Saturday, October 29, 2005

What the Senators are saying


Sen. Robert Byrd (D‑WV)
The American people seek an end, they seek an end, they want an end to this ongoing bloody war in Iraq, not new conflicts in neighboring countries.
Senate floor statement ‑ October 25, 2005

Sen. Dick Durbin (D‑IL)
Each step the Iraqis take toward the successful establishment of self‑governance should bring our troops a step closer to home . . . The choice we face in Iraq is not a choice between resolve or retreat. The men and women in our military and their loved ones deserve a clear path to stability in Iraq so they can come home as soon as humanly possible.
Senate floor statement ‑ October 25, 2005

Sen. Russell Feingold (D‑WI)
As my colleagues may know, I have suggested a target date of December 31, 2006, the end of next year, for the completion of our military mission. Today, I want to talk a little bit about why a flexible timetable for withdrawal will help make the U.S. stronger and our enemies weaker . . . But with the words of Republicans like Melvin Laird and military leaders like General Casey, more and more people understand that having a flexible timetable will strengthen our national security. This is not a timetable where the objective is troop withdrawal, the objective is to focus on our national security needs and the timetable is one step towards that goal. A timetable is not about domestic politics‑‑it's about undercutting insurgency recruiting and unity, encouraging more Iraqi ownership and responsibility, and creating space for other important U.S. national security efforts.
Senate floor statement ‑ October 25, 2005

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Asked how the Mr. Bush could revive the plan [to revamp Social Security], Iowa’s Sen. Charles Grassley replied: “Get the troops out of Iraq and get New Orleans rebuilt.”
Wall Street Journal - October 20, 2005

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D‑MA)
Instead of covering up mistakes in Iraq, it is time for the President to admit them, to adopt an effective strategy to end this war and begin to bring our troops home, and to stop ignoring the very real priorities facing the Nation and the many many challenges facing us at home and abroad.
Senate floor statement ‑ October 25, 2005

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
The way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay “as long as it takes.” To undermine the insurgency, we must instead simultaneously pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks. At the first benchmark, the completion of the December elections, we can start the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays . . . It will be hard for this Administration, but it is essential to acknowledge that the insurgency will not be defeated unless our troop levels are drawn down, starting immediately after successful elections in December. The draw down of troops should be tied not to an arbitrary timetable, but to a specific timetable for transfer of political and security responsibility to Iraqis and realignment of our troop deployment. That timetable must be real and strict. The goal should be to withdraw the bulk of American combat forces by the end of next year.
Speech at Georgetown University - October 26, 2005

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D‑VT)
Without answers‑‑real answers, honest answers‑‑to these questions, I will not support the open‑ended deployment of our troops in a war that was based on falsehood and justified with hubris . . . Once a new Iraqi government is in place, I believe the President should consult with Congress on a flexible plan that includes pulling our troops back from the densely populated areas where they are suffering the worst casualties and to bring them home.
Senate floor statement ‑ October 25, 2005

Sen. Carl Levin (D‑MI)
MR. RUSSERT: There are now about 150,000 Americans on the ground in Iraq. Knowing what you know about the situation in Iraq and knowing what you know about American politics, how many Americans do you believe will be in Iraq come November of 2006 when the mid‑term congressional elections take place?

SEN. LEVIN: Less than we have there now. For one of two reasons. Either because the Iraqis will put their own house in order, both politically and security‑wise, or they won't. Either way, there is going to be fewer troops there because if the Iraqis can handle the situation, that obviously will lead to fewer troops. But if they refuse to put their political pieces together, if they don't make those compromises, it seems to me it's obvious that we're going to have to consider that timetable for reduction and withdrawal . . . I would think that we'll have at least a third of our troops out by a year from now. That is my guess either way.
Meet the Press - October 16, 2004

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D‑MD)
We need to see faster progress on all these things. When these things happen, we can begin to withdraw our troops in stages and bring them home. Our military men and women have sacrificed in Iraq. They honored our country by volunteering to serve. We must honor them with an effective plan to finish their work, and bring our troops home . . . we need a workable plan to drawdown our troops.
Senate floor statement ‑ October 25, 2005

