Thursday, October 19, 2017

George W. Bush Speech on Freedom and U.S. Leadership.

I wasn't very impressed with George W. Bush as President.  I was more impressed with his father.  I'm a life long Democrat and old enough to remember when members of both parties could put aside differences and come up with compromises that worked.  Now the Tea Party Republicans and Trump Holes seem bent on destroying America and handing it over to either Putin or the Nazis.

I never though I would say this but Thank you President Bush, someone from your Party and of your stature had to say this.


Vietnam War Protesters have NOTHING to Apologize For

From Common Dreams:  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/27/vietnam-war-protesters-have-nothing-apologize

When patriotism and pro-war become synonymous.


By David Zeiger
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Common Dreams


How many times have you heard, or even said yourself, something like this:
It was beyond cruel what was done to Viet Nam vets. I protested the war but not the soldiers who'd been thru hell.

That’s a comment made on my Facebook page when I posted Jerry Lembcke’s very insightful review of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s series, The Vietnam War. Lembcke points out that the series promotes the established narrative that for Vietnam vets, the experience of coming home to a “hostile” public was “more traumatic than the war itself.” As I will discuss here, Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran and Associate Professor Emeritus at Holy Cross College, has dedicated much of his life to countering and disproving that narrative.

Now take a close look at the above statement. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell. The implication is, of course, that while this person didn’t do it, others must have “protested the soldiers,” referring to the ubiquitous stories of soldiers and veterans being harassed, hounded, called baby killers and spat on by a variety of protesters and, as the stories usually go, “long haired hippies.” Actually, this particular comment was part of a string of responses to someone who claimed he was “urinated on while in uniform.”

That the returning Vietnam veterans were “spat on and called baby killers” has now reached the level of gospel truth, most distressingly among those who were themselves part of the very movement being vilified by those claims. No one saw or was a party to such attacks, yet everyone “knows” it happened. Someone must have done it, or why would so many people claim it was done to them?
Why indeed. Answering that one question sheds a lot of light on how and why the relationship between the antiwar movement and the veterans of that war has been widely, and very effectively, rewritten–a rewrite that has gone virtually unchallenged by those who were there and who, frankly, know better. Today, four generations after the Vietnam War, the mythology of mistreated veterans continues to play a profoundly powerful role in stifling protest against America’s wars in the name of “supporting the troops.” And with Donald Trump threatening to “Completely destroy North Korea” while unleashing the military in the Middle East, nothing could be more urgent than confronting that myth.

First, some personal background. From 1970 to 1972 I was on the staff of the Oleo Strut, a GI Coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, just outside of Ft. Hood, home to tens of thousands of Vietnam returnees who still had six months or more left to serve. The Oleo Strut, like dozens of GI Coffeehouses near bases around the country, was a place where soldiers could find literature about the antiwar and Third World liberation movements, discuss and debate the war with both civilians and fellow GIs, and, most significantly, build their own movement against the war and the military. 

For two years I helped them distribute their underground paper, The Fatigue Press, with a monthly press run of 5,000. In 1971, I helped plan and organize an “Armed Farces Day” demonstration against the war right outside the gates of Ft. Hood that over two thousand GIs participated in.
Statistics and a wealth of documentary evidence from that time show that my experience at Ft. Hood was the norm, not the exception. The GI Movement of 1968-1973 was so all-pervasive that Col. Robert Heinl famously wrote that it had “infected the entire armed services.” Historian James Lewes has documented over 500 different GI underground newspapers (available online at the Wisconsin Historical Society), along with dozens of organizations from GIs United Against the War to clandestine Black Panther chapters in the military. A 1972 study commissioned by the Department of Defense found that 51% of all troops in Vietnam had engaged in “some form of protest,” from wearing a peace sign on uniforms, to desertion (over 500,000 “Incidents of desertion” in the course of the war), demonstrations, and outright mutiny (including the widespread practice of “fragging”–troops killing their own officers). And by 1972 Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a highly visible, major force across the country. The widespread picture of a military full of soldiers “doing their duty” while privileged civilians protested and hurled insults at them is, to put it bluntly, a lie.

In 2005, at the height of Iraq war, I made the film Sir! No Sir! That film, broadcast in over 200 countries around the world, told the story of the GI Movement, a story that had been erased from just about every history of the Vietnam war. In Sir! No Sir!, Jerry Lembcke makes the point that the reality of thousands of GIs and veterans opposing the war had been replaced by the myth of hippies spitting on them, and it was that contention that drew the ire and attacks from pro war veterans who hounded several critics who had praised the film.

But Lembcke is the only person I am aware of who has thoroughly researched the claims of veterans being spat on and the broader insistence that they were shunned and attacked by the antiwar movement. He wrote about his findings in his 1998 book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, a must-read for everyone who wants to know how veterans were actually treated by the antiwar movement. Here are just a few tidbits of what his research revealed.

To begin with, over the entire course of the war there is not a shred of documentary evidence that any spitting incidents occurred. No articles in newspapers or magazines, no letters to the editor, no television news stories, no FBI reports, no arrests or complaints filed with police. Nothing. Not even Stars and Stripes, voice of the military, reported on any spitting incidents. And in an era that was heavily documented with photographs, including by the GIs themselves (Lembcke points out that Pentax cameras were sold at PXs and were the camera of choice among the troops, not unlike cell phones today), not one photo of a veteran being spat on exists.

