Monday, December 25, 2006

Author of "Why Mommy is a Democrat" and I Debate

I actually like Jeremy, and this was a mostly civil exchange, but the debate between the progressive anti-war Greens and the "stay the political course" Dems continues:

Jeremy Zilber writes:
Happy holidays to you as well, Pete.

I agree that many factors played a role in the Iraq war, and some Democrats MAY have had something to do with it when SOME of them authorized a use of force AS A LAST RESORT, but even that isn't clear. It isn't at all clear that a lack of authorization from Congress would have stopped this war. Bush didn't heed the words of the authorization itself, as it clearly required that he exhaust peaceful strategies before taking military action, which he didn't do. Moreover, Bush has demonstrated time and time again that he believes himself above the law and the Constitution, and he claims to be getting his instructions directly from God. I sincerely doubt that if Congress has not voted for that authorization he would have suddenly said, "ok, then I guess I can't invade Iraq., because whatever Congress wants, Congress gets." He'd have gone anyway, knowing full well that once the invasion were underway, Congress would feel obligated to support it. All he'd have to do is make a bunch of speeches (as he did), claiming that Iraq posed an imminent danger, which, in his mind, gives him the authority to respond. Do you really think he wouldn't have?

Just read this headline and first paragraph, and there's your answer:

Members of Congress, regardless of party, are not stupid. They realize that when something is going to happen with or without their support, it probably makes sense to be on the popular side of the debate, whatever that happens to be. That's what happened here, and that's what's happening with Democrats who continue to vote for the war funding. It's going to happen with or without them, so what is the value of taking an "anti-troop" position and losing the next election to a Republican? Will that bring the war to an end? No, it will actually have the opposite effect. Kind of like Nader's run for president.

If you're in a group of friends and 3 of them want to see movie A and 2 of you want to see to see movie B (and you know these are the only two movies you can possibly see), when it become apparent that the group is going to see movie A with or without you, do you call your friends "idiots" and refuse to see the movie on principle? Or do you do what most people would do, and say to yourself "it's in my long-term interests to go to this movie and maintain my friendships with these people -- and perhaps the next time there's a decision like this I'll be in a better position to affect it."

That's essentially what a lot of Democrats have done. Now that they're actually the majority party, they may actually start using the funding as leverage to get us out of there. But you ought not blame the minority party for going along with what the majority party was going to do with or without them.

You are correct that a number of people played a role in getting us into Iraq. And I suppose we could blame all of them equally, or we could say that Bush is the only person who bears any responsibility. But that's silly. It's silly to blame the doctor who helped Barbara give birth to George, because the doctor could not have been expected to understand the consequences. Likewise, it's silly to blame only Bush, because he couldn't have done it alone. In 2000, the likely consequences of Nader's campaign were pretty obvious. I wrote letters to all of my liberal friends urging them not to support Nader in any way, because, as I pointed out, a strong Nader campaign (even in states that weren't considered toss-ups) could essentially hand the election to Bush, and, I argued, a Bush presidency would be an absolute disaster for the people Nader supposedly cared about. If I could see this coming, then surely Nader could. Nader openly stated that he didn't care whether his campaign got Bush elected, and I believe him. He knew what he was doing, he knew there was a good chance his presence in swing-states could help Bush win, and he knew what a brutal man Bush was. Is Nader the ONLY responsible person? No. But as someone who could easily have foreseen the effects of his actions, Nader (and the Green party) should be held accountable.

Your argument is like the guy who randomly shoots a gun in a crowded room and says "but I didn't MEAN to hit anyone, so you shouldn't blame me for killing the guy I happened to shoot." But we do. We don't call it first-degree murder, but we also don't accept "I didn't MEAN to hit anyone in that crowded room" as an excuse for irresponsible actions with foreseeable deadly consequences.


I wrote:
Defunding and bringing the troops HOME is not an anti-troop position. Bringing them home to their families and communities is incredibly pro-troops.

Seriously the issue needs to be reframed. The only real power Congress has in this quagmire is the power of the purse.

Frankly, I see this as a winning issue -- several polls are now showing 71% of Americans disapprove of the way Iraq is being a
handled, 8-9% more than the number disapproving of Bush's performance as president. Other polls show between 51-61% think the invasion was never worth it.

In peace and respect,

Jeremy wrote:
Yes... NOW the polls show that. And NOW the Democrats are starting to push to get the troops home quickly. But go back and take a look at the polls two years ago, or even one year ago, and it was a very different story.

And regardless, cutting funding from the military is ALWAYS going to be spun as "anti-troop" by the people who oppose the decision. Have you not noticed the way the Republicans frame everything the Democrats do as "anti-troop" or "anti-American" no matter what it is? How many times did the phrase "cut and run" appear in the national news -- merely because some Democrats (and others) were suggesting that maybe, possibly, perhaps, we might want to consider a timetable for withdrawing troops. How many times did we hear it said that Democrats are weak on defense? And now you want Democrats to stick their necks out and CUT FUNDING for the troops who are actually in harm's way? You want them to vote AGAINST body armor and AGAINST upgrading weapons? You want them to vote AGAINST funding to attract new recruits and pay raises for the current troops? You want them to vote AGAINST giving the generals on the ground everything they ask for? How do you think that's going to be framed by the Republican radio and corporate media? How do you think that's going to play in, say, Virginia, where practically half the state is working in some way for the military?

Again, it seems as if you're acting as if politics takes place in the world you WISH you lived in, instead of the one you DO live in.


I wrote:
Hi Jeremy,

The world is what we as a people make of it. This ideal goes back to the foundations of our democracy. I guess I am still an idealist. And I want my children to also be idealists. I believe in working for a better world I want my children to live in. I suspect you probably agree with these ideals. Or do you simply believe in defering to those "in power" thus accepting the one we "DO live in" as a permanent existence?

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one..."

There has already been enough money appropriated to safely bring the troops home. If there was political willpower, they could be home safely within 90 days. It is pro-troops. I want their lives to be preserved and be put to better use. If we have another massive natural disaster -- do you realize that over 40% of the national guard is deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq? Bringing them home and defending lives here and helping to protect communities here IS patriotic.

Why can't the Dems see this? It would be nice if they took the initiative and reshaped the whole dialogue... Do I want them to stick their necks out politically? Sure! Lots of men, women and children are having their necks slit in Iraq on a daily basis -- literally not just in a political risk-taking sense. Defunding is the only way to end most of the bloodshed and bring the troops home -- Congress is not the commander in chief, but it does hold the purse strings. Also if you take a look at Vietnam, defunding was actually one of the primary reasons it finally came to an end.

So I am for defunding the occupation and military offensives, funding a safe and rapid withdrawal and the institution of regional peace talks and reconciliation talks (perhaps guided by the U.N.) between Sunnis and Shias. I am also for funding basic infrastructure rebuilding efforts and the defunding of permanent military bases (there are plans for 14 right now).

By the way, why aren't many troops getting the proper body armor NOW (and for the last three and a half years)? Because billions of dollars are going into the pockets of Haliburton, KBR and the like. By the way, I live next door to Virginia... Also many retired generals want us to leave -- the ones still in the field certainly don't want MORE troops and have basically said so.

This is something I've been helping out with recently:

I pray the new year will bring much more peace and understanding.

In peace and respect,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My friend assaulted in front of Lockheed Martin

A good friend of mine from the D.C. Anti-War Network was assualted by some violent police just yesterday. He was giving some good information on cluster bombs and Lockheed data when he was very roughly assaulted by Montgomery County Police.

The Video

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Occupation Project

Draft National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance
Working Proposal for NCNR's work with:
The Occupation Project –
Launch: February 5, 2007 and continuing for a minimum of eight weeks

Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) is organizing a campaign of
nonviolent civil resistance and civil disobedience to our government's
continued funding of war in and occupation of Iraq. The National
Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance has embraced this proposal, dubbed
"The Occupation Project," and look forward to working in coordination
with the campaign, The Declaration of Peace, Veterans for Peace, and
other endorsing coalitions.
The Occupation Project calls upon each Representative and Senator to
make a public pledge to vote against additional funds for the Iraq
war. The campaign calls for nonviolent direct action at the offices of
those legislators who do not make such a pledge. The campaign is
specifically focusing upon the supplemental funding bill for the war
and occupation, which President Bush will submit to Congress in early
February 2007. It is expected that this supplemental spending request
will be in excess of $120 billion.
The campaign to apply pressure on Congress during this supplemental
funding request will begin February 5th and continue for a minimum of
eight weeks.
All three of these coalitions (VCNV, DoP and NCNR) are committed to
nonviolent resistance during the last three years. Now it is clear
that, as with the Vietnam War three decades ago, cutting off funding
will become one of the primary causes for the cessation of
hostilities, the safe return of U.S. servicemen and women and the
restoration of the Iraq's right of self determination.
In the last Congress, Jim McGovern introduced the bill H.R. 4232 to
discontinue war funding. This bill stated that the only funding for
Iraq would be spent on removal of our military forces and basic
reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure. He is expected to introduce a
similar bill in 2007. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (H.R. 5875) and Rep. Barbara
Lee (H.R. 4939) also introduced bills regarding the occupation of Iraq
and the need to bring the troops home, both of these bills have been
widely supported by the anti-war movement.
Unfortunately, Democrats have largely ignored the obvious
dissatisfaction with the Iraq War and Occupation, which lead to their
winning the majority in both houses of Congress. In their talking
points, during broadcasts and public appearances, they typically list
three issue areas they promise to tackle, but unfortunately bringing
our young men and women home from Iraq and assisting Iraqis with
rebuilding their nation is not one of them. Clearly they need to be
reminded that votes don't come for free!
Rep. Dennis Kucinich has stated that new legislation is not needed.
He is gathering quotes on the changing positions of his fellow
Democrats when it comes to the war. He will pressure his colleagues to
simply vote no to all spending on the continued war and occupation,
which has now cost our nation more than $350 Billion, killed
approximately 655,000 Iraqis (according to one well-respected study),
2,900 U.S. military personnel – and seriously wounded more than
another 45,000.
As part of the Occupation Project, NCNR will help organize
actions on Capitol Hill, both in February and March during the
appropriations process. NCNR will decide the exact timing and nature
of these two actions within the next month. It will also join forces
in helping facilitate the organizing of decentralized nonviolent
direct actions in every state across the nation during the project's
eight-week period. NCNR will help by facilitating conference calls and
providing a list of nonviolence trainers across the country available
for local affinity groups planning nonviolent direct action at their
elected representatives' offices. Dialogue with the office will be
pursued first, of course, but if a satisfactory pledge to vote no to
further funding is not agreed to – then direct action in the form of
nonviolent resistance will be taken.
The supplemental military spending request will be a record
high one, reportedly in excess of $120 billion. Participants in this
action will discuss the legislation and strategy mentioned above with
their elected officials. We realize this campaign is non-partisan in
nature, and that the pledge to vote against funding will be the focus.
If the elected officials do not make this pledge then participants
occupy nonviolently Senators' and Representatives' offices in acts of
nonviolent resistance.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A personal interlude

As winter truly begins here in D.C., we are getting ready for this year's Washington Peace Center Peace and Justice Awards and Fundraiser. It will be this coming Saturday (the 16th), 6 p.m. at Foundry United Methodist Church on 16th Street NW.

Among those honored for their dedication and service to peace and justice are two dear friends: Malachy Kilbride and Donte Smith. Malachy I have known for more than three years now, we are both heavily involved with the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN). And Donte I only met in person recently, but we wrote when he was in prison for the action at School of the Americas (WHINSEC) the year before. They are both wonderful activists and extraordinary organizers. The peace and justice movement is lucky to have them.

Also, organizing is really ramping up for January 27th's major anti-war mobilization. It is time for the movement to come together and keep up the pressure on Congress to defund the war. Many activists are being distracted by another issues, which I consider to be an extreme pipe dream and somewhat partisan: impeachment. I am not against impeachment, but I am sorry to see and hear so many of my fellow activists continually push it as a cure-all. Dem leadership will never go for it, because they want to hold on to their majority of Congress for more than two years. Because of the disaster of Iraq, and that the mainstream media is beginning to acuratelyr eport it -- defunding has a chance. Not only that, I strongly feel it is the morally correct thing to do -- as well as the most effective way to end the imperialistic, illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq.

Oaxaca is still a mess as the Mexican government continues to suppress and in fact kill dissenters. I went to a rather powerful protest at the Mexican Embassy this week. It made me think about how there is a global resistance movement to the empire of the rich and how military expenditures continually keep ordinary men, women and children down. I am not becoming more militant, but I do wish to continue increasing my awareness of what is happening to my brothers and sisters throughout the world. More than 150 protestors have now been held in prison for more than a month in Oaxaca. I will try and keep them in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Tale of Two Campaigns

I was on a Declaration of Peace Conference Call last night. It was exciting to begin to hear the peace and justice movement getting ready to launch into its next phase following the midterm elections. The main thrust of the call was the campaign to defund the illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq.

As part of this campaign, and probably the most intense, will be what Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the National Campaign of Nonviolence Resistance will undertake beginning February 5th and lasting through March -- visiting and probably sitting in at many congress people's offices. The Declaration of Peace Coalition has decided to join this effort. It is expected that during the month of February and into early March Congress will likely pass record-large supplemental budgets paying for the continued war and occupation. It is expected that the military requests will amount to somewhere between $100 Billion to $120 Billion.

This intense phase will be called The Occupation Project. I am excited about it, and I (NCNR) along with Jeff Leys (VCNV) will begin to organize this phase this week along with regional organizers across the country. This is something I believe the peace and justice movement must undertake.

For the cost of the war and occupation of Iraq to date, we could have instead spent it on:
+ One year of comprehensive health insurance for more than 207 million children
+ About 6 million additional teachers
+ More than 3.1 additional housing units

The figures above are presented by the National Priorities Project.

This number is based on an analysis of the legislation in which Congress has allocated money for war so far and research by the Congressional Research Service. An article offered by the Strauss Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information offers greater insight into the problems of truly knowing how much has been spent on the Iraq War or other military operations. Other NPP information on the cost of the Iraq War includes the NPP Database Trade-offs Page; and the Local Costs of the Iraq War which includes the total cost allocated to date for numerous towns and counties across the country. This list is also more regularly updated with new locations than the list of the cost of Iraq War calculator. See also the NPP Charts page which offers comparative cost and casualty information on wars.

The other campaign which I will work on and participate fully in is the January 11th Witness Against Torture action. More than 450 detainees are being held in Guantanamo Bay and awaiting a military trial which has not even begun. Some have been there for five years. A few are as young as 14 years old.

On January 11th it will be exactly five years since people began to be illegally and immorally detained at Guantanamo. Many have been tortured by the U.S. government. This campaign to have all of the detainees brought immediately to civilian court -- not military -- and shut down Guantanamo has mostly been organized by the wonderful Catholic Workers. They are a true source of inspiration. A few of them have travelled to Cuba and held a 10-day vigil at the edge of Guantanamo Bay. All the trials have not begun, I understand they can face up to 10 years in jail for this truly peaceful and compassionate act.

More can be found about this campaign and the remarkable January 11th action at: Witness Against Torture. We do need people willing to participate! We should all feel compelled to do right when our government is doing so much wrong.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Call it exactly what it is...

It appears the mainstream media will now begin to call the deep sectarian violence in Iraq exactly what it is -- a civil war. The conflict has been increasing in its bloodshed for several months now. Just a couple days ago I saw General Odom say it was time to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from this disaster immediately.

I truly hope this is the beginning of the end. Here is The Boston Globe article:

Bucking White House, NBC says Iraq in 'civil war'
Usage increasing in news media
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | November 28, 2006

WASHINGTON -- NBC's "Today Show" host Matt Lauer yesterday told millions of American television viewers, many sitting at their breakfast tables, that the network would buck the White House and from now on describe the Iraq war as a "civil war."

The new policy, which NBC News said would cover all its news shows, could become a benchmark in public opinion about the war, according to media specialists.

Some media analysts compared it to CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite's declaration in 1968 that the United States was losing the Vietnam War -- a pronouncement now considered a turning point in public opinion -- and Ted Koppel's ABC updates on the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 and 1980 that infuriated Jimmy Carter's White House.

"How you frame a problem frames what the public thinks is the right thing to do," said James Steinberg , dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. "If Iraq is a democracy struggling against insurgents and you describe it that way, people might still support you. If it is a civil war, it is indisputably the case that Americans will say, 'What are we doing in the middle of a civil war?' "

Steinberg, who was deputy national security adviser under President Clinton, added: "The more they hear 'civil war,' the harder it is going to be to support a strategy that keeps a lot of American troops there in large numbers."

A few other media outlets with reporters in Baghdad have slowly begun to refer to the conflict as a civil war and still more said yesterday they were debating the issue after the NBC announcement. Lauer, whose announcement was termed "a bombshell" by the industry magazine Editor & Publisher, explained that NBC did not come to the decision lightly.

" For months now the White House has rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war. And for the most part, news organizations, like NBC, have hesitated to characterize it as such," Lauer said. "But after careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted -- that the situation in Iraq, with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas, can now be characterized as civil war.

"We didn't just wake up on a Monday morning and say, 'Let's call this a civil war,' " Lauer added.

The White House, for its part, continued to maintain that the expanding cycle of sectarian warfare in Iraq -- on full and painful display over the weekend with the deadliest round of revenge killings between Iraq's Shi'ite majority and Sunni minority -- does not yet amount to a civil war.

"While the situation on the ground is very serious, neither Prime Minister [Nouri] Maliki nor we believe that Iraq is in a civil war," the White House said in a statement. It noted that "the violence is largely centered around Baghdad, and Baghdad security and the increased training of Iraqi security forces is at the top of the agenda when President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki meet later this week in Jordan."

However, the government's position is increasingly being called into question. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, asked by reporters yesterday whether Iraq was a civil war, remarked: "We are almost there." And several leading military analysts have begun using the term in recent weeks.

The Los Angeles Times, dropping the usual qualifiers, flatly referred to the conflict as a civil war yesterday. So, in published stories, have The Christian Science Monitor and McClatchy newspapers.

