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Presidential Restraint Is Alive and Well

6:39 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

… among people who are not the president.

On Presidents Day, RootsAction.org set up a petition in response to this news:

“An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say,” the Associated Press reports — “and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.”

The petition reads:

“Mr. President, Without making any exception for the president, the Constitution requires adherence to the Fifth Amendment. ‘Due process’ is mandatory, not optional. Legality is a question of law, not policy. You are not allowed to kill whoever you want on your own say-so.”

Within the first several hours, over 10,000 people had signed. You can sign it too.

Here are some of the comments that people have posted:

“Has the CONSTITUTION become an – OPTION ???” —S. Schwenchy, CA

“And we thought Bush was a liar!” —Richard Wilkey, TN

“And you are also not allowed to pass judgement on someone before they are judged by a jury of their peers as you did in the case of Pvt. Manning. I thought you were better than that. My bad.” —John Nettleton, OR

“Please, just stop murdering suspicious people. This is like what happened to Trayvon Martin, but there’s no trial afterward.” —Tim Ferguson, CA

“Expedience is not an excuse. We can’t be the good guys just because we say so, we have to act on it too. Killing terrorists just creates more terrorists.” —Boola Lomuscio, MA

“A country which can imprison indefinitely its citizens without due process, without ever charging them with any wrongdoing is not a democracy. Period. Let alone the country which can KILL citizens without due process, without ever charging them with any wrongdoing. Obey the law. Obey the Constitution.” —Jamil Said, CA

“A President is nothing more than a servant, and if he commits a crime, it is ten times the crime and should have ten times the penalty.” —Ronald Denner, MI

“According to the Nuremberg Principles if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values. It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters, to speak out.” —Robert Stevens

“All labels aside, ANY president who does not follow his oath needs to be impeached. It really is that simple.” —Robert Horan, OH

“All presidents seem to think that the Constitution is for the people to obey, not them. The 5th Amendment provides due process for American citizens. If one suspects criminal activity against the USA, then the suspect must have his day in court. This is part of the democratic process, and NO ONE, NOT EVEN THE PRESIDENT, IS ABOVE THE LAW!” —Robert Glasner, CA

“Amendment IV — ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures’ — Does that include the life of the person?” —David Bean, OR

“America is supposed to have the rule of law, not of men. I don’t care how well-intentioned people are; if the precedent is set, then less well-intentioned people will take advantage of it.” —Deborah Goldsmith, CA

“Among other reasons, drone strikes kill innocents without exception, and you know it, Mr. President, and that’s not something to accept regardless of what your military advisers believe.” —Marianne Kenady, WA

“Are we back in the dark ages where the king decides to behead anyone he wants? Seems that way. I don’t think that is where we want to be, none of us.” —Kenneth Walton, IA

“Are you still a constitutional lawyer? – - Then, why are you acting as you are? That is, choosing and selecting American citizens for annihilation.” —William See, OR

“Believe it or not, murder is murder. Murdering a murderer is still murder.” —Frank C Benjamin, NY

“Don’t stray from the mandates, including the Constitution, you have been sworn to uphold. People accused of crimes are supposed to be tried by a jury of their peers, not one man on a power trip.” —John Davis, ME

“Execution of citizens without any due process, especially a jury of peers, is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian government — no matter how much the tyrant pleads otherwise.” —Robert Anderson, CA

“Execution without arrest and fair trial is unethical, immoral and goes against all American values.” —Patricia Robinett, MO

“Extraordinary renditions and torture perpetrated by the Bush Administration was illegal and immoral. Killing without due process, especially an American citizen, is even worse.” —Audrey Bomse, FL

“Following our example, I guess it is ok for foreign governments to send drones over our territory to murder dissidents from their country?” —Michael JamesLong, OR

“For a constitutional lawyer, our President does not honor, in any way, shape or form, the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.” —Lisbeth Caccese, CA

Read thousands more, pick your favorites, add your own:
http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9288

Memorial Day THIS

8:14 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Imagine if at some point during the 1990s or 1980s the President of the United States had given a speech.  And this was his speech:

My fellow Americans, I’ve been regularly shooting missiles into people’s houses in several countries.  I’ve wiped out families.  I’ve killed thousands of people.  Hundreds of them have been little children.

