Under Seige: The Survival of the United States

mlkriversidechurch Photo credit: John C. Goodwin

Fifty years ago (on April 4, 1967), the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr gave a speech connecting the main struggles then going on in the U.S.A.  I’ve provided links to it, both as text first, and also the video. Warning, they are long.

TEXT – The link between the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and economic injustice

VIDEO – A Time to Break Silence (Full)

While I am a wee bit early for the anniversary of that speech, I read today that President Donald Trump is asking the US Congress to increase defense spending by 54 BILLION DOLLARS- that’s $54,000,000,000 (If you could save $100,000/year, it would take you 540,000 years to save 54 billion dollars.) MLK felt that such reckless spending would kill this country. Although I approve of Trump’s shaking things up and challenging the U.S. political establishment, I cannot approve of his recently expressed desire to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and now his plea to divert even more of out tax dollars to military spending. I believe, as did MLK, that the health of my country depends on how we treat our citizens, how we teach our children, and how we plan for our future. It is not tied to building a wall, an actual literal fucking wall around ourselves, and focusing ourselves on increasing our armaments, aiming weapons at the world and daring anyone to try to breach that wall. It is a siege mentality.

Among the consequences of a siege mentality are black and white thinking, social conformity, and lack of trust. It is a false choice! Many in the United State believe that our only defense is military, that we must have overwhelming superiority in weapons of mass destruction, and other firepower in order to protect ourselves. We live in a huge world, full of other nations, other peoples, and we are not under siege by them. Many support us, many admire us even now, as we prepare to enter a new Dark Age of fear, of belligerence, and of a poverty, in both the economic and spiritual sense, that will cripple this country. WE CAN BE BETTER THAN THIS!

We do not need to retreat into a bunker bristling with weapons in order to survive. We can work with many other countries to cut off funding to terror groups, isolate them, and if necessary to eliminate them. They are misguided idiots led by fanaticism, without remorse, without concern for others. That alone isolates them. We cannot defeat them by becoming like them. If we continue down this path we will fail, and we will self destruct.

If we were to, for instance, look to a shared future with other nations and peoples around the globe, prepare for it, plan for it, or, I don’t know, even SPEND MONEY ON IT, might we not have a better chance at survival?

I cannot tell people what to do, or how to do it, but I am certain that working and planning together is our best, most viable option.

There are two ways to end a siege: utterly overwhelm and destroy, or starve the enemy out. This is what we face. By building a fortress, hiding behind it, and closing ourselves off from the world, we are making the entire world our enemy. WE BECOME THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD. One day, we may find ourselves facing a united world that either comes for us to destroy us, or worse, ignores us. Without trade, without cultural exchange, without friends, and without hope, we will starve ourselves into oblivion.

Hello America, We don’t look to be ruled

So, the President of the United States of America addressed the Democratic convention last night, to support the nominee of the Democratic Party for President. I’m not a big fan of the Democratic Party, or Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama is not a man of a few words, but it usually pays to listen to him. Leaving aside the problems inherent in a political game corrupted by money, in a DNC obsessed with money (the DNC recently asked the White House to reward donors with slots on boards and commissions), with the Democratic and Republican shut out of independent political parties, and despite Hillary Clinton’s complacency with the rules of that corrupt game, Obama can cut through all the bullshit.

Barack 2

Hello, America! Hello, Democrats!

So 12 years ago tonight I addressed this convention for the very first time.You met my two little girls, Malia and Sasha, now two amazing young women who just fill me with pride. You fell for my brilliant wife and partner, Michelle, who has made me a better father and a better man, who has gone on to inspire our nation as first lady and who somehow hasn’t aged a day. I know, the same cannot be said for me. My girls remind me all the time. Wow, you’ve changed so much, daddy. And then they try to clean it up. Not bad, just more mature. And it’s true, I was so young that first time in Boston. And look, I’ll admit it, maybe I was a little nervous addressing such a big crowd. But I was filled with faith; faith in America, the generous, bighearted, hopeful country that made my story, that made all of our stories possible.

A lot’s happened over the years. And while this nation has been tested by war and it’s been tested by recession and all manner of challenges, I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your president, to tell you I am even more optimistic about the future of America than ever before. How could I not be, after all that we’ve achieved together? After the worst recession in 80 years, we’ve fought our way back. We’ve seen deficits come down, 401(k)s recover, an auto industry set new records, unemployment reach eight-year lows, and our businesses create 15 million new jobs.After a century of trying, we declared that health care in America is not a privilege for a few, it is a right for everybody. After decades of talk, we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil, we doubled our production of clean energy. We brought more of our troops home to their families, and we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.

Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, we opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our children. We put policies in place to help students with loans, protect consumers from fraud, cut veteran homelessness almost in half. And through countless acts of quiet courage, America learned that love has no limits, and marriage equality is now a reality across the land. By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started. And through every victory and every setback, I’ve insisted that change is never easy, and never quick; that we wouldn’t meet all of our challenges in one term, or one presidency, or even in one lifetime.

So tonight, I’m here to tell you that yes, we’ve still got more work to do. More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who has not yet felt the progress of these past seven-and-a-half years. We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer; our homeland more secure, and our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation. We’re not done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed that all of us are created equal, all of us are free in the eyes of God. And that work involves a big choice this November. I think it’s fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies, the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.

Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. it’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward. But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems, just the fanning of resentment and blame and anger and hate. And that is not the America I know.

The America I know is full of courage and optimism and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties about paying the bills and protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent. We get frustrated with political gridlock and worry about racial divisions. We are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice. There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures, men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten, parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we had. All of that is real. We’re challenged to do better, to be better. But as I’ve traveled this country, through all 50 states, as I’ve rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I have also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America.

I see people working hard and starting businesses. I see people teaching kids and serving our country. I see engineers inventing stuff, doctors coming up with new cures. I see a younger generation full of energy and new ideas, not constrained by what is, ready to seize what ought to be. And most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, young, old, gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love. That’s what I see! That’s the America that I know!

And there is only one candidate in this race who believes in that future, has devoted her life to it; a mother and grandmother who would do anything to help our children thrive, a leader with real plans to break down barriers and blast through glass ceilings and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American, the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.

AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

OBAMA: That’s right. That’s right.

Let me tell you, eight years ago, you may remember Hillary and I were rivals for the Democratic nomination. We battled for a year-and- a-half. Let me tell you, it was tough because Hillary was tough. I was worn out. She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers it was backwards in heels. And every time I thought I might have that race won, Hillary just came back stronger. But after it was all over, I asked Hillary to join my team. And she was a little surprised, some of my staff were surprised. But ultimately said yes because she knew that what was at stake was bigger than either of us. And for four years, for four years, I had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her judgment and her discipline. I came to realize that her unbelievable work ethic wasn’t for praise, it wasn’t for attention, that she was in this for everyone who needs a champion. I understood that after all these years, she has never forgotten just who she’s fighting for.

Hillary’s still got the tenacity that she had as a young woman working at the Children’s Defense Fund, going door to door to ultimately make sure kids with disabilities could get a quality education. She’s still got the heart she showed as our first lady, working with Congress to help push through a Children’s Health Insurance Program that to this day protects millions of kids. She’s still seared with the memory of every American she met who lost loved ones on 9/11, which is why, as a senator from New York, she fought so hard for funding to help first responders, to help the city rebuild; why, as secretary of state, she sat with me in the Situation Room and forcefully argued in favor of the mission that took out bin Laden.

You know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. You can read about it, you can study it. But until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war. But Hillary’s been in the room, she’s been part of those decisions. She knows what’s at stake in the decisions our government makes, what’s at stake for the working family, for the senior citizen, for the small-business owner, for the soldier, for the veteran. And even in the midst of crisis, she listens to people and she keeps her cool and she treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits. That’s the Hillary I know. That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire. And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America. I hope you don’t mind, Bill, but I was just telling the truth, man.

And by the way, in case you were wondering about her judgment, take a look at her choice of running mate. Tim Kaine is as good a man, as humble and as committed a public servant as anybody that I know. I know his family. I love Anne, I love their kids. He will be a great vice president, he will make Hillary a better president, just like my dear friend and brother Joe Biden has made me a better president. Now, Hillary has real plans to address the concerns she’s heard from you on the campaign trail. She’s got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help workers share in their company’s profits, to help put kids in preschool, and put students through college without taking on a ton of debt. That’s what leaders do.

And then there’s Donald Trump.

(AUDIENCE JEERS)

Don’t boo; vote!

You know, the Donald is not really a plans guy. He’s not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated. Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice? Hey, if so, you should vote for him. But if you’re someone who’s truly concerned about paying your bills, if you’re really concerned about pocketbook issues and seeing the economy grow and creating more opportunity for everybody, then the choice isn’t even close. If you want someone with a lifelong track record of fighting for higher wages and better benefits and a fairer tax code and a bigger voice for workers and stronger regulations on Wall Street, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton.