Sen. Ken Salazar (R-CO)
"It's important that we push for a successful strategy in Iraq and, for me, that's defined by taking the baton of protecting the government and handing it to Iraqi security forces so we can begin to withdraw our troops," Salazar said . . .We've been told that we've trained (250,000) Iraqi soldiers and we've spent $300 billion on the war, so I do believe you'll see us begin withdrawing our forces next year."
The Pueblo Chieftain - Thursday October 27, 2005

Rep. Jim McGovern (D‑MA)
I will be introducing legislation to end U.S. military operations in Iraq, and I invite you to join me as an original cosponsor of this bill. Quite simply, this bill would end all funding for the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq. Department of Defense funds could be provided for te safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.
Dear Colleague letter - October 26, 2005

Rep. Brad Miller (D‑NC)
There is no better way to persuade the Iraqi people that we really intend to withdrew than to begin withdrawing. The Price‑Miller resolution calls for a partial withdrawal as soon as possible.
House floor statement - October 25, 2005

Rep. David Price (D‑NC)
I rise in support of the Price‑Miller resolution, which we have introduced today, to require the President to submit to Congress a plan for the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq in the wake of the October 15 constitutional referendum, beginning with an initial drawdown. This is not a requirement I propose lightly . . . But we must end the occupation, and the approval of the Constitution offers us an opportunity to begin that process. It is an opportunity we must seize . . . Our resolution draws in concept and content on one introduced in the Senate by Mr. Feingold on June 14. It updates that resolution by taking explicit account of the constitutional referendum and proposing an initial immediate drawdown of troops.
House floor statement - October 25, 2005

Rep. Ike Skelton (D‑MO)
In a letter to the President, Congressman Ike Skelton (D‑MO) suggests a formula to guide the redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq which would provide the American and Iraqi people with a measurable sense of progress in the region. Skelton proposes that for every three Iraqi security force combat brigades rated "Level 1" (or fully capable), an American brigade or unit of similar size, type, and mission should be strategically redeployed from Iraq. This would establish a clear link between the development of Iraqi security forces and the redeployment of American forces, demonstrating progress in a way that both the American and the Iraqi people can plainly see.
Press statement - October 24, 2005

Rep. Maxine Waters (D‑CA)
Mr. Speaker, it is time to bring our soldiers home. It is time for Republicans and Democrats alike to understand that we do not need to lose another American soldier in Iraq.
House floor statement - October 26, 2005

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D‑CA)
It is time to return Iraq to the Iraqi people and the troops safely home to their families.
House floor statement - October 26, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

One down, 10,000 more to go....

One criminal arrested today. Now, we just need to arrest the other 10,000 criminals that start this optional evil war for bogus reasons..... which is a nice way of saying LIES.

I hope I can have a "Judith Miller goes to jail for the RIGHT reasons" party one day.

Media coverage of the vigil

Last night I was interviewed on WLOS TV. I said that things were getting worse and worse in Iraq, in spite of our military's best efforts (okay, I am giving them the benefit of a doubt, which some of them DO NOT deserve, but some do- I wanted to reach the Americans who are not convinced that the US military needs to leave Iraq).

I said that life for Iraqis is getting more and more treacherous.

I heard it was replayed this morning. It was great to hear the newscaster say "Not one more Death! Not one more Dollar!" was our slogan for last night's vigil. That came from the American Friends Service Committee. It is important to get on TV, since that is where a huge number of Americans get their "news" (which is why they don't know anything).

On Friday, I will be blogging on Today in Iraq ( Please read about the bell-ringing action under PEACE ACTION.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Vigil for 2000 US Troops Died in Iraq

We had a good turnout (132 people) and good press representation. We placed candle luminaries around the fountain, and people held candles as they talked and socialized. We observed a minute of silence in rememberance of the deceased, and one of our Vets for Peace got up and spoke to the crowd about her feelings concerning the 2,000 US troops that have died. She spoke of her sorrow at that fact, and she spoke to the underlying falsehoods that were the foundation of this war. She was very moving.

