Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Letters to WaPo - from 2004

Subj: The Washington Post on WMDs

In this article, you noted "The Post's reputation for helping topple the Nixon administration". At the end of this article, you noted that antiwar voices "have the mistaken impression that somehow if the media's coverage had been different, there wouldn't have been a war."

So, media coverage can help topple a president in the 1970's, yet the same media could not have swayed public opinion and support for a president's policy to go to war in the year 2002-2003, and thereby help stop the war.

Seems to me you can't have it both ways.

Please note that the mainstream media in this country is not currently presenting reasonable voices on why we should leave Iraq and end this occupation immediately.

Subj: Mr. Cohen's column on 7/29/04

In Mr. Cohen's column "The Wrong Way to Be Right" he made two errors. One is saying that Mr. Bush's approach to allies who happened to disagree with his policies in Iraq is similar to Mrs. Kerry's comments to reporters she recently made. Actually, Mr. Bush's approach, and the rest of the Bush administration's approach, would be closer to Mr. Cheney's comments to a US Senator recently on the US Senate floor.

Also, Mr. Cohen states that "countless surveys tell us that America is scorned in the Middle East. But that hardly means American policy in that region is not the right one."

I would propose that our policies in the Middle East, including our policies around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, are not the right ones in either the moral or the practical sense of the word. If the goal is a reduction in conflict and bloodshed, these policies clearly are not working. They also are not popular in the world at large - and becoming less popular here in America every day.

(Update from 2007: I think we can conclude that the “goal” is not a reduction in conflict and bloodshed, but rather the opposite.)

Subj: The Intelligence Mess

Date: 07/11/04

There have been three massive intelligence failures here in the United States in as many years: 9/11, WMDs and the threat from Iraq, and post war planning in Iraq.

It is true that the CIA did not have agents on the ground in Iraq after 1998 (maybe Clinton should not have pulled UN weapons inspectors out of Iraq?), but that did not mean that there were no former UN weapons inspectors who had something to say about Iraq and it's WMDs program. Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, had plenty to say, and what he said about WMDs turned out to be correct. He was ignored by the US Senate. He was ridiculed or ignored by the US mainstream press. This is more than regrettable, since his voice carried significant information that would have provided accurate intelligence. His voice is still being ignored today, and he still has significant information that would be useful to address the post war situation.

Subj: “Precision Attacks”

Date: 09/02/04

In the article "Iraqi Interim Council Meets" there is the statement "The U.S. military said it carried out a "precision attack" on members of Zarqawi's group, who earlier in the day had executed and buried a man after pulling him from the trunk of a car south of the city..."

So, the US military did collective punishment against some men that reportedly did an unlawful execution against some unknown person, and who are also reportedly a part of the Zarqawi group. Have they totally abandoned the rule of law over there in Iraq? How come US troops were not dispatched to arrest the men that reportedly carried out the execution? The US military, based on what multiple sources told them, just blasted over a dozen people (including women and children, who had nothing to do with the original alleged crime) into obliteration. And in the past, these "sources of intelligence" have shown the tendency to provoke the US military into settling old scores for them.... and once again, doing so unlawfully.

I fail to see how this type of action will bring stability to Iraq.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Iraqi Suffering vs. American Suffering

I saw a graphic on a comment on Daily Kos. I failed to take note of the name of the person who posted it, and I have no idea if he/she made it or copied it from somewhere else. It is a large black circle, all black except for a tiny sliver of red. It is marked “MORTALITY” and the black part is Iraqi mortality and the tiny red sliver is US mortality. It does show, VERY VERY WELL, the magnitude of the difference in suffering between the US and Iraq from this war. And frankly, this is unlikely to change….. no matter how unfair that is.

There was also another graphic from the same poster on Daily Kos. And here is what he/she wrote:

“The US numbers are exact, whereas the Iraqi numbers (black bar) reflect a statistically exact estimate. The red line represents the 95% confidence interval, with a minimum around 400,000 dead and the maximum closer to a million. These more extreme values are less likely to be true than the intermediate value of 655,000 dead.

There is a 2.5% chance that the estimate is lower than the left hand side of the confidence interval, and the same for being higher than the right hand side of the interval. The data are old. Lots of dying since last May-July when the study was conducted.”

