Bill Humphrey

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is the primary host of WVUD's Arsenal For Democracy talk radio show and is a Senior Editor for The Globalist. Follow him @BillHumphreyMA on twitter.

This awful Syria escalation

It’s reckless and irresponsible for the United States to launch missiles at a Russian air base in Syria, as we did today on President Trump’s orders. That’s really an understatement, too. And it’s ridiculous that former Secretary of State Clinton endorsed this plan publicly earlier today.

There are three realities, beyond the risks of attacking Russia, that have to be acknowledged regardless of the use of chemical weapons:
1) The US does not have the capacity to lead a successful regime change in Syria and it’s wildly foolish to “Just Do Something” with zero plan and zero capacity to execute it beyond the opening shot.

2) Chemical weapons are repugnant, but it is not a “proportional response” to risk a war on this scale, particularly considering that far more people have been killed already (and will be killed by escalation) by conventional arms, which are also horrible. Dead is dead, as Stephen Walt said.

3) This war would have been over years ago (with far fewer deaths or calamities and without the use of chemical weapons) if the United States (and allies) had not supplied dangerous and deadly major conventional weapons systems and light arms to extremist insurgents, many if not most of whom are not Syrian, thereby keeping the war going but with no one able to prevail definitively.

Getting involved further in the Syrian war than we already are, instead of pulling back and cutting off aid to the insurgents, can only increase the catastrophe.

Apr 5, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 176

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Paid maternity leave and federal school lunch programs. People: Bill, Rachel, and Greg. Produced: April 5th, 2017.

Episode 176 (51 min):
AFD 176

It’s Radiothon 2017 at WVUD. Please donate online if you can. We don’t get money from that, but our flagship station does, which keeps us on the air.

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Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

March 29, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 175

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: The 14th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and whether or not there is growing public support for universal programs in the United States. People: Bill and Greg. Produced: March 26th, 2017.

Episode 175 (57 min — extended version not aired on FM):
AFD 175

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March 22, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 174

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: 2017 French presidential election campaign and the UN counterinsurgency mission in Mali. People: Bill and Nate. Produced: March 20th, 2017.

Episode 174 (51 min):
AFD 174

Further reading:
– 2014: “EU Elections, the Rising Populists, and Why Europe is Worried”
Our partial archives on Mali

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Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

March 15, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 173

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Republicans de-funding infectious disease prevention, why Democrats are very bad at taking credit for achievements, and Bill’s experience signing up for health insurance on the individual exchange in Massachusetts. People: Bill, Rachel, and Jonathan. Produced: March 13th, 2017.

Episode 173 (49 min):
AFD 173

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Organize according to your ability

I know there’s much debate on the left about the value of engaging in electoral politics. All year I argued we should variously specialize. Before the November election, my contention was that electoral and non-electoral organizing both have value, and that some of us are good at one versus the other.

Immediately in the days after the November 2016 election results, my initial reaction was to wonder if there was even any point to me or anyone continuing to think about future elections. That initial reaction was based on a consideration of the sheer amount of defensive non-electoral work that will be required to protect people.

However, it remains true both that some of us are better at non-electoral versus electoral politics (and vice versa) and that we cannot afford (as well) to assume that was the “last” election or that in crisis we can all put all future elections out of mind. If we get to the next election and didn’t do anything to try to clamber out of this hole … well, defensive triage isn’t a permanent fix.

The vast majority of time, energy, and effort should be put into non-electoral organizing for defensive triage to protect people. But those of us whose core competency is more in the electoral realm should be furiously preparing electoral brakes on this freefall.

While we need a national shift on messaging, platform, etc, we need state and local candidates in 2017 and 2018 who can shield people against abusive Feds.

Consider, too: Conservatives have hijacked and perfected a system of state-level obstruction, rights violations, and disturbing ballot referenda. Counter-consider: All of these tools are available to advance the social and democratic rights – or protect them against Federal Trump. Liberals have been very hesitant to use the tools original Progressive Movement set up in most states because Conservatives abuse them. At this point, that ship has sailed. Within the electoral politics realm, if you are not using every tool you can to shield people, quit.

On the electoral politics side, we should be using every single legislative race and every referendum to force head-on ideological debates. Conservatives use local races and ballot campaigns to question people’s humanity and promote new incendiary “values” to the public. The electoral left should similarly be actively using local races and ballot campaigns to sell voters on our (non-abusive) positions.

So, the debate on electoral versus non-electoral politics is a false choice. We need to fire on all cylinders, “From each according to his ability” and so on. As a side note on resources: 2016 was the year of the establishments lighting tons of money on fire and losing to smarter cheap oppositions.

Some of us are good at non-electoral work. Others of us are probably better at amplifying it and – hopefully – backing it up in government. Be careful of potential co-opters of this energy. But if you or someone you know from the grassroots wants to run, make it happen. I wouldn’t presume to know how to teach/train people on most non-electoral organizing, but I can help you on how to be a candidate.

Every single election, no matter how small, can be made into an affirmative campaign for a value non-electoral organizers are working on. If you’re not working on defensive triage right now, as discussed above, you can be building networks daily to win races that affect people.

Adapted from a series of tweets I posted in mid-November 2016.

Wall Street for Trump

Wall Street is so publicly overjoyed, on the record and in the numbers, with the Trump reign of terror so far — and still Democrats are going out of their way to make excuses and defenses of Wall Street and to object to any criticism or push for very deep regulation (let alone dismantling). If they’re not paying you to do it, ask yourself why you want to shield them.

It’s a sector that has long since outgrown its investment money-raising purposes relative to the real economy and has disappeared down a rabbit hole of hypercapitalism divorced from any real function or good practice. That’s not even a socialist perspective or anything. That’s just backed up by decades of data and research. It has become a massive useless casino that distorts our economic and political governance.

It should be shoved back into a little box until it is so small that it can only do what it’s supposed to do: raise private money for real investments in the material economy. Not whatever this monopoly money bullshit is wherein the politicians are purchased, the pensions are purloined, the small-dollar investors are taken advantage of, and the massively wealthy shareholder supermajority in the country diverts loans into profits, instead of into projects.