Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The One Who Served vs the Privileged One Who Did Not

Congressman Bill Thomas Gets a Dose of Reality
by Tim Goodrich from Iraq Veterans Against the War

Tonight, Representative Bill Thomas held his annual Academy Forum for high school students interested in going to one of the military service academies. This is the same Bill Thomas who has an abysmal voting record when it comes to Iraq. He has also refused to meet with Bill Mitchell, father of Mike Mitchell who was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004, despite repeated attempts for meetings and going to his office in Washington DC five separate times.

Naturally (and since it doesn’t appear Mr. Thomas likes to meet with his constituency), we thought a protest was in order to let him know how The People feel about the war in Iraq. Upon our arrival in Bakersfield from Los Angeles, there was representation from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and other concerned citizens. There were approximately 40 individuals standing outside of the Kern County Administrative Center letting passerby know that the best course of action is to Bring Them Home Now.

As the time to start the forum drew near, it was decided that five people would enter in order to hear what would be said and to possibly face Rep. Thomas about his support for an illegal and immoral war. About half way through the program, I removed my button down shirt to reveal my IVAW t-shirt underneath, stood up, and asked, “Mr. Thomas, as an Iraq veteran I demand to know why you’re sending these kids off to die for a lie.” At that point, the other four people stood up and joined in chanting “Bring the Troops Home Now.” This continued until, and as, we were escorted out of the forum.

Needless to say Rep. Thomas and the spectators were a bit surprised. However, I guarantee you that there are about 60 kids at home reflecting upon what they saw tonight. They are asking themselves what had to occur in order for a returned veteran to be so against the war that he took such a step to protest it. They’re also wondering if joining the military while the war in Iraq is happening is really the right thing to do. After all, if things continue the way they have been, these kids will be fighting over there in about six years; after they graduate from the academy and complete their training. What will remain the same is that people will be dying for lies. The only difference will be that the body counts will be much higher on both sides.

My job, and the job of my fellow Iraq Veterans Against the War, is to make sure we don’t get to that point.

Congressman Thomas, it’s time to wake up and smell the reality. It’s time to Bring the Troops Home Now.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Scourge of VD Hanson

It has been over a month since I blogged---and I found out that on occasion, someone actually reads this stuff! Let's just say this month has been full and successful in many ways - thanks to fantastic friends and associates: I Care International raised over $5K at our Swing into Fall Dance; CodePink has been growing in numbers and in funds; P-tec posted a record month and Georgia attended AstroCamp and her soccer team is 5-1!

What got me going today was the usual Sunday commentary in the San Luis Obispo "Tribune" newspaper. Ugh. Can't they find a conservative that isn't such a bombast? Victor Davis Hansen is who I am referring, in case anyone needed any further description. In my own subtle and oh so sweet manner, I like to refer to him as "V.D. Hanson" as he ravages and devastates the current geopolitical landscape with his contrived opinions.

Supposedly V.D. has a successful following and career, according to the people at the Hoover Institute - because of his vast historical knowledge. To me, he is a prolific writer that appears to have the wondrous ability of disconnecting all the dots and duly misinform readers. VD Hanson is a no body, with less than impressive credentials which further illustrates his lousy interpretation of history.

Every week we get subjected to the rants of VD Hanson - today it was about moralizing. That's rich. Read the column carefully - all he does in it is spew perverted views of respectable allies, institutions and individuals. Whether it is Knight Ridder, The Tribune or the Op Editor, how about trying out some other conservative writers with depth and relevancy rather than this pseudo scholar with the impertinent writing skills of a young Republican on campus? (That's Fresno State, by the way, home to VD Hanson) - Hoover Institute at Stanford, you ought to be ashamed.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Vietnam vs Iraq: Similarities and Differences

I believe there are many similarities:
  1. Not knowing your "enemy"; including underestimating human nature - would any country capitulate to an invading force?
  2. Not having a game plan beyond bombing the heck of out civilians;
  3. Not preparing for the worse, only expecting the best - hey, we won WWI & II didn't we?
  4. Armed forces made of up mostly of financially underprivileged and minorities; this is not the "citizens army" who went to WWI & II - everyone went;
  5. A fully capitalized defense industry that promotes "new products" whether they are fully tested or not, out in the field - with no accountability on who and how they damage;
  6. And probably the biggest similarity- divided the country in two
  7. I guess I could go on ...

The difference

There is one enormous difference that came to me this week while watching KCET's specials on the 60's and the early life of Bob Dylan: every night - and I mean every night, America sat and watched horrific images of villages being burned, women and children running for their lives, young American soldiers often wounded and stunned or dragging themselves and their equipment through a swamp or jungle, not knowing what would happen next. And endless images of dead people, burnt people, crying people.

