Saturday, September 30, 2006

We are all torturers now

Yes, we are all torturers now. The US Senate passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which means torture incdents like the one in this picture is now legal, and is retroactively legal also. No more nonsense about a 'few bad apples' anymore.

This weekend, I will call every Democratic Senator who voted for this bill and let them know what I think of their contribution to violating our Constitution. And I will call every Democratic Senator who voted against this and thank them. And Senator Chaffee also, the only Republican Senator who has any sense.

This is a shameful time to be an American.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


voted today to allow torture and to overturn the Geneva Conventions and to overturn the right of habeas corpus. How very, very sad.

We are in serious danger of losing our country.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

About that torture 'compromise'

From a political website, Daily Kos:

This week Senate Republicans have reached a compromise on Torture with the Bush Administration that effectively guts the Geneva Conventions and our nations Moral Authority. If this legislation is signed into law - the United States will officially become a Rogue Nation. A Terrorist State that sanctions the commission of War Crimes, by simply redefining them out of existence. The President will be allowed to become the sole Deciderer of what is legal and constitutes a "grave breach" of human dignity and what doesn't. Establishing law and fact via Executive Fiat, like the decrees of an Emperor - not a President. Someone needs to tell Senators Graham, Warner and McCain that what they've just done by handing this authority over to Bush, is the equivelent of letting the head of the Gambino Crime Family define what is and isn't Racketeering and Murder.

From Federalist 47:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Make no mistake - this is indeed Tyranny - and will be a stain on our national character that will last with us for generations, just as we continue to live with the shame of the Tuskegee Experiment and Interment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

But this... this is worse. We didn't torture the internees.

I'm almost at a loss for words.

The idea that the technique used by Jack Bauer on 24 are soon to become part of our official anti-terrorism policy is shocking. And mindnumbingly stupid as well.

U.S. officials do not use the word torture to describe their own methods. Instead, American intelligence officials speak of "aggressive interrogation measures," sometimes euphemistically known as "torture lite." According to human-rights activists who have consulted with Senate staffers involved in the negotiations, Bush administration officials are trying to redefine the Geneva Conventions, which bans "cruel practices," to allow seven different procedures: 1) induced hypothermia, 2) long periods of forced standing, 3) sleep deprivation, 4) the "attention grab" (forcefully seizing the suspect's shirt), 5) the "attention slap," 6) the "belly slap" and 7) sound and light manipulation. As NEWSWEEK reported this week in its story The Politics of Terror, a harsh technique called "waterboarding," which induces the sensation of drowning, would be specifically banned.

Thank God for small favors - no "Waterboarding". Yippee.

There is a one single good reason why U.S. courts do not allow for coerced testimony -- IT. CANT. BE. TRUSTED.

The TV Show that Bush and his Cronies should be watching isn't 24 - it's CSI.

According to data obtained by the Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to exonerate 180 persons who had been condemned to death row, 35 times (out of the first 130 cases - or 27%) there was a False Confession and another 21 times (16%) the wrongful conviction was the result of bad information provided by informants and snitches.

All indications are that part of the bad intelligence information indicating links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, which led us wrongly into a War with Iraq, were the result of the torture of Ibn Sheik al-Libi at Gitmo - who was a "known fabricator" according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Yet Administration Officials such as Cheney continue to believe al-Libi's lies, and our President, the so-called "Leader of the Free World" claims with a straight face that...

this agreement preserves the most single -- most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks, and that is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets.

More potent than actually protecting the ports, instead of handing them over to the United Arab Emerites? Um,... not so much.

Both the New York Times and Washington Post seem less than enthused.

In editorials entitled "A Bad Bargain" (NYT) and "The Abuse Can Continue" (WaPo), the two papers minced no words declaring not only their opposition to the bill but its effect on the war on terror, global opinion, and history's judgement of the president.

Washington Post: "In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent. If they do, America's standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the fight against terrorism. . . .

"Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of tortue and bear responsibility for the enormous damage he has caused."

New York Times: "[The bill] allows the president to declare any foreigner, anywhere, an 'illegal enemy combatant' using a dangerously broad definition, and detain him without any trial. .

"The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. It's time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nation's severely damaged reputation."

In response to this issue when speaking with Keith Olbermann on last nights episode of Countdown, former President Bill Clinton had this to say.

Clinton: Like you take this interrogation dealing. We might all say the same thing if, let's say Osama bin Laden's number three guy were captured and we knew a big bomb was going off in America in three days.

