Friday, 19 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

If only President Barack Obama had declared war. If only he had exceeded his executive authority and preemptively invaded and militarily occupied another nation. If only he had unleashed the dogs of war to slaughter thousands of foreigners. If he had done all of this, Republicans would not have just passed a lawsuit against him for trying to ensure everyone had affordable healthcare. Nor would there be an Impeach Obama Movement. They won't admit this publicly, but their anger and intolerance stems from their war addiction. Their love affair with militarism and imperialism. Their need to identify against a common enemy. Their craving to seek meaning in a perpetual state of war.

President Obama had many opportunities to declare war. But each time he has refused, despite being pressured from ultraconservatives and Cold War warriors, military contractors and corporate lobbyists, and Republican warmongers religious fanatics. He did not attack Iran for aiding groups in Iraq which were fighting U.S. troops. Regarding the Arab Spring and the destabilization of Syria, Libya, Egypt, even Gaza and Lebanon, he refused to send a half-a-million troops. More recently, the Obama Administration has pursued a cautious approach regarding the Ukrainian-Russia crisis. Too cautious for Republicans. Less spectacular but deadly drone strikes have not pacified them.

Aug 01

Telling the Whole Story about Gaza

By Johanna Richmond, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Any group or movement that holds peace and love at the center, refuses hate and rejects violence deserves our support. But because hate is a tool used by power to retain power, we are not going to convert all hate to love by example only. We cannot be afraid to see and acknowledge that which lies beyond the realm of love, to speak by name the brutal and the grotesque. Those who suffer cannot wait while we indulge a fantasy only a few can afford. Not only naiveté but all too often willful denial blocks understanding and meaningful action. In social media discussions about Gaza, there is a growing narrative that suggests any attempt to dismantle media-supported governmental abuse of power by sharing facts that have been purposefully obscured risks polarizing communities of people who might otherwise find a meeting of minds. I reject this theory in all its well-meaning and darker manifestations. Although truth is one pole of a dichotomy between fact and falsehood, it is almost always the rejection of verifiable, empirical evidence that acts as the polarizing agent not the facts themselves or their telling. Ignorance is polarizing. Fear and hate are polarizing.


The targeting and killing of civilians, including children, is polarizing. You either find it inexcusable or you (sadly, in my view) believe it's OK under some circumstances. If you find it unacceptable under any circumstances, no facts will justify it. If you believe it's OK, be clear that this is your position and at least give some energy and thought to constructing a rational argument that engages the actual facts on the ground and an accurate historical context. Please refrain from offering, instead, a slogan or a picture or video of individuals who are supposed to stand for "the other side" looking scary or seeming to attempt to commit violent acts. Even if real (the one I recently saw was proven a hoax), your pictures do not tell the whole story. They do not show the backdrop of years of occupation, the extreme deprivation inflicted through economic blockade, or the futility of resisting, with little to no means, the powerful military actually killing children and their parents in large numbers right now.

Washington, D.C. – Late yesterday, reform groups asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare unlawful the dismissal of a complaint against the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The motion for summary judgment stems from the FEC's failure to investigate Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee. The FEC Office of General Counsel had strongly recommended that the agency investigate in the face of evidence against the group but the Commission deadlocked along party lines leading to the dismissal of the complaint.

The lawsuit, Public Citizen v. FEC, was brought by the parties to the 2010 complaint: Public Citizen; Craig Holman, campaign finance expert for Public Citizen; ProtectOurElections.org; and Kevin Zeese, an attorney for ProtectOurElections.org. The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen are handling the legal work on the case as co-counsel for the parties.

Jul 31

Global Ecosystem Collapse

By Glen Barry, Earth Blog | Op-Ed

The global environment is collapsing as human industrial growth overruns ecosystem habitats that make life possible. Either we choose now to embrace personal and societal changes necessary for global ecological sustainability, first and foremost stopping the destruction of ecosystems, or we face collapse and the end of being. The meaning of life is radical freedom, sustained ecology, freethinking, truth and justice, and loving all life like kin – so the biosphere, humanity, and all life continue to naturally evolve forever.

It appears, to my great sorrow, that the Cold War is returning. However, this is no time for despair. Rather it is a time for a renewed determination of men and women of good will on both sides to resist this drift toward confrontation, and to strive to restore the brief moment of friendship, respect and mutual cooperation that we experienced scarcely a decade ago.

For our part, we Americans are facing grave difficulties acknowledging the sources of this renewed conflict, and thus finding a remedy. Regrettably, a prominent cause of this difficulty is our corporate media.

Jul 31

Waters is Right

By Roger White, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As of July 29, 2014, the IDF has slaughtered over 1,200 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, most of them innocent, over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hitchhikers a few weeks prior - a crime that should have been met with a demand for the perpetrators to face justice, not a three week air assault and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government makes no pretense of observing the most basic protocols of war: minimizing civilian deaths, proportionality, avoiding the targeting of third party non-combatants like the UN. There are a few voices, coming mainly from cultural and academic communities, who have found the courage to speak up. Their movement is growing. Artists and entertainers like Zayn Malik from the music group One Direction, Rihanna, Mia Farrow, John Cusack and  Penelope Cruz along with Freedom4Palestine.org - a group that includes Chuck D from Public Enemy and Brian Eno- have all come out in support of Palestinian human rights.