And if you’re rightly concerned about who’s going to keep you and your family safe in a dangerous world, well, the choice is even clearer. Hillary Clinton is respected around the world, not just by leaders, but by the people they serve. I have to say this. People outside of the United States do not understand what’s going on in this election, they really don’t. Because they know Hillary, they’ve seen her work. She’s worked closely with our intelligence teams, our diplomats, our military. And she has the judgment and the experience and the temperament to meet the threat from terrorism. It’s not new to her. Our troops have pounded ISIL without mercy, taking out their leaders, taking back territory. And I know Hillary won’t relent until ISIL is destroyed. She will finish the job and she’ll do it without resorting to torture or banning entire religions from entering our country. She is fit and she is ready to be the next commander in chief.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump calls our military a disaster. Apparently, he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known. He suggests America is weak. He must not hear the billions of men and women and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of freedom and dignity and human rights. He cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, tells our NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection. Well, America’s promises do not come with a price tag. We meet our commitments. We bear our burdens. That’s one of the reasons why almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago when I took office. America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness does not depend on Donald Trump. In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election, the meaning of our democracy.

Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election. And that’s another bet that Donald Trump will lose. And the reason he’ll lose it is because he’s selling the American people short. We are not a fragile people, we’re not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled.

Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that we the people can form a more perfect union. That’s who we are. That’s our birthright, the capacity to shape our own destiny. That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent. It’s what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot and marchers to cross a bridge in Selma and workers to organize and fight for collective bargaining and better wages. America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.

And that’s what Hillary Clinton understands. She knows that this is a big, diverse country, she has seen it, she’s traveled, she’s talked to folks and she understands that most issues are rarely black and white. She understands that even when you’re 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise. That democracy doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other.

She knows that for progress to happen, we have to listen to each other and see ourselves in each other, and fight for our principles, but also fight to find common ground, no matter how elusive that may sometimes seem. Hillary knows we can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their son leaves the house isn’t so different than what a brave cop’s family feels when he puts on the blue and goes to work, that we can honor police and treat every community fairly. We can do that. And she knows that acknowledging problems that have festered for decades isn’t making race relations worse, it’s creating the possibility for people of good will to join and make things better.

Hillary knows we can insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists, families that came here for the same reasons our forebears came, to work and to study and to make a better life, in a place where we can talk and worship and love as we please. She knows their dream is quintessentially American, and the American dream is something no wall will ever contain. These are the things that Hillary knows. It can be frustrating, this business of democracy. Trust me, I know. Hillary knows, too. When the other side refuses to compromise, progress can stall. People are hurt by the inaction. Supporters can grow impatient and worry that you’re not trying hard enough, that you’ve maybe sold out. But I promise you, when we keep at it, when we change enough minds, when we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen. And if you doubt that, just ask the 20 million more people who have health care today. Just ask the Marine who proudly serves his country without hiding the husband that he loves.

Democracy works, America, but we gotta want it, not just during an election year, but all the days in between. So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been during this election. We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done. That’s right, feel the Bern!

If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote, not just for a president, but for mayors and sheriffs and state’s attorneys and state legislators. That’s where the criminal law is made. And we’ve got to work with police and protesters until laws and practices are changed. That’s how democracy works. If you want to fight climate change, we’ve got to engage not only young people on college campuses, we’ve got to reach out to the coal miner who’s worried about taking care of his family, the single mom worried about gas prices. If you want to protect our kids and our cops from gun violence, we’ve got to get the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, who agree on things like background checks to be just as vocal and determined as the gun lobby that blocks change through every funeral that we hold. That’s how change happens.

Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics. She has been caricatured by the right and by some on the left. She has been accused of everything you can imagine and some things that you cannot. But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows that sometimes during those 40 years she’s made mistakes, just like I have, just like we all do. That’s what happens when we try. That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described, not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena, who strives valiantly, who errs, but who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.” Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us, even if we haven’t always noticed.

And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes he will.” It’s about “yes we can.” And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands. Yes, we can! Not yes, she can; not yes, I can; yes, we can!

You know, there’s been a lot of talk in this campaign about what America’s lost, people who tell us that our way of life is being undermined by pernicious changes and dark forces beyond our control. They tell voters there’s a “real America” out there that must be restored. This isn’t an idea, by the way, that started with Donald Trump. It’s been peddled by politicians for a long time, probably from the start of our republic. And it’s got me thinking about the story I told you 12 years ago tonight about my Kansas grandparents and the things they taught me when I was growing up. See, my grandparents, they came from the heartland. Their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago. I don’t know if they had their birth certificates, but they were there.

They were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers. Hardy, small-town folks. Some were Democrats, but a lot of them, maybe even most of them were Republicans, the party of Lincoln. And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn’t like show-offs, they didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility; helping each other out. That’s what they believed in. True things, things that last, the things we try to teach our kids. And what my grandparents understood was that these values weren’t limited to Kansas. They weren’t limited to small towns.

