Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Yesterday we had non-stop action against the Billionaire Bailout. I was actually in attendance at the Gallery for the vote... really exciting. I was right in the middle of everything, so my video and photos were a little lacking, but I tried out a new program & slammed them all together. Hope you like it!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Super busy here at the PINK house! Medea and Tighe arrived earlier today, so we've been hammering out different ideas for the next few days of our access to Congress. As always, we plan to demand accountability and transparency of our elected officials. That's exactly what we did this morning, when we showed up, banners-a wavin' to greet McCain and Obama at their respective interviews. So funny, McCain gave Liz a bid toothy grin and thumbs up as he does every time he sees her! At the Obama location, I actually had some great conversations with a couple Secret Service guys. They were quite cordial, and so I thanked them for their service in keeping that man safe.
Similarly, Thursday, we led a White House protest upon the arrival of both candidates. We ended up flanked by lots of other groups, and even more exciting perhaps, tons of individual voices, with hand drafted signs and banners. No one supported bailout. I got to do a couple interviews, and there was a good amount of photo and video coverage of the event.
Yesterday, Tish (my new PINK friend from Kansas City) and I worked in coalition with Service Nation, as a part of their event promoting individual community and environmental service in neighborhoods nationally and globally. The evening ended with a candle lighting commitment to being a person of service-- pretty cool stuff.
Til next time-- Lynn
The presidential candidates visited TV-land today, gracing two DC studios with their presence... and Code Pink was there to greet them!
We waited outside of the Newseum for several minutes, enjoying the muggy, cool morning air, outfitted in PINK and ready to share our message of peace: “No Bailouts for Billionaires” and “Bail Our Troops Out of Iraq!” As we waited, Hurricane Liz and I chatted pleasantly with Officer McConnell of the DC police, finding common ground with DC's finest in our criticism of the Paulson-proposed bailout for the speculators and high-rollers who have scammed and deep-sixed our financial system over the past several years.
When Senator McCain's cavalcade of sirens and SUVs came rolling in, the pink banners were unfurled and the bullhorns were blaring to greet Mr. “Bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran.” We let him know that we want a “PEACE PRESIDENT” and that we're not too happy about his 10,000-year Iraq war plan or his vigorous support for CIA torture. As if weathering a feisty Barack Obama rejoinder, big Mac grimaced a grin our way while flashing his classic thumbs-up pose through the safety glass of his ride, before disappearing into the building.
Next, we were off to harangue the silver-tongued young community organizer from Illinois. Again the pink banners were flying and the bullhorns raging: “Bail Us Out of Iraq!” Gael Murphy led the call as we shared our message with the passersby, campaign staffers, and Obama's security detail. His staffers told us that Barack is not about to attempt to educate the public about how screwed up Iraq STILL is... (way too risky in this jingoistic media environment, I guess). After a half-hour or so of Pink action, with Barack inside with the “greatest generation” of journalistic nincompoops, the security fellows began scrambling about and blocking traffic. Obama was apparently ready to leave the building. Like the Pope or Madonna (or Sara Palin), there was absolutely NO opportunity to interact with the Senator. With a smile and a wave through a tinted window, his Obama-ness was on his way.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
CODEPINK supported a national effort GreenjobsNow.com to educate the public on the value of green jobs for the future.We passed out literature & collected sig's Deisree,James,Tish,Jennifer,Liz worked the crowd for 2 hours for signatures on our petition -best we could.We split up and went to various events like the National Book Fair ........etc..........
COME to DC
Join CODEPINK CONGRESS is still in Session trying to give 700Billion to WALL street
Friday, September 26, 2008
Diane Wilson was in DC for a non violent direct action with the vets for peace at the National Archives.It was a symbolic action in which the Vets fasted & occupied the balcony of the Archives for a 24 hour vigil requesting congress stand up for the constitution by holding Impeachment hearings before further damage is done!They placed a huge banner on the columns and chained the fence to make entry difficult.The Banner read Arrest Bush & Cheney for War crimes Uphold the Consitution
CODEPINKERS delivered literature to educate congress simultaneously on the issue & necessity of impeachment proceedings.The police allowed the occupation and never arrested the Vets.Diane Wilson is Co Founder of CODEPINK Women for Peace shrimp fisher woman activist environmentalist author veteran and a warm spirit! It was so great to treat Diane to some CODEPINK hospitality!
Support the Vets
Sept 25 Action at the WhiteHouse
CODEPINKERS in solidarity with other local groups protested outside on Penn Ave
as the Leadership arrived to discuss this BAILOUT OF BANKERS.
Bush & company invited the Presidential candidates as well as Pelosi Reid Boehner Mcconnell to work out a plan quickly
so everyone can get back to pandering for $$$$
as this session is abbreviated for the upcoming elections!!
TAke action in your local community
Stay informed and educate your neighbors on the future we want to see!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Occasionally my travels on the Hill bring the beautiful gifts of fleeting moments worth remembering like running into a REAL hero against the IRAQ occupation like Max Cleland who was swift boated in the 2004 election cycle!
Today was a long day filled with hundreds of encounters with members of Congress
everyone in my path had to inhale NO BAILOUTS for Billionaires soundbyte!I just used a few short soundbytes all day.Rescue our troops save $10 Billion amonth.No ex CEO for Goldman Sachs should be Bailed out on the taxpayers dime!!
WAKE UP AMERICA
Speak out about the criminals that are sellling US OUT!!
It was the best of post-Surge environments; it was the worst of post-Surge environments. The Surge had helped achieve a reduction in violence; the Surge had initiated the most violent period of the war for Iraqis and American troops alike, resulting in nearly 2.5 million internally displaced Iraqis.
America had begun to reap the benefits of our success, thanks to a military-civilian partnership that would be emulated for years to come; we were “losing Iraq to the criminals and the corrupted,” thanks to our government's refusal to support Iraqi anti-corruption officials, 31 of whom had been murdered, without a single investigation called.
The Iraqis had made significant political progress; sectarianism, cronyism, and graft at the highest levels of the Shi'ite government had immunized the powerful from prosecution for their crimes and had turned “hospitals into death zones for Sunnis.”
The Sons of Iraq had become America's most vital ally in suppressing the country's violence; the U.S.-backed central government had just commenced operations to assassinate or capture over 600 leaders of the Sons of Iraq.
Over 100 Iraqi battalions had stepped up and were now “in the lead;” the operations of Iraqi troops were impossible “without 'Coalition' enablers (which would “remain the case for some time,” according to the Secretary of Defense).
The threat from violent extremists had “receded;” suicide bombers continued to inflict “mass civilian casualties,” thanks in part to our government's support for Islamic extremists (according to an American senior advisor to our government in Iraq).
Baghdad had been restored to a semblance of normalcy, its residents free to resume their daily lives; Baghdad residents had electricity for one hour in seven, no clean water, and often had only the black market for medicine and gasoline (when it was available to their blast-wall enclosed ethno-sectarian-cleansed enclaves).
...and so forth.
Such were the contradictions evident in two hearings Code Pink attended this week, depicting two very different IRAQs.
On Monday we attended Senator Byron Dorgan's hearing on the “Second Insurgency,” focused on the corruption in Iraq that has undermined the U.S. mission and led Transparency International to rank Iraq the third most corrupt country in the WORLD: a nation where “gangs control the day” and the U.S. aids and abets Iraqi criminals and militants alike (whatever it takes to placate our venal Iraqi partners as they funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to banks in Jordan, Lebanon, the U.A.E., Germany, Pennsylvania, and New York).
And on Tuesday, we got to see the flip side. We attended the Senate Armed Services Committee's final fluffing of Secretary Robert Gates... pillow (whew, that was close!).
In the first hearing, the Iraq that emerged bore some resemblance to the debacle that Americans have come to know and revile/lament: 31 billion MISSING American dollars; “ghost projects” that exist only on paper; “rusted, decades-old weapons” provided to Iraqi security forces; allies who use their positions in the Iraqi government to free “al Qaeda terrorists;” U.S. contractors who smuggle convicted Iraqi criminals out of their cells in the middle of the night and fly them out of the country to their new homes in... America!
In the second hearing (the fluff piece offered by Carl Levin and John Warner), the senators, Democratic and Republican alike, waxed sentimental over the fact that the hearing was likely Secretary Gates' final appearance before their committee... (I half expected champagne and a gold watch for the old boy!)
There were accolades for “open-minded, thoughtful” administration officials, “brilliant” generals, and great “achievements.”