I’ve killed grandparents, wives, daughters, neighbors.  I’ve targeted people without knowing their names but because they appeared to be resisting an occupation of their country.  I’ve killed whoever was too near them.  Then I’ve shot another missile a few minutes later to kill whoever was trying to help the victims.

I don’t charge these people with crimes.  I don’t seek their extradition.  I don’t even try to kidnap them.  And I don’t do this to defend against any imminent threat.  I don’t make you safer by doing this.  It goes without saying (although the people in the countries I target keep saying it) that I’m generating more new enemies than I’m killing.  But I urge you to remember this: All but four of the people I’ve killed have been non-U.S. citizens.

So here’s what I’m going to do for you: I’m going to start applying the same standards I use for killing U.S. citizens to my killing of non-U.S. citizens, at least in certain countries, at least after another 18 months or so goes by.  Sound good?  I know, I know: what do you care? These are not even U.S. citizens we’re talking about.

So, let me tell you about the four U.S. citizens.

One of them we didn’t actually know who we were shooting at, and he turned out to be a U.S. citizen.  Hell, for all I know a few other bodies could belong to U.S. citizens too — It’s not as if we know all the names and backgrounds.

A second one of the four we got because he was with the one and only U.S. citizen we targeted.  So, that was a two-fer.  We saved enough on missiles on that one to pay for a school or whatever it is people keep whining about wanting money for.

A third one was a 16-year-old American kid.  He was the son of the one and only U.S. citizen I targeted.  I hit him two weeks after killing his father.  Sheer coincidence.  I don’t have any good explanation for it, but you’ll just have to trust that I meant to take out a bunch of innocent non-American teenagers, and there happened tragically to be an American among them.

Fourth is the one U.S. citizen I meant to kill.  I’d like to ask you to ignore certain facts about this one for the moment.  Actually forever.  Let’s ignore the fact that we tried to kill him before any of the incidents that I now claim justified his killing.  Let’s ignore that my attorney general said back then that we were killing him for things he’d said, not for anything he’d done.  Let’s forget that we never charged him with any crime, never indicted him, never tried him, never sought his extradition, never appealed to U.S. or foreign or international courts.  Let’s forget that we’ve never made any evidence against him public, nor explained why we can’t.  Let’s forget that nobody else has produced any evidence against him.

Now, let me tell you this: I only killed him because he was responsible for planning and executing violent attacks on the United States, was an imminent threat to the United States, and could not possibly have been captured.  Got that?  Write that down.

Now, it’s true that courts and the legislature and the public are left out of this.  But you’re going to have to trust me.

There is not a single domestic or international law that permits the killing of human beings by someone who invents criteria for himself to meet and then claims on the basis of secret evidence to have met those criteria.

But, what do you care?  You’ve already forgotten that for all but one of the people I’ve killed I don’t claim to have met any criteria at all.

Now clap, you morons!

Some speech.

What would the response have been to this some decades back, as compared to last Thursday?

I think there might have been some outrage.

Instead of outrage, we’re going to have more wars.

This memorial day, see if you can remember what it was like to object to giving presidents the power to murder us. Read the rest of this entry →

Obama Promises His Speech Will End Some Day

8:31 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

President Obama is expected to announce that the eternal war on the world will have an end.

When?

He won’t say.

I too have an announcement.  I promise my drinking problem will end some day.

When?

I’m not saying.  But the celebrations of the armistice in 1918 began when plans for it were announced, and the partying continued until it actually happened.  Perhaps that is the best approach here.  As an aid to your festivities, let me present the…

Afternoon Obama Murder Rap Drinking Game
(which I promise to stop playing soon)

1. The President is going to admit that he has a murder problem and propose to correct it by murdering less in certain countries.  If examples occur to you of crimes you might commit that you could not continue committing by promising to limit your criminal activities in some countries but not in others, DRINK!

2. The President is going to claim to have targeted, or to have allowed an unnamed John Brennan to have targeted, only one U.S. citizen for murder but to have killed three by mistake, on top of three killed by President Bush by mistake.  If you can think of outrages you might commit that you could not go on committing by claiming that 86% of them were accidental side effects, DRINK!