It turns out right now there's an exception for those kind of circumstance in an immediate emergency that's proven in the military regs. But that's not the same thing as saying we want to abolish the Geneva Convention and practice torture as a matter of course. All it does is make our soldiers vulnerable to torture. It makes us more likely to get bad, not good information.


CLINTON: And every time we get some minor victory out of it, we'll make a hundred more enemies, so I think these things, I really think we need to think through all of this and debate more.

The point that has to be repeatedly made here - is that these men have not been proven guilty of anything. They haven't been tried, in fact they are being denied access to the courts -- habeas corpus, one of the founding principles of our nation, is being scraped.

Even when the Military knows that some of these people, particular the "Ghost Detainees" who have been kept hidden from the Red Cross, are innocent of any connection to terrorism, al-Qaeda or the Taliban - they have refused to released them.

Majority of Detainees "Of No Intelligence Value" or Innocent. One statement refers to "a lot of pressure to produce reports regardless of intelligence value." Brig. Gen. Karpinski's deposition also cited the comments of another official, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, who told her, "I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We're winning the war!" A former commander of the 320th Military Police Battalion notes in a sworn statement, "It became obvious to me that the majority of our detainees were detained as the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were swept up by Coalition Forces as peripheral bystanders during raids. I think perhaps only one in ten security detainees were of any particular intelligence value."

"Releasaphobia" Keep Innocent Detainees Jailed. One member of the Detainee Assessment Board said people were afraid to recommend release of detainees, "even when obviously innocent." Similarly, Brig. Gen. Karpinski spoke of "releaseaphobia" on the part of a review board. According to another report, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez allegedly said of the detainees, "Why are we detaining these people, we should be killing them." The unidentified solider who reported the comment added that it "contributed to a command climate" where "deeds not consistent with military standards would be tolerated if not condoned."

Former detainees, who were "rendered" to their native countries (Syria and Egypt), where they were tortured and then released such as Abu Omar and Maher Arar were apparently the lucky ones.

Tens of thousands of others, haven't been so lucky.

Hundreds of detainees have died in custody - including 26 which died directly as a result of abuse - and have been considered homocide. Under the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 USC § 2441) these crimes are punishable by the Death Penalty.

From the ACLU's FOIA Documents:

Several statements refer to "ghost detainees" who died in custody, including one who died after being chained up in a shower area. Interrogators packed the body in ice and "paid a local taxi driver to take him away." (Note: this report may refer to Manadel a-Jamadi, whose death in Abu Ghraib has been widely reported in the news media.)

Is this how a nation that calls itself "civilized" behaves?

I didn't used to think so... but now I have little choice, don't I?

Instead of leading by example and giving the people of the world a strong and compelling reason to hope and struggle to create the kind of freedom, prosperity and democracy that exemplify the best of our ideals - we are now on the verge of departing from the ranks of lawful nations, and becoming exactly what bin Laden and his ilk has long claimed we were. We have become the "Great Satan".

Yeah, this will really change all those "hearts and minds' to our way of thinking any day now. "Just Wait" is NOT a viable foreign policy.

Unfortunately I think time is running out, and if the Democrats in Congress don't find a way to block the passage of this bill before the end of this Congress -- Game Over.

Congressional Switchboard Toll Free: 866-808-0065 (Call and ask for a Senator - but line may be busy)


DON'T TELL ME THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO SAVE YOUR COUNTRY!! And if you don't have a phone line to make these calls on and you are in Asheville, email me so I can arrange for you to use my cell phone.

Tell the Democratic Senators to filibuster this bill, because OUR American does not torture and OUR America does not violate the Geneva Conventions.

It will not hurt to call Dole and Burr also.

HERE IS A LIST OF DEMOCRATIC SENATORS TO CALL AND THEIR DC PHONE NUMBERS (the ** means you can leave a message - be sure to leave your name and city and state of residence):

