Nov
16

John Heuer Was a Tremendous Advocate of Peace

Tag: Peace and War

I knew John Heuer was elderly from the day I met him, years ago, and came to know him as one of the most dedicated advocates of peace on earth. Losing him is a blow. He was youthful, vibrant, recently married, and intent on ridding the world of pointless mass slaughter. John was active in every organization and independently. He advanced nonviolent action, lobbying, education, and inspiration.

John wrote this four years ago:

Dear young citizens,

First, I want to congratulate you on your many accomplishments.  Second, I want to counsel you on your roles as citizens.

When I graduated 8th grade in 1960, citizens could not vote until they were 21.  Boys could be drafted into the army and sent to war at age 18, but they could not fully participate as citizens, including engagement in public, democratic decisions about whether or not the nation should send our boys to war.  This travesty was somewhat remedied by passage of the 26th amendment to the US Constitution in 1971, granting the right to vote to 18 year-olds.

I say “somewhat” a remedy, because the issue of the rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties of citizens under the age of 18 have not been addressed.  It is these rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties about which I write today:  Your citizenship.

As rising 9th graders, you are well aware that your education is, as yet, incomplete.  But it will come as a surprise to many and a shock to some to learn that your education has contained deep strains of fraud, about who actually runs our government and how.  Here are three examples:

OLF – The US Navy proposed construction of “Outlying Landing Fields” (OLF) in wildlife sanctuaries near North Carolina’s east coast, in order to practice landings and take-offs for military aircraft.  Public outcry caused the Navy to scuttle these plans.

Sonar Training Field off the Florida—Georgia coast.  The Navy has proposed designating hundreds of square miles of Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the southern US for submarine sonar training, despite opposition of environmental groups which point out that these areas are breeding grounds for whales, and that high frequency sonar is known to drive marine mammals insane.  The US Supreme Court overruled the environmentalists with the judgment that, while there could be incidental injury, there was also a lack of proof that the sonar testing area would threaten any species’ extinction.

$185 Billion Dollars is what our government proposes to spend in the next 10 years to modernize our nuclear weapons arsenal.  It is difficult to measure (or imagine) $185 Billion, but it would pay for a lot of school lunches, teachers’ salaries and school nurses.  Besides, what business do we have maintaining a military arsenal designed to incinerate cities?

When you consider these government programs, you have to wonder if our government has gone mad, and what we, as citizens, of all ages, can do about it.

Why don’t we hear more about these grave assaults on planet earth and this terrible squander of our wealth?  The fact is that the agents that propose these travesties are the same ones that often own our newspapers and write your textbooks.

So, what are we to do?  One of the 1st steps, I think, is for you to understand that the wealth being squandered and the planet being desecrated belongs to you, your generation, your children, grand children and posterity.

The 2nd step is to realize, however painfully, that your parents and grandparents have failed to establish your legacy of peaceful nations living together on an abundant earth.

The 3rd is to exercise your rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties of your citizenship to carefully study your local resources in order to propose a reconfiguration of those resources to meet the needs of your community, and to engage your peers in an earnest identification of those needs.  Start with identifying the military footprint in your district and discuss how much, if any, that investment enhances the security of your community, and how redirecting that investment could improve the security of your community.  Use your networking capabilities not just for socializing, but for building solidarity among your peers.  Use that solidarity to demand a school curriculum that addresses the needs of your community or create your own curriculum.

Finally, a word about citizenship.  Many of you go to school with non-citizens of the USA.  Please recognize them as guests, and afford them as much hospitality as you can.  Remember, your US citizenship may be established by the Constitution and subsequent laws, but we are all world citizens by virtue of our birth.

Nov
16

The Skeletons in Keith Ellison's Display Case

Tag: Elections

Congressman Keith Ellison, candidate of progressive Democrats and many regressive Democrats for chair of the Democratic National Committee eagerly urged the illegal and disastrous violent overthrow of the government of Libya in 2011, which he celebrated as a success despite what it meant for the rule of law, despite all the death and suffering, despite the predictable instability and weapons proliferation to follow.

