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Obama Fans Aren't even Pretending That Was a Good Speech

President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment on Friday, and not even his fans are proclaiming victory.  In this moment when Obama is actually doing one thing I agree with (talking to Iran), more and more people seem to be slowly, agonizingly slowly, finally, finally, finally, recognizing what a complete huckster he is when it comes to pretty speeches about his crimes.

Obama's speech and new "policy directive" eliminate the Fourth Amendment.  Massive bulk collection of everybody's data will continue unconstitutionally, but Obama has expressed a certain vague desire to end it, sort of, except for the parts that are needed, but not to do so right away.  The comparisons to the closure of the Guantanamo death camp began instantly.

Far from halting or apologizing for the abuses of the NSA, Obama defends them as necessitated by the danger of a new 911. While drones over Yemen and troops in Afghanistan and "special" forces in three-quarters of the world are widely understood to endanger us, and while alternatives that upheld the rule of law and made us safer would not require secrecy or human rights violations, Obama wants to continue the counterproductive and immoral militarism while holding off all blowback through the omniscience of Big Brother.

However, Obama's own panel and every other panel that has looked into it found zero evidence that the new abusive NSA programs have prevented any violent attacks.  And it is well-documented that (even given the disastrous policies that produced 911) the attacks of that day could have been stopped at the last minute by sharing existing data or responding to urgent memos to the president with any sort of serious effort.

Obama has not proposed to end abuses. He's proposed to appoint two new bureaucrats plus John Podesta. Out of this speech we get reviews of policies, a commitment to tell the Director of National Intelligence to read court rulings that impact the crimes and abuses he's engaged in, and a promise that the "Intelligence Community" will inspect itself. (Congress, the courts, and the people don't come up in this list of reforms.) Usually this sort of imperial-presidential fluff wins praise from Obama's followers. This time, I'm not hearing it.

True, after EFF created a great pre-speech scorecard, when Obama scored a big fat zero, EFF said it was encouraged that he might score a point some day. But they didn't sound impassioned about their encouragement.

Obama's promises not to abuse unchecked secret powers (and implied promise that none of his successors or subordinates will abuse them either) is not credible, or acceptable, while it just might be impeachable.  We're talking here about the same government that listens in on soldiers' phone sex, Congress members' daily lives, and everything it can get its hands on related to the actual, rather than rhetorical, promotion of liberty, justice, or peace.  A report today quotes various members of the government with security clearance who want to murder Edward Snowden.  We're supposed to just trust them with the right to our persons, houses, papers, and effects without probable cause or warrant? Are we also to trust the corporations they ask to do their dirty work, should the theoretical future reform of this outrage involve paying corporations to own our info?

Obama claims the "debate" -- in which no debate opponent was given a minute at the microphone -- is valuable.  But the whistleblowers who create such debates "endanger" us, Obama says.  This he claims without evidence. 

If the debate was so useful, why not give the man who made you hold it with yourself his passport back?

Obama began Friday's speech with a Sarah Palinesque bit of Paul Revere history.  Revere is now an honorary NSA spy. In reality, the British would have hit Revere with a hellfire missile if Obama had been their king. It all depends on which side of a war you imagine someone to be on, and on whether you imagine war itself is an acceptable form of human behavior at this late date.  Without the endless war on the world, the need for secrecy would go away, and with it the powers that secrecy bestows, and with them the arrogant speeches by rulers who clearly hold us all in contempt.

Resisters of royalty came up with a cure back in Paul Revere's day.  They called it impeachment.  Of course it would be highly inappropriate to use. It might get in the way of the Fight for Freedom.

Photo by Ted Majdosz.

Talk Nation Radio: After the Legalization of Marijuana

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/after-the-legalization-of

Jon Walker is a writer and a senior policy analyst at FireDogLake.com and the author of the new book After Legalization: Understanding the Future of Marijuana Policy in America. We look into his crystal ball.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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 at
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Building a Global Movement to End All War

I've been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I've seen.  When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you've announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning -- and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it's time to start thinking about what you're going to help build as a movement.

In this case I'm talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:

"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."

This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org -- and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There's a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we'll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also -- as part of these actions -- the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how "the next war" will be fought.

So, we've set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial.  Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

We've also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.

This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth's natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria -- which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.

Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we've seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies. 

