Friday, June 3, 2016


It's almost one in the morning and news has just come through that Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest," has died.

So closes the epic story of one of the more prominent figures of the 20th Century -- no word of exaggeration. Ali stood up against the Vietnam War and defied the draft. That cost him his title, a long court battle, and four of his prime years in the ring. But Ali had integrity. He told one and all that he didn't believe in fighting a white man's war and killing other people with darker skin.

He was a polarizing figure, but most people who turn the pages of history are. At least until history and commonsense catch up. He was pilloried by the boxing establishment when, in the mid-Sixties, he chose the Muslim name Muhammad Ali (he was born Cassius Clay). Racist epithets were thrown at him from all sides, including from members of the press. Such were the times.

But he was too big for all of them. Too big by a long shot. And time proved him right. We must always remember the courage of trailblazers like Ali. It's easy to idolize them but harder to pause and really empathize with them; what they went through.

As a schoolboy, Muhammad Ali was my hero. When I pummeled the makeshift heavy bag in our garage, I'd dance around it like I too was floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Just like kids all around the world did. I think kids often see things clearer than their elders. There's a lesson in that as well.

I can remember watching his fights on our old, black-and-white cabinet TV. The date March 8, 1971 was seared into my memory forever as the date of "The Fight of the Century" -- Ali's third comeback fight and the first of three against his fiercest rival, "Smokin'" Joe Frazier. I still have a remarkable hand-etched, tale-of-the-tape poster from that fight. I also have a huge color print of Ali standing over Sonny Liston (see above pic) hanging in my living room -- autographed by the man himself.

I hope, with all my heart that, as the whirlwind of revisionist adulation swirls about us in the next few days, the world will stop to truly examine this great man's life. I don't mean the counterfeit eulogizing of presidents and other "dignitaries" who wouldn't know a left hook from meat hook but are happy to make grand speeches that, really, are just the hollow echoes of hollow men. I mean, us, looking and thinking for ourselves, and seeing that here was a man, a real man, who stood up for what he believed, no matter the cost.

And just as a sidelight, he also found time to become the greatest heavyweight boxer who ever lived.

Rest well....

Sunday, May 8, 2016


The Catonsville Nine, burning draft records, May 17, 1968 (Father Berrigan is third from the right; his brother Philip is the big man in the middle)

I'm an atheist. And I'm very comfortable with that.

But one of the people I respected most in this world was tireless activist Father Dan Berrigan, who passed away on April 30 at the age of 94.

Some years ago I read the dual biography Disarmed and Dangerous about Father Dan and his brother Philip, who was also a priest and activist. I highly recommend this book. Two finer men you'd be hard pressed to find.

I subsequently exchanged some letters with Father Dan and was always thrilled to hear from him. In one mailing, he sent me a handwritten poem about Philip -- Dan was a much celebrated poet.

I lost contact when Father Dan became too ill to correspond. I can't say I was shocked: he'd lived a long life. But still, it's hard to imagine when you see clips of him, an old man, still getting arrested by the NY cops for peacefully protesting. 

Dan and Philip were national news -- BIG news -- when, they were part of what became known as the "Catonsville Nine." To quote a website based on the event:

"On May 17, 1968, nine men and women entered the Selective Service Offices in Catonsville, Maryland, removed several hundred draft records, and burned them with homemade napalm in protest against the war in Vietnam. The nine were arrested and, in a highly publicized trial, sentenced to jail." 

Father Dan served 18 months in jail for his part in this protest. That didn't slow him down a bit and the action was a key motivator for the anti-Vietnam War movement. 

I could write reams about this very special man, but you get the picture -- and he isn't hard to find on the Net.

For now I'd just like to say farewell and thank you, Father Dan. You will be missed. We desperately need humble and courageous people like you right now.

Father Dan Berrigan (1921-2016) -- A man of conscience to the end



Wednesday, May 4, 2016


(Sent to me by my friends at CODEPINK)

Will we just sit and watch til the day Palestine disappears?

#IsraelSaudi: A Match Made in Hell
By Alli McCracken and Raed Jarrar

For decades, Saudi Arabia has been a stalwart advocate of Palestinian statehood rights and a voracious critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to Palestine has defined the geopolitical contours of the Middle East for decades. But now that the Iran nuclear deal has been struck and as the war in Syria rages on, those political lines are being redrawn, bringing together unexpected bedfellows: Saudi Arabia and Israel.   

