Tuesday, May 29, 2012

let's hold presidential debate for candidates who oppose war, support civil rights and favor accoutability

I propose that there be a people's debate for President of the United States. The Presidential Debate Commission is a game rigged to exclude voices outside the viewpoints approve by the Democratic and Republican Parties, which are controlled by the economic elites.

With the advent of the Internet and independent media, we can hold our own series of debates.

I envision there being a set of core principles one has to support to be part of these debates.

Support Accountability

1. There needs to be accountability for the Iraq War.
2. There needs to be accountability for the Financial Crisis.

Oppose War

1. The United States and allies should end the occupation of Afghanistan immediately and completely.
2. The United States should not directly or indirectly attack Iran by means overt or covert.

Support Civil Rights

1. The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from ordering the assassination of U.S. citizens.
2. "Due process" requires going before a judge, who is competent, independent and who has access to the relevant information.
3. Torture violates the U.S. Constitution and international treaties. Torture is also a crime under U.S. law. And waterboarding is torture.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dear Peace Movement: what's the plan?

Last weekend I attend the NATO Counter Summit (Friday and Saturday, blog entries) and then marched with Occupy Chicago to oppose NATO and the occupation of Afghanistan.

While it will probably antagonize some people who were at the Counter Summit, I would say that much of the weekend seemed to lack context. How have society's power dynamics shifted against the peace movement? What should be done to address this shift?

There's a certain temptation when peace activists gather for them to prove their commitment to peace by avoiding conflict with each other.

The weekend seemed to lack a critique of why society is the way it is (aside from the same critique that goes back to the Vietnam War), an acknowledgement the peace movement has gotten its ass kicked badly for a decade or a conversation about modifying the strategies and tactics.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

taxing commodity traders a really small amount would raise $6 billion per year for Illinois

The presentation that was both the most hopeful and had the most specific plan was "Making Finance Work for the 99%: The Campaign for a Speculative Sales Tax in IL", the last session I attended. Unfortunately, the attendance was weak.

Bill Barclay, of Chicago Political Economy Group and Democratic Socialists of America, and Susan Hurley, of Chicago Jobs with Justice, made the case for applying a $1 tax on futures transactions. (It's really $2 since it's one from the seller and one from the buyer.) Since this minimum transaction is over $30,000, it's a very small tax percentage wise. And since various fees are already $8-95 per transaction, it's not much of a change from the point of view of the cost of conducting business.

Iraq War veterans explain how the bureaucracy jerks around traumatized vets

Saturday morning I arrived late. My South Shore train was delayed twenty-five minutes by someone flagging a package at the 57th Street station as "suspicious".

Something tells me the same package would have been handled in a less disruptive way if the authorities hadn't been sowing fear through the corporate media.

I attended some of "Veterans Fight for the Right to Heal". Iraq Veterans Against the War is pushing Operation Recovery.

the lesson of Libya: don't trust NATO

Friday morning's bright spot was Vijay Prashad, author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter.

Prashad's thesis was that NATO intervention was unnecessary to depose Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. The forces of change were strong enough to replace Gaddafi internally.

What NATO accomplished by aiding the forces that deposed Gaddafi was to ensure that Libyan ex-patriots with strongly connections and loyalties to the West would play a leadership role in the new government.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Right Wing corporate media shows interest in Counter-Summit

There were two corporate media outlets at the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice: a video camera labeled Fox News and a Chicago Tribune reporter.

let's query U.S. House candidates on Afghanistan!

In addition to Phyllis Bennis speaking on Afghanistan, Matt Southworth, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, spoke on behalf of Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Southworth told of growing support in the U.S. House of Representatives for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have been offering amendments to pressure the President to set a timetable to get out. The last version of the amendment got over 200 votes (218 guarantees passage). This year McGovern and Jones offered a more forceful amendment that would have required withdrawal.

Republican leadership ruled the amendment out of order and refused to let the House of Reps vote on it.

creating media outlet for Afghans for Peace

The panel on Afghanistan, included morethan Phyllis Bennis. There were also three women (two Canadian and one American) from Afghans for Peace.

They had found each other through Facebook and shared a frustration at NATO policy toward Afghanistan and wanted to deepen their connection and support for the country.

One of the issues they discussed was not having a media outlet to tell the news from an Afghan point of view. When I talked to them afterward, they also noted that communicating amongst the Afghan diaspora was challenging too.

Phyllis Bennis explains why withdrawing NATO from Afghanistan makes sense

Phyllis Bennis, the author of Endingthe US War in Afghanistan A Primer, made some thought provoking points about Afghanistan. I saw Bennis make a presentation about ten years ago and I remember at least one point she made. I consider her a serious intellectual.

Bennis, and other panelists, noted the United States can and should end its participation in the war shortly by removing U.S. military forces. The Obama administration recently negotiated a deal that has a faux military withdrawal in 2014, but leaves an occupation force with power to go after anyone it chooses until 2024.

Bennis said the correct metaphor is not Colin Powell's Pottery Barn image (which conveniently justifies perpetual occupation), but the metaphor of a bull in a china shop. Get the bull (the U.S. military) out of the china shop (Afghanistan) and then pay for the damage caused.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Please join (or renew) Independent Voters of Illinois, IVI-IPO

I will be mailing my dues to IVI-IPO (Wikipedia) later today. I know many of my friends in progressive politics have criticisms and reservations about the organization. I still want people to join. Your criticisms are valid, but IVI-IPO is good enough to justify the cost of membership.