Akaka 202-224-6361**

Baucus 202-224-2651**

Bayh 202-224-5623**

Biden 202-224-5042**

Bingaman 202-224-5521**

Boxer 202-224-3553 - no messages allowed

Byrd 202-224-3954**

Cantwell 202-224-3441**

Carper 202-224-2441**

Clinton 202-224-4451 - mailbox full

Conrad 202-224-2043**

Dayton 202-224-3244**

Dodd 202-224-2823**

Dorgan 202-224-2551**

Durbin 202-224-2152 - no messages allowed

Feingold 202-224-5323**

Feinstein 202-224-3841 - no messages allowed

Harkin 202-224-3254 - no answer

Inouye 202-224-3934**

Jeffords 202-224-5141 (Independent)**

Johnson 202-224-5842**

Kennedy 202-224-4543 - no messages allowed

Kerry 202-224-2742**

Kohl 202-224-5653**

Landrieu 202-224-5824**

Lautenberg 202-224-3224**

Leahy 202-224-4242**

Levin 202-224-6221**

Lincoln 202-224-4843**

Menendez 202-224-2541**

Mikulski 202-224-4654**

Murray 202-224-2621**

Nelson 202-224-5274**

Nelson 202-224-6551**

Obama 202-224-2854 - mailbox full

Pryor 202-224-2353**

Reed 202-224-4642**

Reid 202-224-3542 - mailbox full

Rockefeller 202-224-6472

Salazar 202-224-5852**

Sarbanes 202-224-4524 - no answer

Schumer 202-224-6542 - cannot leave message

Stabenow 202-224-4822**

Wyden 202-224-5244**

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Both of these are really, really important

and if you have not signed, please do so. thanks.

PEACE ACTION: Take the voters’ peace pledge. "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."

ANOTHER PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill. PDA is committed to cutting off all funding for deployment of US troops in Iraq and for the removal of all funding for the occupation of Iraq.

Do It Yourself Impeachment

From the comments section of my last post, and important action we can all take! (And honestly, I have been meaning to do this, and I will be getting the letters notarized tomorrow.)

Impeach Bush yourself! No Joke.

This is much more than just a petition.

There's a little known and rarely used clause of the "Jefferson Manual" in the rules for the House of Representatives which sets forth the various ways in which a president can be impeached. Only the House Judiciary Committee puts together the Articles of Impeachment, but before that happens, someone has to initiate the process.

That's where we come in. In addition to the State-by-State method, one of the ways to get impeachment going is for individual citizens like you and me to submit a memorial., part of the movement to impeach the president, has created a new memorial based on one which was successful in impeaching a federal official in the past. You can find it on their website as a PDF.


You can initiate the impeachment process yourself by downloading the memorial, filling in the relevant information in the blanks (your name, state, etc.), and sending it in. More information on the precedent for submitting an impeachment memorial, and the House Rules on this procedure, can also be found at
the above address.

If you have any doubts that Bush has committed crimes warranting
impeachment, read this page:

If you're concerned that impeachment might not be the best strategy
at this point, read the bottom of this page:

Also, as can be found on my blog, I submitted a resolution at the North Carolina Democratic Party convention this year asking the NC House to file articles of impeachment. As soon as we get another Democrat (a friend of mine) elected to the NC House, then I will go to work on pushing this issue forward. Also, there is an impeachment rally in Charlotte on September 30th. I will be there.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Shameful Behavior from the US Government

PHOTO: Freed Iraqi prisoners kiss the ground after being released by the authorities at a bus station in Baghdad, Aug. 31, 2006. The cases of U.S.-detained Iraqis are reviewed by a committee of U.S. military and Iraqi government officials. The panel recommends criminal charges against some, release for others. As of Sept. 9, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq had put 1,445 on trial, convicting 1,252. Almost 18,700 have been released since June 2004, the U.S. command says, not including many more who were held and then freed by local military units and never shipped to major prisons. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

US War Prisons Legal Vacuum for 14,000

Just over a week ago, Bush admitted there are secret prisons run by the CIA around the world. He has not admitted to torture being a common event in those prisons, but it is. Plus, the statements of people under torture are admitted as evidence in “military tribunals”. I have heard that 83,000 people have been imprisoned in America’s “war on terror” with 40 of them actually found guilty in a real trial (that was run by the US officials, not Iraqi) and over 100 dead – some from natural causes, some from murder at US hands – almost half of them “unknown”. In all the cases of torture or murder, no US official has been SEVERELY punished. They have been punished, in a few odd cases, but it was nothing of note. The stiffest punishment was five months in prison.

This is so stunningly shameful.

It is so shameful that I find it hard to believe that my country and my government are the ones doing it. But they are. And we have got to stop them. We have got to demand justice, fair trials, habeas corpus, rule of law, for anyone detained by US officials or US military. We have got to demand they be treated humanely the entire time they are in custody. We have got to re-establish the Geneva Conventions. There is a photographer from Reuters who had been imprisoned in Iraq, without charges, for five months now with no charges. Story HERE.

From the article cited above about the War Prisons Legal Vacuum:

As she watched one recent day for a bus from distant Camp Bucca, one mother wept and told her story. "The Americans arrested my son, my brother and his friend," said Zahraa Alyat, 42. "The Americans arrested them October 16, 2005. They left together and I don't know anything about them."

