November 17, 2017

Thank you, Eli

Eli has been a cohost on Activist Radio for about three years. He is taking a leave leave of absence for November and may rejoin the program in December. The time will allow him to pursue the issues he has talked about on the air, animal rights, vegetarianism, and meditation.

I have had a number of cohosts over the ten years that Activist Radio has been on the air. Each has brought in new and interesting ideas. But more than that, each has established a camaraderie of the left that I think has benefited our listening public. Here were two people who were not afraid to talk about a political revolution to reestablish our democracy. We were not afraid to attack the racism, exploitation and oppression so endemic in out kleptocratic form of government. Finally, we agreed that the United States is a military empire, whose existence now threatens all life on the planet. As Pete Seeger sings at the end of each show, "We will love, or we will perish."

So thank you, Eli, for a great run. I have appreciated your support these last several years, and will miss your skill as a commentator and provocateur. As David Rovicks sings in "After the Revolution" ...

The debts were all forgiven
In all the neo-colonies
And the soldiers left their bases
Went back to their families
And a non-aggression treaty
Was signed with every sovereign state
And all the terrorist groups disbanded
With no empire left to hate
And they all started planting olive trees
After the revolution

Haiti is a mirror of US imperialism

GUEST: Leslie Mullin, social justice activist, member of the San Francisco-Bay Area based Haiti Action Committee and author of "How the U.S. Crippled Haiti’s Domestic Rice Industry," talks about the struggle against US imperialism in Central America and the implications of race and neoliberalism.

Remember Haiti? Not the earthquake, but the overthrow of Aristide, the first democratically elected president in a hundred years. Of course, the US was behind the coup. Aristide wanted to raise the minimum wage in his country and all the major US corporations that make a killing on Haiti's sweatshops demanded his head. Aristide was overthrown twice, and even removed by US special forces the second time. 

Look in any clothing store like Target to see the labels from Haiti. That is how our particularly vicious form of neoliberalism works; mostly black and brown people in Central America are being exploited for profit. I loved the fact that Bill and Hillary went to Haiti on their honeymoon, while it was under the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier. Their "special relationship" to Haiti is all about exploitation, two grifters set loose on the oppressed masses of Black people. 

Haiti is a mirror of US imperialism. The closer you look, the more you understand the suffering of oppressed people around the world. 

Thanks to Sharon for joining me on this interview.

Obama was only a populist during elections

GUEST: Chris Nineham, founder member of the Stop the War Coalition, a coordinator of the European Social Forum in Florence in 2002, and an organizer of the two million London demonstration against the Iraq war in 2003, talks about his latest book, How the Establishment Lost Control. (thanks to Sharon for help with the interview)

Chris Nineham has written a very encouraging book about social change in England. The resistance of hundreds of like minded groups has made it possible to overthrow Blair's corporatized Labour Party and replace it with something more to the liking of working people.

Like Bernie in the US, Jeremy Corbyn preaches a populism that restores the rights of the vast majority. Such a revolution has not happened in our own country, but the dynamics are similar. The billionaires and their bankers have achieved control over both major parties in the US, leaving little room for substantive change. Obama's "Change You Can Believe In" was a cruel publicity stunt, devoid of any actual passion. Like Bill Clinton before him, Obama understood his role as a populist during elections, who gave the corporations what they wanted once in office.

Creating a revolution in the Democratic Party is so much harder in an empire that is fighting wars of domination all over the planet. In fact, Bernie's inability to take on the endless wars and the immense military budget doesn't bode well for actual change. The new, leftist candidates winning elections, however, may force a confrontation with the sellout Democratic establishment.

Chris Nineham points out how all this was achieved in England. Thanks again to Sharon who helped on this interview.

November 9, 2017

Feed the filthy rich

GUEST: Major Danny Sjursen, a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point, who served with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and wrote a critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge, talks about the hidden costs of empire and the militarizing of US police forces.

Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and Myth of the Surge

The Hazards of Military Worship

Counterinsurgency, Policing and the Militarization of America’s Cities

Many of us have come to realize that the economic system we live under is basically unfair. The billionaires buy the politicians, and rig the system for their own benefit. In the process, wealth is concentrated at the very top, leaving most Americans disillusioned and angry.

What the American people have not as yet realized is the importance of endless war in transferring money to the rich elite. At war for the last decade and a half, the US has spent over 4 trillion dollars on killing people, mostly in the Middle East. That money creates huge profits for the weapons makers of course, but does nothing for those who don't own their stocks and bonds. Four trillion could have provided for universal healthcare, free college tuition, free daycare, and free nursing homes. It could have created millions of jobs rebuilding America's infrastructure, converting the nation to renewable energy, and combating global warming. The tragedy of lost opportunity.

Once citizens come to realize the true costs of America's empire, there will be great pressure to change the "military-industrial-congressional complex" (as it was described in Eisenhower's original speech). That is why the corporate media devotes so much time to glorifying war and cheerleading for our next conflict. War is as much a part of the system as cheating the poor and middle class to feed the filthy rich. 

November 5, 2017

The American Empire

GUEST: Maria Höhn, Professor and Chair of History at Vassar College, author of GIs and Fräuleins, about American troops in Germany, coeditor of Over There: Living with The U.S. Military Empire from World War Two to the Present, and co-founder of The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany, talks about our nation's military troops in foreign lands.

Occupation isn't simple. It is a melding of two cultures, one victorious and the other subservient. But here is much more to it than that. 

Black GIs felt a type of freedom in Germany that they never experienced back home. They were given the same respect as white GIs by a majority of the German population. And since the town of Baumholder, the geographical area of Maria's study, was as devastated as the rest of Germany after the war, its citizens were eager to earn enough money from the American troops as possible. 

German women dated and married American GIs. There were few German men left, and the Americans treated them much better than the occupying French, English and Russians did. 

Seventy years later, US soldiers are still in Germany. In fact, American troops have never really left any county they occupied during World War II. You can hear American radio stations all through Europe, from Germany down through Greece. Studying the US occupation of Germany slowly reveals something else that few of us talk about. The American Empire, built on 800 military bases around the world. 

This interview was somewhat of a coming home for me as well. My father was from Baumholder, and I spent some very enjoyable hours with my Uncle Gerhardt, the town mayor, talking about war and peace in Europe. Shortly after, I was drafted into the US Army myself and spent a year at a US base in Korea. 

November 2, 2017

All together now, in the key of C

GUESTS: Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, award winning recording artists, folk singers and activists who have made their group, Magpie, one of the seminal voices in labor and social justice music. Their new album is entitled, "When We Stand Together: Songs of Joe Hill, the IWW, and Fellow Workers."

When We Stand Together
Magpie homepage
Magpie - Facebook

It was a nice story. Greg and Terry were passing though Poughkeepsie one Thursday and happened to listen to Activist Radio. They liked what they heard and contacted us about being on the show. We were so lucky to have them.

The history of Magpie goes back to the Kent State massacre, one of the times that US militarism has ended up shooting down its own citizens. Greg and Terry have been signing together pretty much since Kent State, and their vast repertoire is an education in the history of the American left.

Magpie is part of the movement for social justice, for economic fairness, for labor rights, and an end to Jim Crow discrimination. We talked about the other musicians who have chosen to advocate social change, sometimes at the expense of musical fame. Luckily for Magpie, the group is both well known for their musical talent, as well as effective in spreading the word. We the people can form a better world; all together now, in the key of C.