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davidswanson

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Member since: Mon Mar 22, 2004, 09:15 AM
Number of posts: 2,632

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Iran Deal Event in Charlottesville

http://davidswanson.org/iranevent

Help Prevent a War on Iran! Public Forum in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 5, 2015

PUBLIC FORUM ON IRAN DEAL

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Print and distribute flyer.

To be held exactly 70 years after nuclear age opened in Hiroshima (including time zone difference).

7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 5, 2015

At The Haven, 112 W. Market Street Charlottesville, VA 22902

Sponsored by World Beyond War, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, RootsAction.org, and Amnesty International Charlottesville, (more welcome to join).

Video of event to be widely distributed.

Speaker: Gareth Porter, independent investigative journalist and historian who specialises in U.S. national security policy. He is the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, and the winner of the Gellhorn Prize for journalism in 2012 for exposing lies and propaganda about the Afghanistan War. Porter spent two weeks in Vienna covering the final round of negotiations and is now writing the definitive account of the how U.S. and Iran finally reached agreement.

Also invited, not confirmed (so please invite them!): Rep. Robert Hurt, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Mark Warner.

On August 9 in DC: An Evening for a World Beyond War

PLEASE SIGN UP ON FACEBOOK
http://bit.ly/wbw-dc

An Evening for a World Beyond War
http://WorldBeyondWar.org
Saturday August 9, 2014
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Busboys and Poets
5th and K Streets NW
Washington, D.C.

A fundraising event for a global campaign to end all war.

Suggested donation: $15

Buttons for all, scarves and books and other tokens of gratitude for larger donations.

Speakers:
Jeff Bachman, Professorial Lecturer in Human Rights and the Co-Director of the Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs program at the School of International Service at American University.

Nadia Kamoona, Iraqi-American student at the University of Virginia, future international human rights lawyer, and current intern for World Beyond War.

Vincent J. Intondi, Associate Professor of History at Montgomery College and Director of Research at the Nuclear Studies Institute of the American University in Washington, D.C., also author of African Americans Against the Bomb.

Anas “Andy” Shallal, Iraqi-American artist, activist, and entrepreneur, proprietor of Busboys and Poets, and recent candidate for mayor of Washington, D.C.

David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, host of Talk Nation Radio, author of books including War No More: The Case for Abolition, War Is A Lie, and When the World Outlawed War.

New York City Tuesday Night: David Swanson, John Horgan, Jackson Lears, Mark Crispin Miller

News from Underground: "Imagining Peace in an Age of Empire"

WHEN: Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: McNally Jackson Bookstore, 52 Prince St, New York, N.Y. 10012-3309

Free and Open to Public and Media

David Swanson (When the World Outlawed War), John Horgan (The End of War), and Jackson Lears (Rebirth of a Nation) will talk about war and the need to stop it. The conversation will be moderated by Mark Crispin Miller.

Miller, a professor at NYU and author of many books on politics and cultural history, hosts News from Underground, a monthly series at McNally Jackson. In these tense times, there are many topics of extreme importance that the corporate media tends to ignore or misreport; the panel discussions of News from Underground are here to deal honestly with these forbidden issues.

http://mcnallyjackson.com/event/news-underground-imagining-peace-age-empire

The Election We Should Be Following

[p]For progressives and populists around the country who take an interest in Congressional races there are always a few good challengers we might hope to send to Washington.  Incumbents, we assume, can take care of themselves. 

[p]But in Northern Ohio, redistricting has thrown two incumbents into one district.  It's a heavily Democratic district created purposely to guarantee a number of other districts to Republicans.  The incumbents are both Democrats, both white, both 65, and many imagine that they do similar work in Washington.  In fact, they could not be more different.  One of them does tremendous good for our national politics, working to move our government in a better direction from inside it, just as the rest of us do from the outside.  We cannot afford to lose him.  We would be obliged to work for his reelection even if his opponent were far above average.  The record suggests something else.

[p]A useful example to highlight the contrast between Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is found in the funding of wars.  Between 2001 and 2009, Congresswoman Kaptur voted for $545 billion in war funding, voting Yes over and over again for Bush's wars.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich voted for a total of $17 billion. (See the chart below.) 

[p]In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, Kucinich's [a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-alan-grayson/dennis-kucinich-2012_b_1177960.html"]was the clearest voice[/a] against it.  He circulated evidence of war lies to his colleagues.  He organized many of them to vote No with him.  Kaptur, too, voted No on the authorization.

[p]But once the war had started, many Congress members, including Kaptur, turned around and voted to fund its continuation and escalation, year after year, even as the public turned more and more strongly against the war.  While Kucinich was working to impeach Bush and Cheney, Kaptur was voting to fund their wars.  While Kucinich was advancing resolutions to shift the debate toward ending wars and preventing new ones, Kaptur was claiming wars made us safer and reciting "support the troops" rhetoric, as though what veterans need most is the creation of more injured veterans. 

[p]This distinction matters more than ever as the prospect of a war on Iran looms larger.  Kaptur wants NASA and the Pentagon to work together more closely, while Kucinich opposes the militarization of space.  Kaptur seems to believe the military industrial complex is a beneficial jobs program, whereas Kucinich seems to believe it is what Eisenhower said it would be.