The stories that are told almost always happen in public, usually at airports and coming from crowds of demonstrators whose goal is to humiliate the returning troops. We are told that commanding officers warned GIs they’d be spat on when they returned home, that they should throw away their uniform to protect themselves. Yet no one alerted the cops, or military authorities, or the press? We’re talking about assault here. Wouldn’t the FBI, whose goal throughout the nineteen sixties was to thwart and undermine the antiwar movement, have arrested at least one spitter? There were, if the stories are to be believed, hundreds—even thousands—of them. And what about the press? Soldiers at airports being routinely abused and spat on would certainly have gotten to the media, who would, as Lembcke points out, “been camping in the lobby of the San Francisco airport, cameras in hand, just waiting for a chance to record the real thing–if, that is, they had any reason to believe that such incidents might occur.”

The simple fact is that between 1965 and 1975 no one was claiming to have been spat on. Okay, so maybe they were spat on metaphorically, as the increasingly popular expression goes. I have seen several people who initially claim they were spat on, when challenged, change the story to a version of “Well, I wasn’t literally spat on, but I may as well have been.” When the gentleman who claimed on my Facebook post to have been urinated on was challenged by several people, his story became “I ducked into a bar to get away from the jerks.” Who the “jerks” were was never explained.

Continue reading at:  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/27/vietnam-war-protesters-have-nothing-apologize

Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/style/women-looks-ageism.html

By Ashton Applewhite Oct. 10, 2017

A couple of years ago I had a light bulb moment. So many women color their hair to cover the gray. Many resent the effort and expense, and it’s a major way in which we make ourselves invisible as older women. When a group is invisible, so are the issues that affect it. Suppose the world saw how many we are, and how beautiful, I mused. Suppose we morphed together, in solidarity: the Year of Letting Our Hair Go Gray! It would be transformative!

I posted the idea on my This Chair Rocks Facebook page. I got a ton of blowback. I deserved it. “You go first,” was one notable comment, so I did, bleaching my whole head. (I keep part of it white, partly as an age-solidarity dye job and partly because I figure no one believes the brown is real.) Mainly I learned an important lesson: Who was I to be telling women how they should look or what they should do? To each her own. We each have to age in our own way on whatever terms work for us.

One thing we can all agree on, though? Aging is harder for women. We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked.

These can be very effective strategies, and I completely understand why so many of us engage in them. No judgment, I swear. But trying to pass for younger is like a gay person trying to pass for straight or a person of color for white. These behaviors are rooted in shame over something that shouldn’t be shameful. And they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes them necessary.

Appearance matters. Adornment pleases. But society’s obsession with the way women look is less about beauty than about obedience to a punishing external standard — and power. When women compete to “stay young,” we collude in our own disempowerment. When we rank other women by age, we reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy. What else we can we all agree on? This is one bad bargain. It sets us up to fail. It pits us against one another. It’s why the poorest of the poor, around the world, are old women of color.

What’s a girl to do? Join forces against ageism the way we mobilized against sexism in the 1960s and ‘70s. For movements to have power, their members have to embrace the thing that is stigmatized, whether it’s being black, loving someone of the same sex, or growing old. That means moving from denying aging to accepting it, and even to embracing it.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/style/women-looks-ageism.html

Hairy legs in a fashion advert are good news for feminists … aren’t they?

To shave or not to shave?  I abandoned high heels, make up (most of the time) and shaving my pits and legs back in the 1970s.  Being relatively hairless the latter didn't require much effort as most never noticed.  Shaving pubes always seemed like it was for porn stars and other sex workers, besides it itches like crazy and if people freaked out about a few hairs escaping my bathing suit bottom it was their problem not mine.

Ahh but now we live in an age where everything including much which should be kept private is communicated to the world as a political statement.  Me?  I was a hippie dyke and skipping those commercial gender ideas just seemed like the thing to do, or not do might be a better way of putting it since doing them requires effort and spending money.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/10/adidas-dove-hairy-legs-beauty-advertising-arvida-bystrom

It’s uncomfortable to see progressive ideas being co-opted to sell stuff. But at least it’s a challenge to misogynist ideas about women’s bodies

Tuesday 10 October 2017

In Arvida Byström’s shoot for Adidas, the model and artist wears pastel pinks and a lacy frock. She also power-poses, taking up space – evidently never having been informed that girls in pretty dresses should keep their knees together. She’s petite, blonde and feminine, but with a facial expression clearly communicating that you should not get all up in the business of this princess. On her feet, a pair of pristine sneakers announce themselves as the footwear of choice for fierce gals in skirts. And on her legs, the ultimate fashion accessory for this (and, in my opinion, every) winter: hair.

The hair, predictably, has offended those with delicate sensibilities. Byström has even reported rape threats. (Funny how folks with rigid ideas about how women should behave seem to set extremely low standards for their own public comportment, no?)

And so we’re back to the female body hair conversation, but with an interesting twist. Because body hair, it seems, is now mainstream enough to be marketed. Not body hair itself, of course. That’s free. Rather, the feminist aesthetic of body hair is on sale: the IDGAF badassery of it, the bravery (and it does take bravery) of being that woman on the tube with hairy legs.

Not long ago, I saw a hairy female armpit looming large on a screen in New York’s Times Square. The advert was for H&M. I was surprised that a presumably well market-researched campaign had concluded that hairy women would not hurt a major fashion brand. I felt good. Then bad. Then confused.
I experience cognitive dissonance when it comes to feminist branding. On the one hand, capitalist co-option of progressive symbols can weaken their force. Think Coca-Cola in the 1970s using the aesthetic of the hippy movement to convince consumers that radical love meant buying the world a Coke; think Che Guevara T-shirts in Primark; Kendall Jenner in that Pepsi ad; Theresa May sporting her Frida Kahlo bracelet (Theresa – do you actually know who that is? Hint: she used to go out with Trotsky!)

The brand gets an easy-wear, machine-washable liberal sheen for their labour practices and politics. Meanwhile radical ideology becomes just another product for sale, voided of its context, intent, and – eventually – power.

