Friday, November 30, 2007

Email from NC Representative

Got an email recently from one of the local Representatives to the NC House. Normally I just answer that I want to see health care coverage for all the children in our state, or even just health insurance extended (without charge) to all state employee's FAMILIES. Right now, the state of NC will cover the health insurance cost for the employee, but not anyone else. And some of the NC state employees cannot afford to pay the insurance premium for the rest of the family, so they do without. This issue does not impact on me - I am single with no children. But, this time, the email said a few things about SAFETY and I decided to comment and email the NC Representative back. Here's what I sent:

Well, just off the cuff from reading this:


"Local governments can adopt ordinances regulating demonstrations on state roads and highways. The ordinances can regulate the time, place, and manner of gatherings, picket lines, and protests."

It sounds to me that a local group in power could effectively stifle free speech and dissent, if they do not like what an individual or group is presenting or representing. Or, they could make it such a blooming hassle that people give up. It is already such a hassle now that the Peace Coalition is thinking of moving our annual Peace Rally (since 2003) to private property or just stop altogether. By the way, the only people who have disrupted the Peace Rally at all were Asheville Police and city government employees. They did not do anything horrible, just interrupted, annoyed, and caused us to change our plans. All done in the interest of keeping us "safe" I guess, although no one else was bothering us at all - or complaining about us.

and this one from the NC Representative email:

"We passed a bill (HB 189) that allows counties to authorize cities to issue pyrotechnics permits. Pyrotechnics is the science behind chemical reactions that operate numerous items like fireworks, safety matches, and airbags."
I am wondering if that is why the Peace Coalition needed an "open flame permit" for candle luminaries at Prichard Park in September - but not in August. We decided to dump the idea of doing candle luminaries because of the $25 fee for an open flame permit - the candle luminaries look pretty, but we just didn't think it was worth the expense or trouble of getting a permit from City Hall, since we all work full time. So, no more candle luminaries at Pritchard Park or Pack Square or anywhere from the Peace Coalition. They did look pretty, though, as we tried to peacefully get our citizens to think about and promote peaceful ways in the world.

See, no one has "outlawed" what we want to do, they just made it such a hassle that we give it up..... and we recognize that our tax dollars may pay for those public spaces, but that does not mean we can utilize them the way we want, even if we get no complaints from the general public, just from city government employees and Asheville police. It is just so much easier to just stay home and watch TV and let our country and town do what they want..... after all, it is all working out beautifully, right? Who cares if the rest of the world calls us SKANKEES and The United States of Monsters? And those million dead people in Iraq? well, no relation to me......

[Can anyone tell I have a chip on my shoulder? a huge one! The photo above is of one of the August candle luminaries that we will not hold again.]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 29th - Day of Solidarity

From an End the Occupation email:

"With renewed negotiations taking place, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People reminds us of the fundamentals: Palestinians—whether living under Israeli military occupation, living as refugees who aren't allowed to return home, or as second-class citizens of Israel—are denied their right to self-determination."

Not only does this occupation need to END, it needs to end PEACEFULLY and with respect for human rights and human dignity for all parties.

As a friend of mine said - NEVER AGAIN applies to everyone or else it does not work.

I will not be able to attend a vigil today, but I am with all the people standing for an end to this occupation. I stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.

We need to end the US occupation of Iraq also. We are not "winning" in Iraq - we cannot "win" a war crime any more than someone can "win" a rape.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bara’a’s “Restrictions on Society”

This teenage girl talks about the feelings that teenagers have, and how her society puts restrictions on her because she is a female. She has a different language, different writing, but she looks like she could be just another American teenager.

More videos by these children at this link. This is posted in honor of all the people of Palestine, who are being ignored at the ongoing summit in Annapolis. Since this summit is run by bush and rice, it won't amount to anything. But that does not change the facts: FROM IRAQ TO PALESTINE, OCCUPATION IS A CRIME. May the criminals go to jail one day soon.

Quote from Pelosi

"Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07

Monday, November 26, 2007

Letters to Pelosi

Photo: taken at the rally last January in DC. Chapter 99 of the Vets for Peace is the local chapter here in Asheville NC. And I got this from their listserve:


Nancy Pelosi has (apparently) said that she will allow
impeachment back "on the table" if she receives 10,000
handwritten pro-impeachment letters. I've not yet seen
anyone cite a time or place where Pelosi actually said
this, but no matter -- this report has been so
persistent on the internet for the last few days that
(apparently) Pelosi's going to see a surge of incoming
letters whether she wants one or not.

If you are going to join me in sending a letter -- and
MAIL ONE in care of Cindy Sheehan's campaign
headquarters (address below). Cindy's volunteer staff
will count and hand-deliver all of them, so that
Sheehan's campaign will be sure how many were sent,
and you can bet they'll have a Press Conference. In
case anyone doesn't know Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is
declared and running against Pelosi for Congress in
her District. Cindy
has moved to SF, and will certainly present a strong

Rep Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Cindy for Congress
RE: Impeach
1260 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca 94103

I not only will write a letter, I will do my very best to collect 100 handwritten letters before the end of the year and I will copy them and mail a copy to Cindy, and either mail or hand deliver the originals to Pelosi.

Please keep in mind - these have to be handwritten, with the NAME and ADDRESS printed plainly, so they know who you are. AND - do not spend a lot of time on this. (Those folks in DC are really not worth your time, so spend as little as possible on them!) The letters can be something like this:

I want bush and cheney impeached for lying about Iraq and starting up a war of aggression against that country. They have likely killed over a million, and this war of aggression is a violation of the Nuremberg Principles and a violation of the US Constitution.
Please try and get everyone you know to write a letter. It can't hurt. I am helping with a letter writing party this upcoming Sunday. This was suggested by Amnesty International, but we will do letters to the editor and letters to Pelosi also. I am hoping to make this a monthly event. Lately, I have been writing letters to the editors of out-of-town papers also. There is less chance that they will get published, but it still is a cost-free way to get your ideas and thoughts out there - so speak up! Letters to the editor can be done by web pages or email. The letters that Amnesty International is advocating requires a stamp - sometimes for overseas (that cost 90 cents per envelope). But it is still worthwhile to speak out.

Especially in light of the fact that one day we may lose the freedom to speak out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Support the Veterans Day 18

EMAIL SENT TO ME FROM Veterans for Peace:

"Members of Eastern MA, Smedley Butler Chapter were given strict rules for participating in the Boston Veterans Day Parade. Being forced to march after the end of the parade, and being limited to no speaking or signage, members of chapter 009 took matters into their own hands. While they did march after the end of the parade, they marched with their US Flags upside down. When the parade ended and people were getting ready to speak on stage, 18 members of VFP stood with their mouths gagged, in full VFP gear and signs that read, "American Legion SILENCES messages of peace from veterans." They were arrested and arraigned on charges of disturbing a public assembly."


Supporters are encouraged to call, fax, and email the Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino.

Phone: 617.635.4500
Fax: 617.635.2851

My email to the mayor:

Dear Mayor Menino:

I really don't think the Veterans for Peace should have been arrested at the Veterans Day Parade in your city. I mean, what a way to show you support veterans! By arresting them for making a silent statement on the day that is supposed to honor them for choosing to serve our country and protect our Constitution!

