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swilton's Journal
Posted by swilton in General Discussion
Mon Aug 15th 2011, 01:59 PM

Annual Veterans for Peace Convention – Resilience, Resistance, and Non-Violent Revolution

For four days, veterans and families enjoyed a robust schedule featuring eco-friendly sight-seeing, film-viewing, socializing, and activist-focused training and networking. The stimulating agenda and the statements of resolve passed as business ensured that veteran enhanced activism would carry into the Veteran-for-Peace co-sponsored events would carry into 2012.

Keynote speakers were available to the public and included the 3-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, human rights activist Kathy Kelly speaking on the costs of wars; Robert Jensen, Journalism Professor with specialties in media ethics and law at University of Texas at Austin, and author of Citizens of the Empire, the Struggle to Claim Our Humanity. Jensen’s critique of the Michael Moore movie Fahrenheit 9-11 and entitled What Michael Moore Misses About Empire was published in Counter Punch and can be seen here
Rounding out the cast of keynote speakers was UCLA/California State University faculty member Blasé Bonpane, who was expelled from Guatemala in the 1960s for his work with peasant activism.

Among the many veteran/activists who drew on their personnel journeys and challenges to lead discussion, none better exemplifies 'walking the talk' of resistance to empire than Brian Wilson - Vietnam Veteran (USAF 1966-70), member of the District of Columbia Bar, and founding member of Veterans for Peace. As a trained lawyer, Wilson has studied examples of US violations of international law in dozens of countries in Latin America, Israel and Asia. While engaged in a protest of US weapons support to Central America, Wilson blocked a train at the Concord, California Naval Weapons Station….The train did not stop and Wilson lost both of his legs below the knees and suffered a severe skull fracture. Wilson’s plenary session was entitled Resistance and Resilience. Wilson’s memoir, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BRIAN WILSON, was published this year. Also, Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, who, as a State Department official received the 1997 Award for Heroism for her work in evacuating people of Somalia, spoke of her recent experiences with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

A quorum of veteran activists approved resolutions – details of which are published at:

Veterans for Peace are co-sponsoring the following fall events – 24-28 August – Democracy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin; Sept 11 – Bikes not Bombs Bicycle Tour from NY to Washington, DC; October 6 – Stop the Machine – Federal Square, Washington, DC; November 11-13, United National Anti-War Coalition Meeting in Stamford, Conn.
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Posted by swilton in Editorials & Other Articles
Tue Aug 09th 2011, 04:19 PM
J’Accuse – Huffington Post, August 9, 2011

Michael Brenner, Senior Fellow, TransAtlantic Relations – University of Pittsburgh

America's situation today bears some resemblance to Emile Zola's passionate denunciation of the persecution of Major Alfred Dreyfus by bigoted, ancien régime leaders of the French army. This landmark achievement for the voice of righteous protest galvanized a movement that forced Dreyfus' exoneration as well as broke the silence about the sordid affair among the most senior of the French political elite. Similarly, the suffocating silence in America deafens us to the grave damage to the country's public institutions, their perceived integrity in the eyes of citizens, and the social compact that has bound together wage earners and the wealthy and powerful in the cause of national unity and basic decency. As an enterprise in calculated destruction of the great reforms of the past eighty years that reconciled 'Americanism' with the realities of modern life, it marks a reactionary turn unprecedented in our history or that of any other Western country. As an attack on the authority of the peoples' elected representatives by the creation of an ad hoc 'super Congress,' it erodes the constitutional foundations of the Republic.