And yet, not every corporate uptake of progressive ideas is as empty as this. For example, Dove’s use of the feminist language of body positivity is intended to make us buy more shimmery lotions, of course, but it also pushes back against the toxic turn visual culture took in the 80s – all that starving and surgery disguised as step aerobics. It battles the beauty myth and does some feminist work.
Necessarily, advertising and marketing reflect the ideas that are likely to appeal to us. They also shape our desires and expectations. If they didn’t, then why would corporations spend millions on them?

Both Byström’s work for Adidas and Dove’s well established “real beauty” brand privilege limited categories of beauty. As Byström astutely points out in her reaction to the abuse she’s been getting, she’s white, slim, able-bodied and cis, and thus on the receiving end of a fraction of the flak that women from more marginalised demographics face. It’s way easier for skinny white girls – like her, like me – to get away with gender transgressions.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/10/adidas-dove-hairy-legs-beauty-advertising-arvida-bystrom

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Legitimize the ‘So-Called’ Confederacy With Our Vocabulary, and That’s a Problem

From Smithsonian:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/

Tearing down monuments is only the beginning to understanding the false narrative of Jim Crow


By Christopher Wilson
Smithsonian.com
September 12, 2017

As the debate escalates over how we publicly remember the Civil War following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the passionate and contentious disputes have centered on symbols like monuments, street names and flags. According to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 1,503 symbols to the Confederacy are displayed in public spaces, mostly in the South and the Border States, but even in decidedly Yankee locales like Massachusetts. Most of these monuments sprang from the Lost Cause tradition that developed in the wake of the war, during the establishment of white supremacist Jim Crow laws around 1900, and as a response to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Those artifacts are not the only way we legitimize and honor the deadly and racist 19th-century rebellion against the United States. Much of the language used in reference to the Civil War glorifies the rebel cause.

The language we turn to in describing the war, from speaking of compromise and plantations, to characterizing the struggle as the North versus the South, or referring to Robert E. Lee as a General, can lend legitimacy to the violent, hateful and treasonous southern rebellion that tore the nation apart from 1861 to 1865; and from which we still have not recovered. Why do we often describe the struggle as between two equal entities? Why have we shown acceptance of the military rank given by an illegitimate rebellion and unrecognized political entity? In recent years, historians in academia and in the public sphere have been considering these issues.

Historian Michael Landis suggests professional scholars should seek to change the language we use in interpreting and teaching history. He agrees with people like legal scholar Paul Finkelman and historian Edward Baptist when they suggest the Compromise of 1850 be more accurately referred to as an Appeasement. The latter word precisely reflects the sway that Southern slaveholders held in the bargain. Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.
In the same way, we could change the way we refer to secessionist states. When we talk of the Union versus the Confederacy, or especially when we present the strife as the North versus the South, we set up a parallel dichotomy in which the United States is cast as equal to the Confederate States of America. But was the Confederacy really a nation and should we refer to it as such?

The language we turn to in describing the war, from speaking of compromise and plantations, to characterizing the struggle as the North versus the South, or referring to Robert E. Lee as a General, can lend legitimacy to the violent, hateful and treasonous southern rebellion that tore the nation apart from 1861 to 1865; and from which we still have not recovered. Why do we often describe the struggle as between two equal entities? Why have we shown acceptance of the military rank given by an illegitimate rebellion and unrecognized political entity? In recent years, historians in academia and in the public sphere have been considering these issues.

Historian Michael Landis suggests professional scholars should seek to change the language we use in interpreting and teaching history. He agrees with people like legal scholar Paul Finkelman and historian Edward Baptist when they suggest the Compromise of 1850 be more accurately referred to as an Appeasement. The latter word precisely reflects the sway that Southern slaveholders held in the bargain. Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.

In the same way, we could change the way we refer to secessionist states. When we talk of the Union versus the Confederacy, or especially when we present the strife as the North versus the South, we set up a parallel dichotomy in which the United States is cast as equal to the Confederate States of America. But was the Confederacy really a nation and should we refer to it as such?

Continue reading at:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/

White supremacists fly into white-hot rage at news some Vikings may have been Muslim

From Raw Story: https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/white-supremacists-fly-into-white-hot-rage-at-news-some-vikings-may-have-been-muslim/

13 Oct 2017

On Friday, word of an Uppsala University study suggesting that some ancient Vikings were Muslim converts went rocketing around the Internet and hit Twitter like a bomb.

Uppsala researchers found Vikings buried in Sweden with cloth inscribed with the word “Allah,” the Muslim word for “God,” suggesting that as they roamed the world, Vikings encountered adherents to Islam and perhaps some of them converted.

Vikings are one of white supremacists’ most favorite things, embodying the “racial purity” and ferocity in war that thousands of 4chan keyboard warriors aspire to. Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer regularly truck in Viking imagery and Norse myth when appealing to disaffected whites, so the news that some Vikings could be Muslim was bound to hit some racists pretty hard.

Indeed, reactions on Twitter broke down into two categories, gleefully cackling liberals and dubious, skeptical people with “Deplorable” in their screen name or tiny U.S. flags next to their avatars.

The conservative consensus on the news was that Vikings might have plundered some Muslim fabrics to take back home, but that Vikings would never, ever, ever worship those brown people’s God, what are you thinking?

Continue reading at:  https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/white-supremacists-fly-into-white-hot-rage-at-news-some-vikings-may-have-been-muslim/

Margaret Atwood: Rise of Trump Brings Echoes of 1930s Europe

From Common Dreams:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/10/14/margaret-atwood-rise-trump-brings-echoes-1930s-europe

Author made remarks ahead of receiving award for "political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents."

 

Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Noted author Margaret Atwood said Saturday that "it's a moment of turmoil everywhere" and that the election of Donald Trump has brought echoes of 1930s Europe.