Ellison moved on to pushing, and using his perch as co-chair of the Progressive Caucus to push, for a similar war on Syria. For years now he has advocated for the illegal and murderous creation of no fly zones and "safe zones" -- what Hillary Clinton admitted only to Goldman Sachs would require that you "kill a lot of Syrians." Ellison was an early backer of bombing Syria in 2013. He met with peace activists but rejected their appeal.

Back in 2007, before Ellison's leadership, the Congressional Progressive Caucus had helped organize 90 Congress members to commit to voting against war funding.  Most of them turned around and voted for war funding. That ridiculous disappointment was a high point for the CPC.

Since then, the CPC's commitments -- such as to vote against corporate healthcare -- have hardly been taken seriously, and so it's hardly been news when most members have gone back on their commitments.

But in recent years, the CPC has shifted away from even pretending to take a stand on things, and instead moved toward issuing statements full of non-committal rhetoric. Some began referring to it as the Congressional Progressive Statement Caucus.

Yet even that standard must be looked back to with nostalgia when it comes to Co-Chair Ellison's rhetoric on war. He promotes misinformation about protecting innocent people in Libya and Syria and uses those claims to justify war making. This is exactly what the war makers were looking for in funding Hillary Clinton for President. Should the Democratic National Committee now give it to them in the form of Ellison as Chair?

Of course there are differences between Clinton and Ellison. He hasn't been around long enough to do nearly as much damage, and he's legitimately better than Clinton in many ways. He introduced legislation in the Minnesota State Legislature to urge the impeachment of George W. Bush. He dropped support for that once elected to Congress but did sign onto impeaching Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales. He has voted against war funding, more than once. He has asked Obama to end the war on Afghanistan. He was against rewriting laws with signing statements, at least while Bush was president. It's conceivable that he no longer, post-Bernie, throws a fit if called a socialist. And on domestic issues there's no comparison: Ellison is excellent by Democratic standards.

But is that good enough? Does empowering someone who is a Muslim erase all concern over bombing Muslims and turning their nations into hell?

This is the best the Democrats have, we're told. But putting an active member of Congress into another fulltime job is not ideal. And the Democrats have unemployed figures like war-advocate Howard Dean crawling out into the spot lights.

Who would I propose instead? The first name that comes to mind (and I have not discussed this with him, it's possible he has no interest, and he certainly wouldn't sanction my criticizing of Ellison) is Dennis Kucinich. You want change? Hope even? Try him.

Nov
15

Talk Nation Radio: Jonathan Simon on How Machines May Have Counted Our Votes Wrong

Tag: Elections, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jonathan-simon-on-how-machines-may-have-counted-our-votes-wrong

Jonathan Simon is author of CODE RED: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century. He serves as Executive Director of Election Defense Alliance (www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org), a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 to restore observable vote counting and electoral integrity as the basis of American democracy. In addition to CODE RED, Dr. Simon has published, both individually and in collaboration, numerous papers related to various aspects of election forensics and election integrity. We discuss the counting of votes in last week's U.S. elections.

The CODE RED website is www.CODERED2016.com.

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

Put a Peace Pole in Charlottesville
Nov
15

Now More Than Ever: Stand for Peace in Charlottesville

Tag: Peace and War

Here's a proposal backed by RootsAction.org, WorldBeyondWar.org, Pax Christi Charlottesville, Amnesty International Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, and 257 people who have signed this petition: http://bit.ly/cvillepeacepole

Charlottesville, Virginia, has the potential to be a leader for peace at home and abroad. Our city council in recent years passed resolutions against the war on Iraq, against threatening Iran, against drones, and in favor of moving resources from wasteful and deadly military spending to human and environmental needs. Other cities and towns followed Charlottesville's lead on some of these measures. Our voices were heard in Richmond and in Washington.