I guess it kinda does go with the "free speech zones" that you had in 2004 for the Democratic Party convention. Funny thing is, I am a 52 year old professional woman, and I grew up under the impression that the whole country was a free speech zone. And I could never have imagined Veterans being arrested on Veterans Day for silently and peacefully protesting an illegal war of aggression.

I have a first cousin (once removed) who was buried in France in 1944. He was an American. My father and all eight of my uncles served in that war also. They are all gone now - but really, what did they fight and die for, if they US itself is going to destroy the US Constitution and way of life?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Giving feedback on protests


The Port of Olympia has been a hot topic for anti-war protesters for over two years now. Activists, including members of Veterans For Peace, re-established a blockade that is attempting to prevent weapons, machines, and equipment from leaving the city of Olympia and traveling to Iraq. Demonstrators, tired of local resources being used to continue the war effort, have been engaging in nonviolent direct action, using their bodies to block convoys of Stryker combat vehicles from leaving the port. Protesters in Olympia are on week two of their blockade and although they have been non-violent in their action, they have seen some police violence in response. Police used batons, pepper spray, and rubber bullets to disperse activists.


Email Mayor Mark Foutch at and tell him how you support this action.

You can also copy City Council Member, TJ Johnson, who has been supportive of this port blockade.

I sent off this email to two officials in Olympia:
I have been following what the protesters in Washington state have been doing, and I totally support their efforts. This war on Iraq is an illegal war of aggression, and a violation of the Nuremberg Principles. To do nothing is to be a "good German" of the 1930's.

The citizens of the US need to use any and all non-violent means to stop this war machine and the military-industrial complex.

Please ask your police to refrain from using violence while confronting or arresting these protesters. I am of the opinion that it is acceptable to arrest people for civil disobedience, but it is not okay to use any force, violence, or threats of same, against them. I recommend getting some wheelchairs and move them one by one that way if you feel they must be moved.

However, instead of arresting them, I think you should make the moral choice here - and join them.
First response was from T. J. Johnson, who is a city council member:
Thanks for your message.

I have made the moral choice, and have been protesting against the war since before it began. I will continue to do so.

I share your perspective on civil disobedience. Arrest if necessary. Avoid violence always.
Well, that was pretty cool. I am not sure if T. J. is male or female, one of the protesters pictured or not. But he or she is in the right frame of mind. And I, of course, sent him a big THANK YOU!

As to having your head in the right place - NOT true for the mayor, Mark Foutch. He had this response:
Ms xxxxxxx, it's not that the protesters only wished to express their opposition to the war and shipments from the port, it's that some of them insisted on actively blocking the public right of way for an indeterminate length of time, and that some of them stole and damaged public and private property and risked injury to themselves and others by their deliberate running into traffic of heavy vehicles. The City was legally obligated not to allow that to happen to the best our resources could prevent it, and to hold accountable those who engaged in illegal actions.

The protesters' actions have set off events that have, I think, damaged the effort of others who are trying to influence local, state and national elections. Karl Rove couldn't have designed a more effective piece of propaganda. It's very discouraging to see people who are so committed tactically but who can't see the strategic impacts of their actions and the publicity they get.
Well, of course they blocked the right of way. That was the whole point.... to block the passage of war materials. This was what I wrote in response to him:

I certainly do not agree with you that their actions have damaged any elections. It is very clear to me at this point that our elected officials (on the national level) are not interested in doing much of anything to stop this illegal war of aggression that grossly violated the Nuremberg Principles. And state and local officials show the same reluctance to act with any moral dignity. The elected officials are not doing anything to stop the torture and kidnapping either, much less restoring our Constitutional rights, like the right to habeas corpus (that went out with the passing of the Military Commissions Act of October 2006) or rights to privacy.

I don't accept your claim that the protesters "stole or damaged public and private property" because I have seen no evidence of that in any news reports. As for what Karl Rove thinks - he is a very evil man, and anyone who would listen to him is likely also evil and/or very stupid.

We now have a reputation around the world now as "the United States of Monsters" and the new nickname for Americans is SKANKEES. I can't say I blame them. I am sickened and ashamed of what my government is doing with my tax dollars. I am a pediatric audiologist with 27 years experience. I am 52, with two graduate degrees. I applaud that people who protested in your area, and I am glad that some of us here in the USA will not go down in history as "good Germans" who went along with our government's genocide of other nations that never attacked or even threatened us.

Those protesters may not have been effective, but nothing else has been effective either. They are, at the least, trying hard. And they (and Code Pink) have likely had more impact than all the writing, the blogging, the rallies, the praying, the meetings, the Congressional visits, the vigils and various other things that I have been doing since 2001 - all quite legal. All totally ineffective.

I included an article below on the second genocide of this young century. The first one was the genocide in DR Congo, which has now calmed down quite a bit. But back in 2001 to 2004, about 4 or 5 MILLION people were killed there, while this government in the USA did NOTHING. Even worse, this government in the USA is responsible for the second genocide - that is, the death of one MILLION people in Iraq. I honestly don't know how our Congress or anyone in the White House can sleep at night with so much blood on their hands. What your protesters did in Olympia was diddly-squat compared to the EVIL they are trying to stop.
I am not going to repost the article I included in my email here - instead I linked to it above. I must admit - I love email and the internet. It gives you an opportunity to tell anyone what you think in no time flat. And, you can do it lots and lots and lots, and never worry about getting a stamp for your envelope.

And, as to the high school students who peacefully protested the war at their school and were told that they would be expelled...... well, public pressure paid off on that one. The students were not expelled. I guess the students fully understand what kind of idiots are now running their school, though. I wish I could warn them - watch out! There are lots more idiots ahead, and some of them are violent! But I am glad they took a stand and I am glad I signed that petition and made those phone calls to the principal and superintendent of the school system.

The Keeper of the flags

The idea for these flags started with me in 2005. We made about 1500 of them for our PEACE RALLY in March 2005, and the first group was made of paper, which took forever to tape to the metal stakes. We put them up for the 2005 PEACE RALLY (after I had asked Asheville Parks and Recreation for permission) and we no sooner had them up when the police came by and made up take them down. They said they could be used as weapons. (The US flags we were putting up, on wooden stakes that were two feet high and had a pointed end, were not considered weapons by our police.) Well, we took them down because we intended to put them up later at UU church in Asheville. We did put them up there and the paper flags lasted until a heavy rain on Wednesday morning. After that, they were toast.

So, I decided to make the same flags but laminate the paper. The picture above is from 2006. Since I had a whole year to get them ready, I made all of them. The WNC Peace Coalition paid for the copies and the laminating materials. I found that we did not need tape to keep them on the metal poles, although sometimes they slide down. The UU church put them back up in March 2006, and in May 2006, so did the UU church in Black Mountain. I tried for a while there to keep up with the death count and have one flag per 100 deaths, but had to give up on that. Too many people have died in Iraq for that metric, so I have updated the sign to say more than 100 fatalities. I made white flags for the Iraqi civilians and blue flags for the US deaths. The UU church in Asheville put them back up in March 2007, and this time the UU church in Clemson put them up in May. I am very appreciative for the UU churches for putting these flags up – and grateful to the WNC Peace Coalition for covering the costs.

