Stop the War

February 26, 2022


February 24, 2022

The head of World Beyond War, David Swanson, just put this out. It is,
obviously, a counter to Win Without War’s talking points. I thought it
would be worth this group’s consideration of another viewpoint, as we are
coming closer to a disastrous war with Russia, Medea
Fixing a DC Peace Group’s Talking Points
A Washington DC-based “peace” group has been spreading around talking
points. Let’s see if we can’t help improve them a little.
*“We strongly condemn this premeditated act of aggression by Russia. While
tensions in and around Ukraine have a long historical origin, there is no
justification for this international act of aggression. While the
deployment of Russian troops to Donetsk and Luhansk merely makes public a
presence that has persisted for years covertly, the potential for a
dramatic expansion of war in Donbas and throughout Ukraine is dangerous and
worrisome. The methodical and clear military preparations by Russia for
this action over the last few months, despite extensive diplomacy to
de-escalate and diplomatic offramps offered by the international community,
make clear that any further conflict is a war of Russia’s choosing.”*
This is a war of more than one government’s choosing. As the current CIA
director said years ago (but would never say now) and as thousands of
thoughtful people have said since Germany reunited, expanding NATO would
amount to choosing this war. There was no war until the U.S. and NATO came
to the rescue, influencing elections, facilitating a coup, pouring in
weapons, militarizing the region, and insisting on adding Ukraine to NATO.
If you take 8 busses to the far side of town and stand in front of
someone’s door throwing eggs at it for weeks on end — while people inside
post signs on the windows reading “Go away please” — until somebody finally
leans out a window and hits you with a tomato, it will certainly be true
that they did something awful, and that they chose to do it, and that they
shouldn’t have done it. But there will always have been an obvious way to
prevent them from doing it, namely to read their signs and go away, rather
than pretending they were incommunicative lunatics who could only
understand eggs.
*“We urge all parties to immediately cease hostilities and seek a
diplomatic resolution to the current conflict. Diplomacy remains the only
hope to avoid further catastrophic conflict, including the possible
expansion of this war both throughout Ukraine and beyond its borders. An
immediate ceasefire is the only way to mitigate the risk of full-scale war,
and the U.S. should engage in robust diplomacy to secure one. Diplomacy can
and should include broader issues of concern for the parties that enable
not just a temporary ceasefire but ultimately a lasting and sustainable
peace. It is key to ensure that civil society be included in conversations
around a lasting and sustainable peace.”*
Diplomacy that ignores the very reasonable demand to go away please, the
very same demand that the United States would make if there were Russian
missiles in Ontario, and did make when there were Soviet missiles in Cuba,
is lousy diplomacy no matter whether you call it “robust” or not.
Disrespectful changing of the subject to trivial matters and refusing to
take any positive steps — which is what the U.S. has been doing — is hardly
worthy of the name “diplomacy.”
*“We are grateful for the Biden Administration’s persistent diplomatic
efforts to avoid an unnecessary war and encourage him to lead a
coordinated, multilateral response to Russia’s actions, including a
humanitarian effort to support refugees fleeing any fighting. President
Biden’s Administration has engaged in significant diplomacy, at the highest
levels, over the past several months to try and prevent this outcome.
Further diplomacy will be necessary to coordinate a multilateral response
to Russia’s recent actions, any further escalation, and, importantly, to
address humanitarian needs. Given the potential for further violence and
escalation, including an unthinkable direct conflict between the world’s
two largest nuclear powers, the United States’ efforts should be driven by
our diplomats with an aim towards de-escalation.”*
Grateful to the government without which there would be no crisis for its
responding to what it has provoked? Biden has treated Russia with contempt,
shipped more weapons into Ukraine and Eastern Europe, sent in more troops,
held more war rehearsals, aired unsubstantiated accusations, refused to
support the Minsk 2 agreements or to recognize the self-governance accorded
to Donbas therein. Biden or Ukraine or NATO or any member of NATO could
defuse this crisis by declaring that Ukraine will not be added to NATO.
That would be diplomacy. Screaming that Russia will invade each day is
something else.
*“We appreciate President Biden’s repeated commitment to keep U.S. military
personnel out of any conflict in Ukraine and stress that any new military
deployments must be done in full compliance with Congress’ constitutional
war powers and the provisions of the War Powers Resolution.”*
War is a moral outrage and a criminal act no matter which soldiers are used
or which governmental branch takes responsibility. We do not need another
catastrophic war risking nuclear apocalypse as long as Congress approves
it. We need to turn all of our energies to non-optional emergencies like
climate, covid, and the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.
*“War is inherently violent, deadly, and destructive, and we are in
solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those impacted by this
conflict. Estimates of the human costs of a full-scale war in Ukraine are
massive, yet not nearly enough has been done to prepare for and prevent the
worst in terms of human suffering. We must not lose sight that real human
lives are being harmed, whether as a result of fighting, displacement, or
the impact of sanctions on Russia and their likely economic
retaliation. While troop movements and fighting dominate the news, people
are suffering and their stories should not be erased by a singular focus on
the violence causing that suffering and the political leaders directing
That’s why we need better talking points. Here are some:
End the expansion of NATO.
Rejoin with Russia in pursuing disarmament agreements.
Dismantle NATO.
Join the world’s major human rights treaties and the International Criminal
Provide sustainable energy infrastructure to Ukraine.
Close foreign bases.
Ban war propaganda.
Ban war profiteering.
Move military spending to human and environmental needs.
Stop arming and supporting over 90% of the world’s most oppressive
Then speak credibly about everything that’s wrong with Russia.