As I enter my 17th year of teaching in Pomona, California, I have learned much about the profession. But, a recent Facebook encounter with former students forced me to reflect deeply about the road ahead for the teaching profession amidst an emerging online world.

Pomona is a working class city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County and a paradox of the California Dream. It was a city that had reached its apex during the post-World War II period and became a darling of suburban California. Once home to a thriving defense industry, its fall from grace came in the wake of the end of the Cold War, shuttering the city’s main economic engine, General Dynamics. The city’s retail centers began to recede as middle income families slowly left.

Jul 31

Recruiting to Kill in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

To some, US secretary of state John Kerry may have appeared to be a genuine peacemaker as he floated around ideas during a Cairo visit on 25 July about a ceasefire between Israel and resisting Palestinian fighters in Gaza. But behind his measured diplomatic language, there is a truth not even America’s top diplomat can easily hide. His country is very much involved in fighting this dirty war on Gaza that has killed over 1,050, injured thousands more, and destroyed much of an already poor, dilapidated space that is barely inhabitable to begin with.

US economic and military aid to Israel is measured annually in the billions, and the US government continues to be Israel’s strongest and most ardent ally and political benefactor. In fact, the US-Israel “special relationship” is getting more “special” by the day even though Israel is sinking further into the abyss of a well-deserved isolation.

Two discoveries are changing our world in a good way: one, much of what we think is wrong in the world gets its start in and is a product of our brain. Two, there is a lot we can do to change the brain without a single operation or drug. Many of the ways that you can make yourself better and the world better at the same time are by getting to know yourself and getting over yourself. It is a life’s journey toward worthy service in the world, but really it is your brain’s journey toward renewal.

Jul 30

Disabled Rights

By Susan Sered, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

According to reports from Washington, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) may come up for a vote in the Senate (again) this week. The last time it came up, two years ago, it did not pass.

On the face of it, the Convention does not seem in conflict with American laws or values. The core principles spelled out in the Convention are respect for the inherent dignity of all persons, the right to individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, non-discrimination against persons on the basis of disabilities, full participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity, accessibility, respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities, and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

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Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

If only President Barack Obama had declared war. If only he had exceeded his executive authority and preemptively invaded and militarily occupied another nation. If only he had unleashed the dogs of war to slaughter thousands of foreigners. If he had done all of this, Republicans would not have just passed a lawsuit against him for trying to ensure everyone had affordable healthcare. Nor would there be an Impeach Obama Movement. They won't admit this publicly, but their anger and intolerance stems from their war addiction. Their love affair with militarism and imperialism. Their need to identify against a common enemy. Their craving to seek meaning in a perpetual state of war.

President Obama had many opportunities to declare war. But each time he has refused, despite being pressured from ultraconservatives and Cold War warriors, military contractors and corporate lobbyists, and Republican warmongers religious fanatics. He did not attack Iran for aiding groups in Iraq which were fighting U.S. troops. Regarding the Arab Spring and the destabilization of Syria, Libya, Egypt, even Gaza and Lebanon, he refused to send a half-a-million troops. More recently, the Obama Administration has pursued a cautious approach regarding the Ukrainian-Russia crisis. Too cautious for Republicans. Less spectacular but deadly drone strikes have not pacified them.

Aug 01

Telling the Whole Story about Gaza

By Johanna Richmond, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Any group or movement that holds peace and love at the center, refuses hate and rejects violence deserves our support. But because hate is a tool used by power to retain power, we are not going to convert all hate to love by example only. We cannot be afraid to see and acknowledge that which lies beyond the realm of love, to speak by name the brutal and the grotesque. Those who suffer cannot wait while we indulge a fantasy only a few can afford. Not only naiveté but all too often willful denial blocks understanding and meaningful action. In social media discussions about Gaza, there is a growing narrative that suggests any attempt to dismantle media-supported governmental abuse of power by sharing facts that have been purposefully obscured risks polarizing communities of people who might otherwise find a meeting of minds. I reject this theory in all its well-meaning and darker manifestations. Although truth is one pole of a dichotomy between fact and falsehood, it is almost always the rejection of verifiable, empirical evidence that acts as the polarizing agent not the facts themselves or their telling. Ignorance is polarizing. Fear and hate are polarizing.


