Change You Can Believe In (Vol. VII, No. 6). Wiretaps and War.

Hey, remember back when we elected that progressive President who was going to close Guantanamo, get rid of warrantless wiretapping and end the war in Iraq? Boy howdy, that was a time.

In the U.S., President Barack Obama has been pleading with Congress to never, ever let the PATRIOT Act’s surveillance powers lapse, even for a day. Heaven forbid:

Shared Article from TheHill

Obama pleads that Senate act on NSA reform

Obama is asking McConnell to move legislation approved by the House.

thehill.com


President Obama on Friday made a last-minute push to urge Congress to renew key provisions of the Patriot Act before a Sunday deadline, arguing that failing to do so could put the nation at greater risk of terrorist threats.

The president called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass a bipartisan reform bill approved in a 338-88 House vote.

“Heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate,” Obama said in the Oval Office alongside Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Senators will return to Washington for a rare Sunday session to try and break the impasse over a series of measures, including language authorizing the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone records collection program.

The Senate failed to move forward with the House bill late last week when a procedural motion won only 57 votes — three short of the number needed to proceed.

“We’ve only got a few days,” Obama said. “Authorities expire Sunday at midnight and I don’t want us to be in a situation where for a certain period of time those authorities go away. … I’ve indicated to Leader McConnell and other senators, I expect them to take action and take action swiftly.”

— Jordan Fabian, Obama pleads that Senate act on NSA reform
The Hill (29 May 2015)

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the U.S. government is sinking another 500-1,000 soldiers into the Third Iraq War. Oh, but they’re Just Military Advisors, natch:

Shared Article from CNN

White House OKs up to 450 additional troops in Iraq - CNNPolitic…

President Barack Obama's administration is considering sending about 500 additional forces to Iraq, with many of them focused on training Iraqi troops…

cnn.com


Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama’s administration is planning to train Sunni tribes’ fighters as part of its move to send up to 450 additional U.S. forces to Iraq, the White House said Wednesday.

The United States is also sending weapons to Sunni tribes, as well as the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who are operating under Iraqi command, in order to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

. . . The additional U.S. military personnel will train and advise Iraqi and tribal troops at the Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province.

. . . The Associated Press was the first to report earlier Tuesday that the administration was considering sending up to 1,000 U.S. forces to the country.

. . . There are currently 3,050 U.S. forces in Iraq — with 2,250 of them devoted to supporting Iraqi security forces, 800 protecting U.S. personnel and facilities, 450 training Iraqi troops and 200 in advising and assisting roles.

— Eric Bradner, Barbara Starr and Jim Acosta. White House authorizes up to 450 additional troops in Iraq
CNN (10 June 2015)

#EndTheWar #USOut #AbolishTheNSA #AbolishThePATRIOTAct #AbolishThePresidency

Two Sonnets for Memorial Day

(To Jessie Pope,[1] etc.)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge
Till on the haunting fires we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or in lime.—
Dim, through misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest,
To children ardent for some distant glory
The old lie: DULCE ET DECORUM EST
PRO PATRIA MORI
.[2]

—Wilfred Owen (Oct. 1917).

The poet, Wilfred Owen began work on this poem in October 1917 while on leave in England. This is his best known poem. He never completed it for publication, because a year later he was dead. On November 4, 1918 he was killed on the front in a meaningless battle for the Sambre–Oise Canal seven days before the warring governments finalized the Armistice.

  1. [1] Jesse Pope was an Leicester poet who wrote light verse before the Great War and then during the War published a series of patriotic poems in the Daily Mail urging young men to enlist and celebrating patriotic sacrifice, using verse like the following: Who’s for the Game, the biggest that’s played / The red crashing game of a fight? Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid / And who thinks he’d rather sit tight? . . . / Who knows it won’t be a picnic—not much— / Yet eagerly shoulders a gun? / Who would much rather come back with a crutch / Than lie low and be out of the fun?
  2. [2] A line from the imperial poet Horace’s Odes. In English, Sweet it is and becoming to die patriotically [= for the patria]. In 1913, shortly before the outbreak of the War, the line was carved into a wall at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Who Cares?