"We began using it when that was clear that was going on, which was a number of months ago," said John Walcott , Washington bureau chief for the McClatchy chain. "When the Shi'a population is at war with the Sunni population and members of the Interior Ministry kidnap people from the Education Ministry, that sounds like a civil war."

Some other news organizations said that they, too, will permit the use of the term "civil war" where appropriate, though they prefer not to have a blanket policy.

"We talk about it every day," said Sandy Genelius , a CBS News spokeswoman. "But there is no edict here. Each producer and correspondent tries to put on the air what seems accurate and appropriate in the context of each story."

Bill Keller , executive editor of The New York Times, said in a statement yesterday that "after consulting with our reporters in the field and the editors who directly oversee this coverage," the paper has decided that the term "civil war" is now appropriate.

Yet Keller cautioned against using the description too much. "We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect," he said.

Before deciding its policy on the term, the Globe is weighing the judgments of the news organizations that have reporters regularly in Iraq.

Observers said the media's willingness to reject the White House's depiction of events was reminiscent of 1968, when Cronkite filmed a Vietnam documentary and offered his belief that the United States was losing the war.

"To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion," Cronkite said at the time. "The only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could."

President Johnson, after hearing Cronkite's broadcast, reportedly remarked, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

"There is a clear parallel," Edward C. Pease , a journalism professor at the University of Utah, said of yesterday's NBC broadcast during a morning time-slot that is now far more popular than the evening news. "The way the media frames things helps lead the public perception."

Globe correspondent Bryan McGonigle contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Agustin Aguayo's case

I attended the appeals hearing today of conscientious objector Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 34, at the D.C. Circuit Federal Court downtown. It was interesting, and there was some hope that Agustin will in fact prevail in his quest to be declared an official war objector and be released from the Army.

When Agustin first signed up for the Army as a medic, recruiters told him he would not have to carry a gun. This was latter proved to be false. On occasion he did carry a gun in Iraq, but refused to load it.

Elsa Rassbach, an American peace activist residing in Germany, was there and she has become a dear close friend to Agustin and his wife Helga. Attorney Peter Goldberger presented some persuasive arguments to the three judges hearing the appeal. Other peace activists J.E. McNeil, Gael Murphy, Kevin McCarron and myself were also on hand this morning to hear the oral arguments. Goldberger said it will likely take the judges 5-10 days to come to a decision and present a written decision.

Helga and Agustin's two young children do not have much money to travel and were not at the trial. For more info and opportunities to help this family:

Here is the AP Story:

War Objector Fate May Rely on Old Cases
The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 21, 2006; 12:40 PM

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court is rereading cases from the Vietnam era as it considers whether to allow an honorable discharge for an Army medic who announced his objections to war on the eve of his deployment to Iraq.

Appeals courts heard several cases on "conscientious objectors" during the Vietnam War draft but such appeals are much more rare in an all-volunteer military.

Agustin Aguayo, who enlisted in 2002 during the lead-up to the Iraq war, is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to release him from a military prison. It is believed to be the first federal appeal in a conscientious objector case during the Iraq war.

Aguayo, who is being held in a U.S. prison in Germany after going absent without leave, said he enlisted as a way to earn money for his education. Though military operations in Afghanistan were under way and discussions about Iraq were ongoing, he said he never considered that he'd have to fight.

Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of three judges on the case, said he'd been reading up on the Vietnam appeals and asked how the case differs from those filed decades ago by people who realized their opposition to war only after receiving a draft card.

Attorney Peter Goldberger said the Aguayo's beliefs evolved over time and "crystalized" to the point that he could no longer take a life.

Government attorneys say that's not enough. To receive conscientious-objector status, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin K. Robitaille said, a soldier must show a deeply rooted objection to war in any form.

In a statement submitted to the court and released on a Web site dedicated to his cause, Aguayo said he is being guided by his principles.

"My beliefs and morals come from a transformation as a direct result of my combined religious/family upbringing, military experience, and new experiences I've created and sought," he said.

The government argued _ and a federal judge in August agreed _ that Aguayo's religious beliefs existed when he enlisted. A soldier may not hide his beliefs to obtain military benefits, then use them as a way to get out of service, the court said.

Attorneys also noted that Aguayo applied as a conscientious objector only after receiving his orders to Iraq and did so at the same time as his best friend.

Supporters said Aguayo's actions are not uncommon. They said beliefs frequently evolve over time.

"People change their hearts and the law allows for it," said J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience & War.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pelosi and a Mandate for Peace

Hello my bloging readers! I write this essay today, having completed a protest jury trial and preparing myself to organize for a late January anti-war mobilization being lead by coalition leaders I'm not very enthusiastic about to say the least.

At this point, the Dems have won a solid majority in the House and a slim majority in the Senate. It remains my sincere belief that the only way to end the war and occupation in Iraq (and probably stop an attack on Iran) is to utilize the power of the purse. This would be to cut off funding of continued war and occupation of Iraq, to call for all groups to continue and intensify their negotiating process and begin with paying repair expenses to that nation's infrastructure. Military funding in this theater should be solely used for an orderly phasing out of U.S. troops from Iraq, and I believe this could be completed by April 2007.

In Congress' last session Jim McGovern of Mass. introduced HR4232. This bill essentially called for all that I specify above. He is expected to reintroduce this, and so the resolution number will change. There will also be a few other very similar bills introduced. This is an area where the Progressive Democrats of America and I agree.

United for Peace and Justice is calling for a major national mobilization in D.C. on January 27th. Although, this gives us on the ground very little time to organize, I think the timing does make sense politically. This mobilization is now being called Mandate for Peace. The objective is obvious. At the end of the Dem's first week in office, peace activists are to descend on the capitol to make it clear what the number one issue in the election was.

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker elect, has said on CNN and elsewhere that she doesn't think Dems will use the power of the purse. Well, then it is indeed our responsibility to convince her and her colleagues otherwise. This truly is about life and death, about justice and oppression. About asking "Where the hell are the government's priorities?" For the amount we have now spent on war and occupation ($342 Billion) in Iraq, we could have given 204.9 million kids health insurance for one year.

UFPJ has its problems, believe me. Among the top concerns I have with them is a lack of financial transparency and a national coordinator who seems to be in this position for a life time and is a remnant of the Vietnam Era. Hopefully the coalition will change its structure and current leadership, but I am not holding my breath. They are not bad folks, but they are a bit authoritarian and organize differently than most of the local folks here in D.C. With that said, I think we should make a strident effort to make January 27th a huge success. It is our responsibility, as the peace movement, to do so.

While many in the movement appear to be clamoring for impeachment, I see it as a distraction and actually more of a pipe dream than de-funding the war and occupation. With an increasingly unpopular and bloody war we have a chance of beginning to make this effort a bipartisan one. Impeachment proceedings will never be bipartisan, and therefore you have Pelosi saying it's not even on the table. She's smart, and she sees the potential of energizing the Republican base and probably losing power in two years if impeachment was thoroughly pursued.

So to those in the peace and justice movement: Come to D.C. January 27th! The D.C. Anti-War Network will be holding teach-ins and various protests leading up to this significant day of action. All those distrustful of authoritarianism, don't have to march under the banner of UFPJ, but you must turn out in D.C. on that cold winter day!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mistrial declared in our Rumsfeld case

Rumsfeld has been replaced by Robert Gates, former CIA director. The timing could not be better! Below is the press release I wrote late Thursday afternoon.

Defendants Receive Mistrial in Rumsfeld Protest

WASHINGTON – Three peace and justice protestors tasted victory yesterday when a District of Columbia jury of 12 men and women failed to reach a verdict in their trial stemming from a nonviolent action on May 18 th at the residence of Donald Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense.
The defendants were surprised by the deadlocked jury. After more than four hours of deliberation the six men, six women jury informed Associate Judge Harold Cushenberry Jr. of the D.C. Superior Court that they held strong opinions and could not reach a unanimous verdict. The charge leveled against David Barrows, Pete Perry and Mari Blome is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $100 fine.
The nonviolent protestors were arrested in the front yard of Rumsfeld's Northwest Washington , D.C. mansion by the Secret Service. Perry and Barrows, affiliated with the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN), defended themselves. Blome, affiliated with Code Pink, was represented by Washington attorney Ann Wilcox.
The defendants won a stunning Thursday afternoon victory against prosecution, reinforcing the importance of First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and the right to petition a redress of grievances to the government.
"When the very courts of our nation, our Department of Justice, the president, and our own Congress lack the courage, ethics and principles to support the basic human rights for which this country was founded," Barrows said. "Then the responsibility falls on us, the people, to defend the Bill of Rights, and the Geneva Convention."
Blome, a peace and anti-torture activist from California, came to Washington in May, July and September to participate in many anti-war protests and nonviolent actions. Among these actions was a personal 19-day hunger strike done in conjunction with Code Pink's Troops Home Fast.
"We live in very serious times when there are no longer traditional avenues to redress our grievances, because of an unresponsive government," Blome said. "This includes a Congress who last month passed a law allowing the practice of torture."
The three activists are scheduled to appear at a status hearing on December 13th to determine if the government wishes to refile the charges against them.
The resignation of Rumsfeld is being recognized as an acknowledgement of failed international policies.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Trial Continues

Today the trial of the remaining Rumsfeld three continues today. We have what I think is a diverse and fair jury. Maximum sentence is six months in prison for nonviolently delivering an anti-war and anti-torture message to Donald Rumsfeld's residence at 2206 Kalorama Road in May.