3. The President is going to claim that the one U.S. citizen he or his subordinate chose to murder was an imminent (meaning eventual theoretical) threat to violently attack the United States, that capture was infeasible (meaning the target was hiding following lots of death threats, but his location was known anyway), and that said citizen was a senior operational leader of al Qaeda (or an associated group or was an adherent or a backstage groupie who had once met a guy whose cousin knew where an al Qaeda meeting was held one time).  If you understand what that means, DRINK!

4. The President is going to hope that nobody notices that laws against war and murder don’t include exceptions for people who invent lists of arcane criteria that they require themselves to meet before murdering.  If you think you could invent and meet at least three qualifications before engaging in some immoral behavior, DRINK!

5. The President is going to hope nobody notices that he did not actually meet his own criteria before murdering Awlaki.  Attorney General Eric Holder now says Awlaki was killed for actions, not words.  Prior to the deed, Holder said it was the “hatred spewed” on Awlaki’s blog that put him “on the same list with bin Laden.”  Asked if he wanted Awlaki captured or killed, Holder did not say “captured if feasible,” but evaded the question.  Awlaki, as far as we know, was never a member of al Qaeda.  Obama’s and Holder’s claims about Awlaki’s role in terrorist attacks are undocumented claims.  No evidence has been presented and no charges were ever brought in court.  If you think shouting “Whoever he is, and whatever he’s charged with, he did it!” would be a nifty way to get out of jury duty, DRINK!

6. The President is going to speed past the fact that over 99% of the people he’s murdered have not been U.S. citizens, and that the pretense of justification so lazily applied to U.S. citizens has not been bothered with at all in these cases.  He’s not going to discuss “signature strikes” targeting unknown people and whoever’s near them, or the targeting of the rescuers of victims.  He’s not going to discuss children, women, seniors.  He’s not going to discuss the posthumous identification of males as “enemy combatants” — a non-legal term that adds insult to murder.  He’s not going to discuss the many known cases in which the victims could quite feasibly have been captured, were clearly not involved with al Qaeda in any way, and lacked any capacity whatsoever to threaten the United States.  He’s going to propose applying the fraudulent, meaningless, and illegal standards he applies to murdering U.S. citizens to murdering non-U.S. citizens in the future … in some countries.  If you can think of some people who might not be satisfied with this reform, DRINK!

7. The President is going to claim to be moving some but not all drone kill operations from a secret agency technically lacking in Congressional oversight to a department Congress simply chooses not to oversee.  If this falls short of what you can imagine when you hear “most transparent administration ever,” DRINK!

8. The President will not be speaking about how some 75 other nations with drones should begin applying his standards to their own behavior.  If you think such matters are worth discussing, DRINK!

9. The President is going to brush over the question of where and how he will be ordering the murder of people by means other than missiles.  If you can think of ways this might become seen as a problem down the road, DRINK!

10. The President is going to speed past the existence of a massive ongoing U.S. war on Afghanistan, larger now than when Obama moved into the White House, and expected to continue for many years after it “ends” in another year and a half.  If his ability to get away with this strikes you as perhaps what he must love most about drones and how they change the conversation, DRINK!

11. If you have concerns that go unanswered about the global expansion of U.S. bases, threats to Syria, weapons provided to Israel, threats to Iran, or the gargantuan military budget, DRINK!

12. The President will leak a great deal of information about his kill list program in this speech, as he has done on some previous “I killed bin Laden!” occasions, and yet will fail to prosecute himself for espionage at the end of the speech.  If you believe laws should be applied equally to all, DRINK! Read the rest of this entry →

How Your Town Can Stop Drones

6:49 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Local resolutions have helped advance many issues, including war opposition, when they’ve been passed in large numbers.  When we passed a resolution in Charlottesville, Va., last year opposing any attack on Iran, I heard from numerous cities that wanted to do the same.  As far as I know, none did.  I heard back from some that they’d been told it was anti-Semitic to oppose a U.S. attack on Iran.  I didn’t have an answer to that — not a printable one anyway.

When Charlottesville passed a resolution against drones in February of this year, I heard from people all over the country again.  Since that time, to my knowledge, one little town in Minnesota called St. Bonifacius has passed something, while dozens and dozens have tried and failed.  The problem seems to be that drones can have good uses as well as bad.  Of course, that’s grounds for halting the lawless and reckless spread of drones until we can figure out any ways in which their good use can be compatible with our Constitutional rights.  But that would make too much sense.  When there’s money to be made, technology to be played with, and terrorists to destroy our freedoms if we don’t hurry up and destroy them first, the American way is full steam ahead.  But I actually think I might have at least a partial answer this time.