These values could travel to Hawaii. They could travel even the other side of the world, where my mother would end up working to help poor women get a better life trying to apply those values. My grandparents knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half- Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter; in fact, they were the same values Michelle’s parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids living in a bungalow on the south side of Chicago. They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke, a baseball cap or a hijab. America has changed over the years. But these values that my grandparents taught me, they haven’t gone anywhere. They’re as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots is what’s in here. That’s what matters.

And that’s why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries and blend it into something uniquely our own. That’s why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here. That’s why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service. That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end. That is America. That is America. Those bonds of affection, that common creed. We don’t fear the future; we shape it, embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own. That’s what Hillary Clinton understands. This fighter, this stateswoman, this mother and grandmother, this public servant, this patriot, that’s the America she’s fighting for.

And that is why I have confidence, as I leave this stage tonight, that the Democratic Party is in good hands. My time in this office, it hasn’t fixed everything. As much as we’ve done, there’s still so much I want to do. But for all the tough lessons I’ve had to learn, for all the places I’ve fallen short, I’ve told Hillary, and I’ll tell you what’s picked me back up, every single time: It’s been you, the American people.

It’s the letter I keep on my wall from a survivor in Ohio who twice almost lost everything to cancer, but urged me to keep fighting for health care reform, even when the battle seemed lost. Do not quit. It’s the painting I keep in my private office, a big-eyed, green owl with blue wings, made by a 7-year-old girl who was taken from us in Newtown, given to me by her parents so I wouldn’t forget, a reminder of all the parents who have turned their grief into action. It’s the small-business owner in Colorado who cut most of his own salary so he wouldn’t have to lay off any of his workers in the recession because, he said, that wouldn’t have been in the spirit of America. It’s the conservative in Texas who said he disagreed with me on everything, but appreciated that, like him, I try to be a good dad.

It’s the courage of the young soldier from Arizona who nearly died on the battlefield in Afghanistan, but who has learned to speak again and walk again, and earlier this year, stepped through the door of the Oval Office on his own power, to salute and shake my hand. It is every American who believed we could change this country for the better, so many of you who’d never been involved in politics, who picked up phones and hit the streets and used the internet in amazing new ways that I didn’t really understand, but made change happen. You are the best organizers on the planet, and I am so proud of all the change that you made possible. Time and again, you’ve picked me up. And I hope sometimes I’ve picked you up, too.

And tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me.

I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. Because you’re who I was talking about 12 years ago, when I talked about hope. It’s been you who’ve fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds were great, even when the road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope! America, you have vindicated that hope these past eight years. And now I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen. So this year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me, to reject cynicism and reject fear and to summon what is best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.

Thank you for this incredible journey. Let’s keep it going. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

Say No to Loudmouthed Scaremongers

Obama And Biden Meet With National Security Leaders At The White House

President Barack Obama

Today, USA President Barack Obama gave a speech on terrorism. He spoke of the senseless killings in Florida, and the USA’s participation in the fight agaist ISIL, aka ISIS. But beyond that, he spoke, and quite eloquently, about the fight at home. Rather than try to highlight all of the points he made, I am including the latter half of his speech as it relates directly to us here in the USA. His points about doing the work of the terrorists by using the phrase “radical Islam” and lumping the un-Islamic murdering terrorists in with all Muslims is well taken, I think. That is exactly what Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, said that he hoped to do on September 11, 2001 by funding and coordinating four terrorist attacks on US soil!

President Barack Obama said we should not ban all people from Muslim countries from entering the USA, but we should certainly ban suspected terrorists, who are already banned from flying, from purchasing assault weapons. That would be the smart thing to do, but I fear the USA will not do the smart thing. Between the gun-manufacturing lobbyist NRA, and dangerous fearmongers like the Republican presumptive nominee for President, it’s possible we will fall right into the trap that bin Laden set for us: to war against an entire people because of their faith, thereby ensuring a fatwah against the USA in response. That would be stupidity of the highest order, and treason to the ideals of our republic.

OBAMA: Lastly, here at home, if we really want to help law enforcement protect Americans from home-grown extremists, the kind of tragedies that occurred at San Bernardino and that now have occurred in Orlando, there is a meaningful way to do that. We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents.

It is absolutely true, we cannot prevent every tragedy. But we know that consistent with the Second Amendment, there are common sense steps that could reduce gun violence and could reduce the lethality of somebody who intends to do other people harm. We should give ATF the resources they need to enforce the gun laws that we already have.

People with possible ties to terrorism, who are not allowed on a plane should not be allowed to buy a gun. Enough talking about being tough on terrorism. Actually be tough on terrorism and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons.