It was a bit cold in Asheville, and a bit windy, but the candles did stay lit for over an hour and a half. We did have the local TV and newspaper show up and interview people.

The reason I hosted this vigil and did the press contacts was to try to keep this issue in front of the American people, and hopefully, to convince them that this war is wrong and we need to get out of Iraq.... for the sake of the Iraqi people.

I realize that the Iraqis have suffered far, far worse than what the US troops and their families have suffered.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Not One More Death!

Tomorrow, October 26, 2005 is the day that people across America will hold vigils to honor the 2,000 US troops that have died in Iraq. In Asheville, this event will be at Pack Square at 6:30 PM. It will be a candlelight prayer vigil, and I am requesting that people bring candles (and something for them to drip into) and signs - but signs without politicians names on them.

This is also a rememberance of all the tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of innocent Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives due to this war. This is by far the greater tragedy.

In the interests of increasing awareness among Americans, the following organzations are focusing on the American losses:

American Friends Service Committee
United for Peace and Justice
True Majority
Democracy for America
and MoveOn.Org

If you cannot join a vigil tomorrow night at 6:30 PM, please say a prayer for peace in this world. Please say a prayer that our politicians will find a way to solve problems without resorting to war.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Blogging on Today In Iraq

Today was my first post for the blog "Today in Iraq".

This is a blog that is a list of important news items for Iraq and for US/UK troops.

You can find it at:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Iraqi Deaths

I gathered the following information for the Iraq Coalition Casualties website. They collect stories that report on Iraqi Civilian deaths, and then total them each month. Here’s what they have for six months of this year.

Civilians Police/Military
January N/A 109
February N/A 103
March 240 200
April 302 199
May 572 259
June 477 296
July 518 304
August 1,524 282
September 640 233

TOTALS 4,273 1,885

However, Robert Fisk reported on Democracy Now that there was 1,100 bodies brought to the Baghdad morgue in July for autopsies. Those would only include people who died a violent death. The exact number of Iraqi casualties from this war and occupation is unknown, and apparently, the US/UK forces there will make no attempt to find out. This speaks volumes to me about how much they care about Iraqis, and how much they are really interested in “freedom and democracy” for the Iraqis. I think they are bringing a lot of the Iraqis the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death.

Reuters reports this week: More than 4,300 Iraqis, nearly 70 percent of them civilians, were killed by insurgents in the first nine months of this year, an Interior Ministry official said on Saturday. That would mean there was a heck of a lot of Iraqis killed by coalition troops, if this is accurate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Warrant for the arrest of Three GIs

Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for Three GIs

From The Associated Press

Wednesday 19 October 2005

Madrid, Spain - A judge has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and a Ukrainian cameraman, a court official said Wednesday.In light of the fact that the US miltary did little investigation of civilian deaths in Iraq (as was normally the case), this judge in Spain deciced to issue warrents and pursue the investigation that way.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What Bush said in March 2003

A group called Supaclean took the CSNY song “OHIO” and built on it, back in early 2004. They included, towards the end of the song, a recording of what Bush had to say to the Iraqi people before our troops went in there.

Bush: “All Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your actions. Do not destroy oil wells.”

Here’s the song

But, when Bush says “your fate will depend on your actions” I think of the baby in the following story. This baby had the good sense to be thrown clear of the building she was in when a bomb hit (this building was her home) but the rest of her family did not have that good sense. The baby landed in a puddle in a neighbor’s yard and was found the next day. Wounded, but she survived. The rest of her immediate family was killed. I guess, in Bush world, they did not take the right actions, which in this case would mean not sleeping in your own home. The family was killed by US ‘smart’ bombs, done to get Saddam early on in the war. The family never talked to Saddam or had him in their home. Smart bombs, dumb warmonger politicians.