But we've only just begun to work out our plans, and we'd like everyone's input. If you go to http://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own.  You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities.  You can also enter a brief statement of your own.  Here are a few of the many entered already:

"I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war.  I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution." — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

"As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues.  We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons." —Ann Wright

"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." — Noam Chomsky

"It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war--everywhere. And it's great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King's call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into 'life-affirming activities.' Bravo!" —Medea Benjamin

"We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex." — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group

"The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity." — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000

"War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people's children. As former President Eisenhower said, 'I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.' When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world's people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us." —David Hartsough

http://WorldBeyondWar.org

Talk Nation Radio: Edward Herman on the International Criminal Court (for Africa)

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-edward

This show opens with an awesome poem about drones by Misty Rowan.

Edward S. Herman says that Desmond Tutu is wrong to support the International Criminal Court, given its bias for prosecuting only Africans and only those Africans not working with the United States. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he gave courses in micro- and macro-economics and financial regulation for 30 years. He also taught courses on The Political Economy of the Mass Media and on The Analysis of Media Bias at the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn for a decade.  He has a regular "Fog Watch" column in the monthly Z Magazine and has published numerous articles on economics, finance, foreign policy, and media analysis in a wide array of professional and popular journals. Among his published books are The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979); Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador (with Frank Brodhead, South End Press, 1984); Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988, revised editions 2002, 2008); The "Terrorism" Industry (with Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990); and most recently, The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson, Monthly Review Press, 2010); and an edited volume, The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (Alphabet Soup, 2011).

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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 at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Thou Shalt Not Make Fun of World War I

From The Guardian:

<<Once, in Blackadder, the eponymous first-world-war British army captain learned that the Germans were stealing our battle plans. "You look surprised, Blackadder," said Stephen Fry's absurdly over-moustachioed, rubicund General Melchett.
"I certainly am, sir," retorted our hero. "I didn't realise we had any battle plans."
"Well, of course we have!" shouted Melchett. "How else do you think the battles are directed?"
"Our battles are directed, sir?"
"Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan."
"Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?"
"Great Scott!" exclaims Melchett. "Even you know it!">>

The Secretary of Education of the United Kingdom (The United Kingdom has education?!) is royally upset that anyone would make fun of World War I as that great and glorious event hits the 100-year mark. And he's not upset because British humor is so relentlessly unfunny. He's upset because people might laugh.

But of course if people had been permitted to make fun of World War I at the time, without being thrown in prison (Yes, that was also Woodrow -- the Obama delusion for liberals of his day -- Wilson's policy), well then, perhaps the stupid bloody idiocy could have been stopped or prevented.

The Secretary of Education, if he had a bit of -- what is that stuff? oh yeah -- education would know that the majority of observers have very good reasons for believing that World War I was, as he puts it, "a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite."

Well, what would you call it when a group of inbred cousins meet to squabble over petty matters of competing egos at all the best weddings and funerals and then return to ruling over their respective nations as divinely appointed monarchs and ministers eager to send their peoples off to murder each other for no particular reason, especially if these sociopaths and their sycophants each decide they must defensively attack the other first, not because war can begin so quickly but because it takes months to badger people into knocking off the wisecracks, abandoning all sense of human decency, and picking up a gun, and then to put those people on trains to send them on a trip to a big field in which imbeciles on horses with swords will try to conquer machine guns and poison gas, eventually realize how ridiculous they are being, and hide in tents far from the fighting while ordering millions of others who have no interest in the affair to kill each other year after year after year for no earthly reason and with nothing to show for it at the end -- an end pre-determined by mutual agreement, but with the fighting continuing until that appointed day and hour?

And that was the wise, deliberate, and admirable part of World War I.  The stupidity really took hold, along with the influenza falsely called Spanish and the brilliant notion of banning alcohol, with the settlement of the war in a royal French palace where it was decided to punish the entire nation of Germany severely, begin preparations for World War II, carve up the so-called Middle-East in order to produce a century of chaos there, and to tell Ho Chi Minh to go to hell, laying some early groundwork for the never-to-be-ridiculed war on Vietnam, which the U.S. government is now funding a major campaign to beautify (don't laugh!).

All right, so maybe I find it all too horrific to laugh at, but if others can laugh at it -- even when the jokes are predictable and stupid -- I can think of nothing better for the world.  In fact, I wholeheatedly encourage everyone to complete this line: How many Secretaries of Education does it take to change a lightbulb?

