Mar
01

Has Van Jones Lost His Mind, Or Are Sane People Missing the Point?

Tag: Media, Peace and War

A rational and moral person might think of the recent U.S. raid in Yemen this way. Here's one small incident out of a war consisting primarily of a massive bombing campaign that has slaughtered innocents by the thousands and is threatening to lead to the starvation of hundreds of thousands. In this one incident some 30 people were murdered, some 10 of them women and children, one of them the 8-year-old sister of a 16-year-old American boy whom President Obama had earlier murdered just after having murdered his father. There wasn't some Very Important Thing accomplished, such as learning the cell phone number of someone suspiciously Muslim or whatever, that an immoral hack could try to claim justified this incident. This was mass murder.

In the course of this mass murder, one American taking part in it was killed.

The first paragraph above is of virtually no interest to the U.S. media. The second paragraph above is of intense and passionate interest. But there is a very different point that this interest misses. Much of the media coverage suggests that the One American being killed was a very negative thing for Donald Trump. I'd suggest that it was a very negative thing for the man killed and his family and loved ones, but not necessarily a bad thing for Donald Trump or Lockheed Martin. Here's why.

Mar
01

A Model City Resolution to Resist and Overcome

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Resolution Proposed for __________, ___

Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[i], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[ii],

Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iii],

Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[iv],

Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[v], end hunger and starvation on earth[vi], convert the U.S. to clean energy[vii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it's needed on the planet[viii], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[ix], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[x],

Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xi],

Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xii],

Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiii],

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xiv],

Be it therefore resolved that the ____________ of ___________, ________, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.

[i] "Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending," The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0

[ii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans' care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states

[iii] "43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes," World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / "Europe's Refugee Crisis Was Made in America," The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america

[iv] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, "Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we've spent in the Middle East . . . and we're nowhere, actually if you think about it we're less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there's not even a contest . . .  we have a hornet's nest . . . ." http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html

[v] "Free College: We Can Afford It," The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693

[vi] "The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger," Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

[vii] "Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch," Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org

[viii] "Clean Water for a Healthy World," UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf

[ix] "Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries," The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

[x] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending

[xi] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf

[xii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33

[xiii] "Fight Climate Change, Not Wars," Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars

[xiv] "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

Mar
01

Resolution Proposed for Charlottesville City Council

Tag: Political Ideas

Endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville,

Whereas Mayor Mike Signer has declared Charlottesville a capital of resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.[i]

Feb
28

Nancy Pelosi: Resister Without a Clue. A 10 point rant.

Tag: Impeachment

Sam Husseini just asked Nancy Pelosi why she won't support an impeachment investigation for Trump. Her answer is on video.

The transcript is probably less embarrassing than the video for the former Speaker who was never much of a, you know, speaker.

SH - ... And if I could, to Leader Pelosi, you said that there are no grounds for impeachment against Donald Trump, but legal scholars from Catherine Ross at GW to Laurence Tribe at Harvard say there is. Laurence Tribe recently said, "Congress cannot give consent to a President's violation of the domestic emoluments clause."

NP - We have to ... the case is being made about the emoluments, and you have to have evidence, and the rest, but the case has not fully been made. The fact is, is that when I was Speaker, after we won in '06, in '07 people wanted me to impeach President Bush because the war in Iraq. But there's a big - I've never recovered with the Left on this subject for not impeaching President Bush because of the war in Iraq. Well, you don't impeach somebody because you don't like their policies. When they break the law, that's when you have grounds for impeachment. And at the time of the war I said, as a top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, "The intelligence does not support the threat," and so did Senator Bob Graham. But the administration was making this strong case with the American people, and perhaps misrepresenting the American people could be cause for impeachment. If so, there's plenty of grounds right now with the current President, but it just, just isn't the case. That doesn't mean nobody's listening to cases that are being made in a very scientific, methodical way, as to whether there are grounds for impeachment. But the fact is, is that many of, we're trying to unite the country, and many of the President's supporters are just not ready to accept the fact that their judgment just might not have been so great in voting for him, and by the time the case is made perhaps they'll be ready to accept that. It's very hard, impeachment. It's very, very hard.