This is evil. This is the ‘new’ US policy under the Cheney administration.

I am now convinced (after my last visit to the US Senate and US House of Representatives) that they are psychopaths who do not care at all for the welfare of other people – and they also don’t care who gets tortured or killed. They have the ability to justify anything. (“Do it in the name of heaven, you can justify it in the end.”) They can excuse anything. They can deny anything, even with the evidence right in front of them. They can lie and lie and lie and lie. As the story cited above states “Defenders of the system…..say it's an unfortunate necessity in the battles to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan, and to keep suspected terrorists out of action.” The fact that these actions make them terrorists does not cross their minds. The fact that these actions cause more people to become terrorists also does not cross their minds. The fact that there was no reason for us to “pacify Iraq” does not cross their minds. The fact that there was better ways than war to dismantle the Taliban also does not cross their minds. And it is not because they are stupid. They are psychopaths, and the only way I know to stop them is to arrest them, have a trial, and hopefully, lock them up for the rest of their lives. And even they don’t deserve torture. And even they don’t deserve imprisonment with out trial – which I call “kidnapping”. It is up to God to forgive them.

We need to IMPEACH.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

PDBC: 09-13-06 Meeting Notes

Meeting of the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County

Date of meeting: September 13, 2006

This group has not been active lately, since the former co-chairs of the group did not schedule and plan meetings. The first thing we did was vote on the By-Laws, which were passed. We decided to have quarterly meetings and to hold elections at the next meeting in January 2007. We decided on dues of $5/year, and we currently have eight paid members. (There are many more than that on our email list.) We have $55 in the treasury, since some people gave more than $5 in dues.

Announcements included the upcoming Progressive Democrats of North Carolina upcoming meeting in Asheville on October 7, 2006. Rev. Barber will be the keynote speaker at this meeting. Isaac is a main organizer at this meeting. Susan gave an update on Progressive Democrats of America, for which she is state coordinator. Susan also gave a short update on Camp Democracy in DC the week before, and her lobbying efforts. The Buncombe Democratic Party is looking for volunteers for the upcoming Mountain State Fair (call 274-4482 to volunteer). They have a booth there and need volunteers to run the booth and answer questions. Susan also mentioned the Voter’s Peace Pledge. Also, the local Democracy For America group is meeting on October 4, 2006. They are helping with various local campaigns. There is a movie coming out called “Iraq For Sale”. This was made by the guy who did OUTFOXED and WALMART movies. This will be shown by DFA or MoveOn at some point here in Asheville. Also, there is a MoveOn office here in Asheville now.

Isaac talked about circling the wagons, because America is going down the tubes, and we need to make a large effort to all come together. He commented on how the Republicans made plans for years. Isaac also said how Asheville is the center of progressives in North Carolina, and how we need to stay together to accomplish anything of note. He also said we need to be smart, tenacious, committed.

We had a representative from Van Duncan’s campaign and a representative from Susan Fisher’s campaign at our meeting tonight. Duncan is running for Sheriff and Susan is running for the NC House. We also had Susan Wilson and Sharon Barrett, both of whom are running for the District Court Judge seat here in Asheville, NC. They both talked about why they are interested in the seat and what qualifications they bring to this position.

Next meeting will be January 10, 2007 at 7 PM. Location will be announced later.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

PDNC: Bylaws Passed at Meeting

Bylaws of the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County

These bylaws were passed at the meeting on September 13, 2006. Minutes of the meeting will be posted later.


This organization shall be known as the “Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County” (hereinafter referred to as Chapter). This organization is a county chapter of the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina and the Progressive Democrats of America.


The objectives of this Chapter are to promote progressive positions on matters of public interest and to promote transparency and accountability within the Democratic Party; to coordinate efforts with like-minded organizations in the county, particularly Progressive Democrats of America and Progressive Democrats of North Carolina; to promote the organization of all Buncombe County precincts and strengthen the party’s grass roots; to further the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for public office; to encourage volunteerism in the furtherance of our electoral process; to promote the Democratic Party, its nominees for elective office, and its elected officials; and to promote voter registration and voter participation in all elections.


Membership is voluntary and shall be confirmed by each member annually.


Each member shall pay an annual membership fee of $5. This does not include membership in the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina or Progressive Democrats of America.