Then there is Mr. Barack Obama -- nominally President of the United States. The president is, above all, the custodian of the civic religion that binds the country's diverse people into a polity that calls for loyalty in exchange for legality and security. To fulfill this duty, the Chief Executive must strive to embody our public values. The inescapable wheeling and dealing that is an integral part of the job must not be driven by personal ambition alone to occupy the White House. Measured against these somber responsibilities, Barack Obama has failed the country. Moreover, it is a failure that is not dictated by the array of forces or flawed strategy. The truth is far more troubling. He has failed us due to a lack of conviction, a lack of appreciation where the path of presidential duty lies, a lack of courage, and no lack of expedient impulses to promote himself. This last is cause, and reinforced effect of an alarming contradiction between a skillfully cultivated public persona and his actual, private thinking about the issues of our era.
We have had ample evidence of this dismaying truth over the past two-and-a-half years -- and even earlier. We have conveniently overlooked it -- we being Democratic voters, the lax media, and of course the favored interests who encouraged the crackpot right to depict Mr. Obama as a 'socialist' while he so nicely served them. The true believers among supposed liberals refused to see it. For they have proven true believers in an imagined man who does not exist; true believers of what satisfies their own needs for a hero more than the well-being of those whose cause they claim to serve. All this goes unexamined by mainstream pundits, analysts, experts, political journalists, economic sages, academics, etc.

The biggest story is not these unsavory antics but the silence. Democrats in Congress have long seemed to have been struck mute. Harry Reid in the Senate went through the motions of resistance to the sell-out and then blessed the sell-out. Nancy Pelosi promises a last-ditch fight and then passively watches 50% of her minions sign the unconditional surrender. Individual maverick voices are notable for their absence -- the exception is the venerable Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who looks an incongruous throwback to another time for saying what he believes and believing what he says. The others kowtowed obediently to Mr. Obama and lent their dead weight to dragging the country over the cliff. Other Democratic dignitaries secluded themselves on Cape Cod and similar cozy retreats far from the confused and maddened crowd. No one is called to account; no one calls to account.

Full article:
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Posted by swilton in General Discussion
Fri Jul 15th 2011, 08:58 AM
Peace, environmental, social justice activists launch massive peaceful demonstration beginning October 6, 2011.

Inspired by the courageous, nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, people in the United States have come together to form the October2011 Movement. This fusion of peace, social justice, environmental, student, and immigrant rights organizations is in solidarity with all who seek a peaceful, just, and sustainable future and stands ready to engage in its own campaign of nonviolent resistance beginning in Washington, D.C., this October.

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Posted by swilton in General Discussion
Tue Jul 12th 2011, 02:30 PM

The Deadening Silence

Propaganda, fear, special Interests and distractions form an unholy alliance to mute criticism from US engagement in so many foreign interventions that are morally harmful to humanity and to US domestic interests.
• Propaganda – the myths propagated through popular culture from education to mass media that the US is the beacon of the world
• Fear – social ostracism that can lead to unemployment in economically challenging times
• Special Interests – the depths of the military industrial complex create direct and indirect conflicts of interests
• Distractions – Challenging times economically demand opiates through social media.
While many of these factors overlap, their examination as discreet elements presents them as the formidable challenges facing US peace advocates in trying to stop the follies of US illegal and immoral interventions that are violations of the UN Charter whose policies have been affirmed by the UN General Assembly, as in the 1981 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States.
Full piece is at:
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Posted by swilton in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Jun 30th 2011, 05:27 PM
the Center for Science in the Public Interest which has found that palm oil, an inexpensive replacement for hydrgenated oils, has a negative impact on health and the environment.

Though less harmful than partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, it is far more conducive to heart
disease than such heart-protective liquid oils as olive, soy, and canola......

One reason some food processors use palm oil is that it is semi-solid at room temperature, making it useful in products such as cookies, crackers, spreads, and bars. Palm oil is also less expensive than soy and other vegetable oils. Some of the products that use palm oil, sometimes in combination with other oils, include Pepperidge Farm Oatmeal Cranberry cookies, Voortman Vanilla Wafers, Nabisco Golden Oreo cookies, Cadbury Finger Dark Cookies, and many products sold at "health food" stores.

Their report which emphasizes the devastating environmental impact of palm oil production is here
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Posted by swilton in General Discussion
Mon Feb 21st 2011, 11:26 AM
I have been a member of Democratic Underground since I transitioned from the ‘Draft Gore’ blog in late 2007- early 2008. Over the past year, I have read DU postings with dismay as the evidence accumulates that the Obama presidency has failed and continues to fail in living up to its 2008 promise for fundamental changes. As a progressive, I had hoped for fundamental changes in our country’s character flaws (economic, foreign policy and social) which have long negated opportunities for a brighter future for our children and grand children. Far from mitigating those flaws, some would argue that this administration’s policies have in many cases exacerbated them.

