Don’t send old shoes to the Philippines

To all those who are moved by the typhoon disaster in the Philippines, and want to do something, here is some advice: “Don’t Send Old Shoes to the Philippines.”

LovePhilippinesThis is not a joke. Sending clothes, food goods, shoes, and other material aid not only doesn’t help, it hurts the relief effort. Access to the disaster area is already severely limited. It’s very difficult to deliver critically needed food and medicine. Sending boxes of old clothes and shoes will only clog the system up even more.

Follow the advice of Jessica Alexander, a humanitarian aid worker. “Donate money – not teddy bears, not old shoes, not breast milk. Give money to organizations that have worked in the affected areas before the storm – they will be more likely to know and be able to navigate the local context and may be able to respond faster, as it won’t take them time to set up.”

In this case, the best thing to do is give money to a charity that is helping with the relief. I would recommend the Red Cross or Catholic Relief Services.

Sad and tragic irony

It is sadly ironic that just as we’re commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and the March on Washington, a milestone event and triumph of non-violent protest, President Obama is about to add to his record as the Nobel Peace price winner who has bombed the most countries.

martin-luther-king21Sadly ironic, and disturbing. I do not presume to speak for Dr. King, or know what he would say. But his life and work had a profound impact on all Americans even those like me who grew up in a “all-white” society.

His devotion to non-violent protest, even in the face of unspeakable violence against him and his followers, helped form the conscience of an entire generation, white and black.

In his later years, Dr. King poke eloquently against war, specifically the war in Viet Nam. He lamented that American had become a of “guided missiles and misguided men.”

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Petraeus fell for the wrong reason

by Sheldon Richman

David Petraeus has fallen — but not as he should have. Before being disgraced by an extramarital affair, the retired four-star general and ex-CIA director should have been shamed out of public life for his horrendous military record in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Are we talking about the same David Petraeus who is said to have heroically saved Iraq with the famous surge and then salvaged a floundering military effort in Afghanistan?

That’s the one. But those “accomplishments” are merely the products of sharp public relations.

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How did Christians become warmongers?

I never thought I would hear myself say what I’m about to say, but the truth is, the term “Christian” today signifies anything but Christ-like. To many people today, “Christian” refers to some warmongering, mean-spirited, throw-anyone-to-the-wolves-who-crosses-them person, who then has the audacity to look down their nose in contempt against anyone who disagrees with them

After reading this very powerful column by Chuck Baldwin, all I could think was — wow!

The Christian church “was born in a baptism of love and unity,” he writes. While there were differences of opinion, the early church was “a loving, caring, compassionate ecclesia” The New Testament church always attempted to be and teach the importance of being peacemakers.

That doesn’t mean they were pacifists. Early Christians believed they had a God-given right to defend themselves. But they never confused self-defense with warmongering, Baldwin note.

Something has happened to today’s church, Baldwin says. Christians, particularly those who call themselves evangelicals and fundamentalists, have become the “biggest cheerleaders for war.”

Baldwin says the modern Warfare state would grind to a screeching halt of Christians stopped supporting it. He criticizes those religious leaders who interpret Romans 13 to mean that Christian owe unquestioning obedience to civil authority as “obey-the-government-no-matter-what” claptrap.

No man is exempt from the moral laws of God. No man! Not even the President of the United States. And how much guilt do those of us in America who laud and support the Warfare State share when atrocities are committed by our leaders in our name and with our approval? And if none, then what were those trials in Nuremberg all about?

Something to think about on Nov. 6.

War with Iran is next

If it wasn’t clear to Americans before, it should be clear today. After watching last night’s joint presidential candidate press conference, masquerading as a debate, no one should have any doubt that America’s state of perpetual and universal war will continue under President Barack Obama or a President Mitt Romney.

Regardless of which of these men is elected, America will go to war with Iran. Both said the a “nuclear-capable” Iran is a threat to U.S. “national security.” Both expressed unwavering, unequivocal – and unquestioning – support for Israel. “We stand with Israel,” said Obama. “We got their back,” said Gov. Romney.

As Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson noted, neither of them challenged the fundamental premise of endless foreign intervention.

“Rather, we have two candidates agreeing with one another about flawed foreign excursions we cannot afford,” he commented. “And remarkably, we heard a continuation of the fallacy that we can somehow balance the budget while spending more on defense. It doesn’t add up.”

Obama repeated the imperialist assertion that the United States is the “one, indispensable nation” in the world. They both claimed that one of their foreign policy goals would be to bring “democracy” to the Middle East, including Syria. But it was clear from the qualifications they outlined that they really did not mean democracy in the sense of government of, by, and for the people of that nation, but a government that complies with standards dictated by the United States.

Obama repeated the hubris that America is “the one, indispensable nation in the world.” Romney had some trouble geography when he said that Syria was Iran’s only ally in the region, and that give Iran access to the sea.

War myths and America’s drone terrorism

Just the other day, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. war in Afghanistan is "succeeding" and "has turned an important corner."

Chicago Tribute columnist Steve Chapman had the same reaction I did, “Where have I heard that before?”