Uh huh. Sort of like stringing words together coherently: very, very hard. But important.

Some basic lessons in law and history for Rep. Pelosi:

1. When we began the drive to impeach Bush it was over violations of law, including violations that traditionally Congress most gave a darn about, including the felonies committed when lying to Congress. We later produced dozens of articles of impeachment, and I published a book together with a former federal prosecutor outlining how to prosecute each of the dozens of crimes found in each of 60 articles.

2. High Crimes and Misdemeanors is not literally crimes, and an impeachment trial is not a criminal trial, which can follow in a court of law. At issue in impeachment is abuse of power, including crimes that violate the highest law of the land, the Constitution, without violating the U.S. Code.

3. The "left" that wanted Bush impeached consisted of roughly half the U.S. public in opinion polls even with zero action for impeachment on capitol hill and Pelosi warning everyone against it.

4. The purpose of impeaching Bush was not to spite Bush but to prevent the expansion of imperial presidential power that has continued ever since the failure to impeach Bush.

5. When we introduced the case for impeaching Trump at http://impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org it was based around violations of the rule of law that numerous legal scholars had predicted he would be violating as soon as he took office. The case was made before Trump became president. It has not been unmade.

6. Opening an investigation may require pretending the case has not already been made, but -- by the same token -- it does not require that the case have been made. It requires only that there be a basis for an investigation.

7. An impeachment investigation uses the power of subpoena to request relevant documents, such as Donald Trump's taxes. By precedent, when such a request is refused, that refusal is an impeachable offense. A Congress without an understanding of how these powers work is a Congress that has cut itself off at the knees and then rolled Nancy Pelosi out to tell us how to win marathons.

8. Uniting the deeply despised Democratic and Republican parties as they exist in Washington D.C. is not the same thing as uniting the country. And many of us don't give a rats behind about either cause in comparison with preventing climate change, war, starvation, poverty, mass-incarceration, and homelessness.

9. The way to educate portions of the population that you believe are lagging in understanding is not to sit back and do nothing until they magically become ready. It is to present your case to them. That's what impeachment hearings typically have done.

10. That the public was opposed to impeaching Bill Clinton, at least for lying about sex, is as relevant to the general popularity of serious impeachment proceedings as Bernie Sanders' crowds are to the public approval of the Democratic National Committee.

Feb
28

This Is Not Your Grandparents' Resistance

Tag: Political Ideas

I want to disagree, in part, with a recent recommendation that John Steinbeck's The Moon Is Down be used as a guide to resisting the outrages of the Trump regime. I think you could present the basic plot to an average middle school student today, and they would point out the fundamental flaw quite quickly.

Here's the plot. Nazis armed with machine guns take over a small Norwegian town that has a 12-member army, instantly killing 6, injuring 3, and sending 3 into hiding. The Nazis want all the townsfolk to cooperate, including by working in a coal mine so that coal can be shipped out to help the Nazis in the war, as well as -- of course -- generally providing food, shoveling snow, and keeping things running in the town. The townsfolk bitterly resent the occupation. Yet they generally cooperate in all ways, except when they find opportunities to kill a German soldier or two. They send to England for dynamite with which to blow up bridges. No other resistance tactics even occur to them.

Does something occur to you? Does it occur to you that a mine won't run if the miners all refuse to enter it? The fact that this occurs to a great many people today is the result of intellectual and practical progress. We know now that nonviolent tools are the most likely to succeed. We have models and plans for potential situations. This response -- unthinkable through most of human history -- has almost become common sense today.

In part, that's because of the real history of Norway. A strong case has been made that Norway avoided developing its own brand of Nazism in the 1930s by means of using strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and nonviolent occupations to democratize its society, rather than the violent approach used in some other countries. Norway also used, not just violence, but largely nonviolent resistance (as well as violence against non-living things, aka sabotage) to resist Nazi occupation.

Leaders of the Norwegian resistance were, appropriately enough, school teachers, who refused to cooperate with a puppet government, and inspired others to do the same. U.S. teachers should be, and in some cases are, leading resistance to Trump's agenda for the United States. So should local and state governments. So should prominent individuals and organizations of all sorts. I think this is what the article linked above has in mind, too, in recommending The Moon Is Down. But that tale needs updating.

