Veterans Day 2020: Fun, free and low-cost ways to honor U.S. vets.

Today is Veterans Day in the US.

Here are some things you can do for the veterans of our wars:

Veterans for Peace™.

Veterans for Peace™ is a coalition of military veterans and their allies whose mission is threefold: exposing the true costs of war (economic, environmental, human casualties, PTSD & suicide, social); building a culture of peace; and healing the wounds of war, at home and abroad. VFP is at the forefront of our most pressing issues – see e.g. this open letter from veterans to recently activated National Guard troops – and on the right side of many others with which it stands in solidarity. Current National Projects include:

It offers many ways to donate and participate meaningfully in making a better world, not just for veterans but for everyone.

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Wounded Warrior Project®

Because America’s Owners believe themselves entitled to the sacrifices made by these men and women and their families, VA programs are chronically underfunded and veterans benefits are perpetually on the chopping block. Until we can fix that problem, Wounded Warrior steps in with counseling, job resources and material support for veterans and their families. Even if you cannot donate funds, there are all kinds of opportunities to donate time. You can also stay on top of WWP’s news by signing up for their emails. If you’d like to keep on top of precisely how and where the U.S. government is failing veterans, just sign up for their weekly e-newsletter here.

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Contact Your Representatives and Senators.

Call them up and tell them exactly what you think of cutting veterans benefits so that the planet-polluting corporations who benefit from the sacrifices of our soldiers and their loved ones can pay low-to-no taxes! Email your congresscritters a little note telling them to cut the defense budget in half and fund universal single-payer health care with mental health parity! Demand legislation requiring that all companies benefiting financially in any way from our wars be run as non-profits! I am sure you can think of numerous hilarious and fun things to say!

Put those congresscritters’ numbers on speed dial and bookmark their sites. The least we can do to honor our veterans is get ourselves on a whole bunch of anti-lefty government watch lists – today.

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[excerpted, heavily edited and updated from a pre-FtB blog post.]

IMNSHO: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s finest speech.

Before I got sick, I would post every year on this occasion my favorite speech of King’s, that I know of or have ever heard, in its entirety. It was delivered by Dr. King in my much loved, adopted home town at Manhattan’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, and entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. When I last wrote about it here in 2017 I said this:

It has become my tradition on this day of remembrance to post the text of a speech delivered by Dr. King on April 4, 1967 at Manhattan’s Riverside Church entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (audio recording here), along with a short commentary about why I believe these words are so important. The speech is truly magnificent, yet it tends to be given short shrift relative to other works of the slain civil rights leader.

King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is of course his most well-known and celebrated. He gave it from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, at the closing of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and major television networks broadcast it live. The text is short (by King’s standards) and is notable for, among other things, painting a vivid picture of what racial justice looks like.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is also frequently cited. He wrote it in response to an April 12, 1963 open letter by eight white Alabama clergymen, who took issue with King and his tactics. Its central focus is a beautiful, powerful defense of non-violent activism. But what always strikes me most about it is King’s crushing disappointment upon learning that the greatest enemies to social progress are not, in fact, those who are openly and hatefully opposed to it, but those “allies” who rend their garments and advocate moderation, patience and gradualism in the face of immediate, deadly and enduring injustice. King held up a mirror, and in doing so, he showed us what ally-ship looks like.

Four years later, he spoke the words of Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Here, he showed us exactly how inextricably linked are the battles against discrimination, oppression, poverty, injustice, and many other social ills to the evils of war. This is a broader, much more sweeping vision; in my opinion, these are his finest words. Yes, there are religious references. Yet King tethers these to his eloquent defenses of secular ideas of justice, compassion and love to make the same case; in this way they function to bolster his arguments (for the religious-minded) instead of standing in for them.

As King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We have a lot of work to do.

PEACE.

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I have nothing to add to that today (nor, apparently, the energy and focus to do so even if I had wanted to. *sigh*). Speech below the cut. [Source.]

