Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sorry State of the Union

Last night I went to a State of the Union watching party at the CodePink house. And I would not want to have been watching it anywhere else. I think if I were at home by myself I would have listened to it while doing something else or not paid attention at all, but the lively crowd with which I shared the fulfillment of my very low expectations was a blast! At one point it even devolved into throwing cheetos at the screen.

While the speech had no surprises and nothing to redeem itself even on its rhetorical merits, there was on line that caught my attention: “Over the past seven years, we have increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent.” That sounds great. But think about for a second: How many veterans were we making seven years ago? How many vets with PTSD? TBI? DU poisoning? Missing limbs? I think those numbers may have increased by over a thousand-fold. Unless able to spin it in this context, the proponents of the war will do everything to hide its costs.

His view of what he and Congress would be able to achieve in terms of economic stimulation was disturbingly optimistic. I think we’ve been in a recession for some time now and thanks to the absurd spin this administration has put on every piece of bad economic news, we’ve been in denial about it. You can only be in denial of a recession for so long before it becomes a full-blown depression. But these days, those are referred to as the “r word” and the “d word.” All this not to mention the impending currency collapse. So here are some funny cartoons to distract you from the fact that our beloved America is going down the toilet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Two Videos I Just Have to Share

Wise Words From IVAW Executive Director Kelly Dougherty

One year from now
As we enter 2008, please stop for a moment and consider where we are now, and where we are going. In just over a year, America will have a new President. We will have endured a year of campaign commercials and attack ads. We'll have watched debates devoid of any real discussion of the withdrawal from Iraq that a growing number of Americans now call for. We'll have waited, for yet another year, for our leaders to find a way to say what we know in our hearts: we must leave Iraq.
But what will have changed in the next year that will make that happen?
We must face this fact: we run the serious risk that one year from today we'll be right where we are now, but with another year's worth of casualties, a year’s worth of grieving families, a year's worth of Iraqi anger and suffering built on our occupation of a country we now know was no threat to us. Ending this war in a year is different than ending it now, just as ending it now is different than ending it a year ago, or a year before that. There is a price to pay for every day that we wait.
As a veteran who served in Iraq as a military police sergeant, I see our continued occupation of that country as more than simply a list of numbers. On daily patrols through Baghdad and other cities, your glance darts from one window to the next and you look with suspicion at everyone you pass, waiting to be attacked. Every time you drive, you anxiously scan the roadways and gutters, anticipating the explosion of a roadside bomb that will send burning shards of metal through both vehicles and flesh. Indiscriminate home raids at all hours of the day and night become a common experience, as do the mass detentions of terrified and angry Iraqis. You spend hours at checkpoints, with your finger on the trigger, prepared to make life and death decisions in a country where the line between civilians and combatants is blurred and in constant motion. These things take a toll, on our soldiers, their families, and the Iraqi people.
As members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, we know these things and many of us still face them on a daily basis. Despite what you see on TV, or read in the paper, this is daily life in Iraq.
A year from now, will we have moved any closer to withdrawal? Or will our leaders continue to push such a decision off into the future, where, like so many decisions made by the powerful, the price to be paid rests squarely on the shoulders of the next generation?
We are at a crossroads: we can focus our energy exclusively on an election in which no viable candidate is committed to rapid withdrawal, or we can spend the next year ensuring that whoever takes office, Republican or Democrat, will face a country mobilized to the cause of bringing our troops home.
The veterans and active duty troops of Iraq Veterans Against the War represent the generation that is living with the pain and consequences of our leaders’ daily decision to continue this war. We have watched our closest friends be killed and injured, we’ve seen innocent people dehumanized and destroyed. We are first-hand witnesses and participants of an illegal war and occupation and we are here to tell you that we have had enough.
We have come together, as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, with this message: It is time to put this awful chapter of our history behind us. It is time to do the right thing for the people of Iraq and the people of America. It is time.
We've been here before. In the aftermath of the 2006 elections, the analysts said it plainly: the issue that had brought the Democrats to power was opposition to the war. Hundreds of thousands of people worked phone banks, canvassed their neighbors, made signs, and raised money for that election cycle, but it was not enough to end the war. Why not? The political leadership and the pundits have settled on the excuse that the Democrats don't have enough power in Congress to get it done. But we think it is something else - we have failed to force our leaders into action.
This is not a unique situation in history. Looking back on successful movements, what is the common denominator? Has real change occurred when people relied on politicians to do the right thing, or when a movement of people used their strength to move this country forward?
We propose the second path - organizing Americans to move our leaders to do what must be done. Iraq Veterans Against the War has spent the last year devising a strategy and tactics to bring our troops home. Our plans are not contingent on a particular candidate, or a party, because we're not willing to roll the political dice on something as important as this.
Our strategy is simple: organize the men and women of our armed forces to withdraw their support for the war. Our reason for choosing this strategy is also simple: without the active support of military service members, this war cannot continue. The government has shown that no matter which lever people pull on Election day, they can continue, and even escalate, the war. But without people to drive the trucks, to man the checkpoints, and to go out on nightly raids, no war is possible. Of course, we don't expect to be able to convince the entirety of our armed forces to go on strike, but what percentage of soldiers would need to stand up against this war before our leaders decide that they cannot continue? One percent? Five? We aim to find out.
We're drawing the line, and we're asking you to join us. All over the country, veterans and members of the military are organizing chapters of Iraq Veterans Against the War in cities, in rural areas, and on military bases. Last year at this time, we had eight chapters. Today, we have 37, with more forming all the time. We need your help to support those who are doing this important work on the ground.
We know what our brothers and sisters are going through in Iraq, and we're putting plans in motion to put an end to it. Not a year from now. Not next month. Today.
Peace,Kelly DoughertyFormer Sergeant, Army National GuardExecutive DirectorIraq Veterans Against the War