That baby’s story is here.

Below are more personal stories of what happened in Iraq just after the US military arrived. Seems like some more people didn’t take the right “actions”:

Their stories are here.

The song OHIO by Supaclean ends with:

“for the dead, for the dying,
for the Jews that been tricked,
by a Rove, Wolf, Collin, Connie, Bush and a dick.”

Of course, we all know that the oil ministry and oil wells were well protected from the rampant looting done across Iraq just after the invasion. Has anyone determined where those looters came from? Did they even catch one of them and ask?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Anti-war video worth watching

From my friend, Debra, who also sent this quote:

"You're only given a little spark of madness, you mustn't lose it." Robin Williams

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What is terrorism?

Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. - US Federal Bureau of Investigation

So, I would say the US government is using the US military for terrorism.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Biohazard Sensors Triggered

The WaPo wrote up a story on how the biohazard sensors were triggered on the day of the huge anti-war protest in DC on September 24th. The tularemia bacteria was found in small amounts at all six sensors in DC, including the Lincoln Memorial and Judiciary Square. The health officials did not think it was enough to be a hazard, but they are warning all hospitals in the USA.

Symptoms are fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough. It is treated with antibiotics.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lobbying the Hill

Lobbying the Hill

This lobby day was on September 26, 2005. On that day, UFPJ and PDA organized to send people to talk to their Senators and Representatives. These organizations reported that over 1000 people lobbied over 300 members of congress from 40 states. And they did see results! I recommend checking Progressive Democrats of America website to see what the after effects really were from this action. One of them was Brad Miler (NC -13) decided to co-sponsor the No Permanent Bases in Iraq bill.

Anyway, I want to say a word about lobbying in DC. If you are a US citizen and you can talk, then you can do this. You will most likely talk to a Senator's or Representative's aide, however, they will relay your message to your elected official. And sometimes, you will meet face to face with your elected official, as in the elevator (see my blog from January 2005) or in the hallway (see my blog from June 2005). When you walk into the Senate office buildings (or Representatives) you will go through a metal detector and your purse or bags go through a scanner. I recommend not wearing protest shirts or carrying signs or wearing metal. It is perfectly acceptable to bring in stacks and stacks of papers.

We met with the aides of Senator Burr at 9 AM. I, and some others from our congressional district, had to leave early for our appointment with Representative Taylor. In the meeting with Burr, we had one general spokesperson who went through the list of bills that UFPJ and PDA is currently interested in, to see where the Senator stands on these, and to let Mr. Burr know that we support these various measures. Everyone introduced themselves in this meeting, and a couple who was with us talked about torture issues and how our country needs to stop that from happening any more.

We met with Representative Taylor's aide at 10 AM. His name was Adam Shepard. We talked with him about 50 minutes, and it was pretty much back and forth exchange of ideas. Adam said that Mr. Taylor does not think the Downing Street Memos are worth paying attention to, since he thinks they are fake and non-starters. Taylor supports the war in Iraq and he has a son who has served in the Green Zone over there. Adam did not know how Taylor would stand on No Permanent Bases in Iraq (update: Taylor will not co-sign this bill.) and he did not know how Taylor would stand on the "opt-out" issues on the No Child Left Behind and military recruitment bill (update: Taylor does not support overturning this.) Adam said that Taylor supports the war, thinks we have to stay there until the job is done and is not overly concerned with financing the war.

There were seven of us at this meeting, and it was a congenial exchange of ideas, although it turned out that Taylor does not support any of our positions. A couple who was with us talked about the torture issues, and I have heard that they have talked to Adam again since then. I have also contacted Adam since this meeting.

We then went to a lobbying meeting with the aides to Senator Dole. There were 19 people at this meeting and it lasted 45 minutes. We had a man there who's step-son is serving in Fallujah right now, and he was a powerful speaker. We did not have a single spokesperson this time, everyone just jumped in when they felt like it, and this seemed much more dynamic. The only area of agreement that we seemed to have with them was that our National Guard is overextended. They claimed there will be some troop withdrawal next spring.