We now need to be a voice for peace and nonviolence more than ever. Wearing a safety pin is a wonderful way to communicate that one is a safe person not inclined toward bigotry or violence. But we need something more visible as well.

Charlottesville's monuments to wars, including the Native American genocide, the defense of slavery, and the slaughter of 3.8 million Vietnamese, dominate public space. Charlottesville's support for peace is nowhere visible on the public landscape.

Charlottesville has four sister cities, and signs indicating them are visible in Charlottesville. But the motto of Sister Cities International, "Peace Through People," is nowhere to be found. There is no location set aside to celebrate these relationships, as there could be in combination with a peace pole.

A peace pole is of course just one option. Any public memorial to efforts for peace would work.

A peace pole is a popular means of expressing a desire for peace around the world, including in the United States, where peace poles are found in public plazas and parks in many locations.

One idea would be to have 6 sides including English, Spanish, and the languages of Cville Sister Cities: Italian, French, Bulgarian, and one of the many languages from Ghana. Or 8 sides with some left blank to be filled in later.

Please sign the petition so that we can deliver it to Charlottesville City Council. Please share it widely.

Nov
14

AUDIO: I discussed what else on connect the dots

Tag: About David Swanson, Elections

Monday morning  at 7-8AM  tune in (KPFK 90.7 fm) 

                                  or log on: 

http://archive.kpfk.org/index.php?shokey=ctd

Lila Garrett’s  CONNECT THE DOTS.

Did the Democrats bring this disaster on themselves?  Monday morning guests suggest a change that will make a right wing putsch like this election less likely to happen. 

Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida, who along with many progressive Democrats was betrayed in his run for Senate by the right wing of his own party, lists other candidates who suffered the same fate. In his remaining days in this Congress, he plans to introduce a bill which could bring dramatic change to the election process. 

Former Assembly person Jackie Goldberg analyzes what went wrong and what went right with the election.  Believe it or not, some things  that should have won, actually did. 

Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Swanson has a different take on the significance of the election altogether.  What can we do about it?  Prepare to be activated.

Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)KPFK 90.7 FM in LA; 98.7 Santa Barbara; 93.7 San Diego;99.5 China LakeAirs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.Link to my podcastshttp://archive.kpfk.org/index.php?shokey=ctdEach show is online for 60 days.

Nov
13

Un-Trump the World

Tag: Elections

A couple of dozen young people marched back and forth through downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday evening shouting "Love Not Hate!" and "No Human Being Is Illegal!" and "Black Lives Matter!" and similar anti-Trump inspired slogans. They didn't hand out flyers or interact with other people at all, though I cheered for them.

Meanwhile some people my age looked on and made scornful condescending comments to the effect that the election was over and these fools should get over it. And one drunk guy, restrained by his wife or girlfriend, announced that "Black lives aren't worth s---!"

My response is different, if perhaps equally cynical. I'd like all the fools not marching and rallying to recognize that the dream of self-governance is over and to get over it. I'd like everyone to have gotten over it last month or last year or last decade.

I love that people march around shouting "Love Not Hate!" And the fact that anyone would object to that statement of preference ought to deeply disturb the most apathetic voter/consumer/spectator. In fact I've just helped set up a petition that reads:

"We will not stand by as hatred and violence are promoted by our president-elect. Racism and bigotry at home have been fueled by U.S. wars abroad, but also make more such wars easier. We commit to nonviolently resisting hateful attacks on our fellow human beings wherever they live."

I also love and am practicing the new trend of wearing a safety pin to indicate that one is a safe and caring person to anyone who might be worried about any variety of bigotry.

But here's where I get a bit cynical. Hillary Clinton told a room full of Goldman Sachs bankers that creating a no fly zone in Syria would require killing lots of Syrians. And she told the public she wanted to create that no fly zone. And if she had been declared the winner of the election, I can guarantee you that nobody would have been marching up and down my street yelling "Love Not Hate."