The Iraq of the second hearing was a place of massaged numbers -- math SO “fuzzy” that 9 + 11 STILL equaled “IRAQ” ...and a “liberated” Iraq at that!
In the Levin-Warner hearing, Iraq's progress could be measured in the font size of the bold-print pronouncements about all the great “accomplishments” of recent months... nearly all of which are debunked by the asterisks dogging those bold-print headlines: The stalled status of forces agreement; the ongoing war over oil-rich Kirkuk; the re-de-Ba'athification (purging another 27,000 Sunnis from the government under the rubric of “reconciliation”); the July 2008 provincial elections stalled until December; the refusal of the Iraq's factions to agree on a “hydrocarbons” law that places Iraq's oil in the hands of Western oil company executives for the next 30 years.
All told, it was the “feel good” time-waste of the year...
- While it was depressing to hear about all the honest Iraqi investigators that the State Department has thrown to the assassins and the Justice Department's similar refusal to investigate many crimes in Iraq...
- While it was alarming to hear of the “many” U.S. advisors “screaming again and again” at Iraqi anti-corruption officials, “Why are you investigating this case, this is American money!” (apparently less bothered than Iraqis at the prospect of U.S. taxpayers getting bilked)...
- While it was frustrating to learn that the U.S. advisor to Iraq's central bank helped corrupt officials launder hundreds of millions of dollars...
At least I LEARNED something in Senator Dorgan's hearing: This “cluster” got (screw)ed by GREED and GRAFT and WILLFUL BLINDNESS to OUTRAGEOUS CORRUPTION on a MONUMENTAL scale (all of which continues to this very day).
And all I learned in the second hearing was just how far that corruption goes... “Heckuva job, Gatesy!” beamed Senators Levin and Warner.
(Heckuva job, Carl... John.)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
... so, to continue:
After our wonderful "Bush's Billionaire Bailout" action yesterday at the Treasury, we PINKs crashed Rep. Barney Frank's office. Insider insight... I secretly love watching administrative aids/Secret Service/passers-by twitch, wondering what we "crazy" patriotic protestors are going to do or say next. Anyway, the Congressman entered into our den o' Pink filling up his office lobby, and kindly responded to our urgent questions regarding Democrats' intentions for the "billionaire bailouts." Unfortunately I ran out of memory right as we got into the really juicy part. Did get some good stuff though... nothing quite like accountability created by personal visits and digital documentation!
Once we finished up w/ Frank, I decided to head over to the Congressional Library to do some research. So cool! First I had to get my library card-- a freakin' library card from the Library. Awesome. I spent a couple hours in the Law Library perusing Lexis Nexis, researching and printing up a War and Peace size stack of various House Resolutions, as well as active legislation passed within this Congress. It's amazing, I literally have the Defense Budget for 2009 at my bed-side... very curious stuff. Obviously the $$ amounts are staggering, but when you actually read this stuff line by line, you fully realize not only the troubling and obfuscatory nature of these things that are happening, but also the befuddling reality that we are each enrolled in the payment plan to make them happen! One such obscurity is the section I found on our program for eradicating the brown tree snake on our bases in Guam. Weird.
Anyway, I would highly encourage each of you to use every avenue available to learn what is really happening in our world, to sharpen every tool you can reach to carve out palpable change, and to never give up or get discouraged by the wealth of disturbing info you'll inevitably discover along the way. The biggest, best changes happen from the bottom up-- BE the change you wish to envision in this world!
Peace, always Peace.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Hello again, and thanks for the great feedback!
Wow, it's been so exciting in DC this week. Thursday we did the "In Bed With Big Oil" action, with $$ themed tunes bumping, a rolling bed we all took turns posing on with our fake giant bills (modeling after this week's scandal involving our DC fat cats in bed and doing drugs with exec's from Chevron and Shell). Good times!
After the action we attended a hearing on the matter, and then I wandered through the House for a couple hours, paying visits to the offices of Michael Burgess, Pete Sessions, Ted Poe, Sam Johnson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ralph hall, Kenny Marchant, and Michael McCaul-- all TX Rep's, as I am here from Dallas. I had a mini- debate with McCaul's Legislative Assistant, Charles Fields, wherein he immediately assumed that my being with CP would somehow preclude me from seeing the Iraq mess with a balanced viewpoint. So I told him that "yes, we are a pro-peace group, and yes, the millions of casualties and injuries are obscene. However, it's not about some blanket-rhetoric 'Kumbaya' mentality!" Dear PINK friends, please don't take offense to that... I am PINK, but I know that unfortunately, many of these folks speak only in numbers, not in human rights or justice. So I specifically told him that it was unacceptable that we tax payers are footing the bill for the invasion and occupation, and asked him what Congressman McCaul was waiting for before supporting withdrawal. He suggested that the delay was in waiting for the region to become more stable, "since we did go over there and break a lot of stuff." I corrected him with "since we did... blow up their country" and thanked him for his time.
Saturday we all got up early and drove into Ashburn, VA., where we knocked on doors in suburbia, asking folks to sign our petition--which demands that Congress set a specific date to withdraw from Iraq. It was so great to canvass again; that's what I do in Dallas with Texas Campaign for the Environment (non partisan, non profit). I truly miss and was invigorated by that direct, individual type of community action.
So today, Monday, has been amazing. We all got up early and headed over to the Treasury for our "Bush's Billionaire Bailout" action. It was really exciting, especially when a handful of us walked right down through the gate toward the entrance of the building with our beautiful banners. The guard seemed pretty nervous before his helpers came along!
After the action we went to Congress, where I got some great footage of our impromptu visit with Barney Frank... stay tuned!
Til next time-- peace and blessings!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
This morning I was standing in the hallway of the CodePink house. There was a decision to go to Fox News to to confront Paulson over the 7 billion dollar corperate bail out. So 4 of us flew out the door. It felt like I was caught up in a powerful force or whirlwind. I was trying to keep up With Des which is nearly impossible and taking in the sights of Washington . The weather is perfect, beautiful buildings. trees blooming that I couldn't name. Friendly joggers, dog walkers,and homeless men and woman on each block.
We got to Fox studio and a man from the camera crew said Paulson was gone so we treked over to the Newseum. I am not much for celebrity gawking, but I was impressed to see Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, Sen. Chris Dodd, and George Stephan-(I'm not even going to try to spell his name.) In the Flesh. I liked the process of telling them our take of the issues face to face and getting a response. I send e-mails to Congress everyday. But,with this in your face method I felt much more was accomplished. We had a conversation with Donna Brazil. She talked with us for quite a while.I thought she was beautiful. Another strong woman speaking her mind and challenging the decisions made by this government. She agreed that if the Dems .used their backbone and said NO to this latest farce from the Bush Adm.,that the election would be in the bag. But they won't sad to say.
Questions that I would like an honest answer to include.
Why are these politicians afraid to make waves.?
Who's lining their pockets?
Where are they getting the 7 billion? And at whose expense?
Why are they bailing out the rich, no filthy rich? While we foot the bill.
Ann And Liz called it " Welfare For the rich"
My words don't always come out like my thoughts meant them to. But I was quite comfortable chanting sayings and waving fake money around to make people aware. It was an exciting fulfilling feeling. I had the thought I would like to stay in DC where the action is. Who knows if I keep doing this I might find my own voice.
Donn Brazille Democratic strategist takes quality time allowing CODEPINK
activists to ask some questions regarding the currrent state of economic distress!
KING Henry's 700 billion bailout hurts our nation!!
WE urge people to protest the Treasury Dept for bailing out the corporations at Taxpayers expense once again!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Leslie has returned to the CodePink House and plans to stay in DC until Congress hits the campaign trail. She's there to hold our representatives accountable during these last three weeks of the Congressional session. Click here to see Leslie standing up to Congress (and scroll down to see her photo): http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v23n3/leaderless_counterterrorism_strategy.html
Leslie is particularly concerned about Ackerman and his proposed naval blockade of Iran, H.Con.Res. 362. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JI13Ak01.html. Last year he was willing to ride a bicycle in Iran to prevent a war. Now he wants our Navy to inspect the cargo of foreign ships before they enter Iranian waters. Petroleum is on the embargo list and Iran currently imports 40% of what it needs to meet its energy requirements. Does Ackerman think Iran will allow this blockade? How long will it take before this untenable situation provokes an "incident"? Do you think AIPAC ( American Israel Public Affairs Committee) might have had something to do with his transformation? Please call him if you oppose this resolution: 202 225-2601.
