What They Said…

On Armistice Day, 11/11/18 at 11 am “The War to End All Wars” ended. Don’t Celebrate “Veterans Day”

From Celebrate Armistice Day, Not Veterans Day by David Swanson, Nov. 7, The Humanist:

Congress passed an Armistice Day resolution in 1926 calling for “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding…inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” Later, Congress added that November 11 was to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

We don’t have so many holidays dedicated to peace that we can afford to spare one. If the United States were compelled to scrap a war holiday, it would have dozens to choose from, but peace holidays don’t just grow on trees. Mother’s Day has been drained of its original meaning. Martin Luther King Day has been shaped around a caricature that omits all advocacy for peace. Armistice Day, however, is making a comeback.

Swanson is a great writer and debunker of the myths of war. If you haven’t heard of the Kellogg Briand Pact, please look it up or read any number of pieces from his blog Let’s Try Democracy.

From Peacemakers, Warmongers and Fence Sitters: Who Represents You? by Nicolas J. S. Davies and Medea Benjamin, Oct. 3, Common Dreams:

The elephant in the room that none of them want to discuss is that Congress keeps handing more than 60% of discretionary federal funds over to a military industrial complex whose recent wars have only succeeded in plunging half a dozen countries into intractable violence and chaos, leaving vital domestic priorities permanently underfunded.”

This article has eye-opening stats on how members of both houses of Congress have voted on matters of war and militarism over the years. I was honestly didn’t expect the contrast between the two parties to look as stark as it is. What are our priorities, and how can we make those count in federal budgets? Who is representing whom? We need to know even if it seems like truth isn’t as relevant as we would have it be in the current political climate. The ballooning military budgets that pass with a suicidally bipartisan lack of scrutiny or wisdom point to who is stealing our public commons, trust and money. Campaigns for human rights of any kind or any part of the environmental movement that ignores the Pentagon are bound to fail. You can’t effectively address a problem and ignore its largest component at the same time.

From yours truly…I’ve said before…

In a free society, one should be able to get away with murder. (I trust no one to accuse me of encouraging better planned murders.) The important corollary that is being undermined in today’s world is that if it can be proven you did it (beyond a reasonable doubt), you are supposed to face consequences.  In the current state of affairs, it seems that even collective memory and video clips don’t matter when some people attack others, are “inciteful” instead of insightful, or are extremely rude and even proudly spout racist and misogynist tropes.

I have to excuse reporters being dumbfounded like I am when Trump hypocritically and hyperbolically attacks other people as rude, racist or sexist. The dishonesty is so blatant, I want to appreciate the calm, professional demeanor of  PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor when Trump called her questions racist at the infamous Nov. 7 press conference. I would cheer, and feel encouraged for the world to see a black woman challenge Trump fiercely in a situation like that (and then would try to help her if her job were being threatened). That exchange was even more absurd than when Trump and other Republicans called the antifa and some Democratic lawmakers “uncivil.” They shouldn’t be able to land such questions without immediate pointing out of their hypocrisy.A lot of us would. Good for Jim Acosta standing up for himself and his profession, but all journalists of integrity need to stop hanging on Trump’s every ignorant word or misdirecting move.

It is about time that journalists stood up for themselves to the point of asking follow up questions and being cut off from White House briefings. More need to follow suit. Trump’s press conferences should be unattended.

It is long overdue for Democrats and moderates to take up voter disenfranchisement with seriousness. Samantha Bee nailed this issue in two of her earliest episodes of Full Frontal addressed well the extreme failings of the Democratic Party to be sure not to lose so badly in 2010. And seeing some Democrats not concede in close races is an important change. Al Gore laments heeding the advice of Dem higher ups in 2000 told him

I have long questioned as myopic the abundant (to say the least) focus on the question of “collusion” between Trump and Putin or the Russians. It is actually exceedingly clear that the Republicans have been rigging the system since 2000 or earlier and pretty clear the Democratic leadership didn’t want Al Gore to utilize the Constitution to stand up for himself, their party or the future of the country and the world. How can any measure be legal that makes it almost impossible for some people to cast their ballots? How can results be announced credibly when more remain uncounted than divide presumed winner from loser?

