Archive for September, 2007

WHO IS REALLY SUPPORTING THE TROOPS?

September 22, 2007

1.jpg Ward (on the left) and a friend

War Supporters “Spit” on Iraq War Vets in D.C.
By Ward Reilly…September 16, 2007

Fifty Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, members of “Iraq Veterans Against the War”, led 100,000 other American citizens in a huge demonstration and march in Washington D.C. on Sept. 15. They were exercising the Rights that they thought they had just earned on the battlefields. Behind them, thousands of other military veterans, including many members of VVAW and VFP followed.

IVAW marched as in a military company, in formation, with a 7 man honor guard front and center, all in their military uniforms. They carried the U.S. flag, as did many of the vets and citizens, in the position of “distress”.

ALL of them were called “cowards”, “traitors” or “disgraces”. .. there were hundreds of “fuck you’s” screamed at them, and there were even screams of “we’ll kill YOU later” coming from the pathetic group of 1000 pro war citizens that formed a thin line in a few small areas along the route of the march, and the pro war group ALL claimed that they “supported the troops”.

Does any else see the extreme irony here?

This “proud” group of fanatics even took the time to stomp on the father of an Iraq war KIA, as he was walking back to his car after the march had ended. They kicked him a dozen times when he was down on the ground, and shredded the picture of his son that he carries on top of the coffin that he was pulling. I guess the “Eagles” support “Gold Star” family’s too. And not a cop in site. The police were all waiting for us at the Capitol I guess, protecting an empty building against the petition to end the war that was signed by about 1,000,000 people, that we wanted to leave there.

Apparently “spitting on the troops”, as it were, equates to “supporting the troops”, at least if you are a so-called “Gathering Of Eagles” or “Move America Forward” member, which are pro-neocon, pro-war groups. This gang is given support by the national media, in the form of Michele Malkin and Rush Limbaugh, among others… 2 more military experts that blindly suck Dick Cheney’s ass. Two more war freaks that never served a second in the military.

The “Eagles” even had bright red arm bands, just like the nazis used to wear, except with black eagles instead of swastikas. I swear.

The Cheney and Bush fan club.

They are more like the “Gathering Of Vultures”, if you ask me. They support the genocidal slaughter of innocent people. They support killing kids and torturing innocent humans. They support the sending of our children into an unjust occupation, where they are hated for being occupiers, so their minds will be screwed forever. You know, troop and flag support. But the troops know the truth.

This is one group of eagles that is fortunately on the endangered list, and becoming extinct soon.

In that there were 1000 of them, vs 100,000 anti war attendees at the march, you can get a true representation of the percentage of the nation that still supports having troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. 99% against the occupation, and 1% for the occupation. The majority rules here, right?

I love it when these folks show up to scream and hate. I’m from south Louisiana, and they give any protest march sort-of a Mardi Gras feel. Anti Mardi Gras that is. I felt like throwing them something… doubloons, beads, or maybe my old military medals or awards. I want to tell them “thanks for your support”, you know?

Can you even imagine standing on the side of the road for 5 hours so that you can scream “fuck you traitors” to a bunch of military veterans as they walk by? How sick is that? All that troop support is going to give those eagles a heart attack someday, and it can’t be soon enough.

What they have done by spitting on the troops, especially by hating the Iraq and Afghan vets, is simply traitorous. Just like their heroes are. And the way that they conduct themselves represents the Bush administrations policies perfectly.

Thanks for showing up, Eagles, the anti war movement needs your type of “support” to stop the wars. Keep it up, FOX is watching you. And you taught these newly returned vets, and thousands of our new radical youth, who really spits on the troops, and who really supports the troops.

Peace Out.

To see a video of the “Gathering Of Eagles” members “supporting our troops”, or if you have any doubts about the claims in this article, go to:

http://www.youtube

Advertisements

Paula In Washington, The BIG March

September 16, 2007

9-16-07

Yesterday, 9-15-07, was a big march to end the war, organized by ANSWER, culminating in the “die in.” It was a beautiful day: not humid, 70s, sunny, blue sky. I keep being struck by the beauty of the huge, historic buildings here.

Code Pink had organized a Convocation of Women for 10:30a.m. at Freedom Park, near the Whitehouse. All those planning on marching with Code Pink were to gather there and all other women’s groups and allies were welcome.

betsy_wconvo2-_200pix.jpg

They had a huge podium with a wonderful PA system. I had gone to a Starbucks to get tea and use the bathroom and when I came out could hear Betsy’s voice singing clear as anything from a block away. There was singing and speeches and general revving up of the troops. People came in all manner of bright pink-T shirts, tights, feather boas, glitter. And they had huge pink banners. So the group is very visually obvious in the main march; and I think having a name and color as a logo turns out to have been brilliant-because everyone sees and recognizes the group. I bought and wore a hot pink T shirt saying “Gandhi is my Homeboy-Code Pink Women for Peace.”