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Petition to Congress: Stop the militarization of local police.

Please sign and share this petition if you are willing and able (via CREDO* Action):

Donald Trump recently rewarded the country’s biggest police union for their endorsement of his dangerous, racist candidacy. He is going to give state and local police military-grade weapons of war.1

In 2014, police in combat gear driving mine-resistant tanks violently confronted people protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The national outrage and organizing, including from more than 100,000 CREDO members, helped force President Obama to dramatically scale back the 1033 program.

Recently, police in St. Louis in full riot gear were chanting “whose streets, our streets” as they violently confronted people protesting yet another not guilty verdict for another police killing of a Black man.3 But Trump, whose racist, xenophobic agenda depends on demonizing communities of color and unleashing law enforcement, wants to bring 1033 back in full force.

Fortunately, there is a bill that would stop Trump’s dangerous escalation and help keep weapons of war out of our communities, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. The more of us who speak out, the more pressure on Congress to act.

Tell Congress: Pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police.

Police militarization contributes to the over-policing of communities of color and the erosion of trust between communities and police. When police departments are armed with military-grade weapons and trained to use military tactics, they are more likely to treat the people they are meant to serve as enemy combatants.4 In many communities, fully militarized SWAT teams routinely issue search warrants, terrorizing people in their homes and neighborhoods.5

Police militarization also undermines people’s right to peacefully and safely protest. The hyper-militarized and clearly disproportionate police response to largely peaceful protesters in Ferguson is far from the only example. In the summer of 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana police responded to peaceful protests of Alton Sterling’s murder as if they were going to war.6 Last fall in North Dakota, police in riot gear confronted peaceful Standing Rock protesters with armored vehicles, automatic rifles, sonic weapons, concussion grenades, pepper spray and beanbag bullets.7 Surveillance devices like the Stingray, which can secretly download cell data and disrupt cell service, are also part of the 1033 program.8

It is no surprise that Trump, who condoned white supremacist Nazi violence against peaceful protesters last month in Charlottesville, wants to further weaponize police, terrorize communities of color and stifle peaceful dissent to his hateful regime. That is why it is more important than ever to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act now. The bill would shut down the direct pipeline between the Department of Defense and police, ban the transfer of a long list of military equipment, require extensive documentation and reporting, and prohibit the militarization of departments under investigation for civil rights violations.9

Donald Trump’s extreme agenda has already emboldened law enforcement agents across the country, at the local, state and federal level. Making sure that his administration cannot arm police with weapons of war is a powerful way to fight back.

Can you add your name today to tell Congress to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police?

Thank you for everything you do.

References:

  1. Tom Jackman, “Trump to restore program sending surplus military weapons, equipment to police,” The Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2017.

  2. Matt Apuzzo, “War Gear Flows to Police Departments,” The New York Times, June 8, 2014.

  3. Nicole D. Nelson, “When Will Black Lives Matter in St. Louis?” The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2017.

  4. ACLU Foundation, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” June 2014.

  5. ibid.

  6. Tess Owen, “Baton Rouge cops dressed for war to confront protesters,” Vice News, July 11, 2016.

  7. Standing Rock Special: Dallas Goldtooth on Police Violence & Repression of Movement Against DAPL,” Democracy Now, Nov. 24, 2016.

  8. Jeremy Scahill and Margot Williams, “Stingrays: A Secret Catalogue of Government Gear for Spying on Your Cellphone,” The Intercept, Dec. 17, 2015.

  9. H.R.1556 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act

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*CREDO is a lefty activist mobile telecom company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor. Please consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop supporting anti-democratic corporations that fund conservatives like AT&T. Yes it is true that CREDO runs on Verizon’s network and it’s also true that Verizon is a ginormous shitweasel, so some of CREDO’s revenue is indeed funding conservative shitweaselry. But compared to the telecom behemoths CREDO is a tiny company, and yet it still manages to donate $150-200k per month to well-vetted, worthwhile organizations.