Reinstate the assault weapons ban, make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us. Otherwise, despite extraordinary efforts across our government, by local law enforcement, by our intelligence agencies, by our military — despite all the sacrifices that folks make, these kinds of events are going to keep on happening. And the weapons are only going to get more powerful.

And let me make a final point. For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize the administration and me for not using the phrase “radical Islam.” That’s the key, they tell us. “We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists.”

What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?

The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.

Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As president, I have called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.

There has not been a moment in my 7.5 years as president where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label “radical Islam.” Not once has an adviser of mine said, “Man, if we use that phrase, we are going to turn this whole thing around,” not once.

So someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we are fighting?

If there is anyone out there who thinks we are confused about who our enemies are — that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we have taken off the battlefield.

If the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around world who are working to defeat ISIL aren’t taking the fight seriously? That would come as a surprise to those who spent these last 7.5 years dismantling Al Qaida in the FATA, for example — including the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk, and the special forces that I ordered to get bin Laden and are now on the ground in Iraq and in Syria.

They know full well who the enemy is. So do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spend countless hours disrupting plots and protecting all Americans — including politicians who tweet and appear on cable news shows.

They know who the nature of the enemy is. So, there is no magic to the phrase “radical Islam.” It is a political talking point. It is not a strategy.

And the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism.

Groups like ISIL and Al Qaida want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions.

They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion-plus people, that they speak for Islam. That’s their propaganda, that’s how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.

Now, up until this point, this argument of labels has mostly just been partisan rhetoric, and sadly, we have all become accustomed to that kind of partisanship, even when it involves the fight against these extremist groups.

That kind of yapping has not prevented folks across the government from doing their jobs, from sacrificing and working really hard to protect the American people.

But we are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mind set and this kind of thinking can be. We are starting to see where this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we are fighting, where this can lead us.

We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from immigrating into America. And you hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complacent in violence.

Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer — they were all U.S. citizens. Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminate them, because of their faith?

We heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this?

Because that’s not the America we want. It does not reflect our Democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe, it will make us less safe, fueling ISIL’s notion that the West hates Muslims, making Muslims in this country and around the world feel like, no matter what they do, they’re going to be under suspicion and under attack.

It makes Muslim-Americans feel like their government is betraying them. It betrays the very values America stands for.

We have gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear, and we came to regret it. We have seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens, and it has been a shameful part of our history.

This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here. Our founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, are clear about that.

And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect.

The pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great. The very things that make us exceptional. And then the terrorists would have won and we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen.

You know, two weeks ago I was at the commencement ceremony of the Air Force Academy and it could not have been more inspiring to see these young people stepping up dedicated to serve and protect this country.

And part of what was inspiring was the incredible diversities of these cadets. We saw cadets who are straight applauding classmates who were openly gay.

We saw cadets born here in America applauding classmates who are immigrants and love this country so much they decided they wanted to be part of our armed forces.

We saw cadets and families of all religions applaud cadets who are proud, patriotic Muslim-Americans serving their country in uniform ready to lay their lives on the line to protect you and to protect me.

We saw male cadets applauding for female classmates who can now serve in combat positions. That’s the American military. That’s America. One team. One nation.

Those are the values that ISIL is trying to destroy and we should not help them do it. Our diversity and our respect for one another, our drawing on the talents of everybody in this country, our making sure that we are treating everybody fairly, that we are not judging people on the basis of what faith they are or what race they are or what ethnicity they are or what their sexual orientation is.

That’s what makes this country great. That’s the spirit we see in Orlando. That’s the unity and resolve that will allow us to defeat ISIL. That’s what will preserve our values and our ideals that define us as Americans. That’s how we are going to defend this nation and that’s how we are going to defend our way of life. Thank you very much.

Clinton Needs to Disavow Superdelegates

Hillary Trump

According to a Washingto Post article: Leading liberals begin new push to unify Democrats around Clinton, liberal groups must rally around Clinton because Trump’s policies would take us back 100 years. California’s Gov. Jerry Brown said, “This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun.”

Bullshit, Brown.

I don’t believe Washington’s Hillary Democrats think for a minute that now is the time to unify. This is just part of their strategy to get Hillary Clinton into the White House. They know people are supporting Senator Sanders in huge numbers. They are afraid of losing, afraid that Sanders will somehow win the nomination. They are desperate. In fact, polls are increasingly showing that Trump and Clinton are nearly tied in support. In fact Clinton could lose the general election to Trump as things stand now. They want their candidate to win the primary by acclamation, unopposed, so as to create the illusion that she has massive support, enough to defeat Trump. She does not. How many people are going to be totally disillusioned if she takes the primary only by using superdelegates? She could take the high road now, and appeal to all the Bernie supporters by refusing to use the votes of superdelegates at all. If she does so, she will have the support she wants. If not, then all those people who have been excited to participate, to vote, some of them for the first time, are going to lose heart. If they do have a chance to see their candidate make it to the convention, where, although some my expect miracles, they will accept the will of the voters: unity achieved. This morally bankrupt attempt to dangle Trump as the ultimate evil in order to rally a rebellious electorate will backfire unless Ms. Clinton takes the high road now herself. No, Sanders should not drop out before the primary convention. Get real. Clinton should disavow internal Party politics in order to clinch the nomination.

