New Era – New Stories 1/11/17

New stories for a new era

Review: Sun, Rivera (2016). The way between. El Prado, NM: Rising Sun Press Works.

This novel should be read aloud to everyone, by everyone, from childhood onward. It is an auspicious beginning to a new mythology of peace, of justice, of inclusion, of conversion and transformation. Rivera Sun’s care for the unobtrusive embedding of the theories of change, of the principles of conflict transformation, and the way of the human heart all conspire to allow for a tale that will inspire. It is ancient and magical and legendary. It flips the glory of big men waging war into the valorization of “powerless” ‘tween girls waging peace, the sacralization of bloody combat into the lionization of nonviolent heart and mind power. It does so credibly, which is the stumbling block to most fiction writers trying to achieve what Rivera Sun actually does manage to do here.

If the reader were told at the outset that an 11-year-old girl would defeat the mightiest warrior of the nation without inflicting any pain or harm—this is in a medieval time of swords and teapots, warriors and monasteries—you would not continue reading. But by the time it happens, you have been prepared by Sun’s artful storytelling to accept—even expect and demand—just that outcome. Like any good plotmaster, Sun describes many setbacks, much potential, lots of inner conflicting emotions, but it’s all undergirded by the unflinching idealism of youth. The girl is mixed ethnicity and raised by a third people, thus bearing the strengths—and some of the challenges—of all three peoples, all of whom have been either in conflict or avoiding one another.

What is so poignant is that the girl is not accepted too much by any group—the forest people raise her but she is not one of them and cannot follow them to their wintering place, the village boys torment her, the monastery warriors-in-training taunt her and even beat her in her early training phases—but her idealism and her potential push her toward her own special destiny. The girl is the underdog at every turn but we learn to expect her to rise to meet all challenges. Her flash of serendipitous and even accidental brilliance convinces a great warrior to take her as apprentice and he teaches her the ancient, all-but-forgotten, Way Between—neither the violence of the warrior nor the avoidance of the coward.

No, there is no didactic artifice to teach us the particulars of principled negotiation, CLARA de-escalation, peer mediation, Sharpian or Kingian strategic civil resistance or any other of the researched competencies in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, even though Sun is in her professional life profoundly knowledgeable of all this. Rather, Rivera Sun writes in a style as magical as Tolkien and as authentic as Twain. The reader is not once bludgeoned with the zealot’s pontificating but rather is drawn to love the characters and the conclusions.

This book, along with her instant classic The Dandelion Insurrection will be on the reading list next time I teach Peace Novels, my favorite summer class.

Sun’s appendices carry all the theoretical, competency-based, and practical teachings that she wove invisibly into her tale. She helps the reader achieve the education necessary to reify her yarn and it makes it an invitational, educational, volume. Required reading for those wishing to be the countervailing message and meaning as we head into the Age of the Avenging Autocrat. Read it soon. We need you to pass it along.

Reviewer: Tom H. Hastings

Also  Books by Rivera Sun and  http://www.riverasun.com

Job Creators Like This 12/21/16

Tom Hastings

TrumPutin: jobs, security, and buyer’s remorse –              by Tom H. Hastings

Donald Trump is bringing jobs back!

Well, OK, he is saving jobs!

Um, well, he only lost 1,200 jobs, when 2,000 were threatened.

So much better than Obama!

Well, OK, under that loser Obama, we added about180,000 jobs every month despite his inheriting a Bush/Cheney economy that was losing–yes losing–jobs every month. That tyrant Barack Obama oversaw the imposition of regulations that helped make our air more breathable, our water more drinkable, and our food healthier. Oppressive!

So Carrier is only sending 1200 jobs to Mexico, thanks to a multi-million-dollar bribe from the state of Indiana, Trump’s vice-president’s state. Nice, Mr. Pence. You only lost 1200 jobs and you can credit Donald Trump.

With job creators like this, who needs losers?

At least with the latest round of cabinet picks, we can be certain that we will see creation of many more jobs–in Russia, with Tillerson running State Department. Which State Department does Trump think Tyrannosaurus Rex leading–perhaps the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

The old 60s action program Man from UNCLE seemed to foresee the TrumPutin CHAOS team. We will see climate chaos increase, public education funding plummet, job markets flip and crash–Obama inherited a worsening 7.6 percent unemployment rate and is handing off an improving 4.6 percent rate. The only good-paying jobs Trump ever created were the lawyers fighting to stop him from reneging, cheating, and scamming.

If we thought Brits experienced buyers’ remorse after voting Brexit, just wait until the Trump voters wake up to bad air, poison food, forest fires, floods, hurricanes, and the giant sucking sound of their jobs leaving for Russia.

