Thursday, June 30, 2005

Visiting Congressional offices

Visiting Congressional offices

This day started with meeting for worship at the Wm. Penn House. I not only wanted to be grounded for today, I had told a few contacts that they should meet me there if they could join me. No one was there to join me, but it was still a nice way to start the day, with silent worship. I started thinking about a story from Iraq at meeting for worship. In September 2004, a US humvee or tank (or something) was hit by an IED. The US troops had left already, but there was a reporter from Al Arabiya on the air, reporting on the attack and the wreckage behind him. While he was on air, US gunships arrived and shot him. His last report, still live on air, was "I'm dying, I'm dying". This was broadcast all over the Middle East.

There was another reporter there, a young man who was an architect in Baghdad before the war, and was now employed by the Guardian newspaper of London. He was taking pictures of the scene, and he wrote up a long report on what happened there. The US gunships came back several times to shoot at the people who were in the area, and I think about 9 or 10 people were killed. None of them had anything to do with the original attack. The reasons the US military gave for coming back to shoot at these people changed several times.

But what I was thinking about in meeting for worship was one man in the scene. He was leaning against a small wall, with his leg bent grotesquely out of shape. He was also bleeding, and he was aware of people around him. He showed no signs in the photos or the reporter's story of pain or fear, he was just mainly looking, looking, looking, down the street - like he was waiting for someone to arrive, for someone to come to him. He was aware of the people around him, and the US gunships coming back to fire, but he didn't seem to be too concerned with them. He was just looking.... and waiting to die.

This story, and the pictures that went with it, reminded me so much of some of my experiences while working in an Emergency Room. On occasion, we would have someone come in who would just be looking, looking, looking, for someone or something. They were dying, but they showed no pain or fear, just looking for someone - like they were already nearby, only the rest of us could not see them.

I got to thinking that maybe the ones who have died in Iraq are really the fortunate ones, since they are beyond all pain and fear. Maybe it is those of us who are still living who are really in hell.

I took this story with me to the congressional offices, and along with the story of the "Miracle Baby" told to me by Mary Trotochaud (of FCNL), which I also retold to several people I talked with today. My first visit was to Walter Jones's office. Jones is a Congressman from the far eastern county of North Carolina, and he has recently decided that going into Iraq was a mistake. He has joined Kucinich in calling for the start of withdrawal in 2006. I wanted to say to him and his office (and I did get to see him briefly) that he is incorrect when he says that over 1,700 people have died and he cannot see what they died for. That number is only the Americans who have died, there is a record of over 29,000+ Iraqis who have been killed so far in our media outlets. That number is not an accurate count, however. I had no trouble getting my display boards into the building, and all the offices did at least look at the display and talk to me about them.

Jones was in the Cannon building, and I went on to visit two more congressman in the Cannon building from North Carolina. Both were Republican and still support the war in Iraq. One was from the Morganton district and the other from the eastern part of the state. I did not write down their names, unfortunately. I just stopped in their offices as I was walking by since I did not have an appointment with them. Then I visited Congressman Taylor's office. I was supposed to speak to Adam Shepard, but instead spoke to Jill Nelson. I now know that Adam was the legislative assistant and Jill was a correspondent. It would have been better to talk to Adam, but I think they did this switch on purpose. Jill took me to a private room to look at the Iraqi Civilian Casualties Display boards. She did listen and she seemed sympathetic.

I carried the display boards back to my car, and moved my car before I got a ticket. Then, I ate an early lunch, and moved my car again, this time to the Union Station garage. Having a car with you in DC is a hassle and parking somewhere is expensive. Not moving it every two hours gets you an even more expensive ticket.

When I walked into the Cannon building, I was approached by Senator Reid's (NV) congressional aide. I am not sure I am spelling his name correctly, but he told me that Reid was the minority leader of the Senate. He really liked the display boards, and asked me to bring them to his office, but I did not have time for that one.