This post serves to summarize recent DU postings in three areas: a definition of progressive goals, what the last two years has presented in terms of meeting progressive goals, and the limited discussions of a 2012 challenges to the Obama Administration from the left through a primary challenge. It then presents questions to stimulate discussion on successfully running a progressive candidate. I thank the DU members whose articles I have sourced. Time, space as well as my technological skills’ constraints limited the numerous articles that I could have used to support this post.

Progressive Values and Goals
Democratic Party Far Left Used to be Considered Common Sense
(Reprint of an article by Steven Jonas for Buzzflash at Truthout (January 28, 2011)) This article discusses the 2011 State of the Union from the perspectives of Congressman Alan Grayson and Senator Bernie Sanders and identifies their wish lists for lists for a State of the Union. As Jonas notes, “We really do have a long ways to go in this country if the positions on the numbered lists, much of which used to be considered mainstream Democratic ones especially in the days of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the Great Society, and even Eisenhower Republicanism, can be widely characterized as "far left." Indeed, this country has no idea of what "far left," as envisioned by true leftists, really is.”
Definition of a Liberal by JFK
Acceptance Speech of the Liberal Party Nomination (John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960) Identified in this acceptance speech are the lofty goals of full constitutional rights for every American, the elimination of poverty and human exploitation, an intelligent foreign policy…though unspecified – developing domestic policies so that the US would be a symbol of hope abroad.

Where are We Now – What is the Forecast for 2012
How the Dems Allowed the Tea Party to Rebrand the GOP
Paul Jay, the Real News on the eve of the 2010 election – Six reasons that the Democratic Party/ Obama Administration gave the Republicans a chance for a resurgence:
1. Allowed Republicans to rebrand themselves as populists
2. Old mindset in US foreign policy
3. Not defending the public option for health care reform
4. Not Using the Auto Bailout to Build A Green Economy
5. Bailing Out Bankers and not the Banking System
6. Not investigating Bush and Cheney
How to Squander the Presidency in One Year
One of my favorite articles that summarizes the dilemma of progressive/liberal thinking Democrats –by Political Scientist David Michael Green. I can hardly paraphrase any better than Professor Green and I can hardly better describe what the future brings if we don’t act to turn things around. In early 2010Green noted:
“Barack Obama has now, in just a year's time, become the single most inept president perhaps in all of American history, and certainly in my lifetime. Never has so much political advantage been pissed away so rapidly, and what's more in the context of so much national urgency and crisis. It's astonishing, really, to contemplate how much has been lost in a single year.....”

On a Primary Challenge to the Democratic Incumbent
A. Is there an opportunity?
The Left Has Nowhere to Go
Citing Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges characterizes the dilemma facing progressives, Neutralized by the commercial press, lack of organizers and absent a strategy, the left will muddle through the next election – electing Obama because he’s preferred over any Republican candidate.
I don’t know why we have elections any more
This article begs the question, “Are elections only held as a form of appeasement for the masses”?

B. What would a progressive challenge look like?
A Progressive President in 2012
Posted – Feb 1, 2011 – Time for Change
Observing that the country is in one of historically low points, this article points to some progressive movements in US history, and observes that Russ Feingold’s positions in civil liberties, money in politics, regulation of Wall Street have been unwavering in support of progressive principles.
In Case Primaries Are Part of Democracy
The statements of peace activists and Congressman Dennis Kucinich suggest the situation is redeemable and a search for a primary opponent of Obama is in the offing.

