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Change The World, Not Yourself — Or How Hannah Arendt Called Out Henry David Thoreau

August 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Katie Fitzpatrick, Aeon

The political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote an essay on ‘Civil Disobedience’, published in The New Yorker magazine in September 1970. Thoreau, she argued, was no civil disobedient.


It is not often that a neighbourhood squabble is remembered as a world-historical event. In the summer of 1846, Henry David Thoreau spent a single night in jail in Concord, Massachusetts after refusing to submit his poll tax to the local constable. This minor act of defiance would later be immortalised in Thoreau’s essay ‘On the Duty of Civil Disobedience’ (1849). There, he explains that he had been unwilling to provide material support to a federal government that perpetuated mass injustice – in particular, slavery and the Mexican-American war. While the essay went largely unread in his own lifetime, Thoreau’s theory of civil disobedience would later inspire many of the world’s greatest political thinkers, from Leo Tolstoy and Gandhi to Martin Luther King.

Yet his theory of dissent would have its dissenters, too. The political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote an essay on ‘Civil Disobedience’, published in The New Yorker magazine in September 1970. Thoreau, she argued, was no civil disobedient. In fact, she insisted that his whole moral philosophy was anathema to the collective spirit that ought to guide acts of public refusal. How could the great luminary of civil disobedience be charged with misunderstanding it so profoundly?

Thoreau’s essay offers a forceful critique of state authority and an uncompromising defence of the individual conscience. In Walden (1854), he argued that each man should follow his own individual ‘genius’ rather than social convention, and in ‘On the Duty of Civil Disobedience’ he insists that we should follow our own moral convictions rather than the laws of the land. The citizen, he suggests, must never ‘for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation’. For Thoreau, this prescription holds even when the laws are produced through democratic elections and referenda. Indeed, for him, democratic participation only degrades our moral character. When we cast a ballot, he explains, we vote for a principle that we believe is right, but at …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Flippers: Here's Why They Won't Be the Last 'Friends' to Turn on Trump

August 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

You know what Trump never did back in New York or lately in Washington? Hang out with his friends.


Try to imagine for a moment that you are Donald Trump. Doesn’t really matter when. Back when he lived in Trump Tower in New York and ran the Trump Organization, or after he was elected president and moved into the presidential residence in the White House. What do you think his days were like back in New York, or now in Washington?

They were all the same. He slept, almost always by himself, in a great big bed in a huge bedroom. He got up in the morning and ate some breakfast and got dressed and went down to his office either in Trump Tower or the White House. Lots of meetings. Lots of phone calls. Lately, lots of tweets. Back to the residence, supper, and back into the big bed in the big bedroom and then the same thing all over again.

This article first appeared in Salon.

You know what Trump never did back in New York or lately in Washington? Hang out with his friends. You know why? He never had many friends, not real friends, anyway, the kind of guys you hang out with and shoot the shit and maybe crack a few beers.

Oh, he had lots of “friends,” which is to say, people who were around him because he was the source of their income, or their connection to power, or their connection to other connections. You’ve heard the names of a few of them. There was Roger Stone, who is often described as a long-time political adviser to Trump and a “friend.” Stone worked for Trump before he announced his run for President in 2015 and then for a while afterwards, but he was let go almost before the campaign really began.

There was Trump “friend” Thomas Barrack, a Lebanese-American investor who became a billionaire investing in the Middle East. He is the guy who recommended that Trump hire Paul Manafort to manage his campaign in 2016, calling him a “killer” in a letter to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Administration Announces $200 Million Cut in Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians

August 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Julia Conley, Common Dreams

“The U.S. administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool. There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation.”


The Trump administration announced Friday that it would cut $200 million in Palestinian aid, redirecting the funds to what it called “high priority projects elsewhere.”

The decision comes three months after Trump administration officials including senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump celebrated the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv—a move that provoked outrage among Palestinians as well as in the international community—while Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) shot and fired tear gas at protesters, killing more than 50 people including an eight-month-old baby. 

 

The U.S. had been planning to give the Palestinians a $251 aid package to promote “good governance, health, education, and funding for civil society,” according to the Associated Press.

Palestinians in Gaza live with only a few hours of electricity per day, while about 40 percent of the population is unemployed and the densely-packed enclave—described as the world's largest open-air prison—suffers from constant food and medicine shortages, due to the U.S.-backed blockade imposed by Israel.

In addition to the funding cut, the Trump administration announced in January that it was freezing $65 million in funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as well as Jordan and Lebanon.

Foreign Policy reported earlier this month that the administration was considering cutting the aid package to strengthen its negotiating power as Kushner prepares to introduce a peace plan for the Middle East.

“The U.S. administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool,” Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) executive committee, told Haaretz. “There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation. The U.S. is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of the occupation.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Donald Trump Doesn't Have the Standing to Lick John McCain's Boots': Republican Strategist Rick Wilson

August 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Martin Cizmar, Raw Story

On HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, the host asked his panel to discuss McCain and his long-simmering feud with fellow Republican Donald Trump.


On Friday, John McCain announced that he will no longer take treatment for his brain cancer.

On HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, the host asked his panel to discuss McCain and his long-simmering feud with fellow Republican Donald Trump.