I then carried the display boards to Senator Byrd's office. He is the longest serving member of the Senate, and I wanted to thank him for his antiwar stance. I was supposed to see one of his congressional aides, but somehow that did not work out. I went from there to visit Senator Lautenberg's office. They have a display of the fallen Americans outside their office. I just stopped in this office because I had not made an appointment. They were very impressed with my display boards and wanted their press people to see them, but the press people were in a meeting. I told them how they could make such boards. I then went on to visit Senator Dole's office, and the young staff there were very interested in the display boards and seemed rather impressed. I dropped off some literature for her congressional aide. After this, I was waiting in a hallway for some time to pass, since I needed a break. An older gentleman and two young men stopped to look at the display and asked me questions about them. One of the young men asked me if insurgents were on the boards, and I said no because they would be combatants, not civilians.

I stopped in Senator Leahy's office and talked to them about Marla Ruzicka and her work. I also stopped in the two Ohio Senator's office and handed them a poem written by my niece in Ohio. She is 14 years old and wrote a poem two years ago about how the war was over, but that hate and fear live on. These Senators were Dewine and Voinovich. I stopped in Senator Kerry's office to leave a note saying that the military recruitment problem would be much better if the Kerry, Edwards, Bush and Cheney kids all enlisted.

I stopped by Senator Graham's office to give him a letter I had written about the horrible practice of extraordinary rendition. At 4:00 PM, I had an appointment with Senator Burr's office to speak with D'Ann Grady. I was a bit early, and as I was sitting there, I found out there was a closed Armed Services Committee meeting across the hall. I saw McCain, Graham, and Dole go into this room. The room was not marked, and I wonder if the Democratic Senators were told about the meeting. I have heard stories that they were often not told about committee meetings. I also feel that what happened last week at the public Armed Services Committee meeting was a dog and pony show, and I would bet the real "work" of was done in the closed meeting. I wish I could have gone to that meeting.

I talked with Ms. Grady, and while I was talking to her, a group of three business men showed up and went in to talk to Senator Burr. And so it goes..... if you have money, you get to speak directly to the Senators. If not, you speak to some lowly aide, if you are lucky.

And, as I was leaving, I bumped into Senator Dole in the hallway. I immediately told her I was a constituent of North Carolina, and started talking about the display boards and my concerns for the Iraqi Civilian Casualties. She said she had to run to a meeting and suggested I make a copy and leave it with her office. I told her I could not make a copy because they were too big. It was obvious that she did not care at all about my display boards or have any concerns about the Iraqi people. And so it goes.....

We have got to elect a better class of person to run our country and make our laws.

I plan on coming back to DC in September to again visit my Senators and Representative. This time, I hope there are other people joining up with me on this journey. This will be a part of the United for Peace with Justice campaign on September 24, 25, 26.

I hope you can join me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Real People???

I spent the weekend camping out at Gooney Creek, near Front Royal, VA. I told the lady who runs the campground about the great service I got at one local restaurant and the terrible service I got at another local restaurant. She asked me if the restaurant was run by real people or by Chinese or Vietnamese people.

Sometimes, I wonder just how truly stupid Americans are.

Today was not successful - no one was at the AFSC when I went there today, and neither Getler or Milbank was at the Washington Post when I showed up there with my display boards. But Cindy Sheehan is going to meet me at Rep. Jones office on Wednesday, and I hope she will stick with me for the rest of the day. Cindy's son, Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in April 2004. Cindy is now a powerful voice for peace. She knows the terrible true cost of this war.

I finished reading "A Distant Mirror" by Barbara Truchan, which I don't really recommend. It is a long, sad tale of the 14th century and the stupidity of man. But here are some quotes from the book:

"Neither party could know that they were opening a war that would outlast both of them, that would develop a life of it's own, defying parleys and truces and treaties designed to stop it, that would drag on into their son's lives and the lives of their grandsons and great grandsons and great great grandsons to the fifth generation, that would bring havoc to both sides and become, as it's damage spread through Europe, the final torment of the Middle Ages."