I wish I could write more, but I can't right now. No media coverage yet, as this is obviously a tough time with the elections going on.

Please note, a couple days ago the Army Times, Navy Times and Marine Times published an editorial calling for Rumsfeld to step down as secretary of defense.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rumsfeld 4 Jury Trial to Begin Monday

WASHINGTON – Four peace and anti-torture activists will appear in court Monday, November 6 th in a jury trial stemming from a protest against a war with Iran, at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's home in May.
The four nonviolent protestors were arrested on May 18th by the Secret Service when they entered the front yard of Rumsfeld's mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood of northwest Washington. They are charged with unlawful entry and face a maximum sentence of six months in prison, and $100 in fines.
Pete Perry and David Barrows of the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN) will defend themselves, with Washington attorney Mark Goldstone serving as attorney advisor. Mari Blome and Katie Heald, affiliated with Code Pink are represented by Washington attorney Ann Wilcox.

"We were not breaking a law," Perry said. "We were peacefully delivering an anti-war and anti-torture message to a public official we hold responsible for the unlawful entry of Iraq and the sanctioning of torture of detainees held by our government."

In September, three of the four defendants were acquitted in a bench trial of disorderly conduct. One entered a plea agreement with the government and is performing community service at the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition.

This time the four activists will face a jury of their peers.

"We look forward to arguing our case," Blome said. "We want people to know that we find Rumsfeld's actions intolerable, and that we will defend our first amendment right to petition for a redress of grievances to our government."

The trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Moultrie Courthouse (Superior Court of the District of Columbia) at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C.

The arrests occurred following a peaceful march from the White House to Rumsfeld's house, which was attended by Cindy Sheehan, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and comedian and activist Dick Gregory.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Global warming could cause economic depression, report warns

As a Green, I am extremely concerned about global warming. Finally, even conservatives are beginning to acknowledge the current reality of global warming and what this could mean for rising ocean levels. Our local Pacifica Radio station, WPFW, was discussing new findings today. And then I ran across the following article. Signing onto the Kyoto Protocols should be just the first step for our government.

By William Neikirk

Chicago Tribune


WASHINGTON - Left unchecked, global warming could drive the world economy into a depression similar to the devastating downturn of the 1930s, the British government said Monday in a report that appeared designed to influence politics in the United States.

The report, written by Nicholas Stern, head of the British Government Economic Service and a former World Bank economist, said the environmental cost of global warming could range between 5 percent and 20 percent of the world's gross domestic product, or total annual economic output, after 2050.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has sought to persuade President Bush to take a more aggressive stance in tackling global warming, hired former Vice President Al Gore on Monday to advise his government on climate change - an action that could be considered a political shot across the bow. Gore, who has warned of the dangers of global warming for years, is one of Bush's sharpest critics on the environment.

Blair told reporters in London the report called for "bold and decisive action" and "demolished the last remaining argument for inaction in the face of climate change."

Supporters of proposals to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions, as called for in an international agreement in Kyoto, Japan, in the 1990s, hailed the report for putting global warming in an economic context, and added that this could help change U.S. policy. Bush has refused to sign the Kyoto treaty because of the economic impact it would have on the U.S.

The report said the world could avoid drastic economic and environmental consequences by acting as soon as possible to cut industrial emissions that contribute to global warming. Bringing these emissions under control would cost the equivalent of 1 percent of annual economic output by 2050, the report said. That is a relatively modest cost to avoid a possible catastrophe, environmental groups said.

But critics said the Stern report is flawed. Jerry Taylor, an economist at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said it exaggerates the economic costs and the extent of global warming that would occur if allowed to go unabated. Previous global warming studies have shown relative modest economic impacts on the world, he said.

While Bush opposes the Kyoto treaty, he has proposed new "clean" energy initiatives that he said would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent by 2012. These include clean coal technology and expansion of alternative energy sources.

Kristen Hellmer, spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement that "the president has long recognized that climate change is a serious issue, and he has committed the U.S. to advancing and investing in the new technologies to help address this problem."

As for Gore's hiring, she said, "the U.K. can hire whomever they want."

Many Republicans think that Bush hasn't gone far enough. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., teaming with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., has proposed bipartisan legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions in the utility, transportation, industrial and commercial sectors. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., have sponsored similar legislation.

Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he doubted that Bush would support either the Kyoto treaty or legislation that would require reduction of emissions. But he added that he believes the next president would sign on to an emissions-reduction program to cut global warming.

"The Stern report exposes the bankruptcy of the arguments of President Bush and some in Congress and industry that taking action on global warming will hurt the economy," Meyer added.

But Cato's Taylor said the report appeared to overstate the extent of global warming that would result if nothing were done to check it. The new British report estimates that, at current trends, global average temperatures would increase by 3.6 degrees to 5.4 degrees over the next 50 years. That's roughly double the amount of warming projected in other studies, Taylor said.

But if global temperatures should rise by such an amount, the report said, glaciers would melt and sea levels would rise. There would be drinking water shortages, widespread malnutrition and outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever. Such major cities as New York, London and Tokyo could be hit with flooding.

The report praised efforts by California and other states. Blair signed an agreement earlier this year with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to develop technologies to address climate change. Last month, the governor signed a measure imposing an emissions cap on utilities, refineries and manufacturing facilities.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My opinion of "Death of a President"

I went last night with a couple good friends to see "Death of a President," one a frequent co-protestor and the other a very long-time friend and fellow native of D.C. We celebrated my birthday at a very good Chinese restaurant in the now rapidly dwindling Chinatown before we headed for Landmark's E Street Cinema. This is a great theater with a lot of very good independent and foreign films. It is also the only theater in the D.C. area to show this controversial film.

The acting is kind of mediocre, as I was unimpressed and couldn't suspend disbelief while watching the supposed heartfelt reflections of a Chicago police officer, an FBI agent, a Secret Service agent and President Bush's speechwriter on the infamous day of October 19, 2007. That's the day President Bush is assassinated. The actual shooting, in the lobby of a downtown Chicago hotel was kind of unexciting, and although the outcome of discovering who was indeed the assassin was unsurprising -- it was still disturbing. Despite the poor acting and somewhat predictable plot -- there are powerful moments.

However, I was annoyed by the way it portrayed the extremely rowdy and somewhat violent protestors on the streets of Chicago. This again reaffirmed in my mind why it is important for us to remain nonviolent in our resistance to this illegal and immoral war and the expression of dissent to the "war on terror" and the suspension of many of our civil liberties. I bet World Can't Wait/Revolutionary Communist Party will both be annoyed and perversely glad that their name was mentioned as one of the more extreme protest groups, along with pro-choicers and "nutty" environmentalists.

What is the scarriest thing about this movie is President Cheney and the quickening dissent into fascism. It honestly discusses the extreme unpopularity of the war and occupation of Iraq and the many human costs of the war, as well as racism and the disturbing belief Bush and many of his cronies have that he has somehow been selected by God.

Overall, it is worth going to watch. Not a great film, but a decent look at contemporary America and the frightening direction we are heading.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This Tuesday we act when Bush signs the Military Commissions Act of 2006

Please join The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture (WRRCAT) on Tuesday October 17, at 9:00 am in front of the White House to demonstrate our profound opposition to the "Military Commissions Act." DAWN and Montgomery
County Peace Action have endorsed this action, as well as others.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law during a ceremony at the White House. The law would fundamentally change American interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. We'd like to have a sizable number outside of the White House to convey to the American public that there are still some Americans who support Common Article 3, of the Geneva Convention that prohibits "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading treatment" and "outrages upon personal dignity." President Bush and the US Congress contend that this language is vague. The President claims it doesn't give "clear" guidance about what is
permitted and what is prohibited during interrogations. Common Article 3 has served humanity since 1950.

The Military Commissions Act repeals much of the law enforcing the Geneva Conventions. The law also retroactively absolves administration officials of legal responsibility for past war crimes.

Prisoners will be denied the right to challenge their captivity in court. This is pretty basic stuff that predates the Magna Carta of 1215. The Chimes of Freedom are dumb struck. Please join us.

There has been no official announcement from the White House regarding this signing ceremony, although unofficial sources point to an October 17th signing. Please check the WRRCAT Web site, for more information.

And for some analysis on this bill:
Commentary on The Military Commissions Act

Monday, October 09, 2006

On being a Green and searching for a new job

I have begun my search for a job, which will have some meaning for me and will hopefully be personally rewarding. A good part of this afternoon, I will spend working on my resume and checking out a bunch of different progressive non-profit organizations on the Web.

