Friday, March 17, 2006

"War Got Your Tongue?"

Mike is energized tonight so please visit Mikey Likes It! I'm not sure what I'm up for tonight. We've already all done a discussion for Saturday's gina & krista round-robin and I'm honestly not sure how many more comments I have left in me. I've got the music playing, probably too loudly, hoping that will give me enough energy to get through an entry. (You might want to try something similar if you're attempting to read this.) Right now James Blunt's Back to Bedlahm is playing.

"US Launches Largest Air Assault Since Iraq Invasion" (Democracy Now!):
US and Iraqi troops have launched what the military is calling the largest air assault in the three years since the Iraq invasion. In a press release, the army said over fifteen hundred troops and fifty aircraft have been deployed in a “suspected insurgent operating area” northeast of Samarra. Operation “Swarmer” is expected to last for several days. No casualties have been reported so far.

Operation "Swarmer" because when you're launching destruction, a catchy name is really important apparently. The intent/hope is probably that a cutesy name will have the media focusing on the buzz and not the reality.

"Hidden In Plain Sight" (Norman Solomon, CounterPunch):
The U.S. government is waging an air war in Iraq. "In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased," Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker. "Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border."
Hersh added: "As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war."
Here's a big reason why: Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon's bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war.

That's the reality. But will big media focus on the reality? Probably not. They'll probably be taken in by "shock and awe" instead. I see no indication that they've learned a thing from their mis-coverage in the lead up to the war.

If that seems harsh, you obviously missed today's "New York Times Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon Defends Pre-War Reporting on WMDs" where the New York Times' Michael Gordon could justify (or ignore in some cases) every bit of mis-reporting he did. You can read the transcript, but to appreciate the sheer arrogance of this man, you need to listen or watch. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez deserve strong praise for the work they did on that interview.

"Over 500 Events Planned For Events Marking Third Year of Iraq War" (Democracy Now!):
And as the invasion and occupation of Iraq reaches the three-year mark this Sunday, activists are staging anti-war events around the world. At least 500 protests are being held in the US this weekend alone. United for Peace and Justice has organized actions in all 50 states. Some began earlier this week. A veterans march for peace, which began in Alabama Tuesday, will end in New Orleans. According to USA Today, a new poll shows 60 percent of Americans believe the war was not “worth it.” In London, the Stop the War Coalition will stage a protest Saturday to demand the withdrawal of US and British troops from Iraq. Similar demonstrations are to be held in cities in Iraq, as well as in Mexico, Japan, and other parts of Europe.

It's so important that you make yourself heard. Maybe a mass protest/rally isn't your thing? Then you need to figure out what is "your thing" because we can't afford to be silent. If you've forgotten, this was sold as a "cake walk" and it's been three years. Now Bully Boy's talking "Long War" and you better believe nothing's changing if you're not willing to make it change.

We all have the power to say "no" to the war and I hope that we'll use our voices. That might not be a protest for you. That might be a house party or something else. But you need to be heard. You need to be counted among the many who are opposed to the continued occupation.

"And the war drags on (Indymedia Roundup)" (The Common Ills):
Talk about what was done in Iraq. Talk about how we got over there. Hearing tales from high ranking military officials about how they wished they had more whatever (bombs? troops?) is nonsense. We shouldn't have been over there and trying to sell the hogwash that there could have been a "win" is nonsense, it's jerking off, it's fantasizing and it's attempting to tack on even more days to the occupation as Americans are told if-only's and led to believe that Rumsfeld can carry it off this time.

It doesn't need to be 'carried off.' It needs to be ended. It never should have started. For three years a lot of people have deluded themselves about the tensions (against the occupiers) in Iraq. As though we could trample around their country and impose our concept of "order" upon a people -- an intelligent people, not a group of ignorant children. We can't. If that's not obvious to people now, it never will be.
Fortunately for those who practice the religion of denail, the likes of Michael Gordon scribble badly written articles that let them think, "If only we'd fought this way or that way, we'd have peace now!" No, we wouldn't. When one country occupies another, you don't get peace. When the host country wants the occupiers to leave, you don't get peace. When you import workers from out of the country and deny jobs to Iraqis, you don't get peace. When you have a tag sale on their public goods, you don't get peace. When you make noises about taking away their food subsidies, you don't get peace.
Why take away their food subsidies? Especially if they don't want them taken away? Because it doesn't fit the "free market" model we've attempted to impose upon Iraq, that we've attempted to force onto the people.
That's not democracy. That's occupation. We're calling the shots, and Iraqis don't like it. That's not a surprise to anyone awake. And hearing about the grumbles from the leadership of the military doesn't begin to address reality.

