davidswanson's blog

Jan
06

Why Release the Torture Report Now

Tag: Prosecution

A young man was tortured in Chicago this week. It wasn’t an act of the Chicago police. It was live streamed on Facebook. And the President of the United States declared it an horrific hate crime.

The President did not advise “looking forward” rather than enforcing the law. Nor did he hold open the possibility that the crime might have served some higher purpose. In fact, he didn’t excuse the crime in any way that might help recommend it for imitation by others.

Yet this same president has forbidden the prosecution of U.S. government torturers for the past 8 years and has now seen fit to keep a four-year-old Senate report on their torture secret for at least 12 years more.

Jan
04

Yes, Positivity, Pangloss, Partisanship, Propaganda, and Populism

Eight years ago Yes! Magazine published a political platform of progressive policies, along with polling showing strong majority support for each proposal. Now, eight years later, we can show almost total failure to advance any of the proposals, most of which were focused on the U.S. federal government.

Where there have been any small successes, they have mostly come at the state or local level or outside the United States. New York State just took a step toward free college and Washington State toward shutting down fossil fuels while everyone was watching Donald Trump's twitter feed. Most of the world's nations are working on a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons from the earth, while Obama's government has invested heavily in new nukes and (far more offensively, I'm told) Trump has tweeted about them.

The general federal-level failure in the United States is very clearly because the U.S. government in Washington D.C. is a financially corrupted and anti-democratic structure, and because the U.S. public is generally disinclined to hold it accountable. The United States enjoys remarkably less activism than many other countries, and suffers as a result.

A huge reason for the activism shortage is partisan loyalty. Of that minority of people who will do anything at all, many will only make demands of or protest members of one political party. For the other party all is forgiven. And most policy positions are utterly expendable at the slightest shift in the party line. Witness the current Democratic fever for believing the CIA on faith and desiring hostility toward Russia.

Jan
03

Talk Nation Radio: Dave Webb on Keeping Weapons and Nuclear Power Out of Space

Tag: Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-dave-webb-on-keeping-weapons-and-nuclear-power-out-of-space

Dave Webb is a member of the World Beyond War Coordinating Committee and chair of the UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and well as Vice President of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Convenor of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space: http://space4peace.org

Webb is an Emeritus Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Leeds Beckett University (previously  Leeds Metropolitan University). Webb has been involved in the campaign to scrap the UK Trident nuclear weapons system and has also focused on campaigning to close two U.S. bases in Yorkshire (where he lives) – Fylingdales (a missile defence radar base) and Menwith Hill (the huge NSA spy base).

We discuss the upcoming 25th Annual Global Network Conference & Protest: "Pivot Toward War: US Missile Defense & the Weaponization of Space" to be held on April 7-9, 2017, in Huntsville, Alabama: http://space4peace.org

 

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.

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

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

Jan
02

Fantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump

Tag: Impeachment, Political Ideas

To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama's bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. Here's a "progressive" Democrat:

"In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason. ... By undermining further investigation or sanctions against the Russian manipulation of the 2016 election, Trump as president would be giving aid and comfort to Russian interference with American democracy."

There's a bit of a nod there -- in the word "investigations" -- to the lack of any evidence that Russia manipulated any U.S. election, yet that manipulation is stated as fact, and a failure to support further sanctions as punishment for it becomes "aid and comfort." What level of punishment exactly constitutes the absence of aid and comfort? And how does that level of punishment compare with the level likely to produce war or nuclear holocaust? Who knows.

Failure to sufficiently punish a foreign government, even for an actual proven offense, has never been a high crime and misdemeanor. The United States is in fact bound by the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the United Nations Charter to take any such dispute to arbitration and to settle it by pacific means. But that would require producing some evidence rather than mere allegations. Lawless "punishment" is much easier.

But further evidence can emerge to counter the claim. The lack of evidence for the claim can weigh ever more heavily on public opinion. And the dangers of creating further hostility with Russia can enter the consciousness of additional people.

Meanwhile, we have a man planning to be president later this month whose business dealings clearly violate the U.S. Constitution in terms of not only foreign but also domestic corruption. That's a perfectly overwhelming case for impeachment and removal from office that doesn't require opposing a single incident of mass murder or offending a single Pentagon contractor.

Beyond that, Trump is becoming president after election day intimidation, the partisan-based removal of voters from the rolls, and opposition to attempting to count paper ballots where they existed. He's arriving with the stated policies of unconstitutionally discriminating against Muslims, murdering families, stealing oil, torturing, and proliferating nuclear weapons.

In other words, Donald Trump will be from Day 1 an impeachable president, and Democrats will have already spent months building their campaign around the one thing that won't work. Imagine what will happen after all their hearings and press conferences, when their supporters find out that they aren't even accusing Vladimir Putin of hacking into election machines, that in fact they are accusing unknown individuals of hacking into Democrats' emails, and that they are then vaguely speculating that those individuals could have been sources for WikiLeaks, thereby informing the U.S. public of what was quite obvious and ought to have been widely reported for the good of the U.S. government, namely that the DNC rigged its primary.

