Political Ideas

Nov
21

Dear Mr. Trump, About Your 29 Ideas

Tag: Political Ideas

Regarding your 29 proposals, here's a bit more than just the ranking you asked for. I'll start with the best:

7. Announce our official withdrawal from the TPP.

That's my favorite. Wonderful! We don't need any more trade agreements that empower corporations over governments and impose unpopular laws on people. Good riddance! Don't replace it with something worse, please!

8. Renegotiate NAFTA into terms that protect the American worker.

This could be a great one. I'm not clear why you wouldn't just tear up the treaty you've repeatedly called one of the worst treaties in history. You could negotiate bilateral agreements with other nations. There's no actual need for NAFTA. But if you're going to first try to renegotiate it, the U.S. worker needs the right to organize, among other rights. The workers of Canada and Mexico need to be considered. As does the natural environment that we and our kids all have to live in.

5. Introduce an infrastructure package to modernize our country.

This, too, could be terrific. Or it could be disastrous. Modernized countries have fast electric trains, solar and wind energy, pedestrian and bicycle paths, electric car chargers, sustainable agriculture, free hospitals for all human beings, and architecture that leans more toward the beautiful than the monumental. We could use more schools and parks, more farmers' markets, more urban gardens, and more places to vote. All of these dreams and much more could be easily achieved, even while radically boosting foreign aid, if the U.S. were to either cut military spending or tax billionaires or both. But you want to increase military spending and cut taxes on billionaires. Even if your idea of modernized infrastructure is coal mines and oil wells and highways, you have no way to pay for it -- thank goodness. And don't forget: the people who voted for you are obsessed with the debt, so don't even try that route.

20. Enact a five-year ban on White House and congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.

This is good, as far as it goes. Why not 10 years both before and after? And why just lobbyists? Why not anyone profiting financially from a sector governed by the relevant government position? And why just the White House and Congress? Why not all government departments and agencies? Putting an oil profiteer in charge of the EPA is not solved by the fact that the EPA isn't in the White House.

25. Reform the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to provide proper treatment to America’s forgotten heroes.

This sounds good, if you actually mean it. But let's not call them heroes. Let's call them brave people who were abused by some of those recent wars you properly denounced during the campaign -- though you supported them when it mattered most.

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
02

Of Veterans and Black Mirror Roaches

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews, Media, Peace and War, Political Ideas

If you're a fan of the Netflix show Black Mirror, go watch the episode called "Men Against Fire" before reading this. It's the one about war.

In this 60-minute science fiction show, soldiers have been (somehow) programed so that when they look at certain people they see them as freaky monsters with pointed teeth and bizarre faces. These people look frightening and non-human. They are thought of as objects, not as people at all. In reality they are themselves terrified, unarmed, ordinary looking people. And they have a tool with which to protect themselves, a stick with a green light. It doesn't kill or injure. The stick deprograms a soldier so that when he looks at someone he sees them as they really are without the monstrous distortion.

Of course a deprogramed soldier is of no use to the military. In "Men Against Fire" the military offers a deprogramed soldier two choices. He can re-experience on an endless loop a recent reality in which he murdered helpless human beings, but this time experience it while seeing them as human beings instead of as "roaches" (what the military calls the intended victims made to appear monstrous), or he can be reprogramed and get back to the untroubled work of extermination.

Oct
28

Disobey or Die

Back in the winter of 1982, Air Florida flight 90 took off from National Airport. The first officer noticed dangerous readings on some instruments and pointed them out to the captain. The captain told him he was wrong, and he accepted the captain's authority. He did nothing. Thirty seconds later the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge. Everyone on board died except for four passengers rescued out of the icy river.

Oct
25

Talk Nation Radio: Timeka Drew on Protecting Voter Rights

Tag: Elections, Political Ideas, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-timeka-drew-on-protecting-voter-rights

Timeka Drew is National Director of the Liberty Tree Foundation, a position she has served in since February of 2016. Previously she served as Liberty Tree's Communications Director and worked as lead organizer of the Global Climate Convergence. Timeka came to the Liberty Tree community via her work with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and local democracy, food sovereignty, and anti-racist organizing in Los Angeles and her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.                         

For more information, see http://libertytreefoundation.org and http://NoMoreStolenElections.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.

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

Oct
16

What Hillary Clinton Privately Told Goldman Sachs

At first glance, Hillary Clinton's speeches to Goldman Sachs, which she refused to show us but WikiLeaks claims to have now produced the texts of, reveal less blatant hypocrisy or abuse than do the texts of various emails also recently revealed. But take a closer look.

Clinton has famously said that she believes in maintaining a public position on each issue that differs from her private position. Which did she provide to Goldman Sachs?

Yes, Clinton does profess her loyalty to corporate trade agreements, but at the time of her remarks she hadn't yet started (publicly) claiming otherwise.