So, I worry that even those who value kindness to others value it only for the 4% of humanity in the United States but not so much for the other 96%, or value it only as directed by the less hateful of the two big political parties.

I also worry that it's even worse than that. I worry that, as cheerleaders for one political party over the other, people have lost touch with the idea of bringing demands from the public to the government. For seven years we had protests of the war on Afghanistan, for example. Then for eight years we didn't, even as the U.S. forces there grew by over 300 percent before declining. Perhaps next year those protests will recommence, but probably only in the unlikely event that the Democratic Party raises the issue.

Where was the outrage over the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Or over the lack of single-payer healthcare? Or over the failure to restrain inequality or environmental destruction? Or over the threat of a nuclear war with Russia? Why the selective outrage on-command as directed by televised coverage of the model or template protest in New York City?

But, really, what choice do people have? If they want others to join in, if they want the local media to cover them, they have to go where the momentum is. And when the momentum is for love against hate, everybody should be cheering and joining.

But we should also be directing our energy toward strategic areas for systemic change.

Is it a problem that the winner of the popular vote can be denied the U.S. presidency? Then let's compel our state legislatures to change the law to distribute electors in proportion to actual votes.

Is it a problem that a small cartel of major media corporations can choose to give someone like Donald Trump wall-to-wall free airtime, effectively handing him a nomination for president? Then let's channel widespread (including Trump's) disdain for the media into breaking up that cartel.

Is it a problem that the Democratic Party can slant the playing field of its primary to guarantee a win to a weak candidate? We should disempower and democratize parties, including by ending the corruption of privately financed elections, and by creating ranked-choice voting in the other 49 states as Maine's voters just did there.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead for the moment, and the president-elect made at least 1,000 speeches condemning NAFTA. Let's put an end to NAFTA, and not replace it with something worse.

It took President Obama two days after the election to put in his request for more billions for more war. Trump has already said he wants to end the arming of fighters in Syria. Let's end that supplemental spending bill along with that policy. And let's make clear that we won't stand for another form of escalation in Syria or Iraq.

Is it too early to impeach Trump? Then let's focus on blocking his horrendous cabinet nominations.

Much of recent Trump-driven hatred took the form of voter suppression. Let's demand investigations and prosecutions.

And what about loving future generations? Let's work to advance a wiser environmental policy at the local, state, and international levels, and to make clear to Congress and the president-elect that we will not stand for the destruction of the earth's climate.

Let's energize and strategize with everyone marching against the recent election. Let's take these protests where their leaders think they need to go. Even if we're just telling each other and the world that we're not among those accepting hatred and violence, that's all to the good.

But let's not start to believe that activism is principally for displaying our identities. Let's make sure we're transforming major structures that impact millions and billions of those whom we need to love and not hate.

Nov
11

Calexit Yes

Tag: Political Ideas

California should secede from the United States, kick out the U.S. military, withhold all its U.S. taxes, invest in its infrastructure and educational systems, lead the world in sustainable energy, welcome refugees and immigrants, join the International Criminal Court, join and push for the democratization of the United Nations, sign onto the Convention on the Rights of the Child, join the world in banning land mines and cluster bombs and depleted uranium and nuclear weapons and racial discrimination and discrimination against women and in banning weapons in space, join the world in establishing rights of migrant workers, regulating the arms trade, providing protection from disappearances, defending the rights of people with disabilities, and joining the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, offer non-military humanitarian aid to the world, and hold elections without legalized bribery.

Seceding from a rogue state is not an anti-global move, not balkanization, not splintering, not ethnic cleansing. California would be a good influence on the United 49 states, just as the North would have been on the South had the U.S. Civil War not happened. Of course, Oregon and Hawaii and other states should have the right to join California if it agrees to have them, just as any people anywhere on earth should have the right to secede from any government that does not represent it -- a right the United States recognized in Yugoslavia but not in Crimea for biased, non-substantive reasons.