Even Elizabeth Warren has stopped short of endorsing Hillary Clinton at this point.

//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/461deee6-2271-11e6-b944-52f7b1793dae

Power-hungry

 

Politics as a Feeling

Personally, I think the rise of Trump has been something easily predicted by the way we vote for people based on looks and personality. But voting for people based solely on party affiliation is not helpful to our country, ourselves or the ideals we claim to fight for. In fact, I would say that any voting machine rigged to allow people to vote a straight party ticket is rigged against democracy, against free thought, and against common sense. Why do politicians get elected who are straight-out crooks, liars, or hypocrites? It is not because they became corrupted after being elected, but because they weren’t evaluated critically, thoughtfully, and thoroughly. It is because people like a certain candidate for President or Congress or local office, and they vote for every candidate who is running on that same party ticket. If we don’t know much or anything at all about a candidate, we should never vote for them. Let some of them win with a handful of votes from close freinds and political party hacks. I’d be willing to bet that the ones who win with 1% or less of the votes cast will be unwilling to invade other countries or try outright theft and deceit, because they can’t count on enough support to claim any kind of mandate, or wiggle out of peronal responsibility.

The Politics of Writing

A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found something that, believe it or not, surprised nobody. The conclusion of the study found that “People vote with their party, not their personal beliefs.” As YaleNews later reported:

People vote on an issue based on the facts and their ideology, or personal beliefs, but they disregard both the facts and their personal beliefs when they are aware of their political party’s position

The premise of the study is that given a situation involving the issue of welfare, people artificially voted from their beliefs. But when informed of their party’s beliefs beforehand they often switched their own opinion to fall in line with the party. Again this is not very surprising. A simple talk with a stranger reveals how little people truly care about core issues, or when they do take an interest to them how little information…

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Hillary’s 2008 vs 2016 campaigns – Do as I say, not as I do.

twoface

Hillary Clinton should be called on her duplicity, in calling on Bernie Sanders to “stop attacking Hillary” or even to drop out of the race. Eight years ago, she was on the opposite side. Read the review of her 2008 campaign rhetoric by Chris Weigant of the Huffington Post.

To tell you the truth, I never thought I’d have to write this article. I fully expected someone else to dig this stuff out, if the calls for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the race (or “say nice things about Hillary Clinton”) began. Now that they have, I still haven’t seen any detailed reminders of how the 2008 Democratic primary race ended yet. So I went ahead and dug them out on my own.

What follows is a review of the last few weeks of the 2008 primary, for those who have forgotten what it was like. All of these articles come from the Washington Post (because it made the database search easier, mostly). I apologize for not providing links; this is due to the fact that I retrieved the articles from a commercial database (with a paywall).

All of the following articles were published from mid-April to the first week in June of 2008. In other words, exactly eight years ago. I’m going to present them with only limited commentary (to only provide any needed historical context).

One more thing before I begin, in the interests of fairness. While Hillary Clinton did fight hard until the end, she is to be credited for two strategic moves from roughly the same period of time. First, she largely refused to attack Barack Obama in the midst of all the “Reverend Wright” mudslinging. She easily could have piled on, along with the rest of the political universe. She didn’t. Secondly, during the time period below, Clinton had a stock line she threw in to most of her speeches (even the ones quoted below): “I will work my heart out for the Democratic Party and the party’s eventual nominee.” She signaled that she would work for Obama’s election if she lost, which was rightly seen as a big step towards party unity.

With those caveats firmly in place, though, let’s take a look at the end of Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Just before the Pennsylvania primary, from an article titled “Obama Sharpens His Tone; As Pa. Vote Nears, Clinton Criticizes Rival’s Negative Turn,” Clinton showed her displeasure at Obama’s attacks on her health care reform plan (which, at the time, had a mandate for coverage that Obama did not support):

Clinton, campaigning in Bethlehem, called her rival’s approach “so negative” and charged him with mimicking Republicans by attacking her plan for universal health care.

“He has sent out mailers, he has run ads, misrepresenting what I have proposed,” Clinton said. “I really regret that because the last thing we need is to have somebody spending as much money as he has downgrading universal health care.”