The Trump cabinet is defining itself as a military junta with predatory extractive capitalist cronies and climate change deniers a sort of General Goldman Sachs composite. This spells disaster for the very Americans who voted for Trump (who lost the popular vote by more than any electoral college winner in US history, and whose opponent, got more actual votes than any candidate for US president in US history–Donald! A mandate is more than you embracing Vlad!) The descent is underway.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

Earn Our Stripes 11/16/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

No  –  by Tom H. Hastings

Is Donald Trump a Hitler nouveau? Probably not.

Still, in this time of preparing a switch from mild, articulate, scandal-free Obama to Wall Them Out Shut Them Out Kick Them Out Trump, it might be worth a historical review of German Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. His postwar sermons feature various versions of this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Donald Trump has doubled down now on his anti-illegal-Mexican intent. He announced that he will be deporting millions of “criminal” Mexicans first thing. Of course if a Mexican, in flight from a drug cartel war more deadly than most wars on Earth, crosses our border she has broken our law and would be regarded by some, possibly our next President, as therefore a criminal to deport back into poverty and violence. Only another scofflaw would help her.

I suppose this makes me a scofflaw. I hope there are many of us.

If a family in desperate flight from Aleppo manages to make it to our shores, apparently our President-elect Trump plans to turn them away, very likely to their deaths. Only someone who fetishizes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or possibly the Sermon on the Mount might risk offering that Syrian family shelter or help with safe passage to somewhere more welcoming.

I hope there are many such fetishizing folks.

The thing is, dear friends, democracy has its limits; it is not two cats and a mouse voting on what’s for lunch. Substituting the tyranny of the numerical majority over the most vulnerable minorities is in truth no longer a democracy and we are skating dangerously close to that abyss. If Trump plans to violate human rights, and he announces it, and the vast majority of Americans vote him in, that is not license to violate those rights.

Of course it was actually a large minority of Americans who voted for Trump and the majority voted for Hillary Clinton, but I don’t want to split hairs. My point is that it is now up to each of us as individuals to confront any overt violations of basic human rights, civil rights, and Plain Decency.

I am not calling Donald Trump a dictator, but I do worry about him leading a nation into that tyranny of the majority that produced all the greatest crimes we and other nations have committed, from theft of native land to slavery to death camps under Nazis to genocide in Rwanda and more. To update Niemöller, If you see something, say something.

Or don’t. The Underground Railroad led by Harriet Tubman and others was action, not words. The Danes hiding and then helping virtually all Danish Jews to escape to Sweden, the brave farmers and villagers of Vichy France who hid 5,000 French Jews in and around Le Chambon for the entire Nazi occupation, and many other instances of the relatively privileged or safe helping the oppressed, suffering, and in danger—all these courageous movements were silent but took action.

What will happen when Trump takes office? It’s scary to many. I hope we can all ponder and prepare. As my old friend Louie says, “Now we’ll earn our stripes.”

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Admit my Vote 11/9/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Cop Killers and Trump  – by Tom H. Hastings

When you hear that a police officer was ambushed and shot to death, what is your first image? For many Americans, it’s an angry black man who seeks revenge for police shooting black men. And that has certainly happened.

But imagine my surprise when I read about the Des Moines, Iowa case of a man shooting two police officers in two ambush attacks, read that the alleged shooter had been in contact with police in the past while waving a Confederate battle flag at black people, and had been calling at least one black man the n-word, and then when I later listened to National Public Radio they reported this new Iowa case as part of a wave of police shootings in retaliation for police violence against black males. Really, NPR? Is that the best imitation of Fox News you can do?

In the end, I believe that most psychologists would agree that cop killers are suffering from mental illness first and most primarily, with other motives a distant second. Yes, police kill unarmed black people at a far higher rate (not raw numbers, but as a percentage of the population). Yes, police will try (in most cases) to intervene on boisterous racially offensive behavior and thus may be the target of white men who wish to freely use racial epithets and symbols of slaveholders. So the cursory motives are understandable intellectually, but seriously, the blatant insanity of randomly shooting police officers? Why isn’t that proclaimed first and foremost as the controlling engine to those heinous acts? None of the attacks in the past year were targeted at the cops who actually did the things that produced the nominal reason for the murders. Shooting a target of opportunity without specifically choosing the actual perpetrating officer is not remotely sane.

When will we take gun control seriously? If for no other reason than to stop so many cop killings, we should elect officials who will get this job done. The blundering police unions endorsing Donald Trump are acting on emotional affinity with a man who says he supports police, but Trump’s unreserved support for no limits on firearms for anyone will only result in more unstable people gaining access to all the guns they can afford. More cops will die.

