Bruce Blog

Solomon: Congress: End endless war and stop 'becoming the evil we deplore'

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

Congress waited six years to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution after it opened the bloody floodgates for the Vietnam War in August 1964.

If that seems slow, consider the continuing failure of Congress to repeal the “war on terror” resolution -- the Authorization for Use of Military Force -- that sailed through, with just one dissenting vote, three days after 9/11.

Prior to casting the only “no” vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House floor. “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Read more »

Dick Meister: Honor a legendary organizer

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is co-author of A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's Farm Workers (Macmillan)

There's still time, if you hurry, to join a nationwide campaign  to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to legendary organizer Fred Ross. For more than a half-century he was among the most influential, skilled, dedicated and successful of the community organizers who have done so much for the underdogs of American society.

Most people have never heard of Fred Ross, which is exactly how he wanted it. He saw his job as training others to assume leadership and the public recognition that accompanies it.  And train them he did, hundreds of them, including farm worker leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who were previously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Chavez and Huerta were typical Ross trainees ­­ poor, inexperienced members of an oppressed minority who were inspired to mobilize others like them to stand up to their oppressors.

"Fred did such a good job of explaining how poor people could build power I could taste it," Chavez recalled.

Read more »

Solomon: What Obama said--and what he meant--about climate change, war and civil liberties

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

The words in President Obama’s “State of the Union” speech were often lofty, spinning through the air with the greatest of ease and emitting dog whistles as they flew.

Let’s decode the president’s smooth oratory in the realms of climate change, war and civil liberties.

“For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.”

We’ve done so little to combat climate change -- we must do more.

“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change… Read more »

Norman Solomon: Washington's war-makers are in a bunker

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column

With the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion coming up next month, we can expect a surge of explanations for what made that catastrophe possible. An axiom from Orwell -- “who controls the past controls the future” -- underscores the importance of such narratives.

I encountered a disturbing version last week while debating Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Largely, Wilkerson blamed deplorable war policies on a “bubble” that surrounds top officials. That’s not just faulty history; it also offers us very misleading guidance in the present day.

During our debate on Democracy Now, Wilkerson said: “What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process. . .”

But why does this happen? Read more »

Dick Meister: The pioneering black porters

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By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

It's Black History Month, a good time to honor the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the most important yet too often overlooked leaders in the long struggle for racial equality and union rights.

The union, the first to be founded by African Americans, was involved deeply in political as well as economic activity, joining with the NAACP to serve as the major political vehicle of African Americans from the late 1930s through the 1950s. Read more »

Ten years after Powell's U.N. speech, old hands are ready for more blood

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org.

When Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003, countless journalists in the United States extolled him for a masterful performance -- making the case that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The fact that the speech later became notorious should not obscure how easily truth becomes irrelevant in the process of going to war.

Ten years later -- with Powell’s speech a historic testament of shameless deception leading to vast carnage -- we may not remember the extent of the fervent accolades. At the time, fawning praise was profuse across the USA’s mainline media spectrum, including the nation’s reputedly great newspapers.

The New York Times editorialized that Powell “was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein’s regime.” The Washington Post was more war-crazed, headlining its editorial “Irrefutable” and declaring that after Powell’s U.N. presentation “it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” Read more »

America's new Progressive Era?

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By Jeffrey D. Sachs
Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.

NEW YORK – In 1981, US President Ronald Reagan came to office famously declaring that, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Thirty-two years and four presidents later, Barack Obama’s recent inaugural address, with its ringing endorsement of a larger role for government in addressing America’s – and the world’s – most urgent challenges, looks like it may bring down the curtain on that era.

Reagan’s statement in 1981 was extraordinary. It signaled that America’s new president was less interested in using government to solve society’s problems than he was in cutting taxes, mainly for the benefit of the wealthy. More important, his presidency began a “revolution” from the political right – against the poor, the environment, and science and technology – that lasted for three decades, its tenets upheld, more or less, by all who followed him: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and, in some respects, by Obama in his first term.

The “Reagan Revolution” had four main components: tax cuts for the rich; spending cuts on education, infrastructure, energy, climate change, and job training; massive growth in the defense budget; and economic deregulation, including privatization of core government functions, like operating military bases and prisons. Billed as a “free-market” revolution, because it promised to reduce the role of government, in practice it was the beginning of an assault on the middle class and the poor by wealthy special interests. Read more »

Norman Solomon: Verbal tics and political routines

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

A lot of what we say and do becomes habit-forming. Groundhog Day 2013 could serve as a reminder that some political habits should be kicked. Here are a few:

**  “Defense budget

No, it’s not a defense budget. It’s a military budget. Read more »

Norman Solomon: Dear progressives

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A Letter I Wish Progressive Groups Would Send to Their Members

By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." He writes the Political Culture 2013 column. b3

Dear Progressives,

With President Obama’s second term underway and huge decisions looming on Capitol Hill, consider this statement from Howard Zinn: “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.”

With so much at stake, we can’t afford to forget our role. For starters, it must include public clarity. Read more »

Dick Meister: Martin Luther King Jr. -- a working class hero

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Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, dickmeister.com.

 

While celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, let's remember that extending and guaranteeing the rights of working people was one of Dr. King's major concerns.

 You'll recall that King was in fact assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for striking sanitation workers who were demanding that the city of Memphis, Tennessee, formally recognize their union.

King had been with the 1300 African-American strikers from the very beginning of their 65-day struggle. He had come to Memphis to support them despite threats that he might indeed be killed if he did. Read more »