Category: Analysis

The Silencing of Dissent

CHRIS HEDGES – The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of “fake news.”

Trump at the UN: “Wrong Speech, at the Wrong Time, to the Wrong Audience”

PATRICK T. HILLER – “It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience,” Swedish foreign Minister Margot Wallström expressed about what global and U.S. audiences helplessly had to endure during President Donald Trump’s September 19, 2017 address to the United Nations General Assembly. President Trump acted like a bully, but unaware that he showed up at the wrong playground.

Sleeping Near a Forest Fire

JENNIFER HOFMANN – It isn’t exactly the kind of situation you go looking for, pitching your tent mere miles from a forest inferno, sleeping on the ground zipped up into a sleeping bag. But it [is] exactly what is happening in America right now. On the precipice of danger, finding a way to live.

To Protect Our Planet and Revitalize Our Economy, We Need a Climate Conservation Corps

DAVID BAAKE – Although programs like the Clean Power Plan would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, they are not framed as job-creating measures, and are not understood by the public as such. In fact, many people incorrectly assume that regulations lead to reduced employment. The Climate Conservation Corps avoids this pitfall by emphasizing both environmental and employment benefits.

Is It Time to Restructure US CEO Compensation?

LAWRENCE WITTNER – An awful lot of Americans are skeptical about the value of their nation’s corporate executives. As a 2016 nationwide survey reveals, 74 percent of Americans believe that top corporate executives are overpaid. This public dismay with CEO compensation exists despite the fact that Americans drastically underestimate what top corporate executives are paid every year. In fact, the survey found that CEO compensation at Fortune 500 companies was approximately 10 times what the typical American thought it was.

Trump Is Missing an Opportunity in Cuba

MEL GURTOV – President Obama’s engagement with Cuba was one of his administration’s success stories. The policy shift was based on the entirely realistic as well as humanitarian assessment that permanent estrangement deepens enmity, isolates two peoples and separates families, reduces opportunities for improvement in the quality of life in Cuba, inhibits the two-way flow of information, and prevents cooperation on common problems. But the Trump administration, pressed by Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez, is still fighting the Cold War, as evidenced by Trump’s disengagement order the week of June 20.

Trump’s Wall: Ultimate Symbol of an Ultimate Con

ANDREW MOSS – Though Donald Trump failed to get his wall funded when Congress passed a recent $1.1 trillion federal spending package, he did succeed in creating a wall of sorts. Fashioned partly out of words and partly out of existing physical structures and technologies, Trump’s wall has effectively cast a shadow of fear over the 11.1 million people living in the U.S. without the requisite papers signifying citizenship or legal residence. This shadow accompanies them wherever they go in their daily lives. But this metaphoric wall not only serves to incite fear; it also helps to exacerbate inequality.

Trump Abdicates Control of US Military Interventions

MEL GURTOV – Now, just below the radar, the US military is engaged in an ever-increasing number of “advise-and-assist” missions, supplemented by major arms deals and CIA-run drone strikes, that commit the US to long-term intervention in Africa and the Middle East. And Donald Trump, unlike Barack Obama, is happy to cede operational control—to “let the war fighters fight the war,” as Stephen Bannon told CNN.

The Trump-Putin Meeting and the Fate of the Earth

NORMAN SOLOMON – Any truthful way to say it will sound worse than ghastly: We live in a world where one person could decide to begin a nuclear war — quickly killing several hundred million people and condemning vast numbers of others to slower painful deaths. Given the macabre insanity of this ongoing situation, most people don’t like to talk about it or even think about it. In that zone of denial, U.S. news media keep detouring around a crucial reality: No matter what you think of Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin, they hold the whole world in their hands with a nuclear button.

July 4: An Appropriate Day to Defend Liberty

WIM LAVEN – With a long holiday weekend lined up for the 4th of July most people are probably worried about having enough food for the barbeque, or hoping that their get-togethers aren’t too political. Facebook will be littered with messages of freedom, and assorted dissents. I post a link to Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech “What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?” to mark the occasion most years. For many people this year will be different and it is important that we pay attention. The freedoms marked by the day are under attack.

Let’s Have ““A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind” and Ban Nukes

WINSLOW MYERS – The distractions of the Trump presidency, even including Russian attempts to hack our democracy, have swamped events that may in the long run be of far greater historical significance. A primary example is the historic ongoing U.N. conference concerning the prohibition and eventual abolition of nuclear weapons— and our own nation’s unwise boycott of same.

The Unifying Force of War Abolition

DAVID SWANSON – It’s not unusual for an activist, focused on one of the millions of worthy causes out there, to try to recruit other activists to that particular cause. That’s not exactly what I want to do. For one thing, if we are going to succeed we are going to have to recruit millions of new people into activism who are not now active at all.

Coal Miners Are Pawns in Trump’s Fossil Fuel Agenda

ROB BYERS – Earlier this spring, I was asked a question about my late father, who had been a coal miner in the 1970s and ’80s. It had to do with a familiar romantic storyline: Did he feel at home underground? Was it a calling that tugged at him during the layoffs, a longing to get back to the job he loved? Short answer: No. Long answer: Hell, no.

Will “Nones” make America more liberal?

JAMES A. HAUGHT – The steady retreat of religion in America may shift politics to the left. Surveys find that young Americans who say their faith is “none” generally hold humane progressive values, supporting women’s equality, gay rights, universal healthcare, legal marijuana, free college and other liberal goals. Decline of religion is perhaps the most profound sociological phenomenon of the 21st century.

A Dying Man’s Gift of Awareness

ROBERT C. KOEHLER — “Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them . . .” These words are also part of the geopolitics of murder — these words of light and hope, alive and pulsing amid the bullet casings, the blood and wreckage, the shattered lives. They were the dying words of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, one of the two people stabbed to death last week on a commuter train in Portland, Ore., after they had intervened to stop a man’s tirade of racial slurs — “go back to Saudi Arabia!” — directed at two teenage girls on the train.

President Trump: Toss Your Generals’ Escalation Plans in the Trash

RON PAUL – By the end of last month, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster were scheduled to deliver to President Trump their plans for military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. President Trump would be wise to rip the plans up and send his national security team back to the drawing board – or replace them. There is no way another “surge” in Afghanistan and Iraq (plus a new one in Syria) puts America first. There is no way doing the same thing over again will succeed any better than it did the last time.

Class War in the Capital City

DON MCINTOSH – There’s a top-down class war under way, but unlike the 1930s, when thugs shot workers on strike picket lines, today’s business organizations are using “hired gun” lobbyists in state capitols, to rewrite the laws — all of them — in their favor. That’s the basic argument made by political scientist Gordon Lafer in his new book The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time.

US Support of Saudi Attacks on Yemen Must Cease

KATHY KELLY – The U.S. has decidedly taken the side of the Saudi-led coalition. Consider a Reuters report, on April 19, 2017, after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis met with senior Saudi officials. According to the report, U.S. officials said “U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition was discussed including what more assistance the United States could provide, including potential intelligence support…” The Reuters report notes that Mattis believes “Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen, as the United States weighs increasing support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting there.”

Gorbachev: It Was Worse Than This, and We Fixed It

DAVID SWANSON – On Friday, May 12, in Moscow I and a group from the United States met with former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. He said the current relationship between Washington and Moscow alarmed him. But, he said, it is possible to rebuild trust. “We had a situation that was worse, but we were able to rebuild trust. And people-to-people contacts helped to rebuild trust.”

What If He’s Not an Idiot?

JOHN ATCHESON – It’s worth considering what we are not talking about as we watch the political pornography of the Trump Administration play out and also how the focus on Russia undercuts the Democratic Party. In other words, what if this is exactly what Trump intended when he fired Comey? It’s worth remembering Trump’s mentor was Roy Cohn, who was a master at controlling the narrative and one of his favorite techniques was to change the subject with an in-your-face outrage of one kind or another.

Killer Drones Take Another Step Into the Mainstream

NORMAN SOLOMON – No longer will the pilots who steer drones and fire missiles while staring at computer screens be confined to remote areas like the Nevada desert. With scant public information or debate, sizable American communities are becoming enmeshed in drone warfare on other continents. Along the way, how deeply will we understand — in human terms — what the drone war is doing to people far away? And to us?

Needed: A Public Plan for Peace

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The American will to wage war — endless war, pointless war, total war — is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. It remains alive deep in the underground bunker of American militarism, protected from sanity. This goes beyond the staying power of our loser generals, who have ever freer rein in the Trump administration to expand the war games of the 21st century. There is a quiet determination among those who serve the god of war — or so it seems — to engage in, and presumably win, a nuclear war.

Get Real About Preventing War with North Korea

PATRICK T. HILLER – It is time for the public and its servants – our elected officials – to get away from the pretense that there are no alternatives to projecting and using military force, when indeed there are many constructive responses. This matters greatly, because a study has shown that there is a proven decline in public support for war when the alternatives come to light.