Marketed as a “pathbreaking public dialogue between senior national security leaders from two old adversaries,” May 5, 2016 will feature a high-profile meeting in Washington DC between officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel. Prince Turki bin Faisal, Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief and one-time ambassador to Washington, and retired Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Major General Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be speaking together at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel organization funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located down the hall from AIPAC Headquarters.

Saudi Arabia hasn't engaged in diplomatic relations with Israel since the Nakba in 1948, and at one point even led efforts to boycott the state of Israel. And although this is not the first meeting of its kind (Saudi Arabia and Israel had a former official speak at a Council on Foreign Relations panel last year), it is definitely the highest-profile meeting and it is taking place.

While having like-minded human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel mingle and meet publicly might come as no surprise to most of us, this event is still bad news: it signals a new era of normalization by the official sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative.

The Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the "Saudi Initiative," is a 10-sentence proposal for an end to the Arab–Israeli conflict. It was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and re-endorsed in 2007, and it is supported by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas. The initiative calls for normalizing relations between the Arab world and Israel in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem). Until now, it has been the most viable blueprint for a two-state solution. The deal also addressed the issue of Palestinian refugees and called for a "just settlement" based on UN Resolution 194.

So, at this political moment when Netanyahu is not showing any willingness to withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territory and some of his ministers are calling for the official annexation of the West Bank, Saudi Arabia seems to be giving up on its historic commitments. By normalizing relations with Israel without demanding a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Saudi Arabia is diminishing its leverage in negotiating a two-state solution.

In a way, this meeting marks the official demise of the Arab Peace Initiative, but more importantly, as the last standing mechanism for a regionally negotiated resolution, it is yet another indicator that a two-state solution is officially dead.

Alli McCracken is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK based in Washington DC.

Raed Jarrar is an Arab-American political advocate based in Washington DC.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I have been posting the following open letter wherever I can. Feel free to do the same.

To the Sanders Campaign:
This whole nomination process is riddled with improprieties on the part of Clinton, her campaign, her husband, the DNC, the media, and the Establishment as a whole. It's blatant. What happened here in Massachusetts was disgusting. ARIZONA WAS THE FINAL INSULT. "They" don't even bother trying to hide the cheating now because we're the pansies in this fight. Anyone can see that the reporting was false and the numbers don't match. I love Bernie Sanders and believe in him. I've given as much time and money as I can; and so have countless others. THE CAMPAIGN OWES IT TO US TO HAVE SOMEONE CALL "BULLSHIT" ON EVERY CROOKED TRICK AND NOT DANCE AROUND IT. THE CAMPAIGN ALSO OWES IT TO US TO EXHAUST EVERY LEGAL CHANNEL AND PURSUE EVERY RECOUNT NECESSARY. THE CAMPAIGN HAS LET US DOWN ON THESE THINGS!  I have studied and written about politics, elections, and social change for three decades, and I know as well as you do that everything in AZ, from cutting back the number of polling stations (why weren't you onto that before the vote?), to the vote count and numbers reports, was rigged. That is, CRIMINAL. What is the campaign going to do? I've worked on campaigns before. If you people are too stupid to fight fire with fire, give me a call. You are being very polite while you are being bent over. But the people are being screwed too. The world is watching and laughing! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

Most sincerely,
Adrian Zupp 

Monday, March 14, 2016


We desperately need Bernie Sanders to win the presidency


I have not bothered with U.S. electoral politics since I was an undergraduate many years ago studying the American system. I could see that all of the main players in Washington were basically on the same team and in the pockets of big business. But I didn't always see it that way.

For quite some time I thought American politics was noble and glamorous. I was glad that the U.S. had the military might because, obviously, we are the "good guys." I also thought the leaders were fascinating and even wrote my honors thesis on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign tactics. Clearly, when it came to such matters, I was still in the womb.

It has been a long journey involving years of study, but I am now way to the left. A pacifist-anarchist who believes that we must do away with the state, govern ourselves at the local level, own the places where we work, produce what we need, and lead much more fulfilling lives in which meaningful work is seamlessly integrated into the rest of our lives, and we all have the time and clear heads to actually care about each other.

This is not utopian. It is has already happened at various levels. Many businesses and production plants in this country are owned and operated by the workers. And, of course, the Basque region of Spain (the Basque Autonomous Region), known for the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (the biggest cooperative in the world), has led the way in the modern era. A quick Google search reveals other regional societies based on anarchism. 