There are two separable issues to be addresses in anti-drone resolutions and ordinances and laws and treaties.  One is weaponization.  The other is surveillance.  I’m not aware of anyone yet having any difficulty getting their local officials to oppose weaponized drones.  Most are unaware that some U.S. localities already have drones armed with rubber bullets and tear gas.  Most consider it a crazy idea — as they should.  But it is an idea that should be addressed, because it is not science fiction; it is a dystopia that is already upon us.  Getting localities in the United States to oppose the use of weaponized drones in their skies should be easy.  Having thus established that our towns can address the problem of drones, we could come back and deal with the complex matter of surveillance.

The best solution on surveillance may be the one produced by the Rutherford Institute and embodied in the Charlottesville resolution.  There is nothing in that resolution that prevents a drone from delivering your coffee or checking out a forest fire.  I wish there were, but there actually isn’t.  While I’d like stronger resolutions, I think at this point the movement would benefit from passing any resolutions at all.  And I think the way to make it simpler, clearer, and extremely easy would be to ask our local representatives to simply oppose weaponized drones.

Ideally, of course, I’d like to see cities and counties join the movement to ban weaponized drones from the world.  Such a resolution might read:

Weaponized drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles) — including those carrying lethal weapons such as hellfire missiles, and those carrying non-lethal weapons such as tear gas or rubber bullets — are no more acceptable than chemical weapons or land mines.  Whether these drones are controlled by pilots or act autonomously, whether they are publicly or privately owned, they can have no place in a civilized world and should be banned.  The City of ________ urges the State of _________, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. State Department to pursue state, national, and international prohibitions on the development, ownership, or use of weaponized drones.

The trouble with this, of course, is that most of your city council members approve of murdering foreigners with drones.  Thus it becomes a harder measure to pass.  What we want, therefore, is something that does not conflict with the resolution above but addresses itself to local, state, or U.S. skies.  To ease passage most swiftly, we want local resolutions that don’t commit localities to anything, but simply make recommendations to states and the federal government.  However, I suspect that — as in Charlottesville — a statement of local policy will not be a deal breaker.  Here’s a version of the Charlottesville resolution stripped down to the weaponized drone issue alone (just delete the last 14 words to commit your city to nothing):

NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the City Council of ________ calls on the United States Congress and the State of ________ to adopt legislation precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.

Opponents of this resolution will be, and should be denounced for being, supporters of putting weaponized drones in our skies.  Supporters can remain technology lovers.  They can continue to believe every move we make should be videotaped by Big Brother.  They can plow right ahead with their brilliant idea for replacing the pizza guy with a drone.  But they will be taking a stand on a popular issue that has no opposition.  There is no organized popular movement in your town in support of putting weaponized drones in the sky.  There’s not even a concerted effort by police, or even by the drone profiteers.  They can make big bucks off surveillance.  They can fill the skies with drones first.  The weapons can largely come later.  They are not prepared for us to build a movement against weaponized drones and then turn our focus toward the lesser offense of spying.  And by us I mean essentially everyone.  Libertarians and leftists are in agreement on this, and so is everybody else.

So, you can build public pressure.  It’s not hard.  In Charlottesville, we brought a crowd of people to two consecutive city council meetings and dominated the public speaking period.  You should watch the videos of the January 22nd and February 4th meetings here.  We published a column in the newspaper making the case, including the case that it is proper for cities to speak up on national issues.  We organized an event in front of City Hall on the day before the vote.  We displayed a giant model drone produced by New York anti-drone activist Nick Mottern.  Our little stunt produced coverage on the two television channels and in the newspaper.  I asked people to commit to attending the meeting on a FaceBook page.  And when I spoke in the packed meeting, I asked those in agreement to stand.  Most of the room stood.

We presented a weak resolution at the first meeting, which put the issue on the agenda.  We then proposed a stronger one, which one of the best city council members put into the official agenda for the second meeting.  At the second meeting, the council members negotiated a compromise.  You might want to try that approach, which we stumbled into unplanned.