From an April 22 article entitled “Clinton in the Wilderness,” a previous and very personal slight towards Obama was noted:

But she [Clinton] has gone too far — too much disturbing stuff, some of it shocking in its coarseness. For instance, she added the coy “as far as I know” to her 60 Minutes statement that Obama is not a Muslim.

Clinton used some inartful language in an interview with USA Today, which Eugene Robinson pointed out on May 9 (“The Card Clinton Is Playing”):

From the beginning, Hillary Clinton has campaigned as if the Democratic nomination were hers by divine right. That’s why she is falling short — and that’s why she should be persuaded to quit now, rather than later, before her majestic sense of entitlement splits the party along racial lines.

If that sounds harsh, look at the argument she made Wednesday, in an interview with USA Today, as to why she should be the nominee instead of Barack Obama. She cited an Associated Press article “that found how Senator Obama’s support… among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again. I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on.”

As a statement of fact, that’s debatable at best. As a rationale for why Democratic Party superdelegates should pick her over Obama, it’s a slap in the face to the party’s most loyal constituency — African Americans — and a repudiation of principles the party claims to stand for. Here’s what she’s really saying to party leaders: There’s no way that white people are going to vote for the black guy. Come November, you’ll be sorry.

How silly of me. I thought the Democratic Party believed in a colorblind America.

On May 20, in an ironically-titled article “Democrats Observe A Fragile Cease-Fire,” the Clinton campaign tried to equate Obama with George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” photo:

Obama is favored to win the Oregon primary today, and Clinton is an even stronger favorite to win the Kentucky contest. But Obama will not celebrate primary night in either of those states. Instead, he has chosen to be in Iowa, where his victory in the caucuses in January turned the Democratic race upside down. There, at a rally in Des Moines, he is expected to declare that he has secured a majority of the pledged delegates currently eligible to attend August’s Democratic convention in Denver.

Obama and his advisers insist the event will stop short of a declaration that he has won the nomination. But it will be seen as another signal to superdelegates to climb aboard his bandwagon as quickly as possible.

The celebration, however, has rankled the Clinton campaign and the candidate herself. They see it as a highhanded effort to embarrass her and to generate renewed calls from others in the party for her to quit the race before anyone has achieved a genuine majority of pledged delegates and superdelegates.

In a signal of how fragile the detente between the two sides is, the Clinton campaign sent out a tart memo yesterday under the name of communications director Howard Wolfson calling the Obama rally in Iowa “a slap in the face of millions of voters in the remaining primary states and to Senator Clinton’s 17 million supporters.” Then, in language tying the Obama campaign to the Bush White House, the memo continues: “Premature victory laps and false declarations of victory are unwarranted. Declaring mission accomplished does not make it so.”

On May 23, Hillary Clinton said something downright despicable. There’s just no other word to describe her insinuation. From “Hillary Clinton Raises the Specter of the Unspeakable,” here is Hillary musing on a possible end to the Democratic nomination race:

Smart candidates don’t invoke the possibility of their opponents being killed. This seems so obvious it shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently, it needs to be said.

“We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California,” Hillary Clinton said yesterday, referencing the fact that past nomination contests have stretched into June to explain why she hasn’t heeded calls to exit the Democratic race. She was in an editorial board meeting with a South Dakota newspaper, and she didn’t even seem to notice she’d just uttered the unutterable.

The nation’s political science students, our future strategists and campaign managers, would do well to pay attention to this moment. There are taboos in presidential politics, and this is one of the biggest. To raise the specter of a rival’s assassination, even unintentionally, is to make a truly terrible thing real. It sounds like one might be waiting for a terrible thing to happen, even if one isn’t. It sounds almost like wishful thinking.

She had to immediately apologize, but within the apology article (“Clinton Sorry For Remark About RFK Assassination; Comment Was Made in Reference to Primaries”) were a few other slights she had recently made (there was an enormous battle over whether the Florida and Michigan delegations would count at the convention, since they had defied D.N.C. rules by scheduling their primaries too early):

Hillary Clinton’s reference to the shooting of Robert Kennedy on June 6, 1968, after he had just won the California primary, hardened feelings in the Obama campaign once more, following a brief thaw as it appeared that Clinton would seek to unite the party in the final weeks of the campaign. Her allusion came on the heels of two other comments over the past few days that the Obama campaign described as off-putting: her reference to the Michigan and Florida delegations as similar to the fraudulent elections in Zimbabwe, and her comparison of that dispute to the ballot recount in the 2000 presidential election.

Not mentioned in this article was the fact that she had also compared the battle over seating the delegations “with the abolition of slavery” (from a May, 25 article, “To Claim Popular Vote, Clinton Is Seeking Wins In Last 3 Primaries”).