Here are a few I am very interested in:
Peace Action
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Public Citizen

Regarding USPIRG, I noticed one of their canvasers today outside of my work. If you see these young guys and gals around town, talk to them. Sign their petition, offer to buy them lunch. They are doing some great work, and the work is very demanding! Here are some of the important environmental campaigns they have taken on right now:
USPIRG Campaigns

I guess the environment is something I have not yet taken on in my blog. Of course the earth is our home, and there's more all of us could do. I do make my best attempts to buy only recycled paper products. I am the only one in my house who tries to recycle as much as we possibly can. It is a little disheartening to see so many people in the area who don't recycle at all! This care for the environment and concern for the earth's future are central to being a Green in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Update on Rumsfeld 4 and further reflections on 9/26 and 9/27

On Tuesday Mari Blome, Katie Heald, David Barrows and I appeared in court in regarding the unlwaful entry charge stemming from the May 18th Rumsfeld protest. We were prepared to go to trial, which will be a jury trial since the maximum sentence is six months in prison. However, the matter has been postponed until November 6th. I am not very hopeful of getting much media attention, as this is the day before the election.

Mari (Tobi) and Katie are associated with Code Pink. David and I are with the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN). We continue to be enthusiastic about arguing our first amendment rights before a jury of our peers.

One supporter joining us in the court house was the brave Eve Tetaz, an over-70 local peace activist who was also with us on 9/26 and 9/27. On 9/26 (the Senate side action) Eve was knocked to the ground by aggressive Capitol Hill Police and recieved a large bump to her head before being arrested. The very next day (the House side action) she chose to risk arrest, and was therefore held overnight. Two Catholic priests, Louis Vitale and Jerry (?), were also arrested both days and held over night the second time. These three individuals are some of the most brave and committed people I have the pleasure of knowing within the peace movement.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Two Days of Resistance

On September 26th and 27th, two wonderful coalitions came together on Capitol Hill to express nonviolently their outrage over the war and occupationof Iraq. On Tuesday 71 people were arrested in three different locations focusing on the Senate. On Wednesday 26 people were arrested in front of the House Rayburn office building, and soon after three women were arrested in the House gallery during a debate over a bill which will now gradually scale back habeas corpus, the guiding light of our judicial system.

Both days got scant media coverage, but both the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance and the Declaration of Peace became stronger and are already contemplating future actions.

I was arrested among the second group on Tuesday, as we blocked one entrance to the Russell Senate Office Building. Before us, a group mostly from Baltimore were arrested as they tried to bring a coffin with pictures of the war dead to the West Lawn of the Capitol. After us, about 40 were arrested inside the Hart Senate Office Building.

Below is a report from CNN. I won't bother with The Washington Post article as it wasn't exactly accurate nor fair.

Peaceful Iraq war protests prompt 71 arrests
From Lisa Goddard

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Presbyterian ministers were among 71 people arrested during a series of peaceful protests against the Iraq war Tuesday, said a spokeswoman for a group participating in the protests.

Demonstrators held sit-ins, prayer services and sing-alongs at four locations in the Capitol complex, including the central atrium of the Senate Hart Office Building.

The demonstrations were reminiscent of the Vietnam era, with protesters strumming guitars, singing peace songs, holding flowers and wearing hats made of balloons. (Watch war protesters face the music -- 1:28)

Senate staffers watched the demonstrators from their offices. Protesters said that several workers gave them a thumbs-up or other signs of approval. (Watch how the protests are part of a highly charged day in Washington -- 2:23external link)

"We are trying to protest a lack of civil liberties and to try and end a war culture," said protester Alex Bryan of New York.

Thirty-three of those arrested were charged with unlawful conduct inside the Hart Building, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police.

Thirty-eight more demonstrators were arrested at separate protests near the Capitol, she said. Of those, 23 were charged with crossing a police line and 15 were charged with demonstrating without a permit.

All of those arrested were cooperative with police, Schneider said.

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, which has organized dozens of anti-war protests around the country, coordinated Tuesday's effort, which included several religious and secular groups.

Among those arrested during the demonstrations were two Presbyterian ministers, a Catholic activist and a member of a Quaker group, said Jennifer Kuiper, spokeswoman for The Declaration of Peace, one of the groups participating in the protests.

Both groups apparently expected participants to be arrested. On a notice posted at The Declaration of Peace Web site, the protests are described as an "interfaith religious procession around the Capitol, followed by peace presence and nonviolent resistance, including risking arrest at the U.S. Senate."

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Web site adds, "Those willing to engage in nonviolent acts of civil resistance against the war and occupation are encouraged to join us. We also enthusiastically call upon those who cannot risk arrest, but who are willing to support those who do."

Despite a rising tide of war opposition, the protesters said they represent no party or political movement.

Baptist minister Jamie Washam of Wisconsin, who led an interfaith service during the protests, said she is adamantly opposed to the war.

"My congregation wants peace," she said. "And I think it's an offense to God."

Tuesday's events in Washington were part of 375 protests and other activities being held around the country this week in opposition to the war, according to The Declaration of Peace.

There were hundreds of arrests in a protest organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance a year ago. On September 26, 2005, 371 people were arrested during the "Resist and Remember" protest in Washington, one of the organization's founders, Gordon Clark, wrote in an online article.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wash Post: Week of Action Begins

Antiwar Push Starts Near White House; 34 Arrested

By Sue Anne Pressley Montes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 22, 2006; A08

A group of ministers, veterans and peace activists attempted to deliver a "declaration of peace" to the White House yesterday, kicking off a week of vigils and other activities in 350 communities across the country calling for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Thirty-four people were arrested here and charged with disorderly conduct after they demanded to speak with President Bush, then refused to leave the west gate of the White House. As part of an initiative of more than 400 groups, many of them religiously affiliated, the activists said they had to "bear moral witness" against the U.S. military role in Iraq.

"We are in a time of peril, and people of morals have got to stand up," said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., who founded the D.C.-based Hip Hop Caucus to involve youths in political and social action and helped to lead yesterday's protest. "If we don't stand now in the 21st century, there will not be a 22nd century. We will destroy ourselves -- we will either solve this together or die as fools together."

The day's activities also featured vigils for peace in dozens of cities and towns, including Little Rock; Tucson; Pasadena, Calif.; Miami; Decatur, Ga.; Pittsburgh; and Austin. In San Diego today, there will be a Dance Action for Peace. Tomorrow in Cincinnati, a tent city dedicated to peace will be erected. San Francisco is hosting a mass bicycle ride to protest the conflict in Iraq, and Madison, Wis., is holding community forums on the issue.

The week's activities will include civil disobedience actions at the U.S. Capitol, organizers said, as participants try to persuade members of Congress to sign the declaration of peace, a document demanding that the Bush administration "establish a concrete and rapid plan to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq."

The declaration of peace was created after religious and secular peace groups, including the Methodist Federation for Social Action, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and United for Peace and Justice, began discussions in January. Since then, the document has received more than 12,000 signatures online. Thousands more signatures have been gathered in petition campaigns around the country, organizers said.

At yesterday's event outside the White House, about 75 people listened as Yearwood and others explained their purpose. Some held small, red "stop" signs to show their support for an end to the war and chanted, "No to war! We declare peace!"

"Today, here in front of the White House, we kick off a week of intensive antiwar action throughout the nation," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, which she described as the country's largest antiwar coalition. "It is time to end the war in Iraq. It is time to bring all of the troops home."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sunday Die-In at White House

Yesterday, a half-dozen of us participated in a dramatic die-in in front of the White house, as dozens of tourists watched and discussed our nation's aggressive and immoral role in the war and occupationof Iraq.

A small group of us have become a little frustrated by the low turnout at Camp Democracy and the relative lack of willingness on the part of many participants there to take concrete anti-war action.

We donned t-shits with messages like "Young Iraqi Boy, Cluster Bomb," "U.S. Soldier, Friendly Fire," "Iraqi Civillian, Tortured" and had fake blood packets underneath. We covered the t-shirts with normal looking button down shirts and behaved like tourists at first.

When we did the action, two others became spokespersons and reminded all the onlookers that this is what war is about as we lay there bloodied with our messages, and that their tax dollars are being spent this way. They also urged people to learn more by stopping by Camp Democracy.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Four Vets Detained at Pentagon

4 Iraq War Vets Detained at Pentagon

Tell A Friend

by David Swanson

Online at:

Speakers available for interviews:

Four Iraq War Vets Detained at Pentagon

What: Press Conference with veterans who have been detained, and possibly arrested, at the Pentagon

When: 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006

Where: Camp Democracy on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near Fourth Street.

Four veterans of the current war in Iraq and one supporter (a total of five young men) were detained at the Pentagon today after they attended an open house and left behind flyers providing information about the lethal effects of depleted uranium.

The five (if released) and leaders of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Sunday, September 10, at Camp Democracy, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near Fourth Street.

The veterans observed literature available in the Pentagon's chapel, which is at the site of the 9-11 plane crash. This literature, produced at tax-payer expense, included copies of the New Testament in camouflage covers.

They left behind flyers explaining the effects of depleted uranium. Some of the vets detained currently suffer from depleted uranium poisoning.

The four vets are Steve Mortillo of Pennington, N.J.; Joe Hatcher of San Diego, Calif.; Geoff Millard of Buffalo, N.Y.; and Toby Hartbarger of Indiana. Also detained was Gregory "Tristan" Watson of Chicago, Ill.

Retired Col. Ann Wright said, "Iraq vets who have suffered the effects of depleted uranium have every right to educate others about the terrible effects of this illegal substance used in weapons produced by the United States government."

For more information see:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Camp Democracy Begins!

Although Camp Democracy does not start until tomorrow morning, the 5th of September, there have already been people staying over night watching the tents near the intersection of 15th and Constitution Avenue N.W., located between the Washington Monument and the American History Museum.