Even so, The Moon Is Down, begins to get close to what's needed. It was a controversial book, and is a good book, because it depicts the Nazis occupying Norway as human beings, just as the people obeying orders to yank Muslims off airplanes in the United States today are human beings. Steinbeck depicts foreign occupations as hopeless and dreams of being welcomed with flowers and chocolates as insane -- something the United States has been in desperate need of learning these past 16 years. The Nazis fail to occupy the town in the story not because they are racists or sexists or haven't donated to the Clinton Foundation, but because there is no way to occupy someone else's town successfully, whether or not the people of the town have been "disarmed."

The Moon Is Down makes the powerful point that the victims of war do not excuse the crimes because the crimes are part of a war. After all, most of them have never attended any U.S. university, so they don't know any better. When the Nazi commander orders the mayor to order the killing of one of his citizens for the crime of murdering a German soldier, he asks if they will punish their own troops for the crime of killing six Norwegian soldiers. Murder is murder, after all, even -- I would bet Steinbeck might agree -- when a flying robot is used.

But the idea that today Norwegian villagers occupied by German troops would be wisest to engage in assassination, as opposed to mass non-violent resistance live streamed on the internet, seems hopelessly outdated. If we want to resist strategically, if we want to transform positively, we will have to update our toolkit dramatically. Looking back at how people thought 75 years ago should serve us primarily as an inspiring reminder of how far we've come, and thereby as an indication of how much further we can go in changing the way we think and act. The permanent military state into which Trump now wants to dump 65% of discretionary spending was begun by people who basically didn't know any more about how societies can work than Aristotle knew about evolution. Perhaps we should reconsider our devotion to their manner of resistance -- which is, after all, what the Pentagon believes it is leading.

Feb
28

Talk Nation Radio: Michael Kazin on the Peace Activists Who Warned Against World War I

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-michael-kazin-on-the-peace-activists-who-warned-against-world-war-i

Michael Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University and editor of Dissent, a magazine of politics and culture which has been published since 1954. His main interest is the history of politics and social movements in the United States. Kazin writes frequently for such publications and websites as The New York Times, Foreign Affairs , The Nation, and The Daily Beast.

His most recent book is War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918. We discuss World War I, World War II, and peace activism.

Kazin will be speaking on April 4, 2017, at this event:

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

An event to mark 100 years since the United States entered World War I, and 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous speech against war. A new movement to end all war is growing.

April 4, 2017, 6-8 p.m. Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, D.C.

Speakers:Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918.

Eugene Puryear, journalist, activist, radio host, and author of Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK, author of books including Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

David Swanson, director of World Beyond War, author of books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.

Maria Santelli, executive director of Center on Conscience and War, founding director of the New Mexico GI Rights Hotline.

Jarrod Grammel, conscientious objector.

Nolan Fontaine, conscientious objector.

Sponsored by World Beyond War, and Center on Conscience and War, with thanks to Busboys and Poets.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.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 athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Feb
27

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

Feb
27

Can Canada Get Out of the War Business?

Tag: Peace and War

Canada is becoming a major weapons dealer, a reliable accomplice in U.S. wars, and a true believer in “humanitarian” armed peacekeeping as a useful response to all the destruction fueled by the weapons dealing.

William Geimer’s Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars is an excellent antiwar book, useful to anyone seeking to understand or abolish war anywhere on earth. But it happens to be written from a Canadian perspective of possibly particular value to Canadians and residents of other NATO countries, including being valuable right now as Trumpolini demands of them increased investment in the machinery of death.

By “other people’s wars” Geimer means to indicate Canada’s role as subservient to leading war-maker the United States, and historically Canada’s similar position toward Britain. But he also means that the wars Canada fights in do not involve actually defending Canada. So, it’s worth noting that they don’t involve actually defending the United States either, serving rather to endanger the nation leading them. Whose wars are they?

Geimer’s well-researched accounts of the Boer war, the world wars, Korea, and Afghanistan are as good a depiction of horror and absurdity, as good a debunking of glorification, as you’ll find.