Leslie has an appointment with Reva Price, an aide in Pelosi's office, to urge the Speaker of the House to oppose the sale of the 100 bunker busters this administration has recently decided to sell to Israel: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1020702.html. They "penetrate fortified facilities located deep underground" and it's reported in The Jerusalem Post, "The bombs would likely be used in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran." Congress has thirty days to object. Please call your Congressional representative (202-224-3121) and ask her/him to oppose this sale.
On a more personal note ... I always miss Leslie when she's staying in DC, but I'm missing her even more than usual this time. I've been able to "seize the moment", however, and devote much of this time to reflection. The Axis of Friendship Festival http://www.axisoffriendship.org/ last week touched me deeply. After the event, I realized how much my political activism has been motivated by anger. Granted, it's easy to be angry with Bush these days, but I don't want to feed into those feelings any more.
I've been meditating off and on for about thirty-five years. For the past two years I've taken a hiatus because I've been waging (raging?) this personal war with George W. Bush. I'm going to start meditating again. I want my life and my decisions to come from a deeper and more sacred place.
Leslie and I have been on the road for over a year and it's time for us to settle down. We're planning to return to Iran in December, so we need a place to stay until then. When we come back from Iran, we'll be traveling again and giving our Peace with Iran presentation around the country. But for now ... is there anyone in the Bay Area who has a granny unit sitting vacant in the back yard, an RV that's waiting for summer, an unoccupied apartment, or a sailboat in the harbor? If you'd like to provide a temporary home for two peace loving activists who are trying to make a difference in the world, please get in touch.
Peace and Freedom,
Jes & Leslie
PS Brad Newsham (San Francisco's Beach Impeach mastermind http://www.beachimpeach.org/) is at it again. Join him for "Ring Around the Chron!" every Thursday @ 12:20 pm for 15 minutes at The San Francisco Chronicle Building (5th and Mission St.). He wants The Chronicle to start reporting on Bush/Cheney/Pelosi's shredding of our Constitution and he hopes to have 300 people circling the building by the November 4 election. Here are some photos from the first event:http://flickr.com/photos/fletcher_oakes/sets/72157607362845684/
Candlelight Vigil in Tehran on September 21st International Day of Peace
Time for Some Campaignin' - HYSTERICAL!
John McCain's Health Records Must Be Released
Iran's Road Less Traveled to Nukes
Garrison Keillor: These are the Republicans the last 8 years warned you about.
Jes & Leslie ... A Journey for Peace and Freedom: http://www.jfpf.org/
If you would like to be added to The Gandhi Peace Brigade Group List,
please let me know: email@example.com Thank you. Jes
We are pleased to report CODEPINK had a stealth effort on the Million Doors for Peace campaign in Virginia! Lauriie,Gael,Ann,Des Leslie,Stacie,Polly,Nancy,James,Lynn,and Liz walked the Ashburn area each completing our list of 40 names.This was a good test run for what works and what we needed improvement for the future.This part of Virginia was diverse in culture but it seemed heavy on the government workers ie military,intelliegence,contractors and more affluent types.It was overall a great day!! We make a difference .....so encourage friends to get on the streets with CODEPINK
WORK for Peace & bring Our Troops Home already!
Friday, September 19, 2008
CODEPINK takes the streets under the Million Doors For Peace.org coaliton tomorrow Sept 20,2008!Canvassing for the peace vote is vital work to growing our group!Knocking on doors will allow us to meet neighbors make new friends engage new supporters to get involved!!This effort is one of the most important things to take part in with of redirection or change.
Action- ask people to get invovled bring a friend with you Canvass for the Peace Vote
Make the calls if you absolutely can not walk
Call Congress daily!! 1202.224.3121 Bring the troops home Get Us out of Iraq NOw!
thx Liz www.givepeaceavote.org
We appreciate our supporters and ask you to do more Peace &
for a more just CONgress
Thursday, September 18, 2008
By Lynn Rooks
So great to finally be here at the PINK house! Started off yesterday with a walk to the Capitol, where Liz, Des, Ann, and I sat in on a hearing by the Committee on the Budget at the House. Joseph Christoff. Director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office, he gave testimony as to the ridiculous nature of our continued tax payer support of the efforts in Iraq. According to the official report, “from 2005 through 2007, Iraq had an estimated cumulative budget surplus of about $29 billion...” the projections indicate that by the end of 2008, the surplus will likely total $67-$79 billion.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, America is now looking at an estimated $410 billion dollar deficit for 2008. This is revolting. To add insult to injury, we are continuing to fund the efforts there with our tax dollars. We are struggling to put gas in our cars to get to work, while contrarily, Iraqis are paying $1.18/gallon for gas right now. Beyond just the unjust economic aspect, our presence in Iraq has never been justified, least of all by Bush's very own benchmarks for success there. As of August 30, 2007, only 3 of 18 of Bush's own standards for success had been achieved.
After thousands of American deaths and approximately 1,267,401 Iraqi deaths of which 87,534 – 95,533 have been civilian deaths, with policies that are failing on every level, more of us need to step up and demand accountability!That's exactly what Liz did, yelling out in the hearing that this stuff doesn't work—that it's an occupation, and those never end well. Her ferocity is simply stunning.
Today was at least equally as inspiring. We attended the Judiciary Committee's (Senate) oversight hearings to examine the FBI. Robert s. Mueller, Director, was testifying. Former trial lawyer, he consistently gave what Ranking Member Sen. Specter referred to as “classic non-answers.” The questions ranged from asking for specifics on Mueller's knowledge about known production sites of anthrax, about the proposed new guidelines for investigative techniques allowed for FBI field agents, about warrantless wiretapping, and about the misuse of exigent letters. Consistently Mueller pronounced ignorance or classified status of documents/answers. Pretty scary that the Director of the FBI can't answer straight questions regarding national security, but pretty cool that we got some good C-Span coverage!
After the hearing we went to the National Archives, had a mini-action (in honor of Constitution Day), and visit our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other proofs of what are supposed to be our rights. Then it was time for me to experience my first weekly pot-luck, PINK style. There were 20 some folks here at the house, and a smattering of great conversation and yummy food.
While it can be a little disheartening witnessing first hand the degree to which corruption runs through our government and the resulting multi-billion dollar taxpayer burden ensuing, it is also absolutely an amazing honor to be able to walk the halls of OUR Congress, speak out on injustice, and know that these bastards are being watched-- by me, and by amazing organizers here in DC.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
CODEPINK DC returned from the Conventions re-energized to engage in diplomacy
daily with the Lame duck Congress do nothings!We can't waste a moment taking back our country .........elections will not solve or heal our 8 years of squander, fraud, abuse mismanagement,by white collar criminals in Congress.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Leslie and I attended my son's wedding in Hawaii last month. It was magical. We stayed for two weeks and gave our Peace with Iran presentation in Hilo and Honolulu. Here's a write-up from the Big Island Weekly: http://www.bigislandweekly.com/articles/2008/08/13/read/news/news03.txt
We returned home to San Francisco and after just a few days we decided to join CodePink at the Democratic National Convention. My car was starting to complain about all the cross country trips, so we reserved a rental, convinced Martha Hubert to join us, which wasn't hard, and away we went on our 18 hour road trip to Denver.
Around 2:00 a.m. a coyote emerged from the darkness and dashed across the road. I thought he was safe, but he doubled back. There was nothing I could do. The impact damaged the car, so we were stranded for the night in Elko, Nevada. We missed the first day of the convention, when the Denver police used pepper-spray and arrested 100 peaceful protesters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=govYC3eEbvA&feature=related. Alicia, our CodePink sister and friend, was assaulted by an out-of-control cop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfISlq1gzK8
By the time we arrived, the police must have realized they had over-reacted, because they were much less aggressive. They enjoyed swaggering defiantly down the street in their brand new "RoboCop" outfits, but they also did their best to exchange niceties with the crowd. They tried not to show it, but it was obvious they enjoyed CodePink's presence.
The Iraq Veterans Against the War http://ivaw.org/ led a massive march toward the convention center. They wanted to meet with Obama, or his representative, and they were willing to risk arrest to do it. Eventually their demands were met and they felt heard.