I was talking to Rebecca about the above, on the phone, this morning. As she said, "What do you say after you read that other than 'Wow!'?" I know it was written in the midst of the discussion for this morning's roundrobin. I know that C.I.'s probably about to fall over and it's not even time yet for the latest edition from The Third Estate Sunday Review. I don't know what to say other than I will never understand where C.I. gets it -- this energy. This "I'm about to fall over or pass out but something still needs to be done so let me grab a fifth or sixth wind."

I wish I had that kind of energy. Or focus.

If either of the two who read Wednesday's post are here now, I think it's pretty sad that you went whining to C.I. about what I wrote but didn't have the character to e-mail me. I stand by remarks. (And thanks to C.I. for backing me up.)

This isn't a time for silence. We all need to find and use our voices. Hence, our reality check for tonight.

"War Got Your Tongue?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, December 9, 2005):
Let's give it up to the bloggers and the op-ed columnists with bravery because they've weighed in the war. The war that hits the third year mark in March.

You do know there's a war going on, right?
We kind of feel like we have to ask that question because most people don't appear to. Again, give it up for the bloggers and the op-ed columnists. Give it up for progressive media.
"'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" we asked at the D.C. protests in September. Here's how one person responded:
74) Ivan, 62, Michigan: I think today is great and am thrilled with the turnout. I protested against the war on Vietnam and there it took us years to get the momentum going. What I worry about is where are the people? I don't mean the protesters, I'm really encouraged with the cross-section today. But, okay, you've got Cindy Sheehan. Great spokesperson. Ralph Nader's here and maybe he can make up for the recent past or maybe not, but he's here. The actress from Tootsie and Cape Fear, right Jessica Lange. She's here and I didn't remember her name but she really did give a great speech. I'm glad those people are here. But we need more. And in my day, the people had others. Yes, we had Jane Fonda, Fred Gardner, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden and others front and center. But you also had people backing it up. Like Bob Dylan. I think he went to one protest with Joan Baez for civil rights. But his songs backed up what his actions didn't. Or you turned on Dick Cavett or David Frost and there was an author or singer or someone and they weren't at the protests but they'd put it on the line and they'd say, like John Phillips [Mamas and the Papas] that the war was wrong. I caught Jane Fonda on David Letterman, when her book came out. And he asked her about the war and she said she was against it and the audience just went crazy with applause and cheers. But are there younger people doing that? Is it just people my age? Maybe there are and I just don't know them. But part of the reason the movement finally did end the war is that our cultural heroes were willing to speak out. You hear a lot of that sneering "You're a celebrity, shut up" talk and that's really fearing the power if they do speak out. With Vietnam, and this isn't a full list, just names that come to mind, you had Joan Baez and Jane Fonda front and center, but you also had Phil Ochs, you had the whole Mamas & the Papas, you had John Lennon, Mia Farrow, Tim Hardin, Laura Nyro, Peter Fonda, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Janis [Joplin], the Rolling Stones, Grace Slick and the [Jefferson] Airplane, this whole list of people. And you had people my age and younger and we weren't that different from kids today, we thought about what was in front of us. So when you have these people that you watch or listen to talking about it, it put it front and center. There were a lot of priests and a lot of Quakers and a lot of really solid activists who worked and gave their time to ending the war. But what kept it on the front page was a) real reporting with real photos and b) the fact that you couldn't escape it. You turned on the TV to escape but there was some entertainer talking about it. It was front and center. Now maybe there are people doing that today. I don't watch much TV now. Maybe if I turned on Letterman every night, I'd see some young people coming on to talk about a movie or TV show and I'd hear them speak out against the war. But I really don't get the sense that's happening. The right spent a lifetime demonizing Jane Fonda. There's a reason for that. They want to make sure no one else is tempted to use their power. They're scared of what would happen if entertainers really started throwing their weight around and making the people buying tickets or records think about this war.
Hard to believe it to look around today, but that did happen. C.I. had lunch today with a friend who's trying desperately to work the war into a show he writes for. During the conversation a number of issues were raised about what's being ignored by the mainstream press. C.I. shared the converstation with Jess who said, "I had that same conversation!" C.I. came up with the title of this editorial. Jess tossed in something else. By then it was going to have to be a Third Estate Sunday Review piece because we all wanted to weigh in.
All we are saying is JUST TAKE A STAND
On this anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, we're surprised by how few seem to act as if a war's going on. Ripped from the headlines our asses. Hiding from the headlines. And it goes on everywhere.
Maybe pop culture doesn't allow you to comment on Harold Pinter's speech? Maybe a playwright is too "culture" and not enough pop? Maybe it's just not really handing out awards if no one asks, "Who are you wearing?"All we are saying is just take a stand.
If you're presenting as being on the left, why are you so silent on a war that's waged for almost three years? War got your tongue?
Hey, if you're for the war, come out and say it. You can find readers who'll support you. But quit hiding behind "I'm left" if you can't comment on the war.
You're not looking "moderate." You're looking ignorant. And when people read you years from now and see that you had nothing to say about a war that waged and waged, they're going to wonder about that.
We should wonder about it right now.
Bloggers, op-ed writers, Laura Flanders, Amy Goodman, The Progressive, The Nation, go down the list. They're the people who have kept the conversation alive, who have forced it to the front. They did that without you. They're still doing it without you even though polling consistently demonstrates a trend of the people turning against the war.
You waiting for it to hit 99% before you feel "safe" about weighing in?
Naomi Klein rightly argued about the need to bring Iraq to the NYC during the Republican convention in 2004. We echo that only we say it's time to bring it to the people. That means no jerking off over Jessica and Nick or whatever "hot" topic. If you're not weighing in on a war, what are you but a couch potato?
Are you in a coma? Do you not see what's going on?
We ask that question because Bright Eyes gets slammed online by a left site. "When a President Talks To God" is "trite, crudely so, and certainly unenlightening"? Harold Bloom, when did you come online? Or is it the Professor from Gilligan's Island? (We felt the Bloom ref might be lost on the "wit" who penned the critique.)
Maybe you missed the performance of that song? Maybe you weren't at any of the sites on the left that talked of this or listening to The Majority Report whan Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder played the clip? We're sure reading The New Rag takes up a lot of your time.
But is that your statement? Your full statement on the war?
Gee, thanks for weighing in. Maybe you're one of the sites or magazines that can also say you reviewed Jarhead?
We're so lucky to have you.
All we are saying is just take a stand.
Clooney and Damon have a new movie, you could blather on about that and claim you've addressed the war three times!
We're not sure what you're so scared of. Or why, having been silent, you think anyone cares what you think about the voices calling for an end to the occupation?
Are you Shelly Hack in Annie Hall?
"I'm bascially very shallow and have no ideas or thoughts of my own."
Is that it?
How's that working out for you?
As you muddle down the middle of the road, how's that working out for you?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Peace doesn't come about through silence"