The Code Pinkers then marched up to Lafayette Park where the whole march was assembling. Thousands upon thousands were assembled. There was a big podium and PA (working badly for the #s) and endless speeches that I couldn’t hear even though I was close up. Code Pink got about 3 minutes at the podium, so they massed a bunch of people in pink with pink banners and said a few words. The speeches were endless (each organization got a few minutes) and I couldn’t hear them. No music. Betsy quipped to me: The left still doesn’t get it that the right ratio of music to talking is about 60/40.

Then we all assembled to march but it took about 40 minutes before we were moving, so Betsy led a lot of singing for our Code Pink delegation (maybe about 200) and other people close by while we were just standing there, which was good because otherwise people get restless and out of sorts. Another Code Pinker held a microphone in front of her mouth (she was wearing her guitar) and it worked if enough people joined in, so simple songs that lots of people know were good.

answerwebphoto-jpg_200p.jpg

Finally we started marching toward the Capitol building. How many people marched? Darned if I know. The parade permit was taken out for 10,000, the NYT says “a few thousand” (trust me: that is under but I can’t just crowds), the organizing (ANSWER) group’s website says 100,000 (I doubt that). I was hearing people guess in ranges from 20K-60K. I have no idea, although there were blocks and blocks and blocks of people filling the street. When we got to the capitol, pretty much the whole grassy area wasm filled.

During the march itself, we did some singing. I was carrying water and softpack guitar case for Betsy. It was hard for her to sing and play guitar while walking, and for another person to handhold the mike in front of her, while carring the bullhorn that amplified on her shoulder.

There were groups in support of our mission in Iraq assembled on the side of the street, but only in one small say 2 block section (and later they assembled in one location at the Capitol). They had lots of American flags.Some had nasty signs. Others had straight-forward ones like “I Support the troops, the president, our mission.” I think the NYT estimate that there were 1,000 of them might be about accurate. Among Code Pinkers and people in our section, people chose some good chants as we were going by them that I thought were non-provocative: Support the Troops-Bring them Home. But my personal favorite chant was:

Tell me what democracy looks like-
THIS is what democracy looks like.

Seemed rather appropriate as two sides of an issue were both standing with signs.
What kind of people in the crowd? All kinds.

P_B_hungerstrikers_lieber_200p.jpg

A high proportion from out of town (some staying in my hotel, because it is close and pretty reasonable.) Mostly white but there were lots of blacks it appeared in the organizing group, and I’d say the crowd was maybe 10% black. Baby boomers do predominate, I’d say. (In contrast, an antiViet Nam war march would have been 80% 18-25ers.) But there were 18-25ers there. A group from University of Maryland chanting “Hell no, we won’t go!” This was, of course, a chant used in the Viet Nam war among college students who, unlike today’s students, were at risk of being drafted after their deferments ran out at the end of college, and the kids who didn’t go to college were drafted out of high school. That undoubtedly has lots to do with the relative silence of college students. But I also think it is what social scientists call a cohort effect; the 60s generation is different and we remain skeptical of authority etc.; the generation after us is less idealistic. Sad. But those who were there got lots of support from the boomers. One prominent group, mostly young, was Iraq Veterans Against the War, mostly young. I saw Ann Wright, the retired Army Colonel who resigned from the State Department in protest over the war and civil liberties abuses; she is now a full-time activist, and works with Code Pink, but didn’t march with us. She had her U.S. Army Retired cap on. Perhaps she wanted to march with the vets.
At the end of the march, on the grass in front of the Capitol building, the plan was for those who had decided they were willing to get arrested to “die in” by going up to some location right by the steps to the capitol where the police had drawn the line of where people could come, going over that line, lying down, and then getting up and peaceably going off to be arrested. Significantly, many of those deciding to get arrested were young, and many of those from Iraq Vets against the War. At the Capitol, there was no podium, no central anouncements, but some “marshals of the march,” I might term them, would come through the crowd. They suggested that, to show support for the people getting arrested, those supportive but not up for risking arrest should lie down on the grass. A compelling suggestion anyhow since we had just walked for over 2 hours.

diein_200-pjpg.jpg

Later people got up again to try to see, but only a small fraction could get close enough to see the arrests. I hear that at one point the police used a little tear gas when some folks got a little rowdy. We did some singing there. And soon we left, exhausted but in good spirits. We had arrived at the Convocation by 10:30 and it was almost 5:00.

