Saturday, April 13, 2019

Poet's Corner- Walt Whitman's 'Oh Captain, My Captain' In Honor Of Abraham Lincoln's 200th Birthday Anniversary


This is Walt Whitman's well-known homage to the fallen Civil War President, Abraham Lincoln. It deserves space in any left history blog. For an excellent musical rendition of this poem (and the inspiration for placing the poem here) listen to Carolyn Hester's "Carolyn Hester At Town Hall" recording from 1965.

O Captain! My Captain!

Walt Whitman


O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart! 5
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills; 10
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck, 15
You’ve fallen cold and dead.


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Happy Birthday To You-For Bob Dylan-The Last Of The Classical Lyric Poets?- Bob Dylan’s 121st Dream-With Professor Richard Thomas’ “Why Bob Dylan Matters” In 2017 In Mind

Happy Birthday To You-

By Lester Lannon

I am devoted to a local folk station WUMB which is run out of the campus of U/Mass-Boston over near Boston Harbor. At one time this station was an independent one based in Cambridge but went under when their significant demographic base deserted or just passed on once the remnant of the folk minute really did sink below the horizon.

So much for radio folk history except to say that the DJs on many of the programs go out of their ways to commemorate or celebrate the birthdays of many folk, rock, blues and related genre artists. So many and so often that I have had a hard time keeping up with noting those occurrences in this space which after all is dedicated to such happening along the historical continuum.

To “solve” this problem I have decided to send birthday to that grouping of musicians on an arbitrary basis as I come across their names in other contents or as someone here has written about them and we have them in the archives. This may not be the best way to acknowledge them, but it does do so in a respectful manner.    


The Last Of The Classical Lyric Poets?- Bob Dylan’s 121st Dream-With Professor Richard Thomas’ “Why Bob Dylan Matters” In 2017 In Mind    

[During the past several years, which has built up some extra stream the past couple of year, there has been a storm brewing among the writers who write for various departments in this space, for the American Left History blog (and the on-line Progressive American, American Film Gazette and American Folk Gazette websites with which we have fraternal relations including cross-publication of certain articles). Since a great deal of the storm has subsided after we have now reached agreement on some decisions about the road forward I feel it is appropriate as the about to retire administrator to let the reading public know what those decisions entail, what way we are heading. Over the past few years we have brought younger writers like Zack James, Bradley Fox, Jr., Alden Riley and the writer of the article below, Lance Lawrence, in to begin the transition away from writers, including myself, who were totally “washed clean” as one of the older writers Fritz Taylor is fond of saying by the turbulent 1960s, a watershed in American culture, politics and social arrangements.

While it has been entirely possible to read plenty of other material including older films, music and books over the years the strongest component, the subject that has held sway more often than not has been somehow involved with the growing up days in the 1950s and coming of age in the 1960s of the first wave of writers. That has tilted all have agreed, although I have dissented, vigorously dissented as to the degree and to the extent of my alleged role in the process,  the axis of the American Left History experience we are trying to educate people about and preserve too one-sidedly around experience from fifty or sixty years ago when we came of age as if nothing has happened since then beyond the long haul rearguard actions against the reactionary trends of the past forty or so years when we have taken it on the chin once the “60s” ebbed.         

Almost naturally the storm (what my old high school friend and low time associate here oldster Sam Lowell called a “tempest in a teapot” as he sided with the younger writers against the old guard, against my leadership casting the decisive vote against me) reflected the generational divide-the sensibilities of the old guard against the very different perspectives of the younger writers who were plainly way too young to have appreciated except second-hand all the tales and lies that we older folk have imposed on them. This whole dispute came to a head, although other similar disputes this year played a role, over the figure of Bob Dylan not what Lance will write about below but an earlier dispute over our tendency to have a music review on every one of the seemingly never-ending, seemingly never-ending to me as well, bootleg series volumes including Volume 12 which Zack had considered nothing but a commercial rip-off and composed of nothing but a million out takes and other crap and not worthy of giving review space here.