It's late, I am sleepy and I've lost this post repeatedly so you probably shouldn't expect a great deal from this entry. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on the day's news (which, I'm sure, will be more coherent than my own). I had some e-mails about trouble viewing this site. C.I., Ava, and Jess said there were e-mails to The Common Ills on my site and Cedric's so apparently Cedric's Big Mix and this site were effected. It had something to do with a server and I won't pretend to understand what the problem was.

"Feingold Criticizes Fellow Dems Bush Measure" (Democracy Now!):
Here in the United States, Senator Russ Feingold has lashed out at fellow Democrats for not supporting his measure to censure President Bush for his warrantless domestic spy program. Feingold has failed to attract any co-sponsors. Appearing on Fox News, Feingold said: "I'm amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president's numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide. … Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004.… [Democrats shouldn't] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists."

Is it a surprise? No, but it's still very sad. Rebecca's furious about this and I understand her fury. Maybe I'm too tired to feel fury today? I just know it's disappointing and not surprising considering the state of the Democratic Party. Too many of our elected officials have been able to get away with silence on the Iraq war. Then there are the ones still cheerleading it. If there's a 'crisis of faith' in the party, religion won't save it. The crisis has to do with an inability on the part of some to speak out and give voice to convictions. In terms of Russ Feingold himself, I think he looks even more presidential than his would be contenders as a result of standing alone. Bully Boy would call it clearing the brush, I'd say it was wiping the floor with the spineless.

"Top US Military Commander: No Evidence of Iran Links" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, the top US military commander said Tuesday there is no evidence Iran is aiding the Iraqi insurgency. At a Pentagon briefing, Gen. Peter Pace, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked if he thought Iran was arming militants or sending weapons to Iraq. Pace replied: "I do not sir." Pace's comments appear to contradict recent statements made by both President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld linking the violence in Iraq to the Iranian government.