[p]Congresswoman Kaptur has been spending a lot of money on television ads in hopes of defeating Kucinich in the upcoming primary.  Where does her money come from?  Well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics ([a href="http://OpenSecrets.org"]OpenSecrets.org[/a]), in the current election cycle, she gets 77% of her money from PACs, and 5% from small individual contributors.  Kucinich, in contrast, gets 5% from PACs, and 68% from small individual contributors.  Kucinich does not get money from war contractors.  Kaptur is a different story.  Thus far, in the current election cycle, her fourth biggest "contributor" is a little operation known as General Dynamics.  Her third biggest is Teledyne Technologies.  Tied for seventh place are American Systems Corp and Northrop Grumman.  Tied at 16[sup]th[/sup] are Boeing and Lockheed Martin.  Most of these corporations have been among Kaptur's regular funders in past campaigns as well.  They are also among the leading violators of U.S. laws. 

[p]According to the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database ([a href="http://ContractorMisconduct.org"]ContractorMisconduct.org[/a]), these are the worst four offenders from any industry:

[p][strong]Contractor                           Federal Contract $       Instances of Misconduct        Misconduct $[br]                                                     (FY2010)                          (Since 1995)                        (Since 1995)[/strong]

[p]1. Lockheed Martin                      $34367.4m                           57                                       $590.1m

[p]2. Boeing Company                     $19366.6m                            43                                       $1600.5m

[p]3. Northrop Grumman                   $15522.7m                          35                                       $850.7m

[p]4. General Dynamics                  $14908.8m                             13                                        $78.5m

[p]Among the types of misconduct engaged in by these four leaders, as detailed at the above database, are the following: contract fraud, kickbacks, defective pricing, unlicensed exports, emissions violations, groundwater cleanup violations, inflated costs, providing of bribes and sexual favors, nuclear safety violations, nuclear waste storage violations, federal election law violations, radiation exposure, illegal transfer of information to China, violations of the National Labor Relations Act, embezzlement, racial discrimination and retaliation, age discrimination and retaliation, unauthorized weapons sales to foreign nations, retaliation against whistleblowers.  And that's just Lockheed.  In fact, that's just a small sampling of just Lockheed.  Why take money from these companies?

[p]According to the National Priorities Project ([a href="http://CostOfWar.com"]CostOfWar.com[/a]) Kaptur's Ninth District of Ohio (prior to redistricting) has shelled out over $3.1 billion for wars since 2001.  That expense has been with Kaptur's full cooperation.  And that is an expense measured purely in dollars taken from tax payers to pay for wars.  It does not include further costs for veterans' care, for interest on war debt, for increased fuel prices, or for lost opportunities.  Nor does it include the cost already extracted of several times the $3.1 billion for a base annual military budget that has roughly doubled this decade and done so on the basis of the wars. 

[p]According to a report titled "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military And Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis," ([a href="http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/spending_priorities_PERI.pdf"]PDF[/a]) by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, (October 2009), spending the same dollars on the military (without specifying war spending which would likely make the contrast even greater) produces many fewer jobs than if spent in other industries.  If Ohio's Ninth District's $3.1 billion had been spent on tax cuts for working people, instead of on the military, the people of the Ninth District could have seen a net gain of 9,920 jobs.  That's considering the full impact of jobs lost, directly created, and indirectly created.  Military spending, purely in terms of job creation, is worse than nothing.  Tax cuts -- not for Mitt Romney but for the rest of us -- does more good.

[p]But the same study also shows a better path.  If the $3.1 billion had been taken away from the military and spent instead on clean energy, we would have seen a net gain of 17,050 jobs.  If instead the investment had gone to healthcare, the net gain would have been 24,000 jobs.  And if the choice had been to fund education, the gain in jobs would have been 54,250.  Could Ohio's Ninth District use 54,250 jobs?  Not many people would choose to chase those jobs away in order to support wars based on lies, wars that endanger us, wars that devastate the natural environment, wars that erode our civil liberties, wars that carry a heavy human cost -- not just an economic one.  Not many people, but one of them is Marcy Kaptur.

[p]If you visit Kaptur's campaign website at [a href="http://MarcyKaptur.com"]MarcyKaptur.com[/a], only one specific issue is immediately visible, front and center: celebration of a World War II memorial.  At [a href="http://Kucinich.us"]Kucinich.us[/a] there is also only a single issue immediately visible: a petition urging the Congressman's colleagues to stop funding the war in Afghanistan.  In the "Agenda" section of Kaptur's site there is no acknowledgement that war or peace is an issue to be considered at all.  In the "Issues" section of Kucinich's site, there is a section on war and peace that addresses a number of specific wars.

[p]There is also, on the Kucinich site, a lot more detail than on Kaptur's about numerous other issues.  The example of wars and war funding is fairly typical.  In rough terms, Kucinich tends to back peace, justice, and the will of the public, while Kaptur tends to back the very same things when and if the leadership of the Democratic Party happens to do so.  Back on February 25, 2010, she voted to extend the PATRIOT Act without reforms of its abusive procedures.  Kucinich voted No.  Back on October 23, 2007, Kucinich had also voted No on the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, while Kaptur voted Yes.  On December 8, 2010, she voted against the DREAM Act, while Kucinich and a majority of the House and of the Democrats voted for it.  Any elected official will let us down sometimes, but Kaptur is just no Kucinich. 