For my dues, I can meet a variety of candidates at the "meet the candidates" function. And I can participate in the endorsement process. This allows me to ask my questions of the candidates. And I get to form my own impression of candidates running statewide and countywide.
Yes, there are many ways to criticize IVI-IPO. And I'll do some of it below the fold. However, unless you are rich enough to go to a bunch of political fundraisers, IVI-IPO is a way that a regular citizen can get access to a large number of political candidates. If it cost $500 to join, I'd expect the organization to be run better. But for a $35 investment, IVI-IPO is a pretty good deal.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Pepper Spray Republic (a poem dedicated to NATO & G8)

We exist in a society illegitimate
I wish revolution were imminent
A pepper spray republic
Voted upon by the ignorant
Consent of the governed not there
Frustration, anger, despair

Economic hitmen go overseas
Spread the Neo Liberal disease
Nobel president kills without law
Citizens United judges yawn
Al Qaeda crisis is fake
A distraction, the rich get their take

Legislators laughing with lobbyists
The knife in the back with the twist
Immigrants! Muslims! The media screams
The true economy remains unseen

Anxiety economy and technology
Elites see opportunity
Fear unravels democracy
The Jetsons don't live here, instead
Osama bin Laden is dead
Long live perpetual war
Industrial policy continues
Lord Keynes for serial killers
F.A. Hayek for Soup kitchen Nazis

Capitalists create a mess
Workers compete for less
A broken society waits
In the future, what is our fate?
Will corporate banks rule?
Citizens resist! What tool?

Long dead, Sun-tzu warned
A nation never profits
From war prolonged
When upheaval results
What do war profiteers plan?
Make money until people successfully resist
Kent State again in the streets

Greatest Generation” full of shit
Any prob, solution is war: that's it!
War builds character of generation
Stimulates economy, grows the nation
Every enemy is Hitler evil
Each war makes us more moral

We see the truth in Oakland, New York
Police commit crimes on video
Justice Department is blind
Civil rights are rights of the past

Elites see themselves as Gulliver bound
Little people, fools all around
Elites destroy trust in government

What kind of giants arise? 
Shall we be ruled by truth or by lies? 

Happy birthday, Barb!

I want to give some link love to all my friends who toil online at the art of blogging.

Today is Barbara Engelskirchen's birthday. She created the blog "Foody Chronicles". (BTW, are the names of blogs most properly in quotes or italics?)
Hi. I’m Barbara Engelskirchen and this is my blog. I’m not a professional critic. I’m no chef. But I love food, restaurants and the rituals around the two. They’re a few of the things that give me joy in life. Through this blog, I’ll share my experiences with anyone who cares to read about them. Not interested in food? You’re in the wrong spot. But keep reading and maybe I can win you over.

I consider myself fortunate to live in Chicago, a city where one can find just about any type of food, and restaurants range from tiny, 10 seat BYOBs with way too much florescent lighting to elegant temples to cuisine featuring the latest superstar chef.  I’ll start the sharing with my own city. But I love to travel and hope to be able to share some experiences while on the road as well.
A little tidbit about Barb... she once told me (and I believe her) that she feels obligated to finish even books she's not enjoying once she's started them.

Happy Mother's Day... or not

On Facebook my friend Toscha posted the following:
Forced holidays are sick. Forced holidays that completely ignore to the point of basically denying the existence of a significant portion of people are harmful and horrid and I hate them. If you have a mother, and if she treats you well, or if you are a mother and you treat your children well, go to town. But I am so fucking sick of having fairytale propaganda shoved down my throat. I don't think people realize how ubiquitous and cruel it is. Not just for those of us without mothers, but for people with abusive or negligent mothers, or women who are unable to bear children, or who have lost children. This is NOT a happy day for many people, and that's actually OK, and needs to be acknowledged.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Avengers: what I liked, what I would have changed

I saw The Avengers yesterday, and thought I'd share my observations.

Generally, it's a positive contribution to the superhero movie genre. It's better than most, but probably not on the level of the greats: Batman Begins, Dark Knight, Incredibles, Kick-Ass, Iron Man, X-Men: First Class, and Superman.

What does Avengers to well? Numerous specific things are done well. In the big picture, I think there are a couple weaknesses.

And since I watch movies with a political eye, I actually assumed Joss Whedon was writing from a Right Wing perspective. Actually, he's an atheist who has taken liberal positions and he's donated to Barack Obama.

I'm going to write about the whole movie below the fold. Consider this a spoiler alert. But I don't think I'm going to spoil the ending because it's not the kind of movie that can be spoiled any more than the trailer spoils it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do you want to run an independent candidate against Chris Welch?

Emanuel "Chris" Welch won the Democratic primary in Illinois' 7th State Representative district. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic; the Republicans have not filed a candidate. For a variety of reasons, Welch is reviled as an elected official, as an attorney and a person.

There is at least some interest in putting an independent candidate on the ballot to run against Welch in the November general election. Daily Herald (Kimberly Pohl) notes Dee Beaubien gathering sigs to run as an independent in the 52nd State Representative District. A candidate needs 1,500 valid signatures by June 25th. It's more than it sounds, if you haven't participated in the process before, but it's not an insurmountable threshold.

On the Facebook page "Forest Parkers For Better Schools" Bill Lichtenberg claims that an individual is ineligible if s/he voted in the Dem or GOP primary or donated money to Democrats or Republicans. Rich Miller quoted a story on this restriction being applied to a Republican who wanted to run for coroner in Logan County.

If you are willing to gather signatures to place a candidate on the ballot or to contribute financially, email me, CarlNyberg116 circled "a" gmail spot c0m.