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today I decided to do something for the troops. Today, my “support” for the troops was undeniably manifest. Today, with one simple act, I lived the change I want to see in the world. Today, I went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and gave blood for the troops.

A fellow champion of peace and justice and good friend of mine, Mike Marceau was the inspiration for this mission today. Mike is a disabled Vietnam vet, whose life may have been saved by a blood transfusion when a piece of shrapnel pierced his lung, bounced off his rib and lodged in his left shoulder, severely damaging his nerves and arteries when his base in Pleiku was attacked in the spring of 1970.

Mike is the Vice President of the local Veterans For Peace chapter and regularly gives blood at Walter Reed. He attends the weekly vigil at Walter Reed to “remind people that the true cost of the war is right inside that building.” When he came back from Vietnam, Mike himself did a stint at Walter Reed before being medically discharged. I joined Mike to give blood today because I felt it was the right thing to do.

It just so happened that one of the lab techs who was drawing blood recognized me from when I was on TV. He thanked me for what Iraq Veterans Against the War is doing and the perspective we bring to debate about the war. One of his buddies claimed to be “apolitical,” but after the lab tech asked for a business card, he said, “Maybe you could give me a few. You know – for some friends of mine.”

As we were leaving, it occurred to me that “apolitical” is exactly how the war makers want the troops to be. But politics is the sum of civic interactions. Politics is life . . . and death. Being apolitical means ceding your God-given right to self-determination. Just as “being political” and participating in democracy are among our civic duties as American citizens, showing compassion is a duty of all who dream of a world of peace, tolerance, and understanding.

If you can see that humanity is capable of rendering war obsolete, you must feel the need for people to rise above petty self-interests, and reach out to each other. This is just one more way that we can show our appreciation for those who are serving with honorable intentions, for those who would risk their lives to defend our rights, for those who have made themselves ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their fellow countrymen.

Perhaps eventually, Americans will never be asked to give blood for our wounded warriors ever again. Maybe someday, the sanctity of human life will be so paramount that Walter Reed itself will be unnecessary. Until that day comes, you can show your respect for life by giving blood to the troops that need it now.

If you share this vision with me, go to the Armed Services Blood Program website to find your closest donor center and make an appointment. While you’re donating, tell the people why you’re there. Get a photo of yourself giving blood and send it to me ( with your reason for donating so that we can share this vision with the rest of the world.

There are still troops bleeding every day, and they need our support.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tattoo Suggestions – WE HAVE A WINNER!

I would like to thank everyone who submitted tattoo suggestions after I announced my plan to get an IVAW tattoo. Some are funny, some are angry, some are wise, but the one that sums it up for me came from the documentary Zeitgeist, which I highly recommend. Enjoy.

Sholom Keller
Godamn hippies, they say they want to change the world but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad

Evan Knappenberger
For those who've seen both sides,
War has a bitterness and appeal,
which fills with the void with sorrow.

The strength to right a wrong,
Requires much more than that,
The knowledge of how to use it

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead

Knowledge is the antidote to fear. - Emerson (1803... Knowledge is the antidote to fear. - Emerson (1803-1882)

Truth fears no trial. - Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official...~Thomas Jefferson

Innocence betrayed;
reborn through fire and sand.
Citizen soldiers remain!

Yvette Coil
"Not all casualties come home in body bags." -Andrea Gibson
From the poem "For Eli" that can be seen here and is on "Line in the Sand" the IVAW benefit CD.

To do all which may achieve and cherish
A just and lasting peace,
Among ourselves,
And with all nations.