Last night Code Pink had a party to celebrate in a community center. Donation asked at the door, selling T shirts, selling simple food and drinks, rock music, dancing, talking. They invited anyone at the rally; probably 200 came. I enjoyed dancing-no partner required. Later, some of us went outside on the sidewalk and pulled out chairs and did some singing with Betsy and a wonderful young man drummer. We came home about 11:30 tired but happy. Betsy stayed at the hotel with me last night (some nights she has stayed in the Code Pink house which is pretty noisy and crowded). One treat of having Betsy stay at the hotel the last two nights is that we have meditated together in the morning. A Unitarian Church here, All Soul’s, was having a peace service this morning, it was announced at the party, and Betsy decided to go, but I stayed behind.

I’m writing this Sunday, 9-16, but have no protest activities planned for the day. I come home Monday. Betsy may get up a group of people to sing in the Rayburn building atrium (house Rep’s offices are there) Monday, and I’ll do it if the timing works. Another beautiful day out. I must take a walk.

Paula

Paula Reports from Washingtion, Part II

September 14, 2007

small-Paula,Betsy-friend.jpg

Brenda, Betsy, and Paula

9-14-07
Today I met Betsy and another woman from the Bay Area, Brenda, a poet and college teacher, to visit Congressional offices. Brenda has worked with Code Pink too. She has made three or four trips at her own expense to lobby Congress about the war. I was so impressed by how together she was on how to do this. She got names of lots of military sub-committee chairs, looked up each person’s positions, and wrote a letter to each. We showed up without appointment (and in many cases weren’t constituents), and asked if any staffer could see us to tell us about how if at all the Rep’s view had changed after the Petreus testimony. To my surprise, usually someone came out to talk to us and although they didn’t invite us into an office to sit down, we often had a 5-10 minute conversation. We saw about 6. Disturbing to me, these staffers were all male but one. They were usually young (25-30) and articulate. We were very polite, told them our views, asked questions, and learned a lot. It was quite satisfying. We got a dispersion of views. Most democrats claim to want to end the war, but most are also, in the final analysis, voting for the supplemental funding bills without time limits. Brenda had also adopted the strategy of always leaving her envelope (addressed to the Rep) unsealed and inviting the staffer or admin person to read it before passing it on. (After all, these staffers have power, and the more people see it, the better.)

In the Sam Rayburn building, right opposite the entrance is a sunny atrium with a status of Rayburn. The acoustics looked great, so as we were leaving, Betsy and I sang, acapella “Peace, Shalom, Salaam.” We decided if the guards came and told us we couldn’t do that, we’d leave. Actually, they paid no attention. The acoustics were beautiful. We harmonized. We may bring a group back Monday to sing there.

In the afternoon, I want to a celebration that the Code Pink and other groups had planned at the Justice Department. Recall that Alberto Gonzales resigned a month or so ago. Well, today was his last day. So they showed up in pink with doughnuts with flags in them, champagne glasses and Sprite to toast, party horns etc to celebrate. People carried little copies of the Constitution. Maybe 30 people came. They hoped to see him leave, but no sign of him. Again Betsy led some songs. I so much more like the tone the demonstrations take when people are singing and swaying together with positive messages than shouting accusations. My main role was to hold the mike in front of Betsy’s mouth (and sing along). One of the guards kept not being able to help smiling at us. Many people honked in support. I was interviewed by an NPR reporter named Ari Shapiro about why I was there.

Betsy said that last night, after I left the White House demonstration, she was interviewed by an American guy who got disgusted with corporate media and now is a photographer for Al Jazeera. She also said that 3 young people about 20 there had walked across the country to protest the war, and this was the culmination, and they wanted to get arrested and thought they could do it by camping in the park across from the White House. The old hands told them the cops would ignore them, so if they wanted to be arrested they should attempt to cross the tape they had put up to keep up off the sidewalk in front of the white house. So they approached it, and the remaining protesters followed and the police came in and things were getting a bit tense. Betsy started singing (I can’t remember what) and people joined in and everthing relaxed. And the police removed the tape. She isn’t sure if it was a good will gesture, or if their permit expired at 10:00. Betsy had wanted to go and talk to a cop and express that she didn’t see him as the enemy. She did and they were both chatting and he asked “Do those kids want to get arrested?” She said yes and basically he worked out that they did and the group cheered as they were taken off.

I’m in the lobby of my hotel writing this and two people here from a peace group in Texas for tomorrow’s march are also in the lobby (I struck up a conversation based on their t-shirts).

