Hella Bus Blog
In a week when foreign policy and military investment is in/around America's collective frontal lobe (that's where you think things right?), there couldn't be a better day to share a remarkable article/document/manifesto that was released without much fanfare a few weeks ago. Authored by two members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "A National Strategic Narrative" is exactly what it sounds - a call to fundamentally re-think our approach to foreign policy in a globalized world.
Foreign Policy notes, "the report was issued under the pseudonym of "Mr. Y," a takeoff on George Kennan's 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow (published under the name "X" the following year in Foreign Affairs) that helped set containment as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union."
"Strategic Narrative" seeks to bring the "X" era to an end, so to speak. It deals in broad strokes, glossing over some major issues (global information exchange, for instance) and stays out of some notably contentious, but relevant debates (i.e. taxation). However, on the whole it offers a remarkably concise shorthand for the world we live in and what it takes for America to be a responsible and effective actor within it. I have to agree with Foreign Policy when they write, "Its findings are revelatory, and they deserve to be read and appreciated not only by every lawmaker in Congress, but by every American citizen." Follow the link and read the dang thing here.
The authors, both active-serving military officers, argue that a post-World War II foreign policy strategy based around containment and deterrence is increasingly irrelevant in a globalizing world. The blinding pace and increasingly diverse range of "global trends and conditions" in the world today render the traditional US state-centric viewpoint out of touch and, as the authors note, counterproductive to American interests.
Rather they argue that the modern world can no longer be contained or controlled, nor can the major actors be identified exclusively as states. This means investment at home, combined with a willingness to engage abroad on terms not based around misleading stereotypes is the most effective route towards developing credible influence in global affairs. They advocate cutting defense spending and instead increase funding to:
1) "intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth."
2) Directing government investment away from defense and protectionism and towards development and diplomacy. This includes viewing competition as an opportunity to benefit all parties, rather than a zero sum game.
3) "Develop a plan for the sustainable access to, cultivation and use of, the natural resources we need for our continued well-being, prosperity and economic growth in the world marketplace."
Invest in people as a key to national defense? I like where this is going. Hearing two members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocating massive cuts in defense spending and greater investment in social services should make us all stand up and take notice.
These words are particularly poignant given that funding to the pentagon has almost doubled in the last decade and funding for domestic services is being cut at remarkable rates despite rather important folks (Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, for example) calling for quite the opposite.
There's many, much, more good stuff in the article. Read a brief summary in Foreign Policy here, but I highly recommend you follow the link and read the full shebang.
X's piece in 1947 formed the basis of 60-some years of US foreign policy, one can hope that Mr. Y proves to be equally influential.
Ah the wonderful city of Bellingham, WA - home to (at least) five wonderful institutions of higher learning, hella farmers markets, beautiful Bellingham bay, and... coal?
Potentially. Several large coal companies plan to use Bellingham's Cherry Point Terminal as a shipping point for sending coal to Asia, posing potential health risks to Whatcom county's residents.
Our friends at Climate Solutions and the Sierra Club have organized a forum to discuss the potential impacts on the community and ways to get involved in the issue.
Peep the event info below:
Here's how you can help:
Join fellow community members at the Coal Hard Truth Forum and learn about the campaign to protect Bellingham and communities across Washington from the dirty and dangerous coal industry.
When: Wednesday, May 4th at 7:00 pm
Where: Bellingham Public Library (210 Central Avenue, Bellingham).
Who: Dan Pike, Mayor of Bellingham; Jean Melious, former Whatcom County Planning Commissioner; Robin Everett, Sierra Club; Matt Krogh, ReSources
v The regional picture of coal use and the health impacts of coal
v What this terminal proposal will mean for Bellingham, for the State of Washington and for the global community.
v Explore better alternatives and what you can do to make Washington Coal-Free!
For more information contact Llyn Doremus at email@example.com
Searching for one final reason to turn in your application for the Summer Fellows program? Look at the pretty pictures and listen to Dan Pink talk about what motivates people to do amazing things.
Here's why the fellows program is exactly what your summer's been waiting for: it's a brilliant combination of the three things that motivate people even more than money.
This summer you can choose your own political adventure with the Washington Bus, while at the same time mastering countless community organizing skills and working for progressive change in our lovable Washington State.
The deadline to apply is Monday, so hurry up and get on the Bus!
A sticker you may recognize, lounging outside Fenway Park!
The final application deadline for the summer of your dreams is right around the bend - a.k.a. this coming Monday, May 2nd. That means, there's still time to apply, but your window of opportunity is closing fast, so get on it y'all!
As inspiration, Hella Bus offers 5 ways to apply for the summer fellowship:
2) Contemplate the vastness of the universe, and then decide to make our corner of it a better place by applying.
3) Don't apply. Spend minutes sulking about the decision. Then apply.
5) Let's not make this any more complicated than it has to be shall we? Boom.
All are fair options, just do it already!
The new bus stickers are turning into a veritable pandemic (of the good, friendly, civically engaged kind). The Bus tour continues - now in Burlington, Vermont!
On a freaking flagpole y'all.
Bus, creepin' on Carnegie Music Hall (of the Pittsburgh variety):
At some point during your (ideally) brief and glorious career as a high school history student, you likely spent some time reading about many of the remarkably effective protest tactics used during the civil rights movement. Along with boycotts and marches, sit-ins were a common tool used by activists. At sit-ins, protesters sit down somewhere they're likely to get attention, then refuse to leave until they are forcibly removed or their demands are met.