Nov
11

Top 10 Election Problems

Tag: Elections

We got 1,001 things wrong in the latest U.S. election. Here are the top 10:

1. Expecting an election to solve deep injustices that require a massive movement, as have all the deep injustices of the past. This can be fixed through education and activism.

2. Rigging the DNC primary to deny Bernie Sanders a nomination. This could have been fixed by Sanders running as an independent. It can now be fixed by all DNC donors abandoning it and putting their funds into activism. Of course the DNC should dump Brazile and all Clintonites, but installing Howard Dean or Keith Ellison hardly solves anything. Disempowering parties through some of the proposals below would work.

3. Rigging the RNC primary by giving Donald Trump endless free media coverage. This can be fixed by busting up the media cartel, requiring free and equal air time for candidates, limiting the election season, banning legalized bribery, and publicly funding elections. (These things also disempower parties.)

4. Voter suppression that Greg Palast says stripped 1.1 million voters from the rolls in swing states, but which Democrats seem not to give a damn about -- perhaps because Putin didn't do it. This can be fixed by creating a right to vote, making voter registration automatic, debunking the myth of "voter fraud," undoing the anti-voter restrictions of recent years, providing adequate polling stations, and making election day a holiday.

5. Unverifiable election machines, including optical scanners, that have left us in an awkward situation. Exit polls, which the U.S. Department of State uses to judge the credibility of elections in other countries, show that Clinton won in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But we are supposed to just take it on blind faith that in fact she didn't. This can be fixed by publicly hand counting paper ballots in every polling place. Of course the acceptable position is to believe on faith that the vote counts are accurate, but since when is taking it on faith the progressive position, when taking it on empirical evidence is a perfectly possible alternative?

6. The winner-take-all system in most states, which concentrates the election on a handful of states and leads to the winner of the popular vote losing the election. This can be fixed by states choosing to distribute their electoral college "votes" in proportion to their actual human votes.

7. The gerrymandered districts that make it virtually impossible to unelect rotten incumbents. This can be fixed through non-partisan redistricting.

8. The winner-take-all system in each election that fuels lesser evilism. This can be fixed through ranked choice voting, as just done in Maine and in Benton County, Oregon.

9. The Presidential Debate Commission which limits debates to moderators and participants who -- even when they are fed the questions beforehand -- are an utter embarrassment to the human species. This can be fixed by allowing the League of Women Voters or any independent organization to host the debates.

10. The United States Senate, which gives the 40 million people of California no greater representation than the 0.6 million people of Wyoming. This can be fixed by abolishing the United States Senate.

Nov
11

Armistice Day 98 Years On and the Need for a Peace to End All Wars

Tag: Peace and War

November 11 is Armistice Day / Remembrance Day. Ninety-eight years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, fighting ceased in the “war to end all wars.” People went on killing and dying right up until the pre-designated moment, impacting nothing other than our understanding of the stupidity of war.

Nov
11

A Good Time to Review Bush's War Crimes

Tag: Peace and War

I'll be speaking at the upcoming Iraq Tribunal about war lies of 2002-2003 vintage. I'm nostalgic for the days when presidents had to lie to Congress and the public and obtain some modicum of support before bombing a foreign country.

Already by the day after this week's election we saw the return of street protests, of big plans for mass mobilizations, and of preparations to urge a presidential impeachment as soon as Trump commits the first obviously impeachable offense not routinely committed by Barack Obama.

But we are not going to see the return of the office of the presidency as it was inherited by George W. Bush or even as it was passed along to Barack Obama. When Bush became president, spying on everything everybody did was deemed unacceptable. Imprisoning people without charge or trial was an outrage. Torture was illicit. Going through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays to pick whom to murder with a drone would have filled the streets with protest. When Congress passed laws, presidents were supposed to veto them, sign and obey them, or quietly ignore them in secret until caught, not sign them and publicly announce which parts they would violate.

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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