Take away the gun
From every mother's son
We're taught by God above
To forgive, forget, and love

The weary world is waiting for
Peace, forevermore
So take away the gun
From every mother's son

And put an end to war

—Al Jolson

Top 10 Proofs People Can Be Completely Manipulated Without Hypnosis

1. Any article listing the top 10 of anything will be widely read.

2. A poll of people in 65 countries, including the United States, finds that the United States is overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to peace in the world. The consensus would have been even stronger had the United States itself not been polled, because the 5 percent of humanity living here is largely convinced that the other 95% of humanity -- that group with experience being threatened or attacked by the United States -- is wrong. After all, our government in the U.S. tells us it's in favor of peace. Even when it bombs cities, it does it for peace. It's hard for people under the bombs to see that. We in the U.S. have a better perspective.

3. Polls in the United States through the 2003-2011 war on Iraq found that a majority in the U.S. believed Iraqis were better off as the result of a war that severely damaged -- even destroyed -- Iraq[1]. A majority of Iraqis, in contrast, believed they were worse off.[2] A majority in the United States believed Iraqis were grateful.[3] This is a disagreement over facts, not ideology. But people often choose which facts to become aware of or to accept. Tenacious believers in tales of Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" tended to believe more, not less, firmly when shown the facts. The facts about Iraq are not pleasant, but they are important. To believe that the people who live where your nation's government has waged a war are better off for it, despite those people's contention that they are worse off, suggests an extreme sort of arrogance -- and a misplaced arrogance because you've just proven that a few slick politicians can make you believe up is down.

4. According to U.S.ians the greatest threat to peace on earth is a nation that hasn't threatened any other, and hasn't attacked any other in centuries, a nation that suffered horrible chemical weapons attacks and refused to use chemical weapons in response, a nation that has refused to develop nuclear weapons but been falsely accused of doing so by the U.S. government for decades. That's right: a bit of laughably bad propaganda, regurgitated in variations for 30 years, and the smart critical thinkers of the Land of the Free declare a nation with a military budget below 1% of their own -- Iran -- the Greatest Threat to Peace.[4] Edward Bernays is cackling wickedly in his grave.

5. Because no cartoon character has ever been named after Edward Bernays, nobody's ever heard of him.

6. In poll after poll after poll, 75% to 85% in the United States say their system of government is broken. Yet, what remains the top piece of advice to agitators for change? That's right: "Work within the system." And what remains the fallback ultimate reliable justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war: That's right: "We need to bring our system of government to others."

7. When U.S. military spending begins to inch below $1 trillion a year, military-friendly journalists declare the weapons lobby dead.  When it begins to inch back slightly above $1 trillion a year, slightly less military-friendly journalists declare the weapons profiteers alive but struggling. In both scenarios the level of spending remains roughly $1 trillion and the difference between the high end and the low end, while greater than most other public programs will ever see, is less than the Pentagon "misplaces" in an average 12-month period.

8. On Tuesdays, President Barack Obama goes through a list of men, women, and children, picks which ones to have murdered, and has them murdered. Knowing this would conflict with hating exclusively a particular sub-group of our public sociopaths, so most people simply choose not to know it.

9. If Iraq had really had those weapons, and if Syria had demonstrably really killed a small number of its victims with the wrong type of weapons, and if Iran were really building nuclear weapons, . . . then launching wars on those countries would still be illegal, immoral, and disastrous. We all have opinions about the question the warmakers want asked, but not about the insanity that lies behind the question.

10. People have been dying since before recorded history, and yet only those who pretend to believe nobody dies can be considered serious, honest, upstanding folk. That there's another longer life helps us not worry so much about getting screwed during this one. Perhaps it also helps us in allowing our "representatives" to routinely end the lives of so many foreign, and thus ignorant, people.

Footnotes:

1. The last such poll may have been Gallup in August 2010.
2. Zogby, Dec. 20, 2011.
3. The last such poll may have been CBS News in August 2010.
4. Check out Gareth Porter's forthcoming book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

The Story of Gaza

Young authors of fiction from Gaza, some of whom say they are finding Palestine on the internet while unable to see it exist in reality, have just published a collection of stories, written in English, marking the five-year anniversary of the 23 days from December 27, 2008, until Obama's inauguration, during which Israel bombed the people of Gaza far more heavily than usual.  They're publishing a new excerpt of the book each of these 23 days on their FaceBook page. You can talk with them in an upcoming Google Hangout.

For five years, the world -- just like Obama -- has overwhelmingly been "looking forward" when it comes to crimes committed by nations aligned with the U.S. government.  But the crimes in Gaza then and now, and in other countries, have been exposed to unprecedented "looking present" through immediate real-time blogging available to those actively looking, even in the places responsible for the far-away terrorism-too-big-to-call-by-that-name. If everyone turned off their television and searched on a computer for news about their own country as reported in other countries, injustice, rather than our natural environment, would be endangered.