There were a few further things I did on this date. I went to each and every US Senators office and dropped off a flyer that I had prepared. This flyer was on Ali Nasir Jabur, and it was an appeal to help this child who lost his whole family. You can read the original story about Ali at

My friend, Lena, went to a panel on torture, and she did not repeat to me what that was about, but she said it was horrible. This was a panel on torture being done by Americans around the world, and many victims spoke.

As I was walking the halls of the office buildings of the Senators, I met Max Cleland, a former Senator from Georgia. He once wrote me a letter that showed a great deal of heart, and that really touched me. So, I went up to him and thanked him, and told him what a great job I think he did while he was in the Senate. He kissed my hand, which was sweet.

Anyone can go lobby, and indeed, it is your responsibility as an American to get involved with your government and let them know what you think and feel - even if they do not agree.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More Notes on PDA conference

Date was September 26, 2005 in Washington, DC.

***Building PDA at the Precinct, City and National Level

PDA would like to have chapters in all congressional districts.

Michael – (coordinator for MD) says that everyone has unique skills and we need all of them. Also said that everyone wants their issue at the head of the list but we need to work together so we don’t fall into disorganization (right wing counts on us being disorganized) and to make sure that we are driving the agenda, not being driven by someone else’s agenda. He also says we need to connect with those people who are sitting at home disconnected.

Marcy Winegrad (head of Los Angeles Chapter) lobbied Democratic congressional reps who still vote to fund war. She stressed being connected to other groups, she helped get anti-war resolution passed in LA, and had teach in on Downing Street Memos. They fight the governor via coalition. They have website, listserve, steering committee. Also working on DU issues and having soldiers tested.

Mervis Reissig – a pissed off grandmother from CA. She recommends precinct walking and she works through Democratic party. She says to wear PDA stickers at Democratic meetings and hand out flyers at these events. Pay attention to those who seem particularly interested and go back and ask them to get involved on precinct level. Many people are reluctant to knock on strangers doors – so only send them to Democratic doors and think of it as a way to build contact and community. Says you can get list of who is registered absentee voter and then find out if they voted or not. Registrar can give you lists of voters and party affiliation.

Laura Bonham (UT) spoke about spokespersons on PDA board and has an interim body working on PDA bylaws. Right now, about 20 states without spokespersons on council at this time. Goal: will have elected representatives from all regions and states, for the grassroots and by the grassroots.

Daneil Lewkowicz (national coordinator of campus PDAs) says goal is to unite students under progressive banner. He came to realize that diversity was common to his childhood, but not his university life. He talked about 9/11 and the effects on our nation and how it affected him – he went from wanting to be a doctor to wanting to “heal the world” and became a student activist. Said he had a poster in school that said WAKE UP AMERICA that talked about neo-con agenda. He said what passes as youth culture is really mass marketing to make youths consumers, which makes them complacent and docile. He said that we are more disconnected from our own culture than from any culture before now. We pledge allegiance to logos rather than to self. Said we cannot buy culture, we create culture. The National Organization of Progressive College Students is sister organization to PDA, they lobby for students and for change in America. I think this young man was one of the most impressive speakers.

Gerry Straatemeir (AZ) said that progressives went outside the Democratic Party and the Democrats shifted to center and right. They called their groups COUNCILS instead of caucus and aligned with many groups that were a single-issue group, and they were then able to put these issues before the legislative. He stressed getting involved on a precinct, county, district, and state levels in the Democratic Party and we must become part of them and change them.
Patrick Carano (OH) says PDA made connection to grassroots like no one else has – would like to see 5 sustainers (to PDA) in each chapter. PDA led the fight to have Ohio election results reviewed and documented.

***Building the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party
Joel Segal: now seeing action via organizational skills of PDA, which was not happening two years ago. He talked about taking power: where you don’t have to be a white millionaire male to run for office.