“Why is the military standing behind this man?” Maher asked of Trump, reeling off a long list of his slights to the military.

David Corn of Mother Jones said Trump is a coward.

“He's afraid to—I mean, seriously, he's afraid to go overseas to Afghanistan or to any place, any theater of warfare where our people serve bravely and at some risk,” Corn said.

Republican strategist Rick Wilson said McCain could be a “bastard” but that he served bravely and honorably

“John McCain faced torture in the Hanoi Hilton for five-and-a-half years and Donald Trump doesn't have the standing to lick his boots.”

Watch below.

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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John McCain Helped Build a Country That No Longer Reflects His Values

August 25, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Sen. John McCain, facing terminal cancer, will end his career with growing repudiation by his party and the public of positions, from national defense to bipartisanship, that he has long embodied.


Arizona Sen. John McCain – <a target=_blank href="scion”>https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2018/04/02/john-mc… of Navy brass, <a target=_blank href="flyboy”>http://www.newsweek.com/sorry-trump-story-john-mccain-war-hero-355617″>f… turned Vietnam war hero and tireless defender of American global leadership – has <a target=_blank href="discontinued”>https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/24/mccain-to-discontinue-medical-… treatment for his terminal brain cancer.

“…The progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict,” McCain’s family <a target=_blank href="said”>https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/24/senator-mccain-has-chosen-to-discontinue… in a statement. “With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”

I am a <a target=_blank href="scholar”>https://www.american.edu/spa/faculty/esherman.cfm”>scholar of American politics. And I believe that, regardless of his storied biography and personal charm, three powerful trends in American politics thwarted McCain’s lifelong ambition to be president. They were the rise of the Christian right, partisan polarization and declining public support for foreign wars.

Republican McCain was a <a target=_blank href="champion”>http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/227647-sen-mccain-huddles-with-democr… of bipartisan legislating, an approach that served him and the Senate well. But as political divides have grown, bipartisanship has fallen out of favor.

Most recently, <a target=_blank href="McCain”>http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/387037-mccain-urges-senate-to-reject-… opposed Gina Haspel as CIA director for “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality” and her role in it. Having survived brutal torture for five years as a prisoner of war, McCain maintained a resolute voice against U.S. policies permitting so-called “enhanced interrogations.” Nevertheless, his appeals failed to rally sufficient support to slow, much less derail, her appointment.

Days later, a White House aide said McCain’s opposition to Haspel didn’t matter because <a target=_blank href="“>https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/5/13/17349424/john-mccain-c…“he’s dying anyway.” That disparaging remark and the refusal of the White House to condemn it revealed how deeply the president’s hostile attitude toward McCain and everything he stands for had permeated the executive office.

So McCain ends his career honorably and bravely, but with hostility from the White House, marginal influence in the Republican-controlled Senate, and a public less receptive to the positions he has long embodied.

The outlier

McCain’s first run for the presidency in 2000 captured the imagination of the public and the press, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Macedonia Could Push NATO into a War

August 25, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

When Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked Donald Trump last month
why he should send his son to die defending Montenegro,
NATO’s newest member, the president seemed to repudiate his
own administration’s policy. He indicated that Americans
shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their lives for such a
trivial ally. Furthermore, he warned that Montenegro “has very
aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations,
you’re in World War III.” As Cato Institute senior
fellow
Doug Bandow
pointed out, Trump’s comment was odd on two
counts. First, the Senate approved the admission of Montenegro on
his watch in March 2017. If he thought that latest episode of
adding a useless microstate to the Alliance was unwise, he could
have withdrawn the treaty from consideration before the Senate
vote. Second, as Bandow notes archly, that while “it is
theoretically possible that the vast, aggressive, powerful
Montenegrin legions might launch themselves towards Moscow,”
it isn’t too likely, because Montenegrin leaders “do
not appear to have entirely lost their minds.”

Indeed, the scenario that a small Balkan NATO partner might
trigger a war that entangles the United States is unlikely to
entail a direct provocation of Russia. That reality has made it
easy for Trump’s critics , here and abroad, to mock his comment about Montenegro triggering a world
war. A far greater risk is that the tripwire would be a conflict in
which an alliance member became embroiled with one of its regional
neighbors. Montenegro actually is less of a danger in that respect
than NATO’s latest invitee, Macedonia. Montenegro seems on
relatively good terms with neighboring states, although it has been
involved in an extended border dispute with Kosovo that was
resolved just recently when the Kosovo parliament passed
bitterly resisted legislation approving a settlement of the
controversy.

Macedonia’s tenuous
relationships with its neighbor states make it a liability for the
alliance.

Macedonia is on much worse terms with Kosovo and that
country’s ethnic brethren in Albania. Officials and the
populations of both countries have long pursued a “Greater
Albania” agenda that lays claim to swaths of territory in
Serbia, Montenegro, and especially Macedonia. The NATO-assisted
severing of Kosovo from Serbia in 1999 was the first major triumph
for that agenda, and Greater Albanian expansionists wasted no time
in trying to follow up on their victory. Within months, portions of
Macedonia in which ethnic Albanians constituted a majority (or in
some cases, just a plurality) of the population sought to destabilize that country, demanding extensive
autonomy for those provinces. Both the United States and its NATO
allies put intense pressure …read more

Source: OP-EDS