Since Salee and her father, Abu Ali, were coming to Asheville this past September, we asked the UU church to put them up again, and they did. Salee and her father visited the flags for quite some time, and I heard they were quite moved. The following Sunday, I went over to the church to help take the flags down and to zip tie them together to store over the winter. I started before the church service was out yet, and I started on the end of the UU yard that was still in the shade. I carefully picked them up, cleaned them off if they had mud on them, and put them in my car. It wasn’t too long before I ran out of shade, and even though it was the end of September, it got quite hot working out there. It also wasn’t too long before several people showed up to help take them down.

While doing this, I realized that I was (at least for now) the Keeper of the Flags. Funny that I see myself as more the “keeper” than the “maker” - but I guess that is because storing them is a bigger challenge than making them. I have since made some more flags, and I could really make LOTS more, but the problem becomes that there are too many to store them or too many to get them put up and taken down in a reasonable time frame. And as long as I can, and as long as I live in the Asheville area, I will remain the Keeper of the Flags.

And I hope some more churches will borrow our flags and put them up in remembrance for all the lives lost in this useless, useless war.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Our idiot president

Our idiot president said that Pakistani President Musharraf "truly is somebody who believes in democracy." Musharraf has fired members of the judiciary, shut down TV stations and newspapers, and has non-violent protesters beaten up and arrested. What kind of democracy is this?

WELL, I guess it is an improvement over the DEMOCRACY OF DEATH that the USA brought to the Iraqi people.

Or maybe it is just Orwell Speak.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We support the troops who oppose the war

We Support the Troops Who Oppose the War

On the weekend of 13-15 March, 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will assemble history's largest gathering of US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors. They will provide first hand accounts of their experiences and reveal the truth of occupation. We support Iraq Veterans Against the War and their Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Join us in supporting the effort to reveal truth in the way that only those who lived it can.

Please go to this website to sign the petition.

I signed. Glad to support those in the military who are resisting this illegal war of aggression.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Wow, it was two months ago that Salee and her father, Abu Ali, came to Asheville. And I have been meaning to write something about that since BEFORE the event we had here in Asheville.

But I found I could not do it – and I cannot do it even now, really. It is just too big and just too horrible.

I have read, thought about, written, and blogged on Iraq for years now. The main blog is Iraq Today, before that it was Today in Iraq. But it was very different to come face to face with a bubbly little girl who lost so very, very much because of my government’s evil shit ways. Oh, and my tax dollars are paying for it. (And I have a huge chip on my shoulder because of that fact!)

Salee lost the bottom of both of her legs from a US bombing in November 2006. She was playing hopscotch with her friends outside her home, when the missile hit. But she lost more than her legs, she lost her brother, her best friend, and her innocence. Salee is happy and bright, no sign of a chip on her shoulder at all. A sister of Salee’s was also injured in the bombing.

Salee was getting medical treatment and prosthetics in Greenville, SC. I went down to Greenville to talk to Ann, who is the one who started up the Upstate Coalition of Compassion, the group that brought Salee to the US. I met up with Ann and we agreed that we should bring Salee and her father to Asheville, and we agreed to do it on September 19th. The WNC Peace Coalition was planning a candlelight vigil for that evening, because that date marked four and a half years since the invasion of Iraq by the US/UK military.

I contacted all several local churches and the First Congregational Church said we could have a potluck and presentation (by No More Victims) at their church at no charge. They were a big, big help in making this event a success. On the 19th, I got to the event after Salee, Ann, Cole (director of No More Victims) and Abu Ali (Salee’s dad) had already arrived. I had a large cake from a local grocery store that said “Welcome to Asheville, Salee”. It also had a beautiful picture of her on the cake – I had gotten it off the internet and laminated it, then we put it on the cake.

Of course, as the main organizer of the event, I felt I was running in several different directions all at once while we were getting this event underway. I had brought several signs and the “peace flag” to hang up, was making many phone calls to try and get an interpreter, and a hundred other things. I never did have much time to visit with Salee or her father or anyone else. But the event was a success – lots of people came, the press came, and everyone seemed to feel the evening was worthwhile. Dinner was pretty good, as most potlucks are pretty good.

Shortly after Cole started his presentation, Oona (who is seven years old) ran out of the room crying over what had happened to Salee (who is ten years old). Another memorable event in the evening was when Jason Hurd (Iraq War Veteran) stood up and formally apologized for what our country and military had done to Iraq. At that time, I was watching Salee’s face and she seemed quite surprised at what her father had to say in response. The translator said that Abu Ali found the American people to be warm, compassionate and helpful, but that the US military in Iraq behaved very, very badly. Somehow, I think there was a LOT more to what Abu Ali said, but it did not get translated. That may be due to the fact that the translator was from Egypt, and did not totally understand the Iraqi Arabic dialogue. Or maybe the translator did not want to say all that Abu Ali had to say.

After the presentation, we went to Pritchard Park for our vigil. But, we did not have candle luminaries like we planned, because we were told we needed an $25 “open flame” permit to do this. (We did not need such a permit in August to have candle luminaries, and we had two vigils like this.) So, we had people standing around in the dark, some giving short speeches.

One of the things that Abu Ali and Salee did in Asheville was visit the Unitarian Universalist Church. This church had put up the “Iraqi Civilian Remembrance” flags just for Salee and her father. This is over 1500 “flags” that have a peace dove on them and the words: “This is a remembrance of the Iraqi Civilian Casualties. May they rest in Peace. May their country find Peace.” I was not there when they stopped there, but I heard from Ann that it was very moving to them, and they took lots of pictures.

What I experienced from having Salee and Abu Ali come to Asheville is bigger than words, at least any words I can find. And that is in spite of the fact that I had limited time with them and the limited interaction with them. And it was not due to the fact that somehow I really “clicked” with either Salee or Abu Ali, frankly I am much more in tune with Ann than either of them. (Sometimes the universe has a strange way of showing connections between people – like, I will write a short email to Ann, and while I am doing that, she sends me an email also. Or, when we meet in South Carolina, we both went to the wrong place, and got out of our cars in the parking lot at the EXACT same time, and were trying to call each other on our cell phones.)

It is somehow extremely horrifying to come face to face with an innocent child who has been so grievously hurt but what my tax dollars and my government did. It is somehow shocking to see, live and in person, what I have been reading about and seeing pictures of, for years. And it is very depressing to think that I seemingly cannot stop this evil, no matter what I do.


Here is some more information on Salee and her visit to Asheville from the local paper (some photos there also). This reporter did an excellent job! (The local TV station – and we only have one- did a lousy job, unfortunately.)

She came with her father, Hussein Allawy, sponsored by the nonprofit, No More Victims, which works to obtain medical scholarships for war-injured Iraqi children, and to forge ties between American and Iraqi communities. “I wasn’t expecting the kindness,” Allawy said through an interpreter. “In Iraq, we see the bad side of America. Here we see the good side.” The Allawys were in Asheville on Wednesday for a potluck supper at First Congregational Church, followed by a peace vigil in Pritchard Park. More than 50 people joined them at the church for the dinner and a brief program about the work of No More Victims.

Here is a link to the Democracy Now show that Cole, Salee and Abu Ali were on, and a bit of the transcript. While watching this I realized how much Salee likes things like jewelry, clothes and finger nail polish. She is quite different from me in that respect.