So the "link" has no evidence to back up the assertion? We've been here before, haven't we? Bully Boy and his cronies call something a "slam dunk" but they have to fix the facts to make the case. That they still haven't been called out loudly on their lies universally in this country gives them the fantasy that they can pull it off again. I believe Hillary Clinton's on board for this one too, right? Or am I confusing her with Geena Davis' character in Commander-in-Chief?

Brenda e-mailed to ask me what I thought of her "chances." I see the same people propping up her run publicly that propped up Joe Lieberman's in 2004. Wasn't he a sure thing too? Hey, maybe they can do a Clinton-Lieberman ticket and alienate every Democrat in America?

FBI Documents Raise New Questions about Extent of Surveillance" (Jonathan S. Landley, Knight Ridder via Common Dreams):
An FBI counterterrorism unit monitored - and apparently infiltrated - a peace group in Pittsburgh that opposed the invasion of Iraq, according to internal agency documents released on Tuesday.
The disclosure raised new questions about the extent to which federal authorities have been conducting surveillance operations against Americans since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Previous revelations include FBI monitoring of environmental and animal rights organizations, scrutiny of anti-war organizations by a top-secret Pentagon program and eavesdropping by the National Security Agency on domestic communications without court authorization.

"The Ides of March" (Danny Schechter, News Dissector, March 15, 2006):
We have had a great response from readers. More than 100,000 emails have gone out and activists are responding.
We are not expecting to set the world on fire. Some of our fellow media reform groups did not rise to the occasion, insisting more time was needed and that they are busy, busy, busy. So be it. Other groups like CPJ which claim to be protecting journalists won’t be supportive because they are not “partisan” as if demanding investigations of murdered journalists is partisan and means you have to take a stand on the war. (The fact that this Committee is funded by media companies may have something to do with their reluctance to go beyond letter writing to action.) We also invited MoveOn to join us. No response at all!

Okay. Now look, I know people have events planned. But this is the second time MoveOn has ignored personal contact from Media Channel. The first time was early in 2005. We were working on the discussion for the gina & krista round-robin for Thursday so we'll all be running late in posting tonight. (But we wanted to avoid being up late. I can't believe C.I. posted this morning. A half-hour's sleep isn't sleep for me.)

So at the start of 2005, Danny Schechter's film Weapons of Mass Deceptions was in theaters (I hope I'm remembering this right, C.I. covered it when it was going on). It was also due out on DVD. MediaChannel was willing to partner with MoveOn.

MoveOn had, and sorry if this hurts anyone's feelings, MOVEDON from the Iraq war. They dropped the issue. They were on to other things. It took membership to make it an issue again. (They were not the only ones to back off from the war but considering how so many attempted to channel opposition to the war in the lead up to the 2004 elections, I question many of their committments.) So they just ignored the chance to partner.

Now, once again, they have no response? I'm getting really tired of it and tired of MoveOn. I really think they're over and it's because they achieved something in 2004 and have since been trying very hard to be "respectable." That's not what inspired people. You visit the main page today and there's not one word on Iraq.

They're a political action committee, a turn out the vote organization. There's nothing wrong with that. But it's why most people I know ignore their action alerts now. They lost interest after the 2004 elections when MoveOn moved on from the war.

They have no events posted to protest the war on the third anniversary of the invasion. If you visit their "campaigns" page, you'll find Iraq is number seven of their "actions." Write to your Congress member to tell them you want the troops out of Iraq. "If you, like most Americans, want a plan to bring the troops home, then tell your representatives today," it reads. So that's what MoveOn is today. It's asking you to do what most people are already doing. It's not leading.

If this were an issue where someone begged off because they already had their actions planned, that would be one thing. CODEPINK, for instance, had their actions planned months ago and they include a speaking tour of Iraqi women. If they begged off because they had already had their plans in motion, I could understand that. I can't understand failure to participate when all your participation would amount to is yet another mass e-mailing to your "membership." ("Membership" because most people I know, again, ignore those mailings now.)

It's ironic because the Committee to Protect Journalists turns down participation so as not to be "partisan" but, to me, the problem for MoveOn has something to do with the fact that Danny Schechter's not "partisan." He's on the left. But he's not a cheerleader for anyone party.

