A Modest War Proposal

To the President of the United States, the Congress vacationing and the pundits salivating:

1. Do not put foot in mouth and attempt to walk.

2. Do not insert head into ass and attempt to speak.

3. Do not confuse the size of your penis with the quality of your brain (although in some instances there may well be a diminished correlation).

4. When has a ‘red line’ ever meant anything except housing discrimination?  When has a line in the sand ever been important except on a school playground?

5. If 70,000+ have been killed in Syria with bullets and bombs (some supplied by us) for 2 years and you went shopping and campaigning, why are you now foaming at the deaths of 355 (Doctors Without Borders)-1,439 (US Secretary of State Kerry) — the numbers grow with the telling– from Sarin gas?

6. Do not pretend to a righteousness on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, a righteousness you lack and a pretense which facts universally dispute.

7. War is not a solution, but an enterprise. Acts of aggression are not lessons but bully diplomacy, self gratification. If you must rattle a sabre, at least have the decency to rattle in person, on the field before the enemy you refuse to name, rather than from the lens of a television camera.

8. Do not engage in yet another misadventure for the honor or respect of empire. It lacks both and remains an empty shell.

9. If you must ‘send a message’, first look in a mirror, then attend to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have left Syria and now live in squalid, uncertain conditions.

10. If you insist on the world respecting your words and promises, then speak in words that engender respect not disdain; avoid lies; regard facts; keep the promises you make rather than betray them as political expediency whispers to you or economic gain lures you.

Say NO to war.  Build a school. Repair a bridge. Fill a pot hole. Retire a general. Create a park, not a parking lot. Put down your cell phone, step away from the cameras and your desk, meet some real people.

Those are changes we can believe in.

The Politics of Cruelty

America’s Descent Into Madness


America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

– John le Carré

“The stories we tell about ourselves as Americans no longer speak to the ideals of justice, equality, liberty, and democracy. There are no towering figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. whose stories interweave moral outrage with courage and vision and inspired us to imagine a society that was never just enough.  Stories that once inflamed our imagination now degrade it, overwhelming a populace with nonstop advertisements that reduce our sense of agency to the imperatives of shopping. But these are not the only narratives that diminish our capacity to imagine a better world. We are also inundated with stories of cruelty and fear that undermine communal bonds and tarnish any viable visions of the future. Different stories, ones that provided a sense of history, social responsibility, and respect for the public good, were once circulated by our parents, churches, synagogues, schools, and community leaders. Today, the stories that define who we are as individuals and as a nation are told by right-wing and liberal media that broadcast the conquests of celebrities, billionaires, and ethically frozen politicians who preach the mutually related virtues of the free market and a permanent war economy.”


“There is also a need for social movements that invoke stories as a form of public memory, stories that have the potential to move people to invest in their own sense of individual and collective agency, stories that make knowledge meaningful in order to make it critical and transformative. If democracy is to once again inspire a populist politics, it is crucial to develop a number of social movements in which the stories told are never completed, but are always open to self- and social reflection, capable of pushing ever further the boundaries of our collective imagination and struggles against injustice wherever they might be.  Only then will the stories that now cripple our imaginations, politics, and democracy be challenged and hopefully overcome.”