Interesting budget priorities.

The ‘defense’ budget is three quarters of a trillion dollars. Profits went up last year well over 25%. I guarantee you: when war becomes that profitable, we’re going to see more of it.
Chalmers Johnson

In one of those “news” alerts I tend to ignore these days for the sake of my sanity, I learned that some doucheweasel presently occupying the office of President of the United States is proposing a 10 percent rise in defense spending, accompanied by massive cuts to other federal agencies.

Ahem. [Read more…]

Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It has become my tradition on this day of remembrance to post the text of a speech delivered by Dr. King on April 4, 1967 at Manhattan’s Riverside Church entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (audio recording here), along with a short commentary about why I believe these words are so important. The speech is truly magnificent, yet it tends to be given short shrift relative to other works of the slain civil rights leader.

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#muschniwogdowis of the day: business as usual.

The ‘defense’ budget is three quarters of a trillion dollars. Profits went up last year well over 25%. I guarantee you: when war becomes that profitable, we’re going to see more of it. –Chalmers Johnson

Until it is no longer the case that Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves, I am just going to continue to insist that #muchniwogdowis is simply the GREATEST ACRONYM EVAR™!!!11!!!

Today’s demonstration of its awesomeness is an Op-Ed in The Nation by former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) entitled Why Is the Foreign Policy Establishment Spoiling for More War? Look at Their Donors. He is “fed up with the DC policy elite who cash in on war while presenting themselves as experts, at the cost of other people’s lives, our national fortune, and the sacred honor of our country.”

It’s kind of adorable that Kucinich thinks our country has some sort of “sacred honor” going for it. Nevertheless, I have always liked this d00d.

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“Supporting the Troops,” everyone.

The Los Angeles Times ran a piece over the weekend revealing efforts by the California National Guard to claw back reenlistment bonuses and student loan payments from 9,700 soldiers it has determined were ineligible for these incentives. According to California Guard official Col. Michael S. Piazzoni, “The system paid everybody up front, and then we spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible.”

“‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.'”

“‘Stuff and nonsense,’ said Alice Iris loudly.”

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#muschniwogdowis of the day: Your liberal media.

Today’s report in Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves (#muschniwogdowis) follows.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”Carl Sagan

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#muschniwogdowis of the day: Syria.

Today’s report in Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves (#muschniwogdowis) follows.

The United States violated its ceasefire commitments with Russia, flew four military aircraft and a drone out of Iraq and bombed the shit out of a fragile Syrian Arab Army position at Deir ez-Zor, killing over 60 soldiers and injuring more than 100 others. Earlier in the day, Syria announced the arrival at the base of 1,000 additional soldiers to help liberate the surrounding region from ISIS control. A statement from US Central Command said “U.S. surveillance had been ‘tracking’ an Islamic State fighting position ‘for a significant amount of time before the strike.'” [<- o.O] An anonymous US official from the Department of Defense said the US strike “appears to be an intelligence failure.”

Whoops?

150,000 civilians (still) live in the Deir ez-Zor region, which has been held under ISIS control. While the Syrians and Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in the region for some time, the US had done absolutely nothing about that until yesterday.

For a…slightly different view, let’s hear what Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin had to say:

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#muschniwogdowis of the day.

Remember that time I invented the exciting new acronym #muschniwogdowis? You know the one: it stands for Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves? Of course you remember. It’s unforgettable! And it just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?*

All right, so it didn’t exactly trend on Twitter as much as I had predicted. Or at all, really—as in, not even a single retweet. But that’s okay! When it comes to humanity’s most breathtakingly brilliant, paradigm-shifting creations (like #muschniwogdowis for example), the inventor is often far, far ahead of her time, and it just takes the rest of the world a while to catch up. Typically after she dies penniless and alone…

:o

Anyway!

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