[p]Many organizations agree. [a href="http://VoteSmart.org"]VoteSmart.org[/a] lists the rankings of various groups.  Planned Parenthood gives Kucinich a score of 100%, Kaptur 71%.  The ACLU scores Kucinich 94%, Kaptur 75%.  Also favoring Kucinich in their rankings are the Arab American Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of Conservation Voters, Peace Action, the AFL-CIO, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, etc.  I'm not being selective here.  There don't seem to be any progressive analysts scoring Kaptur over Kucinich on anything.  Progressives like Alan Grayson and Barney Frank are urging us to support Kucinich over Kaptur.

[p]How independent and principled a member of Congress is has a direct, and sometimes devastating, impact on their district and the nation and the world.  Kaptur believes a nuclear power plant at the edge of Lake Erie with a bad history of safety violations should be allowed to continue to operate, while Kucinich has asked for it to be repaired or decommissioned.  Only one of these two representatives is putting the safety of the public first. 

[p]I believe people who care about the future of the United States, from Ohio's new Ninth District or anywhere else, should be following and supporting Kucinich's campaign.  If he loses, we lose.  We may not always agree with him.  He may not always be able to win over a majority of his colleagues.  He may sometimes let us down.  But were he not there, votes that helped end the Iraq war would have never been held.  Debates that have helped curtail further war making would simply not have happened.  Articles of impeachment for Bush and Cheney would never have been introduced.  Countless witnesses before House committees would have gotten off without ever facing the important questions.  Many people pushing for single-payer healthcare in their states would have never heard of it.  Our televisions would be better able than they are now to pretend that majority positions on major issues do not exist, because there would not be that one man in the government willing to raise the issue and publicly lobby his colleagues to join him.

[p]We're such defeatists these days, that we either condemn Kucinich's compromises, forgetting that Kaptur outdoes him in that regard 100-fold, or we imagine that because he's so much better he must be doomed to lose.  On the contrary, Kucinich has a long history of winning congressional elections, both primaries and general.  While the redesigned district includes a larger population from Kaptur's former district than from Kucinich's, it includes more Democrats from Kucinich's than from Kaptur's.  Kucinich inspires his supporters, and in primaries it is the relative turnout of tiny percentages of people that decides. 

[p]Who is in Congress or the White House is going to be of far less importance than who is in the streets and what kind of people's movement is developed to nonviolently resist injustice and war.  But without a single voice inside Congress willing to speak up in the ways Kucinich has, the people's movement will suffer.  There's no lesser-evilism required here.  Kucinich is actually a good representative.  There's no partisanship required here.  Love a party or hate them all; regardless, we should reward those who have listened to our demands.  Or why would anyone listen again?

[p]##

[p]The table below ... actually I can't figure out how to post it here, so go to WarIsACrime.org to see the record of war funding votes plus all the other hyperlinks.

Posted by davidswanson | Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:53 AM (2 replies)

How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back. It was time for a peace dividend as well as a little sanity in public spending. Among the cosponsors of a bill to begin economic conversion in the late 1980s was a guy by the name of Leon Panetta.

Standing in the way was Congressman Newt Gingrich (Republican, Lockheed Martin).

As Mary Beth Sullivan recounts ( http://MIC50.org ),

"On the first day of the opening of the 101st Congress, Speaker [Jim] Wright convened a meeting of members who had proposed economic conversion legislation, and their aids. The purpose was to ensure that all proposals be joined into one, and that this legislation be given priority. To dramatize the importance of this bill, it would be given number H.R. 101."

Seymour Melman, a leading proponent of the bill recounts what happened:

"Supporters of such an initiative did not reckon with the enormous power of those opposed to any such move toward economic conversion. In the weeks that followed, these vested interests waged a concerted and aggressive campaign in Congress and the national media to bring down Jim Wright over allegations of financial misconduct."

"The allegations," Sullivan writes, "had little substance, but Newt Gingrich, representing a headquarters district of Lockheed Martin, led the Republican attack. Sadly, they won. According to Melman, 'Their media campaign drowned out any further discussion of economic conversion … A historic opportunity had been destroyed."

The military industrial complex survived and thrived and is growing even to this moment with plans to grow on into the foreseeable future, even as we're falsely told it's being cut back. Our nation trails others in the areas of education, health, retirement security, life expectancy, infant mortality, environmental sustainability, poverty, and -- in so far as anyone has measured it -- happiness. Instead we have a military that costs as much as the rest of the world's put together, and much of the rest of the world's is purchased from our weapons makers. We have aircraft carriers, bombs, missiles, helicopters, bases, drones, and billionaires to make up for our crappy schools and lousy trains.

While I understand how exciting Newt Gingrich's sex life may be, there may be other things he has to answer for as well.

War and Being and Nothingness

The best book I've read in a very long time is a new one: "The End of War" by John Horgan. Its conclusions will be vigorously resisted by many and yet, in a certain light, considered perfectly obvious to some others. The central conclusion -- that ending the institution of war is entirely up to us to choose -- was, arguably, reached by (among many others before and since) John Paul Sartre sitting in a café utilizing exactly no research.

Horgan is a writer for "Scientific American," and approaches the question of whether war can be ended as a scientist. It's all about research. He concludes that war can be ended, has in various times and places been ended, and is in the process (an entirely reversible process) of being ended on the earth right now.

