Monday, August 18, 2014


"I've never met another man I'd rather be." 

                                      -- Charles Bukowski, 1920-1994

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Please Sign This Petition

Michael Brown: Had his hands in the air; shot six times

What's happening in Ferguson, MO shouldn't surprise anybody.

The fatal shooting, by a white police officer, of unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown is shocking. But it shouldn't come as a surprise. Nor should the clashes between the citizenry and the police that have ensued.

What's more, you can expect the same thing to happen again and again until fundamental changes are made in society. That's because our society is based on some fundamental flaws.

Like the Trayvon Martin killing, this latest incident is a symptom of deep-seated problems that this country faces every day. Let me name two of them: widespread racism, and the misuse, unaccountability, and general corruption of our various police and other "law enforcement" (terrible irony) forces.

Let's look at these two things in turn.


The United States, to this day, is an extremely racist country: from north to south, east to west. Of course, this is not to say everyone here is a racist. Far from it. But it doesn't take a majority to make for a racist society. It just takes enough latitude for racism to exist, to be excused, to be played down.

Virtually any person of color in this country has their own story (or three or four or countless) of racism they've encountered. Anyone who has been in an interracial relationship knows about racism. Anybody with their goddamn eyes and ears and minds open knows how racist America still is.

Someone once said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- that after the Civil War the slaves were freed but given no real future to be freed into. No prospects, no possessions, many didn't even know where family members were. Their lives were already half destroyed, if they'd survived at all. And despite the Civil Rights Movement, which did achieve an enormous amount, we still don't care enough about our fellow human beings, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, and so on.

There is a disproportionate number of blacks in poverty and in jails for a reason: because our society is not really honest and egalitarian. It runs on bullshit and greed and for the benefit of the few. It's the same for women. Why should women earn less than men? And why is it that virtually every board of directors in this country is still dominated by white males?

Change is being prevented. The Civil Rights Movement should be part of our daily attitude and actions. All of us. And if we need to stand by the protestors in Ferguson, MO, so be it. There's no excuse, for god's sake. Computers, smartphones... we can blitz any individual or institution with our thoughts and feelings in seconds. Remember the words of Frederick Douglass: Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

As the tear gas canisters fly and the press conferences spout bullshit, we have to shout out en masse. We have the numbers. And that is the true power that the Establishment fears.

Street Scene from Ferguson, MO: The First Amendment stops here

Law Enforcement

What passes for law enforcement in the U.S. is more an army of control. The emergency control of the few over the many -- for those occasions when propaganda and indoctrination don't do the trick.

That isn't to say all cops are bad. They aren't. On the contrary, many are decent and honest. But that's not the point here. We're talking about an institution that operates in a certain way and is not sufficiently accountable to the average citizen. 

Yes, there are times when the police are very much our friends. But that's how it's supposed to be... all of the time. But if you want to see what happens when it's time to crack down and show the people they can only protest how and when they are told, look no further than examples like Ferguson.

I remember Noam Chomsky once saying that you can say pretty much anything you like about the Establishment in this country and be free to do so...until you start attracting enough attention to be counted as a threat to the Establishment. Then you'll be crushed. That pretty much sums up freedom and democracy in America.

Social media is a blessing for democracy -- and we have to keep it free and open and fight for things like Net Neutrality. The shooting in Ferguson blew open the question of race and police oppression because people could tweet photos and images and video for millions to see virtually as events happened. I am not a fan of certain aspects of social media, but this function is a massive plus.

Know Your Rights

Finally, it behooves all of us to know our legal rights. When you are pulled over in your car, approached by a cop on the street, or involved in a protest, you have rights. And keep that phone camera handy.

Check out this page on your rights, courtesy of the ACLU.

Take care and make your voice heard!

Monday, July 21, 2014


Child Killers: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama

How much evil is enough? How much misery?

Yet again the Israeli government, led by blood-thirsty tyrant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is slaughtering Palestinians. Yet again, the American government sits on its hands and lets its client state get away with mass murder.

In this latest bombardment, over 500 Palestinians have been killed to date, many of them women and children. Entire families in quiet neighborhoods have died while eating dinner or watching television together. Hospitals have been targeted and bombed with casualties recorded.

