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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Obama's had his share of sand kicked in his face

Bless his presidential heart:

In his final year in office, President Obama has spent a significant amount of time emphasizing what he sees as his long list of accomplishments since 2008, but in an interview today he also admitted what he considers to be his "worst mistake."

"Probably failing to plan for, the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya," Obama said an interview with "Fox News Sunday."

I'd submit his biggest mistake in the global arena is failing to learn that a) America doesn't do the aftermath part of war very well (perhaps Marshall notwithstanding), and b) America's "bombing for peace and freedom" isn't really the best way to bring about peace or freedom.

Domestically, I think his biggest mistake was assuming the Republicans were ever dealing with him in good faith.


April 10, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Friday, April 08, 2016

Waging Nonviolence Against Terrorism

I see on QuakerSpeakQuaker professor George Lakey’s 8 nonviolent strategies to respond to terrorism piqued the Pentagon’s interest.

Here are the tools in listicle form.  Of course, the concept of fighting fire with water is not new, but in our society/nation we don't really study this much.  Sadly, I suspect there's not much chance of the GOP Congress allowing the creation of a Department of Peace to change that.


April 8, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (7)

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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

My God, It Would Terrify Them!

The law is due to take effect from April sixth. I want to call on the nation to make that a day of prayer and fasting.

 - Gandhi (1982)

Sure, let's kick it old school and revisit Pax Americana and the Methods.  Here's 118. Hartal (combination of strike/economic closure):

The hartal is an Indian method of nonviolent action in which the economic life of an area is temporarily suspended on a voluntary basis in order to demonstrate extreme dissatisfaction with some event, policy, or condition.  It is not used to wield economic influence, but to communicate sorrow, determination, revulsion, or moral or religious feelings about the matter in question.  Although the form of this method is largely economic, the effect is one of symbolic protest.

The hartal is usually limited to a duration of twenty-four hours; it may rarely be extended to forty-eight hours or even longer in an extremely serious case.  The hartalis usually city-wide or village-wide, although it may occur over a more extended area, including the whole nation.  Generally speaking, there is greater emphasis in thehartal than in the general strike on its voluntary nature, even to the point of laborers abstaining from work only after obtaining permission from their employers.  Also, shop owners and businessmen fully participate by closing their establishments and factories.

This is one of the forms of nonviolent action known to ancient India, where it was used against the prince or king to make him aware of the unpopularity of a certain edict or other government measure.  The hartal is also used at a time of national mourning.

Gandhi employed this ancient method in resistance movements he led.  He often used the hartal at the beginning of a struggle with the intent of purifying the participants in the struggle, of testing their feelings on the issue, and arousing the imagination of the people and the opponent.  It was used, for example, at the beginning of the nationwide satyagraha campaign in India against the Rowlatt Bills in 1919, and at the beginning of and during the 1930-31 satyagraha campaign for independence, especially to protest the arrest of important leaders.

Bapu wrote a letter to the press suggesting hartal to protest The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act on March 23, 1919:

Satyagraha...is a process of purification and penance. It seeks to secure reforms or redress of grievances by self-suffering. I therefore venture to suggest that [6th April] may be observed as a day of humiliation and prayer. As there must be an effective public demonstration in keeping with the character of the observance, I beg to advise as follows:

(i) A twenty-four hours’ fast counting from the last meal on the preceding night should be observed by all adults, unless prevented from so doing by consideration of religion or health. The fast is not to be regarded, in any shape or form, in the nature of a hunger-strike, or as designed to put any pressure upon the Government. It is to be regarded, for the satyagrahis, as the necessary discipline to fit them for civil disobedience, contemplated in their Pledge, and for all others, as some slight token of the intensity of their wounded feelings.

(ii) All work, except such as may be necessary in the public interest, should be suspended for the day. Markets and other business places should be closed. Employees who are required to work even on Sundays may only suspend work after obtaining previous leave.

