"Two Old Guys Talking" is the introduction to Tom Hayden's forthcoming book, Listen, Yankee!, Why Cuba Matters, to be published next year by Seven Stories Press. The piece was finalized last month. The "two old guys" are the author, now 75, who first visited Cuba in 1968, and Ricardo Alarcon, now 77, former president of the Cuban National Assembly, foreign minister, and UN representative.
The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.
This essay is adapted from Tom Hayden’s foreword to The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings That Changed America, edited by Robert Cohen and published this past September by the University of California Press.
It is a worthy time to study and treasure the eloquent speeches of Mario Savio—“freedom’s orator,” as the historian Robert Cohen rightly calls him.
December 13, 2014
Dear Senator Kaine,
I know we're often told not to seek the ideal instead of what's possible but, when what's "possible" only perpetuates a serious wrong, it is better to say ‘No’ and fight again. That's how I feel about the hollowed-out war authorization, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.
California leaders can begin a historic economic transition from risky fossil fuel investments towards a high-employment, low-polluting economy based on renewable resources and energy efficiency. A possible initiative to divest public funds from coal and fossil fuels while also reinvesting in clean energy is being carefully considered as the new legislative session nears.
Brown administration representatives are busy in Lima trying to consolidate potential agreements with the Germans and multiple "sub-nationals" towards an effective greenhouse gas emissions policy through 2030 on the way to 2050. The failure to establish a subnational platform for states like California at Lima seems to be more a process setback than an obstacle to progress going forward.
Failure of timely coordination between California and the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg may have delayed the announcement of a Green Bloc of states committed to 80 percent reductions from 1990 levels by 2050. California is widely recognized as the eighth-largest economy in the world and a green energy powerhouse.
To: Members of Congress
From: The Democracy Project
We call for a full debate on whether to authorize the widening new war in Iraq and Syria. A congressional vote will allow citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable now and in 2016.
Since President Obama already says there is no military solution and the war will last at least three years, we urge a No vote.
If the new war is authorized, the following conditions must be debated and voted on:
1. A narrow definition of "the enemy" - the Islamic State - with no loophole to a wider war as occurred in the 2011-12 War on Terrorism authorization, where an open-ended mandate led to multiple wars and quagmires in many other countries;
2. Keep the presidential pledge that there will be no American ground troops, a pledge which already is being breached;
3. A sunset provision ending the war authorization in one year, thus requiring another Congressional approval before 2016;
4. An independent reporting mechanism for all casualties, civilian casualties, direct and indirect taxpayer costs, and measurements of progress;
5. A primary emphasis on diplomacy aimed at power sharing among disenfranchised communities and a prohibition against US funding of sectarian war.
Wars are easy for politicians to approve. But history shows that lives and resources are needlessly lost, and careers ruined, when they become quagmires.
Secretary of State John Kerry today called for a congressional authorization of the New War before he didn't.
Instead Kerry proposed the appearance of an authorization before stripping the idea of real public and congressional accountability. Members of Congress should look carefully at this insult to their constitutional role.
What more can possibly be said?
Less than a century ago, the Michael Browns, Trayvon Martins, Eric Garners, and Oscar Grants were being lynched, six thousand of them alone during Jim Crow. A heroic Ida Wells tried to tell the story to the few who were even paying attention. Abolitionists had their printing presses burned. A bloody war ended the "peculiar institution" but it was reinstated as Jim Crow by the force of backlash.
At the risk of sounding extreme, there is a sense in which a kind of peaceful military coup is underway in the United States. Republicans led by John McCain are back in control of the Senate's militarycommittees. Secretary Hagel, no friend of escalating wars, has been forced from his Pentagon office. Planned cuts in military spending are on hold. The generals are all but demanding a deployment of US ground troops. American combat in Afghanistan is being extended for another year. The CIA still prevents the Senate intelligence committee from releasing its report on theCIA, a case of the dog muzzling the watchdog. It's all within the borders of the constitution, while the new war itself is not.
Naomi Klein doesn't say much about California in her brilliant must-read, This Changes Everything, Capitalism VS the Climate. Yet California may be the place which indeed "changes everything", assuming that such a utopian goal is even possible. At the very least California is the laboratory of the solar, renewables, and conservation r/evolution of the last few decades, for better and for worse. Klein's book is a great correction to the recent drift of environmentalism - she calls it market environmentalism - but it perhaps another correction is needed soon, given the California experience.