Saturday, August 27, 2005

Bring The Troops Home Now tour announced

As peace activists prepare to leave Crawford this week in order to follow Bush back to Washington, plans are underway for a bus tour to bring the spirit of Camp Casey to cities that are on the route to the White House.

Three separate bus tours will be the focal point of rallies, interfaith services, and political action. To see if the tour will stop in your city visit the Bring The Troops Home Now site. They're also looking for organizers to help with the rallies, housing assistance for tour participants, and financial help - gas is expensive! - so have a look and see how you can participate or donate.

Fortunately, the tour will stop here on Thursday and I'm volunteering to help organize in my city. I'll be sure to get photos of the event and post them Thursday evening - that is, if the American Legion doesn't show up with pitchforks and torches and face paint to take us out.

Friday, August 26, 2005

It's Fuck You Friday

A resounding fuck you to the fascists at the American Legion, who apparently don't understand the constitutional protections and freedoms that our soldiers are told daily they're fighting and dying for.

At their recent national convention, national commander Thomas Cadmus had the following to say about the uptick in organized war protests:

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples."

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

Use "whatever means necessary"? Exactly what "means" will force the American people to give "united backing" to Bush's war policies? For that's exactly what they're demanding. When you hear the phrase "support the troops" come from a right-winger - which, of course, everyone does, how ridiculous to imply otherwise - what they're really demanding is that you "support the war". So what kind of violence will the American Legion unleash upon the public to demand "united backing" for this war?

And did anyone else enjoy the crude irony of his considering us a "freedom loving people" while he recommends using "whatever means necessary" to quelch those same freedoms? Orwellian...

And the media calls the anti-war activists crackpots! Yet hardly a word has been said about the open threats of violence made by the American Legion this week, nor have they been taken to task or picked apart or openly attacked as Cindy Sheehan has been all month.

Cadmus didn't stop there. He continued:

"No one respects the right to protest more than one who has fought for it, but we hope that Americans will present their views in correspondence to their elected officials rather than by public media events guaranteed to be picked up and used as tools of encouragement by our enemies."

To this quote, Editor and Publisher added the following dry remark: "This might suggest to some, however, that American freedoms are worth dying for but not exercising."

Gee, I wish that my elected officials would give two shits about what I write them. I continue to do it, but it's like pissing in the wind. Never has there been a greater disconnect between the public mood and the actions of our elected officials, but that's the sole avenue the American Legion gives us before they start cracking heads.

Cadmus, obsessed with the notion that any hint of discord will bolster "the enemy" - you know, the people whose country we attacked without provocation, whose families we've killed with our bombing and casual shooting, whose cities we've destroyed, whose land is now permanently tainted with depleted uranium, whose water, sewage, and electrical systems are in tatters - goes on to again note that the insurgents are more interested in what we're doing here than the destruction we're causing there:

"We had hoped that the lessons learned from the Vietnam War would be clear to our fellow citizens. Public protests against the war here at home while our young men and women are in harm's way on the other side of the globe only provide aid and comfort to our enemies."

I wish to fuck we had learned the lessons of Vietnam!

So, I suppose that the 4,000 members of the American Legion who signed on to this doctrine will now become the brownshirts of the vaterland, wading into war protests and using "any means necessary" to stop them. I hope they understand that should they lay even one filthy paw on this "peace visualizing" war protestor, my foot will aim directly for their nuts.

Bush, the great "uniter", has not only created violent private militias in Iraq, but he's apparently created one here in the United States. By not publicly condemning the fatwa the Legion issued this week, he's encouraging blood in the streets at home courtesy of the "patriots" at the American Legion.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Republican "grassroots" activism

Well, well, well....the You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy! (note the exclamation point to give the phrase a snappy, Madison Avenue-type oomph) anti-Sheehan bus tour is actually being run by -gasp!- a Republican public relations firm.

The Move America Forward website - the same site that is organizing and promoting the bus tour - is registered to the following:

Russo Marsh & Rogers
770 L Street, #950
Sacramento, CA 95814

This "grassroots" activism is actually a creation of Russo Marsh & Rogers, a Republican PR firm that is apparently so desperate for business they once ran an "Orin Hatch for President" campaign. Move America Forward not only shares an office with RM&R but also a receptionist. The bus tour is a paid-for GOP public relations campaign that they've had the audacity to present as some kind of grassroots movement. Keith Olberman on Countdown last night confirmed this swindle, which the media has been presenting as a sincere movement on the part of pro-war military families to mouth loving platitudes to Bush and his warlords.

Everything is faked theater with this crowd, from Armstrong Williams to Jessica Lynch to this phony "activism".

The exposure of this bus tour, of course, won't shut down the hypocritical right-wing media nutters who have been screaming that Sheehan is a "tool of the left". Who, exactly, do they consider "the left"? Those godless commies at, of course. This is laughable, as is their entire campaign to portray MoveOn as some kind of wild-eyed Marxist outfit. Every MoveOn event I've attended - including one of those subversive bake sales - has been comprised of middle-class 30-somethings, suburban moms and dads with kids and two cars. Hardly crazed leftists screaming for the nationalization of industry, but the RNC and their mouthpieces have been at great pains to portray them as the "hard left". Why? MoveOn actually is an effective grassroots organization, unlike the above fake bus tour, that can mobilize millions of followers and raise huge amounts of cash - something the right-wing lacks, other than the evangelical "Christian" base exemplified by Pat "Call Me Lee Harvey" Robertson. They feel they must discredit MoveOn and other liberal groups because they have the numbers, the money, and the momentum and that threatens the right's death-grip on our government - who in truth fear and despise we, the people.

The question now, of course, is if the corporate media will allow anyone to even hint that the military families riding on this bus tour are now "tools" and "mouthpieces" of the right. They allowed Sheehan to be portrayed in this fashion, and what's sauce for the goose...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

And now, a popcorn break

Interesting all-day bloodletting that went on over at Kos yesterday, when he posted an entry he surely knew would rile up many of his readers (and contributors who fund his site):

I'm not anti-war. As I've said before, I'm a military hawk. I supported the Afghanistan War and I supported the Bosna and Kosovo interventions. I'm not one of these touchy-feely hippy types that thinks war is inherently bad. I laugh at people who think they can "visualize peace".

Unlike most people reading this, I grew up in a country at war. I've seen the effects first-hand. I also served in the Army. To me war isn't a video game or an abstract concept. It's real. Yet sometimes, many times, military force is a force for good. There are evil people in the world, doing evil things. And all the sanctions in the world, all the strongly worded denunciations, will never have the effect of a 1,000 pound bomb.

I oppose the Iraq War.

But I refuse to be labeled "anti-war". I'm not. I'm anti this war. Why? Because I'm a war pragmatist. I understand the costs of war, but I also understand the potential benefits.

...I oppose Iraq not because I'm anti-war. I'll have nothing to do with any of the anti-war rallies planned in the near term (and the crazy cast of characters that seek to inject their unrelated own pet causes into the proceedings).

Kos makes two separate but related points in this entry. First, he follows the DLC/GOP playbook by smearing a large swath of opponents to our occupation of Iraq as "touchy-feely hippy types" notwithstanding the fact that he isn't old enough to have actually experienced a "hippy type" from the 1960's and clearly hasn't grasped the underlying philosophy from that era. Perhaps a review of the 1968 Democratic National Convention - yes, the opposition was led by Yippies but who were the troops? - would modify his "touchy-feely" prose. I would also remind Kos that the '68 convention was a mutiny within the Democratic ranks refusing to accept another "war pragmatist" as our nominee, a lesson we should keep in mind for 2008.

I'm tired to the bone of so-called "war pragmatists" smugly throwing aside the very core of opposition to this war in an attempt to frame this struggle as a messy problem best left to the grownups. The anti-war movement stepped aside for another "war pragmatist" (with a Crackerjack-like salute and "reporting for duty" bray that made me literally want to vomit) who happened to be the Democratic nominee last year and it kept public opposition to our Iraq policies from crystalizing until this summer - far too late for any meaningful change. Our only hope was in 2004, and the "war pragmatists" guaranteed that the bloodbath will continue through the second Bush term.