I do not hesitate to recommend these two suggestions for adoption by public servants. For though it is unquestionably the right thing for them not to take part in political discussions and gatherings, in my opinion they have an undoubted right to express upon vital matters their feelings in the very limited manner herein suggested.

(iii) Public meetings should be held on that day in all parts of India, not excluding villages, at which resolution praying for the withdrawal of the two measures should be passed.

In some places, things got out of hand, and Gandhi wrote later:

[I]t suddenly dawned upon me that I had committed a grave error in calling upon the people in the Kheda district and elsewhere to launch upon civil disobedience prematurely, as it now seemed to me. I was addressing a public meeting. My confession brought down upon me no small amount of ridicule.

But I have never regretted having made that confession. For I have always held that it is only when one sees one's own mistakes with a convex lens, and does just the reverse in the case of others, that one is able to arrive at a just relative estimate of the two.

I further believe that a scrupulous and conscientious observance of this rule is necessary for one who wants to be a Satyagrahi. Let us now see what that Himalayan miscalculation was. Before one can be fit for the practice of civil disobedience one must have rendered a willing and respectful obedience to the state laws. For the most part we obey such laws out of fear of the penalty for their breach, and this holds good particularly in respect of such laws as do not involve a moral principle.

For instance, an honest, respectable man will not suddenly take to stealing, whether there is a law against stealing or not, but this very man will not feel any remorse for failure to observe the rule about carrying head-lights on bicycles after dark. Indeed it is doubtful whether he would even accept advice kindly about being more careful in this respect. But he would observe any obligatory rule of this kind, if only to escape the inconvenience of facing a prosecution for a breach of the rule.

Such compliance is not, however, the willing and spontaneous obedience that is required of a Satyagrahi. A Satyagrahi obeys the laws of society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so. It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just and which injust and iniquitous. Only then does the right accrue to him of the civil disobedience of certain laws in well-defined circumstances.

My error lay in my failure to observe this necessary limitation. I had called on the people to launch upon civil disobedience before they had thus qualified themselves for it, and this mistake seemed to me of Himalayan magnitude.

There's a subtlety that's oft missed...


April 6, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Washington Playbook

Barry don't play. Bernie don't play.  Maybe the Albrightian Way ain't the way.


March 10, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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We pretend to believe that retaliation is the law of our being, whereas in every scripture we find that retaliation is nowhere obligatory but only permissible. It is restraint that is obligatory. Retaliation is indulgence requiring elaborate regulating. Restraint is the law of our being.

 - MK Gandhi, Young India, March 9, 1922

On the same date that Gandhi wrote in Young India about non-violence, he also instructed people what to do in case he was arrested:

The rumour has been revived that my arrest is imminent. It is said to be regarded as a mistake by some officials that I was not arrested when I was to be...It is said, too, that it is now no longer possible for the Government to withstand the ever-rising agitation in London for my arrest and deportation. I myself cannot see how the Government can avoid arresting me if they want a permanent abandonment of civil disobedience, whether individual or mass.

I advised the Working Committee to suspend mass civil disobedience...becauae that disobedience would not have been civil, and if I am now advising all provincial workers to suspend even individual civil disobedience, it is because I know that any disobedience at the present stage will be not civil but criminal. A tranquil atmosphere is an indispensable condition of civil disobedience. It is humiliating for me to discover that there is a spirit of violence abroad and that the Government of the United Provinces has been obliged to enlist additional police...

He also admonished his followers to not engage in any demonstrations or hartal upon his arrest, nor should they revive mass civil disobedience, and they should strictly adhere to the principles of non-violence.  

Gandhi was, in fact, arrested at Ahmedabad late at night on March 10, under Section 124, Indian Penal Code.  His parting words were that "all who bore patriotism and love for India should strain every nerve to propagate peace and goodwill all over India, among all communities."