This is an exciting time for the movement. Finally, about two-thirds of Americans agree that the war and occupation in Iraq must be ended, Americans are also aware of how they are being short-changed at home. There must be more funds for Hurricane Katrina relief, there must be healthcare for all Americans and it's time to stop the chipping away of our civil liberties! The question is how do we transform this sentiment into action?

Friday and Saturday night, my friend Jamie, a young peace and justice activist camped the nights on site. Friday he was rained on and there was some flooding under two of the tents. Saturday, I went down to visit with him briefly with a mutual friend after we saw the documentary film on the troubled Iraqi elections in 2005, "My Country, My Country!" at the Avalon theater. Excellent film and the film maker spoke to the audience after the show.

Then I visited Camp Democracy again last night, and there was a group of students from University of Maryland holding watch. They were a great group, full of enthusiasm. They are with the student group at College Park called Peace Forum. I only stayed a little while, but it made me hopeful that so many in the younger generation are dedicated to building a more just and peaceful future.

Tuesday evening, DAWN will hold its regular weekly meeting there. We are a open, non-member group who has gone through some internal strife recently, but we are alive and still engaged in organizing. In fact, two of the strong forces in erecting Camp Democracy are Pat Elder and Jose Rodriguez -- two DAWNistas! These two guys have done a lot of the work thus far, in addition to David Swanson of, and Karen Bradley of Democracy Cell Project.

More info for Tuesday, opening day of the camp:

Contact: Ryan Fletcher 202-641-0277
Michael McPhearson 314-303-8874
Nancy Lessin 617-320-5301
Camp Democracy contact: David Swanson 202-329-7847 or Online at:
Veterans and Military Families Hold Press Conference and Day of Events to Open Camp Democracy September 5th

WASHINGTON, DC - September 5th in Washington DC will witness the opening of a 17-day event called Camp Democracy, a non-partisan camp for peace and democracy, focusing on ending the war in Iraq, righting injustices here at home and on holding accountable the Bush Administration and Congress.

WHO: Veterans of the Iraq War and Other Conflicts, Military and Gold Star Families
WHAT: Silent Procession, Press Conference, and Day of Activities to Open Camp Democracy
WHERE: Camp Democracy will be located at Constitution Avenue and 14th Street NW
WHEN: Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Summary of events on Tuesday, September 5, 2006:
For a full schedule of events, go to:

8:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. -Vigil, March around Capitol Building to remember the fallen and remind Congress of the human cost of the War in Iraq (visuals include combat boots and shoes representing the fallen; tombstones, pictures), led by Veteran, Military and Gold Star families. Assembly point is 1st and Independence at 8:00 a.m.; procession steps off at 8:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m. to Noon
• Opening Press Conference featuring Iraq War Veterans, Military Families, Gold Star Families, Veterans of other Conflicts
• Opening Ceremony at Camp Democracy
• Speak-Out featuring members of Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace

1:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. - Roundtable Discussion: Why We Say "Bring Them Home NOW, and How To Make That Happen (Veterans and Military Families)

4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Panel Discussion - How the U.S. anti-war/Peace and Justice movements can support reconciliation and Peace in Iraq and the greater Middle East.

7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. – Sneak Preview Film Screening: "The Ground Truth" – Iraq Veterans talk about their wounds of war, and the hidden wounds of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; followed by a panel of Veterans and Military Families discussing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Opening soon in major theaters across the country.

9:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. - Concert featuring Anne Feeney and Emma's Revolution

For more information see: , ,

Technical note: Events in the morning on the 5th will use a sound system powered by batteries. There will be no power outlets available to the media (or anyone else) until after our generators arrive at 11 a.m. and are hooked up and started.


Members of Congress, Progressive Democrats of America to “Organize the Progressive Agenda” at Camp Democracy Sept 6th

PDA Main Contact: Tim Carpenter 413-320-2015
PDA Camp Democracy Contact: Mike Hersh 240-483-3191
Camp Democracy Contact: David Swanson 202-329-7847

WASHINGTON, DC - Several Members of Congress will join grassroots activists on September 6 to present more effective, better alternatives to the failed, fatal policies of the Bush/Cheney Administration. They will lead discussions about Ending the Iraq War, Implementing Single-Payer Universal Health Care, Helping Katrina / Rita Refugees, and other critical issues.

PDA National Board Members Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Rep. Barbara Lee, (Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus); Rep. Maxine Waters, (Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus); Rep. Jim McGovern, Sponsor of H.R. 4232: End the War in Iraq Act; Rep. Bob Filner; PDA Executive Director Tim Carpenter; PDA Board Members Rev. Lennox Yearwood (CEO Hip Hop Caucus), Steve Cobble, (Peace, Trade, and Voting Rights expert) and Joel Segal (Legislative Aid for Health Policy, for Rep. John Conyers) will present a Progressive Agenda for National Security and Domestic / Human Needs. Local and national political activists will join them. All events will be in the Main Tent on Constitution Ave. between 14 St. and 15 St. near the Washington Monument.

4:00 PM. Rev. Yearwood, just back from New Orleans, will report on continued devastation and suffering then lead a discussion about the campaign to pass the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Act.

5:00 PM. Joel Segal will lead a discussion of HR-676, legislation to implement a universal, single-payer healthcare system, eliminate corporate waste in health care and cover all of the 45 million Americans who lack access to quality health care today.

5:30 PM. Rep. Lynn Woolsey will lead a discussion on legislation to end funding for the Iraq war and to bring the troops home now with Grassroots progressive leaders.

And here's more info about Laura Portias' film "My Country, My Country!":

Friday, August 25, 2006

Two Days of Nonviolent Direct Action in September

Direct Action Planned for September 26th & 27th at the U.S. Congress.
Peace-loving people are moving to make nonviolent history in September 2006.

September will put peace in Iraq back at the top the news agenda of this nation, and in a timely fashion. As national mid-term elections approach in November, the majority of American people now understand the folly and tragedy of the war in Iraq. Every day more and more understand that the war was a mistake and want it ended. Yet Congress is not heeding the voices or the will of the American people.

Therefore, the forces of nonviolence are on the move. Nonviolent opposition to the war in Iraq is emerging in many forms that are focused on reclaiming power in Washington, D.C. to end the occupation and bring our troops home. From Voters for Peace to Camp Casey III to Camp Democracy to the Declaration of Peace, people are committing their time, their treasure, their bodies and their energies to end
the war in Iraq and redirect the nation's business to meeting human

This month-long expression of people power to end the war in Iraq will culminate on September 26th and 27th with what promises to be two powerful, successive days of nonviolent direct action at the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. and in Congressional offices all across the country. On those two days and other September days preceding them, thousands of people will act across this nation and in its seat of power to stop the war-making business of Congress and redirect it to the business of peace-making.

The Declaration of Peace is taking the lead to organize September 27 actions both in D.C. and around the country, to be preceded by other activities that the Declaration of Peace is launching on September 21.

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) is taking the lead to organize the direct action in D.C. for September 26.

Registration forms for these days of action are available online. People are being encouraged to use them so that plans can be finalized in light of the number of people who commit to the actions. The September 26th registration for the NCNR-organized action is available at The registration for local and D.C. actions organized by the Declaration of Peace can be found at Organizers are also calling upon those who cannot risk arrest to come out and support those who do, as well as to participate in the pre-action rallies and other legal events.

The Declaration of Peace is a nationwide campaign to establish by September 21, 2006, a concrete and rapid plan for peace in Iraq, including:
• A prompt timetable for withdrawal of troops and closures of
• A peace process for security, reconstruction, and
• The shift of funding war to meeting human needs

People across the United States are signing the Declaration of Peace
pledge, a commitment to take direct action if this plan is not created and activated by Congress by September 21, the International Day of Peace. From September 21–28, Declaration of Peace signers will highlight their opposition to the US occupation of Iraq, and support for a comprehensive peace process by taking part in nonviolent
actions, marches, rallies, demonstrations, interfaith services, candlelight vigils, and other creative ways to declare peace at the US Capitol and in cities and towns across the US.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nonviolence Trainings at Camp Democracy

Here is a large part of my involvement with Camp Democracy at this point -- assembling and organizing the nonviolence trainings. On these dates Camp Democracy should either be on The Mall between Air and Space and the National Gallery of Art, or next to the corner of 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW (near the foot of Washington Monument).

Sept. 16 -- 10a.m.-1p.m.
Nadine Bloch
Gordon Clark

Sept. 17 -- 12p.m.-3p.m.
Mubarak Awad
Susan Crane

Sept. 18 -- 10a.m.-1p.m.
Michael Beer
Sunny Miller

Sept. 19 --
Tom Hastings
Judith Kelly

Sept. 20 -- 10a.m.-1p.m.
A)Ken Butigan
Liz Walz

B)Art Laffin
Judith Kelly

As suggested above, the permit situation is still a little bit in flux. But I think it will all work out! This is a great event with some different coalitions coming together -- women's rights groups, immigrant rights groups and plenty of peace and justice groups! There will also be movies, panel discussions, live music and more... Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Truth from the ground: A citizen report from Lebanon

The following is a citizen report from a native Lebanese on the ground. These are the kind of accounts most of us in America don't know about. I was with a couple friends this evening watching CNN for a few minutes, and the reporting was sickening. There was just this blind acceptance of what the Israeli military is saying and what our government has stated. I encourage everyone to look beyond the corporate, unquestioning mass media in our nation.