"It feels the closest to the 1930s of anything that we have had since that time," she aid from Frankfurt, where she will receive Sunday this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

"People in Europe saw the United States as a beacon of democracy, freedom, openness, and they did not want to believe that anything like that could ever happen there," she said.

"But now, she continued, "times have changed, and, unfortunately it becomes more possible to think in those terms."

The head of the German Book Trade, Heinrich Riethmueller, said the 77-year-old Canadian was receiving the accolade for "political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents."

Indeed, the television adaptation her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, a show that recently captured eight Emmys, was dubbed by Rolling Stone as "TV's Most Chilling Trump-Era Series."
"It's always been timely," said the star's show, Elisabeth Moss, of the work. "It's just that now there are actual things happening with women's reproductive rights in our own country that make me feel like this book is bleeding over into reality."

Atwood is also being awarded this month a lifetime achievement award by PEN Center USA. She will be introduced at the event by Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, who said, "It's fitting that the author of The Handmaid's Tale is being honored at a time when women's rights are under attack like never before."

Hightower: The Next Wave of the Tech Revolution Will Wipe Out Millions of Jobs—Maybe Even Yours

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

It sounds like science fiction, but automation is closer than you think.

By Jim Hightower October 12, 2017

Industrial automatons have been on the march for years, devouring the middle-class job opportunities of factory workers. But this time is different.

If you think your family's future is safe because you don't rely on factory work, think again. Rapid advances in AI have already turned yesterday's science fiction into today's brave new "creative destruction"—the constant churn of economic and cultural innovations that destroy existing ways of doing things. A network of inventors and investors, hundreds of university engineering and math departments, thousands of government-funded research projects, countless freelance innovators and the entire corporate establishment are "re-inventing" practically every workplace by displacing humans with "more efficient" AI robots.

This mass-scale deployment of robots has already ushered in a whole new world of work. It's a CEO's capitalist paradise, where the workforce doesn't call in sick or take vacations, can't file lawsuits, doesn't organize unions, and is cheap.

As a result, robots are rapidly climbing the pay ladder into white-collar and professional positions that millions of college-educated, middle-class employees have wrongly considered safe, including:

Doctoring

Robots have long served as surgical assistants, but today's robotic sawbones can be the primary slicer-dicers, operating with more precision than humans. Robots are now performing millions of surgeries every year. Moreover, advanced doc-bots increasingly diagnose and choose treatments based on their ability to digest thousands of scientific articles, medical reports, patient records, etc. In 2012, Vinod Khosla, billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems, noted: "Much of what physicians do ... can be done better by sensors, passive and active data collections, and analytics." His stunning conclusion was that computers will eventually replace 80 percent of what doctors now do.

Delivering the goods

While online retail giants have already eliminated hundreds of thousands of sales clerks by radically restructuring how consumers make purchases, AI systems are poised to gobble up the jobs transporting those products. The first big targets are America's truckers, who number 1.8 million and have some of the few remaining, decent-paying jobs not requiring college degrees. Engineers at Google, Uber, et al. are rolling out prototypes for driver-less trucks that can crisscross the country without rest breaks, sleep, or days off.

Amazon

This corporate behemoth's focus on workplace "efficiency" has made it the poster-child job disrupter in the retail economy, maximizing robots to displace as many humans as possible, as soon as possible. Their massive warehouses are already buzzing hives of robots plucking millions of products from miles of shelves to fill online orders. More are coming. While Amazon staged a PR show in August around its nationwide "Job Day" event to hire 50,000 human workers, it has been expanding its current swarm of full-time robots. In 2012, it bought an artificial intelligence developer, now named Amazon Robotics, to breed its own line of androids, and by August had added another 55,000 of these creatures to its 100,000-strong warehouse workbot-force. Amazon is also pushing regulators to let it replace delivery workers with drones and is testing a chain of "Amazon Go" convenience stores "staffed" almost entirely by AI systems. And it just swallowed Whole Foods grocery chain, loudly promising lower prices but whispering the method: replacing clerks, stockers, et al. with robots.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

Donald Trump is F*cking Crazy | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Vietnam antiwar movement had a bigger voice than portrayed in PBS documentary

From The San Francisco Chronicle:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

By Steve Ladd October 3, 2017

The PBS series “The Vietnam War” presents a devastating history of the war, showing it to be ill-conceived and a major human tragedy for both America and Indochina. It clearly validates that the peace movement was right to oppose the war and call for the withdrawal of American troops and air power.

But, despite that, in its 18 hours, the series falls seriously short in how it portrays the peace movement. While segments do present some major antiwar events, the series misses its full scope, significant impact, and lessons for today. In the last episode of the series, the producers chose to include two antiwar voices who both apologize for their actions and the movement, rather than take credit for turning the public against the war.

I was part of that historic movement, starting in 1968 as a freshman at UC Berkeley. My opposition to the war led me to file for conscientious objector status when I registered for the draft at 18.

When draft resistance leader David Harris and others spoke at UC Berkeley in 1969, I was challenged to take a further step: refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System in an act of outright resistance. He and others were traveling and speaking around the country to build support for a mass draft resistance movement that would make it harder to continue fighting an unjust and unnecessary war.

Harris already had refused to be inducted and was facing several years in federal prison.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me, considering the possibility of prison.

But I returned my draft card because contributing to the growing draft resistance movement was a powerful way to help end the ongoing slaughter in Vietnam.

The draft resistance movement grew. Nearly 200,000 young men were cited for draft violations, 25,000 sent to trial, and 4,000 sent to serve an average of two years in federal prison. Eventually, the scale of draft resistance made it harder for President Richard Nixon to escalate troop levels. He ended draft calls in 1972.

The courage of draft resisters also inspired Daniel Ellsberg to risk life in prison and release what became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealing the secrets and lies of the war, another critical factor in turning the public against it.

Despite the significant impact of draft resistance, there is nothing about it in the PBS series. Instead, the series features two men who evaded the draft by going to Canada. But draft resisters were not draft evaders. Resisters publicly refused to be drafted and were willing to face the consequences. The series falls short in several other ways to portray accurately the multifaceted peace movement, including how grassroots lobbying in the early 1970s led to Congress finally cutting off war funding in 1973.

Continue reading at:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Anti-fa

From Ad Busters:  http://www.adbusters.org/article/anti-fa/

There’s a new kid on the block, and they’ve come out swinging. Anti-fa, or anti-fascist, groups have exploded around the country to fight back against growing fascism and nazism. Anti-fa doesn’t hold back. As the frontline of the new Left, they are willing to fight violence with violence, and have no qualms with shutting down nazis wherever they appear.

For years the black bloc was the only voice of radicalism distinguishing between violence and reactive self-defence. We may now be witnessing something special, as a new generation of activists coalesces around anti-fascism. Anti-fa members do not fall into the trap of political-correctness like so many liberals, but, instead, tell it like it is, and are not afraid to act on their beliefs. They don’t lean on the government for support, choosing to subvert the violent police-state to defend the most vulnerable.

So Lefties, listen up! Over the last forty years, the Left has failed to take bold action to support radical voices. Anti-fa has stepped in to fill the void, but has been met with criticism and dissent. Rather than bashing anti-fa, let’s push further.

Anti-fa is a bright spot on a dark political landscape. But dare I say: the Left is dead if their only radical faction is reactive by nature. Anti-fa coalesces around alt-right rallies, and waits for fascists to appear before shutting them down. But is it possible to build a constructive global coalition on the left beyond anti-fa? How about smashing the global hierarchy, and building a new world from the bottom-up?

“Resist! Resist! Resist!” is the only chant we hear echoing through the streets, directed towards Trump Tower and the White House. How about: “Dream! Dream! Dream!”

Sutrisno

What Does a Leader of the Vietnam Anti-War Movement Think About Ken Burns’s Documentary?

I lived through it and experienced it differently.  I was in SDS.  I was an anti-war hippie.  I lived with a Marine who deserted and busted him out when he was arrested.  There was a classic Kurosawa movie titled Roshomon that  had several witnesses all describe the rape of a woman, all the witnesses experienced the event differently. Who you were and what you did during that war creates the reality of events for you.

In retrospect though even the harshest hawks need to ask themselves if the deaths of all those people were necessary to produce a developing nation well know for their cheap clothes production and cheap if some what dubiously healthy farmed shrimp.

From The Nation:  https://www.thenation.com/article/what-does-one-of-the-leaders-of-the-vietnam-anti-war-movement-think-about-ken-burnss-documentary/

According to Todd Gitlin, the film is an extraordinary portrayal of the people who lived through the war—both Americans and Vietnamese.

The Roots of Trump’s Prejudice | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Liberal Redneck - Take a Knee, Y'all


Ken Burns' New Vietnam War Series Teaches a Flawed, Misleading Lesson

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

The new film distorts what scholars, veterans and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath.

By Jerry Lembcke Public Books September 19, 2017

When Karl Marlantes takes the screen during the new PBS film series The Vietnam War, he says coming home was nearly as traumatic as the war itself. Later, he describes being assaulted by protesters at the airport, invoking the image of spat-on Vietnam veterans, an image that Los Angeles Times editorial writer Michael McGough said in 2012 was based on a myth. An edifying myth, McGough called it, but still a myth.

With The Vietnam War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have created a film that rehashes some old, tired tropes. In doing so, they distort what soldiers, veterans, and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath, especially inside the United States.

In their May 29 New York Times op-ed advertisement for the series, Burns and Novick give a lofty rationale for their film. Succumbing to another cliché, they claim it is about healing. But the discourse of healing misleads as much as it informs, presupposing a prewar America that was a seamless unity, where everyone got along. As sociologist Keith Beattie showed in his 1998 book The Scar That Binds: American Culture and the Vietnam War, that America was mythical. The real one was already torn by racism and McCarthyism, and frayed by modern technology. Domestic class conflict and racial and gender anxieties, too, continued right through the war, as the historian Milton Bates pointed out in his 1996 book The Wars We Took to Vietnam.

That fractured America was complicit in its going to war, not simply a passive victim of it. Burns and Novick intentionally exclude scholars like Beattie and Bates, however. “No historians or other expert talking heads” mar their film, they told the Times’s reviewer Jennifer Schuessler. “Instead,” Schuessler reports matter-of-factly, their “79 onscreen interviews give the ground-up view of the war from the mostly ordinary people who lived through it.”

Ground-up views are susceptible, especially after 40 years, to the very myths they are supposed to belie. Memories that are 40 years old are too influenced by movies, novels, newspapers, and television—or those dreaded historians—to count for documentation. Lawyers, judges, and courts concluded years ago that eyewitness accounts of crimes that are only hours old are unreliable—so, 40 years? Or 50? In the hands of filmmakers, however, such accounts are too easily and too often used as a veneer to manage viewer perceptions.1 Here Burns and Novick offer false equivalences, or “balance” in journalistic parlance. In promoting healing instead of the search for truth, The Vietnam War offers misleading comforts.

The contradictions of The Vietnam War pile up from the start. Its creators might claim a ground-up view—and the film does give us lot of grunt-level footage, like Marines in rice paddies and GIs jumping out of helicopters—but the prevailing interpretations of these scenes come from elites. Some of these notables would be better cast into confessional booths than onto PBS screens, too. For example, John Negroponte, a prominent interpreter in the film, used diplomatic appointments as cover for covert activities over a half-century of US-engineered (or –attempted) regime-change operations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

We Will Not Stand for Trump | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stop talking right now about the threat of climate change. It’s here; it’s happening

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/11/threat-climate-change-hurricane-harvey-irma-droughts?CMP=fb_us

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, flash fires, droughts: all of them tell us one thing – we need to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and fast

Monday 11 September 2017

For the sake of keeping things manageable, let’s confine the discussion to a single continent and a single week: North America over the last seven days.