The following officers shall be elected annually:

A. Co-chairs. The Chapter shall have two co-chairs, one male, one female. The co-chairs will:

1. Coordinate date, time, and location of Chapter meetings.

2. Facilitate and moderate Chapter meetings.

3. Coordinate activities with the state Progressive Democratic Caucus.

4. Represent the Chapter in Buncombe County Democratic Party activities and with other organizations such as Progressive Democrats of North Carolina and Progressive Democrats of America.

5. Coordinate activities of the Chapter and its officers.

B. Secretary. The Secretary will:

1. Notify members of meetings.

2. Prepare and distribute meeting minutes.

3. Coordinate member recruitment and maintain membership records.

4. Maintain all non-financial Chapter records.

5. Maintain Chapter website (if available), blog, database, listserv and all other communications tools (in consultation with the co-chairs).

C. Treasurer. The Treasurer will:

1. Oversee the Chapter treasury

2. Maintain accounting of all Chapter financial transactions.

3. Coordinate Chapter fundraising efforts.

4. Comply with the Board of Elections financial filing requirements as necessary

D. Other Offices:

The co-chairs may define other offices as they see necessary, and nominate members to those offices. Offices and nominees must both be confirmed by the membership at the next Chapter meeting. The terms of these officers will last until the end of the co-chairs’ terms.

E. Role of Officers:

It is the philosophy of this Chapter that officers serve aims and goals set, as far as possible, by the Chapter as a whole. All issues of policy and planning should be placed before the Chapter at the earliest possible time so that the members may give the officers guidance and input.


There shall be an executive committee composed of the officers that shall meet upon the call of the co-chairs to plan Chapter activities. All meetings shall be open to the entire membership.


A vacancy in any office may be filled at the meeting following that at which the vacancy is first announced.


A meeting shall be held on a quarterly basis on the second Wednesday evening of the month unless cancelled by a majority vote of those members voting thereon at a previous meeting. Additional meetings may be scheduled by a majority vote of those members voting thereon at any meeting of the Chapter.


The affairs of this Chapter shall be governed by a majority vote of its members present and voting at any regularly scheduled meetings in accordance with these bylaws.


A. Meetings will be conducted pursuant to Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised (any edition). At any meeting, Robert’s Rules may be suspended, and other rules imposed, by a majority vote of members in attendance.

B. Order of Business:

1. Call to Order

2. Action on minutes of previous meeting

3. Report of officers

4. Report of committees

5. Unfinished business

6. New business

7. Adjournment


These by-laws may be amended by a majority vote of those voting at a duly scheduled meeting of the Chapter provided that: all members are notified of the proposed changes via the blog “Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County” or email, and notice of the scheduled meeting is given to all members at least seven days prior to the meeting at which the vote is to be taken.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Camp Democracy, Day Five

September 9, 2006

Well, I went to the Pentagon today at 10 – and it was not an open house, it was a tour of the 9/11 memorial. I wore my tee shirt that says We Will Not Be Silent. The outside of the Pentagon looks like it was never damaged. They have one block from the original damage and they have “September 11, 2001” on it. We were told there were time capsules inside the brick. There was a memorial inside, and they are building a memorial outside. Inside the memorial, there is a chapel…. They have all major religions represented, except for Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Pagan. That is to say, only Christians are represented! And of course, no sign of any real Christianity, which would be forgiveness and love for the enemy. I heard later in the day some Vets for Peace were arrested there handing out information on depleted uranium.

I headed over to Camp Democracy and sat in on some speakers. Antonia Juhasz spoke on various economic policies put into place in Iraq by Bremer. One thing Bremer did was a flat tax, which is a big boon to corporations and very bad for the poor. Bremer also appointed an oil minister, who cancelled all prior contracts and privatized the oil industry. She said from an economic and legal perspective the Bush administration has been very successful in Iraq. But she says public protest caused Haliburton to lose $11 billion in contracts. Her website is and she has a book out on this topic. During the discussion part of this presentation, someone mentioned the movie WHY WE FIGHT. This movie was shown later in the evening on Saturday. I mentioned at this time that the movie was (I felt) very accurate, except for one thing: the media. They completely left out the media.

Stephen Zunes spoke on the US and Iran and stopping the next war. He runs Foreign Policy In Focus, a think-tank without walls. He says that nonviolent struggles have brought democratic change, not guns and violence. He believes in no nuclear power anywhere (which I agree with). His website is

An Iranian woman was part of this panel and she made the point that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear energy production, and that she is totally opposed to any military intervention. Her website is

The next panel I went to was on “Whistleblowing 101”. Karen Kwiatkowski spoke first and she said that they should be called “truth-tellers” or “witnesses” and she also spoke to the need to have a community of support for the truth-tellers. She also made a point of saying that healthy organizations may have differences, but people listen to one another and come to some agreement – and that does not happen in an unhealthy organization, where a person speaks up and is ostracized or punished for speaking up.