Ten-Year-Old Iraqi Girl Receives Medical Treatment in South Carolina After Losing Legs in U.S. Air Strike

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you for being with us. Where do you return when you go back to Iraq? What city?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS(Salee's father): [translated] To Fallujah. But if you allow to say some words, OK? I am very grateful to my brother and to the best person -- my brother Cole -- who helped bringing life back to Salee. For me, honestly, Salee was born again when she came to the US. Even though people in the US cannot really help to end the situation in Iraq, I would like everyone to help this person, Cole. I don’t think anyone can object me on this. This is a humanitarian action. [He is talking about No More Victims.]

And here is a link to the story that Ann wrote called “Our little girl has gone”.

Our Little Girl Has Gone

I won’t forget the day in the car when Salee was casually talking about her extended family, her many aunts and uncles. And how she’d so calmly say, “That Uncle is dead. Got shot by a soldier,” and points to her head. “Mama has five sisters. Or, four now. One was killed.” Or the day we were in a restroom stall and she broke my heart with, “Ann have two babies,” and I replied “No, I only have one baby, Salee”, and she said, “Salee have two mamas. Ann have two babies.” We’d spent a day on Catalina Island and she’d broken down crying on the boat ride back to LA. She told me then, “No cry at airport, Ann. Little cry. No big cry.”

On the cab ride to the airport I gave her the only piece of jewelry that I really cared about, a cheap silver ring from Mexico that I wore every day. She cried as she tried to give it back and then told me she’d wear it every day. I thought at the time that the ring would remind her of me, but I didn’t account for the pain in my heart every time I looked at my own ringless hand. And, as everyone who knows her might have guessed, she did what she said she would at the airport. No big cry. She was brave, thinking of the future and her return trips here. “Don’t cry, Ann. Salee come back again and again and again…..” Salee is taking my heart home with her to Fallujah. But not just mine. She carries with her the hearts of so many who’ve grown to love her these last few months. I wish those hearts filled with love could ensure her safety. But they can’t. Salee will only be truly safe when we end the carnage that our nation has brought to her homeland. We have to work harder to end the war. For Salee. For Abu Ali. And for all of our brothers and sisters in Iraq. How can we not? Our Salee and our hearts are there.

More videos and information on Salee here.

Update: Since leaving the USA, Salee has a new baby brother! Unfortunately, her little sister, who was injured in the same bombing by the US military in November 2006, has had a leg amputated.

Cole Miller was also on Democracy Now:

No More Victims: Grassroots Group Assists Iraqi Children Injured in U.S. Attacks

COLE MILLER: Well, I first learned about Salee when a man by the name of Maki Al-Nazzal got in touch with me from Fallujah and said there’s a little girl -- I was actually working then to bring another child to Boston, who is there getting treatment now, little Omar. And he got in touch with me and said there's a little girl, and her legs are cut, and she’s in an abandoned building without heat with her family, and she’s shivering, and she needs an emergency operation in Sulaimaniya; can we help? And so, I sent a little bit of money and said, “Of course, we can help.” We sent a little bit of money, and she got heating oil and blankets and then was evacuated to Sulaimaniya, where she had that operation. So that’s how I learned about her. In terms of getting her to the United States, the way that I work -- we want to provide people of conscience in the United States with ways of taking direct independent action to help victims of this war. And I got an email a couple of years ago from a woman named Ann Cothran in South Carolina, and she said she wanted to bring a child to South Carolina. And so, I took the medical report, and I sent it to her, and she went to Shriners Hospital in Greenville, the most conservative city in probably the most conservative state in the nation. And they said, “Sure, we’d be happy to help this girl.” And once I had the letter promising pro bono treatment, I just put into place the procedures to get her here.


Since this visit by Salee and her father, we have been organizing locally to raise funds to sponsor a child in Iraq, and to help that child get the medical attention that he or she needs. We raised almost a thousand dollars that one evening in Asheville.

And you can help out too! Please go to No More Victims website and make a donation. This a worthy and worthwhile organization, and they are doing great work at bringing Iraqi and American people together. You can make a difference in some Iraqi child's life. Please open your heart and your wallet to them!

The protest this weekend

This was the protest that I intended to go to – but it did not work out. I am talking about the School of the Americas protest in Columbus, Georgia.

And the above photo is the first photo I have seen from this protest. How fitting that Dennis Kucinich was there and speaking out against the evil that is produced from this “school” (which is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). Well, they changed the name but not the purpose – which is true evil.

Kucinich said that the thinking that went into producing an Army school blamed for human rights abuses in Latin America was the same thinking that led the US to war in Iraq.

This year was the 18th protest. I hope to join them next year. As you can see from just this one photo, people of all ages come to protest this hideously evil “school” that is run by the US military.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I think Bank of America steals from people

This weekend, I was due to go to Georgia to participate in the School of the Americas protest. I was due to leave on Wednesday evening, but I had come down with a really bad cold and sore throat, so I postponed going until Friday morning. Since I had Thursday free, I took my car to the mechanics down the street and asked them to check out the funny noises my car is making. They said it was the front CV joints, and that they both needed to be replaced. Then they tried to find the parts – and the only place that could get the parts was the Suzuki dealership, and the parts alone would cost over $1000.

Well, the car is hardly worth it. The Blue Book value of my car, IF it was in fair condition, would be $2,400. Oh, and the transmission has been malfunctioning for years, so I really can’t say it is in “fair” condition. It has been popping out of fifth gear. I have found that you can drive the car that way – you just hold it in place when you need fifth gear. A pain, yes, but do-able.

However, if one of the CV joints were to give out, then I would be stuck. So, I cancelled driving to Georgia this weekend. I figure if I get stuck here in town, then I can get it towed to the place down the street and fork over major bucks to get it fixed.

And, speaking of my town, above is a picture of the first snow on a mountain I have seen this fall. The fall colors here have lasted forever, although they don’t seem very vibrant this year. It is hard to see the snow in the photo, but the tallest mountain has a bit of snow on the top.

I also decided today that I need to start looking for a new car. I really wish I could get rid of a car altogether, but I realize how hard that would be. I could only go where the bus goes. It is hard enough right now thinking that I can only drive inside town – I missed the protest this weekend, and have a meeting of the Progressive Democrats of NC next month, about 300 miles down the road.

So, what does this have to do with Bank of America? Well, I have my mortgage with them, unfortunately. This past August, I paid a big chunk of money to pay down my mortgage. They did not deduct all of this from the principle of the loan, and they unilaterally decided to stop the auto-draft of my mortgage for September, October, and (I think) November. Oh, and they did not notify me or ask me if this was okay or not.

So, I went to the downtown office of Bank of America to try and figure out what was going on with all this, and why my principle balance was not as low as I expected. I ended up having a long phone conversation with some women in their mortgage office, and we decided to draft September, October and November payments by check, via the phone. Then, when we were done, she proceeded to tell me that my principle balance was now $9,000 HIGHER than when I first talked to her.

Oh, I guess this was a mistake, but I have been trying hard to pay off that mortgage and I found this rather upsetting. Outside the escrow account, I am dealing with a total mystery here. The Bank of America won't tell me what is for the principle, what is for interest, in my payments. I don't know what the hell is going on. They give no figures at all, other then the statement at the end of the year where they give a lump sum of how much went to interest. And, if I was not paying extra to pay down the principle, about 2/3rd of the whole yearly payment would go to interest, and only 1/3rd to principle.

I think they are stealing people’s money. I think they do this routinely, and I think they really don’t care. It seems to me that they make PLENTY of money off these mortgages between the interest and the “closing costs” that they throw at you without stealing even more. I was careful to have a "no pre-payment penalty" and very minimal adjustable rates on my mortgage.

But I do think this is a large part of the reason that people are now getting foreclosed on their mortgages and losing their homes after paying TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars. They don’t have the foresight to make sure their interest rates won’t rise considerably under ARM mortgages and they do not have a NO PRE-PAYMENT PENALTY in their contracts (and they don't pre-pay anyway). And even while I had these things, I still think the Bank of America managed to steal money from me. They are supposed to send me a report of the whole history of the loan, and I will bet right now that I cannot make any sense out of it when I get it. I think I will give it to my lawyer to see if he can make sense of it.

I was hoping to pay off my mortgage this year, mainly because I want the evil Bank of America OUT of my life. But now it looks like I will have to use that money for a down payment on a car. I will be getting the rest of the money from a loan from my CREDIT UNION, who not only strike me as fair and honest, but my interest payments will go to benefit a good organization, instead of the corporate evil banking system that includes Bank of America.

I hate the Bank of America. I think they steal, and that they are ruining America.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Military-equipment shipments from Olympia port


PHOTO: Protesters are hit with pepper spray as they attempt to get in front of Stryker vehicles as they move up Marine Drive from the Port of Olympia late Tuesday, November 13, 2007. (Steven M. Herppich/The Olympian)

PHOTO: Olympia police in riot gear fill the street at the entrance to the Port of Olympia as they prepare to clear anti-war protesters who were trying to block the convoy of military vehicles on Tuesday night. (Tony Overman/The Olympian)

All ground shipments of military equipment had left the Port of Olympia as of 4:20 p.m. today, according to an Olympia Police Department news release. At least five protesters were arrested and pepper spray used on them by police as drivers started to take military equipment from the Port of Olympia to Fort Lewis this afternoon.

Well, it appears that military shipments have ended from the port. I don’t know if this means that they found another route, gave up, or there is no more shipments coming from Iraq. Sixty anti-war demonstrators have been arrested trying to block military equipment. They faced a lot to reach this point, and I admire them. They faced repeated pepper sprays, and police batons. Their goal was to stop the US military from using the Port of Olympia.

From another report:

Kelly Beckham, one of numerous anti-war demonstrators directly sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray, said, “I was in agony because I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t see anything and they had to carry me away. I was really angry. They wouldn’t let the medics approach anyone who had been hurt. This is nothing compared to the suffering of the Iraqi people.” Alex Patia, 18 year old said, “I have been through lots of painful medical procedures and I was in the most pain I have ever felt in my life, but I want to see an end to this war and my actions today are my patriotic duty.” Many protesters wore goggle to protect themselves from chemical attack. Andrew Yankey reported the officer in charge giving the orders, “Take off their goggles. Spray under their goggles.” He also witnessed police stealing water from demonstrators, drinking it and laughing at demonstrators as they were in agony. Pepper spray causes immediate swelling of the eyes, severe pain, upper body spasms, difficulty breathing, coughing and may cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Repeated exposure can cause long lasting changes in vision.

On to the next protest......

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A news item they overlooked

This massive demonstration took place in Venezuela. We heard about the smaller demonstrations by the anti-Chavez people - which turned violent, and resulted in at least one death. There is a group in Venezuela that is very much opposed to what Chavez is doing there.

I don't care what Chavez is doing. Since I live in the USA, it is just none of my business, as long as he is not committing horrible human rights abuses. And he is not - he is hurting the corporations, and I say more power to that idea. I have heard that he wants to be 'president for life' and I find that a stupid idea, but again, it is really none of my business. IT IS ALSO NONE OF THE US CONGRESS OR WHITE HOUSE FOLKS BUSINESS EITHER - but they seem to feel differently about that fact. They seem to think that God appointed them to stick their noses into other countries' business, which really means that they think they have the right to promote the interests of the multi-national corporations over the interests of the native people.

This massive demonstration, which happened on November 4, 2007, was the pro-Chavez crowd. They were told to wear red and show up with signs. I can only guess from this picture that a lot of those folks in Venezuela are happy to have Chavez in power for life.

It is their country - they get to decide.

And you never saw or heard a word of this demonstration in your papers or on your TV "news" because the elites in this country want to keep you stupid.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Protests in the USA

The above two photos came from a protest in Olympia, Washington. These are protesters who are willing to put their lives on the line, and willing to be abused for their principled stand. They were pepper-sprayed (a lot) and then arrested. But they did slow down the war machine for a while. And, they are truly good and decent people. They blocked the passage of military cargo through the Port of Olympia.

More photos are here. Lots more photos. I have not heard any news reports on this yet. But I want to say that I am proud of these people for doing what they are doing - at great cost to themselves.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

And who will notice this?

Photo on right: A view of the main road in the Nahr al-Bared "new camp" which before the war connected Tripoli in northern Lebanon up to the Lebanon-Syria border.

Photo on left:
A view of the "old camp" where still no residents or NGOs have been allowed to enter.

The camp that was home to tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Lebanon has been destroyed. And it was done on purpose. Here is a bit of information that I found in the article "Nahr al-Bared Was Destroyed, But Who Noticed?":

Between May and September of this year, a ferocious battle took place between the Lebanese army and a small armed group known as Fatah al-Islam. From the first the day, the Lebanese army surrounded the camp and fired in artillery, maintaining this course for months. Most of the residents of the camp were forced to leave with the clothes on their backs within the first three days. As the number of young Lebanese soldiers killed and horribly maimed rose through the battle, Lebanon became awash with patriotism and grief, any questioning of the army taboo.

Something terrible has been done to the residents of Nahr al-Bared, and the Lebanese people are being spared the details. Over the past two weeks, since the camp was partly reopened to a few of its residents, many of us who have been there have been stunned by a powerful reality. Beyond the massive destruction of the homes from three months of bombing, room after room, house after house have been burned. Burned from the inside. Amongst the ashes on the ground, are the insides of what appear to have been car tires. The walls have soot dripping down from what seems clearly to have been something flammable sprayed on them. Rooms, houses, shops, garages -- all blackened ruins, yet having had no damage from bombing or battle. They were burned deliberately by people entering and torching them.

There is more at the article, but it is not only the Lebanese people who are in the dark - the entire WORLD is in the dark. Journalists are not allowed in there - sometimes the former residents are not allowed in there.

But here is some other information - the US is proposing a new airfield for the US military in Lebanon. The road from Tipoli to this airfield goes right by this destroyed camp. Furthermore, Sy Hersch has claimed that the US was the likely funder behind the Fatah al Islam group. We know for sure that the US encouraged Lebanon in it's very violent military response to this group, and that plane loads of US bought weapons have made their way into Lebanon over this past summer.

Why has this happened? Why does the world not seem to care? More information at the link.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An outrage a day

Really, it is not hard to dig this stuff up – the real problem is that there is so damn much of it! Of course, the bigger outrages are often covered by some more prominent bloggers – and I am sure you know who those people are, and what the major, major outrages are.

But here is a somewhat obscure one. I found it in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, written by a Harvard Law professor, who happens to be a complete and total ass. Here it is:


Yes, you read that right. He approves of the techniques the Nazis used to get information – that is, he approves of torture. He thinks it works, and here is the money quote for the piece in the WSJ:

“There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives.”

Just for the record, if I was tortured, I would disclose having murdered my entire family and all my co-workers. It would be hard to pin that on me, because you see, they are all still alive (except my father who died of cancer in 1977). I sure as heck would tell them where they lived too, if I could remember. But this immoral idiot thinks that torture “works” because the Nazis used it and got some information.

Somebody please tell that jackass that not only does the vast majority of the world hold the Nazis outside the bounds of all that is decent and good,


Friday, November 09, 2007

A picture from a friend

I got this from a Canadian friend, ans she said they did this for Halloween. In case it is too small, the pumpkin on the left is bush, the one on the right is the devil. Same thing, actually, just two views.

Cost of destroying another country: $10 BILLION per month

Cost of destroying America's reputation: Astronomical

Having Canadian friends that are talented and aware: PRICELESS

Our nutty media

To the Corporate Media: “You people are really nuts” said by Anita Esterday in Iowa. She is a waitress that served Hillary Clinton, and had made the casual statement that she did not get a tip. Clinton’s people claimed they tipped when paying the bill, and that it did not get to the waitress.

Regardless, as this practical waitress has shown, it is a ridiculous thing to get worked up about, but that is what our corporate media does. And it does it regularly.

And the reason why they make such non-news items into “news”? Well, it has something to do with being lazy – there is no work at all involved in this story. But it mainly has to do with turning a profit for their corporate masters. Profit is ALL, the end ALL and the be ALL of their existence. If they started really informing people, then a whole lot of their profit would just dry up. Think about that the next time you see Lockheed Martin advertising it’s jets on CNN and making it all look so patriotic to bomb the snot out of civilians in foreign countries. That last fact never gets mentioned.

So, we should all carry signs that say – To the Corporate Media: YOU PEOPLE ARE REALLY NUTS when we go to our next major rally.


This call to action came from Code Pink: Call the Pakistan Embassy (202.243.6500) and tell them the international community is watching and expects the rule of law to be restored. Contact the State Department and say "Stop sending military and security funding to Pakistan until the constitution is restored and free, fair elections are ensured." Call 202.647.6575 and press 1 to leave your comment. Let's use our people power and voice to end this tyrannical coup. Say it loud, "no more US-sponsored dictators!"

The picture above was taken from the car as I was going up the mountain from Old Fort. There is lots of color this week in the area, but it does not seem as vivid as usual.

Lawyers in Pakistan

This is a photo of a lawyer in Pakistan being beat up by the so-called "security forces" there. The guy in cream colored clothing is supposedly a plain clothes cop. I would call him a thug.

It is disgusting what Musharrraf is doing to the protesters in Pakistan lately. It is also disgusting what he is doing to the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists - he is making nicey-nice with them. I do not believe in violence, but then I do not believe in letting criminals get away with violent crime. Apparently, Musharraf does.

Pakistani Lawyers Angered as Hope for Change Faded

Behind the public rage of Pakistan’s lawyers, who protested for a second day on Tuesday, lies a long-smoldering resentment toward the country’s military president, who at first held out promise for educated, politically moderate Pakistanis, but steadily squandered their support. That disappointment turned to fury after the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, abolished the Supreme Court and scrapped the Constitution, touching a raw nerve among Pakistan’s lawyers, some with degrees from the best universities abroad and with experience in how other societies had preserved legal rights.

Oh, they are getting "change" alright, just like the US is getting more and more "change". It is just not the kind of change you would want to see. It is the kind of change that destroys countries, and murders lots and lots of people. No, it is not the kind of "change" that any decent person would want to see, either here or in Pakistan.

And today, Musharraf called for elections in February 2008. He also said that he would stop "wearing the uniform" - that means he will no longer be head of the military (I think). Now, if they do go ahead and have elections there, won't bush and rice be surprised when they elect radical Islamists and the Taliban.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It sickens me too

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times / Senators Dianne Feinstein, Russell D. Feingold and Charles E. Schumer after the vote on Tuesday.

In the picture, Senator Feingold looks like he is ready to lose his lunch. I called his office to tell his staff that I am about to lose my lunch also. This photo was taken after the Mukasey vote. I called Schumer’s office too – I heard on Democracy Now today that Senator Schumer voted for Mukasey for Attorney General because if he didn’t bush would appoint someone worse. I called to tell his staff member that if Schumer won’t do what is right because he is afraid someone else will do something wrong, then he is just a bed-wetter and he needs to get a different job. His staffer said that voting against Mukasey would be a “symbolic gesture”. I called Senator Feinstein’s office today also, and let them know that I do not agree with her capitulation to torture.

So, we continue down the path to torture, which we started on long ago.

And one US Senator thinks doing what is right would be a “symbolic gesture”.

When I see the photos or videos of protestors getting arrested in DC, I think ‘THE WRONG DAMN PEOPLE ARE GETTING ARRESTED’. I called Schumer’s office again and told the staffer it is “NEVER, EVER, A SYMBOLIC GESTURE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT.” I repeated that three times, and then asked if he understood it. He said he did. I am not sure that he was the same person I talked to originally, but I told him what I had heard before.

I am sickened.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dik Tsheny Go Out!!!

This photo came from Yahoo News, sometime last month. I seem to have failed to save the caption, but I know this is a demonstration in Iraq. It is one of MANY such demonstrations that happen in Iraq all the time. The Iraqi people clearly want the US troops out of there.

Rep. Kucinich is also saying that Dik Tsheney needs to GO OUT - out of the White House and out of our current government. Rep. Kucinich is going to present his House Resolution 333 today.

Please call your Representative (not Senators) and tell them to support Kucinich's resolution to impeach Dick Cheney, House Resolution 333: 800-828-0498, 800-862-5530, 800-833-6354

For folks in the western North Carolina area, Rep. Shuler’s local number is: 828-252-1651

ALSO: Election day is November 6, 2007 – be sure to vote!

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 25

I have done a series on Democracy Hypocrisy in the past, and put in twenty-something installments before I got bored writing about how bush says he promotes democracy, says he is in favor of democracy ….. and then proceeds to trash democracy at home and abroad.

I can only guess it is all a game for him.

But today’s hypocrisy (while long-standing) is showing deadly results currently in Pakistan. Here is a quote – WITHOUT a hint of irony – from a NYT article:

“For more than five months the United States has been trying to orchestrate a political transition in Pakistan that would manage to somehow keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf in power without making a mockery of President Bush’s promotion of democracy in the Muslim world.”

Got that? Bush wants to install a dictator, but still present the idea that he is promoting democracy. Well, as you likely know, that dictator Musharraf is really clamping down now – he had imposed marshal law, and he is locking up or killing anyone who is opposed to him. Oh, and he cut out the media and phone service in Pakistan too. I wonder if the Pakistani bloggers can get internet services. I rather doubt it.

Yet another clip from that IRONY-FREE article in the NYT:

“In recent months the White House had been hoping that a power-sharing alliance between General Musharraf and Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, would help the general cling to power while putting a democratic face on his regime.”

Or, in short, they want their puppets, and were hoping an election (that the repubs may not be able to “fix”) would get them there. It worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, and might have worked in Pakistan if not for those pesky judges. Here in the USA, the judges were “on-board” and “on-message” even before the 2000 election. In Pakistan, not so.