The authorities charged Gandhi with sedition for writing three articles in Young India:

Fans of Attenborough's movie might remember a stirring court scene that encapsulated the "Great Trial" which ended with this statement (necessarily summarized in the film) on March 18:

I know that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk, and if I were set free I would still do the same. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also last article of my creed. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am sorry for it. Their crime consisted in the love of their country.

I am here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest Penalty. In my opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil. I am here to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be the inflected upon me for what in law is a deliberated crime and what appears to me be the highest duty of a citizen.

The only cause open to, judge, is either to resign post and thus dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is evil and that I am innocent or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public weal.

He was sentenced to six years in prison, though he was released early because of illness (he was 53 at that point and had an appendectomy two years into his prison term).  How much restraint can Trump supporters show?


March 10, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Stunts Never Work

From a few years back:

When Woodrow Wilson arrived in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 1913, he expected to be met by crowds of people welcoming him for his inauguration as United States President the next day.

But very few people came to meet his train. Instead, hundreds of thousands of people were lining Pennsylvania Avenue, watching a Woman Suffrage Parade.

Organizers of the parade, led by suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, planned the parade for the day prior to Wilson's first inauguration in hopes that it would turn attention to their cause: winning a federal suffrage amendment, gaining the vote for women.
Of the estimated half million onlookers watching the parade instead of greeting the President-elect, not all were supporters of woman suffrage. Many were angry opponents of suffrage, or were upset at the march's timing. Some hurled insults; others hurled lighted cigar butts. Some spit at the women marchers; others slapped them, mobbed them, or beat them.

The parade organizers had obtained the necessary police permit for the march, but the police did nothing to protect them from their attackers. Army troops from Fort Myer were called in to stop the violence. Two hundred marchers were injured.

The next day, the inauguration proceeded. But public outcry against the police and their failure resulted in an investigation by the District of Columbia Commissioners and the ousting of the police chief.

More than that, the sympathy generated even more support for the cause of woman suffrage and women's rights. In New York, the annual woman suffrage parade in 1913, held on May 10, drew 10,000 marchers, one in twenty of whom were men. Between 150,000 and 500,000 watched the parade down Fifth Avenue.

Stunts like this are why chicks still can't vote to this day...


March 3, 2016 in Pax Americana, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, January 29, 2016

This Day In Andrew Jackson's Violent History: Laying On The Lumber

Mister Twenty Bucks, no fan of the wild Irish, set a wonderful precedent of ordering Federal troops to suppress workers protesting conditions whilst building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.  One of many reasons "Jacksonian Democracy" is just a fancy way of saying 'violence'.


January 29, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet, and good tilled earth."


The only strategy that can defeat ISIS is one no Republican would ever embrace

Cut off the ISIL's supply lines, then pull *everybody* out. If we want lasting peace, we must practice it ourselves

Sadly, no Democrat would ever embrace it either.  Not even Bernie, I'd wager--because War is Easy.  Where's My Favorite Hobbit and his Department of Peace when we need them?


January 20, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (2)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

“We’re tough and resolute, but we’re not dicks."

Perhaps instead of resolutely swinging our dicks, we should learn more about that whole empathy thing.


January 13, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

College Kids Are So Stupid, Ain't They?

I was a college student once.  And even as an adult I've been known to express displeasure with the status quo.  So it's probably not shocking that I support stupid college kids engaged in stupid protests as a learning experience.


January 5, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, January 04, 2016


As I understand it, this is what the "peaceful protest" looks like in Oregon.


January 4, 2016 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Rebellion, Schmebellion

Might as well repost something from just a coupla years back:

 [In the wake of Shay's abortive rebellion,] Madison enumerated vices he saw in the existing weak system, including:

2. Encroachments by the States on the federal authority.
5. want of concert in matters where common interest requires it.
7. want of sanction to the laws, and of coercion in the Government of the Confederacy.