I’m exhausted and going to bed. — Paula

Paula Reports from Washington, Part I

September 14, 2007

9-13-07
I came to DC this week to protest the war in Iraq. Several weeks ago, BetsyRose, a singer/Buddhist/feminist/activist friend of mine, circulated an e-mail saying that she had started working with Code Pink, and that she was coming in part to bring the healing and energy of song to the protesters. I felt moved to come with her, both because of my frustration that Congress isn’t ending the war, and also because I love singing with her and had this idea that song can help keep us open hearted rather than demonizing-the-enemy while working for peace.

This morning I went to the house Code Pink has rented in DC for the year, where activists can come for a week or months at a time to work. Betsy is staying there (I’m in a nearby hotel. It is just blocks from the Capitol. I met “Ann,” a sensible-seeming woman about my age and only later realized that this was the Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright that Nancy Van Ness had met at Camp Casey in Crawford. She was in the army for over 25 years and then in the state department, and resigned in protest over the war in Iraq.

ann2.jpg Ann Wright
The spirit at the house is very friendly, with about a dozen women staying there and planning demonstrations. Most seem to be baby boomers but some are younger.

I had made an appointment with the staffer to my House Rep. Anna Eshoo, who voted against the war and the surge. The staffer was an earnest young man about 25. I told him I was there because I feel we should get out at a much faster pace than Bush is proposing (actually he has NO timetable), and that, while I take the point that there may be a bloodbath when we leave, I don’t see that that will be different in two years, except that more will have died, and the costs in lives, money, and world opinion are enormous. Since I know Eshoo agrees with this, I asked him what he thinks the right strategy is. He said the democrats are in a tough place because without getting a number of Republicans to join them, they just don’t have the votes.

I’ve been telling ordinary people I meet, in the subway, cab drivers, that I’m here to protest the war. My two African cab drivers enthusiastically agreed. One lectured me on how George Washington warned against invading other countries unless they attack us. The other knew of Code Pink and chuckled admiringly. The strategy of a distinctive name like Code Pink and members wearing lots of pink has really worked. A black woman of 68 that I sat on the subway with was coming home from her second job of the day at 10 p.m. Her deceased husband was in Viet Nam. She’s against this war, and commented (it seemed she was referring to the black community) that she especially didn’t like it because all “the good men” trying to “make something of themselves” are the ones in the military, and they’re dying or becoming disabled while the “thugs and gangsters” are the ones left back at home.

Tonight Code Pink and some others planned a demonstration right in front of the White House starting an hour before Bush’s speech. (As I write this, I don’t know what he said, although we of course knew in advance roughly his proposal.) About 50 people showed up. The Code Pink people are quite theatrical. One of them had a HUGE head that looks like Bush on as a mask and wore prison stripes.

bushhead200.jpg

Others take out police tape and wear badges and blow whistles and shout things like “Arrest this war criminal.” The Park Police or White House police (I’m not sure which) would not let us demonstrate on the sidewalk in front of the White House. Someone announced (various people had bullhorns with mikes) that the Park Police, who give OUT parade permits, had themselves taken out a demonstration permit for the sidewalk to keep us off it, which some thought was a big bogus on the Civil Liberties front. As a practical matter, it didn’t matter much because we were in the street right beyond the sidewalk, which is like a mall with no cars on it.

Some young people came with drums. Betsy had her guitar and she and I started singing songs that we thought people would know and sometimes someone put a mike in front of her and others joined us singing and the drummers were with us. Only simple, loud songs that lots of people knew or one could pick up instantly worked. We did “Down by the riverside (ain’t gonna study war no more.)”, some wonderful South African protest song I had never heard but picked up easily, a nice one that goes “Peace, Shalom, Salaam,” and a few more I can’t remember. The music does change the spirit of it; you can feel it. At least so it seemed to me.

Now I must sleep. More tomorrow. ———Paula

Good Source of News

September 5, 2007

Why do I have to read in the Agence France Presse and not the New York Times that the ACLU is suing the service branches for information about civilian deaths in Iraq?  Since the coup that installed this regime, the US media have been wittingly or unwittingly cooperating with the regime to keep us in the dark at best and deceived at worst.

The Women’s International Perspective’s online journal is a new source of news and comment that I find very refreshing in this climate.  The editors do not fear controversial issues and are invested in bringing truth to light.

The feature article today addresses Darfur and Iraq.  It dares to look at both of those issues together and places them in an international context.  Again and again, articles from around the world engage readers in the thorny issues and controversies that the US media decline to address.  The link below takes you to the W.I.P. journal.

http://thewip.net/

WORK NOT WAR

September 3, 2007

laborday07.jpg