That dispute was the beginning of our awakening to the fact that not everything the man (our “the Man”) did was pure gold something which would have been blasphemy if one of older generation had uttered those words. The hard fact, as the younger writers were at pains to explain, younger writers who self-styled themselves as the “Young Turks,” Bob Dylan to the extent than any of them listened to him or saw him as anything but some old fogy who will probably die on the road doing his two hundred boring concerts a year, to draw anything from his music was something like our reaction to Frank Sinatra when we were young. Square, too square. That comment by I think Bradley Fox cut me especially to the quick.  In any case other writers can give their respective takes on what has gone on of late. Since I am headed for retirement which just this minute feels like some kind of exile that seems best rather than my going on and on in defense of various objectionable actions I have taken over the past few years. Soon to be retired administrator Peter Paul Markin]         

By Writer Lance Lawrence 

I suppose if a man, if a man like Bob Dylan the subject of this short piece, has lived long enough, has been in the public eye, mostly in his case the public eye of a dwindling number of hard core folkie aficionados then somebody will write what he or she thinks is the definitive say on the subject. Especially some academic somebody like Harvard Professor Richard Thomas who has indeed written a treatise called “Why Bob Dylan Matters” where he regales the brethren, the devotees who will buy the book because they buy everything Dylan-etched including bogus Bootleg series volumes some of which are nothing but stuff better left on the cutting room floor. The good professor’s premise is that Mister Dylan is the second coming of Homer, Virgil, and Ovid, who knows maybe Cato and Cicero too in the “big tent” lyrical poet pantheon.     

Originally this piece was going to be written by I think Bart Webber, one of the older writers who would probably like a number of the older writers in this space, on this American Left History blog drool on and on in agreement with the good professor. (This is nothing personal against Bart which has pulled me out of more dead-ends on stories than I care to count but he unlike the more thoughtful Sam Lowell who was like a breath of fresh air in the dispute Markin mentioned above in that quasi-introduction was his most rabid supporter.) Would have make up a laudatory piece which according to my archival research on this site has had over four hundred Bob Dylan-related articles almost all of them “soft-ball puffs” like Dylan was the King of the world and not the nightshade of the old guard. Looking over the archives nobody except Leon Trotsky, who after all was a world historic revolutionary, led a real revolution, and was a key historic figure even if he seemed to have been snake-bitten in his struggle to keep the faith in the Bolshevik future when old “Uncle Joe” Stalin bared his fangs in public has more entries.

Markin, I might as well say it since we have all been given the go ahead to give our respective takes on the internal fight now that the smoke has apparently cleared, mercifully soon to be retired Markin, or is it “purged” like his buddy Trotsky, started the whole madness early in his regime on when he wrote a ton of his own stuff rather than just run the site and hand out assignments as he was supposed to do. He lashed together extensive 3000 word reviews of Dylan’s five or ten first albums and then went over the top when he decided several years ago to write a series entitled “Not Bob Dylan.” That series seemingly endless series about the ten million or so it seemed male folkies who had not been dubbed by Time magazine to be the “King” of the 1960s folk minute (and it was only a minute despite all the hoopla here making it seem like some world-historic event like Trotsky’s Russian Revolution which even I could see had some merit for that designation rather than a tepid passing fad) and who had gone on to something else or who still inhabit the nether-world of the backwaters folk venue world.

I swear Markin must have written up the employment bios, resumes, and fates of every guy who knew three chords and a Woody Guthrie song learned in seventh grade music appreciation class with the likes of Mister Larkin at my middle school who walked into a coffeehouse back then. Even guys I had never heard of in passing like Erick Saint Jean who was supposed to be big in Boston and New York and Manny Silver who was supposed to be the greatest lyric writer since Woody (and probably if Professor Thomas took a whack at it probably since Milton or somebody like that).  If I hear one more word about those guys, hell now that I think about it he also added insult to injury by doing a series on the ten million folkie women who were “Not Joan Baez” Dylan’s paramour and the queen of that 1960s folk minute (according to omnipotent Time).           

But enough of taking cracks at the folk aficionados wherever they are who saw Dylan as a god, a guy who wrote lyrics better than he could sing. Frankly the guy was a has-been by my time, a leader of the folk minute that had passed mercifully away. We used to laugh at the graying long-haired guys guitar in hand in the subway still singing covers of his songs while the trains roared by. Would drop a dollar in the guitar case if they DID NOT sing Blowin’ In The Wind or The Times Are A-Changin’ one more freaking time remembering Mr. Larkin that music teacher in seventh grade, another guy from the 1960s line-up, trying to get us to sing that crap since the words were so meaningful, so important to know and remember according to him.     

Finally since I am supposed to be an objective reporter of sorts, supposed to give all sides a short at reasoned opinion let me take Professor Thomas’ thesis at face value. Now my take on Homer is that he wrote pretty good stories made up of whole cloth no crime and created quite an oral tradition. Same with plenty of Greeks and Romans we read about in high school and college. They survived the cut, they represented some pretty high standards for the lyric form. Got quite workout by Miss Laverty my high school English teacher who was crazy for those guys and the way she read their words out loud you could see why they lasted. Literary comparisons aside about who was the king the lyrical poetic hill who except those guys like Markin and Sam Lowell, despite his honorable part in our internal fight, and who I do not believe know one song later than maybe 1972 which everybody will admit is a long time to be stuck on an old needle even listens to Dylan anymore except for old nostalgia trips.        

For those three people who may be interested in exploring Professor Thomas’s ideas, see what makes him tick, see why he seemingly a rational man is a Dylan aficionado who probably one of the two guys who bought that dastardly Volume 12 which started this “revolution” here is a link to an NPR On Point broadcast hosted by Tom Ashbrook where the good professor holds forth:

[Although Professor Thomas’ thesis about Dylan’s place in the pantheon was not central to the recent disputes among the coterie of writers who ply their trade here Dylan did figure in the mix when all hell broke loose the day Zack James refused to write a review on Volume 12 of the never-ending Bootleg series. I would still be surprised if going out the door Pete Markin will let my “venomous” words see the light of day. As is. If he does then maybe we will have new day after all.]   

The Answer My Friend Is Blowing (No Clipped “G”) In The Wind-The Influence Of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” On The “Generation of’68”-The Best Part Of That Cohort

Link to NPR Morning Edition 'The Times They Are A-Changin" Still Speaks To Our Changing Times

By Seth Garth
No question this publication both in its former hard copy editions and now more so in the on-line editions as the, ouch, 50th anniversary of many signature events for the “Generation of ‘68” have come and gone that the whole period of the 1950s and 1960s had gotten a full airing. Has been dissected, deflected, inspected, reflected and even rejected beyond compare. That is not to say that this trend won’t continue if for no other reason that the demographics and actual readership response indicate that people still have a desire to not forget their pasts, their youth.
(Under the new site manager Greg Green, despite what I consider all good sense having worked under taskmaster Allan Jackson, we are encouraged to give this blessed readership some inside dope, no, no that kind, about how things are run these days in an on-line publication. With that okay in mind there was a huge controversy that put the last sentence in the above paragraph in some perspective recently when Greg for whatever ill-begotten reason thought that he would try to draw in younger audiences by catering to their predilections-for comic book character movies, video games, graphic novels and trendy music and got nothing but serious blow-back from those who have supported this publication financially and otherwise both in hard copy times and now on-line. What that means as the target demographic fades is another question and maybe one for a future generation who might take over the operation. Or perhaps like many operations this one will not outlast its creators- and their purposes.)    
Today’s 1960s question, a question that I have asked over the years and so I drew the assignment to address the issue-who was the voice of the 1960s. Who or what. Was it the lunchroom sit-inners and Freedom Riders, what it the hippies, was it SDS, the various Weather configurations, acid, rock, folk rock, folk, Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Abbie Hoffman, Grace Slick, hell the Three Js-Joplin, Jimi, Jim as in Morrison and the like. Or maybe it was a mood, a mood of disenchantment about a world that seemed out of our control, which seemed to be running without any input from us, without us even being asked. My candidate, and not my only candidate but a recent NPR Morning Edition segment brought the question to mind (see above link), is a song, a song created by Bob Dylan in the early 1960s which was really a clarion call to action on our part, or the best part of our generation-The Times They Are A-Changin’.    
I am not sure if Bob Dylan started out with some oversized desire to be the “voice” of his generation. He certainly blew the whole thing off later after his motorcycle accident and still later when he became a recluse even if he did 200 shows a year, maybe sullen introvert is better, actually maybe his own press agent giving out dribbles is even better but that song, that “anthem” sticks in memory as a decisive summing up of what I was feeling at the time. (And apparently has found resonance with a new generation of activists via the March for Our Lives movement and other youth-driven movements.) As a kid I was antsy to do something, especially once I saw graphic footage on commercial television of young black kids being water-hosed, beaten and bitten by dogs down in the South simply for looking for some rough justice in this wicked old world. Those images, and those of the brave lunch-room sitters and Freedom bus riders were stark and compelling. They and my disquiet over nuclear bombs which were a lot scarier then when there were serious confrontations which put them in play and concern that what bothered me about having no say, about things not being addressed galvanized me.
The song “spoke to me” as it might not have earlier or later. It had the hopeful ring of a promise of a newer world. That didn’t happen or happen in ways that would have helped the mass of humanity but for that moment I flipped out every time I heard it played on the radio or on my old vinyl records record-player. Other songs, events, moods, later would overtake this song’s sentiment but I was there at the creation. Remember that, please.   

On The Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War- The Literature Of The Civil War

Click on the headline to link to a Boston Sunday Globe article, dated Sunday April 10, 2011, detailing the various literary attempts to portray the struggles and human drama unleashed by the American Civil War.

Markin re-post comment:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

*The Modern Southern Literary View Of The American Civil War Period- William Faulkner’s “Absalom, Absalom!"

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the American novelist, William Faulkner.

Book Review

Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner, The Modern Library, New York, 1936

I am here to tell you that not every great book that describes the human struggle as we emerged from the mud has to be written from a leftist progressive political perspective, although usually it helps. The novelist, self-proclaimed white racial purist, and Mississippi partisan, William Faulkner, with this very complicated and somewhat rambling novel placed himself front and center in the pantheon of American literary figures who have tried to confront the daunting task of making great literature out of the slavery-driven plantation society of the ante bellum South and of that same locale in the period of defeat after the Civil War. One does not have to sign up for membership in the William Faulkner political fan club to realize that he has created something that speaks to that very contradictory, and at times incomprehensible, human drive to succeed as it has evolved thus far. He does not pull his punches or hold back on the grizzly picture that he paints.

Let me explain that last sentence. I was put on the trail of Faulkner this time, having previously reviewed his “Sanctuary” in this space, by reading and reviewing a book titled “The Unwritten War” by Daniel Aaron. Aaron’s major thesis is that the social, political and military dimensions of the American Civil experience, for both sides, were so traumatic and overwhelming that it took a figure removed in time, like Faulkner, to have a realistic shot at writing the “great American Civil War novel”. Aaron runs through the litany of great American literary figures that did, or did not, try to create such a work in the immediate post-war period and came up dry until the emergence of Faulkner (and, possibly, the “Agrarians” like Robert Penn Warren). One can agree or disagree with Professor Aaron's thesis but it hard to argue, at an artistic level, that Faulkner’s work here, especially the portrait of the central character, Thomas Sutpen, as he emerges from the descriptions of several fellow townspeople, including characters from other Faulkner novels, of the mythical Jefferson, Mississippi is not a serious candidate for that honor.

And what do we have here in the four hundred or so pages of this novel. A description of the intricate web of the roots of one branch of the slavery economy in the French West Indies as it connects to the then (1830’s) virgin Mississippi lands suitable for plantation creation. The trials and tribulations of two varieties of “poor white trash” (Sutpen, and later his overseer). The Civil War as refracted though small town Southern life. Miscegenation. Lust. Incest. Murder, Almost murder. Wannabe murder. Abortion. Southern gentility. Not so gentile Southern life. Ghosts, real and imagined. Fear of going forward. Fear of going back. Hatred of the North. Hatred of the South. Carpetbaggers. Scalawags. Almost every social and human experience, except any serious description of the hated n----r in post-Civil War society, and except as monsters. And that is only a start. So here is the “real deal”. Goddam, William Faulkner can write a hell of a novel. Nevertheless, after reading this novel, I will stick with the lyrics in Nina Simone’s old 1960’s Civil Rights-inspired song- “Mississippi, Goddam"

"Mississippi Goddam"- Nina Simone- 1963

The name of this tune is Mississippi goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabamas gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Alabamas gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Cant you see it
Cant you feel it
Its all in the air
I cant stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabamas gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasnt been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every days gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I dont belong here
I dont belong there
Ive even stopped believing in prayer

Dont tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
Ive been there so I know
They keep on saying go slow!