So you tell me that your country cannot survive an influx of migrants from other countries, or from some other country in particular. OK, well, so what? Who cares?

If it is a question of survival, and if countries have to perish so that people can live, then I am on the side of people, not on the side of your territorially organized ethno-political combines. Of course I am. Why aren’t you?

If countries’ survival and people’s survival come into conflict, then good lord of course people are always categorically more important.

\‪#‎ImmigrantRights‬ ‪#‎OpenAllBorders‬ ‪#‎AbolishAllNations‬

Also.

Local Government Vs. The City of Detroit

This news is, of course, perfectly appalling.

Shared Article from Motor City Muckraker

City of Detroit threatens John K. King bookstore over building b…

The city is threatening to take legal action if the book store doesn't remove two banners from its iconic warehouse.

motorcitymuckraker.com


John K. King books is one of the best bookstores in the world, and a local landmark in the city of Detroit. The janky banners are part of the charm, and a perfectly legitimate form of self-promotion that helps the store look like it’s supposed to, and connect with the people they are trying to connect with, while harming exactly no-one.

The local government’s extortionate demands for a permit are uncalled-for. The claim that such demands come from the city of Detroit are, of course, also absurd. Almost no-one in the city of Detroit cares. Those who do are as likely to be on King Books’ side as they are to be on the city government’s. It would be far more accurate to say that this is yet another instance of the local government threatening the city of Detroitwhich King Books is a far more valuable and productive part of, than any bureaucratic entity or a parasitic control freak like Mike Duggan.

King Books isn’t hurting anyone. They’re doing a great thing. Leave them alone.

See also.

Open all borders, end all national boundaries. A Manifesto.

Today, March 16th, is Open Borders Day, according to the folks over at OpenBorders.info. In honor of the day, they have posted an Open Borders Manifesto, which they are asking people to sign. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. As manifestos go, it rightly defends the essential importance of open borders, but it undercuts itself by carving out vast areas for government border policing and border control, in the interest of taking a reformist approach. That’s an understandable choice if you think that reformist approaches are a productive means of securing incremental reforms. But I don’t think that they are, really, at least not incremental reforms in the direction that I would like to see. So I’ve taken their manifesto and I’ve used it to create my own. As you may know if you know my views on borders, this is actually a pretty level-headed and moderate statement. But not one that will leave any room for government border policing or suggest that there are legitimate reasons to deny people freedom of travel.

Open Borders Manifesto (Non-Reformist Edition)

Written by Charles Johnson, as a re-writing of OpenBorders.info’s original Open Borders Manifesto.

Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that no government and no individual has the right to invade. This includes movement across national boundaries.

International human rights agreements already recognize the right of any individual to leave his or her country. But a right to emigrate is meaningless if you have nowhere to immigrate to. International and domestic law must respect not only the right of individuals to peacefully leave the country they are in, but also the right of individuals to peacefully enter other countries. Governments have no right to discriminate against foreign nationals simply on the basis of their nationality: freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights and should not be circumscribed.

Border enforcement is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, striving to rejoin their families or to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They deserve sympathy and solidarity, not scapegoating, stigma, criminalization, arrest or exile.

National borders bar ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire simply because of where they are from, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Under the status quo billions of people are discriminated against, targeted, criminalized, legally barred from families, livelihoods, ambitions and justice purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world. It is indefensible in any order that recognizes the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

We seek for every law, policy or government that bars cross-border movement, that polices or penalizes people for immigrating across borders, to be altered or abolished. The economic toll of the restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll for billions of ordinary people is incalculable. To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As human beings, we only demand accountability from governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name and inflict on our neighbors. Border controls should be uprooted and abolished. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.

Individual or organizational signatories are welcome.

See also.