Ray McGovern was on this panel also. One statement he made was ‘why didn’t Paul O’Neil come out with his book before the war?’ which is a very good question (and could be asked of others, too). He said the Intelligence Estimate made during the fall of 2002 was full of errors on purpose – there were directed to follow Cheney’s statements. This was used to mislead the US legislators. McGovern said that one Republican Senator was against the wiretapping done by the Bush administration last fall, and yet today is in favor of allowing this – and then he asked why this would be – I immediately said “blackmail” quite loudly. McGovern said that is what it is – the Bush administration probably has some dirt on the Repub Senator.

I went to the next speaker to hear the tail end of what he had to say. He was speaking on how anti-Jewish and anti-Arab bigotry in the West undermines the Middle East peace process. He said that people are afraid of being labeled. I stopped to visit with an artist at Camp Democracy this weekend. His name was Skip Rohde, and it turns out he lives in the next county. His work can be seen at

The last presentation that I went to was by Bill Moyer. Yes, I thought it was Bill Moyers! It was not, but he was recorded by Free Speech TV, because they thought they were going to film Bill Moyers. Moyer is founder of the Backbone Campaign, and he spoke about getting the Progressive Movement going for 2008 and beyond.

Than I had to leave Camp Democracy for the train ride home (which went better than the train ride down there, I must say!). Here is a few final thoughts from Camp Democracy:

Anger looks to the good of justice.

The making of peace is as costly as the making of war.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Camp Democracy, Day Three and Day Four

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Marble, marble everywhere – and not a drop of human decency to be found.

Well, what a horrible experience I had lobbying. It was much harder and much more emotional for me than any prior experience. I was in tears at several points in the day. What really got to me was the look of total non-concern for all the horrible things that this Republican White House and Congress has done. They flat out do not care who they hurt or who gets killed, as long as it isn’t them. The only senator I came face to face with was Mr. Graham. When I said to him “I don’t think you care about these things” he goes and puts his hand on my shoulder and patronizingly says “I think I know what I am doing.” He then turns and walks into his office and I say as the door is shutting “My god forgive you.” No response to that, or the fact that I am in tears. I think I know what he is doing too – and it is called EVIL. I not only gave him one of my letters to Republicans, I also gave him a copy of a blog post (about Senator Graham) from the blog “A Lie A Day.” Someone from South Carolina writes this blog.

In all the offices I went to, I stated that I wanted to see the end of secret prisons, torture, kidnapping, rape, holding people without trial or charges or evidence, and wars of aggression based on lies. My letter and my statements let them know just what I think of all of them – not much.

I was surprised at how emotional I became while doing this lobbying, since I have done it several times before without that happening. I think perhaps it is because we finally have undeniable proof that the US/CIA is running secret prisons around the world – Bush admitted it. And he admitted it without a shred of shame or even a minor awareness of just how evil and barbaric those secret prisons are. They have no ability to understand how counter-productive such barbaric acts truly are.

I lobbied in the senate offices until 2:30 and then went over to the representative’s offices to talk with James Thomas, who is legislative assistant to Representative Taylor. He is thick as a brick himself. He did agree that there are secret prisons being run by the CIA around the world, although I am sure he would have denied it two days ago. Pretty hard to deny it now that Bush admitted it. Anyway, Mr. Thomas would not agree that torture or murder was taking place in those prisons, even though I gave him a story that had a former “detainee” (in actually, he was a kidnap victim) telling of the torture he received. (There are also reports of murders, but obviously, those murdered people can no longer tell their story.) That man was released without charges. The story I gave him also said that another innocent man had been kidnapped and sent to Syria for torture. Mr. Thomas apparently thinks only nice behavior is taking place in our “secret prisons.” Also, every time I brought up how horrible things are in Iraq, he would say “don’t you want the Iraqi people to have freedom and democracy?” He is totally buying into the myth that we are there to do good for the Iraqi people, and if any bad things happen (this is true for torture also) it is just a few bad apples. What a load of horseshit he feeds himself daily! He is part of that 15% who believe in AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM. That is, no matter how may acts of horror that Americans are shown to have done, he will excuse it as necessary to achieve the wonderful things we are bringing the victims of horror. (I bet he would believe that if it was done right in front of him also. I guess he thinks they are having tea parties at those secret prisons.)