But thats just the trouble
Do it slow
Washing the windows
Do it slow
Picking the cotton
Do it slow
Youre just plain rotten
Do it slow
Youre too damn lazy
Do it slow
The thinkings crazy
Do it slow
Where am I going
What am I doing
I dont know
I dont know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about mississippi goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin didnt we

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say its a communist plot
All I want is equality
For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And youd stop calling me sister sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
Youre all gonna die and die like flies
I dont trust you any more
You keep on saying go slow!
Go slow!

But thats just the trouble
Do it slow
Do it slow
Mass participation
Do it slow
Do it slow
Do things gradually
Do it slow
But bring more tragedy
Do it slow
Why dont you see it
Why dont you feel it
I dont know
I dont know

You dont have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about mississippi
Everybody knows about alabama
Everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Thats it!

***Films To While Away The Class Struggle By- American Civil War General And President U.S. Grant- A PBS Documentary

Click on the title to link to a "PBS:American Experience" Website entry for President U.S. Grant.

Recently I have begun to post entries under the headline- “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”-that will include progressive and labor-oriented songs that might be of general interest to the radical public. I have decided to do the same for some films that may perk that same interest under the title in this entry’s headline. In the future I expect to do the same for books under a similar heading.-Markin

This year marks the 149th anniversary of the commencement of the American Civil War-and the beginning of the end of chattel slavery in the United States.

DVD Review

U.S. Grant: American Experience , PBS Productions, New York, 2003

Late year in celebrating , rightly, the military exploits of General William Tecumseh Sherman and his “bummers’ who wreaked havoc all through the Confederacy in the waning days of the American Civil War I, perhaps, slighted the organizational and strategic battle plans of his superior, the commanding general of all the Union armies, General U.S. Grant. I attempt to make amends here as we mark the 149th anniversary of the commencement of that war.

This three hour plus PBS “American Experience” documentary tells the average viewer probably much more than they would ever want to know about the career, with all its successes and failures, of one Ulysses S. Grant. As always in a PBS production there are the “talking heads”, mainly historians here, who try to flesh the meaning of Grant’s career, the fistful of attributes that led him to successful military achievements and also helped shed light on his less than stellar presidency. And as always there is plenty of still photography, much of it not previously familiar to this reviewer, and re-enactments of the major events in Grant’s life.

There are few surprises here, although to my surprise a number of commentators noted that Grant, not Lincoln was the most popular American figure of the 19th century. As the recent bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth demonstrates that is clearly not verdict of history, at least for latter centuries. That said, there is a compelling argument to make, and that is made by some of the commentators here, that Grant was the prototype for the successful modern warfare commanding general once the increase in industrial production provided the massive resources necessary to wage such war and create widespread devastation. I would only add that only in the context of the sacred Union cause and its adjunct, the abolition of slavery does his rise make sense.

The documentary painstakingly takes us through Grant’s rough and tumble childhood; his early not very glamorous military career, including service in the Mexican War a touchstone for all later military leadership on both sides of the Civil war; his various business failures prior to the war; his slow emergence as the decisive military leader and strategist in the Western campaign culminating in the massive Union victory at Vicksburg; his subsequent elevation by an admiring Lincoln to commander of all the Union armies, including the decisive and costly final marches, like Cold Harbor, that haunted him and later historians and that marred his overall achievement particularly when the Southern school of Civil War historical interpretation was in its ascendancy; his post-Civil War actions as a military commander which tried to recreate a single nation; his two term presidency, including the various financial scandals that are forever attached to his terms of office; his earnest, and unsuccessful, attempts to integrate the newly liberated freedman into the Southern society, including his forthright actions against the Klan in the early 1870s; and, finally, his post-presidential life including a worldwide grand tour and the writing of his memoirs.

Nothing here will contribute to an argument for his outstripping of Lincoln as the decisive figure of the American 19th century. But know this: all labor militants and other progressives honor General Grant, and his subordinate General Sherman, for their military leadership in ending chattel slavery in this country. That was no mean task as this documentary amply demonstrates.