The war abolitionists of the 1920s Outlawry movement would have loved this book, would have seen it as a proper extension of the ongoing campaign to rid the world of war. But it is a different book from theirs. It does not preach the immorality of war. That idea, although proved truer than ever by the two world wars, failed to prevent the two world wars. When an idea's time has come and also gone, it becomes necessary to prove to people that the idea wasn't rendered impossible or naďve by "human nature" or grand forces of history or any other specter. Horgan, in exactly the approach required, preaches the scientific observation of the success (albeit incomplete as yet) of preaching the immorality of war.

The evidence, Horgan argues, shows that war is a cultural contagion, a meme that serves its own ends, not ours (except for certain profiteers perhaps). Wars happen because of their cultural acceptance and are avoided by their cultural rejection. Wars are not created by genes or avoided by eugenics or oxytocin, driven by an ever-present minority of sociopaths or avoided by controlling them, made inevitable by resource scarcity or inequality or prevented by prosperity and shared wealth, or determined by the weaponry available. All such factors, Horgan finds, can play parts in wars, but the decisive factor is a militaristic culture, a culture that glorifies war or even just accepts it, a culture that fails to renounce war as something as barbaric as cannibalism. War spreads as other memes spread, culturally. The abolition of war does the same.

Those who believe that war is in our genes or mandated by overpopulation or for whatever other reason simply unavoidable or even desirable will not be attracted to Horgan's book. But they should read it. It is written for them and carefully argued and documented. Those who, in contrast, believe it is as obvious as breathing air that we can choose to end war tomorrow will find a little sad comedy in the fact that the way we get people to choose to end a long-established institution is by rigorously persuading them that such choices have been made before and are already well underway. Yet, that is exactly what people need to hear, especially those who are on the edge between "War is in DNA" and "War is over if you want it." Most human cultures never produced nuclear bombs or genetically engineered corn or Youtube. Many cultures have produced peace. But what if they hadn't? How in the world would that prevent us from producing it?

Evidence of lethal group violence does not go back through our species' millions of years but only through the past 10,000 to 13,000. Even chimpanzees' supposed innate war spirit is not established. We are not the only primates who seem able to learn either war or peace. Annual war-related casualties have dropped more than ten-fold since the first half of the twentieth century. Democracy is no guarantee of peace, but it is allowing people to say no to war. Of course, democracy is not all or nothing. Some democracies, like ours in the United States, can be very weak, and weaker still on the question of war. What allows nations' leaders to take countries into war, Horgan shows, is not people's aggressiveness but their docility, their obedience, their willingness to follow and even to believe what authorities tell them.

Mistaken theories about the causes of war create the self-fulfilling expectation that war will always be with us. Predicting that climate change will produce world war may actually fail to inspire people to buy solar panels, inspiring them instead to support military spending and to stock up at home on guns and emergency supplies.

I wish Horgan had looked more at the motivations of those in power who choose war, some of whom do profit from it in various ways. I also think he understates the importance of the military industrial complex, whose influence Eisenhower accurately predicted would be total and even spiritual. It's harder to work for the abolition of war when the war industry is behind your job. I think this book could benefit from recognition of the U.N. Charter's limitations as compared with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in its acceptance of wars that are either "defensive" or authorized by the United Nations. I think Horgan's view of the Arab Spring and the Libyan War is confused, as he thinks in terms of intervention in countries where the United States had already long been intervened, and he frames the choices as war or nothing. I think the final chapter on free will is rather silly, confusing the philosophical point of physical determinism with how things look from our perspective, a confusion that David Hume straightened out quite a while ago.

But Horgan makes a key point in that last chapter, pointing to a study that found that when people were exposed to the idea that they had no free will they behaved less morally, choosing to behave badly, of course, with the very same free will they nonetheless maintained. Being free to choose, we can in fact choose things that most of us never dare imagine. Here's John Horgan's perfect prescription:

"We could start by slashing our bloated military, abolishing arms sales to other countries, and getting rid of our nuclear arsenal. These steps, rather than empty rhetoric, will encourage other countries to demilitarize as well."

Or as Jean Paul Sartre put it -- (Look, ma, no research!) -- "To say that the for-itself has to be what it is, to say that it is what it is not while not being what it is, to say that in it existence precedes and conditions essence or inversely according to Hegel, that for it 'Wesen ist was gewesen ist' -- all this is to say one and the same thing: to be aware that man is free."

Constitutional Amendment to Create Public Financing Introduced by Kucinich

I recently recommened a comprehensive Constitutional amendment addressing the corruption of our elections.

http://davidswanson.org/node/3537

The largest piece of it, largely inspired by an amendment drafted by Russell Simmons, had not been introduced in Congress . . . until now.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes100 which proposes this Constitutional Amendment:

Section 1. All campaigns for President and Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be financed entirely with public funds. No contributions shall be permitted to any candidate for Federal office from any other source, including the candidate.

Section 2. No expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate for Federal office, or in opposition to any candidate for Federal office, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

Section 3. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds.

Section 4. The Congress shall, by statute, provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Article.

Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This does not state that corporations are not people or bribery is not speech or the moon is not made of cheese, but it proceeds accordingly and handles the corruption of our elections as effectively as anything I've seen. No amendment is completely comprehensive, but no completely comprehensive amendment is likely to get passed (or even read). I also doubt very much that Congress will ever advance any such amendment, at least until there is a serious threat from two-thirds of the states to circumvent Congress with a Constitutional Convention.

But if there is an amendment to build the list of cosponsors on, this looks like the one. This looks to me like something that the anti-corporate-personhood movement, the clean elections movement, the peace movement, and every other cause for peace, justice, or representative government should get behind. I don't mean get behind a politician or a party or censor your own complete demands. I mean get every possible Congress member to cosponsor this bill, which exists because of our movement.

Blocking funding without providing public financing is a half-solution. Limiting private election spending while leaving loopholes is no solution. Prohibiting private spending, creating public financing, and making those laws enforceable is a huge chunk of the solution.

We can all remember "H J Res 100". Now to ask our misrepresentatives to sign on!

Republicans Boo the Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. An important rule to live by. So is this corollary: Friends don't let friends watch presidential primary debates.

I think the clip at this link is a safe dose bit.ly/xVAIF6 and I have survived it myself or I would not urge it on others.

I recommend it to you only because I believe it is important for us to stop and ask what it means for a group of people who tend to promote both Christianity and the combination of Christianity with politics to have just booed the golden rule.

In this video Congressman Ron Paul describes Pakistan as a sovereign nation and suggests that the United States should not be bombing it. Paul also proposes that there should have been some attempt to capture Osama bin Laden rather than murdering him. Paul promotes the rule of law and goes so far as to advocate that the United States only fight wars that have been declared by Congress (a standard that would eliminate the past 70 years' worth of wars). To that the response is cheering from at least some section of the audience.

Then Newt Gingrich says that the proper thing to do with enemies is "Kill them." That, of course, receives ecstatic applause.

What could Paul say in response? He could have quoted almost anything Jesus Christ or Ronald Reagan or Ayn Rand had ever said and been booed for it. He chose a response that further guaranteed booing: he opposed U.S. exceptionalism. He suggested that other nations might merit the same respect as our own. If another nation were doing to ours what we do to others, we wouldn't like it, Paul pointed out. Perhaps we should follow the golden rule, he said. And he was booed for that.

And yet Paul goes on to speak against launching a war on Iran, and in support of ending our current wars; and some group of people — not necessarily, but possibly, some of the same individuals who had just been booing — start cheering instead.

I don't think the audience members, by and large, dislike the golden rule in personal relations. And I don't think they dislike peace. They seem neutral or positive toward demanding an end to wars and avoidance of more wars. What they object to is the notion that national enemies deserve any respect. They are fiercely opposed to loving national enemies, much less turning the nation's other cheek. But they'd be totally fine with avoiding wars if uppity foreign nations agreed to stay in their place.

People may all have value, in this non-world-view, but only one nation has value, and its value is supreme. Fall under suspicion of hostility toward the United States, and the proper treatment for you is murder. Belong to a nation other than the United States, and the significance of losing your life as collateral damage is negligible.

Now, we do erroneously apply lessons from personal relations to politics all the time. We try to relate to elected officials as friends rather than constituents. We imagine politicians driven by emotions and social relations when they are clearly driven by financial bribery or partisan pressure.

But I don't think applying the golden rule to international relations involves this sort of mistake. Paul is not here analyzing what drives government officials, but rather proposing what ought to. It's hard to argue that the golden rule ought not to guide our collective behavior toward other populations. That is to say, if we had a government that represented our wishes, we ought not to wish for it to treat large numbers of foreign people in ways that we would not like foreign nations to treat us. This is a point that Paul has made more powerfully in this advertisement: bit.ly/l1xej1

The golden rule in foreign relations conflicts dramatically with almost everything about U.S. foreign policy from the Monroe Doctrine down through the Carter Doctrine and right up to our kinetic overseas contingency operations, extraordinary renditions, indefinite detentions, enhanced interrogations, surgical strikes, and all the other weasel words we use to mean the kidnapping, imprisonment, torture, and murder of human beings. But that doesn't prove the golden rule is wrong. On the contrary, it proves our foreign policy is wrong.

Our military is in some 150 other countries. We would never stand for another military in our country. Therefore, we should get out of everybody else's.

We bomb and invade and occupy nations we falsely accuse of possessing weapons. We would never stand for being bombed and invaded and occupied even though we really have those weapons. Therefore we should stop doing that to other nations.

We rain hell from the sky on families to protect women's rights and spread freedom. But if our roofs were being blown off, and our limbs as well, we would not feel we had gained any rights or freedom. Therefore we should stop treating war as an acceptable instrument of national policy.

The golden rule is, in fact, an excellent guide to foreign policy. It even goes places Ron Paul would not. If we were starving or struggling to make loan payments to international sharks or finding it impossible to compete against subsidized foreign goods while forbidden to invest in our own products, we would appreciate some relief from any nation willing to offer it. The problem is not foreign aid or international involvement. The problem is pushing instruments of death on the rest of the world's peoples because an elite at home and abroad profits from weapons sales. The problem is imposing our will by force and the threat of force on people who are not threatening us.