The targeting and killing of civilians, including children, is polarizing. You either find it inexcusable or you (sadly, in my view) believe it's OK under some circumstances. If you find it unacceptable under any circumstances, no facts will justify it. If you believe it's OK, be clear that this is your position and at least give some energy and thought to constructing a rational argument that engages the actual facts on the ground and an accurate historical context. Please refrain from offering, instead, a slogan or a picture or video of individuals who are supposed to stand for "the other side" looking scary or seeming to attempt to commit violent acts. Even if real (the one I recently saw was proven a hoax), your pictures do not tell the whole story. They do not show the backdrop of years of occupation, the extreme deprivation inflicted through economic blockade, or the futility of resisting, with little to no means, the powerful military actually killing children and their parents in large numbers right now.

Washington, D.C. – Late yesterday, reform groups asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare unlawful the dismissal of a complaint against the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The motion for summary judgment stems from the FEC's failure to investigate Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee. The FEC Office of General Counsel had strongly recommended that the agency investigate in the face of evidence against the group but the Commission deadlocked along party lines leading to the dismissal of the complaint.

The lawsuit, Public Citizen v. FEC, was brought by the parties to the 2010 complaint: Public Citizen; Craig Holman, campaign finance expert for Public Citizen; ProtectOurElections.org; and Kevin Zeese, an attorney for ProtectOurElections.org. The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen are handling the legal work on the case as co-counsel for the parties.

Jul 31

Global Ecosystem Collapse

By Glen Barry, Earth Blog | Op-Ed

The global environment is collapsing as human industrial growth overruns ecosystem habitats that make life possible. Either we choose now to embrace personal and societal changes necessary for global ecological sustainability, first and foremost stopping the destruction of ecosystems, or we face collapse and the end of being. The meaning of life is radical freedom, sustained ecology, freethinking, truth and justice, and loving all life like kin – so the biosphere, humanity, and all life continue to naturally evolve forever.

It appears, to my great sorrow, that the Cold War is returning. However, this is no time for despair. Rather it is a time for a renewed determination of men and women of good will on both sides to resist this drift toward confrontation, and to strive to restore the brief moment of friendship, respect and mutual cooperation that we experienced scarcely a decade ago.

For our part, we Americans are facing grave difficulties acknowledging the sources of this renewed conflict, and thus finding a remedy. Regrettably, a prominent cause of this difficulty is our corporate media.

Jul 31

Waters is Right

By Roger White, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As of July 29, 2014, the IDF has slaughtered over 1,200 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, most of them innocent, over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hitchhikers a few weeks prior - a crime that should have been met with a demand for the perpetrators to face justice, not a three week air assault and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government makes no pretense of observing the most basic protocols of war: minimizing civilian deaths, proportionality, avoiding the targeting of third party non-combatants like the UN. There are a few voices, coming mainly from cultural and academic communities, who have found the courage to speak up. Their movement is growing. Artists and entertainers like Zayn Malik from the music group One Direction, Rihanna, Mia Farrow, John Cusack and  Penelope Cruz along with Freedom4Palestine.org - a group that includes Chuck D from Public Enemy and Brian Eno- have all come out in support of Palestinian human rights.

As I enter my 17th year of teaching in Pomona, California, I have learned much about the profession. But, a recent Facebook encounter with former students forced me to reflect deeply about the road ahead for the teaching profession amidst an emerging online world.

Pomona is a working class city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County and a paradox of the California Dream. It was a city that had reached its apex during the post-World War II period and became a darling of suburban California. Once home to a thriving defense industry, its fall from grace came in the wake of the end of the Cold War, shuttering the city’s main economic engine, General Dynamics. The city’s retail centers began to recede as middle income families slowly left.

Jul 31

Recruiting to Kill in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

To some, US secretary of state John Kerry may have appeared to be a genuine peacemaker as he floated around ideas during a Cairo visit on 25 July about a ceasefire between Israel and resisting Palestinian fighters in Gaza. But behind his measured diplomatic language, there is a truth not even America’s top diplomat can easily hide. His country is very much involved in fighting this dirty war on Gaza that has killed over 1,050, injured thousands more, and destroyed much of an already poor, dilapidated space that is barely inhabitable to begin with.

US economic and military aid to Israel is measured annually in the billions, and the US government continues to be Israel’s strongest and most ardent ally and political benefactor. In fact, the US-Israel “special relationship” is getting more “special” by the day even though Israel is sinking further into the abyss of a well-deserved isolation.

Two discoveries are changing our world in a good way: one, much of what we think is wrong in the world gets its start in and is a product of our brain. Two, there is a lot we can do to change the brain without a single operation or drug. Many of the ways that you can make yourself better and the world better at the same time are by getting to know yourself and getting over yourself. It is a life’s journey toward worthy service in the world, but really it is your brain’s journey toward renewal.

Jul 30

Disabled Rights

By Susan Sered, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

According to reports from Washington, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) may come up for a vote in the Senate (again) this week. The last time it came up, two years ago, it did not pass.

On the face of it, the Convention does not seem in conflict with American laws or values. The core principles spelled out in the Convention are respect for the inherent dignity of all persons, the right to individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, non-discrimination against persons on the basis of disabilities, full participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity, accessibility, respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities, and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.