Sep
21

Acting on Bill Ayers' Radical Manifesto

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

Bill Ayers' short new book, Demand the Impossible: A Radical Manifesto, is different from the typical liberal view of a better world in two ways. First, its goals are a bit grander, more inspiring. Second, it adds as the first and most important goal one that others don't include at all.

A typical proposal that a lesser evilist might give for "voting against Donald Trump" might include minor economic or police or prison reforms, a bit of environmentalism, healthcare, or education. Ayers wants to abolish prisons, end capitalism, disarm the police, redesign schools, create universal healthcare, and nationalize energy companies. And he's right. The radical vision is the better one, not just because it leads to a better place but also because the incrementalist approach will get us all killed -- only a bit more slowly than doing nothing.

The more important, because rarer, difference in Ayers' manifesto is the addition of the missing topic. Most U.S. "progressives" imagine a world of greater economic equality and opportunity, environmental sustainability, fewer police killings, shorter prison sentences, investment in human needs, and the withering away of all sorts of bigotries, prejudices, sexisms, racisms, and other sorts of unfairness and cruelty -- resulting in a multicultural community all united in our support for dumping a trillion dollars a year into preparing for battle with our collectively loathed foreign enemies, and supporting the weapons trade as a supposed economic program.

Ayers takes a different approach. "What," he asks, "if we broke from the dogma of militarism -- rejecting the anemic and seemingly endless debates about whether the United States should bomb this country or instead boycott some other country . . . -- and organized an irresistible social upheaval strong enough to stop U.S. invasions and conquest[?] What if we occupied bases, blocked munitions shipments and private militias, boycotted arms dealers, sabotaged surveillance operations and drone manufacturers -- and forced the U.S. government to disarm and close all foreign military bases within a year? . . . Or what if we built a colossal transnational movement that organized shadow elections (initially), inviting any resident of a country with a U.S. military presence within its borders to vote in U.S. national elections?"

Ayers proposes that we take on the culture of militarism, not just the industrial structure of it. "[I]magine," he writes, "any bit of the war culture transformed into a peace-and-love culture: the Super Bowl opening with thousands of local school kids rushing through the stands distributing their poetry, and then everyone singing 'This Land Is Your Land,' or 'Give Peace a Chance,' or 'We Shall Overcome'; an airlines or bus terminal clerk saying, 'We want to invite any teachers or nurses in the gate area to board first, and we thank you for your service'; urban high schools eliminating ROTC and banning military recruiters in favor of school-wide assemblies for peace recruiters featuring Code Pink, and after-school programs led by Black Youth Project 100 and the American Friends Service Committee."

Some of us like this idea so much we've organized an event this weekend to try to advance it. The event is called #NoWar2016. This Friday and Saturday, you can watch the live stream at TheRealNews.com. Videos of Friday through Sunday will be quickly posted online. Sunday will include activism workshops and a planning session for a protest at the Pentagon at 9 a.m. Monday morning. The details are all at http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016.

Sep
14

Suing Saudi: Congress Is Right, Stephen Kinzer Is Wrong

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Political Ideas, Prosecution

Now there you have two things that I never expected to write. How often is Congress right about anything or Stephen Kinzer wrong? Congress wants 9/11 victims' families to be able to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in those crimes. Kinzer does not.

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Sep
13

Talk Nation Radio: Elizabeth Murray and John Kiriakou on Working in a Corrupt Government and Whistleblowing

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tnr-elizabeth-murray-and-john-kiriakou-on-working-in-a-corrupt-government-and-whistleblowing

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer, who in 2007 became the first U.S. Government official to publicly confirm and describe CIA use of waterboarding on al-Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. In January 2013, Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison and was released after serving more than 23 months. Since then, he has become a tireless writer and speaker on whistleblowing, torture, and civil liberties. Kiriakou is the sole U.S. Government official to have been jailed for any reason relating to CIA torture – a victim of the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on government truth-tellers. When President Obama openly acknowledged at a White House press conference on August 1, 2014, “We tortured some folks,” John was in prison for having said essentially the same thing seven years earlier.

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), and of Sam Adams Associates. She writes for Consortium News.

Murray and Kiriakou will be speaking at No War 2016. See http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016

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

Sep
10

Snowden: Best Film of the Year

Tag: Art, Culture and Society, Political Ideas

Snowden is the most entertaining, informing, and important film you are likely to see this year.

It's the true story of an awakening. It traces the path of Edward Snowden's career in the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and at various contractors thereof. It also traces the path of Edward Snowden's agonizingly slow awakening to the possibility that the U.S. government might sometimes be wrong, corrupt, or criminal. And of course the film takes us through Snowden's courageous and principled act of whistleblowing.

We see in the film countless colleagues of Snowden's who knew much of what he knew and did not blow the whistle. We see a few help him and others appreciate him. But they themselves do nothing. Snowden is one of the exceptions. Other exceptions who preceded him and show up in the film include William Binney, Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, and Thomas Drake. Most people are not like these men. Most people obey illegal orders without ever making a peep.

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