By the time the Democrats beat themselves to the floor with this charade, more facts will likely have come out regarding WikiLeaks' actual source(s), and more hostility will likely have been stirred up with Russia. The war hawks have already got Trump talking up nuclear escalation.

Luckily there is an ace in the hole. There is something else that Democrats will be eager to hold Trump accountable for. And give Trump a month and he'll produce it. I'm referring, of course, to that greatest fear of Our Beloved Founding Fathers, the ultimate high crime and misdemeanor: the presidential sex scandal.

Dec
30

Russians, By Fling -- To the tune of "Russians" by Sting

Tag: Culture and Society, Peace and War, Political Ideas

In Liberal America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria

Conditioned to accept whatever's claimed

As long as it's Donald and the Russians blamed

Mr. Putin says he'll be friends with you

I don't subscribe to this point of view

It would be such an ignorant thing to do

If the Russians hate their children too

 

How can I risk my little boy with Oppenheimer's deadly toy

There is no monopoly in common sense

On either side of all the missile defense

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

The Russians hacked your cell phone too

 

There is no historical precedent

To put a stooge in the office of the President

There's no such thing as a winnable war

It's a lie we don't reject anymore

Obama says we will protect you

I don't subscribe to this point of view

Believe me when I say to you

I know the Russians hate their children too

 

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

What might kill us, me, and you

Is if the Russians hate their children too

Dec
30

ACLU & CAIR Use Cville Spokesman to Claim War on Iraq Was for Bill of Rights

Tag: Peace and War

Are you old enough to remember when liberal groups openly admitted that the war on Iraq was illegal and fraudulent, based on oil and profit and sadism?

Well, can you recall when the proponents of the war claimed it was a defense against nonexistent ties to terrorists and nonexistent weapons?

Even if you've wiped those memories, let me assure you, NOBODY ever claimed that attacking and destroying Iraq was necessary to protect civil liberties in the United States (which have been seriously eroded during the course of the war).

Yet, in recent months the generic defense of murdering large numbers of people far away has taken over as the explanation for the war on Iraq.

The ACLU on Friday used the voice of my fellow Charlottesvillian Khizr Khan to claim that attacking Iraq was done "in defense of our country's ideals."

Dec
29

Va State Senator Creigh Deeds Says He Has No Intention of Supporting Any Muslim Registry

Tag: Political Ideas
I emailed my Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds:   As a constituent I urge you to join state legislators and governors from around the United States and issue a public statement opposing a Muslim registry and mass deportations. Please let me know that you have done so. Thank you. He wrote back:   Dear David,   Thank you for your email. I have no intention of establishing any religious registry or of supporting any such establishment. As the Congress clearly preempts any state authority with respect to immigration, border security or foreign policy, I do not plan to issue any public statements respecting those issues. I appreciate your advocacy.   Sincerely,   Creigh   [emphasis added]

My email was a test run of a website that will soon be flooding state legislators around the United States with the same request.

Dec
29

Challenge to Prime Minister Abe’s Militarism Makes Big News Outside the U.S. Media

Tag: Media, Peace and War

An open letter to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from 53 scholars and activists on the occasion of his visit to Hawaii has received no notice in the U.S. media, but the following attention in Japan, China, and Korea:

Tokyo Shimbun ran the full text in its December 28th edition (Page 2).  Also:

Asahi Shimbun

Asahi’s English version

Mainichi Shimbun

Sankei Shimbun

Huffington Post (Japanese version)

Nikkan Gendai

Shimbun Akahata

CCTV News (English)

People’s Daily Japanese version

People’s Daily Chinese: one, two, three.

Record China (Japanese)

China Daily (English)

China News (Chinese)

Hankyoreh (Korea) Japanese version

Isn’t this news that U.S. readers might want to hear about too?

U.S. readers never saw years of outrage and threats to Pearl Harbor in the Japanese media prior to December 7, 1941.

Perhaps being kept in the dark is a valued tradition?

Dec
28

To Weapons Dealers, Laws Are Decorative Holiday Ornaments

Tag: Peace and War

You might be forgiven for imagining that laws are serious things. When you violate them, you can be locked in a cage for decades. That’s not true for big-time weapons dealers like the U.S. government.

Two years after the creation of the Arms Trade Treaty, the news is that it’s failing in Yemen. I’m hard pressed to see why it isn’t, thus far, failing everywhere. The weapons dealers keep dealing weapons by the tens of billions of dollars exactly as if nothing has changed.

Here (courtesy of the CIA-funded Amazon data cloud) is the key text of the treaty:

“. . . A State Party shall not authorize any transfer of conventional arms . . . if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party . . . .”

The dominant weapons dealer, the U.S. government, has not ratified the Arms Trade Treaty. The second-place dealer in instruments of death, Russia, has not either. Neither has China. Certainly France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have ratified it, but they seem to have little difficulty ignoring it. They’ve even ratified the convention on cluster bombs but, at least in the case of the UK, ignore that one too. (The U.S. has temporarily paused its sales of cluster bombs, but not ratified the treaty.)

And another 87 nations have ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, none of which do any significant weapons dealing on the scale of the top 6, but plenty of which violate the treaty in their own small ways.

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