If Kos truly opposes the continued occupation of Iraq, one would think that he'd accept a broad range of opponents, unwashed as he may consider them to be, or risk the anti-war movement becoming a simple policy debate, shorn of anger over the lies that led us to Baghdad or moral objections to the "Shock and Awe" that destroyed cities and lives for nothing other than a stragetic position in the Middle East to protect our oil supply in the event of destabilization in Saudi Arabia or Iran. The passion of our moral position is our greatest strength, but Kos would rather we step aside so the "war pragmatists" can support the concept of war to a war-weary public who, frankly, are sick of this militaristic bullshit but pick and choose which wars, with their attendant civilian casualties and destruction of entire societal structures, are good. All done, of course, while Kos "laughs at those who visualize peace".

This me=adult and you=unwashed hippy bullshit espoused by Kos, ridiculous as it is, won't harm the peace movement. It will only harm individuals such as Kos, who will find himself increasingly irrelevant because the call for an end to the bloodletting in Iraq is larger than any one individual. People will react according to their own moral beliefs, not because they sit and stew over how they can position themselves as "war pragmatists" so the big bad attack dogs of the GOP won't snap at our ankles. Fuck 'em. We have a war to end, and Kos can either accept all segments of the anti-war movement or be left on the sidelines with his granny-like lectures.

He also takes a me=adult you=crazed cast of characters tone when he addresses what I assume is the demo taking place in Washington in September and the participation of A.N.S.W.E.R. in this event. Yes, I believe that A.N.S.W.E.R. dilutes our message with the free Mumia crap, the Coca-Cola in India speeches and their insistence on addressing Palestine before Iraq. Still, they were the first organization that planned (and financed) many of the early war protests, and while I don't agree with many of their positions far be it from me to dismiss them as a "crazed cast of characters" and petulantly sit at home pecking away at my keyboard while thousands of Americans take to the streets next month to demand an exit strategy from Iraq and accountability for the lies that led us there. I have every intention to be in Washington next month - via the Peace Train from New Orleans - and I hope to blog from both the train and the demo. I can overlook the call to free Mumia and focus on what's important, rather than distance myself from the "crazy cast of characters" who so frighten and repulse Kos. I can do this, you see, because I'm an adult.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Chuck Hagel was correct in comparing the situation on the ground in Iraq to Vietnam, but there's another parallel that is only going to grow in the months ahead - civil unrest and Kent State-like police tactics.

In Pittsburgh last week, a group of protestors who were attempting to shut down a military recruitment office were tasered, pepper-sprayed, and attacked by police dogs.

Meieran claimed some protesters were pepper sprayed and Tasered; he said a 68-year-old woman who was not resisting was bitten by a police dog.

Police spokeswoman Tammy Ewin initially said no pepper spray was used on protesters, but Sgt. Clint Winkler, a supervisor on duty, told The Associated Press he tried to use pepper spray on one woman who would not leave, but it hit her glasses. She was then subdued with a Taser, Winkler said.

The Taser victim and the dog bite victim were being treated at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Winkler confirmed that the older woman was bitten in the leg by a police dog when she refused a police order to disperse.

In Sacramento, a group of protestors confronted the obnoxious "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy!" neocon bus tour.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Supporters of President Bush clashed with anti-war activists as they wound their way through California after rallying in the hometown of Cindy Sheehan, the mother who started a protest camp outside Bush's Texas ranch.

Conservative activists and military families embarked on the tour Monday, calling it "You don't speak for me, Cindy!" A verbal confrontation erupted when the caravan arrived in Sacramento and was met by anti-war protesters chanting for Bush to bring home the troops.

Some caravan members called the anti-war protesters communists and said they were "aiding and abetting the enemy." Those comments enraged Sheehan supporter Dee Ann Heath, who said she has two sons serving in Iraq and another preparing to leave.

Readers might want to check the itinerary for this pro-war, pro-death bus jaunt and let the right-wing organizers know your feelings when it zips through your town en route to Crawford.

Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, thousands of citizens protested our Chimperor while he was mouthing the same inane platitudes for continuing the occupation.

Bush spoke to more than 6,000 people at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, while three blocks away about 2,000 people gathered to protest Bush administration policies and the war in Iraq.

...Salt Lake resident Hugh Musser, 74, said he was a Korean War veteran who came to the protest because of ``the lies about this war and the reasons we went into it.''

``I'm so opposed to our administration. I'm not politically motivated, I'm an independent. I think we have really lost our democracy,'' Musser said.

...Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who called for a strong showing from Utahns at the protest in an e-mail he sent last week to local activists, addressed both the VFW convention and the protest.

Anderson was booed in his speech to the veterans at the Salt Palace Convention Center about two hours before Bush's speech. After, he said challenging political leaders is being supportive of the troops.

``The message we want to send is that we are behind our troops, we care very much about our troops. That if their lives are going to be put on the line, they are going to be put in harm's way, that we're told the truth and our nation hasn't been told the truth,'' Anderson said.

Chants of ``Rocky!'' followed Anderson as he took the podium at the anti-war rally.

``Those who take a stand ... who stand up to deceit by our government. Those are true patriots. You are true patriots,'' Anderson said.

The quiet unease phase of this war is over. Cindy Sheehan has gotten people involved, in the streets, and active. The right wing nutters can hold all of the silly bus tours they want, but we have the numbers - overwhelmingly so - and we're on the right side of this issue.

Bush has divided this country in many ways apart from the war in Iraq, but it's the war that is providing the final fracture. There is no neutral ground.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Truth Be Told

If you missed the op-ed by Frank Rich in yesterday's New York Times entitled The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan, it's a must read. Here's a snippet:

When these setbacks happen in Iraq itself, the administration punts. But when they happen at home, there's a game plan. Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president who had "other priorities" during Vietnam.

A Ray of Light

On July 26th, I posted the following on the blog:

The only leading Democrat who has come out strongly in opposition to this war is Gore, and it's doubtful he'll run in 2008. Perhaps it's time for Edwards to reconsider his position on Iraq and become his own man. I believe that Americans will be so weary of this bloodshed (as the majority now are) in 2008 that a pro-occupation policy will be poison for any Democrat, but a rapid turnaround on the issue will appear insincere and pandering. If Edwards came out now against the occupation, he'd be a lock in 2008. He'd then get the "unity" Clinton preaches for, and not destroy the party (as she will).

The Chicago Tribune this morning is speculating that this might indeed happen:

Edwards signals shift against war

Throughout his campaign for president and then vice president in 2004, former Sen.
John Edwards of North Carolina made it clear that the death of his teenage son in a car accident was off-limits, not for discussion in a political context.

But now his wife, Elizabeth, has sent an e-mail to supporters voicing a connection she shares with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. As Sheehan was camped near President Bush's Texas ranch, protesting the war, Edwards called on her own family's backers to support Sheehan.

And, in a departure from a campaign-trail silence that the Edwardses kept about the death of their 16-year-old son, Wade, Elizabeth Edwards noted that Sheehan's son, Casey, 24, died in Iraq eight years to the day after her own son.

For John Edwards, who voted as a senator to support the invasion of Iraq, his wife's outreach to subscribers of their One America Committee Web site bears a distinct anti-war voice that could augur a new tack for Edwards as he prepares for a potential run for president in 2008.

"The president says he knows enough, doesn't need to hear from Casey's mother, doesn't need to assure her that Casey's is not one small death in a long and seemingly never-ending drip of deaths, that there is a plan here that will bring our sons and daughters home," Elizabeth Edwards wrote in her e-mail last week. "He claims he understands how some people feel about the deaths in Iraq. The president is wrong."

The Edwardses left questions about the e-mail to spokeswoman Kim Rubey, who said, "When Elizabeth read about Cindy Sheehan and her son, she immediately felt a strong personal connection."

Rob Tully, a Des Moines lawyer who campaigned for John Edwards in 2004, suggests that Elizabeth Edwards' battle with cancer since the election has given her an added perspective.

"She has gone through her own life-threatening experience, and that is life-changing," Tully said.

Yes, the Chicago Tribune is a right-wing rag, evidenced by the fact that it's Elizabeth, and not John Edwards who is signaling a 'shift'. Still, I remain hopeful that John Edwards will make a major political address that will indeed signal a shift in his stance on the occupation, and do so sooner rather than later. Elizabeth Edwards is one of the most intelligent and influential political spouses around, and if she's on board that's an extremely hopeful sign.

You can sign Elizabeth Edward's statement of support for Cindy Sheehan at the One America Committee site (please do this), and you can also jump on their blog and encourage John to oppose the occupation. Unlike Bush, he actually listens.