It’s unfortunate then that Geimer holds out the possibility of a proper Canadian war, proposes that the Responsibility to Protect need merely be used properly to avoid “abuses” like Libya, recounts the usual pro-war tale about Rwanda, and depicts armed peacekeeping as something unlike war all together. “How,” Geimer asks, “did Canada in Afghanistan slip from actions consistent with one vision, to those of its opposite?” I’d suggest that one answer might be: by supposing that sending armed troops into a country to occupy it can be the opposite of sending armed troops into a country to occupy it.

But Geimer also proposes that no mission that will result in the killing of a single civilian be undertaken, a rule that would completely abolish war. In fact, spreading understanding of the history that Geimer’s book recounts would likely accomplish that same end.

World War I, which has now reached its centennial, is apparently a myth of origins in Canada in something of the way that World War II marks the birth of the United States in U.S. entertainment. Rejecting World War I can, therefore, be of particular value. Canada is also searching for world recognition for its contributions to militarism, according to Geimer’s analysis, in a way that the U.S. government could really never bring itself to give a damn what anyone else thinks. This suggests that recognizing Canada for pulling out of wars or for helping to ban landmines or for sheltering U.S. conscientious objectors (and refugees from U.S. bigotry), while shaming Canada for participating in U.S. crimes, may have an impact.

While Geimer recounts that propaganda surrounding both world wars claimed that Canadian participation would be defensive, he rightly rejects those claims as having been ludicrous. Geimer otherwise has very little to say about the propaganda of defensiveness, which I suspect is much stronger in the United States. While U.S. wars are now pitched as humanitarian, that selling point alone never garners majority U.S. public support. Every U.S. war, even attacks on unarmed nations halfway around the earth, is sold as defensive or not successfully sold at all. This difference suggests to me a couple of possibilities.

First, the U.S. thinks of itself as under threat because it has generated so much anti-U.S. sentiment around the world by means of all of its “defensive” wars. Canadians should contemplate what sort of an investment in bombings and occupations it would take for them to generate anti-Canadian terrorist groups and ideologies on the U.S. scale, and whether they would then double down in response, fueling a vicious cycle of investment in “defense” against what all the “defense” is generating.

Second, there is perhaps less risked and more to be gained in taking Canadian war history and its relationship with the U.S. military a bit further back in time. If Donald Trump’s face won’t do it, perhaps remembrance of U.S. wars gone by will help sway Canadians against their government’s role as U.S. poodle.

Six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and (fail to) drive the French out of what they considered their continent. The colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again). They got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again). General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed, except in the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans). The British and U.S. attacked in 1758 and took away a Canadian fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup. George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775. An early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada’s lack of interest in being included. Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand Canada over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Just imagine what that might have done for Canadian healthcare and gun laws! Or don’t imagine it. Britain did hand over Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. In 1812 the U.S. proposed to march into Canada and be welcomed as liberators. The U.S. supported an Irish attack on Canada in 1866. Remember this song?

Secession first he would put downWholly and forever,And afterwards from Britain’s crownHe Canada would sever.Yankee Doodle, keep it up,Yankee Doodle dandy.Mind the music and the stepand with the girls be handy!

Canada, in Geimer’s account, has lacked ambition to dominate the globe through empire. This makes ending its militarism quite a different matter, I suspect, from doing the same in the United States. The problems of profit, corruption, and propaganda remain, but the ultimate defense of war that always emerges in the United States when those other motives are defeated may not be there in Canada. In fact, by going to war on a U.S. leash, Canada makes itself servile.

Canada entered the world wars before the U.S. did, and was part of the provocation of Japan that brought the U.S. into the second one. But since then, Canada has been aiding the United States openly and secretly, providing first and foremost “coalition” support from the “international community.” Officially, Canada stayed out of wars between Korea and Afghanistan, since which point it has been joining in eagerly. But to maintain that claim requires ignoring all sorts of war-participation under the banner of the United Nations or NATO, including in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and Iraq.