Oh yes, could it have been in 2003, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld boasted, “We clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability. … The bulk of this country today is permissive, it’s secure.”

Chapman notes that four years later, Rummy pronounced Afghanistan "a big success," and then in 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured us the U.S. effort was "succeeding."

“There is a term for a war that is always ‘succeeding’ but never concluding: a failure. But Barack Obama has followed the custom of George W. Bush in pretending otherwise,” Chapman writes.

Another myth being perpetrated by the Obama Administration is the narrative that the use of drones is a “surgically precise and effective tool” that kills bad guys with minimal “collateral impacts,” meaning killing innocents.

A joint report Living Under Drones by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic exposes this lie.

The use of drones to kill suspected terrorists in Pakistan is by definition itself an act of terrorism.

Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.

Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation notes that the report also finds that the drone strikes killed 2,563-3,325 people in Pakistan from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, of whom 474–881 were civilians, including 176 children.

Incredibly, President Obama continues to deny the strikes kill civilians, even in the light of the U.S. tactic to make multiple drone strikes in one area that result in rescuers being killed.

Terrorist suicide bombers do the same thing, and we’re outraged by it. Why are we not outraged by this misuse of American military might?

“The Obama administration denies that it has killed civilians, but bear in mind that it considers any male of military age a ‘militant,’ Richman writes.

This is also an eerily and disturbingly familiar assertion, like the “body counts” of the Viet Nam war.

The Libya Lie

Almost everything we’ve been told about Libya, including the terrorist attack on the Benghazi consulate, is a lie. These two articles lay the blame for the lie squarely on President Barack Obama.

The reason Libyan streets aren’t safe and the country is ruled by roving gangs of militia is due to the U.S. bombing last year, writes Judge Andrew Napolitano on LewRockwell.com.

“In an unconstitutional act of war, the president alone ordered the bombing. It destroyed the Libyan military, national and local police, roads, bridges, and private homes. It facilitated the murder of our former ally Col. Gadhafi and ensured the replacement of him by a government that cannot govern.”

Libya wasn’t “liberated” but plunged into the chaos of tribal payback, observes Victor David Hanson in the National Review.

“Former Qaddafi supporters and African mercenaries were executed by those we helped. Islamists began consolidating power, desecrating a British military cemetery and driving out Westerners.”

Interventionism serves no national interest

Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson believes, as I do, that the Bush-Obama-and-now-Romney interventionist foreign policy is getting Americans killed and contributing to the bankruptcy of our nation without clear sight of our national interests.

Writing in an op ed published in the Huffington Post, Johnson said, “Foreign policy is supposed to make us safer, not get Americans killed and bankrupt us.

“Yet, even as we mourn the loss of four Americans in Libya and watch the Middle East ignite with anti-American fervor, our leaders don’t get it,” he said.

As someone who grew up during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union vied for the allegiance of so-called Third World nations, seeing mobs attack American businesses and sack American embassies is nothing new.

It was the price the United States paid for supporting dictators and oligarchies who were supposedly “anti-communist,” no matter have much they oppressed, starved, imprisoned or murdered their people. When you support the “lesser of two evils” — either in foreign policy or at the ballot box – all you get is evil.

During the Vietnam War, and whenever American troops were sent to “restore order” or “secure democracy” in any foreign nation from Latin America to the Middle East, inevitably there were anti-American demonstrations.

Certainly, the Soviets encouraged and financed many of them, just as the State Department and CIA encouraged and supported anti-Soviet demonstrations, and helped overthrow foreign rulers who weren’t “anti-communist” enough.

But the root cause of most of these demonstrations was blowback from American interventionism, the inevitable result of the arrogance and hubris perpetrated by successive Republican and Democratic administrations.

The demonstrations now sweeping the Middle East are not about any video.

Gov. Johnson comments on Libya consulate attack

Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson said the death of Americans in the attack on a Libya consulate was tragic, but honoring their services requires asking the obvious question: What U.S. interest is being served by putting our people in places where they can be killed by extremists over a video?

“Protecting America with a strong national defense and a rational foreign policy is our leaders’ most basic responsibility,” he said in a statement “But let us not confuse national security with senseless intervention where our interests are clearly not being served.”

Read the full statement →

Lee Wrights Message to Military Fathers

My good friend, brother and fellow veteran Lee Wrights, former candidate for the Libertarian presidential nomination and current LP vice chair, sent this message to all military fathers:

You don’t know me, but I am one of the men who sought the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States. I lost that bid about a month ago. I am writing today to say how truly sorry I am you have to spend another Father’s Day away from your blessed children. It truly is to weep.

I ran for president so I could bring you home. It sorrows me that I will not be able to do that this time around. But I promise you; I will keep fighting to bring all of you home. I promise you that the Libertarian Party and its nominee Gary Johnson will not stop fighting to bring each of you home.

As a fellow veteran and father myself, you have my solemn pledge, president or not, my mantra will remain… Stop All War! Have a nice Father’s Day and know someone at home is trying to reunite you with your children. Keep your heads down.

To which I can alone add my fervent amen!