One of the highlights for Leslie and me was a magnificent tent, shaped like a mosque, constructed from photos of Iran: http://picturesofyouiran.blogspot.com/2007/12/manjushri-project.html. The artist and his wife have traveled to Iran on three occasions and they are as ardent as we are when it comes to informing people about Iran. The exhibit will be traveling throughout the United States in 2008-2009. If you would like to see it in your town, please email Tom Loughlin at the website above.
We decided not to go to the Republican National Convention. This wasn't an easy decision, but we needed to get back because Leslie and Martha were flying to DC. Thank you Medea and Jodie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDT--mx7gkQ, Liz and Nancy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAA_xw4v1nM for being there and for speaking truth to power. The police were much more aggressive at the RNC and over 800 people were arrested. Amy Goodman was one of them: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/01/democracy_now_host_and_produce.html
Tomorrow is the Axis of Friendship Festival http://www.axisoffriendship.org/ Friday, September 12 from 3:30-6:30 pm at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco. Join us for food, music, poetry, and cultural sharing. Find out more about this event by going here: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/09/10/us_iran_and_the_axis_of_friendship/
Peace and Freedom,
Jes & Leslie
See our Peace with Iran slideshow: http://flickr.com/photos/codepinkalert/sets/72157607234561885/show/
PS We have a short video piece we'll be showing on our Peace with Iran cross-country tour. It needs a few finishing touches, so we're looking for an editor. If you're the person we're looking for, or you know someone who might be able to help, please get in touch. Thanks!
Stop a War on Iran, September 27
Palin's Start in Alaska: Not Politics as Usual
Women Against Sarah Palin
Ads Pushing Iran Strike Show Denver Under Missile Attack from Boulder
International Jewish Statement Against An Attack on Iran
Jes & Leslie ... A Journey for Peace and Freedom: http://www.jfpf.org/
If you would like to be added to The Gandhi Peace Brigade Group List,
please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you. Jes
Monday, September 8, 2008
Their platform is based on "no voilence", for "keeping peace", yet they are the ones causing the non peace moments at functions that they disagree with. Is this not hypocritical?Hows about doing a little educating today?
Sunday, September 7, 2008
You like to say that we're “ugly” and we're “scum.” You like to disparage our intelligence and patriotism. Sometimes you make threats: “If I see you agian I'll stop you,” and “If I see you bitches I will do something horrible to you.” More than one of you suggested we should be “hanged.”
(Just who are supposed to be the “ugly” ones here?)
Take a good sober look over some of your recent posts... Most of them are about wounding, involving crude sexual references, misogyny, bigotry, and hate... there's hardly an American sentiment in the bunch.
Do you really want to sound like some hick counterpart to the Taliban, with your hatred of women, intolerance of views with which you disagree, and your threats of violence?
Do ANY of you consider yourselves Christians, I wonder? How so... by what definition? (Ku Klux Kristians? That variety?)
Review your posts, people. Take a step back and a deep, calming breath. Put your judgment and self-righteous wrath aside and really consider your message.
With your “love my country or leave it” reductio ad absurdum patriotism, how would you have treated Patrick Henry or Thomas Paine? (Do you think they never disrupted anyone? Do you think they never raised a ruckus? Do you think they would have been worried about looking silly or outrageous?)
Let me clue you in as to what Code Pink does...
We're not violent, so we peacefully protest. We think that our political leadership and the Americans with whom we disagree are misguided, not “evil,” so we present a visible sign of dissent from the policies that have made America less safe and less free. We do so as our country's enemies, the terrorists abroad and profiteers, demagogues, and crusaders at home, grow ever more powerful and continue to weaken our civil liberties and divide us against one another.
We use guerrilla theater to give our informed, rational, and moral platform a public hearing... because we LOVE this country and we're trying to fight for it in the best way we know how.
Because we're flamboyant and because we refuse to be silenced, we sometimes get results. We get to air our concerns to a larger audience. We get to sit down with representatives of our government and present them with facts: well-researched, non-partisan facts drawn from the U.S. military's reports, America's intelligence agencies, congressional hearings we attend, and what's left of the FREEST press in the WORLD.
Because we are civil, thoughtful, and well prepared, we are often thanked by our senators and representatives for introducing new facts and perspectives to them.
From time to time, we even achieve small policy victories (while inspiring others who need to know that they're not alone).
Along the way, like many patriots before us (Frederick Douglass, Alice Paul, Muhammad Ali, Cat Stevens) we inspire a lot of hatred, bile, and viciousness from the corrupt establishment-inspired mob: the people who love the word “freedom,” but not Freedom itself, and the flag, but not the values for which it stands...
Some of you haters probably represent a portion of the hard-working, resentful, “values”-smug 30% that actually approve of the job the president is doing (Bush's popular base, so bamboozled that you actually think that America has been well-served by his policies, rather than just the top 1% of earners -- the REAL “Elites” who are his actual base: the corporate “Haves and Have-Mores,” President Bush called them, before referring to them as “MY BASE!”).
Code Pink haters love the word “patriotism” but seem to think that it stops at one's lapel, yellow ribbon, or Hummer. They appear content to let the jingoist, ignorance-peddling shills on cable TV and talk radio tell them WHAT TO THINK.
And what has the corporate media been telling us to think (besides “Hate protesters”) in recent years?
For years, they told us that environmentalists are “wackos,” and global warming is a myth. They told us that the economy is doing great and that deficits don't matter (for decades now, income growth for most Americans has been stagnant or declined... and deficits DO matter -- take a look at your 50-cent dollar). For years, they've been telling us that NAFTA and other RIGGED (not “free”) trade pacts are a great thing, and that our economy benefits from them (THEIR economy, maybe, but not OURS). They told us that Saddam Hussein had WMD when virtually NO experts believed that he did (stop listening to the revisionist pols and their compliant media and EXAMINE THE RECORD -- the administration virtually went to war with the CIA over their refusal to support the case for war in Iraq and ignored the Energy Department experts altogether on the nuclear question).
Now the media is telling us in lock-step that "Iran is the enemy," and we can “drill our way to energy independence.” (How many bridges -- to nowhere -- are you willing to buy from these flimflams?)
These are the people who encourage you daily to hate your fellow Americans, including New Yorkers, San Franciscans, and Code Pink (anyone who doesn't share their agenda).
They are the Culture War (and War war) salesmen, who sneer their daily message and don't give a fiddler's fart about the facts, the troops, the nation, or how bitterly Americans are divided at this critical time in our history.
If the media really cared about the troops, you would have heard from them what our nation's top military men have been trying to tell us for years: This neoconservative policy is breaking the U.S. Army (meanwhile the Army is breaking its record for suicides for the third consecutive year -- not that Bill OReilly gives a pickled shit about that statistic).
This policy has virtually broken the Guard and Reserves (ASK GENERAL CASEY, whose advice about the troop Surge in Iraq -- DON'T do it -- was ignored by his bosses, even though he was the Commanding Officer in Iraq at the time. The Bushies just fished downstream until they found an officer who supported what they wanted to do -- and promoted him. That's how THEY roll... over the military men and women who contradict them).
BUT HERE'S A REALITY CHECK: It is not Code Pink or MoveOn.org or Ron Paul or anyone else on the so-called “Left,” but the U.S. MILITARY who are providing the strongest resistance today to the politicians and corporations currently pushing for war in Iran!
It is the U.S. MILITARY who are fighting their hearts out against the same neocon vultures who sold the American people the last bogus case for war!
(Fool YOU twice? That's easy! You still believe this corporate, war-peddling media when it tells you that “the Media is Liberal!” You believe that Iran's leaders have said that they want to “wipe Israel of the map” and that “Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon,” regardless of what America's 16 intelligence agencies report! You believe whatever the corporate media tells you, as long as it's repeated often enough by enough talking heads... Why if Anderson Cooper says it, it must be so...)
You poor schmucks actually believe that the troop Surge is behind the drop in violence in 2008 Iraq!
But here's the straight dope, regarding the Surge: There's no question that the ethno-sectarian cleansing and walling up of Baghdad helped somewhat (the very bloody first phase of the Surge), but the real key to the drop in violence, per most American military officers on the ground, was putting 100,000 members of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) on the U.S. payroll -- giving them each $300/month, arms, and U.S. training to chill out for a while...
Sure it helped decrease the violence, paying off the entire insurgency (save for a few foreign jihadis -- who were never more than 2-3% of the people we were fighting there), but it doesn't exactly amount to a “victory” over the people we were fighting (we PAY them now, mostly to not shoot at us).
In fact, many of our troops in Anbar complain that they now have to hand out thousands of dollars to the same people who were shooting at us a year ago!