The import of this election is tough to overstate. Trump will exacerbate all the worst developments—fewer resources to assist folks who struggle with mental health issues, fewer controls on access to weaponry by anyone, no help from a Trump Department of Justice in improving police-community relations. This will lead to more tragedies like the one we saw in Iowa. I admit I strongly disliked voting for Hillary Clinton, but a Trump presidency is many giant leaps backward. Let’s prevent this.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Heading to the Bottom 11/2/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Supremes, the Senate and the Dirty Donalds, Segretti to Trump

By Tom H. Hasting

OK, the Republicans said when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away late last winter, we are not going to do our Constitutional work reviewing any nominations President Obama might make because we think the American people should have a voice in choosing the members of the highest court in the land.

Huh? The American people elected and re-elected Barak Obama. That is called having a voice. That is called voting. That is a democracy. What the Republicans did was entirely bogus, but, as usual, the American people didn’t seem to excited about it, so the Republicans were able to get away with that blatantly unfair move.

Now, unbelievably, Ted Cruz has threatened to block any nomination on an indefinite basis, if in fact Trump is unsuccessful in his groping campaign for the presidency.

This now disqualifies all Senate Republicans. Every single one of them up for election or re-election should be defeated to clear the way for government to actually function again.

Trump says he’ll only accept the election results if he wins.

Ted Cruz says if needed, the GOP will abdicate its Constitutional role in affirming Supreme Court Justices, based on likely losing the White House.

Republicans are simply racing to the bottom and are displaying all the moral fiber of the average junior high bully, completely unable to accept any defeat without having an adolescent hissy fit. Grow up, people!

Since that seems to be the phenomenon we see, it is clear that no Republican should be voted in this year, at least in the Senate and obviously the White House. In my 66 years on this planet, I’ve never seen a US campaign season so despicable, uncivil, boorish, and infantile. Add to it all the Comey move—the FBI tampering with the election? It is the Donald Segretti School of Political Chicanery arcing forward to the Donald Trump Malevolent Machine. These people can’t win a fair fight, so they resort to their bottomless barrel of dirty tricks; we are called to teach them better.

For the good of the nation, defeat every Republican running for US Senate in 2016, so we have some chance for a bit of normalcy and progress in the US.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Love of His Life 10/19/16

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Negative coattails good for Senate  – by Tom H. Hastings

Donald Trump is in love.

Like any narcissist, he sees his heart’s desire in the mirror and is pathologically incapable of transferring that love of self to others, except to love what they can do for him—financially, sexually, politically, or simply helping him be in the spotlight.

For Trump, everything is a contest and he is the best at every one. If he doesn’t win, others obviously cheated or his helpers failed him. He has made exactly zero mistakes in his life that weren’t caused by others, as he sees it.

It has all caught up with him at last, and the Trump circus tent is collapsing. Republican candidates for the US Senate are scrambling to escape the suffocating mess. Some renounce their endorsements, some express regretful continuation of support for the Trumpwreck, and some avert their eyes, curl up, and just hope to survive the election.

But imagine a US Senate out from under the blockading, bludgeoning control of the Republicans. I’m not suggesting the Democrats are particularly good for those who want peace and justice, but they are lightyears better than the likes of Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rob Portman, Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and the rest of the corporate-loving, New Jim Crow, anti-education, war-profiteer-champions who have been running the Senate for the past two years. The Republicans running for Senate—mostly incumbents—who are most vulnerable include Johnson (WI), McCain (AZ), Portman (OH), Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA) and Kelly Ayotte (NH). Congressman Joe Heck (NV) is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Harry Reid and Congressman Todd Young is running for the seat vacated by retiring Dan Coats (IN). All these Republicans are threatened by Trump’s tailspin. My operative word, I confess, is schadenfreude today.

Like any true narcissist, Trump is certain that everyone else is at fault for his poor performance and the only response is to attack, excuse, justify, blame, and lash out some more. If his dysfunctional displays cost both the White House and the Senate, we may see a decent US Supreme Court in the future and that could mean overturning Citizens United and other rotten, anti-democracy decisions. We might see the US join the rest of the world in signing and ratifying the International Criminal Court, the Comprehensive Test Ban and other international laws and treaties benefitting all of humankind. We might even see some glimmer of peace in our time as well as development of US infrastructure instead of the vast war machine that consumes half your tax dollars every year.

The Senate needs to flip for the good of all Americans. Thank you, Donald Trump, for your key role in all this. Carry on with your bellowing, blaming Tweetment!