As for CPJ, that's disgusting as well; however, it's not surprising to me. I'm sick of the silence in my own profession over the participation of doctors in the Bisquits teams used to spotlight, manipulate and utilize weaknesses that they bastardize their medical training to discover.

I'm not saying, "I understand CPJ's position." I think they're disgusting. But within my own field, professional organizations can't speak out either.

I hope and United for Peace & Justice had tremendous success today.
They have an action alert set up so that anyone can take part in it and I'll put that up here again:

"Take Action: Demand Better Iraq War Coverage" (David DeGraw,
Join United For Peace And Justice, and tens of thousands of Americans in calling on U.S. media outlets to do a better job of reporting on the war in Iraq and the anti-war movement protests against it.As the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the nationwide Peace & Justice movement is, for the first time, focusing protests on the Pro-War media slant that has made the war possible.With public opinion shifting from support for the war to calls for immediate withdrawal, the news media has an obligation to reflect on the role it has played in building a pro-war consensus with false and deceptive reporting. Many media organizations have published "mea-culpas" admitting "mistakes" and "flawed reporting," but the problem goes deeper and is ongoing.
The coverage remains one-sided and excludes anti-war voices from citizens and anti-war groups all over the world. We need real journalism, not jingoism.
It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!
Click on the link below to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!
Take Action: Demand Better Coverage

I'll note, as C.I. did, that if you have your own way of contacting your media or would like to go through your own channels, you can. You should, in fact, if you have a connection of some sort. (I know C.I. spoke on the phone to many people because they are friends.) But if you're wanting to participate and not sure how to go about it, use the link above.

Zach e-mailed me directly. He said he knew C.I. was busy and knew I supported United for Peace & Justice so he was hoping I could note an event in his state. From San Diego Indymedia:


1:00 PM
The 3rd Anniversary of the Iraq War
1:00 - 5:00
2:00 - 4:00
The week surrounding March 18th will mark the third anniversary of a war that never should have happened -- a war based on lies that continues to devastate the lives of thousands, both in Iraq and the United States. The San Diego Coalition for Peace & Justice joins our partners in the global antiwar movement in calling for a massive outpouring of opposition to the war in Iraq. We are urging opponents of the war to rally in the park to show outrage for the lies and deception our leaders have inflicted upon the United States and the rest of the world. The North County Coalition for Peace & Justice will be organizing a "Peace Train" on the Coaster that will arrive at the Santa Fe train station at 1:00.
People are encouraged to meet them and march to the park.
Please check the NCCP&J website, , for more information.
More info:

Find an activity you know of and I'll highlight it Friday. (I'm off tomorrow.) This weekend, it is important that you make your voice heard. C.I. said it best this morning in "NYT: They're calling the current situation in Iraq 'strife'."

"Peace Quote" (from me):
Peace doesn't come about through silence.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"For sometimes when I am feeling as big as the land with the velvet hill in the small of my back"

First off, both Mike and I have added Law and Disorder to our links. For a number of reasons, including that we both feel like too much is left for C.I. to do, we're trying to increase our own efforts at raising awareness. If you're not familiar with Law and Disorder, I hope you'll make a point to check it out. I know Rachel, Micah and Jonah read my stuff and they are already listen to Law and Disorder via WBAI in New York. If you're not familiar with it, it's a one hour weekly show that brings together four attornies to discuss current events. Ruth loves the show and maybe that will encourage you to check it out? Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on today's news.

Bush Vows to Turn Over Most of Iraq to Iraqi Troops By Year's End (Democracy Now!):
On Monday, President Bush vowed for the first time to turn over most of Iraq to newly trained Iraqi troops by the end of this year. It is unclear how this will happen. Just last month the Pentagon admitted there are no longer any Iraqi battalions capable of fighting without U.S. support.

As Bully Boy attempts to be the new Nixon of the millenium, he even apes the "I've got a peace plan" lies of Tricky Dick. Like Nixon, he will leave office in disgrace. John Dean's book Worse Than Watergate maintained sometime ago that Bully Boy was worse than Nixon and that was based only on the first three years of his administration. Now that we know about the warrantless spying on Americans, Dean could probably write a sequel though I have no idea what he'd call it. 10 Times Worse Than Watergate?

This weekend, what will you be doing to mark the third anniversary of the start of the illegal war? Some people are already doing things. Lloyd noted one such event to C.I. and with Lloyd and C.I.'s permission, I'll note it here.