The hostilities began after three Israeli teens were allegedly kidnapped and murdered by Hamas militants last month. Make no mistake: This too is a tragedy and a despicable act. But like all such acts by pro-Palestine groups, its root cause is in Israel's occupation and persucution of Palestine territories, including the Gaza Strip where the current attacks are taking place.

Murder is murder. If three people are kidnapped and their lives taken, the culprits should absolutely be brought to justice. But if there were a killer loose in your neighborhood, would you be okay with the military coming in and bombing your neighborhood -- along with other neighborhoods -- as a solution? Of course not!

Netanyahu and Obama are war criminals many times over. And here's the thing: They know it. They know they are murderers as surely as any convicted killer. Don't be fooled by their titles, expensive suits, public image, scripted rhetoric, elevated status or domination of the media. They are cold-blooded child-killers who should be locked up til they rot, just like any child killer.

We can lean back and enjoy our summer, taking a break from our relatively minor problems. But if you care about others, if you care about children, if you have a conscience and a heart, you should take some time out to help the people of Gaza who are absolutely desperate and helpless. Make your voice heard! 

And let it be known that you will not stand for our leaders to murder in our name.


Sunday, July 20, 2014


Noam Chomsky

 In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky again stated that there are two very real threats to our existence: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war. ("Unless those are solved, nothing else is going to matter.")

He said: "Take a look at the faces of your grandchildren. Do you want them to have a decent existence or don't you care? That's a choice." 

To hear the whole interview, CLICK HERE. To hear that comment, go to the 22:14 mark in the interview. Or, to get the whole context for that answer, go to 21:00. Well worth your time!

So make some noise. It's "average" people like us who've come together to bring about every positive social change you can name (civil rights, women's rights, ending wars, worker's rights, gradually revising what's taught in schools, fighting for the environment, etc. etc. etc.)

Take care,
PS: "The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation." -- Bertrand Russell

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Economist Richard Wolff

Watch this very brief video and get some penetrating insight into just how mismanaged the economy of the United States really is. (You'll have to sit through a few seconds of that knucklhead from Fox first, but it's worth it.)

Then get mad and let your legislators know what you think.

Take care,

Monday, July 14, 2014


The fight for Net Neutrality continues and it's vital that we win.

Here's an email blast I received (please submit your comment/s):

Thirty-six hours to go. That’s how long we have to get pro-Net Neutrality comments submitted to the FCC in front of their first comment-period deadline — and save the Internet from the clutches of Comcast, Time Warner, and their ilk.

Let’s make our power clear, by submitting more comments than the FCC’s ever seen before:

We're in a battle to for the Internet as we know it. Net Neutrality guarantees all websites — start-ups, blogs, independent media — an even playing field. It’s essentially the First Amendment of the Internet.

But the cable companies want to gut Net Neutrality to increase their profits: Without Net Neutrality, those corporations can kill websites by relegating them to slow lanes if they don’t pay fees — or if they just don’t like the content they contain.

Many of you have already signed petitions to the FCC or President Obama — and so have literally millions of others. That’s incredible — and it’s had a huge impact. But now we all need to go one step further and submit formal comments into the FCC’s Net Neutrality proceeding.

It’s really quick and easy, and carries way more weight than the usual petition signature does. You’ll be a formal part of the process.

Click here to submit a formal comment to the FCC before the end of this comment period — it’s over TOMORROW.

Originally the FCC was poised to undermine Net Neutrality all together. Because we all pushed back, now they’re considering adopting rules that would save it.

But they’ll only do so if we speak out again, even louder.

We can make a huge statement: We have a chance of submitting more comments than the FCC has ever received on an issue before.

The cable companies have millions of dollars and armies of lobbyists and public relations firms -- and since they own so much of the communications infrastructure, it's especially easy for them to push their propaganda.

But we have millions of people on our side — and our only chance of beating the cable companies is if we all take a stand, together.