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Tendency To Peck 10/5/16

Trump the pigeon  – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

As the famous ethologist Konrad Lorenz told us in his classic 1963 book, On Aggression, we humans are closer to prey than predator—but that makes us more dangerous in some terrible ways.

A “real” carnivore—a massive cat with long razor claws and fangs measured in inches, or a wolf with a long row of exposed flesh-ripping teeth and jaws that can break bones—very rarely kills members of its own species. They have instinctive signals that allow for surrender and subservience. The dominant animal will almost never cross that signal to kill another of its species.

Prey, however, do not expose their jugular vein to fellow members of their species. And since they do not possess fearsome weapons with which to hunt, kill, and consume prey, they have no instinct to see that line of abject surrender. Prey, such as pigeons, if they can be induced to attack a fellow member of their own species, will “torture them to death,” wrote Lorenz, and this propensity comes down to the natural repertoire of humans too.
Pigeons, if manipulated into attacking a fellow pigeon, will peck it into a sodden lifeless mass of bloody flesh and feathers. We humans only became fearsome predators by inventing weapons and we only develop proscriptions on annihilating each other by wrestling with conscience, social norms, and empathy in a long slow process of conscious evolution.

We see this complexity borne out in our societies from top to bottom, replete with exemplars from the convicted criminals in prisons, their guards, cops, soldiers, intelligence interrogators, billionaires on Wall Street, and including politicians. We struggle to control that inclination so we have laws, moral leadership, and public discourse such as happens in these very pages.

Lorenz goes a long way toward explaining Donald Trump’s unchecked tendency to peck at anyone in his way, from a reporter with disabilities who asks a tough question, to another journalist who happens to be a woman and asks a slightly challenging question, to Miss Universe who decides to endorse Hillary Clinton, to a judge who happens to have some Mexican ancestors, and on and on. He was not raised to deal with the social norms, courtesies, and accepted behaviors of civilized people—like royalty born into extreme
privilege but never educated or disciplined toward decency, he is simply following his wiring and lack of training. He is a pigeon with zero idea that most people want to see a leader show authentic regard and respect for most others.

This is not a problem except Trump is now a serious contender to rule the US, be Commander-in-Chief, pick Supreme Court nominees, issue powerful unilateral Presidential Findings, as well as veto legislation. This includes the power to control the nuclear arsenal with launch codes instructing thousands of omnicidal weapons on submarines, bombers, and in ground-based missiles in the western US.

A responsible electorate would deny these capacities to someone like Trump. Let us pray that this prey never accesses that unbridled power. He shows all the signs of being capable of pecking the most powerful and apocalyptic destructive force on Earth into doing its worst.

So we must do our best.

*Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of **PeaceVoice*
http://www.peacevoice.info

Bully Vine Values 9/28/16

Manifesting the worst old norms – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

A half-century ago I was a 17-year-old who had just been hired to do door-to-door canvassing for the Minneapolis Housing Authority to inform people in the poorest neighborhoods that they could nominate community members to serve on the board of the agency. We held trainings and exercises to develop our team and one of the supervisors, a very nice and somewhat chubby fellow, said he hoped in 10 years that the acceptance of heavy build—fatter—would apply to women as much as it did then to men.

I had certainly never thought about that but it made total sense. Overweight men were not nearly so rejected as were overweight women, and that of course would be a double standard that would evaporate as we created a new world based on equality.

Now, all these years later, we have the bizarre spectacle of Donald Trump as a viable candidate for the highest office in the land routinely expressing all the bad old values we hoped and assumed were headed for righteous extinction or at least extreme marginalization. Is this Trump’s fault that he cannot go a day without saying that Miss Universe is “Miss Piggy” because she gained weight after winning her crown, or that another woman’s face is unacceptable, or that Rosie O’Donnell is a “slob”?

No, Trump is who he is. I have personally never watched him on TV before this campaign and never patronized any of his businesses in any way. He’s in a world I have been able to ignore as crass, gauche, boring, patronizing, atavistic, juvenile, and shallow. Now it’s clear that he is deeply hypocritical, racist, and misogynist.

And now I’m faced with the sad truth that millions of my fellow Americans support these views. The levels of voter incompetence and horrific mores revealed make me question the goodness of a huge swath of my own countrypeople. Seeing his support is what is painful, not his own puerile adolescent behavior and character. That this spoiled brat born into privilege and clearly raised about as well as Uday Hussein can garner so much support from supposedly freedom-loving Americans is simply depressing. Rich boys who love to intimidate others have run the world far too long. Hillary is problematic but Trump is absolutely unacceptable.

I hope we begin some self-reflection soon in our country. The worst sexist and racist values of the 1950s are on full display and need to be soundly rejected. Trump stands for unfairness and he should be standing alone, not on the shoulders of real people who work for a living, who scuffle to make ends meet, and who know what unfairness feels like.