Well, things are going to get much uglier in Pakistan. We have a sizable majority of the population that hates the USA. And a significant minority that totally support al Qaeda. And while a million people in Tehran held a candle light vigil to morn the victims of the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan was one of the few places who celebrated that terrorist attack.

And, since then, bush and friends have given them tens of billions of dollars in “aid” which means they get free money to buy US made military equipment. (The military-industrial complex loves this!) One significant item that Pakistan bought was F-16s.

OH – and Pakistan has nukes! Yippeee!!!!! While the rock-dumb Americans are worrying about imaginary nukes in Iran, and formerly worried about imaginary nukes in Iraq, they are oblivious to the very dangerous, very real WMDs in Pakistan. So, we have al Qaeda sympathizers who would come to power in a free and fair election, and may come to power anyway, who also have nukes and F-16s. In Pakistan.

And the ironic thing is this – that after we have killed over a million Iraqis in the name of bringing them “freedom” and “democracy” – the will of the majority in a country were we have killed less than a thousand may bring us to our knees. We may get way more blowback from Pakistan than we ever get from Iraq.

But it will be the civilians of the middle east who really pay the price, since it is looking more and more like bush may get his program of freedom (of the grave) and democracy (of death) for the whole region.

God help them.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Letter from James Circello

[I am reprinting it here because I could not find a link on the web. - dancewater]

"This is one of the best anti-war letters I have ever read, written by a U.S. Iraq War Veteran." -- Don Barletta


From James Circello (AWOL soldier)
To those Businessmen and women holding seats in Congress,
To the Highest Court of America,
To every Department within the U.S. government,
To the President's Cabinet,
To the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
To the Vice President and President of the United States of America:

My name is James Circello. I am sure some of you already know who I am now that wiretaps and spying on American citizens has been approved. Or maybe you've heard of me when you saw my name on a comprehensive list of Anti-War activists. Or maybe you just know of me because I was a Sergeant in the United States Army and served as an Airborne Infantryman for six years, went to Iraq in March 2003 and served until March 2004, remained in the Army a little longer before refusing to take part in the Occupation of the Middle East and went AWOL.

I am writing you today, not asking for forgiveness for what I decided to do, but to give you an idea of what brought me to that decision to leave the Army and speak out against the Occupation. Though some will claim I left for other reasons and will try to force the discussion away from the facts and at the same time attempt to assassinate my character with half truths and out right lies, these are the facts. If later we wish to get into more of my personal life, we can do that: I have no fear of it.

I will first like to say that I am no longer a member of the United States Armed Forces. When I left the military on Easter morning, April 2007, I have officially resigned from service to that military. There are no ties between myself and an oppressive military regime set on occupying groups of impoverished indigenous people.

I am no longer a Sergeant or a paratrooper. I will not respect an organization that can and does, at its own will, change entire enlistment contracts for the purpose of extending soldiers;

Gives quarterly sexual harassment courses and still allows roughly 30% of women to be sexually assaulted in some way, shape or form;

Openly discriminates against people based on homosexuality, race, gender and ethnic background;

Allows crimes against humanity and peace to occur and covers them up with internal investigations;

Actively recruits young boys and girls from low level income high schools and communities with false promises of health care, school and job experience and fails on all accounts;

Refuses to recognize conscientious objectors (C.O.), and when individuals apply for C.O. status that are administratively "punished" by their chain of command;

I refuse to be a part of a military and Administration that continue to abuse and torture, doesn't recognize the rights of detainees and allows them to be shipped to secret detention facilities for "National Security" purposes; a military that is illegally, based on all U.S. as well as International Law, inside of Iraq; a military that is over extended, under funded in a war with no foreseeable end (because time tables give our enemy a "sense of victory", but how can the enemy have victory when "Mission Accomplished" has been declared?); a military that watches billions of government contracts given to private military outfits, while they run through the streets of Iraq unchecked, and allows soldiers to be poorly equipped and the V.A. poorly funded.; the No Child Left Behind Act and it's policy of making it mandatory for schools to send out the information of all students attending the school to military recruiters, or they are threatened with being cut off from Federal funding (I thought school was a place of learning, not a place of turning our youth into the: "(insert Arabic country name here) Veterans Against The War".

This and many other reasons are why I tell you today, I do not recognize any of the warrants that may have been placed upon me. These warrants are merely a way to silence any opposition to this criminal war. I do not support the United States foreign policy and will not be the fool that enforces it.

The United States has a history of using the poor of this country to massacre and oppress the poor of other countries and I say to everyone that is able to read this - I am no longer a member of the United
States Armed Forces. I also say, this by no way makes me Un-American. I love this country and feel very strongly that it can be saved and that it must be saved. I say this without a growing ego, but my acts as of now are what the Founding Fathers envisioned and wrote about. This is what Democracy looks like. Dissent isn't Un-American, it is what Patriotism means. Patriotism is not blindly following a Flag waver, it is Direct Action.

I joined the Army after the towers of New York fell. Swept up in the fervor, I left college to enlist. My country was attacked - I, like many, wanted to defend it. But here is where a majority of Americans, as
well as Politicians have made their largest mistake: Defending your country does not mean destroying other Nations out of and/or for Revenge. But the People bought into the outcry that we must kill to feel
better, and the Politicians sang their songs and danced their dances, in an attempt to show who was the most Patriotic of them all!

America stayed fixed to the lies from Fox News (can it really be called "News"?) and we watched the towers fall so many thousands of times until we were all ready to go kill and die for the Eagle and Red, White and Blue. Though, I will admit, I was angry and young but it didn't take me too long to see that this wasn't about defending America, but creating an entirely new enemy.

It was all there. It was almost too perfect. They are of different color. They speak a different language. They are a people that have been made to be poor - not a people that are poor; there is a difference.

They follow a strange religion that Americans don't understand! A religion so very similar to Christianity, that - get this - it recognizes almost the same individuals as being Prophets that the Bible does.

They "hate us (you) for our (your) freedom".

They will come here and kill our women and children if we do not go there (and kill their women and children first).

The Administration and all of Its men and women sold it and Americans bought it.

How many people got chills when the American flag was placed there at Ground Zero? Remember when there were so many flags outside of houses, and flag stores ran out of them?

So I went to Iraq and I saw their faces. People that I thought wanted to kill me, and hated me because I was free, brought me into their homes, offered me food and something to drink. Was the food poisoned? No. Was it a poor family that could barely afford the food they were offering, but offered it to me without charge or regret? You bet.

I was quickly disillusioned by the military. Senators and Representatives from Congress would come to visit us - and we would be told to get everything clean for the Dog and Pony Show.

We would up the security levels, to make everything look ship-shape. When it was time for the questions and answers portion, we would never be without a question, because the chain of command was always there for us - and thankfully they had come up with the questions we were allowed to ask our Representatives. This is what happens every time someone from D.C. came for a little sight seeing visit. I can only imagine what kinds of shows they put on now.

Long story short, I left Iraq feeling really uncomfortable with America's position in this entire conflict. It didn't feel right. It didn't look right. And after much soul searching and researching, I discovered that it plain out just wasn't right.