"As the era of the sword was ending, that of firearms began, in time to allow no lapse in man's belligerent capacity."

"...... force, once employed, quickly became rapine, difficult to restrain."

And in all the history of the world, weapons once designed and produced, were always utilized. So far, only on two occasions has nuclear weapons been used, but the weapons are still present and ready to be used by many nations. This does not bode well for the future of the world.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dog and Pony Show at the US Senate

Today, I went and sat in on most of the Armed Services Committee meeting. Answering questions were Gen Myers, Rumsfeld, Gen Casey, and Gen Abizaid.

Casey said the insurgents will be defeated when they see the political process as more viable. He seems to indicate that this needs a political, not a military solution. Abizaid said he sees the political process as a solution.

Levine pointed out that not meeting timetables will have negative repercussions on our troops. Levine suggests that we have some repercussions lined up for Iraqis not getting things done! (Yes, he does think the Iraqis should do "democracy" on our time schedule!) I stopped by Levine's office later in the day and pointed out the discrepancy in his remarks.

Rumsfeld said that "I do know what I think" and he sees the importance of progress on the political side. He says the insurgents realize that they will lose if democracy is established. He does not elaborate on how this can be "democracy" if we are telling them what to do.

McCain said that the worst thing we can do is set a timetable for withdrawal.

Casey says the number of attacks are the same as a year ago, against civilians and against the military. I certainly don't think this is the whole truth.

McCain asked how many Iraqi troops are ready. Casey replied that we are training Iraqi troops and putting them in charge more and more.

McCain said that he felt the men there in the armed services and Rumsfeld himself gave him confidence and hope. (I made a visit later to McCain's office to say that those people who got us into an optional war for bogus reasons and then totally bunged the aftermath do not inspire any confidence or hope in me!)

Edwards piled it on. He said we have a responsibility to get it correct, and then said we are in serious trouble with no end in sight. He reminded Rumsfeld of WMD claims and threats of Saddam's regime. He reminded him of the "stuff happens" and "you go to war with the military you have".

Rumsfeld said he didn't think there would be a guerilla war, and Edwards asked him what do you call a "suicide bomber" and then he asked him to resign. Rumsfeld said that he offered to resign twice to Bush, but Bush turned him down.

Both Rumsfeld and Casey said that Iraq is not a quagmire.

Reed mentioned a credibility gap and "erosion of trust".

Sessions claimed that all the troops involved in torture or abuse were prosecuted, and that there is no systematic abuse, and then said the fake Newsweek story is total cause of the riots and deaths in Pakistan. (Obviously, he is clueless.)

One of the generals claimed that terrorists want chemical and biological and nuclear weapons and that they will use them against us. He further stated that our enemies want people to believe that we don't respect them and that we are there to steal their resources. (Funny, but when they start going on like this, I start thinking they are really talking about themselves. That means the US military wants these weapons to use against people who they think are there to steal "our" resources - a big problem, of course, is that "our" resources are not located inside our country.)

Clinton talked about the "tone" in the Senate and in the nation.

Graham said the only way we can lose in Iraq is to leave too soon and leave the country in shambles. He said "losing is leaving before the job is done." He notes that the public is losing support for this war. In a list of what "freedom and democracy" should look like, he made comment about "mothers (should) have a say about their children". So, I stopped into his office later in the day and left copies of two news articles - one about a 10 year old who was killed in a roadside bomb and one about a 10 year old shot by US troops. I said I wanted to know what the US has done to show it's sorrow for these events and what he thinks these mothers would say about what happened to their children.

Rumsfeld said he doesn't believe in polls (remember that for the update on Iraqi polls later in the day), but he said that leadership needs to lead. (Well, I guess that was what he was saying, I have to admit I really don't know.)