This graphic was an actual graph, and it showed a tiny sliver on the far left for US deaths, representing just over 3,000. There is a large black bar representing the Iraqi deaths, which are at over 600,000. The reason behind that post on Daily Kos, and the reason behind this blog post, is the amazing blindness that the vast majority of Americans have to the suffering they have caused in this war on Iraq (and on the sanctions that we imposed on Iraq – but that is another story entirely).

Iraq War Deaths: Perceptions and Reality

A new AP/Ipsos poll asked Americans for their perceptions of how many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians have died in the Iraq war. The median number of American military deaths was estimated at 2,974. According to the CNN, the correct number is 3,154. The media number of Iraqi deaths was estimated at 9,890. However, reported civilian deaths are estimated at between 56,000 and 62,000. One study late last year estimated the number of deaths at more than 655,000.

Yes, the Americans think that about 10,000 Iraqis have died. If they read either my blog NEWS ABOUT IRAQ or FACES OF GRIEF, they would surely have a different – and more realistic – perspective. Now, one has to wonder why the US corporate media is keeping people in the dark about all this. And the answer is – they make money off of war! It is profitable to them, so they hide the truth so Americans can go on supporting wars and ignoring the horrible reality they are creating for some poor people who did nothing to hurt our country.

Meanwhile, Lieberman writes in the WSJ an op-ed called “The Choice On Iraq

Two months into the 110th Congress, Washington has never been more bitterly divided over our mission in Iraq. The Senate and House of Representatives are bracing for parliamentary trench warfare--trapped in an escalating dynamic of division and confrontation that will neither resolve the tough challenges we face in Iraq nor strengthen our nation against its terrorist enemies around the world.

Yes, that’s right – Vampire Joe thinks that the real “warfare” is in the US Congress, where no one ever shed a drop of blood for this conflict and exactly one Representative has lost a child to this war. For Vampire Joe, it is never mind how the Iraqis are facing day and night, FOR NEARLY FOUR SOLID YEARS, the real life evil aftermath of his war-mongering ways. Never mind how they are dying and being hurt and injured and destroyed. Go take a look at my blog FACES OF GRIEF posts for today. One student has a face burned so badly I cannot tell if they are male or female. Another student crys “I want to die” after burying some of his friends today. I really don’t know how the Iraqis can get up day after day and continue their lives.

So, to Vampire Joe and ALL the people who have profited from arms manufacturing and ALL the people who have made a living from arms manufacturing and ALL the people who believe in violence to solve problems or get whatever they want, and to ALL the people who helped get this war (or any war) started – yes, corporate media, that means YOU ………..let me dedicate this song to YOU. Because it is all about you!

Masters of War -- Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war

You that build all the guns

You that build the death planes

You that build the big bombs

You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'

But build to destroy

You play with my world

Like it's your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther

When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won

You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water

That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you set back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people's blood

Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear

That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatening my baby

Unborn and unnamed

You ain't worth the blood

That runs in your veins

How much do I know

To talk out of turn

You might say that I'm young

You might say I'm unlearned

But there's one thing I know

Though I'm younger than you

Even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good

Will it buy you forgiveness

Do you think that it could

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made

Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die

And your death'll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I'll watch while you're lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I'll stand o'er your grave

'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Explaining Google Searches to the NY Times

This is the email I sent to NY Times on 9/8/06:

"The possibility that Saddam Hussein might develop “weapons of mass destruction” and pass them to terrorists was the prime reason Mr. Bush gave in 2003 for ordering the invasion of Iraq." [This was from an article they published.]

That is such a line of crap. Bush never said "possibility" or "might develop". When you write such slop, you look like fools. - Dancewater

In a message dated 9/8/2006 3:37:41 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:

Dear [Name withheld],

Thank you for writing. But which article are you referring to?

Michael McElroy
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

So, this is what I wrote back:

In the handy-dandy little thing known as a GOOGLE SEARCH you can find the article that the quote come from (but it's in your own paper - don't you read your own paper? I guess not!) and I have provided two links to the same article below.

(two links here were removed, due to blogger)

I have no idea why there would be two links to the same article. Do you know how to do a GOOGLE SEARCH? Please reply and please give your permission to place your response on my blog.

Thank you. - Dancewater

PS. Since you and your staff seem to be hopelessly dumb, here's a few words of wisdom for you: IRAN DOES NOT HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND IS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO GETTING THEM. It looks like the imaginary WMDs did not slow you all down, or wise you up, one bit. You must be overcome with tremendous feelings of shame every time you think of "WMDs In Iraq", no?

