Archive for January, 2008

Here I Stand

January 12, 2008

The situation I see:

A number of people are surprised at how little I am interested in the current presidential campaign given my history of activism. “Which candidate do you support?” they ask me. When I reply that I am not supporting any of the major candidates, they think that means I won’t vote. When I say that I always vote and will this time, too, they rush to tell me that if I don’t vote for the Democratic candidate, I will be part of the disaster that another Republican administration will surely be.

I have been saying it here for two years. I say it again. We have had a coup in this country. We do not have a legitimate government. The rest of the world sees us, justifiably, as a rogue state that has invaded an innocent country which it now occupies, killing people, destroying their land and ravishing their resources. The US tortures people in sites known and not known in violation of its own and international law, showing complete disrespect for human life. Our courts today just declared some of the prisoners held in US torture camps not “persons.” Click on link below to see the report.

Appeals Court Decision:
Guantanamo Detainees Not “Persons”

The Bush regime has, with the consent of Congress, vitiated our Constitution and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. My priority right now is to hold this regime accountable for those crimes in an effort not to be culpable myself. It is not enough for me to say I didn’t vote for them. It is not enough for me to say I didn’t know, as the “good Germans” did. No, I didn’t vote for them, but I do know and I want to be able to prove to myself and my grandchildren and great grandchildren who may one day want to know that I did more than lament the sad state of things. I must take actions.

The person I will vote for will make it clear that she or he will end the occupation of Iraq, bring home all personnel immediately, and pay reparations to the Iraqi people. He or she will repudiate the practice of hiring mercenaries and cease paying them immediately. He or she will admit the torture done by this government and assure that the US abides by its own and international laws against torture and disrespect for prisoners. He or she will make it clear to us and the rest of the world that is so. No more secrets. Invite UN inspection and let us and the world see.

The person I vote for will acknowledge the damage done to our rights and freedoms by the USA Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and numerous executive orders under the illegitimate Bush regime. She or he will immediately rescind the executive orders and work with the Congress to repeal those two acts. She will abolish the department of Home Land Security. If it is possible to convert the detention centers built on US soil, he will see that is done and if not, he will destroy them. New Orleans will be rebuilt with massive input from the people who live or used to live there. He or she will also work to dismantle the entire Bush regime agenda of enriching the already rich at the expense of the rest of us.

Dennis Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate with an agenda anything like that. No doubt that is why he is virtually invisible in this campaign. I will likely vote for him in the primary. My experience in the past is that there will be third party candidates who run on platforms like the one I outlined. One of them will likely get my vote in the general election.

I did not camp in the 115 degree heat in Crawford, Texas, stand on Union Square more than once in the cold rain helping hold a huge No More Torture sign, kneel on the sidewalk in December in an orange jumpsuit and black hood in front of Macy’s with shoppers on one side and the NYPD on the other, be hassled by private “security” goons and risk arrest at Rockefeller Center, etc. etc. etc. to vote now for a candidate who does not give evidence she or he will do what I have fought for.

All the current members of Congress running for president except Kucinich (and Republican Ron Paul, whom I do not support for other reasons) vote time and again to fund the continuing occupation of Iraq. If they are opposed to that occupation, they have had opportunities to stand against it. They did not. I believe what they do, not what they say.

Those same people have had the opportunity to fulfill their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but they did not fight for our rights. Some actually voted against the Military Commissions Act, but did they fight against it? Did they filibuster? Did they close down the chambers? No. They not only did not fight the egregious USA Patriot Act but they did not work to let it expire in 2005, when, unfortunately, it was reauthorized.

I have said since the installation of the Bush regime that if the Democrats in the Congress had voted against the regime’s agenda every time, they would have lost the vote most of the time, but there would have been a visible opposition and this country would look very different today.

I have no evidence that such people will change.

I have the courage of my convictions. If you want to click on the Pages to the right of this blog page, you will see again why this blog exists. I will only vote for someone who has the courage of hers or his. I will vote for someone who has shown with their actions that they will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and not break its laws.

If I do not now vote the way reason says I should, when shall I? I know people who quote things like “If I keep doing what I did, I will keep getting what I got.” And “Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity.” For me, voting for people who do not do what they say again would get me what I got that I don’t like and would be insane.