In Houston they got down to the hard and unromantic work of recovery from what economists announced was probably the most expensive storm in US history, and which weather analysts confirmed was certainly the greatest rainfall event ever measured in the country – across much of its spread it was a once-in-25,000-years storm, meaning 12 times past the birth of Christ; in isolated spots it was a once-in-500,000-years storm, which means back when we lived in trees. Meanwhile, San Francisco not only beat its all-time high temperature record, it crushed it by 3F, which should be pretty much statistically impossible in a place with 150 years (that’s 55,000 days) of record-keeping.
That same hot weather broke records up and down the west coast, except in those places where a pall of smoke from immense forest fires kept the sun shaded – after a forest fire somehow managed to jump the mighty Columbia river from Oregon into Washington, residents of the Pacific Northwest reported that the ash was falling so thickly from the skies that it reminded them of the day Mount St Helens erupted in 1980.

That same heat, just a little farther inland, was causing a “flash drought” across the country’s wheat belt of North Dakota and Montana – the evaporation from record temperatures had shrivelled grain on the stalk to the point where some farmers weren’t bothering to harvest at all. In the Atlantic, of course, Irma was barrelling across the islands of the Caribbean (“It’s like someone with a lawnmower from the sky has gone over the island,” said one astounded resident of St Maarten). The storm, the first category five to hit Cuba in a hundred years, is currently battering the west coast of Florida after setting a record for the lowest barometric pressure ever measured in the Keys, and could easily break the 10-day-old record for economic catastrophe set by Harvey; it’s definitely changed the psychology of life in Florida for decades to come.

Oh, and while Irma spun, Hurricane Jose followed in its wake as a major hurricane, while in the Gulf of Mexico, Katia spun up into a frightening storm of her own, before crashing into the Mexican mainland almost directly across the peninsula from the spot where the strongest earthquake in 100 years had taken dozens of lives.

Leaving aside the earthquake, every one of these events jibes with what scientists and environmentalists have spent 30 fruitless years telling us to expect from global warming. (There’s actually fairly convincing evidence that climate change is triggering more seismic activity, but there’s no need to egg the pudding.)

That one long screed of news from one continent in one week (which could be written about many other continents and many other weeks – just check out the recent flooding in south Asia for instance) is a precise, pixelated portrait of a heating world. Because we have burned so much oil and gas and coal, we have put huge clouds of CO2 and methane in the air; because the structure of those molecules traps heat the planet has warmed; because the planet has warmed we can get heavier rainfalls, stronger winds, drier forests and fields. It’s not mysterious, not in any way. It’s not a run of bad luck. It’s not Donald Trump (though he’s obviously not helping). It’s not hellfire sent to punish us. It’s physics.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/11/threat-climate-change-hurricane-harvey-irma-droughts?CMP=fb_us

When History’s Losers Write the Story

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/sunday-review/civil-war-statues-losers.html

By Sept. 15, 2017

I visited a summer camp in western Russia in July 2015. Its theme was “military patriotism,” and it involved dozens of teenagers lounging around in tents, wrestling, carving wood and making garlands. They were also taking history classes. Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader who killed millions of Soviet citizens, was remembered fondly.

“Whatever your view of Stalin, you can’t deny that he was a strong leader,” a counselor told me later over steaming bowls of cabbage soup. “Stalin won the war. He made it possible for us to go to space. You can’t just throw out a person like that from history.”

Russia has not faced the darker parts of its past, something I spent a lot of time thinking about as a correspondent there. But my own country has memory problems, too. Take the Civil War. Historians tell us it was fought over slavery. But an entirely different version unspooled last month at an Applebee’s in Delaware.

“It’s too simplified to say the war was over slavery,” said Jeffrey Plummer, head of a local chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. “That’s what’s been taught in the schools, but there’s more to it.”

Selective memory, it seems, is a global phenomenon. Think of Turkey and its blank spot where the Armenian genocide should be. Or Japan with its squeamishness about its aggression and mass murder in China. It starts as a basic human impulse to take the sting out of defeat or to avoid admitting some atrocity. But it’s also a way to help cope with a difficult present. And like a growth on a tree ring, it can keep the past off-kilter until some future generation is brave enough to right it.

“In most countries you are more likely to get evasion and nationalistic versions of history than tough grappling with the darker parts of your past, and the U.S. is no exception,” said Gary Bass, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton.

In the United States, the Civil War remains “the most divisive and unresolved experience Americans have ever had,” according to David Blight, a historian at Yale. “The Civil War is like a sleeping dragon. If you poke it hard enough, it will raise its head and breathe fire.”

That is, in part, because the loser was allowed its own interpretation. The South, facing catastrophic loss of life and mass destruction on a European scale, wrote its own history of the war. It cast itself as an underdog overwhelmed by the North’s superior numbers, but whose cause — a noble fight for states’ rights — was just. The North looked the other way. Northern elites were more interested in re-establishing economic ties than in keeping their commitments to blacks’ constitutional rights. The political will to complete Reconstruction died.

“The whole notion of honoring the Confederacy and the sacrifice that your family made became part of what we taught in the schools,” said Charles Dew, a Williams College historian whose book “Apostles of Disunion” describes the white supremacist arguments that underpinned the South’s case for leaving the Union.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Americans Are Confronting an Alarming Question: Are Many of Our Fellow Citizens ‘Nazis’?

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/magazine/americans-are-confronting-an-alarming-question-are-many-of-our-fellow-citizens-nazis.html

By


One morning in mid-August, Americans woke up in what felt, to some, like an altered country. The week’s most notable political event had begun with hundreds of Americans carrying torches while chanting “Sieg heil” and “Jews will not replace us.” White supremacist radicals like these had been active and energized throughout the presidential campaign, but much of their energy had been restricted to the internet. The rally in Charlottesville was markedly different. It confronted America with an unlikely question: Was it possible the nation was seeing a burgeoning political faction of ... actual Nazis? People we should actually call Nazis?

“Nazi” is a remarkable example of the very different routes a word can take through the world. In this case, that word is the Latin name “Ignatius.” In Spanish, it followed a noble path: It became Ignacio, and then the nickname Nacho, and then — after a Mexican cook named Ignacio Anaya had a moment of inspiration — it became delicious, beloved nachos. In Bavaria, a much darker transformation took place. Ignatius became the common name Ignatz, or in its abbreviated form, Nazi. In the early 20th century, Bavarian peasants were frequent subjects of German mockery, and “Nazi” became the archetypal name for a comic figure: a bumbling, dimwitted yokel. “Just as Irish jokes always involve a man called Paddy,” the etymologist Mark Forsyth writes in his 2011 book “The Etymologicon,” “so Bavarian jokes always involved a peasant called Nazi.” When Adolf Hitler’s party emerged from Bavaria with a philosophy called “Nationalsozialismus,” two of that word’s syllables were quickly repurposed by Hitler’s cosmopolitan opponents. They started calling the new party Nazis — implying, to the Nazis’ great displeasure, that they were all backward rubes.

That original, taunting meaning of “Nazi” is now long gone, replaced forever by the image of history’s most despised regime. This is precisely why the word has resurfaced in American conversation, aimed at the white supremacist arm of the so-called alt-right: It is perhaps the single most potent condemnation in our language, a word that provides instant moral clarity. Not everyone, though, is entirely comfortable with this new usage. The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb finds “Nazi” insufficient as a label for American racists, because when we use it, he writes, “we summon the idea of the United States’ moral victories, and military ones” — references that make little sense when we’re talking about American-made moral failures. Lindsey E. Jones, a Ph.D. student of history in Charlottesville, tweeted that a long history of American racism is “conveniently erased” when figures like the white nationalist Richard Spencer are reduced to “Nazis.”

But if “Nazi” isn’t quite the right word for the fringe groups now attempting a takeover of national politics — if it’s sloppy and inexact and papers over just how widespread some of these bigotries are — then “Nazi” will, in a way, have returned to its roots. It began as a broad, imprecise and patronizing slur. Then it became a precise historical classification. (One that, you might argue, “conveniently erased” widespread anti-Semitism throughout Europe and America.) Now we find ourselves arguing over whether it can serve as a general epithet again — a name for a whole assortment of distasteful ideologies. Nearly 80 years after Kristallnacht, we are not exactly sure what a Nazi is, or should be.

'No Fascist USA!': how hardcore punk fuels the Antifa movement


From The Guardian UK: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/09/no-fascist-usa-how-hardcore-punk-fuels-the-antifa-movement

The anti-fascist movement draws on punk’s political awareness and network for activism – and right now may be its most crucial moment

by  
Saturday 9 September 2017 

“No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” 

When Green Day chanted the repurposed lyrics from Texan punk trailblazers MDC’s 1981 song Born to Die during the 2016 American Music Awards, it gave the burgeoning anti-Trump, anti-fascist movement the slogan it needed – and it would soon appear on placards, T-shirts and be chanted by protesters in their thousands in months to come. 

It was a tiny piece of punk history writ large on American cultural life – but it only gave the merest hint of US hardcore punk’s influence on the current political landscape. 

As political commentators struggle to nail down the exact nature of Antifa’s masked legions, they’ve overlooked one thing: Antifa has been critically influenced by hardcore punk for nearly four decades. 

From the collectivist principles of anarchist punk bands such as Crass and Conflict, the political outrage of groups such as the Dead Kennedys, MDC and Discharge, Antifa draws on decades of protest, self-protection and informal networks under the auspices of a musical movement. 

Mark Bray, author of The Antifa Handbook, says that “in many cases, the North American modern Antifa movement grew up as a way to defend the punk scene from the neo-Nazi skinhead movement, and the founders of the original Anti-Racist Action network in North America were anti-racist skinheads. The fascist/anti-fascist struggle was essentially a fight for control of the punk scene [during the 1980s], and that was true across of much of north America and in parts of Europe in this era.”

“There’s a huge overlap between radical left politics and the punk scene, and there’s a stereotype about dirty anarchists and punks, which is an oversimplification but grounded in a certain amount of truth.” 

Drawing influence from anti-fascist groups in 1930s Germany, the UK-based Anti-Fascist Action formed in the late 70s in reaction the growing popularity of rightwing political parties such as the National Front and the British Movement. They would shut down extreme-right meetings at every opportunity, whether it be a march or a gathering in a room above a pub. Inspired by this, anti-racist skinheads in Minneapolis formed Anti-Racist Action, which soon gained traction in punk scenes across the US. Meanwhile, in New York, a movement called Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice sprung up. 

The term “Antifa” was adopted by German antifascists in the 80s, accompanied by the twin-flag logo, which then spread around Europe, and finally pitched up in the US after being adopted by an anarchist collective in Portland, Oregon. 

Continue reading at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/09/no-fascist-usa-how-hardcore-punk-fuels-the-antifa-movement

The Media Doesn’t Understand What Trump is Doing | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Who Is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?