Steve Cobble (senior PDA Political Advisor) says we need to take street heat into suite heat. He listed PDA influence:
Downing Street Memos
Stood with Cindy Sheehan before she was popular
Anti war momentum
Worked on “Homeward Bound” legislation
Ohio vote recount
He says we need to get anti-war candidates in primaries and get secretary of states elected who are progressives.

Kevin Spidel (PDA Political Director) – Peloski (minority leader) put forth bill saying no funding for Iraq war until there is a ‘success’ strategy, meaning that troops come home. Stressed need to do partisan work and endorsement of candidates, and that we need to make sure PDA knows what grassroots wants. Who is a PDA candidate? Has to be endorsed by local PDA. What is a progressive candidate? Opponent of CAFTA, believes in fair trade and peace candidate. He made list of Democrats who voted for Bush agenda regularly. Believes we need to bring up “allies” who have trainings for candidates.

Bill Goold – director of Congressional Progressive Caucus for last three months (first director). He says grassroots will transform party, and that PDA has been invaluable in Progressive Caucus program and that we need a super majority to have a really progressive congress.

Greg Moore – from Rainbow/PUSH said that too many people he helped get into power became career politicians. The lines in New Orleans reminded him of the lines in Ohio elections and lines back in 1963 and 1965. He said these folks were not served by their government. He said we have to create a desire (mission) for those people to vote for us. He felt budget would be next big issue for US congress and that every African American and African American minister or church leader is looking at the problem of poverty in this country since Katrina.

Joel Segal (moderator) talked about unity and raising funds to fight right wing machine. He felt we needed one mass-based progressive organization.

Jay Winter said he is a member of the human family and he is also a Native American. He talked about the Houma tribe, which is 15,000 strong, but 7,000 are missing since Katrina. No one knows where they are now. He said information is at about their loss. Some of his points were:
· Must promote world peace
· Must accept no monies from corporate or special interests
· Verified voting
· Accountability and transparency of public and private sectors
· Right for every person to clean air, food, water, clothing, shelter, education and health care
He said the nation is dying and we have fools in office who only think of personal gain. There are two candidates he supports: Joe LaMonte (OK) and Chuck Vienesa (PA). He said that if we don’t learn to live together as men then we shall all perish as fools.

***Building PDA Media Response
Anne Singer, Moderator, says not so easy to pigeon hole media, they are complex and we should be prepared to be surprised.

· Jeff Cohen – says media are STRICT corporate entities. The top is overpaid and they don’t offend anyone in political or corporate power. They are paranoid and afraid of being the only one asking a certain question. There is the fear of being labeled “liberal” and they are very political over what they can say and do. He says there are three strands to media: Opening up (good guy/bad guy), Spreading suspicion, and Spreading alternative media.

· Suzanna Sunovich – press secretary for Woolsley. She follows local and national news cycle to get Woolsley inserted in stories and to get her message out.

· Wm. Rivers Pitt ( writes PDA blog and some stories on blogs bubble up into the mainstream. Emails:,, and He wants every PDA caucus to be “point person” for the blog to update them about what they are doing, where they need help, issues that need action, and candidates you can support.

· David Swanson has made many websites for progressives (, Kucinich, AFL-CIO, ACORN) and has many ideas for websites. PDA has done press releases and has materials and posters. Make sure no one goes to rally without PDA shirt, and says to negotiate with reporters to make them commit to naming PDA ahead of time. He says it is virtually impossible to get coverage in the mainstream media, and recommends holding media coverage accountable. Creating own media is important too. Some PDA chapters have websites of variable quality ( and are websites for progressive groups). He says never lie or exaggerate, make yourself available, never worry about pleasing reporter or caring about them. Never work with a reporter who already has planned what he or she wants you to say. More suggestions on

· Some discussion on public access TV, and how to get programs into the community. Some suggestions are to get activists on your show, contact local TV writer to cover show, work on marketing and tell guests to let people know about show. Telecommunications act puts public access TV in jeopoardy.

· PDA media action and reform. They will develop part of website to address pending and possible legislation on the media.