We have a long tradition of rebelling in this country.  And an equally long tradition of losing.  Here is a non-comprehensive list of revolts and other violent incidents after the Constitution was implemented:

Recommend nonviolent tactics and strategies--including using the electoral process--if you want to change things.  Lasting, meaningful rebellions don't require violence.  YMMV.

And I mean really nonviolent tactics.  Bringing guns kinda negates that.  Unless you're white, of course!


January 3, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Wave

A post from a couple months before Sam was born:

[A] memory of an old ABC special from the 80s popped into my head.  I described the movie (based on a book and real story) The Wave to Ericka, who'd never seen it, and as we were talking we really wanted more info so I looked it up online.

The setting of the book is Gordon High School in 1969. The plot of the book revolves around around a history teacher (Mr. Ben Ross), his high school students, and an experiment he conducts in an attempt to teach them about how it may have been living in Nazi Germany. He hopes this answers the question of why the Germans allowed Adolf Hitler and the genocidal Nazi Party to rise to power, acting in a manner inconsistent with their own pre-existing moral values.

Ben starts by having his history class sit up straight and obey his commands by, at first, standing at attention beside their desks and having to say "Mr. Ross..." before asking or answering questions. After seeing the students' reactions toward the experiment, he decides to continue it the next day by creating a salute, a symbol and addressing three mottoes he made up: "Strength through discipline, Strength through community, Strength through action." He calls this movement "The Wave". At first, students are sceptical about The Wave, but after seeing how everyone becomes equal, and that the stress of making choices is lifted, the class falls into The Wave, and begins to recruit others into it.

I was amazed by how much of the story had stuck with me.  I guess it made an impression on my teenaged self, perhaps because of my abiding interest in history, my own family's background, etc.  It certainly has informed my opinion that anybody can be "good Germans," as I think evidenced by how unable and/or unwilling the American people have been to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

People usually bristle when I make the claim that we're all complicit in the millions of deaths we've caused.  "I didn't vote for Bush!" they protest.  "I marched!"  But in the end we collectively laid down and allowed murder to happen in our name because our jobs were too important to lose, our lifestyles too comfortable, our weekends were already busy with the kids' soccer games.

In other words, the regime took advantage of our concerns and our fears.  That was the lesson of The Wave:

Hancock explains how Jones got The Wave to feel so real. "He made an effort to make lessons sink in, and this time it did. Big time. The first part was just doing fun games together with our favourite teacher. We'd known Jones for six months and he was always smiling. Two or three days into it, he comes into the classroom not smiling, and he didn't again until it was all over. I'll never forget that day, because it really was scary."

Jones told the students the experiment was not a game but a movement, involving 1,000 other high schools around the US. A national leader would appear on television to announce a third political party in the country. That appealed to students, who felt betrayed by the handling of the Vietnam war and faced being drafted.
"It moved very fast. Each day, there were more surprises. And each time you thought you had understood it, there would be a new twist. I've been to Germany to talk to people a couple of times, and when the whole National Socialism movement rolled out, it was gradual. Some people got zealous, and some weren't concerned until it was too late."

Vigilance is the only defense of liberty.  Not the President, not Congress, not the Supreme Court, not the free press, not even the Constitution.  All of those can be subverted.

The Good Germans better step up...


December 8, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, December 06, 2015


Peace through Potemkin Strength, good Will to Men Who Look Just Like Us.  Pax Americana, bitches...I mean, strangers!


December 6, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A whole group may be regarded as an exception

[T]he mood of exception, operates in all sorts of ways...The deadly consequences of this attitude are evident.  On the same principle scapegoats are provided, upon whose helpless heads we pour our failures and our fears.

 - Howard Thurman

Now here's RMJ on crazy Scotsmen:

This is a discussion where we all end up sounding like Ted Cruz.  He's just made excessively clear what we're all thinking:  Robert Dear is not our guy, he's their guy! And it's their fault!