From People For The American Way:  http://www.pfaw.org/report/who-is-weaponizing-religious-liberty/
It Takes a Right-Wing Village to Turn a Cherished American Principle Into a Destructive Culture-War Weapon

In 2016, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-equality bills targeting LGBT people were introduced in state legislatures, many of them described as measures to protect religious liberty. This flood of anti-LGBT and “religious liberty” legislation is not the result of isolated local efforts. It is part of a larger campaign by Religious Right groups to resist and reverse advances toward equality for LGBT Americans by portraying equality as inherently incompatible with religious freedom. That effort began well before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, but it has kicked into overdrive since.

Religious Right organizations have long equated criticism with persecution, and portrayed legal and political defeats as attacks on Christianity and religious freedom. Efforts to frame opposition to reproductive choice and LGBT equality as religious liberty issues picked up steam with the issuing of the Manhattan Declaration in 2009. This manifesto, co-authored by right-wing Catholic intellectual Robert George, pledged that its signers would refuse to “bend” to “any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.” 

Since then, Religious Right groups, their allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and allied politicians have increasingly framed their opposition to marriage equality, nondiscrimination laws, reproductive choice, and the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act as questions of religious liberty.

Included in the recent anti-equality wave are various types of legislation, including state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), modeled to different degrees on the federal law of the same name; so-called Government Nondiscrimination Acts (GNDAs), which do away with the federal RFRA’s balancing tests to give special legal protection to discrimination based on anti-equality religious beliefs; and anti-LGBT laws that don’t explicitly fly under the religious liberty banner, like bills barring transgender people from using the public bathrooms appropriate for their gender identity.

Some of those bills have been defeated, thanks to mobilization by equality advocates and their allies in progressive, religious, and business communities. Others have been approved by state legislatures but vetoed by governors, including Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia. Still others have been signed into law, including Mississippi’s “religious liberty” law and North Carolina’s now notorious HB2, a law overturning local nondiscrimination ordinances and banning transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. Inflammatory rhetoric about transgender people has fed an increasingly ugly climate in which states and localities are literally making it a crime for a transgender person to go to the bathroom.

All of these approaches are being promoted by a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people. These organizations are part of a larger infrastructure of colleges and law schools, think tanks, media outlets, and advocacy groups that has been built over the last few decades. They work together to promote the false and destructive idea that legal equality for LGBT Americans is incompatible with religious freedom for those who oppose it — just as early civil rights opponents claimed that eliminating enforced racial segregation was an attack on southern white Christians’ religious beliefs.

This network of anti-equality groups is engaged in a high-stakes effort to convince Americans that preserving religious liberty requires giving individuals and corporations the power to disobey laws that promote the common good and protect other constitutional principles like equal treatment under the law.

Together these organizations constitute a powerful cultural and political force that will not disappear after a few losses in the courtroom or at the ballot box. Indeed, in the wake of their marriage equality defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, they have redoubled their efforts. They are eagerly creating folk heroes out of public officials and business owners who refuse to provide services to same-sex couples. And they are pushing Republican officials to enact legislation at federal as well as state levels that would further weaponize religious liberty, turning it from a shield meant to protect individual religious practice into a sword to be wielded against individuals and groups disfavored by Religious Right leaders.

Continue reading at:  http://www.pfaw.org/report/who-is-weaponizing-religious-liberty/

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chelsea Manning: The Dystopia We Signed Up for

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/opinion/chelsea-manning-big-data-dystopia.html

By Chelsea Manning Sept. 13, 2017

For seven years, I didn’t exist.

While incarcerated, I had no bank statements, no bills, no credit history. In our interconnected world of big data, I appeared to be no different than a deceased person. After I was released, that lack of information about me created a host of problems, from difficulty accessing bank accounts to trouble getting a driver’s license and renting an apartment.

In 2010, the iPhone was only three years old, and many people still didn’t see smartphones as the indispensable digital appendages they are today. Seven years later, virtually everything we do causes us to bleed digital information, putting us at the mercy of invisible algorithms that threaten to consume our freedom.

Information leakage can seem innocuous in some respects. After all, why worry when we have nothing to hide?

We file our taxes. We make phone calls. We send emails. Tax records are used to keep us honest. We agree to broadcast our location so we can check the weather on our smartphones. Records of our calls, texts and physical movements are filed away alongside our billing information. Perhaps that data is analyzed more covertly to make sure that we’re not terrorists — but only in the interest of national security, we’re assured.

Our faces and voices are recorded by surveillance cameras and other internet-connected sensors, some of which we now willingly put inside our homes. Every time we load a news article or page on a social media site, we expose ourselves to tracking code, allowing hundreds of unknown entities to monitor our shopping and online browsing habits. We agree to cryptic terms-of-service agreements that obscure the true nature and scope of these transactions.

According to a 2015 study from the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of American adults believe they’ve lost control over how their personal information is collected and used.

Just how much they’ve lost, however, is more than they likely suspect.

The real power of mass data collection lies in the hand-tailored algorithms capable of sifting, sorting and identifying patterns within the data itself. When enough information is collected over time, governments and corporations can use or abuse those patterns to predict future human behavior. Our data establishes a “pattern of life” from seemingly harmless digital residue like cellphone tower pings, credit card transactions and web browsing histories.

The consequences of our being subjected to constant algorithmic scrutiny are often unclear. For instance, artificial intelligence — Silicon Valley’s catchall term for deepthinking and deep-learning algorithms — is touted by tech companies as a path to the high-tech conveniences of the so-called internet of things. This includes digital home assistants, connected appliances and self-driving cars.

Simultaneously, algorithms are already analyzing social media habits, determining creditworthiness, deciding which job candidates get called in for an interview and judging whether criminal defendants should be released on bail. Other machine-learning systems use automated facial analysis to detect and track emotions, or claim the ability to predict whether someone will become a criminal based only on their facial features.