You can also lay the groundwork.  We invited Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin and Nick Mottern and Kathy Kelly and other great speakers to Charlottesville in the months leading up to this resolution effort.  This was not part of a plan, but we knew that it never hurts to educate people about their government’s crimes.  If you sign the international petition to ban weaponized drones from the world, you’ll see a list of organizations at the bottom.  Those are the places to go for resources, speakers, props, reports, flyers, and books that can help you in this effort.  You can also print out a mammoth list of signatures on the petition to impress your elected officials.  Or you can gather signatures locally and add them.

It’s time we made things nice and simple.  Are we in favor of killer flying robots over our homes and schools, or are we not?

Once we’ve given the obvious answer, maybe we’ll start asking each other whether we really think Pakistanis disagree.

****

An idea:

Jack Gilory has written a short 2-act play called The Predator.  The script is available here.

The characters include a college student, a drone pilot, a senator, and a peace activist.  The drone pilot supports war.  The senator supports herself.  The peace activist opposes murder.  And the student is almost in agreement with the peace activist.  All four of them turn toward the audience at the end of the play and ask “What do you think?”

What a great way to start a discussion!  The play has been performed or read at Georgetown, Syracuse, and Wittenberg Universities, among other venues.  It would make a great event in YOUR town and requires no expenses, just four people who can read lines.  Try it out.

Dude, That Is So Killer

6:04 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Are you aware, I asked a friend, that the guy you’re registering new voters to vote for keeps a list of people he intends to kill? Oh well, he replied, you know.

Do I, now?

Weaponized drones should be banned, I tell a group of progressives. What? Oh no, drones are better than armies, because with drones nobody gets killed.

Is that so? Just how far do progressives have left to progress exactly?

How can we shake people out of their acceptance of murder, I ask peace activists. Easy. We’ll trumpet the news of the 2,000th U.S. death in Afghanistan.

We will?

Can you imagine the response of Afghans who’ve lost many, many times that number of lives, who’ve seen many, many times THAT number made refugees, who’ve watched their nation be destroyed, their people traumatized, their families ripped apart, their children’s bodies ripped apart? Hell, can you imagine the response of a human being who cared about other human beings even if they were Afghans, to the news that the war is objectionable because 2,000 people had now died?

People?

Who gets to be people?

And what the fuck are those of us who believe this entire cultural direction is as depraved as anything yet seen on earth? Are we people too?

We, some of us, headed over on Flag Day to protest a pro-war rally with messages of peace. And what did most of our group want? Good patriotism. Benevolent nationalism. Reclaiming of the flag for what it’s never been. Privileging nation over family, neighborhood, town, county, region, or continent because we should never allow the warmongers and xenophobes to appropriate the symbols of warmongering and xenophobia. Those are OURS dammit!

Where do I hop out of this handbasket, and has anyone noticed that the frogs we keep slandering felt the heat and hopped out long ago?

Every one of those 2,000 dead Americans is a tragedy and a murder. What of the far greater number of U.S. troops dead from suicide, the far greater number alive but ruined, the 3 million Americans locked up in cages, the 136,000 of those — at a minimum — who are innocent of the crimes for which they’ve been locked up? Why in the world is the United States not bombing itself to improve its human rights record? What of the 24,000 people in the United States dying from the burning of coal every year? What of the far greater numbers dying from unsafe work conditions, from automobiles, from senseless small-scale violence, from a broken but marvelously profitable healthcare system? What of the horrors facing the other 95% of humanity, including those living under our wars and those living under our banks?

Obama’s drones are killing people in nations where the United States had no troops on the ground, contemplated no troops on the ground, declared no war, but may soon have to put troops on the ground to follow through on the logic of and confront the damage and hostility created by the drones. Drones are facilitating seemingly easy and consequence-free murder in numerous nations. They are an escalation, not a de-escalation, of violence. The choice is between law enforcement and murder, not murder that risks U.S. deaths and murder that only kills foreigners and kills fewer of them.

In fact, drones do risk U.S. deaths. They are likely to produce blowback in a major way. They have produced blowback already. The future almost certainly holds foreign strikes of retaliation for U.S. drones conducted under the same legal standard, or absence thereof, established by the U.S. but against the U.S. with foreign drones. If drone murders become the new normal, expect to see them where you don’t want them as well as where you do. Expect our militarized police to use drones at home in ways established abroad as doable without serious objection from us. And expect to see even more U.S. military suicides. Drone “pilots’” PTSD rates are shooting through the roof, because they see their victims.