Well, they never responded, and they did not give me permission to use the email on my blog. I decided to use it anyway. I think this would be really funny if it were not so pathetic.

Another lie

In the movie "Sir! No Sir!" one of the veterans decides to investigate the claims that returning veterans from Vietnam were greeted by spitting anti-war protesters. Even though this was, and still is, a common tale - it is just a urban legend. It did not happen, not once, as far as he could determine. Oh, it is was always supposed to be young women who did the spitting, even though, generally women don't spit at all. I heard this myth presented as fact at a Democratic Party State Executive Committee meeting. It was offered up as a reason not to vote on a resolution saying that we need to get out of Iraq.

Funny reasoning there - we need to keep our troops in Iraq, where they will get killed, injured, and f*cked up for life - because if we pull them out now they (supposedly) would get treated with disrespect. Personally, I would think being treated with disrespect would be better than dodging bullets and bombs. And I would choose being treated with disrespect, even to the point of being spit on, as a vast improvement in helping to kill my fellow humans. I would see it as a much better alternative to engaging in immoral activities of any kind. Maybe I just have funny ideas about what is "fun" in life.

Not that I think it is okay to treat people with disrespect. I do not. But I fail to see it as such a horror as some of our veterans do.

But, here is something I don't get. Our soldiers and Marines go off to war, face blood and guts and death and pain and horror beyond belief. They get CIBs pinned on them. And then they come home and whine about not getting treated with "respect" like they are the biggest wimps on the planet.

I just don't get it.

60 Minutes program for 2/25/07

The program "60 Minutes" will show a report on the members of the US military that are resisting this war. This will be tonight on CBS, and I will up date this post later to write up what they covered. I hope you join me in watching it.

Last night I watched "Sir! No Sir!" which is a movie about the military resistance against the Vietnam war. It had a lot of information about that the troops were doing then to stop the war and to stop going over to Vietnam, and a lot of it I did not know. It certainly was a brutal time, and the soldiers were often mistreated. This movie claims that nixon realized that he could not continue to send regular troops in Vietnam to fight, because they are resisting - even to the point of fragging their officers. So, he stared a bombing campaign in Vietnam which killed many innocents and destroyed many homes, business, schools, god only knows what else. He also ordered the dropping of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese, and they are still suffering from that today (and not getting any justice for it either). Two of the Americans who resisted are no longer suffering from their exposure to Agent Orange - and that's because they died of cancer from their exposure.

All of this was so evil. Vietnam was never a threat to the USA.

And Iraq was never a threat to the USA. Yet, today, I read that the US is dropping big (BIG!) bombs on Baghdad. This is so evil. And bush is not doing it because the troops are resisting (that is just starting), he is doing it because we DON'T HAVE THE TROOPS to really pacify the city of Baghdad, much less the rest of the country.

We have lost this war in Iraq, and there is no reason to keep US troops there even another day. They are just spreading terror and chaos, and it is impossible for them to (in the overall picture) to do something good for the country of Iraq. And that is not the fault of the troops - it is the fault of their civilian commanders - who have nothing but evil intentions for Iraq.

UPDATE: It was a fair presentation of the troops' position asking for redress. They will suffer some grief for taking this stand, however, what they will go through is nothing compared to what the Vietnam troops went through back in the 1960's and 1970's. For that matter, the anti-war protests are nothing compared to what happened back the either - four students were killed at Kent State, two more protesters were killed somewhere else. I hope it never comes to that here in the USA, but I have a friend who thinks this war will not end without "blood in our own streets" from the anti-war protesters. I hope he is wrong.

But, it is only Americans who can stop this war through non-violent resistance at this point. And I am not sure at this point that even they can do it - unless they "cut the funds" by not paying any taxes. One problem with not paying your taxes is - if they come after you, and you owe them, you may end up paying even more taxes! That would be counter-productive. It seems to me the only way to really avoid paying taxes, EVER, is to be dirt poor.

And I don't have the guts to do that. yet.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's a lie

There is a rumor going around the right wingnuts blogs that Cindy Sheehan did not put a marker on her son's grave. Well, this picture proves she did. She waited a while to put up this grave stone, and I guess she had good reasons for doing that - like being overcome by grief. I have also heard that the DoD will offer up grave stones, however, they have stuff on them that promotes war and militarism, and in this particular Iraq war case, flat out lies.