The telling of truer-than-news stories by these young Gazans has the potential to reach many more minds, and to set an example that just might scare off the next "humanitarian war" no matter where it's targeted.  If victims of military benevolence can have their stories read by people who matter, or who could matter if they acted, and if those stories inevitably effect understanding of the obvious-but-always-denied fact that they are like we, that those people are people just like these people, that something has "brought out their humanity," then the shock and awe might have to move from its fictional location in the streets of non-humans' cities to a real existence in the offices of Lockheed Martin. 

The stories in this book are of childhood and family, love and loss, soccer and toothaches. As with any story, people are placed in particularly special circumstances. A visit to the doctor is a visit to someone making decisions of triage: Will your father be sent to a specialist to be saved, or will this baby who has a better chance at living be sent instead? Two farmers, a Gazan and an Israeli unknowingly stand just inches or feet away from each other, separated by an impenetrable wall.  A Gazan and an Israeli are perhaps attracted to each other, but blocked by a wall that needs no physical presence. A child is listening to a bedtime story when a missile strikes the house. Who will live? And who will be traumatized? Or was everyone pre-traumatized already?

"I spent that night thinking of Thaer's home, of the distant life in Mama's eyes. I kept wondering what's more torturous: the awful buzz of the drone outside or the sounds of some tough questions inside. I guess I eventually slept with no answer, thanking the drone for not giving my inner uproar any chance to abate."

Children in Gaza know the names of books, of toys, of movies, of trees, and of deadly flying aircraft. Some of the latter are called "Apaches," named after a people marched, and imprisoned, and slaughtered by the U.S. military, people kept in camps that inspired the Nazis', whose camps in turn inspired what the nation of Israel now does to non-Jewish African immigrants.  How long will it be before little children in China are pointing to the sky in fear of a swarm of "Gazas"?

These stories are of people and of land, and of efforts to understand other people on the land. Understanding is a challenge:

"If a Palestinian bulldozer were ever invented (Haha, I know!) and I were given the chance to be in an orchard, in Haifa for instance, I would never uproot a tree an Israeli planted. No Palestinian would. To Palestinians, the tree is sacred, and so is the Land bearing it."

Gazans try to imagine what goes on in the minds of Israeli soldiers, particularly those soldiers who have killed their family members. One story tells the tale of an Israeli soldier's regret (or what we like to clinically and cleanly call PTSD), and of the soldier's wife's efforts to ease his pain:

"Honey, you were doing your job to follow orders. It's alright."

These words come as kind words of comfort, spoken to a man beyond the point of being able to hear them. And at the same time they come as an articulation of an ongoing horror of immense proportions. The contrast of these multiple meanings might make us all stop and question what we hear too often without thinking. Here in the United States, for example, any soldier in uniform gets on any airplane first and is thanked for his or her "service." Surely not thanking someone for their service would be impolite. But those who flip the switch on our prisons' electric chairs aren't thanked. Those who risk their lives to put out fires are not thanked. Only those who kill in war, even as their largest current killing operation -- in Afghanistan -- has the support of 17% in the U.S. and polling around the globe finds a consensus that the United States is the leading threat to peace on earth.

The stories from Gaza are not essays. They do not address the inevitable "What about the Gazans' own violence?" One need not misunderstand the nature of the occupation, the slow genocide, the international injustice, the vastly disproportionate violence and suffering imposed on one side of this so-called conflict in order to believe that "What about the Gazans' own violence?" is a reasonable question. Nor need one be a Gazan or an inexcusably arrogant and unsympathetic fool to have the right to disagree with the usual answer. The stories come with an introduction from the editor in which he expresses support for this well-known concept: "by any means necessary."  I prefer this phrasing: "by any means effective." Means that most easily express rage are sometimes misinterpreted as necessary, while means that have the best chance of succeeding are rejected for not having a greater chance than they do.

The stories themselves don't actually take up that debate. Rather they depict the struggle merely to survive, the bravery that we may in fact all need everywhere if the earth's climate goes the way scientists expect. These young people from Gaza may become leaders in a movement to create peace and justice before madness and disaster-imperialism overtake the comfortable and the forgotten alike.  I wonder if, and hope, they know the Afghan Peace Volunteers, and the people of No Dal Molin in Italy, and of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, and I hope they will join a new worldwide movement to end war that will be launching next year.

Sending Love to Gaza: