DAVID SWANSON – Here’s my basic contention: Congress knows how to compromise. We don’t have to pre-compromise for them. (How’d that work out on healthcare?) (How’d that ever work out?) And when we do pre-compromise for them (such as the time AFSCME banned “single-payer” signs from “public option” rallies, so as to simulate public demand for what “progressive” Congress members were pretending to already want) we give significant support and respectability to some serious outrages (such as privatized for-profit health insurance, but also such as bombing Iraq yet again and bombing the opposite side in Syria that was to be bombed a year ago and while arming that same side, which — if we’re honest about it — is madness.
ROBERT J. GOULD – Lady Justice, Justitia, depicted as a blindfolded statue since the 15th century, illustrates John Rawl’s conception of justice as requiring a veil of ignorance (A Theory of Justice, 1971). Such a veil of ignorance means that, in order to be just, we must ignore the differences between people, such as their identity, power or weakness. To be just, in the following cases, we must not victimize the innocent, whether that person is a cherished child in one’s family or an unknown girl in Iraq, Gaza, or Israel. To do otherwise, in cases of violent conflict, would not only be unjust, it would be terrorism. If one accepts this principle, then the justifications of bombing “militants,” regardless of their use of human shields, or the inevitable civilian deaths as “collateral damage” are fallacious arguments, as explained below.
PETER DEFAZIO – Thank you for contacting me with your opposition to President Obama’s plan to take military action against the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We are in complete agreement on this issue. You will be pleased to know that I voted against the authorization to arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. Unfortunately, the McKeon Amendment to train and equip Syrian rebels passed the House of Representatives 273-156.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – After thousands of years of bloody wars among contending tribes, regions, and nations, is it finally possible to dispense with the chauvinist ideas of the past? To judge by President Barack Obama’s televised address on the evening of September 10, it is not. Discussing his plan to “take out” ISIS, the extremist group that has seized control of portions of Syria and Iraq, the president slathered on the high-flying, nationalist rhetoric.
PAUL ROGAT LOEB – We live in a time fraught with bad news. From the toll of violence and poverty to the escalating march of climate change, every week brings temptations to despair. Hope may actually be more beleaguered in the wake of a president who won the office in part by branding himself with it. Many have concluded that political participation has become a futile game. For myself, I deal with potential despair by finding ways to act. And remembering that the doors to social change are never irrevocably closed, even in unimaginably difficult situations.
KATHY KELLY – Here in Kabul, one of my finest friends is Zekerullah, who has gone back to school in the 8th grade although he is an 18-year old young man who has already had to learn far too many of life’s harsh lessons.
DAVID SWANSON – I know you mean well. I know you think you’ve found a bargain that nobody else noticed hidden in a back corner of the used car lot. Let me warn you: it’s a clunker. Here, I’ll list the defects. You can have your own mechanic check them out:
WINSLOW MYERS – The way the United States has chosen to approach the chaos of the Middle East has far more frightening implications than we think, especially in terms of the world our children will inherit. If we are honest about how our adversaries perceive us, we will have to admit that there is a grand cycle of violence and insult operating, in which we ourselves are implicated up to our necks. If we are to have any chance of breaking this potentially endless cycle (our military bases in Saudi Arabia leading to 9-11; 9-11 leading to the second Gulf War, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; the second Gulf War helping to create ISIS; ISIS beheading our journalists; President Obama suckered into reluctant bellicosity etc. etc. etc), we have to start by admitting our own role in it—something extremely difficult for our culture, and therefore almost impossible for our political leaders.
DAVID SWANSON – John Oliver is what I always wished Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would be. In fact, he’s what I always wished Ted Koppel or Jim Lehrer would be.
RIZWAN ZULFIGAR BHUTTA – Women have a vital role in the progress of human society. Yet, women’s contributions to progress aren’t always acknowledged by or even included in history books. In her 1998 book, “You Can’t Kill the Spirit: Women and Nonviolent Action,” writer Pam McAllister spotlights stories, struggles and contributions of women all over the world – stories that are often hidden in plain sight. The latest story comes from Pakistan, where local women are actively working toward social and political change at this very moment.
STEPHEN KINZER – Today’s conflicts illustrate the declining value of conventional military power. For many decades, the United States dominated the world mainly because we had the most potent military. We still do — but that no longer brings the dominance it once assured. For much of history, power has been won on the battlefield. Victory depended on your army. If it was bigger, stronger, and better led than the enemy, you would probably win. That charmingly simple equation is now evaporating
CHUCK SHEKETOFF – Oregon has the lowest “total effective business tax rate” in the country, according to a study (PDF), conducted by the accounting firm Ernst & Young on behalf of the Council On State Taxation (COST). The accounting firm found that the total state and local taxes paid by Oregon businesses amounted to 3.3 percent of Oregon’s private sector economy in fiscal year 2013, the smallest such contribution among all states.
KENT SHIFFERD – The latest border changes in Ukraine are just another replay of too many past scenarios: the breakup of former Yugoslavia, East Timor, Chechnya, the Sudetenland Crisis of the 1930s, and the centuries-long back and forth of the Alsace and Lorraine between France and Germany. If we could base the resolution of these types of conflict on recognizing the five principles outlined here, we could greatly reduce the dangers of civil and interstate war.
DEIRDRE SMITH – It was not hard for me to make the connection between the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, and the catalyst for my work to stop the climate crisis.
MEL GURTOV – In an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times on August 8, President Obama stressed that the US was only fighting the Islamic State (IS, or ISIS) in Iraq as a partner, not as Iraq’s or the Kurds’ air force. Obama claims his officials are reminding everyone, “We will be your partners, but we are not going to do it for you. We’re not sending a bunch of US troops back on the ground to keep a lid on things.” Now, less than three weeks later, the strategic picture has changed, and emphases on “partnerships” have faded while the US military complex advances largely on its own.