Then he made a comment on how the "terrorists" want to turn it back over to darkness - that is to people who want to behead other people. I sure wish I could ask him about the deference between beheading people and dropping a bomb on them. I would like to know what the difference is for the dead people.

Graham said that the same people who want us to leave Iraq are the same people who wanted us dead on 9/11. I guess he didn't notice that the people who wanted us dead on 9/11 also dead themselves.

Rumsfeld went on to say that 18 terrorists attacked us on 9/11, and as Rumsfeld was leaving I told him there were 19 terrorists that day, not 18.

Bayh asked how do we define success? What are the benchmarks for reaching that goal? When do we decide that the country is "stable enough"? As he was leaving, I stopped him and told him Iraq was stable on March 1, 2003. WE, and only WE, are the ones who destabilized the country.

Collins then spoke and said we should put political pressure on the Iraqis. So, this is what "freedom and democracy" means to Collins: the Iraqis get to do what we tell them to do. I stopped by Collins office later in the day and pointed out the discrepancy. She had much the same orientation as Levine did earlier in the Dog and Pony Show.

Ensign when on to state that what people may say will hurt the troops and he brought up Newsweek's article on the Koran and a Senator's comments about how Guantanamo is like the Nazi camps and the Soviet gulag. I visited Ensign's office after the Dog and Pony Show and told them it is not what people say about the torture, it is what was done and who was NOT held accountable in the chain of command that is the problem.

Byrd commented that Rumsfeld likes to lecture the committee and sneer at them, like no one before him has ever done. He commented that we didn't ask enough questions before the war and that the American people have not heard enough of the truth. Byrd was great, and always has been.

I believe that the military guys passed out their information on Iraq Public Perception of the Iraqi Security Forces at this point. Over all, this looks very positive. I have no idea how they surveyed people who are not able to leave their homes safely. No data was presented on how the survey was done or any margin of error. And I guess the military believes in polls even if Rumsfeld doesn't.

Then they presented data on the Iraqi hotline tips. The number of calls has gone up significantly since ads were done on TV in April 2005. No data presented on whether these tips were useful or not. I suspect it is a great way to get another tribal member or neighbor you don't like in trouble. In spite of the increased number of tips, attacks have gone up considerably, so it appears it is not working all that well.

Dole was one of the last to speak. She commented on the show "Terrorism in the hands of Justice" which is on Iraqi TV. On that show, men who have been beaten up confess to terrorism crimes. There is no trial, no evidence, no judge, no jury - just a confession extracted after torture. She also commented on reconstruction and how the "good news" isn't getting out. (And that's because the death toll keeps going up and up and up.)

I stopped by Dole's office today also and talked to "Chris" who is supposedly her foreign affairs person. He didn't think the US has any responsibility at all for the insurgents bombs that target US troops but killed a 10 year old child. He could not understand that if we had Chinese troops in our country and a US "insurgent" set off a bomb that was directed towards them, then most of the US population would hold the Chinese army responsible for being the cause of this violence.

He thought the US troops shooting a 10 year old child was an unfortunate mistake. I left my articles about these two children with him, and my pictures of how the Iraqi people are grieving. I argued with him on the "Terrorism in the Hands of Justice" show and told him that I would confess to killing my mother if I was tortured (that would be hard to pin on me, since my mother is still alive).

Basically, in the short time I talked to him, I don't think I got anywhere. He believes that the Iraqi people want the US troops there and they are much better off without Saddam. He didn't even believe my statements about mass graves in Iraq. He said he could show me the pictures of the graves. I could show him the pictures also. Best I can figure from articles on the web, about 10-12,000 Iraqis have been uncovered from mass graves. There are still many graves sites not explored, due to the security situation. But to claim that there are 400,000 graves is most likely not accurate. I told him about the 600 mass graves in Fallujah from April 2004, seen in the movie "The Dreams of Sparrows". He said he was familiar with the movie.