· Someone brought up the fact that you can lease TV time for little money.

· Deep Dish TV does shows on regular basis that can be downloaded on Link TV.

· Suzanne talked about ways to get TV message out.

· Finally, someone reported on her efforts to get train delay in NYC and efforts to get to Saturday’s rally in the NYT and WaPo. Persistence paid off in this example.

***Final Session
A call for sustainers – and PDA endorsed two candidates Tony ??? and Steve Young. PDA passed resolution about Katrina:
· Respect for the culture in the area and region and evacuees must fully participate in reconstruction
· Current labor laws, environmental laws and civil rights laws must be respected
· Native Americans must participate also

There was some discussion of tomorrow’s lobby events. Then they closed with saying that Cindy is birthing her son’s spirit into the world now.

John Boniface talked about the Ohio recount and the Downing Street Memo. He says democracy is worth fighting for, but there still is no meaningful recount in Ohio.

It was a long day, but well worth going to PDA conferences to see and hear what is going on.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Progressive Democrats of America Conference

(It has taken me awhile to get this written up, but I wanted to share what went on at this conference on September 25, 2005. This will be in two parts.)

Interfaith Gathering

Let everyone need their vine and victory
live in peace and unafraid
and into plowshares beat their sword
nations shall learn war no more

Gonna lay down my shield and sword
down by the riverside, down by the riverside,
gonna lay down my shield and sword
and study war no more


Rev. Yearwood pointed out that David took on a lion and bear before taking on Goliath. He said now is the time for revolution, and it is TIME TO SHUT THE DAMN THING DOWN.

Barbara Lee voted against the violence of war every single time, filed resolution of inquiry on Resolution #197 which is No Permanent Military Bases in Iraq. After we bring the troops home we have to continue to work on justice after we get troops out - we didn't do that after Vietnam. No mention of what we should do for the Iraqis.

Spoke of plan to eradicate poverty by 2010 (lots of cheering, couldn't hear). Spoke of keeping the STREET HEAT ON and continue to work for peace and justice.

Jeff Cohen: quoted some Repubs comments on Bosnia and Kosovo War and had people guess who said them. He spoke about two fighting bases in 1)fear and 2)battle for free speech, justice and democracy.

Wm. Rivers Pitt: said the minority has become the majority. Pointed out that Katrina has exposed the economic apartheid of the country. He said we should impeach the bastards and that "we are going to be that change".

Speaker for John Conyers (Bert Garskof?) said that since PDA launched campaign to reform Democratic Party we have had effect. He talked about election fraud in Ohio and Downing Street Memo. He said the last thing the world needs is Republican-lite party, and then he talked about how we are reaching out. He talked about the issues of Iraq, Katrina, racial apartheid, election fraud, Patriot Act and poverty as major issues facing our country that PDA is addressing. He said that it has always been an aroused citizenry who put the country back on course and make Washington do the right thing. Idea for bumper sticker: "In 06, elect a congress that will impeach"

Tim Carpenter- founded PDA, and he never wavered around being against war and occupation of Iraq. He introduced Lynn Woolsey. She said members of Congress are conduits for what Americans wants. She mentioned John Conyers for President and the crowd was on it's feet. She mentioned how major media didn't cover the march the day before. This is her platform:
1. economic opportunity for all, health care, fair trade, work organization, strong social security
2. civil rights - get rid of Patriot Act, protect all kinds of Americans
3. global peace and security
4. break up corporate media

She spoke about bringing the troops home and ending the despicable war in Iraq. We must deal with mentally wounded from war and not turn our backs on our troops (like we did in Vietnam). She said we occupy moral high ground and political high ground because we are right. PDA gave her award for backbone campaign. Woolsey said to make sure your members of congress know where you stand - this is what makes it possible for her to do what she does.