Discussion-What Happens in 2012
To further discussion beyond the above observations and evidence, I offer the following yet to be answered questions. It is hoped that DU members may address these questions to enrich knowledge of DU members as well as enhance the participation of the electorate in our democracy.
Would a progressive challenger be an automatic ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the immediate and long-term sense (doom the challenger’s and or Obama’s chances in the general election and doom any challenger’s long-term political career)?
Would a Republican incumbent be worse than we have now?
a. Would the sacrifice of the 2012 election be worth the value of developing a stronger more progressive wing in the Democratic Party or even developing a third party with core progressive values.
b. Would the progressive wing of the party be strengthened just by the act of exercising this process?
What would Obama have to say for your support in the primary – what would he have to do to make you believe his rhetoric?
Is the value added by use of the internet to enough to overcome the deficit of incumbency?
Does the financial support required to participate in a campaign automatically negate a progressive’s candidacy that would generate substantive reform?
Who are some of the political personalities who have enough stature to challenge Obama in the primaries? In the above discussion of progressive issues, Feingold, Grayson and Kucinich figure prominently – are there other names??
If it is too late for 2012, what about 2016?
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Posted by swilton in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Feb 18th 2010, 10:38 AM

Harvey Wasserman, Greenpeace advisor, author of SOLARTOPIA and founder of, discusses President Obama’s 8 bn initiative to expand the nuclear power industry. With the initiative unfunded by Wall Street due to its lack of economic viability because of lack of insurability (toxic waste and security problems) the initiative would leave tax-payers holding the bill for subsidizing a failed 20th century technology as well as accidents. The initiative is opposed by conservatives (Heritage Foundation and CATO Institute) as well as liberals (greens) – why would Obama invest in this unpopular failed twentieth century technology when there are other alternatives? The answer may lie in Obama advisors’ Rahm Emanuel's and David Axelrod’s connections to EXELON Corp, the largest nuclear power provider in the US, which benefits from the initiative. The interview is at:
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Posted by swilton in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Oct 30th 2009, 12:09 PM
- The Power of Nightmares -

Hi DU friends and collegues -
Review of Part I - Baby It’s Cold Outside

I connect with so many of you with my progressive political beliefs, I wanted to take this opportunity to share this must-see video with you - I know many of you will be informed or reinforced by the video because it explains the phenomena of neo-conservatives and their influence in contributing to the rise of the military industrial complex from the 1980s until the present. You know, the usual subjects.

The theme of the movie The Power of Nightmares which is divided by Netflix into three one hour segments, is that fear is used as a mechanism of coercion to control populations. Examples are provided by our own government from the Cold War up to the present threat from terrorists as well as Islamic terrorists.

That such a vehicle would be needed was recognized by political theorist Leo Strauss who was influential on neo-conservative thought. Strauss recognized that governments were becoming increasingly challenged by their inability to satisfy liberal public demands. Strauss disciples such as Irving Kristol saw the political unrest of the 1960s - early 70s as a way that the governments were unable to satisfy public demands and the need for a strategy to control the public. Problematic for the neo-cons was the ‘untidiness’ of the social movements of the 60s and early 70s; the neo-cons associated the US debacle in the Vietnam War with this untidiness. The identification of a threat that would unify the public through nationalism was a way to control such public unrest or prevent it from happening in the future.

During the Cold War this threat was embodied in the former USSR. This segment, Baby It's Cold Outside, shows examples of the neo-con influence on the Regan Administration through Rumsfield, Richard Perle, Richard Pipes and Paul Wolfowitz who played prominent roles in our political institutions during the Reagan Administration. During the 1980s, there was an ongoing debate about the political-military strength of the USSR which was based upon the contradictions between the CIA intelligence estimates which were quantifications based upon numbers and the neo-con estimates whose threat predictions that were largely based on myths. Along the way, the neo-cons co-opted the ideologues from the religious right whose leaders were equally threatened by the social challenges from the 60s and 70s. Of course the neo-cons didn’t go away after the Regan Administration left Washington, DC - and of course we are still experiencing the weight of the military industrial complex through the exponential growth of the budget deficit to pay for our grossly inflated military budget.

This segment of the movie also provided illuminating footage that illustrated the genesis of Islamic political theory and terrorism. This segment covered the leadership of the Moslem Brotherhood; its founder’s political philosophy and how this philosophy influenced Egyptian political dynamics to include the assassination of Sadat and to today with Bin Laden.