It took me a while to finally decide to leave. I wanted to leave prior to invading Iraq, while witnessing the illegal "Shock and Awe" that killed so many innocent people and destroying the infrastructure of the
country that we hadn't destroyed from the first bombings in the Gulf War and what wasn't antiquated and useless from the illegal sanctions held over the heads of the every day Iraqi citizen.

I fell for the trap of "don't let your buddies down". And what a well spun web it is. I can not control the conscience of another man. I can only follow mine. And after deciding what I believe in is not consistent
with the United States military and learning that "don't let your buddies down" is just a form of domination through guilt, I left my post in Italy to return to America. I began speaking out against this Occupation. I do not fear arrest. I do not stay hidden. I go to all national events and travel the country at my own leisure.

I say this to you Congressional Democrats: you have failed us. I delayed my going AWOL, because when I learned both Houses of the Congress were controlled by Democrats I was confident that the war was finally over. You ran on the platform of ending the war. I told all of my friends to just hang on, it will be over very soon. You funded the war and you continue to fund it. By no means is my hostility solely directed towards the Republican bench of the government. You lied to the American people, and more so, you failed the American people. We are finally awake and more and more are realizing that we don't have a two party system in America, we have a single party that is not representing the will of the People.

Realize this Congressional Democrats, that when you agreed to continue funding the Occupation, this was no longer the President's war against the Arabs. You helped buy this Occupation and now you own it as well. And I will remind you every time that I see your faces.

The People say end the war. Stop funding the Occupation. The Soldiers want to come home. The insane idea of we must stay in Iraq and Afghanistan so that these thousands of soldiers will not have died in vain should never be said again! We tried saying that in Vietnam! The Iraqi people are strong and can defend themselves. They also want us out.

It took years for a G.I. Resistance to begin within the Military during Vietnam, but I am telling you right now - the feeling of resentment is there. The feeling that Politicians and Businesses are profiting off of
this Occupation while we suffer through extended tours and battle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depleted uranium, losing friends and family and losing our lives and limbs through wounds.

We come home and barely have time to adjust to being home before we begin training to leave again. Families are falling apart. Iraqis are dying. For what? A red, white and blue flag that says, "I'm a Patriot"?

Dissent is Patriotic.

Open discussion is Patriotic (this to Speaker of the House Pelosi who refuses to have an open forum with the people of her district. I believe it is going on just over 2 Years now.)

And I say to you dissent is filling the ranks of the military and it doesn't even need a charismatic figurehead to come forth and say "Dissent; Desert!". They are doing it and will keep doing it. And the
military's attempt to censor free speech will not contain it. Blogs, Youtube, Myspace: these sights, and others, weren't blocked for any reason other than these are the most popular places to find out that the
G.I. Resistance Movement is growing daily.

So proud Patriots of America, I ask you today for nothing. You are my Employee, never forget that. My tax dollars pay your salary, never forget that. I do however have demands for you:

-End the Occupation Now. Not tomorrow.

-Bring home all American troops. Replace them with a true international coalition designed specifically for peace keeping operations, NOT military operations.

-Remove all U.S. contractors from the Middle East that continue to benefit off of the death of the Iraqi and Afghan people and the destruction of their countries.

-Allow the Afghan and Iraq governments the freedom to decide what kind of country they want to be in, not what kind of country we want them to have.

-Allow the Afghan and Iraq governments freedom to choose who is given reconstruction contracts - which none should be American companies, for obvious reasons.

-Fund in full all reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and Iraq: We destroyed their countries, by International Law we must pay. By Moral virtue we must pay.

-Support the Troops means take care of them when they come home, not blindly fund their continued existence in a war zone - Completely fund the V.A. Department!

-Fund the Levees; Do NOT allow another Hurricane Katrina or Rita.

-Oversight on Gulf Region reconstruction (where is it?) - I was just in New Orleans, it is still a disaster area two years later. Fix it now.

-Open Diplomatic negotiations with Iran - Do not allow another war to take place. We have Diplomats that are paid by taxpayers to do just that: to Talk and Discuss. Use Diplomats not Depleted Uranium and Cruise Missiles.

I also want to say this before I close, I wrote it in a letter, just yesterday, to the people of Italy that stand up and actively oppose more U.S. military bases in their country. And it says:

The Iraq war is a War of Aggression, led by a cry of "We Will Never Forget"; the famous quote from September 11, 2001. Well, I have something to say for the people of the World and to the People of this
Administration, as well as to the members of the U.S. Congress.

We WILL never forget.

We will never forget that the men who hijacked those aircraft on September 11, 2001 were not Iraqi.

We will never forget that Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction (W.M.D) when we invaded.

We will never forget that the W.M.D's that Iraq did have years before, were sold to them by the U.S. Government.

We will never forget the millions of Iraqi men, women and children who have suffered through the Dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, The Iraq-Iran War, The Gulf War, Depleted Uranium, Years of Illegal Sanctions, Shock and Awe, "Liberation" from a Tyrant only to find a new Tyrant take his place.

We will never forget the 2 million of Iraqi men, women and children who are now displaced refugees within their own country.

We will never forget the 1.5 million refugees in Syria, the 775,000 refugees in Jordan and the nearly 200,000 refugees in Egypt.

We will never forget the 1 million dead Iraqi men, women and children since March 2003.

We will never forget that nearly 100,000 Iraqis flee the country each month since 2003.

We will never forget the widows, widowers and orphans of those dead.

We will never forget the effects of depleted uranium in American ammunition that litters the countries of the Middle East.

We will never forget the increased infant mortality rate. The sewage on the streets. The sectarian violence that was never in the streets of Iraq until we installed a Pro-U.S. Government.

We will never forget the destruction of Shock and Awe that destroyed Iraq's entire infrastructure.

We will never forget Abu Ghraib.

We will never forget the Lost men and women of Guantanamo Bay and other Secret U.S. Detention facilities.

We will never forget the every day Iraqi that is gunned down at a Traffic Control Point by a tired American teenager.

We will never forget the sounds of Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D) directed not at the American soldier, but at American Policy.

We will never forget the Women and Children gunned down at random after an I.E.D. explodes, because they were working the vegetable fields and were frightened and began to run.

We will never forget that War is, in fact, Terrorism. And America is the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism.

We will never forget that the Men, Women and Children of the Middle East may be of the same color as Saddam Hussein, but they do not have his face. They are not him. They do not deserve what they have been made to endure.

And we will never forget that corporations are profiting off of the death and destruction.

We will never forget that Blackwater and other private armies, which are in themselves illegal, are running around the Middle East killing at will - and are left unchecked.

We will never forget amazing photo opportunities with the soldiers, whether its walking through a market in Iraq with security all around you and Apaches in the air, or sitting on the deck of a ship under a
"Mission Accomplished" banner.

We will never forget that a majority of the American population want the Occupations to end and we will keep repeating it until you do what you are paid to do - and that is, Listen to the People.

The People are United and I know that attempts will be made to have me appear a fool and soon you will have my grade school photographs, my coloring books, a list of every library book I have ever checked out, and whatever other records these incredibly large and over-funded Secret Agencies compile on Activists in America, but I do not fear you.

You have no moral authority over me. Or any authority at all. I do not fear you. Any of you.

We The People, United within The Struggle, James Circello; Iraq Veterans Against The War

Cherie Eichholz
Veterans For Peace National Office ~ (314) 725-6005