colombia needs it as the possibility of peace glimmers in the distance there.  Syrian builders of movements and military organizations that fight injustice need that example desperately.

When will we ever learn?

I Googled "Evil" And It Took Me to Google

Google may have been, unil now, the Obama of hip internet monopolies.  No matter how many nations the President bombs, people still put Obama peace-sign stickers on their cars.  No matter how many radical rightwing initiatives Google funds, people still think it's a "progressive corporation" -- How could it not be? It's making progress!

Google is funding Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union, and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation.

And there's more really bad news: Google is funding ALEC, the powerful, secretive, and destructive lobbying force from which many companies concerned with their public images are fleeing. ALEC is in the news this week, holding its 40th annual meeting. Together with allies, RootsAction.org is applying as much pressure as we can.  And it might just be that the tide is turning.  Google just might have to start worrying about whether its users favor plutocratic plundering or not.

ALEC targets state legislatures around the country to roll back labor rights, environmental protection, civil rights, public health measures and more. Using big money, corporate clout and smooth lobbyists, ALEC teams up with like-minded state lawmakers to draft and enact regressive legislation.

Tens of thousands of people have heeded our request to Tell Google and other huge firms to which we'll deliver this petition not to participate in ALEC's corruption of our government:
We urge you to stop funding ALEC. With ALEC's help ...
* Tobacco companies get tax cuts.
* For-profit education companies get school privatization.
* Management gets union busting.
* Oil companies get opposition to renewable energy.
* The rich and powerful get the repeal of estate taxes.
But, in the process, democracy gets hijacked -- one state at a time.

***

You should read the thousands and thousands of comments people have submitted when they have signed this petition.  And you can, they're all publicly posted at the link above.

Some people express their great affection for Google, along with disillusionment:

"I really thought that your business was a role model as  progressive, social conscious Corporation...  I was seriously mistaking... -  - It is outrageous that you are supporting these politicians that have injured out country and our people so deeply...  and ALEC???? -  - PLEASE STOP!!!" --J. Carlo Diaz, FL      

"Really, Google. Really!? I expect more sense from you!" --Marian Pickett, LA

"As much as I like Google, I'll be damned if I'll support in any way the increase in political clout of big and secret money funneled to "money is above all" unbridled capitalism Republican organizations!  There are other choices ... and I'll be switching!!" --William Whitlock, CA

"Any company that funds an organization like Alec does not have an interest in democracy. Alec is in the business of buying votes, and votes for the most un-American causes. My respect for Google has taken a huge hit because of its support of Alec." --Kathlyn McCaughna

"I used GOOGLE to research ALEC. I am surprised and greatly disappointed that your corporation would support this horror to our democracy. Greed. Cynicism. Arrogance. Downright stupidity. Or as stated in one of your listed sources--policy areas including legislation 'opposing U.S. consumers' rights to know the origin of our food,' 'undermining workers' rights,' 'stripping environmental protections,' and 'limiting patient rights and undermining safety net programs.' (MediaMatters 12/4/13) I said 'surprised.' Perhaps not, just thoroughly disgusted.  - I love GOOGLE; other venues' ads have not swayed me. However, your support of such a vicious, predatory, manipulative organization has changed the game. --JoAnn Durfee, OR

Some explain to Google what the problem is:

"Alec is for profits at any cost to society. Make your engine work for people, not for evil." --John Kozub, TN

"Google, Facebook and Yelp are people driven and should not support corporate takeover of the internet or other arenas." --Amy Whitworth, OR

"Does Google want to be seen to be supporting ALEC? If so they are also supporting this neanderthal approach to energy production: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/04/alec-freerider-homeowners-assault-clean-energy  -- An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels -- casting them as 'freeriders' -- in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned." --E Healy, CA

"Funding the most regressive organizations puts your company right there with them: destroyers of democracy, dirty political actors. Think carefully whether this is where you want to be, and where you are going to be seen to be." --John Prehn, UT

"ALEC has caused so much evil and trouble in Wisconsin that I am sure most people don't understand, at this point in time. Please do NOT support the agenda of ALEC as it is not for the people but for the FEW!" --Joan Schneider, WI

Some get a bit angry:

"Alec sucks. When I found out the State Farm backed them, we DUMPED State Farm. And we had been with them for 20 years. Don't miss them a BIT!" --Audrey Lima, FL

"ALEC's prime mission is to destroy everything decent in this country!  Fascism simply ISN'T the same thing as Democracy!  STOP supporting this evil group!!!!" --Linda Christy, OK

"Stop SCROOGLING the very hard-working Americans who pay taxes that made you a household name. We don't need ALEC trying to shove their power-hungry, money-centered, and sexist/racist/homophobic agendas onto hard-working taxpayers. And we won't need GOOGLE either if they get in bed with corrupt ALEC and its members." --Deirdre McCullough, NC

"Google is EVIL SCUM pretending to be a progressively-minded company while funding organizations that systematically destroy the rights and well-being of everyday citizens everywhere, all to increase their already bloated bottom line.  Screw you--I don't need your search, your email, your phones, or anything else you can offer.  I NEED DEMOCRACY AND A COMPASSIONATE SOCIETY." --Ellen Read, NH

Or angry and pithy:

"Dicks." --Brad Thompson, IA

Some plead with Google:

"Please, Google, do not be a part of this right wing attempt to hijack democracy in your country!" --Sharon Fummerton, BC

"With your power you could (and should) do good instead of furthering ALEC's poisonous agenda." --Barbara Coulson, NC     

Some propose a course of action:

"I will boycott any company affiliated with ALEC" --Jim Knipe, VA

"Don't make me start using Bing." --Liz Neff, CA

Some are taking action already:

"I am already using DuckDuckGo for web searches. I'm pretty sure I can find an email service other than Gmail." --Dan Starr, IL

"Just changed my search engine." --Michael Keenan, IL

"I already changed my home page to Yahoo." --Nadia Daley

"I have stopped using Google completely due to it's support of these ultra conservative and regressive groups." --Kelley Dempsey, MD

"Until Google makes it clear that it no longer supports Alec and other anti-democratic, anti labour, and environmentally destructive causes I will conduct my searches through other engines." --Glenn Ashton

Some have a more serious solution in mind:

"Google is Getting too big and powerful, break it up!" --Stephen Rawlings, FL 

"When corporations get a fairer deal than the tax paying population, something needs to CHANGE!" --Debbie Boozer, IN