We do not see this every night. We don't see it any night! No, indeed, America has progressed. Now, we can now go to war and have our celebrity weddings, make-overs, fast car races and beer commercials without the bother of those dirty and disturbing images. Isn't that convenient?

I know this much - in 1968, I was 9 years old and I remember vividly watching the suffering, the seemingly endless battle for what - I wasn't sure. I remember asking myself and adults, "why can't they just stop and talk it out? What could possible be worth this? Why do they have to hurt the people if they are trying to do something good for them?"

Those evenings made me who I am today. I have never forgotten how bad war looked on TV and how absolutely horrible it must have been in real life. It made me want to understand history, "government" (as the class was called in those days) and what became my greatest love - political science.

No, in the 2.5 years we have been in Iraq, we are left wondering what 1920 dead soldiers look like, or the tens of thousands of Iraqi mothers, fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and sons and daughters all victims of our invasion. Young and old are often clueless to these realities. Yes, they know it is going on, but do they know?

Friday, September 23, 2005

War, Polls & Action

  1. Anti-War rallies: Vets Hall, 11:00 AM, Monterey and Grand Street in SLO
  2. Three buses leaving Central Coast for San Francisco
  3. Watch CNN for coverage of Washington, DC - all weekend long

Tomorrow, September 24th, is the day set for a mass mobilization in cities around the world to once again hit the streets and let all the elected officials know, particularly the Bush Administration, that we the citizens of the world, are not going away. We demand the removal of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq, by Christmas. We know that the Iraqi husbands, brothers, sons, sisters, mothers and daughters are worse off with us there. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who is really paying attention realizes this fact, so obvious. The puppet George and the other neo-cons can stand there all day long and lie about this fact. Hoping that this lie will stick like all the other ones they havemade. However the results of this week Gallup Poll indicates

That 67% of the Americans polled believe that Bush has handled Iraq horribly, 63% want the troops home sooner than later. 34% have no faith in ever winning, and even 30% of those who thought the war was a good idea, now say there is no chance of "winning". The definition of winning is not defined, similar to the Bush policy in Iraq. I think the game plan must have looked like this:

1. Go in, get Saddam - (make a big deal, even tho he was his worse when U.S. helped him kill the Kurds)

2. Get the oil (wear flight suit somewhere in there)

3. Get richer (pretend to care about Iraqi democracy) ..

4. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? duhhhh Karl??? Think of something!!!!

Last night in LA, I saw the fabulous Mr.George Galloway, the British MP who turned the tables on the U.S. Senate sub-committee this summer regarding the U.N. food for oil scandal (www.mrgallowaygoestowashington.com for more on that..). Mr. Galloway has the ability to think on his feet, and make a speech that is invigorating and informational. He had over 1000 listeners cheering and laughing and gasping with dread during his 1.5 hour speech. Without notes. Something we have not seen in this country for a very, very long time.

What I want to remember from last night is how Mr. Galloway clearly demonstrated the most important aspect of why Islamic extremism exists and continues to grow. How Osama Bin Laden is not a friend of the anti-war community rather a monster created in swamp of U.S. and British policies in the Middle East over the past 50 years.

For example...
Most Americans do not know, or even perhaps care that 500,000 Iraqi children died during the embargo years (1991-2001). These deaths were not caused by guns, but due enormous lack of goods needed to live. Nourishing foods, medical supplies, daily household supplies - all the things people need to live and flourish. During the embargo years Iraq could not import bleach to clean, sterilization fluids, sheets, cotton, pencils and the list goes on. Air conditioning equipment - at all - so hospitals where surgeries were conducted had to keep windows open, during the 120 degree heat. This does not include the adult deaths, also totaling in that range.

From this policy (which was strongly endorsed by most Democratic party leaders -without any hesitation on the cost of innocent lives) - a bitter and angry Muslim population has been created throughout the world. WE may not consider this an important piece of recent history - but every Muslim in the world does. Why did we punish innocent people because our government had a falling out with a once close dictator?

The House of Saud is another example of double standard policies. We boast of democracy and freedom in the middle east. But for average Saudi citizens, this means nothing - they almost laugh except their pain of watching the royal family burn through their resource wealth with lavish and decadent lifestyles of gambling, spending and indulging the U.S. with enormous weapon contracts actually impacts the lives of Saudis not part of the royal family. And that would mean a population that lives on less, where women have no rights, where beheading happen on the street, We don't realize the impact of our actions in supporting the Saudi regime - but every Muslim in the world does.

The U.S. support of Israel is another double-standard policy ($10M a day folks to Ariel Sharon) has created incredible pain and misery for Palestinians. We may not realize that every bullet used to kill young men on the Gaza strip represents something paid with U.S. $ dollars. Muslims in the world know it. They realize that Israel's defense budget is billions, while the Palestinians have less than $1M dedicated to defense, of a country that they can't even exist freely in ( another Democratic moment). They realize that for all our talk of nuclearn weapons, controls, Israel has one, much to the dismay of the U.S. and stuck their fingers at us when we asked...And has even been caught spying on us a number of times. Muslims realize the strong arm tactics of Sharon's Zionist state are the reason many more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis. They also know that the recent move of the Jewish settlers off of originally stolen land, had financial backing from the U.S. Each settler was given $250K in reparations, plus, I believe a home in a new settlement in Jerusalem - and this chunk of change came from the U.S. treasury. How do you feel about that folks? Any double standard there?

I could go on - Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, the list of double standards is so long and ugly. I am sorry to say it. Very sorry.

Now it is time for us to take our foreign policy in our hands. Criminals like George Bush, Dick Cheney and even some of our so called liberal friends - have not the same regard as we - when it comes to value of life on this planet, including natural resources. We are just cockroaches to them. The Iraqi people do not matter. The Palestinian people do not matter. The Pakistani people do not matter. And certainly, the Afghan people do not matter. So why do many people still think that George Bush acts in their best interest? People, you do not matter either...

Oh, except it is your tax dollars that finances this bizarre, evil and utterly stupid road to self destruction. Did he really mention Iran today? Oh mercy me...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Can We Have Our Own Party or What?

CodePink Grows...
Last night we had two meetings:
The general monthly meeting -- 24 people showed up! We have a nice calendar of events for September (see below...) and we have lots of people who want to participate in ending the war and other positive actions

The "Alternative to Military Futures" Committee-- 14 people attended to work on high school campuses to help students make informed decisions about recruitment and other career choices. This is a growing movement around the country as well as our region.

CodePink, Women for Peace Calendar
September 24 - Mass Mobilization: The March on Washington, DC
(3) Buses will leave SLO for San Francisco's March for the day and...
A March thru downtown SLO is also planned, starting at Mitchell Park

September 25th - CodePink "Bottled Poetry" Fundraiser at Tolosa Winery 3-5 pm
$10 will get you 2 glasses of fantastic Tolosa Wine along w/ music by our good friends Kristin Black & Carol Lowell, and poetry readings from our own Dian Sousa.

September 30th- CodePink & HopeDance Media present "The Life of Rachel Corrie" - 7:00 movie & desserts at SLO Library. This film is about the life and the death of Rachel, in a story that not well known or publicized. Learn how this young American stood up against the injustice of Israeli government and their treatment of Palestinian families.

October Line-up
October 8th - "Swing into Fall" Dance for I CARE International at Avila Bay Club
6-9 PM, wine, food, live band & dancing - all funds raised go for eye services to the underserved people in the world. See www.icareinternational.org or for tickets: 440-3433

October 15th - 2nd Annual Green Festival - Innovative speakers, booths, connections - all relating to living, breathing and working in a green way! All day and night - at the Veteran's Building in SLO - go to www.hopedance.org for more info..

That's all for now folks...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"America's Sunshine"

That is the phrase Dave Congalton suggested to Matt Kokonnen use for his 9/11 memorial BBQ, rather than "America's Thunder". On the "Big Broadcast" last week (920 AM, KVEC 3-7pm) Dave asked Matt why does it have to be thunder? Matt stated something about strength and overcoming the enemy and showing the world up...

You would think that would get the phone lines lit up with supporters. But that's not what happened. With the exception of two staunch Bush supporters, every caller in that day basically said "Matt, we are tired of this macho pretense of America saving the day by sacrificing young lives in order to promote an agenda that isn't serving anyone except the inner circle of the House of Bush".

I wonder about Matt's homeland of Finland - is Matt trying hard to prove to his countrymen that he did make the best move by coming here? Actually, our family hosted a nice Finnish boy as an exchange student back in Illinois, years ago. Yes, he was used to dry fish and boring clothing, but even then, Veli Mati Kristo gave us a rude reminder of our education system. Veli was a sophomore, and he had only studied English for a few years. When Veli tested for his placement in our high school, he scored higher than anyone his age, or for that matter, the next class level. He was ready to do 4th year English, while the rest of his American counterparts struggled along reviewing the basics. Sorry Matt. True story.

In the earlier hour of David's show that same day, author and financial columnist Paul Farrell blew more holes in the House of Bush calling the state of America's finances "faith-based economics" - meaning that we hope the money will be there for the budgetary requirements to run the nation. At this point, we can only hope, since the surplus has been replaced by a trillion dollar deficit, personal incomes dropping, prices rising, no savings of any sort and 45 million without health insurance, along with my favorite expenditure - the $ 419 Billion Defense Budget for FY '06.... it would be nice to hear Mrs. Blakeslee address this issue on her radio advertisement, as her firm sponsored Paul at yesterday's Author & Book Festival in Mission Plaza.

The Caucas
Which brings me to the phone call to Sam Blakeslee's chief of staff the other night. Code Pink Calfornia worked the entire month of August to bring the California National Guard home from Iraq & Afghanistan. (That means we gathered hundreds of signatures, met with the staff of local elected officials (Blakeslee and Maldonado) and showed how vunerable we are in the case of a disaster as well as the hardship that National Guard families are having with this extended FOREIGN DEPLOYMENT. That night, the last night of the current session, there was a chance for some legislative action - thus my call to Sam's office and direct request to his Chief of Staff. She was terrific to talk to as she laid down the truth - if the Republican Caucus says no - the answer is NO. I won't bore you with what you already know... both parties are at a stalemate on almost every issue, thus nothing is being accomplished. And this was the case for Sam to try and do the right thing by bringing the Guard home. He couldn't vote to bring the Guard home because the caucus knows that if an actual vote in California assembly came up, the Democrats may succeed and if the Republicans voted no (especially after NOLA situation ) it would make the Republican national party look bad and that is too scary for words.

Let me ask everyone...what is more important to you? Looking bad or doing the right thing for your employer?

Believe me, I don't have much faith in the Democrats doing anything for us either. Not just in this issue but with taking any bold step at turning this sinking ship around.

H.R. 375

Perfect example is this Joint House Resolution of Inquiry to the Downing Street Memo. Fresh off the www.hopedance.org global listserv: a vote for committee may come up on Wednesday...and Lois Capps has signed on to co-sponsor the Resolution...YEA!!!! Hey, it's a start.

Who is scared?
Isn't that the MO - fear - for why our country produces, exports and then buys the most munitions of any country in the world? Way more than the other top 3. Yet, I have never seen such a bigger bunch of cowards and ass kissers as we have in almost every elected sector of our government. Oh, there are a few who have the guts and decency to do what is right. All toll - probably 10 -in the entire nation.

Yes, today is 9-11...and whether you like it or not, and www.michealmoore.com reminds America of a few things...perhaps we should suggest Matt call today's 9-11 BBQ, "America's Sunset".

Friday, September 09, 2005

"Democracy Now" - the War and Peace Report

Kudos to KCBX & Mark Phillips

I want to thank KCBX and Mark Phillips (who lobbied) for making "Democracy Now" available to listeners in our area. It is offered at 12:00 Noon during the week, except Tuesday @4:00 pm. If you haven't taken the opportunity to listen to a broadcast, I encourage you to do so asap. Also, for those not near KCBX range: www.democracynow.org

Democracy Now's coverage of national and international events is so far ahead of almost any other newscasts. The interviews, discussions and perspectives are wide and far reaching in their analysis. It offers more than a bite or a spin - but information that you can then go reference and develop your own opinion.

I would like to ask you what you think of Amy Goodman and her staff's work. If you like it, tell me...and then remember to keep contributing to KCBX! We brings me to...

How are we going to pay for everything?

Doesn't it seem like everyone needs money? I know most have contributed to the hurricane situation. We are sending supplies, and even bigger efforts such as hosting families, etc is happening. Georgia is taking part in "Box brigade" a child to child effort led by Spencer Neuhouse. Then, we have good corporations, such as Mid-State Bank which is sending a "fairly large" contribution to the relief efforts - thanks to employees, customers and corporate matching funds.

On top of that... we are located in the most generous county - many people I know working on innumerable causes and needs. Almost any and every weekend we could attend a "fun" fundraiser to helping those less fortunate. I believe we all really try to do as much as possible, and with pleasure and gratitude for having the ability to help.

However, for the next 2 wks, many of our kids from the public school districts are out selling wares (gift wrapping paper, chocolates, etc.) for PTA funds. The money raised, in my opinion, should be in the budget without having to push our children out the door to become sales kids. I am sorry, but I don't like it. I don't mind students organize car washes, bake sales, etc. to raise money for a special trips, but to have our children hit the streets to buy equipment for their learning process - pitiful. I don't blame the schools or administrators - I just think this is another example of our country's wayward path into the lower ranks of industrialized nations.

That's enough for now...I have to go and sell tickets to the I CARE dance at the Avila Bay Club on October 8th, pick up supplies for our troops care packages, send the box of relief goods to Houston for the CODE PINK sisters there and help Georgia sell more wrapping paper, make my KCBX donation and the find a cheap bottle of wine to wind down tonight!

Oh except, Mr Cheney, what have you done today to help your fellow citizen you fat @#@X!@#$?