There are ordinary men, women and children in Lebanon being slaughtered by air attacks, and now by an actual invading ground force! Almost all of these people have very little to do with politics.

In other news, four peace activists were arrested for nonviolently protesting and standing in the State Department driveway today. They were demanding the U.S. stop blindly endorsing every thing Israel does and cease funding its military.

Dear All:

The below email is from a Lebanese friend who is explaining the situation out there.. Plz forward to everyone.. Thats the least we can do..

Dear Samar,

Ha! I think I am becoming a reporter now! First, we are still safe, but hardly anyone sleeps. The bombing has been continuous, day and night with no reprieve. We are in the mountains and we are awakened by the sound of the explosions. And it's not as if you

can just fall back asleep after hearing a bomb land. You can imagine what it is like if you are in Beirut. The situation is extremely serious.

I want to reiterate that we need your help in disseminating this information and hopefully getting it to the press. The news you are receiving is skewed. This is a well orchestrated war that Israel is carrying out. This is not a reaction to Hizbullah's apprehending two of its soldiers. It becomes clearer by the day

that there is a master plan that Israel is executing. Israel has literally kidnapped the entire country. One by one they are destroying every single road that leads out of the country. Just this evening around 8:00 p.m. we heard Israeli planes flying overhead only to hear a few minutes later on the radio that they

destroyed a mountain road that leads to the Bekaa valley. This road is further up the mountain from where we live, in a primarily Christian village.

On the news earlier we heard that of the 93 Lebanese killed, only 3 were soldiers. As of 8:30 p.m. more than 120 Lebanese are dead and over 500 wounded.

Yesterday they bombed a small port in Amchit, a Christian village about one hour north of Beirut. Why? The Israelis got wind that a French ship carrying medical supplies was arriving. Damaging the port they prevented these critical medical supplies from reaching

their destination.

Yesterday, my niece was attending a wedding-poor couple-could they really delay their wedding after months of planning? The wedding was held not too far from Jounieh, a major port about 25 minutes

north of Beirut, a Christian town and definitely not a Hizbullah stronghold (you know Jounieh of course). Everyone was on the terrace celebrating when Israel

repeatedly attacked the Jounieh port. My niece said that everyone ran into the church and prayed. The bride was crying. The groom was crying. My niece left the wedding flying down the main highway while bombs whistled by. Nice memories for the newlyweds.

This afternoon, the Israelis decimated a small Christian village,Ain Ebel in the south of Lebanon. The mayor was pleading with the UN for a cessation of the Israeli bombing so they could evacuate women and children, and eventually to get food and medical supplies. Again, Ain Ebel is far from being a Hizbullah basis.

In the southern suburb of Beirut, Israelis knocked out all telecommunications-both land and mobile.They just struck the airport again, as I have been writing this.

This must be the sixth or seventh time, I lost count!

Over 1 million Lebanese, that's nearly one third of the entire population has been displaced! Hotels, homes in the mountains are packed to the brim trying to accommodate these people made refugees

in their own country.

Is anyone really still convinced that Israel is attacking only Hizbullah targets?

is anyone really still convinced that Israel has a right to defend itself-and if so, in this way?

Even during the 15 years of war, never ever were all roads, ports, and airports simultaneously blocked. When I was in Saudi, we would fly to Cyprus then take the boat to Jounieh. Now there is no way out. Israel has kidnapped and trapped the entire country.

There are more than 17, 000 French citizens, more than 10, 000 English, more than 25, 000 Americans and many more other foreign nationals trapped because Israel has blown up all major roads,

bridges, airports and ports. Their actions are barbaric. The British Ambassador made a public announcement on television telling his compatriots that the roads are not safe enough to travel on for an evacuation and urged them to just remain at home. How reassuring! You hear news of evacuations, but we are all wondering

how anyone can get out when roads, bridges and ports have been damaged so severely.

Now, to end with a little story. A news item that I am sure did not make big news in the American press:

On June 21, 2006, about three weeks ago, The Daily Star, published an article about Lebanon expecting

complete support from the UN Security Council about a complaint the Lebanese government was presenting to them. The Lebanese were following proper international protocol. What was discovered? The Mossad has a

network in Lebanon and has assassinated at least 3 Lebanese citizens which the Israelis believed to be "terrorists."

I ask here: What is worse? Hizbullah's kidnapping two Israeli soldiers or Israeli agents coming onto Lebanese territory and assassinating its citizens? It's like having a North Korean secret service cell in the U.S. killing American citizens. Would the U.S.sit back and do nothing? It's an outrage. Yet, Israel destroys

Lebanon with impunity and no one pays attention to the infractions that Israel does. And what right does Lebanon have to defend itself? If Lebanon, dared to do what Israel is doing to it now, it would be labeled "terrorist."

I once again plead with you to get this news out. Israel is destroying Lebanon while the United States puts its head in the sand! These atrocities must stop!

10:10 p.m. The bombs are exploding. Another sleepless night ahead..

Rosie AKL.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Camp Democracy Taking Shape: Where Were You?

The following is an update from key organizer, David Swanson.

Sunny Miller, from the famous Traprock Peace Center, and I are organizing a series of nonviolence trainings during Camp Democracy...

Where Were You When They Took Your Rights Away?
> By David Swanson
> Can you name the one country on earth where the government can steal
> elections, strip away basic rights, spy on citizens, and launch wars based
> on lies, but where the people do not take over the nation's capital in
> protest?
> If you said the United States, you'll be wrong on September fifth when Camp
> Democracy begins on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
> At long last, Americans are preparing to say "Enough is enough," and to do
> what Ukrainians, Mexicans, or any other people not drugged into acquiescence
> would do when things got this bad: occupy the capital city to demand peace,
> justice, and accountability.
> The goal of the many organizations and individuals working to prepare for
> Camp Democracy is to provide a space for everyone who is fed up with lies
> and criminality to come and demand change. In fact, at the suggestion of
> Cindy Sheehan who will come to Camp Democracy following Camp Casey (Aug. 16
> � Sept. 2 in Crawford, Texas), we're calling it Camp Democracy at Fort Fed
> Up. Our demands will not be for anarchy or disorder, but for a restoration
> of the rule of law. This is a tough-on-crime movement. We just have a
> different notion of who the criminals are. And when we get tough, we use
> nonviolence.
> Camp Democracy will offer training in nonviolent protest, as well as in
> media production, activism, and PR. There will be workshops provided by top
> scholars and activists on a variety of issues � all of them connected by the
> democracy deficit, the shifting of resources against our will to war and
> away from useful endeavors. A schedule of events is posted on the right
> side of the website and we'll be building
> toward the International Day of Peace on September 21, when the Declaration
> of Peace has pledged to begin civil disobedience.
> While we are working hard to provide tents, bathrooms, stages, and necessary
> equipment, to arrange for places to stay and food to eat, and to schedule a
> rich array of educational and inspirational activities, Camp Democracy will
> become whatever the people who take part choose to make it. The effort is
> nonpartisan and will seek to hold Congress Members accountable as well as
> Bush, Cheney, and gang. But one focus of the camp will be impeachment.
> Speakers leading workshops on the subject will include Howard Zinn, Marcus
> Raskin, John Nichols, Dave Lindorff, Barbara Olshansky, and many more.
> This morning I was a guest lecturer at a college course on modern history.
> We spent two hours discussing impeachment, impeachable offenses, and where
> the Bush Administration's actions fit in history. This is where I think
> they fit: as a significant threat to end the oldest democracy on the planet.
> Never before has an American president offered anything close to this
> wide-ranging assault on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the powers
> of the legislative and judicial branches of government.
> Here's a sampling:
> Illegal spying in violation of FISA and the Fourth Amendment, openly
> confessed to, openly promoted in signing statements, known to involve phone
> calls, phone records, internet use, bank records, and observation of legal
> nonviolent activities.
> Illegal detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment, International law,
> U.S. Law, and a recent Supreme Court ruling.
> Rounding up of thousands of citizens and legal residents for detention or
> deportation.
> Torture, maintenance of secret camps, and extraordinary rendition, in
> violation of the Fourth Amendment, International Law, US Law, and openly
> promoted in signing statement and administration policy papers.
> Illegal war � launched illegally under international law, launched in
> violation of the U.S. Constitution which requires that the Congress declare
> war, and launched on the basis of feloniously misleading Congress and the
> American public.
> Use of a variety of illegal weapons.
> Illegal targeting of civilians, journalists, and hospitals.
> Illegal seizure of another nation's resources.
> Illegal use of funds in Iraq that had been appropriated for Afghanistan.
> Leaking of classified information in order to mislead the Congress and the
> public, and in order to punish truth tellers.
> Leaking of identity of an undercover agent.
> Retribution against whistleblowers.
> Use of signing statements to reverse 750 laws passed by Congress.
> Production of phony news reports at home and abroad.
> Dereliction of duty in neglecting global warming, hurricanes, hunger, AIDS,
> and warnings of 9-11 attacks.
> Facilitating Israel's attacks on Lebanon.
> Obstruction of investigations by Congress, the 9-11 Commission, and Special
> Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
> Stealing elections.
> When is it enough? When does it become clear that history will view us as
> those who let it all go to waste, as those who sat by as they came for the
> Muslims and then they came for the immigrants and then they came for the
> next group on the list, as those who saw the nation sliding into fascism and
> let it slide� or as those who rose up and resisted and restored what was
> most worth saving in a system of government based on the rule of law?
> The time is now. On the Camp Democracy website you can arrange to share
> cars, vans, busses, trains, or planes, as well as tents or rooms. Please
> plan to join us, and please contribute what you can to help cover expenses.
> Together we can turn everything around. Other people in other nations have
> done so. It's much easier than you think.