U.S. wars are one-sided slaughters. They’re murder by drone or mass-murder by army. A tiny fraction of the deaths, under 5 percent, are treated by the U.S. media as the entire death count. Who wouldn’t want to eliminate those deaths with drones, other than someone who gave a rat’s ass about the killing of human beings? Or someone who’d been part of the killing, stopped and thought about it, and had a break down?

At Flag Day, a giant inflatable soldier palled around with cub scouts, while boy scouts, ROTC child-soldiers-in-waiting, fresh recruits, and veterans all the way up to the very old listened to a Brigadier General talk about the glory, honor, and legality of war. Then a Marine hacked a cake in half with a sword, exactly as if slicing through a prisoner’s neck. Cheers. Cheers. Cheers for wars.

But where are the non-murder jobs for those kids? Non-killing jobs cost less than military jobs. Military spending is hollowing out our economy to the point where we spend enough on recruitment efforts per new recruit to have given a crowd of young people jobs just with the money spent convincing one of them to take a gig as an assistant assassin. Call it something else if you want, but look at who your commander in chief is when you take that oath to perform the utterly impossible task of simultaneously obeying the Constitution, the President, and whoever gives you an order.

Senator Carl Levin says that cutting 0.05% of a military budget that has doubled this decade will endanger us all. His funders smirk. His pimp nods. And good progressives look at each other uncertainly. We wouldn’t want to endanger our non-xenophobically defined Homeland, would we? Maybe we should stick to promoting Elizabeth Warren for Senate, along with her lies pushing war with Iran, and her claims that the Pentagon and the spy agencies have it wrong, that Iran really is building nuclear weapons and threatening our sacred patria. And I say that with good patriotism.

Let the bankers pay for part of the next war. That should set things right. The important thing is to register more voters. Shifting to an election campaign focus has worked out so well in Wisconsin and Egypt that anybody would be crazy not to jump on board. And if you end up working your tail off for a sociopath with a kill list, oh well, you know?

In the words of the great John Lennon, imagine all your tiny little country treating the rest of the world as expendable.

Second Thoughts on Public Display of 10 Commandments

6:06 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Until now, I’ve always opposed the idea of posting the 10 Commandments on government buildings.

a Ten Commandments monument

Photo: Kenneth Freeman / Flickr

I don’t want a theocracy. I don’t want religion at all, even separated from government. I’m embarrassed for my species that so many people imagine we haven’t advanced at all in millennia. Must we really turn to an ancient book that sanctions slavery and rape, stonings and genocide, to find not only guidance but unquestionable dictates? I’m disgusted by the notion that we should behave decently merely because of an imaginary system of rewards and punishments. Even mice only behave for real cheese and real shocks. How pathetic are we, exactly?

Well, truth be told, pretty damn pathetic. And how far have we advanced over the millennia? I’m beginning to wonder. Take a look at the ten commandments. Setting aside the preamble (worship this god, not that god, or you and your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will be visited with iniquity), the first thing we’re commanded to do is to limit the work week to six days.

A six-day work week would be a huge step forward for many workers in the United States, not to mention the vastly greater number of workers abroad who produce profits for U.S. owners, profiteers, “job creators.” That’s right, we have lots of little “creators” now, and we are expected to worship them, but — among other defects — they tend to create seven-day-a-week jobs. Remember, not only are you supposed to take a day off, but so are your son, daughter, manservant, maidservant, cattle, and strangers. There’s no “unless they’re building your i-phones” clause. It’s for you to judge, I guess, whether foreigners rise to the status of cattle.

Next we are to honor our fathers and mothers. I’m no theologian, but stripping away pensions and threatening to slash Social Security doesn’t seem like honoring to me. Enriching health insurance profiteers rather than providing healthcare strikes me as the opposite of honoring. If we honor our fathers and mothers, we’re told, our days will be long on the land that god gave us. Well, never mind for a minute where the land came from or whether one species owns it or whether owning it is a helpful concept at all, if the land is going to last long (for anyone to do anything on it) we’re going to have to stop destroying it so disgracefully. We’re going to have to learn to treat something as sacred, as more valuable that our individual lives — much less the enrichment of our fossil fuel barons.

Read the rest of this entry →