I posted this so everyone will know that the claim some are making about the grave stone for Casey Sheehan is a lie.

Protests in London

Protestors march during the 'No Trident, Troops Out of Iraq' demonstration in London February 24, 2007. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN)

This was a very large protest in London, against the war on Iraq, against the occupation of Palestine and against replacing the Trident missiles - which are nuclear weapons.

In the USA, there will be several protests next month. On March 17th, there will be a march on the Pentagon. There will also be marches in other places in the communities and rallies. I will be at the Fayetteville Rally. On March 24, there will be a PEACE RALLY here in Asheville.

We have got to stop this war before the bushits spread it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Protests in Sydney, another photo

In this photo, you can see that the police are getting rough and using aggression to control the protesters. This is wrong.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Protests in Sydney

Our fellow protesters in Australia were out to welcome vampire cheney to town on Friday. And things got rough with the Aussie police, which seems totally uncalled for (but, if you want to see examples of really horrible human behavior, look at my other blogs). Earlier today, there were pictures from Australia that showed people being pushed into police wagons, and there are reports of people being taken to hospital from this protest. Also, there are pictures of real fools who actually think cheney is a good man.

And plenty of pictures of cheney looking like a vampire.

Photo 1:

Protesters react after police intervened during an anti-Iraq war demonstration in Sydney February 23, 2007. Some 50 protesters staged a loud and colourful rally outside a hotel where U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was giving a speech during a two-day visit to Australia. REUTERS/Ed Giles (AUSTRALIA)

Photo 2:

Former Guantanamo Bay inmate Mamdouh Habib and his wife Maha, right, participate in a anti-Iraq war protest outside the hotel of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Sydney, Friday, Feb. 23, 2007. Cheney is in Australia to thank one of Washington's staunchest supporters of the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, an ally that has become a rarity by offering more, not fewer, troops for Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 19


“November 12, 2006 -- 'MANY Americans," President Bush said Wednesday, voted "to register their displeasure with the lack of progress" in Iraq. So did he - by dumping Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But what exactly are people upset about? Is the situation in Iraq really so grim?” - Adam Brodsky

The answer to his question would be an unqualified YES.

“But where's the evidence that Americans are worse off, in any tangible way, because of Iraq? Yes, families suffer enormously when a relative is killed or injured there. That's tragic. But the 3,000 U.S. military deaths over the past 31/2 years amounts to less than three ten-thousandths of a percent of the U.S. population per year. That many Americans die from drunk driving every 20 days.” - Adam Brodsky

Well, by using THAT standard, then the deaths that happened on 9/11 from the terrorists’ attacks are even less significant than the US military deaths in Iraq. They are totally insignificant, I guess, unless you are using them for some political end….. then they become significant again. This is extraordinary hypocrisy about the deaths of Americans and everyone else who died in Iraq since March 2003.

He goes on:

“The fact is, any serious effort to confront terror will be costly.” - Adam Brodsky

But since he feels the deaths of 3,000 Americans are insignificant, why should we be bothered to confront it?

“The loss of Iraqi life? Well, sure, that's tragic, too. But if "sectarian violence" means anti-American Shiites killing anti-American Sunnis, and vice versa, how much sleep should Americans lose over Bush's "failure" to stop it? That may sound cold, but the killers are free to end their violence whenever they like.” - Adam Brodsky

And this reflects his total lack of concern for what is happening to the Iraqi people. No surprises there. Adam Brodsky is an EVIL SHIT. And, unfortunately, he is an American.

Response to column in WaPo

"What if Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had responded: America is a mediator in this conflict. Its positions are independent of either side, and it is willing to talk to all parties to achieve peace." - from Ignatius column on February 21, 2007

No, there would have been no looks of astonishment, because they would have immediately realized that she was LYING. And our *IMAGE* in the Middle East is not "going nowhere fast" it is completely in the toilet, and has been for years. And that is the only reasonable position to
take in regards to the bushits policies. Anyone proposing some other position is a fool.

But I am not concerned about *IMAGE* I am concerned about the TENS OF MILLIONS OF LIVES WE HAVE WRECKED AND THE MILLION (or so) NEWLY DEAD INNOCENT PEOPLE. Who cares a rats ass about *IMAGE*?