"Love the solider, hate the war" (Tim Wagner, The Beacon News):
BATAVIA -- A row of black, tattered boots line a portion of Wilson Street, running parallel with makeshift coffins -- each draped with an American Flag -- across the way. Located diagonally from the boots is a display of civilian shoes.
Collectively, they represent the casualties of the war in Iraq:
• 91 pairs of boots for the number of Illinois troops killed.
• 23 coffins -- one for every 100 American soldiers killed.
• And hundreds of shoes, each tagged with specific names -- from small children to senior citizens -- collected to show support of all the Iraqi citizens who have lost their lives during the war.
The Anti-War Majority, a coalition of more than 20 community, peace, faith and labor groups from northern Illinois, is holding a week-long vigil in downtown Batavia to mark the third anniversary of the war in Iraq.
"The whole thing we're doing out here," said Dave Martin of the Anti-War Majority, "is trying to memorialize those who've died."
Beth Johnson, of Batavia, braved Monday afternoon's cold, gale-force winds and stood post on the corner of Wilson and River streets where she hung on to a giant, wooden sign that read: "We mourn the dead .... we call for peace."

91 lost from one state. If you're wondering the physical cost for your state, you can click here.
Bully Boy's adopted state of Texas has lost 206.

New Poll: 36% Approve Bush; 60% Say War is Going Badly (Democracy Now!):
Bush made the announcement during a speech that launched a new public relations campaign to win greater support for the war in Iraq and his presidency. The latest USA Today/CNN poll shows the president's approval rating is at just 36 percent. And 60 percent of the country says the war in Iraq is going badly.

He's not going to win greater support. If I steal from you and you don't know it, you may think we're good friends. Once you find out that I've tricked you, I might not ever win back your trust. If I were to win it back, it would be through honesty and hard work. Bully Boy's incapable of either. He is our vacation warrior. I don't think we even bother to count his vacations at this point. Maybe we're just all breathing a sigh of relief that he hasn't shot anyone the way Cheney did? Or maybe we've accepted how useless he is and just want to mark time until he's out of office?

We don't have that luxury. People are dying in his illegal war so we need to really be motivated this weekend and use our voices like never before. I hope you'll take part in rallies or protests this weekend but, if that's not a possibility for you, I hope you'll start your own speak out. Throw a party Saturday night to speak out. Talk about the war to your friends. Make this story of our lives and Iraqi lives the kind of topic that the corporate news should be making it. (See "The war coverage (and lack of it)" if you're not aware of how bad a job the corporate news is doing and how important it is that we carry our weight and then some.)

Brenda had noted an event to C.I. and she knew that I am a strong supporter of United for Peace & Justice so she let C.I. pass it on to me. Mike and I are both going to be doing that because C.I. can't note everything at The Common Ills. There's not enough time and there's not enough space. So thank you to Brenda.

"Legislative Action: Keep the Pressure On" (United for Peace & Justice):
Take Action!
Unless Congress votes to end the war, the fourth year of fighting will begin on March 19. The costs so far ...
over 28,000 Iraqi civilian lives (and some estimates are as high as 100,000 lives)
over 2,300 U.S. military lives
over 4,000 Iraqi police and military deaths
over 16,500 U.S. troops wounded in combat
$251 billion spent to date
$1.3 trillion estimated long-term bill
Call your Representative and Senators at 888-355-3588 today, and tell them: Not one penny more for war!
If your members of Congress haven't signed on to any legislation against the war, you need to have a serious conversation with them.
Give them a call: Call Congress at 202-224-3121.
Pay them a visit: Members of Congress are not in Washington all the time; call your Representative and Senators' local office to find out when they are home, and when you can meet with them.
Join our campaign to keep the pressure on Congress -- receive updates, legislative alerts and invitations to particpate in monthly conference calls and briefings.