It's no reflection on our brave troops, but rather a poor reflection on our dismal politicians, to point out that we've achieved ONLY a temporary accommodation in Iraq -- something that General Petraeus has been asserting for months... especially when he recently asked for ALL fifteen brigades to remain in country for the foreseeable future... and was DENIED by his bosses!
True to form (following in the footsteps of General Franks, General Garner, General Casey, Admiral Fallon...) General Petraeus' request was ignored by the cynical politicians who feel that they need to show the American public -- in a presidential election year -- a “Return on Success” ...even more, apparently, than they need to follow the advice of the top commander on the ground in Iraq (make the slogan live, General, do it for the Republic-ans!).
But Petraeus knows how precarious the situation in Iraq is (which is why he keeps repeating that fact).
He knows that the drop-off in violence is not related to any long-term political solution in Iraq (none has been offered) or to any particular military victory. And he sure as hell knows it isn't because the Iraqi Security Forces have suddenly turned into a credible, professional force whom we can now trust to take over (HA HA HA -- The Iraqi forces, per our military's assessment, are as corrupt, brutal, sectarian, and unreliable as ever).
The truth is we owe our success in Iraq to a very simple formula: $300/month/man X 100,000 AQM.
Rather than admit defeat or try a new strategy, the politicians have purchased the appearance of “success” ...which should continue to work as long as we keep paying off the insurgents ...which we don't intend to do for much longer.
In fact, we've been pushing the Shi'ite Iraqi central government to take over paying the “ex-” insurgents and integrate them into the national police and Iraqi Army... And they keep telling us, “Are you nuts? Those are our Sunni foes! We will see them in hell first!” (Oh yeah, REAL political progress there, I'm telling you...)
And here's the larger underlying problem: Five-and-a-half years into this mess, George Bush is still demanding that the Iraqis sign over the rights to their OIL for the next 30 years... and five-and-a-half years into this mess, the Iraqis are still telling him to go screw himself and get out of their country.
Why do you think Prime Minister Maliki is insisting on a deadline for U.S. withdrawal? (They've got Iran and China for technological assistance. They don't need us!)
And now you know the real reason Dick Cheney and the neocons are so hot for war with Iran... IRAN won the Iraq war without ever firing a shot, and they don't want to face up to that.
But the corporate media isn't about to tell you that side of the story...
They're not about to tell you that to the best of our knowledge KBR has killed more troops in Iraq than Iran has -- electrocuting them with their corner-cutting, shoddy standards of construction, giving them sewer water to wash their faces and brush their teeth...
They're not about to tell you that more of our troops have been shot at in Iraq by Blackwater than by the Republican Guard.
Because the corporate media is NO FRIEND to the TROOPS... or to you or me.
In fact, they're the ones who told you to hate your fellow Americans, like Code Pink, who practice peaceful dissent -- just like they told you that those protesters in Seattle ten years ago were "crazy anarchists" who didn't understand Free Trade... (They like us divided, full of anger and hate, and arguing amongst ourselves -- all the better for their masters to continue picking our pockets while making us LESS safe and LESS free...)
This is the America that our Founding Fathers feared could happen one day, the America that Eisenhower warned us about: Industry's foreign policy, unconstitutional rulers (men not beholden to laws), foreign adventurism, mob mentality, fear, xenophobia, aggression, brutality, and an utter lack of compassion and empathy.
NO civility (again, please review your posts).
But just to show you that I don't really think I'm better than you, here's me, taking a swipe at you all, letting MY emotions hold sway... Here's what you bilious, Tory know-nothings would have said in 1773, right after the Boston Tea Party... (This is YOU):
“What do you crazy, stupid faggots think you're doig, wastin the tea? King George has been a GRAET King, and protects us from the Injuns and the French! If you don't love Britain then get out of the Colony!!! If I see you on the street, George Warshington, you ugly, wooden-toothed fary, I will show you what a musket is FER!”
Now, if you really have any guts, any belief whatsoever in the righteousness of your wrath, I challenge you to check out the FACTS I've revealed in the following blog from a couple months back (an oldie but a goodie). Read this sucker, fact check it if you dare... then read your Code Pink hate messages again and tell me who's “ugly,” who's a patriot, and who really loves this country... ya' miserable, frikkin'...
(Sorry... The truth is I don't hate you. I just think you're confused. Check that: I KNOW you are...).
Jeepers, Creepers, What to Make of “Freepers!”
by James O'Donnell
The enemy of my friend is my... friend? (Well, potentially anyway...)
I spent maybe an hour and a half last Wednesday sharing some sidewalk outside of the Cannon Building with the pro-troops/pro-U.S. foreign policy group occasionally referred to as the “Freepers” (even, I'm told, by “Freepers” themselves).
In my travels across the U.S. -- growing up in suburban Mesa, AZ, attending university and working in southern California, and chocking up nearly eight years in the Midwest between graduate school and employment as a graphic designer/apartment manager/security guard -- I've had worse times and received worse receptions... from less reasonable and decent folks than most of the “Freepers” I met last week.
In fact, from the moment I took up a “Support the Troops” sign and stood proudly (in Peace Pink) beside my fellow patriotic Americans, every individual “Freeper” who really took the time to engage me in conversation afforded me the same measure of civility and respect that I extended to him or her, which is to say, a good deal. While there were differences of opinion, there was also courtesy and a genuine willingness to hear one another's views.
And why not? We share so many of the same concerns:
We ALL share a concern for the well-being of America's troops.
We ALL have a common desire to see America emerge victorious in the Global War on Terror (although we may differ on how best to achieve that victory).
We ALL recognize that the U.S. Congress, like so many other institutions in our country, is not functioning as it should.
We are ALL passionate in the belief that our activism is in the best tradition of American patriotism and vital to a healthy democracy... something toward which we ALL strive.
Nonetheless, there is real acrimony -- and some genuine substantive differences -- between our two groups... as well as a history of unfortunate incidents, it seems...
One of the “Freepers,” an earnest, obviously bright and idealistic young man (bound for Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps) showed me a red paint stain on his otherwise pristine white sneaker... courtesy of peace protesters, he told me. By his account, a protest action at the Marine recruiting office in Berkeley, CA had involved the hurling of paint-filled balloons... apparently in his general direction.
While I made no excuses for the actions of my fellow peaceniks -- it was neither my place to do so, nor my inclination -- I did try to explain to him the principled position underlying that particular act.
The citizens that form the community of Berkeley have clearly articulated a moral objection to America's current foreign policy, especially the war in Iraq (which has placed such a burden on military recruitment in recent years). For the Marines to seek fresh recruits in Berkeley in support of a policy most Berkeley residents are on the record as opposing -- as immoral, illegal, and inimical to America's interests in the world -- well, it seemed like a slap in the face of the entire community... and an undemocratic slap at that.
Berkeley had spoken.
The Marines had turned a deaf ear to the community's objections.
Matters had escalated.
Leaving aside the question of the moral high ground for a moment, one could at least point to the predictability of such a development (which does nothing, of course, to help restore the luster of my young acquaintance's otherwise spiffy shoe).
But these things tend toward escalation.
Malignant, grievances spread. Ugliness begets ugliness. (Thus, centuries ago, Hammurabi warned his people: “NO MORE THAN an eye for an eye,” cautioning them against disproportionate and wanton revenge leading to an endless cycle of bloodletting... Jesus, of course, may have done Hammurabi one better with his admonition that we should all learn to “turn the other cheek” and actually LOVE our enemies. So far ahead of his time, we still seem incapable of embracing such sagacity some 2000 years after his death.)
(Gandhi got it. Why can't we?)
Upon hearing my young friend's complaint, I had to sigh. In the back of my mind I recalled hearing about how my sister Pinkies and our friends at Veterans for Peace had been pelted by objects hurled at them by (you guessed it) the “Freepers” while visiting our wounded troops at Walter Reed.
The “Freepers” may have felt justified at the time, possibly carrying within them that commonly held bastardization of Hammurabi's wisdom: that the old “eye for an eye” axiom is really carte blanche to GO NUTS on your enemies... that “an eye for an eye” is supposedly what passes for justice... that revenge (NOT justice -- which doesn't involve “two wrongs”) is what the aggrieved are somehow entitled to...
(Somewhere, I'm sure, Hammurabi is spinning in his urn.)
