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.