Leave Trump to his own devices. Let his poor values wither on his patriarchal bully vine.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Much More Fun 9/21/16

by Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Rights. We are inundated with a great deal of loose talk about “rights.” What sorts of them? Legal rights. Civil rights. Natural rights. Human rights. Constitutional rights. God-given rights. Is there a difference? Says who?

AWR Hawkins of Ammoland Shooting Sports News helps us understand God-given rights: “our right to keep and bear arms is a God-given right.” He’s backed up by David French of the National Review who informs us that having and using guns is a “Biblical and natural right of man.” They seem to be endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who railed against a proposed arms control treaty that could, in his words, “hinder the US in fulfilling its strategic, legal, and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as Taiwan and Israel.” Moral commitments and lethal aid—praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. The Republican Senator from Kentucky is of course a champion of right-to-life legislation 100 percent. Nothing says pro-life like a prayer closet full of guns and some war profiteering.

Free speech is defined by Jeff Bell, who also clears up questions about who defends all our rights and under what circumstances. No, he’s not the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the prevailing opinion on the matter, he’s the head of the Broward Country, Florida police union, who pulled the plug on the rights of three Miami Dolphin players to be protected by police because they knelt during the Star Spangled Banner. I hope Chief Justice Roberts was taking notes.

I’m pretty sure Donald Trump is informed by these sorts of declarations and friendly reminders about what constitutes your rights, his rights, and the times when those rights may no longer apply. Re-elect McConnell and his ilk, vote in Donald Trump, and watch what happens to your rights. If you do, unfortunately, you may lose the right to know until it’s a bit too late. But for the time being, it’s your right to vote—well, unless you’re part of a demographic likely to vote against incumbents. The 2013 Supreme Court evisceration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act goes a long ways toward helping us to understand that, nowadays, voting in the US is much like health care in that it’s a privilege, not a right. That will be all firmed up once Trump gets to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice and possibly a couple more of them.

Rights, schmights. Focus on the Surreality TV around the election. Much more fun!

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Generals & Champions 9/14/16

Pivot to peace  –  by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

OK, the history of the United States is one of a nation built on robbery, murder, massacre, exploitation by armed force, and predatory capitalism. We all know that. Few of us lose sleep over it, but it’s all documented.

Knowing this and reckoning with it all are two vastly different things. If ever a people showed us the path forward, it is the Standing Rock Sioux, peaceful but forceful, warriors but nonviolent, confrontational but invitational. They just want to preserve the land, sacred sites, maybe a bit of indigenous lifeways. They will even take the initiative to greet and shake hands with those who douse them with pepper spray and sic biting, snarling dogs on them.

Meanwhile, what has rich white powerful militarized US society done with the land?

Just think of Fort McClellan, in Alabama, polluted above, below, and all around. Even the local Anniston Star editorial board is at wit’s end about the failure of the US Army to clean up its colossal mess there. Alabama, it may be noted, is a Muskogean word and Anniston is in the general vicinity of the Alabama and Muskogee tribal lands. When they lived there before Europeans the environment was pristine.

To be fair, the US Army made much of this gigantic polluted mess, and many others across our land, before there were any meaningful environmental protection laws in the US. Or, as one colonel once stormed at an environmental group attorney, “We here to defend the land, not protect it!” Huh?

All cultures bring much good to our society; at this tough point the mature, wise citizenry would ask, what is the best from each that we can take? What has outlived its utility and should be discarded? What is hurting us and can be transformed?

At the core of most societal ills, from pollution to climate change and even to our general sense of well being, is how we manage conflict. We even have our high-ranking military officers acknowledge that climate change is a serious national security threat and that “inaction is not a viable option.”

Since the US military is the single largest polluter in the US and the single largest consumer of oil products (and therefore a major driver of climate chaos), we have to challenge ourselves at a deeper level to examine new methods of dealing with conflict that don’t involve thousands of military jet flights daily all around the world, thousands of truck-miles of military vehicles on every continent daily, and millions of gallons of fuel use daily by the hundreds of ships and thousands of boats deployed by the US military on the seven seas.

Over on the peaceful methods side, we are getting new research, new competencies, and new successes constantly—the most recent being the strong, innovative, and effective participation of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute in the long-sought peace in Colombia. There are now no more wars being waged in the Western Hemisphere. That is historic.