What I do about the current media lock down:

Some people who are swayed by certain candidates saying they will end the war (without saying when or how) or restore the Constitution (again with no specifics) are startled to find that these people have voted for the war and the laws that undermine our Constitution.

The reason people are not aware of that is because of the failure of the media in this country. Since the days of Watergate, the “Main Stream Media” (MSM) have been acquired by large corporations, driven by profit. The quality of news coverage has declined beyond recognition. Some media corporations just lie. Others, even the NY Times for example, have lost independence. America’s once very good, though still young, public radio and television are censored by the illegitimate Bush regime and have suffered during its existence as well. If you noticed, Bill Moyers was driven off the air for a while, though the change in the political climate and the revelations of illegal political shenanigans in public broadcasting did mean he has come back.

The voting records of members of Congress are matters of public record, at least in counted votes. Few of us take time to read the Congressional Record, but it is worth doing now and again. I found there, for example, the lone member of the House of Representatives who spoke out against a law that names animals rights activists “terrorists “and thus subject to the horrors of imprisonment without being charged, torture, etc. that we practice in this country and that the Military Commissions Act have made “legal.” The only member of the House who said this should never be passed was Dennis Kucinich.

Though the MSM are not reliable sources of information, there are alternatives. In the right hand margin of this blog is a blogroll with a number of good sources of information: TruthOut, The Women’s International Perspective, Democracy Now, Information Clearing House, and to a lesser extend HuffingtonPost. Those are linked so that you can go directly to those sites. I read them daily. I also read news from other countries to get a different perspective. The articles linked on these sites have led me to others. There is a wealth of alternative news from respected journalists who either can’t get their work published on MSM or choose not to do so, journalists with high standards, respected here and abroad. The McClatchy newspapers are also good sources of news.

Here I stand:

For me, reading and being informed are not enough. I need to be active. There are lots of places to do something. I have marched and protested with United for Peace and Justice, Camp Casey, the World Can’t Wait, Code Pink. There are lots of others. Some of those organizations are also linked on the blogroll as are Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and other groups who have resisted the illegal aggressions of the US under the Bush regime.

I will stand here. I would be glad for company, but I will not try to persuade you. I stand in a precarious and uncomfortable place, but I have ancestors. I feel behind me the founders of my country. David and I went to Philadelphia to the park at Independence Hall and the museum auditorium there the Saturday after the 2006 elections. We connected to our founders.

These days, in my mind I often hear Virginian Patrick Henry say, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

There are also my comrades now, some of whom post on this blog. I met Jack at a protest in front of the recruiting station on Times Square the day after Bush vetoed the funding bill with a time limit. I met Patrice at Camp Casey. I cheer Paula on as she marches and sings for peace in Washington and on the West Coast. Others work to make a difference, too, Reva and Lucille among them. I am glad for the many whom I see again and again on the streets at protests and marches and actions. I do not stand alone.

ALL I WANT IS MY RIGHTS BACK

January 10, 2008

1.jpg  Ward Reilly on the right with a friend.

Below is a link to an article by veteran, Camp Casey alumnus, and eloquent activist Ward Reilly about the state of the nation and what could be done.   

http://www.baltimorechronicle.com/2008/010308Reilly.shtml

 

 

JACK SEES THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE WRITERS STRIKE

January 7, 2008

writersstrike.jpgI am honored to have this opportunity to support my brothers and sisters in the Writers Guild during their bold stand against ownership’s effort to destroy the Labor Movement. The struggle is uphill because ownership has been effective in reducing the number of Union members to less than 8% of the private work force. I believe your effort will help reverse this horrid trend toward an end collective bargaining. I know you are standing for your particular causes. At the same time, you stand for undocumented immigrant forced to accept substandard working conditions for fear that they will be subjected to deportation. You stand for the Poor of America working at such companies as Wal-Mart who deny workers a chance for Union Representation. You stand for the teachers of America many of whom have pay rate that forces them to live on Public Assistance to teach our children. You represent the middle class of America who find no opportunity for advancement in their profession. Yes, you even represent the enlightened wealthy who believe that America represents equal opportunities for all people, not just corporation ownership.

I say to you, Writers Guild, “STRIKE ON, you are carrying the flag of most of American Labor Movement and that flag represents the American belief in equality and justice for all people living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In Solidarity,
Jack Smith
206-321-4815
New Address- erie1917@gmail.com