Well, it is truly a sad shame that all the wonderful acts of goodness that the US military and the CIA are spreading around the world are not visited on Mr. Thomas’s family. If that were to happen, maybe, just maybe, he would wake up. If such acts of horror (like kidnapping people and holding them without charges or trials, torture, rape, murder, keeping them in secret prisons, war, bombings, shootings, chaos, mayhem, etc) were to come to his family via a foreigner, then he would feel entitled to retribution and revenge and calls for justice. The fact that his own government is doing this to other innocent people does not even inspire him to call for justice or call for the government to stop. And he is the aid of the guy who is supposed to represent me in my government! Instead, all they represent is evil.

May God forgive them.

After this trying day, I was not feeling energetic to go back to Camp Democracy or to go hear the former president of Iran speak here in DC. It is now Friday night (as I write this) and even writing it up is so very tiring. I guess all good people get tired trying to deal with evil.

So, one Republican Congressman and the staff of another 50 Republican Senators don’t give a damn about the suffering of the Iraqi people. They are not only blind, obtuse and evil, but they are also dangerous: they would inflict this suffering on other people without a second thought. I don’t know how to reach them or wake them up, and I fail to understand how they ever got elected. I do know that I have to take care of myself, and this is impacting me too negatively, so I will no longer go to DC and lobby the evil ones. I will have to stick to writing letters or postcards.

Friday September 8, 2006

I went to FCNL offices to see Laura and to pick up some War Is Not The Answer posters. I showed her my letters to the Senators, and admitted what I have written in them is not very “Quakerly”. They are pretty hard hitting and ugly letters, except of course for the letters to the GOOD DEMOCRATS. There were only 23 of them. I went back to the Hart Senate office building and finished up the lobbying. Today seemed to go much better. I wore my IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY tee shirt today, and only one person said something to me in an elevator. She said she liked the shirt. FCNL gave me some flyers for Camp Democracy. One of those flyers talks about what you can do to promote world security, and they advocate doing this by – you guessed it – lobbying your elected representatives by phone, mail or visiting. I agree with them that it is important to keep the pressure on! I know I have done my share of that, but as long as there is only one or two thousand of us doing it, we won’t get very far. Now, if there were one or two hundred million who did this, things would change fast.

Anyway, I headed over to Camp Democracy this afternoon. They had a line up of speakers and various topics today, and they also had someone there doing a live radio broadcast. First thing I did there today was buy a “We Will Not Be Silent” tee shirt, which I really wanted to do. I sat in on the labor movement against the war and heard about how they brought over Iraqi labor union leaders to meet with US labor union leaders. They have a movie out called “Meeting Face to Face” and there is more information at I bought the DVD “Sir, No Sir” when I realized that I would rather hear the Camp Democracy speakers than go to a showing of that movie at the Black Congressional Caucus convention (which is also going on). I hope to show this movie, and the film from the US/Iraqi labor meetings, someday in Asheville.

There was also a presentation on depleted uranium (DU), which was very sad and very upsetting. There is more information about that through Veterans for Peace and at

We heard today that there would be an open house at the Pentagon tomorrow at 10. I plan on going to that.

Camp Democracy, Day One and Day Two

Tuesday Sept 5, 2006

I spent some time at Camp Democracy this afternoon, and heard a group discussion about how the US anti-war/peace and justice groups can support reconciliation and peace in Iraq and the greater Middle East. One interesting point an Iraqi veteran made was that the Iraqi constitution was originally written in English, and was classified. It was later translated to Arabic. He also pointed out that propaganda for the upcoming elections was written in Arabic, including matchbooks to promote candidates, yet the constitution had to be translated from English to Arabic. Several Iraqi people commented (to him) on how the Samarra bombing incident had really interesting timing, in that the Sunni groups were being brought into the political process at that point, and the bombing threw all of that out the window. Furthermore, the setting of the bombs in Samarra took a significant amount of time, and the area was reportedly under American control.

Wednesday, Sept 6, 2006

While walking to Camp Democracy, I noticed how smelly and noisy this place is – and most of the smells are very bad! It does stink out loud – maybe that is why it is so noisy! There is construction and sidewalks closed all over the place.

First event I attended was a workshop by Antonia Juhasz, who wrote “The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy At A Time” She talked about Iraq and privatization there. She also talked about how Saddam did not ‘play ball’ with the USA like he was supposed to, which really got to Bush Sr. Apparently, Bush Sr. was very supportive of Saddam in the beginning of his presidency, as was the Reagan administration. Her book looks like it has a ton of information.