I left this message on the comments section for this silly pundit.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 18

Ten Nobel Peace Prize Winners Take Aim at USA

'After the painful events of September 11, I wish that America would have built a school in Afghanistan in the name of every victim,'' said Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian judge and 2003 Peace Prize recipient. ''When someone claims he has a vision from God to bring war to Iraq, this is a kind of terrorism.'' Only the Dalai Lama, whose speech during the first public event of a three-day event at the University of Denver as interrupted when a fire alarm went off, didn't take a direct jab at the U.S. Instead the Dalai Lama called on the world to open itself to religious tolerance. PeaceJam, a Colorado-based program in its 10th year, hosts conventions around the world, bringing teenagers together with Nobel laureates to talk about what they can do to promote peace. Founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff say the interaction between the teens and laureates can build a generation that will tackle the big issues of poverty, disease and war. One after the other Saturday night, the laureates thanked the crowd that rose to its feet before and after each speech, and then called on Americans to do something about their government's foreign policy. From efforts to close the border with Mexico, to Iraq, to arms exports, the Nobel laureates had words for the U.S. government. ''Stand up. Take action,'' said Jody Williams, the 1997 recipient for her work opposing land mines, and the only American to take the stage.
''Don't try to bring democracy to people you don't understand through the barrel of a gun and leave them with civil war.''

Yes, the idea that you can impose democracy via bullets and bombs is totally ludicrous. I have never believed that was the bush administration’s intentions. I don’t believe that they care one whit about freedom and democracy for other people. And this is the basis for my series of posts on DEMOCRACY HYPOCRISY here on this blog. The only democracy that bush is bringing to Iraq is the democracy of death. The only freedom that bush is bringing to Iraq is the freedom of the grave.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Video called Condilicious

Raise the Roof on the Reid

Tonight, there was a fund-raising dinner at a local community center, called the Reid Center. They are trying to raise money to rehab the building they have, and add on more cultural arts capabilities. The reasoning behind this is to provide an opportunity for music, dance, art, theatre projects for the children and teenagers in the area. They are already doing some of this, and they need to expand the facilities to expand the program. I totally support this effort, and the efforts of all adults who reach out to other people’s children – in order to enrich their lives and help them become all they can become.

There is a serious problem in our city with drug activities in the high school age group, and a high number of African American males who do not graduate from high school. The reasoning behind the Reid Center is to allow a space for those teenagers to express themselves via cultural media. This will also enrich the whole community, since so many of those kids are so talented. The guest speaker was Theodis Beck, the Secretary of North Carolina Department of Corrections. He spoke about the violence in our society, and how we have a culture of “Make My Day”. He also mentioned that we have a president who believes in “Make My Day”. He said that murders in North Carolina are usually between people who know one another, have been drinking or using drugs (usually drinking), who get in an argument, and have easy access to a gun. He spoke about the efforts to get our young people to turn away from using drugs and to let them know that they have options besides crime, drug and jail. What I kept thinking about though was how the CIA brought drugs into our country….. And how they may still be doing that today, for all we know. I also kept thinking about the many prisons being built in our country by private contractors (like Halliburton) and how their goal is to make a bunch of money – and to do that, we have to fill up the prisons. I thought about all the trillions of dollars we have wasted on war and weapons – and how these folks who want to help kids are working so hard to get a few million dollars together in order to do so. And how so many of our government programs are working against achieving this end of turning children’s lives away from drugs and violence and poverty and hopelessness.

On the way over, my friend said that the UNIBOMBER went to Harvard, where he was subjected by the CIA to repeated drug experiments (without his consent). She also said that the records of all this have gone “missing”. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I do know that many, many of our US forces will come home from war with PTSD, and will engage in repeated acts of violence and aggression. I am also confident that the US government will not face it’s responsibilities in this regard – not to mention how wrong they were to send them off to this illegal war in the first place.

As to the dinner fund-raiser at the Reid Center, it was all very nice, and it was great to see so many liberals in one place. I got a chance to talk to a city council person, staff members at my Representatives office, and a County Commissioner. I will have to talk to the County Commissioner some more – they are planning to build an oil-burning plant for electricity here locally, and this is totally unnecessary.