The golden rule is of less help in shaping domestic policy, in which there is not a domestic we and a foreign they, and on which agreement among the domestic us is often more divided. While virtually all of us would prefer not to be bombed, not all of us favor creating a decent civilized healthcare system or education or energy system or retirement security. Ron Paul favors the position of whoever backs doing nothing, no matter how large the majority of the people who prefer to jointly create something that makes each of them better off. Where there is not unanimity, you have to violate the golden rule in favor of majority rule with protections for individuals. But on foreign policy there is unanimity. None of us want a Chinese military base in Texas. Therefore we should stop building them around the borders of China.

There is another rule I would much rather break than the golden rule. It is the rule that says that because Ron Paul has disastrous domestic positions we are forbidden to point out how revealing his excellent foreign policy stands are in presidential primary debates.

Charlottesville, Va., City Council Passes Resolution Opposing War on Iran

The City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, home of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and the University of Virginia, passed on Tuesday evening, January 17, 2012, a resolution believed to be a first in the country, opposing the launching of a war on Iran, as well as calling for an end to current ground and drone wars engaged in by the United States and urging Congress and the President of the United States to significantly reduce military spending. Below is the text of the resolution, followed by an account of how it came to be. As other towns and cities have been inquiring about how they can do the same, this may prove helpful.


RESOLUTION

Calling on Congress and the President to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Priorities

WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and

WHEREAS, every dollar spent on the military produces fewer jobs than spending the same dollar on education, healthcare, clean energy, or even tax cuts for household consumption; and

WHEREAS, U.S. military spending has approximately doubled in the past decade, in real dollars and as a percentage of federal discretionary spending, and well over half of federal discretionary spending is now spent on the military, and we are spending more money on the military now than during the Cold War, the Vietnam War, or the Korean War; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. military budget could be cut by 80% and remain the largest in the world; and

WHEREAS, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed major reductions in military spending in both its Co-Chairs' proposal in November 2010 and its final report in December 2010; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, with the support of Charlottesville’s then Mayor Dave Norris, passed a resolution in June 2011 calling on Congress to redirect spending to domestic priorities; and

WHEREAS, the people of the United States, in numerous opinion polls, favor redirecting spending to domestic priorities and withdrawing the U.S. military from Afghanistan; and

WHEREAS, the United States has armed forces stationed at approximately 1,000 foreign bases in approximately 150 foreign countries; and

WHEREAS, the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth but trails many other nations in life expectancy, infant mortality, education level, housing, and environmental sustainability, as well as non-military aid to foreign nations;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, calls on the U.S. Congress and the U.S. President to end foreign ground and drone wars, refrain from entering new military ventures in Iran, and reduce base military spending in order to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, re-train and re-employ those losing jobs in the process of conversion to non-military industries, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.

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The story behind this resolution begins with a conference held in September, 2011, in Charlottesville at which experts from around the country presented their views on the growth of the Military Industrial Complex. The proceedings of that conference were published as a book on Martin Luther King Day, the day prior to passage of the resolution. They can be found at http://MIC50.org

The resolution was passed on the 51st anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning of the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex.

Two city council members in September attended the conference, Dave Norris and Kristin Szakos. A candidate for city council who was elected in November also attended, Dede Smith. Those three members were well informed, understood the issues, understood the public's position, and had enough backbone to face controversy. Norris had already been an early supporter of a resolution on military spending passed in 2011 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The resolution that came out of the conference and which is included in the book is almost identical to what is above. It does not, however, include mention of Iran. The resolution presented to the new City Council at its first public meeting on January 3, 2012, is posted on the website of the longstanding peace organization in Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice: http://www.charlottesvillepeace.org/node/2630

At that meeting, Norris proposed adding in the words about Iran. A report on the meeting and video are posted here: http://www.charlottesvillepeace.org/node/2657

As you'll see at the link, we had several members of the public speak in support of the resolution and we presented a petition with hundreds of additional signatures. At that time, our three reliable council members publicly expressed support, but one of them suggested changes should be made. A fourth, Satyendra Huja, also expressed weak support, while the fifth, Kathy Galvin remained silent.

By January 12th, the City Council had made public its amended version, the only significant change being the addition of the language on Iran.

The council was scheduled to vote at its January 17th meeting, and on the morning of the 17th made public a proposal from Galvin to radically revise the resolution, omiting any reference to war on Iran or to the existence of both ground and drone wars, claiming the military is protecting our rights despite the erosion of our rights facilitated by war, inaccurately describing the powers the Constitution gives the President, expressing support for the office of the President less than a month after the power to imprison people without trial was made a part of that office, asking the President and Congress to "continue" working to redirect military spending to domestic priorities which falsely implied that such work was already underway, eliminating a paragraph pointing to the tradeoffs our wealthy nation makes in comparison with other countries by funding the military so heavily, and claiming that reducing military spending might endanger the safety of troops.

We immediately privately and publicly urged our three most reliable city council members to recognize this as unacceptable and to stand strong for the previous version of the resolution. See these statements: http://www.charlottesvillepeace.org/node/2672 and http://www.charlottesvillepeace.org/node/2673

The three original supporters, Norris, Smith, and Szakos told us they agreed.