I feel dirty using Facebook and Whats App

They have been used by violent authoritarians around the world to skew public opinion, get elected and drive people to murder. Civil rights in the Philippines, India, Hungary, and now Brazil have all been dealt devastating blows as a result of how this social media has been used. A lawyer working against Duterte’s “war on drugs” in the Philippines was gunned down in early November. Benjamin Ramos became the 34th lawyer killed in the last two years there according to Democracy Now! What is remembered lives. Journalists and local environmental and labor organizers, generally regular folks, often poor, looking out for their families and communities, are being killed and blamed for it in ways unimaginable before the advent of social media and the internet. Like using fossil fuels, I feel a bit complicit with my constant use of screens and devices. “In a free society, few are guilty. All are responsible.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver deserves a couple of Pulitzers

John Oliver doesn’t just use the stuff of the current political melt down for the sake of a joke in a way that lessens the seriousness of what he covers. Occasionally I do feel like Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah make their points but don’t go quite far enough or they use the story to support the joke instead of vice versa. Episodes that stand out for me include his segments about the IRS, civil asset forfeiture and setting yourself up as a megachurch (not all on one show). The November 4 show was an amazing expose about the details of the family separation regime of the current administration. It was the clearest and most informative report about what is really happening with some chilling comments and footage along the way.

Jon Stewart, a pioneer in the modern news comedy format, made some cautionary and insightful comments about the juxtaposition/confusion of news and comedy, reality and “fake news” in conversation with Christianne Amanpour on a London stage as presented by Melanie McFarland in Salon on November 3 that asks “How long will the media play Trump’s game?

[O]ne strange truth is that his tactics have resulted in a further conflation of journalism and entertainment in a way that has defanged the way the press covers him as well as Congress. Over the past week especially, many members of the press had to finally wake up to the fact that what journalists of color have been saying all along — Trump is a white supremacist — is indeed true. But most still have problems saying that, even after Trump crowed about being a nationalist at a rally in Houston. They’re too afraid of losing the crowd, of walking the room.

Keeping up with Shukri

I am touched but not surprised by the humane concern and generous support for the survivors and families of victims at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh showed by Linda Sarsour and other Muslims. At the same time, the experience of the Holy Land Foundation comes to mind. At the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Holy Land Foundation was the largest Muslim charity in the country. Based in nearby Texas, the HLF sent unequaled material support to the people of OK City as well as dozens of volunteers. Their help was uniformly praised and thanked…except once Israel got the George W. Bush administration to go after the HLF. From Shukri Abu-Baker, founder of the HLF who now sits in federal US prison serving an unjust 65 year sentence for his generosity and despite his integrity.

In the trial, the government used our humanitarian response to the O.C. bombing against us, alleging that we only did it to deflect attention from our true mission, which they said was supporting  terrorism. Of course, this was the shortest road the government could take to demonize American Muslims: Make very good thing they do to work against them. I won’t be surprised if Sarsour and her colleagues were at the top of Israel’s list of enemies, no matter what she does. And I won’t be surprised if her effort to normalize Islam in America will draw negative attention to her __ and perhaps put her under the FBI’s most watchful eyes. Muslims will always be suspects in this country, not because they deserve it, but because the voices of hate are still louder than that of love. However, there is a price to be paid when one decided to embark on a course of universal enlightenment. No change can be made without sacrifice, fortitude, and deep belief in the mission.

Three Vital Articles about Judaism, Antisemitism, Zionism, Palestine and Israel

I have tried to point out that modern Israel and the unflinching support for its blatant brutality in the name of Jewish security fan the flames of antisemitism, replacing irrational fear and hatred of us with reasons that are firmly based on tragic, contemporary, political policies and actions.

From Rebecca Vilkomerson on Trump and Netanyahu “enabling antisemitism”, Oct. 31, Middle East Eye (Great Britain):

One thing that has definitely happened in the Trump era is that supporting Israel has become a stand-in for supporting Jews….In the Trump era you can love Israel and still hate Jews and often I think a deal with the devil is being made by a lot of Jewish organisations, that as long as a person supports Israel they give them a pass on anti-semitism.

From Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization by Jeff Halper, Oct.12, Counterpunch:

Regardless of Zionism’s claim to have begun as a genuine national movement, once it chose the form of settler colonialism it made decolonization the only acceptable form of resolution. It is Zionist/Israeli policies and actions that have eliminated any other form of accommodation other than decolonization. By repeatedly and consistently choosing to enforce an exclusive claim to the Land, excluding (and negating) Palestinian national rights and carrying out ongoing policies of displacement and colonization, Zionism rapidly transformed a potentially legitimate movement for Jewish national rights into an unacceptable and unsustainable settler colonial enterprise. Before considering what decolonization entails, let’s briefly trace the transition from a Jewish national movement to Zionist settler colonialism.

From A guide to principled anti-Zionism by Steven Salaita, October 1, Mondoweiss:

There’s significant opposition to Israeli brutality on the US left, but hardly any consequence in electoral culture for cosigning or ignoring that brutality. Done without care, opposition to Israeli brutality can reify other forms of oppression, or it can conceptualize Israel as an aberration from honorable American values.  Israel doesn’t corrupt the United States—nor does the United States corrupt Israel. Both states originated through corruption[.]


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