And our Senators have a Dog and Pony Show as a sequel to the "Everyone is Responsible For This Mess Except Me" routine, which followed the "How Could We Know He Got Rid of The WMDs?" posturing which came after the "Let's Vote for Optional War! It's Patriotic!" game they played in the fall of 2002.

They are mainly sickening.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dinner with Faiza, Mary and Rick

I am now in DC, and my first stop was to listen to a lecture by Faiza Jarrar of "A Family in Baghdad" blog. Faiza talked about the "divide to control" strategy being used by the Bush administration in Iraq. She said the Brits tried it also (a few decades back) and her grandparents told her about it. It didn't work then, and hopefully, it won't work now. Faiza commented repeatedly how "they" do not listen to her or other Iraqis. The "they" in this case is the US authorities, Bush administration, and US lawmakers in the Senate.

Faiza definitely thinks the US troops need to get out of Iraq.

She said if people are willing to come to Iraq to listen to them and help, then that is great. But if they come in with an attitude of "I know best" then she feels they should stay away.

I agree with Faiza.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

More truth, and another "smoking gun"

In the Times on Line, UK:

Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’
byMichael Smith

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal. The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier. The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal. art...50822_1,00.html

Thanks to the leaking Brits, we have another "smoking gun" showing how Blair and Bush cooked the intelligence to start the illegal war on Iraq.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Photo Captions from Yahoo News

The body of a driver is placed in the back of a vehicle
after he was killed when US troops opened fire in Baghdad
Monday June 6, 2005. US troops opened fire when the driver
reportedly ignored an order to stop and tried to overtake their
convoy. (AP Photo / Hadi Mizban)

The man was unarmed. Why is the US shooting unarmed men in Iraq?

Residents clear debris after an air strike on a house in the
western Iraqi city of Ramadi June 6, 2005. Witnesses said
seven people were killed, including three children, when a
fighter jet dropped a bomb on a house in Ramadi.
REUTERS/Ali Mashhadani

Why is the US killing Iraqi children?

I printed up both pictures and captions. They will go on the outside of an envelope addressed to Senator Burr and Senator Dole. Along with these questions: WHY ARE WE KILLING IRAQI CHILDREN? WHY ARE WE SHOOTING UNARMED IRAQI MEN?

Inside will be an article and a letter about Uzbekistan and how we need to stop supporting that brutal, evil dictator. A letter saying that we need to take action NOW to stop him, and I am not talking about military action. I am talking about public censure, stopping selling him arms, stopping diplomatic relationships with him, pulling our troops and our base out of that country, and bringing the dictator before the UN Security Council.

I do letters like this about once a week. I am so mad at all the evil people in America who start and continue and promote wars.... and prop up evil dictators along the way. I guess they do that so there is some reason for a future war.

And I have an idiot emailing me saying I would have preferred Saddam stay in power. I'll bet every last dime I have that he NEVER wrote to his Senators in the 1980's telling them to stop propping up Saddam. I am angry with the stupid people of America too.

I'm just very angry.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Please sign

I just thought that I would put out another appeal to go and sign Rep. John Conyers letter to Bush about the Downing Street Memo:{456ECCD5-4EAC-4C6D-8A17-89728B250AE2

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Week in Review

I haven't posted all week, mostly because I don't have anything new to say. Obviously, our country is still being lead down the toilet, while people argue if Amnesty International got all their i's dotted and t's crossed properly. I think they did, so if you can afford to do so, please make a contribution to them here:

I got a new bumper sticker that says:

W - Worst President Ever

That was from a Democracy for America meeting where they seem to mostly talk about social security and Walmart. I hate Walmart, and hope to collect social security one day. But right now, neither issue seems all that pressing. But maybe Walmart is. I also saw the movie "The Corporation" this week, and that is well worth watching. It shows how corporations are psychopaths, which reminded me of Bush and Cheney, and how the corporations (with the help of Bush and Cheney) are running our world and country into the toilet.

So, it has not been an especially exciting week here, hence no posts. But I think that will be changing in a couple of weeks, so come back then!