Register now to become a member of UFPJ's Legislative Action Network.
Click here to find out who your Representative and Senators are, or to get local contact information.
Legislation to Stop the War:
In the Senate, there is one lone bill:
S.Res.171, introduced by Russ Feingold (D-WI), only one co-sponsor: Sen. Barbara Boxer

Calls on the President to submit a report to Congress within 30 days describing the remaining mission of the Armed Forces in Iraq, a current estimate of the timeframe required to accomplish that mission, and a timeframe for the subsequent withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
In the House of Representatives, a few courageous members of Congress have introduced legislation to end the war. UFPJ has endorsed the following legislation:
H.R. 4232 -- End the War in Iraq Act of 2005, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)Cuts off all funding for U.S. military action in Iraq, but would allow spending on reconstruction. This is the strongest piece of legislation against the war.
Current list of co-sponsors.
H.J.Res. 73 -- Re-Deploy U.S. Forces from Iraq, introduced by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)Calls for the immediate end to the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq and declares that the U.S. shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy. Calls for an "over the horizon" presence of the marines in the region.
Current list of co-sponsors.
H.Res. 543 -- Withdrawal of United States Armed Forces From Iraq, introduced by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)This is a discharge petition for H.J.Res. 55. If 218 members sign the discharge petition, the bill will be brought to the floor for debate and a vote. H.J. Res. 55, also known as the "Homeward Bound" bill, calls for the President to announce a plan for the withdrawal of all United States Armed Forces from Iraq, and to begin withdrawal by October 1, 2006. Signing the petition does not mean that the member of Congress supports H.J.Res 55, only that they agree to allow it to come up for debate and a vote. This may be our best chance to have a full debate about the Iraq War on the floor of the House.
Current list of petition signers.
Additional Legislation:
H.Con.Res. 197 -- No Permanent Bases in Iraq, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)Prohibits the U.S. from entering into any military base agreement with Iraq that would lead to a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Current list of co-sponsors.
H.R. 551 -- Student Privacy Protection Act of 2005, Rep. Honda (D-CA)HR551 makes a simple change to the No Child Left Behind Act, forbidding schools from sharing student contact information with military recruiters unless parents request that information be shared. Currently, the military has access to student information unless families sign a form requesting that information not be released.
Current list of co-sponsors.
Join UFPJ's Legislative Action Network"People are dying while Congress dithers." --a member of UFPJ's Legislative Action Network on a recent conference call.
We are fed up with Congress and are mounting a campaign of continuous pressure to force Congress to act against this immoral war. You can be a part of this campaign! Join UFPJ's fast-growing network of member groups and activists engaged in legislative action.
Register now to be a part of our Legislative Action Network. You will be joining with others in your congressional district and state to keep constant pressure on legislators until they bring this war to an end.
Questions about legislation, Congress or our Legislative Action Network? Contact Sue Udry, UFPJ Legislative Coordinator: 301-565-4050 x315 or
Iraq Scorecard: Find out how your Representative has voted, and what legislation they have co-sponsored (Excel File)
Grassroots Lobbying Materials (in MS Word Format)
What we're asking the House to doWhat we're asking the Senate to doCosponsor list for key legislationTactics to Use With Pro-War LegislatorsTactics to Use in Pro-Peace Districts
Talking points: Why we should get out of IraqTalking Points on H.R.4232 - End the War in Iraq ActRep. John Murtha (D-PA) Statement on Iraq WarSenators Demand Answers on Iraq from Bush (PDF File)
UFPJ Legislative Alerts and Updates
Minutes from Meetings and Conference Calls (in MS Word Format)
Legislative Action Network Conference Call, 12/19/05Legislative Action Network Conference Call, 2/6/06
Congressional CalendarAs you can see from this calendar, members of Congress will be spending a good deal of time in their home offices this spring and summer. This is a great opportunity for you to pressure them: Ask for meetings, hold vigils or protests at their offices, demand answers about Iraq at public meetings they attend. (Members of Congress are also in their districts most weekends from Thursday night or Friday morning until Monday night or Tuesday morning.)
Scheduled "in-district work periods" for House and Senate:
February 20-24--Presidents Day Recess

March 17-24--St. Patrick's Day Recess: ** 3rd anniversary of start of war ***
April 10-21--Easter Recess
May 29-June 2--Memorial Day Recess
July 3-7--July 4th Recess
August 7-September 4--August Recess
October 6--Target Adjournment

Still reading? I hope so. Susan e-mailed wondering if I could put up what I'm listening to these days?

Right now in my stereo, I'm listening to James Blunt's Back to Bedlahm and Judy Collins' Wildflowers just went off. I think the next disc is going to be Melanie's Beautiful People: The Greatest Hits of Melanie.