2007 Precinct Meeting

We had a fairly good turnout, with seven people there. I had tried to get a few of my neighbors to go, but no luck! I had trouble doing the Pledge of Allegiance to my country, since I think my country is up to some god-awful and evil stuff – which I want no part of. We elected precinct officers by acclimation, after they volunteered. I did not volunteer to be vice-chair of the precinct again. I just feel I don’t have the time to devote to it, and I feel I get very little out of the meetings that they ask us to attend.

We had some resolutions presented. I presented the OUT OF IRAQ resolution that passed the NC Democratic Party State Executive Meeting last month. It passed unanimously. Last year, I presented such a resolution to the precinct meeting and they voted it down. The precinct chair objected to the resolution last year because it said to leave no bases or structures behind. I guess he heard what happened last summer when the Brits handed over some buildings to the Iraqis – they destroyed them (which is exactly what will happen when the US troops leave). So, we made some progress there.

The precinct chair presented a resolution asking that the retirement schedule requirements for local fire-fighters be lower from 30 to 25 years of service. That passed unanimously.

The final resolution that I presented was one that passed last year at the North Carolina Democratic State Convention. It is a resolution asking for the NC legislators to file articles of impeachment for bush (and by implication, cheney). There was one other woman there who spoke for this resolution, but it was voted down. The people there felt that going for impeachment would use up too much energy and probably not be successful. The idea of doing what is right did not seem to move them. We have an executive branch that is above the law, below any morality, and beyond any sense of decency. And if we (the American people) don’t hold them accountable then the rest of the world with hold THE AMERICAN PEOPLE accountable – as well they should. Furthermore, if bush/cheney are not removed, then they have two more years to kill, kidnap, rape, torture and make the whole world a less safe place to live. Oh, and they will wreck further damage on the environment. Now, I am not one of those who think bush/cheney is going to bomb Iran. I think they will follow their present course of “Let’s You and Him Fight” and get the entire Middle East up in flames – along with god-knows-where-else. There were three people in that room, all calling themselves Democrats, who just don’t get it.

We then discussed the tax-check off – there were some misperceptions about that. This tax check-off is to fund “clean elections” for state wide positions. The precinct chair has said in the past that he is opposed to the ideas because he feels that non-partisan elections are very dirty. I don’t agree with him on that position, and feel that government-funded elections are the way to go - although I am sure the money interests will find a way around that obstacle eventually – they always do! We can only hope to slow them down, again and again. But I guess he was requested to cover this during the precinct meeting, so he did bring it up. The chair then read his concerns about the so-called split between progressives and the ‘old guard’ of the party. He is concerned about the progressives saying things about how the old guard wants to hang on to power and other comments that are not to his liking. He did not mention how the progressive Democrats are not allowed to use the Democratic Party Headquarters for meetings. I guess that fact is not a concern about the split between the progressives and the old guard, whose “rules” say we cannot use that space, even while it sits there unused. Funny thing is - they want us to pay rent to use the library and then put money and time and effort into maintaining the Democratic Party Headquarters! And then they say that WE are causing a split! I guess they fail to see the hypocrisy of that!

I read the following statement from a Republican website in the eastern part of our state (spelling mistakes left intact):

“Al Quedea Terrorists killed three thousand Americans on September 11, 2001, yet Democratic state Sen. Doug Berger is more concerned about how terrorists are being treated and continues to ignore the rest of us in his district,” said John Edwards, second vice chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party. “Berger was elected to represent Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren county citizens, not American-hating terrorists. What Berger is doing is tantamount to treason.”

I then went on to explain where this came from, and that we need to look out for our elected Democrats, and speak up when they are attacked like this. This stems from the fact that Sen. Berger signed on to the letter asking Governor Easley to investigate Aero Contractors and the “extraordinary rendition” flights there are running out of NC airport in Johnston County, NC. I talked about Mr. El Masri, and how he was abducted (kidnapped) by CIA agents in a foreign country, shipped by Aero Contractors to an American base in Afghanistan, held and tortured with no charges filed for five months there, and then released in the mountain of Algeria without a penny or change of clothes. He returned to Germany, where he lived, and found his whole family gone. Since they had not heard from him, and had no idea where he was all that time, they had moved in with family in Lebanon. The CIA said it was a case of mistaken identity – but Mr. El Masri tried to sue for damages, and the US authorities would not let him because of “state secrets”. This case is in appeal. Mr. El Masri, father of five young children, said he was sexually tortured, but he could not talk about it. Imagine explaining “what happened to daddy” to those young children.