On The 158th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1861

The Dismissal of Frémont

Written: circa November 19, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: Die Presse No. 325, November 26, 1861;
Online Version: 1999;
Transcription: Bob Schwarz and Tim Delaney.


London, November 19, 1861
Frémont's dismissal from the post of Commander-in-Chief in Missouri forms a turning point in the history of the development of the American Civil War. Fremont has two great sins to expiate. He was the first candidate of the Republican Party for the presidential office (1856), and he is the first general of the North to have threatened the slaveholders with emancipation of slaves (August 30, 1861). He remains, therefore, a rival of candidates for the presidency in the future and an obstacle to the makers of compromises in the present.

During the last two decades the singular practice developed in the United States of not electing to the presidency any man who occupied an authoritative position in his own party. The names of such men, it is true, were utilised for election demonstrations, but as soon as it came to actual business, they were dropped and replaced by unknown mediocrities of merely local influence. In this manner Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, etc., became Presidents. Likewise Abraham Lincoln. General Andrew Jackson was in fact the last President of the United States who owed his office to his personal importance, whilst all his successors owed it, on the contrary, to their personal unimportance.

In the election year 1860, the most distinguished names of the Republican Party were Frémont and Seward. Known for his adventures during the Mexican War, for his intrepid exploration of California and his candidacy of 1856, Frémont was too striking a figure even to come under consideration as soon as it was no longer a question of a Republican demonstration, but of a Republican success. He did not, therefore, stand as a candidate. It was otherwise with Seward, a Republican Senator in the Congress at Washington, Governor of the State of New York and, since the rise of the Republican Party, unquestionably its leading orator. It required a series of mortifying defeats to induce Mr. Seward to renounce his own candidacy and to give his oratorical patronage to the then more or less unknown Abraham Lincoln. As soon, however, as he saw his attempt to stand as a candidate fail, he imposed himself as a Republican Richelieu on a man whom he considered as a Republican Louis XIII. He contributed towards making Lincoln President, on condition that Lincoln made him secretary of State, an office which is in some measure comparable with that of a British Prime Minister. As a matter of fact, Lincoln was hardly President-elect, when Seward secured the Secretaryship of State. Immediately a singular change took place in the attitude of the Demosthenes of the Republican Party, whom the prophesying of the "irrepressible conflict" between the system of free Labour and the system of slavery had made famous. Although elected on November 6, 1860, Lincoln took up office as President only on March 4, 1861. In the interval, during the winter session of Congress, Seward made himself the central figure of all attempts at compromise; the Northern organs of the South, such as the New York Herald, for example, whose bête noire Seward had been till then, suddenly extolled him as the statesman of reconciliation and, indeed, it was not his fault that peace at any price was not achieved. Seward manifestly regarded the post of Secretary of State as a mere preliminary step, and busied himself less with the "irrepressible conflict" of the present than with the presidency of the future. He has provided fresh proof that virtuosos of the tongue are dangerously inadequate statesmen. Read his state dispatches! What a repulsive mixture of magniloquence and petty-mindedness, of simulated strength and real weakness!

For Seward, therefore, Frémont was the dangerous rival who had to be ruined; an undertaking that appeared so much the easier since Lincoln, in accordance with his legal tradition, has an aversion for all genius, anxiously clings to the letter of the Constitution and fights shy of every step that could mislead the "loyal" slaveholders of the border states. Frémont's character offered another hold. He is manifestly a man of pathos, somewhat high-stepping and haughty, and not without a touch of the melodramatic. First the government attempted to drive him to voluntary retirement by a succession of petty chicaneries. When this did not succeed, it deprived him of his command at the very moment when the army he himself had organised came face to face with the foe in south-west Missouri and a decisive battle was imminent. Frémont is the idol of the states of the North-west, which sing his praises as the "pathfinder." They regard his dismissal as a personal insult. Should the Union government meet with a few more mishaps like those of Bull Run and Ball's Bluff, it has itself given the opposition, which will then rise up against it and smash the hitherto prevailing diplomatic system of waging war, its leader in John Frémont. We shall return later to the indictment of the dismissed general published by the War Department in Washington.

NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong- Send a message now to your representative in Congress telling them to add their name to Rep. Cicilline’s legislation prohibiting the President from sending U.S. troops to Venezuela.

NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong

“Dictator”: Media Code for ‘Government We Don’t Like’
Democracy is a supposedly sacred ideal for Americans. Politicians and media tell us that the United States “stands for” democracy and opposes dictatorships everywhere, one reason why the US must continue to involve itself diplomatically and militarily around the world…  When you look at the governments that Freedom House describes as dictatorships, those that are also Official Enemies are frequently described as such in corporate media—for example, Russia (Washington Post, 5/8/18), Cuba (USA Today, 2/26/19), Syria (New York Times, 3/2/19), Belarus (ABC, 3/5/19),  North Korea (USA Today, 3/22/19) and Venezuela (New York Times, 4/10/19). Yet “our dictators”—that is, the “not free” governments that Washington supports—are rarely if ever labeled as dictatorships by the establishment press. In fact, there is very little coverage at all of those countries that are “behaving themselves” as far as the US State Department is concerned.   More

H.R.1004 – “To prohibit the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities with respect to Venezuela, and for other purposes.” – has 33 cosponsors (all but one Democrats) and includes McGovern, Pressley, Keating and Moulton from Massachusetts.

US Takes Illegal, Dangerous Actions Toward Regime Change in Venezuela
In March, Guaidó announced that “Operation Freedom,” an organization established to overthrow the Maduro government, would take certain “tactical actions” beginning on April 6. Part of the plan anticipates that the Venezuelan military will turn against Maduro. This strategy is detailed in a 75-page regime change manual prepared by the U.S. Global Development Lab, a branch of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The manual advocates the creation of rapid expeditionary development teams to partner with the CIA and U.S. Special Forces to conduct “a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations [in] in extremis conditions.” Some of these actions will, in all likelihood, involve combat operations. A USAID official said, “Anybody who doesn’t think we need to be working in combat elements or working with SF [special forces] groups is just naïve.”   More

UN Rapporteur Says US Sanctions Against Venezuela are Causing Blanket Starvation
US-led sanctions against Venezuela’s state owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are “playing with fire,” causing blanket starvation and harming people with no stake in the leadership struggle, the UN official, ambassadorIdriss Jazairy said.
“I have reviewed sanctions across the world. Very few of them have really been a positive, helpful factor. It’s like going into microsurgery using a kitchen knife. It’s a very blunt tool to achieve the proclaimed objective,” Jazairy said. “They usually contribute, and this is the case now in Venezuela, in stimulating more suffering for innocent people that have no axe to grind in the political dissent that exits in the country.” … The special expert called it “bizarre” that at a time when Venezuela lacks food and medicine, the US and its allies have intervened to restrict access to both critical needs by imposing crushing new sanctions.   More

Urge Congress to block the extradition & prosecution of Julian Assange for actions protected in the U.S. by the First Amendment. Sign the petition

Just Foreign Policy

Urge Congress to block the extradition & prosecution of Julian Assange for actions protected in the U.S. by the First Amendment.