"Peace Will Come" (words and music by Melanie)
For sometimes when I am feeling as big as the land
With the velvet hill in the small of my back
And my hands are playing the sand
And my feet are swimming in all of the waters
All of the rivers are givers to the ocean
According to plan, according to man
Well sometimes when I am feeling so grand
And I become the world
And the world becomes a man
And my song becomes a part of the river
I cry out to keep me just the way I am
According to plan
According to man, according to plan
According to man, according to plan
Oh there's a chance peace will come
In your life, please buy one
Oh there's a chance peace will come
In your life, please buy one

Monday, March 13, 2006

"We cannot expect government to ... eliminate war because it generates large ... revenue"

Quite a weekend. Sunday Russ Feingold stated on ABC's This Week that he was going to call for a censure of Bully Boy. And the reaction? Harry Reid is, as usual, not sure what to do. No doubt the DNC is emergency polling on this as we speak to figure out what to do. Joe Lieberman's already stabbed Feingold in the back. But what week doesn't start out with Lieberman stabbing some Democrat in the back? So where are we? In the same place we were when John Murtha spoke out against the war and everyone acted like the check had just been left on the table. It's disgusting. Regardless of the outcome of the 2006 elections, Harry Reid needs to make this his last year as the Dem leader in the Senate. He's done a hideous job.

"Latino War Resisters Begin 241-Mile March For Peace" (Democracy Now!):
And Iraqi war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Aidan Delgado as well as Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq, have begun a 241-mile march for peace from Tijuana, Mexico to San Francisco. The march is inspired by Gandhi's 1930 Salt March protesting British imperialism. Historian Howard Zinn said, "This is one of the most significant actions taken yet to dramatize the movement against the war -- especially because it calls attention to the Latino population, the loss of Latino life in the war, and the unrecognized Latino opposition to the war."

Two weeks ago, C.S. Soong interviewed Aidan Delgado on KPFA's Against the Grain. Ruth and I both wrote about. Ruth noted that the issue of Latinos speaking out was noted. Delgado's opinion was that one reason Latino vetrans were so willing to speak out against the war was that because the background is one where there may be more awareness of US imperialism.

If it's that factor or another (or a series of factors), the actions of Delgado, Pablo Paredes and Camilo Mejia deserve noting.

"Elite UK Soldier Refuses to Fight w/ U.S. in Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
In Britain, an elite SAS soldier is refusing to return to fight in Iraq in what he describes as a morally wrong war of aggression. The soldier, Ben Griffin, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. Griffin said he refused to fight alongside U.S. troops because they viewed Iraqis as "untermenschen" -- the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. He also accused U.S. troops of committing "dozens of illegal acts" in Iraq.

Also worth noting is Ben Griffin. You'd think this would be a front page story in newspapers; however, our media had other things to discuss. If you read C.I. this morning, you know that the New York Times went with "Dash to Baghdad Left Top U.S. Generals Divided." Well the generals had their say before the invasion and they've had it during the invasion. Why would the press not still focus on them at this point? C.I. called the article "military porn" and I'll second that. Three years after the invasion and I'm not seeing a great deal of change in the way the media covers Iraq.

C.I. wrote about an e-mail that came in on the entry where someone was defending the article. Apparently someone found it 'new' and 'brave.' Which means he or she must have just landed on the planet. There's nothing new about the story nor anything brave in once again giving generals the mircorphone. There are entire stories, entire aspects, never covered by our brave corporate press. Ben Griffin isn't big news. Watering the dead fern is.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take on today's news. He may be in better spirits than I am.

Reality Check (Kevin Benderman, March 8th letter, Kevin Benderman Defense Committee.):
We cannot expect government to do what is necessary to eliminate war because it generates large amounts of revenue for government. Governments and businesses are able to make record profits from war while the average citizen fighting in any given war cannot get proper treatment for their wounds or the mental and emotional anguish suffered as a result of their participation in war. How is this honorable? I do not see how or why we continue to buy this bill of goods from governments and businesses that portray war as an honorable endeavor. I have heard those who argue for war being considered socially conservative. I have heard those who feel that war is stupid and a waste of lives, natural resources and human spirit, being referred to as radical extremists. If I understand this correctly, if you want to put a stop to war, save the lives of young people, stop spending billions of dollars on death and destruction, pursue research and development on cures for disease or development of efficient energy production and use, then you are an out of control liberal/radical who must be stopped at all cost. On the other hand, if you want to spread your version of democracy through the use of force that kills our brightest young people, waste billions on death and destruction, cost us greatly in terms of international relations, leave thousands of veterans sitting in wheelchairs, physically disabled or suffering mental anguish without proper treatment available to them, then you are a great American who deserves applause, awards and our undying gratitude.