‘Too Cheap to Meter’ Nuclear Plants Seek Welfare Again

JOHN LAFORGE – You have to hand it to the nuclear industry for socializing costs and privatizing profits. Last year, lobbyists for operators of dirty, deadbeat old reactors won massive public subsidies — bailouts — in New York and Illinois that will keep decrepit, retirement-age reactors from shutting down. Instead of turning off the rattle traps — and investing public funds in renewables – state-sponsored electric ratepayer handouts in the two states will total $10 billion over 12 years. Remember Reagan’s mythical “welfare queens”? These utilities are welfare gods, propping up decrepit reactors by buying entire state legislatures that in turn legalize monthly electric bill increases.

The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia

NORMAN SOLOMON – After Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss nearly six months ago, her most powerful Democratic allies feared losing control of the party. Efforts to lip-synch economic populism while remaining closely tied to Wall Street had led to a catastrophic defeat. In the aftermath, the party’s progressive base — personified by Bernie Sanders — was in position to start flipping over the corporate game board. Aligned with Clinton, the elites of the Democratic Party needed to change the subject.

Keep Your Eye on Trump’s Main Agenda

PETER BERGEL – Not so fast, fellow progressives! We’ve underestimated Donald Trump a couple of times now. Let’s not do it again. He may be all the things we think he is – racist, xenophobic, narcissistic, homophobic, anti-Muslim, power-mad. At the same time, though, he’s also getting away with a deadly distraction game – one which threatens life on this planet. If you think he’s dumb, think again.

Depleted Uranium Weapons Leave Shameful Legacy of Radioactive Death

BARBARA KOEPPEL – Although the United States and its allies call their newest weapons conventional, which means non-nuclear, the truth is more complicated. Scientists I interviewed here in the United States, and in Canada, Europe, and Lebanon describe this latest generation of weapons as radioactive and chemically poisonous. While not nuclear, they leave high levels of uranium in their wake. And it’s now documented that cancer and birth defects associated with exposure to radiation have soared in countries where the United States and its allies have waged wars since the early 1990s.

Focus on Whistleblowers’ Information, Not Sources or Motivations

JESSELYN RADACK – It is the leakiest of times in the Executive Branch. [A little over a week ago], Wikileaks published a massive and, by all accounts genuine, trove of documents revealing that the CIA has been stockpiling, and lost control of, hacking tools it uses against targets. Particularly noteworthy were the revelations that the CIA developed a tool to hack Samsung TVs and turn them into recording devices and that the CIA worked to infiltrate both Apple and Google smart phone operating systems since it could not break encryption. No one in government has challenged the authenticity of the documents disclosed.

Let’s Give the CIA the Credit It Deserves

NORMAN SOLOMON – For months now, our country has endured the tacit denigration of American ingenuity. Countless statements — from elected officials, activist groups, journalists and many others — have ignored our nation’s superb blend of dazzling high-tech capacities and statecraft mendacities. Fortunately, this week the news about release of illuminating CIA documents by WikiLeaks has begun to give adequate credit where due. And not a moment too soon. For way too long, Russia has been credited with prodigious hacking and undermining of democracy in the United States.

Contacts with Russian Diplomats are Normal Statecraft

JACK MATLOCK – Finding a way to improve relations with Russia is in the vital interest of the United States. Nuclear weapons constitute an existential threat to our nation, and indeed to humanity. We are on the brink of another nuclear arms race which would be not only dangerous in itself, but would make cooperation with Russia on many other important issues virtually impossible. Those who are trying to find a way to improve relations with Russia should be praised, not scapegoated.

Our Causes Are Connected, Our Movements Should Be Too

DAVID SWANSON – In my view, not only was Thomas Jefferson right to list all of King George’s wrongs, not only was Martin Luther King Jr. right to propose taking on militarism, racism, and extreme materialism all together, but the way to an effective movement — not just a larger movement, but a coherent movement with a vision for a better future — is to go multi-issue, big-tent, cross-border, and otherwise “intersectional.”

Trump Can Prove He’s Not a Putin Puppet by Blowing Up the World

NORMAN SOLOMON – Four weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that “nothing he has done since the inauguration allays fears that he is in effect a Putin puppet.” The liberal pundit concluded with a matter-of-fact reference to “the Trump-Putin axis.” Such lines of attack have become routine, citing and stoking fears that the president of the United States is a Kremlin stooge. The meme is on the march — and where it will end, nobody knows. Actually, it could end with a global nuclear holocaust.