Jo Rumpell
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.


Susan (truth seeker)
And for those who embrace it,
Truth grants a certain peace,
The free can only know.

Of course you could always use from your Sept. 15 speech "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty."...and there are some really good quotes that I like but might not fit exactly for this like
"We know the truth,
not only by the reason,
but also by the heart."
Blaise Pascal

"They who would give up and essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."
Ben Franklin

Terri Creech
To witness a crime and stay silent makes one an accomplice. We will not be silenced.

“Much more genius is needed to make over than to command armies.”
-- Ninon de Lencios (1620-1705)


Jimi Hendrix
When the power of love
Overcomes the love of power,
The world will know peace.

I am not quite sure where or when he said this, so anyone who knows the source, please let me know. So as soon as I can afford it and find a tattoo artist who I trust to do an accurate mirror of the tattoo on my left arm, I'll get this on my right arm next to "IVAW."

Thursday, January 10, 2008


After the government had three and a half months to prepare their case against those of us challenging our arrests from September 15th, the case finally went to trial January 3rd. Sort of.

One of my ten codefendants, Sholom Keller had come down from Philadelphia the day before and was staying at our new house in the Petworth neighborhood where our new office is set up. S***** ***** (an active duty US Army soldier and member of IVAW) who had been present on September 15th came up from Pensacola as a witness. (Actually, she was really here for the New Year’s Eve party at the house.)

We began the day by checking in with the clerk in courtroom 120 where the judge decided his docket was too full for the day and sent us upstairs to another judge who apparently had his entire day to waste on our case. From the beginning, Judge Greene seemed to be looking for an excuse to throw out the case, but at the same time was having enough fun playing with the prosecutor to let things play out in the name of due process.

After the hired attorneys made their opening statements I made mine. Had I been as eloquent as I had planned and not been interrupted by the judge, it might have sounded something like this:

“On September 15th a mass of American citizens gathered at the US Capitol to petition their government for a redress of grievances with a symbolic demonstration. As a former Marine who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, I have a particular appreciation for the rights it guarantees. As a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War who has spent a fair amount of time on Capitol Hill, I also have a particular appreciation for the difficult job that the United States Capitol Police have in marking the fine line between freedom of speech and maintaining order and security at the Capitol. Sometimes, it is civilians who cross this line, sometimes deliberately to make a point. But sometimes it is the police that cross this line and in the interest of preserving the rights of the people enshrined in the first amendment, that line must not be allowed to shift at the whim of whomever is on duty at the time. The evidence will clearly show that on September 15th, in my case, the police crossed that line, and not I.”

I had done a fair amount of prepwork to make sure that the video and photo evidence I had would be presented properly, and was a bit disappointed that I didn't get the chance to use it, but it was part of our "show of overwhelming legal force" and aside from tying up a courtroom for the day, we also made it very unpleasant to work for the government.

The rest of the synopsis is below in the email that ANSWER sent out:

Sept. 15 arrestees win at trialGovernment case collapses during trial -- judge dismisses all charges

An important victory was won today in the case of 11 defendants who were arrested at the Sept. 15 March on the Capitol, which drew 100,000 anti-war protestors to Washington, DC.
Judge Henry Greene of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia dismissed all charges against the defendants, who were accused of crossing a police line. The government's case collapsed in the early stages of the trial during the testimony of a witness from the Capitol Police.

The protestors asserted that the government and the Capitol Police had illegally and unconstitutionally sought to prevent demonstrators from engaging in First Amendment protected speech and assembly in an area in front of the Capitol building routinely kept open to tourists and others. This attempt to exclude people engaging in free speech activities could not form the basis for a lawful arrest or conviction for "crossing a police line."

The government's case disintegrated as protestors' attorneys demonstrated that the government had withheld key evidence from the defense.

Under pressure from the defense, the government revealed that they had withheld documents and material that was central to the defendants' challenge to the government's efforts to prevent demonstrators from exercising their First Amendment rights at Congress under the pretext of "national security," including a "police sensitive" document supposedly related to "terrorism." The defense argued that the government was using this pretext to prevent antiwar protest at a time when General David Petraeus was making the Bush administration's case that Congress should continue to fund the Iraq war.

Many of the defendants represented themselves and were given pro bono legal counsel and advice from attorneys Michael Madden, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice, Stephanie Snyder of the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic, and Harriet Adams. The defendants, including leaders from Veterans for Peace, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), and Iraq Veterans Against the War, were Elliot Adams, Brian Becker, Ellen Barfield, Carla Boccella, Adam Kokesh, Jay Gillen, Rodney Centeno, Polly Miller, Sholom Keller, Shawn Peterson, and Rich Reinhart.