If we want to attach fault to others, it's our fault.  Our fault for not providing adequate mental health care to people like Robert Dear.  Our fault for allowing something as dangerous as guns to be so freely and easily available, especially to such obviously unstable personalities as Robert Dear.  This is our failure as a society.  These deaths, this trauma:  it's on us.  We are a democracy, we are the government; we are the ones who are supposed to act to make these crimes more impossible.  And every step of the way we refused to.

And now we want to point fingers.  Maybe we should consider why we are so anxious to point fingers.

We are all, indeed, responsible for our Republic.


December 1, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, October 09, 2015

The Holocaust: All The Liberal, Gun-hating Jews' Fault

Yeah, Ben Carson's obsession with lying about the Shoah is entertaining.  Silly Jews!  They never resisted!  Which can only be done violently!


October 9, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Violence Control

Perhaps in the wake of our 294th mass shooting, Obama could consider proposing a Department of Peace to examine not just gun massacres, but our inherently violent society as a whole...


October 2, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Quaker And The Gadget

A Quaker reflects on his father's involvement in the Manhattan Project.  It's not clear to me if dad was a Friend himself, but I will note once again that some of us do, in fact, get involved in wars in various ways, because anybody can get to the point where evil seems impossible overcome without violence. 


August 12, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Monday, August 10, 2015


The function of a civil resistance is to provoke response and we will continue to provoke until they respond or change the law. They are not in control; we are.

 - Gandhi (1982)

Just a friendly reminder that there's more to nonviolent struggle than what Gandhi or King did.  We can take inspiration from their work, but I hear tell there's at least 198 different methods of attacking unjust systems.  Please make a note of it.


August 10, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, August 08, 2015


I'd prefer the word 'demonstrator' here, but whatevs:

Moments after Sanders took the stage at Westlake Park, two women and one man climbed the stage and confronted the Democratic presidential candidate, demanding a chance to speak. 
After several moments of confusion and confrontation, an event organizer took the microphone and said the protesters would be allowed to speak before Sanders. Some in the crowd booed. 
One protester, who identified herself as Marissa Johnson, began by saying, “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is — with all of its progressives — but you’ve already done that for me. Thank you.”
Johnson spoke, among other things, about police violence in Seattle, mentioning a federal investigation into the city's law enforcement that resulted in the appointment of a monitor to make sure Seattle police were complying with the terms set forth by the Justice Department.
“Bernie says that he’s all about the people and about grassroots. The biggest grassroots movement in this country right now is Black Lives Matter,” she added.
She then mentioned the anniversary event that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement — the shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. last year.
Johnson requested four-and-a-half minutes of silence from the crowd, to honor the four-and-a-half hours Brown allegedly laid dead in the street after being killed.
Some in the crowd jeered the protesters and yelled “get off the stage,” but others replied “let her talk.”
At times, shouts of “arrest her” were audible.
After the four-and-a-half minutes, protesters did not relinquish the stage. 
"If you care about Black Lives Matter, as you say you do, you will hold Bernie Sanders specifically accountable for his actions," Johnson continued. 
She mentioned a similar interruption by Black Lives Matter activists during the annual progressive NetRoots Nation gathering. Protestors flooded the stage early on in the event and shouted down Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O'Malley as well as Sanders.
"Bernie, you were confronted at NetRoots at by black women," Johnson said before adding, "you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley did."
After the protesters and organizers continued the confrontation on stage, Sanders waved to the crowd and walked off the stage.
He entered the crowd to greet supporters, who chanted his name as he shook hands.
The event, entitled "Social Security Works," was organized to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Seattle council-member Kshama Sawant spoke earlier at the event.

Does this make you uncomfortable?  Good.  Change doesn't come from comfort, it comes from people creating tension.  The question now is: what are we and Bernie going to do so demonstrators don't have to interrupt political rallies to get attention (and I don't mean increasing security screening)?


August 8, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1)