But let's move on from the mutual wounding between human beings (what Dostoevsky referred to as “lacerations”) to THE COMMON GROUND WE SHARE... because, brother and sister, I promise you, IT DOES EXIST (I know it does, because I have been there)! And it is on this common ground that we can one day stand firm against America's foes, internal and external!
...But only if we're smart. Only if we have faith. Only if we are willing to put aside our pain and comfortable willingness to judge -- and even hate -- one another (because when Americans are divided, the terrorists really do win.).
So let's do this thang! (Are we READY?) Hell, yes, let's do it!
LET'S TALK ABOUT AMERICA'S TROOPS! (Do we care enough about our patriotic young men and women in service to shelve our petty battles for a moment and seriously discuss their plight? Let's hope so, because their wounds go much deeper than ours.)
The reason I choose to devote my time, energy, and resources to Code Pink, rather than, say, the “Freepers,” is that I am convinced that Code Pink's stance, opposing the current Policy -- which, writ large, predates George W. Bush, by the way -- puts the Pinkies on the right side of America's interests, America's values, AND America's troops... all of which are gravely threatened by the aforementioned Policy.
As I explained to my new acquaintances on the sidewalk last week, I have spent most of the last decade reading several hours a day, listening to C-Span hearings, and following news broadcasts, radio and television (left and right of center) -- and reading some excellent books along the way -- in order to gain as comprehensive an understanding as possible of American history and of our current foreign and domestic policies.
I have endeavored most sincerely to identify and apprehend recent trends and assess our present situation... which in many ways is not an enviable one: Infrastructure crumbling, debt soaring, dollar plummeting... with a populace deeply divided, unhealthy, and barely educated.
America can do better. In the past, we have done better. We can do so again.
But keeping the focus on AMERICA'S MILITARY, paraphrasing General William Casey: The U.S. Army is badly stretched and under-resourced. Our National Guard and Reserves are very nearly broken thanks to long and multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (one war a catastrophic failure, despite the recent calm -- in news coverage -- the other an ever-expanding failure that has seen huge upticks in violence, corruption, poppy production, and civilian casualties... and the comeback of the Taliban -- THROUGH NO FAULT OF THE TROOPS... but rather due to the rose-tinted, self-serving obscurantism of our blinkered political class, Republican and Democrat alike).
According to the military's own studies, military families are paying a high price for the mistakes of America's political leadership: high rates of divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues (not just PTSD), and a soaring suicide rate (in recent years the Army has set one record after another in this dismal category).
There's a reason the Army and Marines face enormous recruiting challenges and a mass exodus in the officer corps: These policies are putting our military under enormous -- and unnecessary -- strain!
And when our soldiers and Marines try to get Uncle Sam to make good on his promises, they are routinely met with a sea of red tape -- after their initial medical treatment, which by most accounts is quite good, to give credit where credit is due.
Nonetheless, our servicemen/women have recounted one experience after another about being stonewalled, lied to, and cheated of promised benefits. Only those who get a little news coverage, it seems, manage to get what they have coming to them.
Many simply give up trying.
How did we arrive at this regrettable state of affairs?
One way we got here was by allowing the politicians, profiteers, chicken-hawks, ideologues, and demagogues to run roughshod over America's career foreign policy and intelligence professionals... and experienced military voices.
Let's review the history:
Prior to 9/11, America's top counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet (running around with his “hair on fire,” it was later said) virtually begged top administration officials to make a greater priority of preparing against a foreseeable (and foreseen) attack by al Qaeda.
The 9/11 Commission revealed that their concerns were not shared by the Bush administration:
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice failed to hold a single Cabinet-level meeting on the subject.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was far more concerned with streamlining (privatizing and shrinking) America's military, closing bases and funneling money to (still) unproven boondoggles like national missile defense.
President Bush admitted that he “didn't feel that sense of urgency” regarding al Qaeda, despite the August 2001 Presidential Daily Brief entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.”
And Attorney General John Ashcroft? He slid anti-terrorism efforts to the bottom of the FBI's top-10 priorities and admonished Paul Pillar to NOT raise the subject with him again!
And after 9/11? When our politicians owed it to the nation to consult with -- even defer a little to -- America's military experts and career intelligence and foreign policy establishment... ideology and hubris triumphed again.
Regarding the “enhanced” interrogation techniques: Senior legal counsel at ALL FOUR branches of THE MILITARY (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) -- as well as the FBI and the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force -- ALL balked.
Like his peers, the Navy's General Counsel Alberto Mora resisted the suggestions coming from the White House and from Rumsfeld flack William Haynes II, calling the proposed techniques immoral, impractical, and illegal, possibly “rising to the level of torture.”
When the senior legal staff for the Marines warned that the proposed policy might "expose Marines” to legal and physical jeopardy, his concerns, too, were brushed aside.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff and other experienced military minds were also left out of the ensuing discussion, and those who had objected were disdained and ignored by partisans and hacks who had never served a day in their life.
The result? Prisoner abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay, where -- ACCORDING TO THE U.S. MILITARY -- nearly 50% of America's initial detainees were innocent of any crime and unaffiliated with any terrorist group (according to the CIA, upwards of 33%).
Many of those detainees were simply scooped up by the CIA's allies-of-convenience in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom: the drug lords, warlords, and extremists who comprised the Northern Alliance, including many former allies of the Soviet Union, like General Rashid Dostum, and former acid-throwing jihadi, Gulbiddin Hekmatyar, who scarred many a Middle-Eastern girl for life (for not wearing the burka). These are the same characters Rumsfeld allowed to call U.S. airstrikes on their rivals (also our allies!) as they jockeyed for position in the new Afghanistan... and we trusted THEM to stock the cells at GITMO!
Why? Because callow cretins like Cofer Black and Rummy thought that paying mercenaries and thugs $1,000 bounties for “terrorists” would somehow yield meaningful results.
Has the Policy fared any better in Iraq?
No, it has not.
Not only has the Democratic and Republican politicians' torture policy not yielded much in the way of actionable intelligence, but it has played a key role in turning the population of Iraq against us.
Since Abu Ghraib, most Iraqis polled now say it is “OK to kill Americans.” Earlier military polls revealed an Iraqi populace more inclined to give us the benefit of the doubt... but that was before the prisoner abuse and neighborhood sweeps that overfilled America's prisons in Iraq (netting tens of thousands -- of Sunnis, primarily -- more than 80% of whom were innocent of any crime, PER THE ANALYSIS OF THE U.S. MILITARY... which was almost entirely ignored by the politicians and sycophantic press).
And who has paid the price for this inept, immoral, and ineffective policy?
THE TROOPS, THAT'S WHO...
Aside from the fact that such heavy-handed and unfocused attacks on Iraqi society have made our honorable and well-meaning troops reviled and viewed as “occupiers” in a land they had truly hoped to liberate, IT IS THE TROOPS WHO HAVE PAID THE PRICE.
Among other nightmares recounted by the U.S. troops serving in Iraq (moving among the obliterated and tortured bodies, encountering the foul smells of death and raw sewage, and dealing daily with the distrust of a hostile populace -- THESE are the stories our troops tell, the further one gets from the press conference), American GI's and Marines have described the bobbing, weaving walk they've had to adopt in order to avoid being shot by snipers when patrolling the Iraqi streets...
Frankly, these young people deserved better leadership than that which has led them to this dark, dangerous place.
After the scandal of Abu Ghraib, General Janice Karpinski was demoted and the enlisted men and women involved in the abuses were tried and convicted as criminals -- despite the fact that they were following orders that emanated from Washington, D.C. and were carried out by politicized generals (Sanchez and Miller) and enforced by unregulated, unaccountable private contractors, Titan and CACI -- as detailed in the report of General Anthony Taguba... who saw his military career cut short as a result of his honest report.
The higher-ups told our enlisted men and women to “soften up” the prisoners, to use dogs, strip the prisoners and take their photographs in sexually humiliating positions... exploiting “Arab vulnerabilities.”
These were their ORDERS.
The contractors and non-military personnel reportedly gave Sgt. Graner several “atta-boys” for his treatment of America's prisoners. All the while, according to his fellow soldiers, his conscience plagued him; he didn't think what he was doing was right (how could he? American troops, untrained in interrogation, encouraged by their superiors, were torturing detainees, sodomizing them, and forcing them to masturbate one another, among other things...).
But WHO got hung out to dry by the politicians and the complacent, “few bad apples” peddling press?
Graner (convicted and sentenced). Englund (convicted and sentenced). Frederick (convicted and sentenced). Davis (convicted and sentenced)... and so on.