Come time for the meeting, we packed the room. We also had enough people arrive early and sign up to speak that we dominated the public speaking period at the start of the meeting. And the people who spoke really outdid themselves. We also presented the council with a peace lily. The video will soon be posted here:
http://charlottesville.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

We had so packed the room that some people had to stand. To accomodate us, the council changed the agenda and addressed the resolution first. Galvin made her proposals. Norris spoke for the strong resolution. Smith did the same. And when Szakos did the same we'd won. With three voting in favor of the stronger resolution, Huja joined them and Galvin abstained, while everyone else applauded.

Corporate Personhood Cannot Withstand Organized Persons

There are many schemes now for undoing the doctrines under which corporations claim constitutional rights and bribery is deemed constitutionally protected "speech." Every single one of these schemes depends on a massive movement of public pressure all across the homeland formerly known as the United States of America. With such a movement, few of the schemes can fail. Without it, we're just building castles in the air. Nonetheless, the best scheme can best facilitate the organizing of the movement.

The U.S. Constitution never gave any rights or personhood to corporations or transformed money into speech. It ought not to be necessary to amend a document to, in effect, point out that the sky is blue and up is not down. If the Supreme Court rules that Goldman Sachs can send legislation directly to the White House and cut out the congressional middleman, will we have to amend the Constitution to remove the Goldman Sachs branch of government? Where will this end?

The Constitution also never gave the Supreme Court the power to overturn every law passed by Congress. In fact, the Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power to set exceptions and regulations on what types of cases the Supreme Court can take. So, Congress could take some types of cases away, although it might have to be a great many.

The Constitution also allows the Congress to impeach and remove Supreme Court justices. Congress could remove the most corrupt one or two or three or four or five and only consent to new justices opposed to corporate personhood.

Congress could also just ignore the Supreme Court on this matter and pass a flood of legislation regulating and stripping corporations of their outrageous claims to power, compelling the court to take up case after case.

The reason none of these things is happening is, of course, the weak link smack in the middle of them: Congress.

Lower courts and/or state legislatures could likewise place sanity and decency above the "Citizens United" Supreme Court — if judges or delegates had the nerve to become what the New York Times might mock as "justice vigilantes." The Montana Supreme Court has just done this, so it can't be simply dismissed.

Amending the Constitution seems harder and more extreme than most other schemes. But that fact is itself a reason to favor amending the Constitution. Doing so ought not to be viewed as extreme. It is a sign of disease in our political system that we view it that way. There is tremendous benefit in the act of amending the Constitution itself, and we should have amended it and completely reworked and rewritten it many times by now. Instead we've barely tweaked the thing, and with the exception of an amendment on Congressional salaries proposed in 1789 and finally ratified by Michigan in 1992, we haven't touched the Constitution at all in over 40 years. By amending it through a process with popular support, we can reassert the power of the people over the government and open up the possibility of amending the Constitution further.

We have a horribly outdated broken system of government that stifles democracy. The closest thing to democracy in it is the process by which it can theoretically be amended. I would strongly favor amending the Constitution even if it were only to cross a t or dot an i. Amending it to end corporate personhood and money-speech is, thus, an important goal for multiple reasons. And it opens up the possibility of creating other systemic reforms in the process if we convene a new Constitutional Convention.

Amending the Constitution can be begun by Congress and completed by three-quarters of the state legislatures. Or it can be begun by two-thirds of the state legislatures and completed by three-quarters of them. So, one weak link is the states. Another possible weak link is the Congress. The only way to strengthen either of them is with intense, deep, and wide-spread nonviolent people power. And that power can be energized by and organized around a desired amendment. This approach has the advantage of building power in the states, where state legislatures and courts can be urged to also attempt other approaches to the same problem. And it has the advantage of circumventing Congress if necessary. If you ask me, most people are underestimating the likelihood that such circumvention will be necessary.

A great boost to the effort is MoveToAmend.org's development of what many now see as the ideal amendment:

Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2. Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure. Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Section 3. Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

This is very similar to the amendment proposed by FreeSpeechForPeople.org:

Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people's rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

The above has the advantage of having been introduced already in the U.S. House by Congressman Jim McGovern as HJRes88. Promoting that amendment can help build the movement, but the text of it leaves wealthy individuals who are not corporations but actual flesh-and-blood billionaires the power to consider the spending of money on elections as protected speech. The MoveToAmend version does not have this weakness.

Other amendments are also worth promoting despite various limitations. Congresswoman Donna Edwards' HJRes78 also does not address money as speech and does not address the overarching question of corporate rights (the problems with which are not limited to elections), but it does create the power for Congress and states to regulate and restrict (it does not say eliminate) corporate political spending. Similarly, so does Congressman Ted Deutch's HJRes82.

Of course everything need not be in one amendment if more than one can be passed. Senator Tom Udall's SJRes29, like Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's HJRes8, Congresswoman Betty Sutton's HJRes86, and Congressman Kurt Schrader's HJRes72, goes after money as speech by giving Congress and states the power to limit election spending. But I want to eliminate, not limit, private election spending. Even MoveToAmend's amendment says that the government can "regulate, limit, or prohibit" such spending, and even the regulating or limiting won't simply happen automatically. First the Congress or the state legislature that benefits from not regulating or limiting will have to turn on itself.

