davidswanson's blog

Jan
18

Vancouver: Liquid City

Tag: Public Policy

When they schedule the olympics in a city, the city usually schedules a massive international advertising campaign for its greatness as "the best place on earth," which is actually the brilliant and oh-so-convincing motto selected by Vancouver, Canada, next host of the winter olympics. That we will learn a great deal about Vancouver from watching the olympics is placed in more doubt than usual by the fact that Canada arrested American journalist Amy Goodman at the border based purely on the random and baseless suspicion that she might someday say something critical of the best olympics on earth.

Jan
18

What Bush Did to Haiti

Tag: Impeachment

By David Swanson

If a group of dedicated scholars, attorneys, journalists, and activists had tried to generate a comprehensive list of impeachable offenses committed by George W. Bush as president, and only 35 of them had been introduced into Congress, one of the many discarded ones, in rough and overly detailed form, might have read something like this:

Jan
18

Two Sides of the Same Donkey

Tag: Political Ideas

By David Swanson

I spoke in Van Nuys, California, and in Ventura, California, on Saturday as part of a book tour, talking about peace, justice, and activism. The first event had me speaking to loyal members of the Democratic Party. A number of participants in the second event made clear that their top priority is demolishing the Democratic Party.

I didn't agree with either group on the matter of the Democrats, but I agreed with both and they all agreed with each other on what they want from our government. They all wanted representation, an end to corporate control, demilitarization, investment in human needs, upholding of human rights and the rule of law. They just didn't agree about how you get there.

My answer to both groups boils down to this:

1. When it comes to elections, back the best candidate unless the spoiler effect convinces you not to. Don't oppose the best candidate because they do or do not belong to the Democratic Party.

2. Work for reforms that would permit new parties, which are the same reforms that would permit independent candidates not subservient to any party: ballot access, debate access, media access, clean elections, independent media, fusion voting, smaller districts, etc.

3. Focus at least 95 percent of your efforts away from direct involvement with elections and candidates, to work on building movements and pressuring elected officials to represent us in between elections. Treat all elected officials as equals, without any prejudice based on party. Punish and reward all of them, since they all deserve both.

4. Stop focusing more than 5 percent of your efforts directly on elections.

5. Review numbers 3 and 4 above and actually attempt to achieve them.

Here are the two events, with my opening remarks and a little bit of the Q and A. Sadly, these videos didn't include most of the Q and A, and I hope someone else posts it.

VIDEOS The Dems: Part I, Part II The Anti-Dems: Part I, Part II

Jan
17

A 16-Point Plan for U.S. Left

Tag: Political Ideas

By Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine

“In Virginia, we started making a big community garden and everybody pitched in and worked on it, digging ditches to make sure we’d get water to the garden, and with a little effort we were getting some success,” progressive organizer, activist and author David Swanson told his audience at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church Friday, January 15. “Then this crowd of rain dancers showed up and said we ought to have a rain dance, and they would bring us the water and we wouldn’t have to dig for it. It’s going to be four years of water and we wouldn’t have to dig for it. It was going to be rain we could believe in. So we did the rain dance and then we had a little rain, and everybody said, ‘It worked!’ And they convinced themselves that it worked, until they realized it was just raining the same amount it always did. Did you really think, did you really believe, that a rain dance was going to fix everything? No. Then why is everybody so discouraged because we had this stupid rain dance, and why are we saying we shouldn’t bother to dig ditches anymore because the rain dance didn’t work?”

Gradually it dawned on the over 150 listeners that Swanson meant this story as a parable — they certainly “got it” once he parodied President Obama’s campaign slogan with the words “rain we could believe in” — and though his story was just one illustration of a 16-point program he outlined, sometimes facetiously, for the Left in America, in many ways it summed up his message. Though he was ostensibly there to promote his book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, Swanson’s agenda was bigger than his title. It was an effort to get the Left to rethink its whole national strategy, focus on local issues and campaigns, and tune out all the chatter about presidents and elections. Noting that he was speaking on the 81st anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Swanson said, “Monday is National Volunteer Day for Martin Luther King. When are we going to have a National Non-Violent Resistance Day for Martin Luther King? He said, a year to the day before he was shot, that a nation that puts more money into its military than social uplift is headed for disaster — and today the U.S. government is spending more money on the military than on everything else combined.”

Read the rest.

Jan
17

When Woolsey Met Harman

Tag: Elections

As I sit waiting to fly out of LAX, secure in the knowledge that while most of our money is going into the greatest effort the world has ever seen to make most of its people hate a particular nation, everyone around me has had to take off their coats and shoes and display their toothpaste, except for the people living on the streets of Los Angeles who aren't part of the airport traveling world, and -- this ought to help things -- Lynn Woolsey came to this city yesterday to support Jane Harman.

Jan
17

Movement Music

Tag: Art

By David Swanson

"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution," said Emma Goldman, who might also have said "If we don't dance, not enough people will work long and hard enough in our revolution." This is one of the two most useful quotes for Americans right now, the other being another remark by Emma Goldman: "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."

Jan
16

Audio: Mike Copass and David Swanson

Tag: About David Swanson

Mike Copass Show Podcasts San Diego news and politics, from Liberty One Radio, interviews with host Mike Copass of The Mike Copass Show. Saturday, January 16, 2010 Copass Report: David Swanson Interview (mp3).

Jan
03

Yes, Shooting Handcuffed Children

Tag: Peace and War

By David Swanson

Silly me. I thought I could comment on something that was in the news without proving that it was in the news. Maybe this will help:

UN says Afghans slain in troop raid were students By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press Writer, Thu Dec 31, 1:26 pm ET http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091231/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan_un

KABUL – The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

Jan
02

Shooting Handcuffed Children

Tag: Peace and War

By David Swanson

The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones.

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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