I found the video offered through Netflix or as a premium through the community radio station that I listen too. (WPFW/89.3 for those in the Washington DC metro area).

If there is enough feedback on this first segment, I will review the second and third parts. Thanks for listening.
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Posted by swilton in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Jun 18th 2009, 07:51 AM
Hi DU friends, colleagues and comrades,
This will be my first post on democratic underground. To be brief, Senator Bernie Sanders has a petition up on his website to sign up in support of single payer health care. As many of you know, the challenges to get a substantive health care system that is competitive with the rest of the industrialized world are daunting. We need to get behind Bernie Sanders and support this initiative to put power behind his lone voice. I can’t say that this will work; every little bit helps.

Here’s the link to the website

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Posted by swilton in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Mar 29th 2009, 09:38 AM
You can count Evan Bayh and his ilk in the DLC among that elite club.

War is glamorized in this country through our culture - it's the movies, the toys, the video games, the list goes on. And this message is reinforced in our education system.

Although this is another subject, I think Obama's move to reform our education system emphasizes the wrong message - it's not the length of the school day that should be modified, it is the content. Rather than glorifyiing the hard sciences, we need to relook at how we teach the humanities. We should be teaching history not just through the memorization of the 'facts' but through living the experiences of Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans and the imperialism within our own countries. If we truly paid reparations to the minorities that we have expended in the interest of the American Empire, (ala Germany paying reparations to Israel) we would be walking on the earth with a lighter footprint and a humbler demeanor.
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Posted by swilton in Political Videos
Mon Mar 23rd 2009, 03:38 PM

our endless wars for their oil.

Traditional epidemic diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, pneumonia, cholera, typhoid, paratyphoid and dysentery have been associated with transnational conflict for centuries. The crowding of forced migrations, bad water and poor sanitation and malnutrition are the logical physical attributes of war that stress and compromise public immune systems. More recently, because high human densities have grown exponentially in the last half of the 20th century, disease dynamics are even more susceptible to population migrations.

Despite the losses to the economy and labor force during the 1980-89 Iran-Iraq War, Iraqi health care was one of the best in the Middle East - second only to Israel, or at least right up there. Saddam Hussein - the tyrant that he was - spent around $80/person. After the 1991 War, the health expenditure per person fell to about $17/person. The 1991 War had destroyed many health improvements made in Iraqi social and health infrastructure as well as much of the electrical grid system and infrastructure. This, coupled with the US imposed sanctions is why there were around 500,000 childrens dieing in Iraq prior to 2003.

The 2003 War - even during the first year damaged 7% of the hospitals through combat and 12% through looting. The lack of refrigeration prevented safe-guarding and storeage of vaccinations. Only 61% of the public health headquarters clinics in Iraq as of May 2003 had equipment and staff sufficient to provide vaccinations daily. While the lack of vaccination storage portended health threats from sm,allpox, diphtheria, and polio and other disease preventable by vaccinations, the cholera problem is related to sanitation lack of safe drinking water, waste accumulation, etc.
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Posted by swilton in Political Videos
Fri Mar 20th 2009, 07:20 PM

All they had to do to take up the grass was put a layer of newspaper (preferably the Washington Post or the New York Times) down and a layer of mulch on top of it. Wait six months and voila - a layer of dirt - the newspaper + mulch kills the grass!!

Notwithstanding the lack of imagination to get the garden started, the intent is worth applauding...we need to start tackling America's (the fascination with fast-junk food] obesity problem from the grass roots.
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Posted by swilton in Political Videos
Mon Mar 02nd 2009, 06:56 PM

I disagree that the people's interests need to be realigned with the banks - the problem is not that the people's interests are not aligned now with the banks. The problem arises because the CEOs interests are not aligned with the banks' and people's interests.
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Posted by swilton in Latest Breaking News
Mon Mar 02nd 2009, 01:30 PM
The dyke of the myth of American morality has this Guantanamo Bay hole in it. I hope when the flood comes that it can be rebuilt. Hopefully, exposures such as this and the release of further prisoners will be the beginning of the catharsis process that will include accountability. Then we can begin the rebuilding of our humanity.
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