And the politicians, Democratic and Republican, played right along. When the scandal broke, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here,” as if the President hadn't signed a memo saying the Geneva Conventions didn't apply to these prisoners... as if these methods of interrogation (forced stripping and sexual humiliation) weren't specifically authorized by Rumsfeld...
(But, my friends, they WERE authorized.)
And it was THE TROOPS who paid the price, not the POLITICIANS (not with this press).
And the troops in Iraq weren't the only ones getting run over by the policymakers...
The Navy JAGs and Chief Prosecutors at GITMO complained from the start about un-American rules, no due process for detainees, and CONSTANT political interference from Washington. Over the years they have described a thoroughly politicized, micromanaged process and DC meddlers imposing absurd conditions to govern the tribunals -- conditions our military never sought (conditions they RESISTED, actually).
We're on our FOURTH Chief Prosecutor now, as the politicians keep forcing them out (for insisting on a lawful process for conducting these tribunals... Check out Col. Morris Davis' account of the politicians who forced him to resign).
These people -- the JAGs and Chief Prosecutors -- aren't “soft on terrorism;” they're champions for America's values -- the values that actually provide us with our security. And they have been fighting a brave but losing battle with the politicians from Day 1... without our help, for the most part.
Where are the American people as the military keeps getting slapped around by the chicken-hawk politicians?
Most of us are in the dark, right where the pols and their jingoist media lackeys want us.
This media is so in the tank for the Policy that most Americans -- including most “Freepers,” I suspect -- simply aren't aware of the extent to which our troops have been hung out to dry by our corporate political class and press.
Because of this Policy-complicit media, most Americans never heard about the U.S. Army captain who tried to report the prisoner abuse he'd seen in Iraq -- prior to Abu Ghraib (back when it could have meant something) -- only to be labeled “crazy” (over the objections of a military psychiatrist), strapped to a gurney, and flown out of the country.
Because of this media, most Americans don't know that General Jay Garner, after spending years on the ground in Kurdistan leading Operation Provide Comfort, was unceremoniously dumped as America's top man in post-war Iraq... in order to make room for Kissinger-protege Jerry Bremer.
Just a few weeks on the job, just after Baghdad fell, Gen. Garner was handed his nuts (figuratively speaking) the moment he suggested conducting elections (which was NOT the policy). Bremer continued to resist calls for elections until well into the insurgency, relenting only when Iraqi Shi'ites put over 100,000 protesters on the streets and DEMANDED elections.
You see, Bremer followed the dictates of the “cabal” (Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's term for Cheney, Feith, Wolfowitz, Perle, etc.): the NeoCon clowns without a day of military experience among them, the anti-democrats who zealously advocated putting convicted criminal Ahmed Chalabi in charge of Iraq with his 700 thugs and his history of graft and fraud.
Self-serving, carpetbagging crumb that he is, upon arriving in Iraq, Chalabi immediately occupied Saddam's elite Hunting Club in the wealthy Mansour neighborhood and began promoting himself as the leader of new Iraq... only to find that most Iraqis disliked and distrusted him. They'd never heard of him! (And why should they have? He hadn't lived there since the 1950s and left when he was only 13 years old!)
But unlike General Garner, Jerry Bremer was down with the Policy: Economic and Political Control imposed from the top-down... Contracts for cronies, NOT Iraqis (cronies like the 5-star hotel-dwelling Halliburton employees who DEFIED our military's request that they stay in tents with the regular folks and slapped Uncle Sam with a bill for MILLIONS of dollars instead!).
Bremer's Iraq -- the NeoCon's Iraq -- was intended to be a playground for privateers and contractors (Naomi Klein's “Disaster Capitalists” -- READ IT).
And what about those CONTRACTORS? HOW HAVE THEY AFFECTED OUR TROOPS?
In addition to giving Americans a bad name with their reckless and criminally aggressive tactics, murdering (without cause) dozens of Iraqi civilians (PER OUR TROOPS' REPORTS), they've shot at and CS-gassed our troops (without an actual enemy in sight), poached from our officer class, and demoralized our enlisted men and women with their mercenary wages.
They've failed to complete the vast majority of the work they've contracted for, and what work they have done has been routinely late and outrageously short of ANY standard (walls that leak sewage and shoddy wiring, endangering our troops...) while collecting 90% or more of their contracts' value.
What's worse, in addition to the role that contractors played at Abu Ghraib (a disastrous chapter of the war that set the U.S. back immeasurably), it was a private contractor that in April of 2004 provided arguably the single worst turning point in the Iraq war:
Blackwater USA knowingly sent Americans into a Falluja “Red Zone” (off-limits to our military at the time) without proper maps, without a rear gunner (without much that was stipulated in their contracts), only to see them brutally killed, their bodies burned, dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge over the Tigris, leading to a MAJOR escalation of the war... just because some senior company man, an ogre nicknamed “Shrek,” apparently held a grudge against the decorated American veterans in his charge... and sent them to their deaths.
Do I care about our troops? My Freepy friends, I have made it my business to get the goods on the people that are dirty-dealing our troops every day... and now I'm trying to expose the bums.
For instance, I KNOW that Halliburton provided our troops with extremely (fecal+) contaminated water with which to wash their faces and brush their teeth. Halliburton DIDN'T EVEN BOTHER TO BUILD THE REVERSE-OSMOSIS UNIT THEY WERE PAID TO CONSTRUCT... or conduct regular tests of the water they were giving our troops! (Not only that, but Halliburton gagged the company scientist who discovered their many failures, preventing him from sharing his findings with the U.S. MILITARY.)
Here's another horror:
Did you know that at least a dozen GIs and Marines have been ELECTROCUTED on American bases in Iraq because of shoddy electrical wiring by Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR)? Or that KBR knew of the threat and IGNORED IT because their contract didn't require them to fix their mistakes?
Make no mistake: Americans who support these policies do so at the expense of the troops -- not knowingly, I realize, but nonetheless our ignorance puts the troops at risk (as does our blithe willingness to trust the media reports that tell us what we want to hear: “We've turned the corner...”).
BUT IT IS THE TROOPS WHO PAY THE PRICE.
Just as the CIA, DIA, and other U.S. intelligence agencies were ignored, derided, and used in the buildup to war in Iraq, so have America's best and brightest military men and women been ignored, exploited, and shafted by the inexperienced, the self-serving, and the ideological -- in the Bush administration and in the U.S. Congress.
(You may recall how General Tommy Franks was reduced to haggling with Donald Rumsfeld over the number of troops he initially wanted to bring into Iraq: over 300,000 -- before he was forced to settle for 120,000...)
But please don't mistake me for a partisan.
As much as any Republican Congressman, Nancy Pelosi has sold out our troops... just as Harry Reid has, and Jane Harmon, Silvestre Reyes, and the rest of those spineless donkeys in the Gang of Eight.
Their protests to the contrary, they support The Policy.
And this Policy has been terrible for America's military. Step away from the canned press conference, skip the “Congressman's Tour” of GTMO/Iraq/Afghanistan, and JUST ASK THE FOLKS WHO HAVE SERVED...
ASK the Generals: Shinseki, Zinni, Garner, Eaton, Sanchez, Newbold, Batiste, Riggs, Swannack... Ask Mr. “Pottery Barn” himself, “Doctrine”-less Colin Powell (slapped down time and again by that old Saddam courtier Donald Rumsfeld)...
Ask Colonel Morris Davis (GITMO's latest Chief Prosecutor to resign in disgust) or Lt. Commander Charles Swift of the JAG corp...
Ask Staff Sgt. Yance Gray or Sgt. Omar Mora, Scott Helvenston, or Jerry Zovko... Oh wait, we can't ask THEM. They -- like thousands of other genuine American heroes -- are DEAD.
IN CONCLUSION... My “Freepy” friends (if you're still listening), some of you were surprised to learn last week that I am NOT a fan of Bill Clinton (these days, who is?)... or of Barack Obama, especially... or of the Democrats, in general.
(What can I say? I'm not.)
In the presidency of Bill Clinton, I see the SAME morally and intellectually bankrupt and utterly UN-AMERICAN agenda advanced by the current occupant of the White House... only Bill was less reckless about it (a more competent manager of America's downward spiral).
BOTH Clinton and Bush favor trade policies that threaten American jobs and sovereignty -- with little or no protections for the environment or workers' rights (unless sweatshop labor for 11-year olds is somehow a “right”). They have BOTH helped accelerate a global race to the most desperate and impoverished corners of the world... while decimating America's factories and mills.