On the very last day of primary voting, when Montana and South Dakota put Barack Obama over the top in the delegate count, Clinton essentially refused to concede his victory. From a June 3 article, “Obama Claims The Democratic Presidential Nomination,” the key line in the speech she gave:

Obama scored his final primary victory in Montana and was quickly endorsed by the state’s governor as well as the two Democratic senators. Clinton, meanwhile, claimed a come-from-behind victory in South Dakota, after trailing in the state for weeks.

Clinton, who spoke roughly 30 minutes before Obama at Baruch College in New York City, congratulated the Illinois senator for the “extraordinary race” he ran, although she did not acknowledge he had effectively won the nomination and stressed that “I will be making no decisions tonight” about her future plans.

For more context, from her speech transcript that night:

Now, the question is: Where do we go from here? And given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question I don’t take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.

But this has always been your campaign. So, to the 18 million people who voted for me, and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you’ll go to my Web site at HillaryClinton.com and share your thoughts with me and help in any way that you can.

And in the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way.

From an article (“Obama Is Poised To Clinch Victory; Clinton Ponders Options at Finish Line”) filed the same day:

As Clinton made a final push for votes across South Dakota, her advisers said her options ranged from dropping out Tuesday night and endorsing Obama to making a final effort to convince uncommitted superdelegates that she would be a stronger rival to McCain.

Another, according to senior Clinton advisers, is what they dubbed the “middle option,” for Clinton to suspend her campaign, acknowledging that Obama has crossed the delegate threshold but keeping her options open until the convention in late August. Advisers said she is looking at historical precedent while weighing her recent victories, including her landslide win in Puerto Rico, in trying to sort out what to do.

Clinton has been angered by recent calls for her to quit, her advisers said, and the “soft landing” of suspending her campaign would allow her to move ahead on her own terms.

Speaking to reporters in Sioux Falls, S.D., spokesman Mo Elleithee was unequivocal, saying that Clinton intends to spend the next several days “making the case to undecided delegates” and adding: “She’s in this race until we have a nominee. She expects to be that nominee.”

On June 6, Barack Obama met with Hillary Clinton in Senator Dianne Feinstein’s house in Washington. The next day — a full four days after the last primary finished — she finally announced the end of her campaign (from “Clinton to Publicly Withdraw, Support Obama”):

After a tumultuous 17-month journey, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) will formally withdraw as a presidential candidate today, publicly declaring her support for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) for the first time since he secured the Democratic nomination.

Clinton drew the wrath of many Democrats when she did not acknowledge Obama’s victory in her speech on Tuesday night. Her farewell address to supporters, scheduled for noon today at the National Building Museum at Fourth and F streets NW, is intended to repair any lingering damage from the Tuesday speech and will close the door on an epic primary campaign that, after dividing Democrats, produced the first African American presumptive nominee of any major party in history.

The former rivals made progress in their search for common ground during a clandestine hour-long meeting at the home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday night. Details of the sit-down, held in Feinstein’s living room, began to emerge as Clinton aides turned in their cellphones, packed up their offices and put the finishing touches on her much-anticipated speech.

“Hillary will be holding an event tomorrow in Washington D.C. to thank all of her supporters, to express her support for Senator Obama, and to talk about the issues that have been at the core of her public service, the issues she will continue fighting for,” campaign manager Maggie Williams wrote in a letter yesterday inviting supporters to attend the gathering. The e-mail doubled as a fundraising solicitation — a reminder of the nearly $30 million in debt that Clinton will seek to retire.

Now, even with such a tumultuous end to the Democratic primary campaign, Hillary Clinton eventually made good on her promise to “campaign her heart out” for Obama. She personally put him over the top in the delegate voting on the convention floor (being a senator, she was also a superdelegate). Eventually, after winning the general election, Barack Obama appointed her Secretary of State (there were many rumors at the time that Bill Clinton was pushing hard for her to be named as Obama’s running mate, but obviously that didn’t come to pass).

Hillary Clinton worked for party unity, but only after a very hard-fought and contentious primary season. I offer these reminders up because now she finds herself in the opposite role. And it seems like everyone’s memory has gone fuzzy when recalling the final two months of the 2008 race. Hillary Clinton’s campaign team has no real leg to stand on now, in calling on Bernie Sanders to “stop attacking Hillary” or even to drop out of the race for her convenience. Because that’s definitely not what Hillary herself did, exactly eight years ago.

Two-faced woman

The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism (from @Truthdig)

Now, I found this to be a very rational, but somewhat depressing analysis of current political events, but with enough truth and common sense to it to make it worth reading and pondering, so I urge everyone to read it.

trump-hitler

College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now these elites are being made to pay. Their duplicity has brought them—and the rest of us—Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. – 2016/03/02

Source: The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism (from @Truthdig)