Sign the petition
Dear Doug,
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London and threatened with extradition to the United States to stand trial on charges related to publishing U.S. government documents that exposed U.S. government war crimes. 
In response to the arrest, the  ACLU  said:
 Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would  open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an  especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who  routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public's interest.
In response to the unsealed indictment, the  ACLU  said:
" Criminally prosecuting a publisher for the publication of truthful information would be a first in American history, and unconstitutional. The government did not cross that Rubicon with today’s indictment, but the worst case scenario cannot yet be ruled out.  We have no assurance that these are the only charges the government plans to bring against Mr. Assange. Further, while there is no First Amendment right to crack a government password,  this indictment characterizes as ‘part of’ a criminal conspiracy the routine and protected activities journalists often engage in as part of their daily jobs, such as encouraging a source to provide more information . Given President Trump’s and his administration’s well-documented attacks on the freedom of the press, such characterizations are especially worrisome.”
All American journalists, publishers and editors need the protections of the First Amendment to be strong in order to do their jobs.  All Americans need the protections of the First Amendment to be strong, not only to protect our rights to speak and write, but to  protect our right to know, particularly to know about actions of U.S. government officials that U.S. government officials might be hiding. Some secret U.S. government actions might be against the interests of the majority of Americans. Some secret U.S. government actions might be unconstitutional or otherwise illegal.  This is especially important with respect to ending and preventing unconstitutional wars. There’s no way Americans can fulfill our responsibilities to hold U.S. government officials accountable for what they are doing in other people’s countries if we can’t find out what the U.S. government is doing
The Pentagon lied for years to Congress and the American people about its unconstitutional role in the Saudi war in Yemen. It took opponents of the war three years just to prove to the satisfaction of the majority of Congress that the Pentagon was lying about its participation in the war.  If we could have exposed the U.S. role in the war sooner, we could have ended the war sooner. 
This is why protecting the First Amendment is so important to opponents of unconstitutional war - and why the apologists for unconstitutional war have the First Amendment in their crosshairs. They want to chill national security reporting, because they don’t want the American people to know what they are doing. 
This is why the Congress that just voted to end unconstitutional U.S. participation in the Saudi war in Yemen should vote to prohibit the Department of Justice from spending any of our tax dollars to extradite or prosecute Julian Assange for alleged actions which would be protected by the First Amendment if Julian Assange had been a U.S. journalist standing on U.S. soil when he performed the alleged action. 
For example, the Department of Justice authorization or appropriation could be amended thus: 
"No money in this bill shall be used for the extradition of Julian Assange or any WikiLeaks employee or volunteer to the United States, nor for the prosecution of Julian Assange or any WikiLeaks employee or volunteer in the United States, for any alleged action which would be protected by the First Amendment if performed by a U.S. citizen journalist, publisher, or editor while standing on U.S. soil.
Urge Congress to block the Trump Administration’s attempts to leverage the Assange case to undermine First Amendment protections for journalists, publishers, editors, and the American people's right to know by signing our petition.
Thanks for all you do to help U.S. foreign policy become a bit more just,
Hassan El-Tayyab, Sarah Burns, and Robert Reuel Naiman 
Just Foreign Policy
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The People Have the Need to Know Veterans For Peace Stands with Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange

Veterans For Peace Stands with Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange

The People Have the Need to Know
Veterans For Peace Stands with Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange
Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are both in jail right now.  They are being persecuted by the very elite who are pursuing regime change wars around the globe and who do not want the people to know the truth about what they are up to. 
Curiously, Assange has been charged with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to break into a classified Army computer in 2010. Regardless of the questionable allegations that WikiLeaks collaborated with Trump and the Russians to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, WikiLeaks did a great service by publishing evidence of U.S. war crimes  The charges against Assange go back nine years to when Chelsea Manning provided WikiLeaks with the “Collateral Murder” video and the Army’s daily after action reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.  That is what the U.S. government is choosing to focus on, at least initially.
What Chelsea Manning released through WikiLeaks was evidence of the routine killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the routine cover-up of these war crimes. The Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diaries also revealed that military and civilian leaders were lying to the U.S. people when they presented rosy assessments of the progress of those wars. If more people had paid attention to these revelations, many thousands of lives could have been saved.
One of the most moving aspects of Manning’s court martial testimony in 2013 was her explanation as to why she released the so-called “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the gunning down in Baghdad of two Reuters journalists and bystanders by American soldiers in a US Apache helicopter. Manning described being deeply troubled by the video, especially the crew’s “lack of concern for human life” and lack of “concern for injured children at the scene.”
Chelsea explained her own motivation:
“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.... I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
Chelsea Manning is a hero to Veterans For Peace for releasing documents that the public had every right to see.  Julian Assange is a hero to Veterans For Peace for providing a platform for whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning.  Both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange should be celebrated.  They should be up for the Nobel Peace Prize and for awards in journalism and courageous truth-telling.  Instead they are being persecuted by the very warmongers who continue to lie about the wars in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Somalia, and who are now promoting regime change wars with Venezuela and Iran.
Now is the time to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.  We will not be distracted by murky rumors or character assassination in the mainstream media. We will join emergency protests, initiate our own protests, contact our Congressional representatives, write letters to the editor, and more.
In defending these two courageous individuals, Veterans For Peace is also defending the people’s right to know. And we are defending journalists’ right to publish the truth, no matter how inconvenient to the elites who seek to dominate the globe. If the first casualty of war is truth, then the telling the truth is also an antidote to war.