As we make history, let us learn from it and turn away from destruction. Perhaps it “worked” in the past. It no longer does and even the readiness and preparation and ongoing investment in destruction and threat of destruction is clearly massively harmful to us now and will only get worse until we take a breath and pivot toward peace. Let the activists—like the Standing Rock Sioux—and the researchers—like Erica Chenoweth—and the transformational practitioners—like John Paul Lederach—be our new generals and champions.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Domestic Spending Declines 9/7/16

Don’t elect tax and spend politicians – by Tom H. Hastings

What is the new frame for Republican Senate candidates?

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

In Arizona, John McCain claims that once Clinton is elected only he and the Rs can stop her from reckless spending. This is the general Big Lie used by Republicans over the years and this should be the election when it evaporates into its plainly empty vapor.

In the harsh light of the actual budget day, Republicans are the champions of a war profiteering budget that routinely outspends everybody everywhere. They fund massive weapons programs to bomb across the Middle East and North Africa while potholes pock our roads and bridges collapse into rivers and teachers use their own money to buy pencils in poor schools in the United States of America.

This is not to say that Democrats are much better. They have shown little spine when it comes to resisting hawkish collusion between lucrative war contractors and our elected representatives.

Indeed, Obama has been in eight years and has failed to stop Republican-demanded military spending which is by some measures just as outrageous as the spendthrift Bush-Cheney warmaking disaster. The single biggest difference is that the President no longer came to Congress every few months for another massive “supplement” of hundreds of billions.

The pattern: Republicans shrilly denounce Democrats for being weak on defense. They claim their military adventures will be inexpensive. Democrats cave and vote along with the Republicans. The costs skyrocket. Many even higher costs are hidden in other budgets. Debt and deficits climb; domestic spending declines.

The bottom line is that Republican frugality is just a line. It is demonstrably false by voting records over the decades, certainly including the Republican Senate incumbents who will parrot McCain’s lie about serving as a check on a Clinton big spending president. The big spenders, year after year, have been the Republican elected officials who propose and vote for massive Pentagon budgets that shovel profits to their corporate friends. If voters were going to really seek some prudential fiscal hawks they would probably be forced to look to the Bernie Sanders, Barbara Lee, Russ Feingold, Jeff Merkley or Earl Blumenauer types. But that would require paying attention to actual voting, real budgets, not just rhetoric.

If we want more war, more unemployment, a new recession, and bursting bubbles that drive financial instability, vote for those Republican incumbents, many of whom gave us the radically wrong invasion of Iraq and the daily hemorrhage of Pentagon contracts that produce record deficits and starve domestic budgets.

The choice is ours, state to state, across our nation.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Flip The Senate 8/24/16

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

Seven Reasons to Flip the Senate – by Tom H. Hastings

The US Senate is up for grabs. Republicans hold 54 seats but 34 senate races could change that. If the Ds pick up five net (they will likely lose at least one, in Nevada), they regain the Senate.

I’d offer seven reasons to make sure Republicans lose the Senate.

1. A Republican Senate blocked a hearing for Merrick Garland, one of the most obstructionist, obdurate acts of political dirty trickery in memory.

2. The Rs have quashed all attempts to stop the mass shootings in the US, even including denying guns to terror suspects (who later went on to indeed commit acts of terror).

3. A Democratic Senate would finally finish the long overdue job of ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (assuming a President Clinton would sign), the single easiest and verifiable way to stop nuclear proliferation.

4. A Republican Senate will exacerbate foreign policy blunders that keep America plummeting in world opinion. Even when Obama and Clinton have been irresponsibly hawkish, the Rs bellow their condemnation for not being warlike enough.

5. Russ Feingold was the only US Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act, one of the most anti-personal liberty measures of the modern era. He is likely to retake his old seat from Tea Party Republican Ron Johnson.

6. Kathleen McGinty, not a lefty firebrand (she’s got a pro-business record, but in particular “green” business, such as wind energy), could squeak past Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, which will be a shift away from Toomey’s endless opposition to clean energy and gun control.

7. In North Carolina, Republican incumbent Richard Burr still holds a slight lead over challenger Deborah Ross. Burr has a dangerous history including a leading role in getting the US Senate to approve export of enriched uranium, an ingredient in nuclear weapons and a substance of great appeal to terrorists. He also voted against any tiny measures of gun control, even those that would deny guns to criminals.

In New Hampshire, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio the races are relatively close (well, not quite so much currently in Wisconsin, where a resurgent Russ Feingold is 11 points up on Trump-loving Ron Johnson) and in every one the Republican incumbent held all the most problematic, retro positions possible.

Really, isn’t it time for the US Senate to stop denying climate chaos, to start getting a clue about keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, to quit opposing clean and renewable energy, and to play fair with our other branches? Only by replacing Republicans will that happen. 2016 is The Year to do it.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

We Can Do Better 8/17/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Game changer  –  by Tom H. Hastings

When we think about foreign policy, when we consider our course of action in a conflict, how do we make decisions? Are they wise decisions? Can we do better?