But these sit-ins aren't just a tactic for the history books - on college campuses, the art of the sit-in is alive and well. Yesterday at Emory University, six students were arrested after staging a sit-in outside the administration building in protest of the college's food service contract with Sodexo, a corporation with frequent and severe labor violations against its employees.
Check out this unbelievable video of the arrests:
The University of Washington chapter of United Students of Sweatshops is organizing a campaign of their own against Sodexo, although what form the protests will take remains to be determined. Find out more about USAS and how to get involved at their website.
Make your voice heard, and maybe you'll be the one discussed in a history class someday.
Here at the Bus, we like to make sure that proper attention is given to local news stories that profoundly affect the public, but that might not get much coverage in local media. With that in mind, I urge you to check out this story from the A.P. shedding light on the dark side of our local nightlife - goldfish races.
The scene: A Tacoma bar racing goldfish through an 8-ft course, with onlookers urging the fish forward with squirt bottles.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. "After complaints by phone and email, the Harmon Tap Room replaced goldfish racing with beer pong." Goldfish everywhere can sleep easier knowing that justice has been served.
The Bus has friends who like to travel the country. In bands. Making music. Turns out they like our stickers too, and we've started getting a trickle of photos from various stops that feature the brand spanking new Bus sticker.
We'll be posting them up as we get them - anybody think they can guess the tour?
Say out loud the first exciting thing you can think of, please. What was that? Budget graphs? ME TOO! (also this movie about a telepathic, murderous tire).
Well Internet, you're welcome:
This chart, based off numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, represents a couple, fairly simple things that tell us a lot about what balancing the federal budget in the future could look like. 1) The revenue being pulled in by the Federal Government (the dotted line) is much less than that being spent as of 2010 (hence that great, monstrous creature we sometimes call the deficit). 2) The Federal Budget looks remarkably like . 3) As Ezra Klein notes, the solution to balancing the budget is to do nothing (which is what happens on the "projected" side of things). That's right, just twiddle our thumbs and watch the budget balance itself.
What? My thoughts exactly. Turns out, the revenue on the projected side (where the dotted line stays even with the expenses represented by those three pretty colors) is based off of the numbers should three things that are scheduled to actually happen - actually happen. This includes implementing the medicare doc fix, the Affordable Care Act, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012.
As Ezra points out, this plan makes a lot of political sense because it is insulated, rather than obstructed by the now 60 votes it seems to take to pass anything out of the senate. Meaning, these three things will happen and the budget will be more or less balanced, unless the senate goes out of its way to prevent them from taking place. Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, with the exception of the Affordable Care Act, this isn't the Obama Administration's plan. Instead, most of the tax cuts are likely to be extended, and the doc fix is unlikely to be implemented anytime soon.
In the context of this graph, all the clamoring about the deficit feels a little false given that the groundwork for balancing the budget is so present in front of us. And it feels like a pretty logical place to start a real discussion about our fiscal future.
Here's a bit of advice for any aspiring young journalists out there, every story you write, ever, should open with some iteration of the following:
"The US Navy has fired a laser gun from one of its ships for the first time."
After that just write the rest of your probably less interesting story, your readers will understand that you are a journalistic powerhouse and love/fear you forever.
In the case of this , the BBC goes a step beyond to note that the purpose of these laser guns is to attack pirates. I think we're all reeling from that one.
If you ever needed a reminder that we live in the future now then I would note that anti-pirate laser cannons now reign the high seas. My concern is, what the heck happens if pirates get their hands on this stuff?
I'm not sure what it's from, but I feel like this graphic is appropriate:
Watch a video and read all about it here!
Young people! is throwing an event that seems very, very Bus. The premise: an evening of community-self-education on the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case of 2010, aka one of the most defining supreme court cases in electoral history.
And just who is OAG? Maybe you saw them in our Who Do Ya Love series! They're good folks. Plus, experts will be on hand to answer any and all questions that arise after watching some short films and interviews on the case.
1) Should there be a limit on how much money corporations/organizations can contribute towards influencing election?
2) Should money be considered a form of free speech?
In a close ruling the court declared that there should be no limits on spending and that money is indeed a valid form of political free speech. We will be watching short videos and interviews to get a feel for the varied opinions on the case, and follow it up with a casual discussion. This event is a chance to learn about the different sides on the case, to have your questions answered by local experts on the case, and to discuss the case with other young Seattlites. Come join Our American Generation for some good ol’ self-education!
Facebook Event here!
This event is part of Common Spaces NW, ‘creating space for common solutions’
April 21st-23rd at the University of Washington.
Find a full schedule and more details at www.commonspacesnw.org.
What do Biggie and civic engagement have in common? Well, lots of things, but the answer we are looking for is…. money! It often controls the who, what and where of politics. And with the giving project at the Social Justice Fund YOU can build the future (and fund it) with a bunch of community minded folks. With the Civic Action Giving Project, you will work together to move money to critical underfunded organizations working towards social change.
Plus you’ll develop hella donor development skills.
First info session is tonight (Thursday, April 14th) at 6pm at 600 Stewart Ave. Even if you can't make it tonight, you can still participate! Click here for more information.