Canadians must be proud that when their prime minister mildly criticized the war on Vietnam, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson reportedly grabbed him by the lapel, lifted him off the ground, and shouted “You pissed on my rug!” The Canadian prime minister, on the model of the guy Dick Cheney would later shoot in the face, apologized to Johnson for the incident.

Now the U.S. government is building up hostility toward Russia, and it was in Canada in 2014 that Prince Charles compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. What course will Canada take? The possibility exists of Canada offering the United States a moral and legal and practical Icelandic, Costa Rican example of a wiser way just north of the border. If the peer pressure provided by Canada’s healthcare system is any guide, a Canada that had moved beyond war would not by itself end U.S. militarism, but it would create a debate over doing so. That would be a continental step ahead of where we are now.

Feb
26

Open Guantanamo!

Tag: Peace and War

Antes des morirme quiero echar mis versos del alma.

Open Guantanamo to human rights inspectors. Open its files to the public. Subpoena the witnesses to its horrors. Open the courts to its prisoners and try them or set them free. Open the gates to the people of Cuba and give them their land back. And impeach U.S. presidents numbered 43 through 45.

Before, during, and after President Barack Obama's announcements of closing Guantanamo, it constituted an illegal prison whose guards used and still use torture, human experimentation, murder, secrecy, and lies.

By official government accounts, Guantanamo's prisons contain people desperate to attempt suicide, and so ingenious at accomplishing their goal that despite constant human and video surveillance, not to mention forced feeding, they are able to obtain forbidden materials, violate laws of physics, hang themselves by the neck with their hands tied behind their backs, and telepathically organize simultaneous multiple suicides by self-torture in their separate cells during moments when they aren't in their cells but rather have been taken down the road to be "interrogated" by that great liberal force of enlightened anti-Trumpism, the CIA.

Jeffrey Kaye's new book, Cover-up at Guantanamo, pieces together the available evidence on three particular alleged suicides at Guantanamo during Obama's presidency. Most of the records have been kept secret. Evidence has apparently been destroyed. And fundamentally, most people just do not care. Since Kaye first reported that one alleged suicide victim had died with his hands tied behind his back, no other reporter has bothered to pick up that story. Since former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman reported on murders disguised as suicides, the Congressional investigations have piled up to a grand total of zero.

The United Nations has condemned the U.S. government for its use of torture. Luckily, the U.S. government is not a poor oil-rich country. No sanctions, prosecutions, bombings, or overthrows have followed the condemnation. Nor has the U.S. public apparently grasped the fact that the UN condemnation is part of a process following through on a treaty to which the U.S. is a party, a treaty banning torture, a treaty long since implemented by U.S. law making torture a felony. There is no statute of limitations on torture when it's torture-to-death, also known as murder.

The delusion that holds that U.S. presidents have the power to make laws, whether closing transgender bathrooms, banning Muslim immigrants, or criminalizing torture, has reached its apex with the collective fantasy that Obama banned and Trump unbanned torture. In fact, you'll never ban torture that way, but you just might keep it de facto unbanned that way.

Trump recently announced that he was changing a law that the courts have ruled forbids discrimination against trans-gendered people. A president has no power to do any such thing. But the U.S. media all reported that he had done it, that by announcing a law, the emperor had created a law. The trouble is, of course, that the actual creation of the law is accomplished by the media's reporting on it. Once everyone believes that the law is what Trump declares it to be, the courts can go on ruling otherwise over and over until people cease to bring cases.

In recent decades we've moved from presidents issuing "executive orders" and calling them laws, to presidents rewriting laws that they are signing with "signing statements," to presidents secretly creating laws (and signing statements) in hidden memos, to presidents secretly or publicly tossing out their choice of the presidential "laws" created by their predecessors, all the way to presidents just making laws by announcing them on television or Twitter.

Someone who can do that can, by definition, torture, murder, and experiment on human beings. And someone who can do such things can do them to those who would question his powers, not just those targeted by the bigotry he uses to win the support of his primary victims.

But the deep state is running the torture centers, as presidents come and go. And unless a belated #DemExit really materializes, we may see any principled opposition to established atrocities handicapped by the support of anti-Trumpers for their newly beloved "intelligence" "community."

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