Monday, July 24, 2006

PDA Still needs to grow some backbone

This is a followup to my previous post regarding PDA's current ineffectiveness in changing the direction of the Democrats. Two higher-ups within the organization, including the national coordinator, have now told me more than once that PDA will endorse pro-war/corporatist Dems in a general election, even whent here is a progressive/anti-war Green or Independent in the very same election. How can they have any power with party leaders, if they are known to back whoever the party chooses come November. Every single time.

For those dedicated to peace, I offer the Voters Peace Pledge, rather than marching behind the PDA banner in 2006. Here is the link:

Below is what one of these PDA leaders wrote me about their strategy. I am convinced it is a flawed one and will alienate many from the peace movement, although I respect these two men as thoughtful individuals. In communications with PDA board members David Swanson (afterdowningstreet) and Cindy Sheehan, I know they are not in agreement with PDA's strategy on this serious matter.

Joe L. wrote:
Hi Pete,

Tim cc’d me because he knows where I stand on these issues. He also knows I wrote to Kevin Zeese about much of what I’m about to write to you, but unfortunately Kevin attacked me before reading it. I think he called me an agent or an infiltrator or something like that. He actually admitted that he didn’t read it in a later e-mail – I have the entire dialog. I’m not sure he ever read it. You might ask him for a copy.

It’s important to keep in mind that the task ahead of us is enormous and historic. In the larger picture, the reality is that there has never been a peaceful democracy ANYWHERE – not Greece, not Rome, not Egypt (they all had slaves and treated women as chattel.) Possibly in some indigenous cultures that we and others smashed. And now, the US government and military have become the thugs of the biggest and most powerful empire the world has ever seen. It will end, of course, but the question is will it take down most of humanity and the environment when it crashes? I think David Korten’s recent book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, sums this analysis up quite well.

We need to figure out a way to engineer a major power shift. We need an overwhelming majority. It will take years to accomplish- even though we don’t “have” years. Our political strategy has to reckon with the immensity of the power shift that has to happen. We believe this demands a long-term, very disciplined strategy. We have to visualize the future progressive coalition and employ strategies that build community, build family among them. PDA is, therefore, working to build a national “machine” that can deliver e-mails, calls, visits, money and political pressure in support of a wide range of progressive causes, global, national, regional, and local. As we grow and become more effective, we will be able to “deliver” for our constituencies. It’s admittedly a long-shot. But, in our judgment, it’s somewhat less of a long-shot than a progressive third-party.

I was an active Green in the late 80s and helped create the platform. I do know and understand and support the ten key values. I was part of the majority of Greens at that time who repeatedly rejected forming a political party because of the structural biases against third parties in the US, as opposed to Europe. Recently, last week, I suggested that PDA formally ADOPT the platform last week! My feeling is that PDA is a “Green” organization on the issues and we should explicitly tell people that. If anything, I am a GREEN infiltrator into PDA!

IMHO PDA and the Green Party disagree only on strategy.

Here’s our logic: PDA believes that the best way to get to a point where we can challenge for power is through building an unstoppably large progressive base. To do this, we need to envision who the constituencies of that base are going to be ten years from now and begin to take steps to bring them into communication and cooperation, ultimately building trust and “family” ties that allow us to fight over some things, but to pull together overall. I’m sure Greens agree with this so far. While the corporate Democrats are unlikely to be part of this progressive base, the majority of Democratic voters and activists are. Many of them are already progressive-leaning. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a future progressive majority without them. This appears to be where the Greens and PDA part company strategically: we think that the rank and file Democrats are a vitally important constituency and that our strategy must reflect that. So the question for PDA becomes, how can we build ties to these “future progressive” Democrats while remaining principled progressives, and while continuing to be effective on the wide range of issues we progressives hold near and dear?

Well, first we must “do no harm.” Whether or not you agree that, for example, the Green/Nader effort “cost” Gore the 2000 election, or was merely one of many factors (most of which were under Gore’s control) that “cost” Gore the election, I know that literally thousands of Democratic activists now HATE Ralph Nader and don’t want to hear about anything “Green” because of what happened. Even if you think that this is totally wrong and, for example, Ralph HELPED Gore by pushing him to the left, and people are misunderstanding the situation, it’s indisputable that the progressive third party strategy is inherently divisive in this way. (I personally think that part of the animosity is a transference of blame – many liberal and progressive Democrats don’t want to own up to the fact that they let the Party become totally controlled by the Clinton/DLC crowd and so are looking to blame someone else.) If the goal is building an unstoppably large progressive base, is antagonizing and potentially alienating a large part of it really a good idea? Can we find a better way?

PDA believes that the better way to see Green/progressive stances on the issues become public policy is to build the base within the DP – a party within the party, so to speak, that is NOT controlled by the hacks, and which, in time, will grow to become the majority of the Party.

So, do we support pro-war Democrats in general elections? Yes, but in a way that builds the anti-war movement! We feel our primary responsibility is building a base that will save millions of future lives in other countries who will die if we fail. This will take many years. We are clearly not ready to challenge for power yet. When we lose a primary, if we want people’s help in the future, in future primaries when WE win, we can’t pull a “Lierberman” and threaten to go outside the Party! (What a sniveling bastard he truly is!) We have to come up with a strategy that avoids alienating the rank and file Dems by tipping or threatening to tip the vote to Republicans when we don’t win a primary.

Again, if you think about it, if we really believe that progressive policies benefit the overwhelming majority of people, but we can’t even win a democratic primary, that proves haven’t organized well enough. We’re not ready. We have more work to do. So we USE the general election to keep organizing, building PDA, educating on our issues, even where the nominee disagrees. We educate, organize voters and then work to get out the vote. That way, we build relationships with the Democrats and have at least some semblance of a chance to get them to work for us when WE finally do the work it takes to win the primary. Even conservative Democrats respect us.

The typical response to this is that we will be co-opted or that it can’t be done – the Democratic Party is NOT democratic!

Those who say that the Democratic Party has never been democratic are correct. But those that say it never WILL be democratic are claiming psychic powers (how do YOU feel when your local psychic tells you, “A third party will never succeed!”?) Ultimately, even if it’s not now internally “democratic’ – and it’s certainly not – the Democratic Party will do what the voters demand (although we do have to solve that annoying vote fixing problem first!). To say that this can’t be done is faith-based political analysis. No one knows until it’s tried – and tried well. Sure, others have set out on this course, but to say that because, for example, the Campaign for Economic Democracy or the Rainbow Coalition did not take over the Democratic Party, therefore it’s impossible or not worth trying to do it right is like saying that because the first ten people who tried to climb Everest died, therefore, it’s been proven it’s not possible. (I just made that number up…)

And who is to say who will co-opt whom? The real test will be if we can educate and mobilize millions of people. If we have ten million hard-core progressives each willing to donate or raise $100 in an election cycle, do the math. That’s probably what will be needed: a billion dollars to counteract the corporate duopoly. When their money advantage is neutralized, we can possibly win (and then the tanks roll?). Nothing short of that will work. The question is how to get there.

To say that it’s “impossible” to take over the Democratic Party because of historical precedent is exactly the same as saying that third parties can never seize power and hold it – because history shows that despite multiple efforts, they didn’t succeed.

Our argument with the third party approach is not that it’s impossible, but that it’s not the path of least resistance. The system is rigged to automatically engender opposition on the part of members of the party MOST LIKE the third party. This self-limiting aspect of the American system is structural. No matter how much we wish it weren’t so, we’re still stuck with it until we take power. PDA is in favor of multi-party democracy, instant run-off voting, etc. The problem is, how do we build the power to get there? Clearly, the more of us working together, the more likely we are to succeed. Few liberals or progressives “hate” PDA. It’s an approach that is designed to be, at least in the short run, non-threatening. In the long run, though, we feel it has the best chance of dramatically transforming American politics.

So PDA’s approach is a very long-term, patient, tough-to-implement strategy. It’s not a feel-good, instant gratification approach. It absolutely requires that we work with people whose politics we hate and who we may not like much personally, either. It requires us to strive to find core shared values, ways to make friends, ways to earn respect, ways build relationships.

To paraphrase Forest Gump, “Radical is as radical does.” We are serious about change, and know what we’re up against. We know it will take many years to have a chance to do what needs be done. We’re setting out on that course. We think ours is the path of less resistance toward our mutually shared goal of seeing the Ten Key Values adopted by the majority of Americans and national policies which track the Green Platform.

I hope this helps clarify PDA’s strategy. I am VERY interested in your critique.