We are arguably decades into the war on terror, probably beginning in the modern era back in 1964 with the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s attack on the National Water Carrier in Israel. Everything we’ve done has been destructive. We are great at destroying. Bomb refugee camps. Bomb Iraq, and Afghanistan, also Pakistan, don’t forget Somalia, Libya or Yemen. Bomb bomb bomb.

Fast forward to today and we are, as usual, bombing the bejeezus out of several countries. Just in the bombing campaign against the Islamic State, as of mid- August, the US has conducted 4,433 bombing raids on Syrian territory and 6,693 on targets in Iraq in its 708 days of operations, and the Pentagon says it’s costing about $11.9 million each one of those days. The sorties run far more than 150,000 with enormous fuel use, plus the further giant carbon footprint as they destroyed 1,620 oil depots and other oil facilities. Is it any wonder that the US military is the single largest consumer of petroleum fuel on Earth at more than 100 million barrels annually and we’ve taken over from Saddam as the world’s biggest destroyer of oil wells and tanks and oil production facilities? Good luck meeting any carbon reduction goals as long as our solution to conflict is to drive fuel-hog planes to bomb oil facilities.

But is there any other way to defeat terrorism?

Yes.

Big carrots and big nonviolent sticks have worked well on dictators, military juntas, despots, foreign rulers and fascists from Serbia to Chile to Eastern and Central Europe to the Philippines and elsewhere. Such a program has worked on state terrorists, communist dictators, and brutal monarchs. It takes three primary components.

One, planning. Adaptive planning sets out a hypothetical path to success and adjusts as necessary with changing conditions.

Two, a coalition. A growing number of allies can cause a sense that we are legitimately ethical and reasonable. Allies based on bribery (e.g. military aid, etc.) are unhelpful but allies based on a determined commitment to transformation increase chances for success. Sanctions need to be smart and unbreakable.

Three, discipline. It is a demonstrable trend that when violence is eschewed but all other methods of force are utilized it most often results in sustainable gains.

Apathy and conflict avoidance do not work. Destruction does not work, unless we seek temporary gains at the cost of long term losses.

Simply put, what we are currently doing—daily bombing in up to seven nations–has minimal benefits (except to war profiteers whose blood money comes out of taxpayers’ pockets) and maximal costs. It is long past the time when we should be trying an entirely different way to run our international policies and conflict management methods.

When atrocities have been committed it is harder to avoid reacting with violence to fresh attacks, but that is exactly what would give the US enormous approval and goodwill in the world. We can fix this, but it will take that level of regrouping and reassessment. When one tactic proves unworkable, it’s time to try another. War has had its fair chance and has failed, completely, for 15 years or more.

Hey, ISIS, we need to talk.

Hey, my fellow American voters, we need to elect leaders who can get this done. Innovation has been abandoned to devastation—let’s fix this.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Fair and Reasonable 8/10/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

The numbers don’t lie—but Trump does – by Tom H. Hastings

According to a Fox News poll taken this week, voters believe Donald Trump would do better than Hillary Clinton on the economy. This is a wildly poor assumption.

Look at the fair and reasonable indicators. We can surmise that Trump would continue his fact-free shoot-from-the-hip predatory capitalist approach, and that his policies might look more like George W. Bush’s than anyone else’s. We can also logically guess that Clinton’s policies would resemble those of her husband and President Obama’s.

What do we know?

· Bill Clinton inherited an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent from Bush the Elder in 1993. He handed off the low rate of 4.2 percent to Bush the Younger.

· Obama inherited an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent from George W. Bush, with a loss of 632,000 jobs in Bush’s last full month of his economically disastrous presidency.

· Unemployment is now 4.9 percent, with 255,000 jobs added in July.

· Financial analysts have shown that, had Trump taken his wealth 30 years ago and invested it in a mutual fund, he’d be $10 billion richer today.

· A man far richer than Trump—Warren Buffett—disparaged Trump’s business acumen, saying that “if a monkey had thrown a dart at the stock page” in the 1990s, that monkey would have seriously outperformed Trump.

· Trump is widely regarded as a slow payer, a deadbeat, a bully, and a liar in business deals, with many losses and approximately 3,000 lawsuits against him for his many failures to keep promises made in writing.

Seriously, my fellow voters? Do you believe for one heartbeat that Donald Trump would fix anything? Trump has zero public policy experience, of course, so we can never be sure, but I would suggest that the numbers do not lie. It reminds me of the late Flip Wilson as Miss Geraldine when she tells the man, “You a total stranger, and the total don’t add up!”

