davidswanson's blog

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.

Nov
10

Hurricane Donald and the Storms of Changing Climate

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews, Elections, Environment, Peace and War

John Feffer argued on Wednesday that Demagogue Donald, whose very existence will lead me to pretend I'm not from the U.S. the next time I'm in Europe, is part of a wider trend that's already hit Europe hard:

"The ugliness has been percolating in Europe for some time now. It wasn’t just Brexit, Britain’s unexpected rejection of the European Union. It was the election of militant populists throughout Eastern Europe — Viktor Orban in Hungary, Robert Fico in Slovakia, the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland. It was the electoral surge of the National Front in France and the Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany. It was the backlash against immigrants, social welfare programs, and 'lazy Mediterraneans' — but also against bankers and Brussels bureaucrats."

Nov
09

Now We Can Finally Get to Work

Tag: Peace and War

Dear Democrats,

Are you finding yourselves suddenly a bit doubtful of the wisdom of drone wars? Presidential wars without Congress? Massive investment in new, smaller, "more usable" nuclear weapons? The expansion of bases across Africa and Asia? Are you disturbed by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen? Can total surveillance and the persecution of whistleblowers hit a point where they've gone too far? Is the new Cold War with Russia looking less than ideal now? How about the militarization of U.S. police: is it time to consider alternatives to that?

I hear you. I'm with you. Let's build a movement together to end the madness of constantly overthrowing governments with bombs. Let's propose nonviolent alternatives to a culture gone mad with war. Let's end the mindset that creates war in the first place.

We have opportunities as well as dangers. A President Trump is unpredictable. He wants to proliferate nuclear weapons, bomb people, kill people, stir up hatred of people, and increase yet further military spending. But he also said the new Cold War was a bad idea. He said he wanted to end NATO, not to mention NAFTA, as well as breaking the habit of overthrowing countries left and right. Trump seems to immediately back off such positions under the slightest pressure. Will he adhere to them under massive pressure from across the political spectrum? It's worth a try.

We have an opportunity to build a movement that includes a focus on and participation from refugees/immigrants. We have a chance to create opposition to racist wars and racism at home. We may just discover that what's left of the U.S. labor movement is suddenly more open to opposing wars. Environmental groups may find a willingness to oppose the world's top destroyer of the environment: the U.S. military. Civil liberties groups may at long last be willing to take on the militarism that creates the atrocities they oppose. We have to work for such a broader movement. We have to build on the trend of protesting the national anthem and make it a trend of actively resisting the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.

I know you're feeling a little beat down at the moment. You shouldn't. You had a winning candidate in Bernie Sanders. Your party cheated him out of the nomination. All that stuff you tell yourselves about encouraging demographic trends and the better positions of young people is all true. You just looked for love in all the wrong places. Running an unpopular candidate in a broken election system is not the way to change the world. Even a working election system would not be the central means by which to improve anything. There's no getting back the mountains of money and energy invested in this election. But activism is an unlimited resource. Directing your energies now in more strategic directions can inspire others who in turn can re-inspire you.

 

Dear Republicans,

Your outsider is threatening insiderness. He's got the same tribe of DC corporate lobbyists planning his nominations that Hillary Clinton had lined up for hers. Can we resist that trend? Can we insist that the wars be ended? Can those moments of off-the-cuff honesty about dinosaurs like NATO be turned into actual action? Donald Trump took a lot of heat for proposing to be fair to Palestinians as well as Israelis, and he backed off fast. Can we encourage him to stand behind that initial inclination?

Can we stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and end NAFTA as well? We heard a million speeches about how bad NAFTA is. How about actually ending it? Can we stop the looming war supplemental spending bill? Can we put a swift halt to efforts in Congress to repeal the right to sue Saudi Arabia and other nations for their wars and lesser acts of terrorism?

How about all that well deserved disgust with the corporate media? Can we actually break up that cartel and allow opportunities for media entrepreneurs?

 

Dear United States,

Donald Trump admitted we had a broken election system and for a while pretended that he would operate outside of it by funding his own campaign. It's time to actually fix it. It's time to end the system of legalized bribery, fund elections, make registration automatic, make election day a holiday, end gerrymandering, eliminate the electoral college, create the right to vote, create the public hand-counting of paper ballots at every polling place, and create ranked choice voting as Maine just did.

Voter suppression efforts in this year's elections should be prosecuted in each state. And any indications of fraud in vote counting by machines should be investigated. We should take the opportunity created by all the McCarthyist nonsense allegations of Russian interference to get rid of unverifiable voting.

There are also areas in which localities and states, as well as international organizations and alliances, must now step up to take the lead. First and foremost is investing in a serious effort to avoid climate catastrophe. Second is addressing inequality that has surpassed the Middle Ages: both taxing the overclass and upholding the underclass must be pursued creatively. Mass incarceration and militarized police are problems that states can solve.

But we can advance a positive agenda across the board by understanding this election in the way that much of the world will understand it: as a vote against endless war. Let's end the wars, end the weapons dealing, close the bases, and cut the $1 trillion a year going into the military. Hell, why not demand that a businessman president for the first time ever audit the Pentagon and find out what it's spending money on?

 

Dear World,

We apologize for having elected President Trump as well as for nearly electing President Clinton. Many of you believe we defeated the representative of the enlightenment in favor of the sexist racist buffoon. This may be a good thing. Or at least it may be preferable to your eight-year-long delusion that President Obama was a man of peace and justice.

I hate to break it to you, but the United States government has been intent on dominating the rest of you since the day it was formed. If electing an obnoxious president helps you understand that, so much the better. Stop joining in U.S. "humanitarian wars" please. They never were humanitarian, and if you can recognize that now, so much the better. The new guy openly wants to "steal their oil." So did the last several presidents, although none of them said so. Are we awake now?

Shut down the U.S. bases in your country. They represent your subservience to Donald Trump. Close them.

Want to save the earth's climate? Build a nonviolent movement that resists destructive agendas coming out of the United States.

Want to uphold the rule of law, diplomacy, aid, decency, and humanitarianism? Stop making exceptions for U.S. crimes. Tell the International Criminal Court to indict a non-African. Prosecute the crime and crimes of war in your own courts. Stop cooperating in the surrounding and threatening of Russia, China, and Iran. Clinton wanted to send weapons to Ukraine and bomb Syria. Make sure Trump doesn't. Make peace in Ukraine and Syria before January.

It's time that we all began treating the institution of war as the unacceptable vestige of barbarism that it can appear when given an openly racist, sexist, bigoted face. We have the ability to use nonviolent tools to direct the world where we want it to go. We have to stop believing the two big lies: that we are generally powerless, and that our only power lies in elections. Let's finally get active. Let's start by ending war making.

Nov
08

Talk Nation Radio: Sonia Kennebeck on the Drone as National Bird

Tag: Art, Book and Movie Reviews, Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-sonia-kennebeck-on-the-drone-as-national-bird

Sonia Kennebeck is director and producer of National Bird, an amazing new documentary about drones. Kennebeck is an independent documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with more than 15 years of directing and producing experience. She has directed eight television documentaries and more than 50 investigative reports. She lives in New York where she runs her own production company (Ten Forward Films) that makes films about international politics and human rights. Filmmaker Magazine recently selected her as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2016.” Sonia Kennebeck received a Master’s degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. and was born in Malacca, Malaysia. National Bird is her first feature-length documentary film.

Learn more: http://nationalbirdfilm.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

World Beyond War

RootsAction.org

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

This site is maintained by a union shop at MayFirst.org