Blogs

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

Nov
07

Post-Election To-Do List

Tag: Elections

1. Stop the efforts to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the lame duck.

2. Stop the efforts to ram through a supplemental war spending bill for assorted future wars during the lame duck.

3. Stop the efforts to repeal the right to sue Saudi Arabia and other nations for their wars and lesser acts of terrorism during the lame duck.

4. Build a nonpartisan movement to effect real change.

5. Ban bribery, fund elections, make registration automatic, make election day a holiday, end gerrymandering, eliminate the electoral college, create the right to vote, create public hand counting of paper ballots at every polling place, create ranked choice voting.

6. End the wars, end the weapons dealing, close the bases, and shift military spending to human and environmental needs.

7. Tax billionaires.

8. End mass incarceration and the death penalty and the militarization of police.

9. Create single-payer healthcare.

10. Support the rule of law, diplomacy, and aid.

11. Invest in serious effort to avoid climate catastrophe.

12. Apologize to the world for having elected President Clinton or Trump.

 

IF TRUMP WON

1. Build a movement that includes all the Democrats eager to get active.

2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants

3. Build a movement that resists racist violence at home.

4. Demand a swift end to NAFTA and NATO.

5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.

6. Break up the media cartel.

7. If win came through voter suppression, seek prosecution immediately.

8. If win came through fraudulent counting, launch massive campaign to compel Democrats to admit it and protest it.

 

IF CLINTON WON

1. Build a movement that includes all the Republicans and Libertarians eager to get active.

2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants

3. Build a movement that resists racist violence directed at nations abroad.

4. Demand serious action on climate change.

5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.

6. Break up the media cartel.

7. If win came through fraudulent counting, support Trump's noisy denunciation, and if it did not, then reject Trump's noisy denunciation.

 

IF STEIN WON

1. Support the independent media that made this possible.

2. Support all the wonderful nominees for higher office.

3. Help people in other countries turn their disastrous political systems around too.

4. Volunteer for public service.

Nov
04

How Drone Pilots Talk

Tag: Peace and War

For the past eight years millions of people have expended billions of words speculating about exactly how the United States kills people with missiles from drones (and missiles from other sources, such as manned aircraft, targeting people identified with drones). There is good reason to believe that for each such attack there exists a video and audio record of what the drone pilots saw and what they and their colleagues said to each other as they decided to launch a missile and as they observed its results.

This is a level of documentation we rarely have with killings by domestic police officers, who are typically filmed by observers with phones, a method of documentation that excludes the leadup and the aftermath.

Nov
04

What Could Unite a Larger Peace Movement? Oh, This!

Tag: Peace and War

In a time of division and disagreement, when people who all agree on something important sometimes spend more time bickering with each other than working on their collective cause, is it possible to craft an agenda that brings them together and adds to their numbers?

It turns out, somewhat to my surprise, the answer is yes.

I discovered this by creating a petition that has very quickly been endorsed by RootsAction, the Future of Freedom Foundation, World Beyond War, the Libertarian Institute, DailyKos, Black Vietnam Veterans of Atlanta, Progressive Democrats of America, Veterans For Peace Chicago Chapter, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Code Pink, Massachusetts Peace Action, Maryland United for Peace & Justice, Upstate Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Pax Christi Seed Planters, The War and Law League, Environmentalists Against War, the PDA Reno Chapter, Voters Occupy, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition, Vietnam Echos, Spokane Veterans for Peace, Benedictines for Peace of Erie PA, Tyneside East Timor Solidarity, Palouse Peace Coalition, Helfenstein Soup Council, Timothy Dawkins El Project, Green Party of Collin County, Brian Boortz Public Relations, A Green Road, We The People for Democracy, Peaceworkers of San Francisco CA, Green Party of Spokane County, Montrose Peace Vigil, Ecumenical Peace Institute, Pax Christi Southern California, Veteran for Peace 72, Peaceful Skies, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, The Clueit Foundation, Office of the Americas, Veterans For Peace of Western Pennsylvania, Presentation Sisters Justice Commission, Women Against War, Farmington Maine Friends Meeting, Secular Student Alliance at LaGuardia Community College, Faith & Social Justice Alliance Dayton Ohio, The Oracle Institute & Peace Pentagon HUB, Peace Action Maine, Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Northeast Philly for Peace & Justice, Citizens International, National Department of Peacebuilding Committee through the Peace, White Rabbit Grove RDNA, North American Climate Conservation and Environment, The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Colonie des Pionniers de Developpement, Malu 'Aina Center for Nonviolent Education & Action, the Carpe Diem Voice, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Corvallis, Mindfulness in Education, Brandywine Peace Community, Article V Convention for Our Children's Future, and the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution.

Yes, some of those groups I've never heard of. A few of them may consist of three guys with misspelled signs who've been standing on a lonely street corner so long their town has planted bushes around them. But that's sort of the point. A unifying effort should revive old organizations and give birth to new ones. It should also be uncomfortably large, bringing together people who want completely different policies on other issues but agree on this one.

So, what is it that the above organizations and 17,241 individuals thus far agree on? This:

Nov
04

The Purpose of Demonizing Putin

Tag: Peace and War

Excerpted from War Is A Lie by David Swanson.

Wars are not fought against flags or ideas, nations or demonized dictators. They are fought against people, 98 percent of whom are resistant to killing, and most of whom had little or nothing to do with bringing on the war. One way to dehumanize those people is to replace all of them with an image of a single monstrous individual.

Marlin Fitzwater, White House press secretary for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said that war is “easier for people to understand if there’s a face to the enemy.” He gave examples: “Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic.” Fitzwater might well have included the name Manuel Antonio Noriega. When the first President Bush sought, among other things, to prove he was no “wimp” by attacking Panama in 1989, the most prominent justification was that Panama’s leader was a mean, drug-crazed, weirdo with a pockmarked face who liked to commit adultery. An important article in the very serious New York Times on December 26, 1989, began “The United States military headquarters here, which has portrayed General Manuel Antonio Noriega as an erratic, cocaine-snorting dictator who prays to voodoo gods, announced today that the deposed leader wore red underwear and availed himself of prostitutes.

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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