With God on Our Side

February 23, 2022

UNDER the TREE, Episode # 44

February 10, 2022

44) Freedom and the Poetry of Comix

 Artists ask no one’s permission to interrogate the world, and the art of teaching embraces that same ethic. Art can shock us into new awarenesses, challenge cliche, dogma, orthodoxy, and  received wisdom from every corner. Good teaching can do the same. Art can allow fresh and startling winds to blow as it ignites our freedom dreams—classrooms as well. We’re witnessing now a sustained and relentless attack on freedom in real time, an attack manufactured by the powerful, but carried out by a range of people deploying a broad assortment of tactics. And make no mistake: the struggle is not about the freedom to read this or that book, to embrace this or that idea, to choose this or that way to live a life. The fundamental fight is for the right to think at all, which is at risk. Calling all artists, calling all teachers, as we dive into a conversation about art and teaching and possibility with the legendary (to me) comix artist Ryan Alexander-Tanner, and launch ourselves onto a journey of discovery and surprise. Check it out.

Chesa and the Fight for Criminal/Legal Change

February 9, 2022


Please Listen Up!

The lavishly-funded effort to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin aims to turn back a successful effort to reimagine and begin to repair our broken, racist criminal legal system.

The tide of propaganda—lies, distortions, disinformation, and spin—breaking over Chesa from every corner now is breath-taking, and if unanswered, it takes a toll on both him and the movement. The San Francisco Chronicle, to take his most persistent detractor, publishes falsehoods, smears, innuendo, and deception week after week, without even a nod toward fact-checking. So, while it may be transparent fabrication to me (or to you), that doesn’t mean that it’s ineffective, nor that it will be unsuccessful.

The resources deployed against Chesa and the national criminal legal reform movement are based largely in the die-hard police unions and associations, the punishment bureaucracy, and far right-wing ideologues like billionaire Republican mega-donor William Oberndorf who just put $602,722 into the effort to recall Boudin.

There’s work to do—and hoping for the best is insufficient.

Among the things we can each do now is to gather the necessary resources to help the movement resist the assault. I’m asking you along with a handful of friends and family—whether you’ve donated in the past or not—to go to  before February 28 and give $1000.00 (or more!!!). I know that’s a heavy lift, but this moment requires a lot of sacrifice and a lot of heavy-lifting.

We typically give a small amount when asked to donate to worthy work by good people—I imagine you do something similar, with a standard limit and a generous spirit. And we almost never give to politicians (OK, as you no-doubt remember, we departed from that many years ago and donated $200 to the first campaign of an unknown, but brilliant and ambitious Chicago neighbor) because we prefer to help grass-roots groups, and to support fire-from-below.

But the situation with Chesa is different—he’s not a politician running for office, but rather a leading actor in the criminal legal reform movement. This is why the reactionary, racist class has him in their sites—by their calculation, if they can knock him off, they can derail the fight for no cash-bail, decarceration, pursuing white collar criminals, radically different budget priorities, and more.

I just did the math—I have 5000 “friends” on this criminal enterprise called Facebook; many of you are also my friends and comrades, brothers and sisters, for real. if  every one of my “friends” gave $1000 we would have gathered $5,000,000, and if each of my comrades gave $100 we would still have $50,000. So please do it now: go to before February 28 and give $1000.00.

A thousand thank yous.

Joy and Justice,  Bill

For more information

The funding behind the recall



Please Donate:

The Right to Think at All

February 8, 2022

Teachers who believe in freedom acknowledge the incalculable value of every student, recognize implicitly or explicitly that the fullest development of each individual is the necessary condition for the full development of all, and, conversely, that the fullest development of all is the condition for the full development of each. Their elemental lesson—whatever else they teach—is that you have every right to be here in this classroom, in this school and larger society, to be recognized and understood, and that you need no one’s permission to interrogate the world. We see before our eyes a sustained and relentless attack on democracy in real time, an attack with multiple dimensions and tactics and venues—but make no mistake, the struggle  is not over this or that book, this or that idea or theory. The fundamental fight is for the right to think at all, which is in dispute.