At the micro level, you might be surprised at how often you are involved in anarchist processes. Staff meetings, 12-step groups, certain co-ops, potlucks, farmer's markets, neighborhood watch, parent-teacher associations, and any actions in the name of equality... there are many examples of anarchism in everyday life. And most indigenous societies throughout history have been anarchist.

So forget about images of bomb throwers. Most anarchists are pacifists and what we advocate is the purest way to developing an egalitarian society of self-fulfillment, sufficiency for all, and self-rule. It is revolution from the bottom up.

Other "isms" and the U.S. Propaganda Machine

Most "isms" are used against "dissidents" as attack words. (Feminism has grown beyond this; totalitarianism and fascism deserve to be dirty words if directed at the right targets; and racism -- at least rhetorically -- is widely, though not completely, rejected.) Communism and socialism are still powerful attack words (anarchism can't even get in the game yet). 

The reasons for attacking with "isms" and falsely loaded words (e.g. radical), and why they still have power, are two-fold. 1. Most alternatives to the tyranny of capitalism and faux capitalism have been top-down systems of rule. Centralized power; despotic leaders (often); and a bad deal for the population. 2. America has the most sophisticated propaganda and PR machine in history. Our thinking has been shaped for us from birth more than most of us realize. We are incredible consumers, we fear attacks from all sides, we see the president as the "leader of the free world." And we are basically told that "God" has decided that America should lead the world. That is the status quo and, by nature, people feel best sticking with the devil they know.

Bottom line: Cry "socialist" and a lot of people will still panic. Say "communist" and they think of Stalin or the Cuban Missile Crisis. And you are certainly not patriotic if you espouse these things! We have to reclaim the language and recognize systems for what they are, as opposed to what they are supposed to be.

Senator Bernie Saunders

Bernie is a democratic socialist. I learned something of this system when I studied Swedish labor politics way back. It exists in a number of countries. Very basically, it refers to a democratic political system working in tandem with a "socialist" (to one extent or another) economic system. The means of production are socially and collectively owned. thought some social democracies haven't gone this far. 

Suffice it to say there is a continuum of different shades of Democatic Socialism. At the very least, as in Sweden, the average person will pay higher taxes but receive things like universal health care and tertiary education in return. The quality of life is very good and personal income is quite high.

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. He is not, purely, a socialist. Sanders believes that, for now, he has to work at the edges of the current system to bring about significant social changes. If what he does suddenly became wildly popular and the support was sustained, it's hard to say how far he would like to see things move structurally and materially to the left. But, above all, he represents many of the best qualities of the leftist "isms."

 The Case for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders should be the next president of the United States; not because he can guarantee this or that, but because he will move things in the right direction. He has already ignited a very large popular base and it would be hoped, whatever the outcome of the election, that he will see to it that the movement continues and grows.

So here are the reasons we all gain if Sanders is president:

1. We will start to see a change of direction at the top.
2. The focus will move to those who are not AT the top.
3. Compassion, humanitarianism, equality, and increased self-esteem and empowerment are his cornerstones.
4. Virtually any of the planks in his platform that he can get enacted will relate directly to a rise in the standard of living for the masses: economically, socially, educationally, mentally/emotionally.
5. He believes in People Power. (A democracy is about the people. We do not live in a democracy.)
6. He does not believe in invading other countries.
7. His plan to pay for universal health care and university education is very simple, it makes sense, and would SAVE money. Any claims to the contrary are because such notions have become entrenched in American thinking by the aforementioned omnipresent propaganda.

END of PT. 1


Great to see!

Verizon: Poster Child for Corporate GreedVerizon is a poster child for corporate greed in the United States. Verizon's CEO makes over 200 times as much as the average Verizon worker while trying to take away job and retirement security from its employees. Enough is enough. #StandUp2Vz
Posted by Stand Up to Verizon on Friday, March 11, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016


"Don't fuck with us!"

I hope to blog more thoroughly about Bernie Sanders soon.

But for now, I'll just say that I think it is a fine example of the potential of People Power. And in that spirit, I want to quote a scene from the movie "Fight Club" that boils things down to the bottom line, for me.

“Remember this. The people you're trying to step on, we're everyone you depend on. We're the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you're asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.

"We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we'll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won't. And we're just learning this fact. So don't fuck with us.” – Fight Club