Indeed, those who fight for the betterment of the American workers—the labor unions—have analyzed the candidates and have come to the obvious conclusion that the Clinton policies would favor working people far more than would Trump’s.

The Donald has earned the endorsement of just two of them, the National Border Patrol Council (in apparent excitement over The Trump Wall and a huge border budget) and the New England Police Benevolent Association. Trump can console himself with the helpful endorsements of Mike Tyson and Hulk Hogan.

Hillary Clinton has received an enormous number of endorsements from those whose “art of the deal” results in better pay for many millions more Americans, these unions so far: AFGE – American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO – American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, AFSCME – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFT – American Federation of Teachers, AWIU – International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, BAC – International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, BCTGM – Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union, CWA – Communications Workers of America, IAM – International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, IATSE – International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, IBEW – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IFPTE – International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, ILA – International Longshoremen’s Association, IUOE – International Union of Operating Engineers, IUPAT – International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, IW – International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, LIUNA – Laborers’ International Union of North America, NABTU – North America’s Building Trades, NALC – National Association of Letter Carriers, NEA – National Education Association, NTEU National Treasury Employees Union, OPCMIA – Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, OPEIU – Office and Professional Employees International Union, SEIU – Service Employees International Union, SIU – Seafarers International Union of North America, SMART – International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, TWU – Transport Workers Union of America, UA – United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting and Sprinkler Fitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada, UAW – United Automobile Workers, UBC – The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, UFCW – United Food and Commercial Workers Union, UFW – United Farm Workers, UNITE HERE, USW – United Steelworkers, and UURWAW – United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers.

Fortune magazine produced a slideshow of just some of Trump’s failures, documenting his accompanying falsehoods. Believing Trump is affirmation of P. T. Barnum’s putative aphorism, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Watching the polls is a head-shaking confirmation that, I hope, reverses itself before November. There is far too much at stake.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Profound Tragedy 8/3/16

Tom H. Hastings

Tom H. Hastings

BLM   –  by Tom H. Hastings

What does BLM stand for?

If you are involved in the land use/land ownership/treaty rights/fed v state Sagebrush Rebellion dust-ups over the years you know that it refers to the Bureau of Land Management, but we are going to leave that hornets’ nest aside for today.

If you are African American or watching the horrific shootings of unarmed black people in US cities, you know that it means the Black Lives Matter movement.

If you are a police officer or otherwise deeply disturbed by the recent spate of cop killings, you argue that it is Blue Lives Matter.

The numbers are terrible. So far, in 2016, a tragic 33 police officers have been shot dead on duty. An ungodly 551 people have been shot dead by cops as of 31 July this year. Last year young black males were nine times more likely to be killed by police than any other sector of the US population—1,134 people killed by police in 2015 and although black males between the ages of 15-34 are two percent of the US, they are 15 percent of those killed by police. While 17 percent of white victims of police killings were unarmed, the rate was 25 percent for young black males.

This is unacceptable to everyone. Dead Americans—cops or citizens—are a profound tragedy.

Most black people who shoot at cops do not live to be tried and when they are they are almost invariably convicted. Most cops who kill black people, armed or unarmed, have utter confidence that they will never be charged or, if they are, they will never be convicted, even when video evidence shows a crystal clear case of an officer shooting a compliant, hands-empty and raised victim or an unarmed fleeing suspect who committed no violent crime and was no threat to anyone.

This should be unacceptable to everyone.

Police boast frequently about their own bravery. Where is that vaunted courage when they witness one of their own obviously murder an unarmed civilian? We see virtually no bold selflessness in those cases. Instead, our “good” cops act more like good Germans, silent in the face of blatant lawbreaking by their brothers in blue.

It is long past time for us to fix all this. At the root are three problems. One, the idea that violence solves conflict, that we must have guns, and that the Second Amendment should continue to allow mass proliferation of these instruments of death. Two, racism. Three, the addition of the return of so many veterans of war only adds to the likelihood that both cops who are war veterans and African Americans who are war veteran–and who are angry about all the black victims of police killings—will ratchet up the violence.

The intersection produces what we see.

When we authentically begin to dismantle all three of these massive problems we will see a reversal of the ghastly trends toward state violence and violent insurrection. In Wichita, both BLM movements veered away from violence and toward reconciliation, starting with a picnic. In Dallas, Black Lives Matter activists vigiled in mourning for slain police. Each of us can do our own small but important best to help with one or more of these problems and collectively, we can begin repair and healing. Our attitudes, our actions, our intelligent voting this fall, will all make a difference.

Let’s fix this.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

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