-Demand Progress

Friday, July 4, 2014


On July 4, Be a Patriot: Stop Another US Military Intervention in Iraq
Medea Benjamin

This July 4, the fireworks won’t just be in celebration of Independence Day. There will undoubtedly be fireworks in cities throughout the Middle East, as the region, engulfed in violence, further explodes. The US military and US taxdollars are already deeply entangled in Middle Easterners’ lives (and deaths), and President Obama is under pressure to get further involved in the wars in Iraq and Syria. But what advice would our nation’s founders give the 44th president this July 4?

The Founding Fathers, who revolted against a foreign power, were vehemently opposed to getting involved in military adventures overseas. George Washington cautioned our new nation against the "mischiefs of foreign intrigue." James Madison said the US should steer clear of unnecessary wars. Thomas Jefferson said, "If there be one principle more deeply written than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest." Secretary of State John Quincy Adams warned in 1821 that America should not go abroad in search of “monsters to destroy”—for such folly would destroy “her own spirit.”

But this Independence Day marks yet another year of seemingly endless US involvement in wars. Despite promising the American public that US troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of this year, President Obama is poised to negotiate a continued US troop presence with the next Afghan president (if the Afghans can figure out who that is!). Current president Karzai has explicitly rejected this decision. Karzai has insisted that the US-led invasion has made his country even worse than it was under the repressive Taliban, and lamented that “Afghans died in a war that’s not ours.”

Obama’s drone wars have gotten the US militarily entangled in the internal affairs of Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The President recently called for an alarming expansion of the US role in Syria’s civil war, requesting $500 million to aid the Syrian opposition. US funds continue to fuel Israel’s 47-year-long military occupation of Palestine, an occupation that has escalated recently with the tragic murders of both Israeli and Palestinian children. And in Egypt, where a brutal military coup has been murdering and jailing thousands upon thousands of nonviolent, pro-democracy protesters, the US government is intervening on the side of the coup leader, draconian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in the magnitude of $1.5 billion of our taxdollars per year.

In Iraq, President Obama is sliding down the slippery slope of another disastrous intervention. Armed drones are now patrolling the Iraqi skies, ready to unleash their Hellfire missiles at any moment and sink us deeper into this quagmire. And President Obama just authorized sending 750 troops, less than three years after our troops withdrew from a disastrous nine-year war. Those familiar with the history of the Vietnam War might recognize that this is exactly how that 20-year-long conflict was started. The US sent in military "advisers," and then sent in troops to protect them, and then troops to protect them, and then troops to protect them—ad infinitum.

As President Obama contemplates even further engagement in Iraq, 70 congresspeople have signed a letter, initiated by Representatives Scott Rigell (R-VA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), calling on the President to respect the Constitutional requirement to go to Congress for authorization before using military force. Indeed, the Founding Fathers made it clear that no individual president should have the authority to drag our nation into war, that a decision of such magnitude had to be debated and decided on by the people’s representatives in Congress.

Though just because we oppose war and military intervention doesn’t mean we have to be complete isolationists, by any means. What is does mean is we should stop spending hundreds of billions of taxdollars on wars that don’t work, harming and killing innocent civilians. If we truly want to help people around the world, there are myriad better ways to do so. The U.S. should put its energy and influence toward a comprehensive ban on the transfer of weapons from outside powers. Rather than attempting additional unilateral moves, the U.S. should be collaborating with regional and international actors to address the root cause of the violence in Iraq. And we should more to help the millions of displaced Iraqis. The US is one of the least refugee-friendly countries in the industrialized world. Given we live in a time with the highest level of refugees since World War II, assisting refugees—often forced out of their homes because of wars we have engaged in or dictators we have supported—could be just one easy way to help others.

Poll after poll shows that the American people agree with our Founding Fathers’ insistence that our nation should disengage from overseas military misadventures.  Indeed, President Obama himself, in his May 23, 2013  foreign policy speech, quoted James Madison’s dire warning that “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

So this July 4th, be a true patriot. Take some action to stop the US military intervention in Iraq. Educate your friends and neighbors, write a letter to the editor, sign a petition. Take signs and banners out into the streets and tell everyone you want to end these pointless wars. Call your elected officials (202-224-3121) and the White House (202-456-1111). Do something to move us towards a foreign policy that uses diplomatic prowess, not military power, as the way to relate to, not violently dominate, the global community.

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights group Global Exchange. She is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.