Then there's Congressman Deutch's HJRes90, and Senator Bernie Sanders' SJRes33, which goes after corporate personhood, but only for for-profit corporations. This leaves a loophole for not-for-profit corporations and entities such as labor unions or PACs like Citizens United. Any such loophole not only makes this amendment hard to pass into law, but the loophole would very likely be exploited by the wealthiest elite to the great disadvantage of ordinary people and of labor unions. This amendment, in a later section, gives Congress and the states the power to limit (it does not say eliminate) election spending by any organization or individual, including candidates themselves. But how, if at all, would such power be used?

Public Citizen at Democracyisforpeople.org proposes language that tries to block corporations from setting up front groups while at the same time permitting election spending by any corporation not "created for business purposes." But why create years of lawyering over what is and is not a business purpose? Why not just get the money out of the elections?

Russell Simmons has proposed an amendment that does that. It does not deal with corporate personhood in its many other areas, but it does address elections as directly as anything I've seen. It does not mention states, and I am convinced that including states' rights to outlaw bribery is essential to getting this approved by three-quarters of the states. This amendment does not bother to say that corporations are not people or that speech is not money, but simply proceeds as if that and the blueness of the sky were obvious. (Yet it may be absolutely necessary to state that corporations are not people and that money is not speech in order to build the public movement required for passage.) This amendment also requires criminal penalties for violation:

Section 1. All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
Section 2. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section
Section 3. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation
Section 4. This article shall be inoperative unless it is ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution.

Arguably more will be needed than even MoveToAmend's comprehensive amendment. If we block off corporate spending except through the media, guess what the media will become even more than it is now! Without public financing, free media for candidates, and disintegration of media monopolies, the reform effort breaks down. Without other electoral reforms, the choices of candidates could remain extremely limited. We should have automatic registration, reasonable ballot access, an election day holiday, publicly hand counted paper ballots, a limited election season, no more electoral college, a larger House, no more Senate, and the popular power to legislate by initiative, along with numerous other possible reforms that could be combined into a coherent package by a Constitutional Convention, and which could be underscored by the individual national right to vote that is scandalously absent from the Constitution now.

An amendment proposed by Wolf-pac.com includes public financing:

"Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed."

It's not clear to me, however, that corporate lawyers and former corporate lawyers serving as judges could not construe a great deal of electoral spending as something other than indirect giving to a politician. It would also help if this amendment rejected the notion of spending money as speech. Lawrence Lessig has posted an amendment at Lessig.tumblr.com that, like this one, creates public financing but limits rather than outlawing private financing.

An amendment proposed by RenewDemocracy.org includes a right to vote:

"The right of the individual qualified citizen voter to participate in and directly elect all candidates by popular vote in all pertinent local, state, and federal elections shall not be questioned and the right to vote is limited to individuals. The right to contribute to political campaigns and political parties is held solely by individual citizens. Political campaign and political party contributions shall not exceed an amount reasonably affordable by the average American. The rights of all groups, associations and organizations to other political speech may be regulated by Congress but only as to volume and not content and only to protect the right of the individual voter’s voice to be heard."

The strength of this amendment in providing the right to vote and directly elect (thus eliminating the electoral college and allowing national vote counting standards, among other reforms) is, to my mind, weakened by the failure to simply get rid of the money and provide public financing. This is also, of course, not an amendment to remove corporate personhood across the board. Of course, if we had a Congress that would back this amendment, we might have a Congress that would effectively implement it. Lacking either at the moment, I'm more inclined to find a solution that does not rely on Congress to pass a bunch of wise and democratic laws.

GetMoneyOut.com has posted an amendment that also does not take on corporate personhood but does address election spending quite well, including the money-is-speech nonsense, and rather randomly throws an election day holiday into the same amendment. It does not, however, explain who will pay for elections or mention public financing:

"No person, corporation or business entity of any type, domestic or foreign, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of campaign for Federal office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, campaign contributions to candidates for Federal office shall not constitute speech of any kind as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or any amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office."

Drawing on the best of all of these drafts and proposals, let me dare to offer the following:

PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be entirely publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section.

State and local governments shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for state or local public office or any state or local ballot measure.

The right of the individual U.S. citizen to vote and to directly elect all candidates by popular vote in all pertinent local, state, and federal elections shall not be violated. Citizens will be automatically registered to vote upon reaching the age of 18 or upon becoming citizens at an age above 18, and the right to vote shall not be taken away from them. Votes shall be recorded on paper ballots, which shall be publicly counted at the polling place. Election day shall be a national holiday.

Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press. During a designated campaign period of no longer than six months, free air time shall be provided in equal measure to all candidates for federal office on national, state, or district television and radio stations, provided that each candidate has, during the previous year, received the supporting signatures of at least five percent of their potential voting-age constituents. The same supporting signatures shall also place the candidate's name on the ballot and require their invitation to participate in any public debate among the candidates for the same office.

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No doubt, that can be improved upon. All will be possible if people get mobilized. Cities are passing initiatives and resolutions already demanding an end to corporate personhood. Localities are restricting corporate rights. State legislatures are considering throwing their support behind the movement. State courts are in some cases already there. Books are being published, forums held, and groups organized. An effort that must be largely educational is well underway. Events are planned in over 100 cities and towns on January 20th and 21st. Now is the time to join this movement.

David Swanson is the editor of a new book called "The Military Industrial Complex at 50," and a campaigner for RootsAction.org.
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