Medea Benjamin: gave a welcome to Greens and independents to PDA conference. She called for the repeal of tax cuts to the rich and to stop the elimination of the estate tax. She recommended that we tax corporations and stop war. She recommended that we pursue our security by the following steps: 1) find out what really happened on 9/11 2) bring them to justice and 3) invest in our structures and our communities. She recommended that the ICC have trials on TV for OBL, Saddam and Bush (crowd went wild).

Cindy Sheeham: standing ovation
She says she doesn't know anything about politics - all she knows is what comes from her heart - but when she says "congress" she does not include the ones who did the right thing. She means the ones who illegally gave Bush the right to start the war.



We introduced ourselves and figured out that 7 were from Florida, 2 from Georgia, 2 from South Carolina, 5 from North Carolina and one from Virginia (he was there because he was with his dad). We discussed the handout from PDA, in particular the HJ, H.Con.Res. and H. R. on page 18 of the handout. Some did not know what those initials stood for.

HJ Res 55 - Withdrawal of US Armed Forces from Iraq
H.Con.Res. 197 - House Continuing Resolution - No Permanent Bases in Iraq
H.R. - House of Representative 551 - Student Privacy Protection Act of 2005

We discussed the purpose of doing congressional office visits, and whether we will have an impact or not. Stated that we need to say what we think, and point out Rep. Jones (NC) and how he changed his position. A participant said that she would recommend starting with how you are alike (with congress person) and bring up the commonality with them, to set a basis of interaction that is not totally confrontational.

There was an announcement from someone stopping by about writing follow up letters to Congress. Then Michael Geeney stopped in and spoke about how PDA would like a form filled out for each group (each congressional office visit). Delegate one person from group to write form and get together afterwards to get a consensus of what the group thinks about the visit on the form.

After the interruptions, we went back to discussion about the visits. Another participant stated how she starts with a presentation of an aspect of war they cannot argue with - the suffering of innocent civilians. This is a basis for commonality. There was further discussion on finding a place to come from to approach legislators. One shared about how her faith drives her politics, and that politics does not drive her faith. Some shared that it is time to tell Kerry - if you don't do this, we will come after you.

Then we went into a BREAKOUT by state - I was at NORTH CAROLINA:

We spent some time covering our history and involvement with PDA. One person belongs to Buncombe County PDA, and two people there were on Progressive Democrats of NC Political Action Committee Board. One person was from Wake County PDA and they had a pot luck on a Saturday evening and about 50 people attended. The rest (two) were not part of any formal group in North Carolina. We discussed times and strategies for our office visits.

The schedule was 9 AM for Senator Burr, 10 AM for Representative Taylor, 10 AM for Representative Price, and Noon for Senator Dole. There were more scheduled, but I did not get the times. We agreed to meet at 11:30 outside Dole's office to discuss and get consensus on the visit to Burr's office. Everyone wanted to be in on Dole and Burr visits.

(Note: This was helpful, in my opinion, to get more familiar with the congressional office visits, and to get to know people's names. I recommend doing this whenever you have a office visits planned.)

I will have a follow up report on those lobby visits later.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Speech in Oklahoma

Defeat the War Demagogues, Right and Left

So the question is what do we, the majority, do? I can tell you right now from some experience in Washington that we have no influence on the Republican Party. We have some, but not decisive influence, on the Democratic Party. The only way to get these United States to cease and desist, in the specific instance of getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the more general but certainly no less important task of getting out of this militaristic, imperialistic, moralistic rut in which we are stuck, is to use our organizational skills and, most importantly, our votes, to make our influence in the Democratic Party decisive. The only way that this can be done is to unmask and get rid of those Democrats who persist in betraying us.

In 2004, it turned out that “Bush Lite” candidate Kerry was an ill-chosen alternative. In the congressional election next year and in the 2008 presidential election no candidate, Democrat or Republican who does not acknowledge both the folly, the unconstitutionality, and—most important—the immorality of the war in Iraq deserves any measure of your support.

Let them know it.

By: David MacMichael, US Marine Captain (ret. w/disability from Korea), Professor of History (University of Oregon), senior estimates officer (CIA), now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.