Next event was with Bill Blum, author of “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.” He said that about 15% of the US population believes that what America does is for “the good” and our government always means well – and there is no convincing them otherwise. He said there is no moral factor in the DNA of the US foreign policy.

Then Rep. Waters showed up and spoke a bit. She thanked us for taking our country in a new direction, and she cited the Lamont supporters in particular. When asked about supporting a candidate who is anti-Iraq war (like Lamont) in New York (who is running against Hillary Clinton), she dodged the question and said we should watch H. Clinton and listen to what she says and does and that we should stop her from running for president, not stopped from running for US Senate. (Later, a fellow participant pointed out that Waters did not address the question about supporting Clinton’s opponent in the primary. He also commented that Jews having a homeland in Israel is false – we all have a homeland and it is called the earth.)

Next was a musical performance by Disappear Fear. A very young and very skinny young women sang her songs of peace and justice, and overcoming fears. She told the story of Peter (of Peter, Paul & Mary fame) going to Vietnam to perform a couple of years back and saying “I am just one person, but I am sorry.” That had a profound effect on the audience there in Vietnam. She gave me a sticker when she was leaving.

Well, we then had Rev. Lennox Yearwood speak, and while I agree with everything he says, I feel I am being yelled out while he is talking. A single-payer health care system speaker, Joel Segal from Rep. Conyer’s office, followed the talk by Rev. Yearwood. I also agree with single-payer health care system, but I tried in 1993 to promote that idea and the vast majority of Americans were too stupid to support it, so I gave up the idea. I think Americans are entitled to have what the majority of them want, as long as it is only hurting them. And with this issue, it is surely only hurting them. Rep. Lee came and spoke a few words to our group also.

Then, Rep. Woolsey showed up and she thanked us for bringing passion to this struggle for peace, and says she will not give up the fight until US troops come home. She said the real problem with this administration is the idea that “might makes right”. She helped write S.M.A.R.T. security plan in conjunction with FCNL and PSR. She is most concerned about children. In the recent Lebanon-Israeli conflict, children made up one-third of the casualties. Also, 40% of the Iraq population is under age 14. She is calling to end all wars. A member of the audience asked what she can do to pressure her Senator and congressman to join out of Iraq caucus, and Woolsey said the best thing is to get more people speaking out on the issue, because if enough pressure is put on the elected officials, they will change their positions. SHE IS MY HERO!! I JUST LOVE THIS CONGRESSWOMEN.

Rep. McDermit spoke next about PTSD and DU – he also talked about single payer health care. Rep. McGovern also spoke and he said that he feels the climate in America is the worst ever in his life. McGovern’s bill cuts funding for war. He said it is not patriotic to be silent.

I got to shake hands with Waters, Woolsey, Lee, McDermit, and McGovern. I told them that I wanted to shake hands with as many good legislators as I could. Also, the overall group at this event was rather small, with about 50 to 100 people there total. Yet, there were Russian and Japanese TV crews there covering what was happening. was also filming there, but there were no American TV crews there.

It was a long day, but very interesting. Tomorrow I start lobbying.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Blogging from Camp Democracy

Camp Democracy

I arrived in DC this morning, and plan on going to Camp Democracy this afternoon. It was a bad night on the train, with one child crying “I want my mommy” for quite awhile. I was concerned as to why this child is traveling without his mother. It was hard to get comfortable on the train, but I did get some sleep. Here is an announcement from PDA on Camp Democracy:

PDA is also very engaged in "Camp Democracy," see, where, beginning September 5th, we will launch with other allies and sponsors a non-partisan "camp for peace, democracy, and the restoration of the rule of law." (The original Camp Casey will move from Crawford, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to create a larger camp focused not only on ending the war but also on righting injustices here at home and on holding accountable the Bush Administration and Congress.) In particular PDA is sponsoring the afternoon activities on September 6th, "Organizing the Progressive Agenda," which will include a session in the main tent with PDA Board member Rev. Lennox Yearwood, see, a workshop on "How to Get Involved in Gov ernment and Run for Office," and focus sessions on Single Payer Health Care and How to End the War in Iraq, with special attention to bills pending in Congress.

If formulating and implementing a concrete and rapid plan for peace in Iraq is something you want to be actively engaged in then the Declaration of Peace Campaign is the place to focus your attention between now and September 21, 2006.

Dare to struggle, dare to win.

I had told everyone that I would do live blogging from Camp Democracy, but it looks like that will not happen. They don’t have WIFI set up and they are having major problems with that!