(HERSHEY is moving to Mexico, people!).
BOTH Clinton and Bush believe in privatizing the American government: with over $200 billion dollars outsourced under Bill Clinton to unaccountable, venal, and inept businesses -- and over $240 billion outsourced under George Bush to unaccountable, venal, and inept businesses (roughly the same figure, largely the SAME businesses).
BOTH Clinton and Bush condone the “crony communist”-style subsidies for American agro-giants that have driven tens of thousands of American small farmers out of business and kept the Third World farmer poor, starving, and dependent. (Thanks to America's dumping of mega-subsidized crops on their doorsteps, many foreign farmers can't come close to making a living growing the food they desperately need.)
BOTH Clinton and Bush allow barely regulated financial institutions to prey on Americans and foreigners alike: flimflamming the poor at home and using the IMF and World Bank to pressure impoverished foreigners abroad into selling their nations into perpetual servitude to usurious lenders who collect their original loans MANY times over.
BOTH Clinton and Bush believe in American Empire, making Americans less safe by maintaining standing armies throughout the world (instead of here, at home, ready to respond to disasters like Hurricane Katrina) and forcing economic and political policies (THE Policy) on other nations, chiefly to benefit the private interests and elites that increasingly OWN our country, too.
This is a side of 2008 America that the Founding Fathers would ABHOR, were they alive to see it.
Finally, NEITHER Clinton nor Bush have much regard for the Constitution, for sovereignty, or the rule of law.
Before George W. Bush took ANY of the following actions, Bill Clinton was:
...Taking America to war without a Congressional declaration;
...Illegally rendering prisoners across the world; and
...Trying to define Guantanamo Bay as a legal black hole, safe from America's courts (not to mention killing children in Iraq).
Also, in the name of the (failed) “War on Drugs,” Bill Clinton's NSA was already working to develop a program along the lines of the infamous program that George Bush expanded in February of 2001: Peering -- WITHOUT A WARRANT -- into the e-mails and phone calls of THOUSANDS of AMERICANS... communicating with other AMERICANS... in AMERICA (seven months BEFORE 9/11)!
Really, the ONLY difference with George W. Bush is that it has been during his tenure that the Policy -- The Policy that embodies the trend in our government that President EISENHOWER tried to warn us about -- has reached its culmination:
The Military Industrial (Pharmaceutical-Financial-Telecommunications-Private Security...) Congressional Complex now WRITES the laws!
The Congressmen and women merely pontificate, posture, and preen over the fine print (...or maybe just the font).
The lobbyists run the show.
There's a “fox” guarding every “hen house” (EPA, FDA, SEC, CPSC, Fannie Mae... DoD).
And nearly every child is being left behind.
(For those of us with eyes to see) neither the Emperor -- nor his “Democratic” court -- are wearing a single stitch of clothing... and we here at home -- JUST like America's troops abroad -- are getting royally SCREWED by these buck-naked, irresponsible lunatics and their corporate courtesans in the press and elsewhere.
This is what we get for taking Democracy -- and the blood of previous generations -- for granted.
P.S. I forgot to mention the contractor that knowingly provided more than 2 MILLION defective helmets to our troops (and was rewarded with a brand new contract); or the sole-bearer of the contract to “up-armor” Humvees (falling further and further behind as our troops were getting killed by I.E.D.s -- with no penalty from Uncle Sam); or the contractor that supplies our troops with flawed body armor, even after it has FAILED one independent test after another (they're STILL selling that crappy design to Uncle Sucker -- that's us -- and the TROOPS PAY with their lives)...
...I also neglected to mention the Pentagon's top procurement officer, Bunnatine Greenhouse. She reported on brazen “no-bid,” “cost-plus” corruption in the Pentagon's contracting process... and LOST HER JOB.
Please, my “Freeper” friends:
It's easy to pick up a flag and wave it (or pin it to one's lapel)...
It's easy to let blustering media blowhards tell us what to think (shaming us into supporting the Policy by appealing to our anger, cynicism, and patriotism)...
It's also easy -- very easy -- to get riled by equally passionate people on the other side of an issue -- people who out of their own sense of grievance and moral outrage may occasionally cross the line, disrespecting or offending the sensibilities of others (taking out the occasional spiffy shoe)...
But we've got BIGGER FISH TO FRY, and there's too much at stake.
It's HIGH TIME we demand more oversight over the privateers, profiteers, and the governmental and special interests that are raping this country and exploiting our troops (sending them from one hellish war zone to the next in the service of an agenda that serves NONE of US).
For the sake of our troops...
For the sake of our children...
Let's lobby! Let's move! Let's get Biz-ZAY, and take our democracy back!
(Common ground, here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Friday, September 5, 2008
Guests: Camelot, local Obama organizer in Pennsylvania, Martha Shelley, local coordinator for Code Pink Portland, and Alicia Forrest, Code Pinker who was slammed to the ground by a Denver cop last week.
Thanks to everybody for listening and calling in, particularly our three wonderful, inspirational guests.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Protesters at the convention.
The Pink Ladies Take Over
by Jacob Bernstein
Posted Thursday August 28, 2008
Last Edited Tuesday September 02, 2008
From WWD Issue 08/28/2008
One woman is walking down the street in her underwear, on the back of which someone has inscribed the message “Let me be brief. Impeachment is on the table.” Another is bicycling past her on a bright pink bike, with a giant pink hat adorned with pink feathers. A third is seated on a bench waiting for the mall shuttle with a pink bumper sticker on her chest that says, “Make out, not war.”
For a party that takes pride in its diverse swath of constituents, the Democratic National Convention has been surprisingly muted visually this week. There are scores of young people who look like they graduated from Brown, Vassar, Yale or Wesleyan, and there are lots of handsome black women in their 50s. Blondes and brunettes, whites and Hispanics, young people and old people, they are all here in droves. But there is surprisingly little quirkiness, which is at least part of the reason the women of Code Pink are so hard to miss.
Born out of an opposition to Iraq, the organization since has come to form a more general progressive antiwar platform, and is raising money to help Cindy Sheehan defeat Nancy Pelosi in her race for Congress this fall.
“Sixty percent of Americans opposed the war by 2006,” said member Renay Davis, who is riding on a bus toward the organization’s temporary clubhouse: a dilapidated hippie-dippy coffee house called the Mercury Café. She’s dressed for the occasion in a bright pink fireman’s hat and enough bumper stickers on her chest to cover every car for miles. “Why aren’t people speaking out? The silent majority needs to become the vocal majority.
“People say, ‘All you do is preach to the choir. I say, ‘When did you last call your congressperson to tell them that you didn’t want more funding of the war effort? Nancy Pelosi, as speaker of the house, has not done what she could have to stop the war by stopping the funding. I’ve heard the argument that if she introduced a bill to bring the troops home, Bush would just veto it. But at least she would be doing her part.”
What Davis and her fellow members want is enough money to bring the troops home, some money for the Iraqis to begin rebuilding their country themselves and the end of contracts to government contractors such as KBR and Halliburton.
They are somewhat less dogmatic about who should be the next U.S. president. Some are in favor of Obama, partly because Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the war. “We helped paint Hillary Clinton as a war candidate, which helped give Barack Obama an edge,” said co-founder Medea Benjamin. “We went to meet with her before the war began. We told her, ‘We want to support you [in your political career].’ She gave us a rap that sounded like George W. Bush and we were left so disgusted that we gave her a pink slip instead.”
Benjamin is not speaking metaphorically. It was a giant version of the traditional piece of paper, and as the organization’s co-founder clarifies proudly a moment later, her partner in crime, Jodie Evans, actually threw it at the New York senator. (Evans’ other accomplishments include getting herself ejected from the Republican National Convention in 2004 when she interrupted the President’s speech to lambast him about the war in Iraq.)
For the record, Benjamin does not see anything strange about her organization’s categorical rejection of the first would-have-been woman president. “We’re women, we’re feminists, but to us, it’s the positions that matter, not the package they come in.”
She’s also heard the argument that the outfits of her Code Pink cohorts — the very thing that gets them so much attention — also risks turning them into a joke before they even open their mouths. But without them, she says, the organization would sink.
“Last night was boring,” she said, discussing the first night of the convention. “Then we show up and people light up because of what we wear. It’s provocative, it’s interesting. If we dressed the same as everyone else, we wouldn’t get any attention.”