Interestingly, the only other person in the room who knew who Mr. El Masri was – was also the only other person who voted for the impeachment resolution. And that, I would say, is what separates the progressives from the “old guard” – we are MUCH better informed. And being much better informed, we come to very different conclusions in a variety of areas. The two progressives in the room know full well that this kidnapping, rape, torture, even murder, of innocent people will go on unchecked without impeachment. And we also know FULL WELL that the bush administration or CIA or FBI or NSA or even local or state authorities (after being fed wrong information from the feds) could do the same to any one of us. This is not strictly a “foreigner” problem.

But, sadly too many Democrats are worried about what is best for a candidate, or a candidate’s election or re-election, or even worried about what is best for the Democratic Party to realize that they need to worry about what is best for our COUNTRY AND WORLD. And they need to start putting that FIRST. Instead, they are clueless and ignoring it all together.

Well, one sign of hope - as we were leaving, I and the one other progressive there recommended to another women that she watch or listen to Democracy Now! program, either on WPVM (103.5) at 8, Noon, or 8 PM...... or go watch it on the web.

Maybe next year, we will have one more informed person at the meeting.

Friday, February 16, 2007

WNC Peace Coalition meets with Rep. Shuler

PHOTO: This is another photo from the January 27th March in DC, taken by Emily M.


Some Peace Coalition members went up to DC and meet with Rep. Shuler’s staff in his office there and spent some time talking with Rep. Shuler himself. Down here in Asheville, four of us meet with Mr. Peterson, who is the district manager for Rep. Shuler. We asked five questions – and got answers for two of them. I called back today to see what the answers were for the other three questions, but so far Mr. Peterson has not gotten a response from Rep. Shuler. Next week, I will call Sean O’Brien (foreign policy advisor) to see if I can get an answer from him on Rep. Shuler’s positions.

1. Do you oppose the Administration’s plans to increase the deployment of US troops in Iraq? Yes, he is opposed. Rep. Shuler voted in favor of the resolution today saying that the Congress opposes the troop increase.

2. Do you support a timetable for the withdrawal of all US troops and bases from Iraq? Staff is not sure.

3. Will you oppose a “supplemental” funding request to extend the war? Rep. Shuler feels that withdrawal of funds will endanger the troops, so he is not in favor of that idea.

4. Do you support direct US talks with Iran and Syria on Iraq and other issues? Staff is not sure.

5. How can we help Rep. Shuler be a strong voice for peace? Staff is not sure.

Working for an end

to this god-awful war, that was and is illegal, immoral and very very stupid. Actually, it is take-your-breath-away stupid. The picture here was taken last year at our Eyes Wide Open exhibit in Asheville. This was the closing ceremony, with the boots of the NC troops who died in Iraq in a circle. Off to the far left corner, one of the Peace Dove ladies is letting them out of the cage. One Peace Dove is in flight.

Meanwhile, NC passed an Out of Iraq resolution, and today I found this article:

Democrats in State Capitols Push Antiwar Resolutions

Frustrated by the inability of Democrats in Congress to pass a resolution opposing President Bush's policies in Iraq, state legislators across the country, led by Democrats and under pressure from liberal advocacy groups, are pushing forward with their own resolutions. Resolutions have passed in chambers of three legislatures, in California, Iowa and Vermont. The Maryland General Assembly sent a letter to its Congressional delegation, signed by a majority of the State Senate and close to a majority of the House, urging opposition to the increase in troops in Iraq. Letters or resolutions are being drafted in at least 19 other states. The goal is to embarrass Congress into passing its own resolution and to provide cover for Democrats and Republicans looking for concrete evidence back home that anti-Iraq resolutions enjoy popular support. The activity was spurred in a conference call last month that included state legislators; Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts; and advocacy groups like the Progressive States Network and

I wish the NC House and Senate would pass such resolutions. They have a Democratic majority in both chambers. Also, 7 out of 13 or our US Representatives are Democratic. It seems to me that we should be able to do this!

New Mexico Impeachment Resolution

PHOTO: This photo is of the local chapter of the Veterans for Peace and their sign. It was taken at the January 27, 2007 Rally in DC by Emily M.

New Mexico Senate Rules Committee Passes Bush-Cheney Impeachment Resolution

One of the sources of America's moral authority in the world is its professed commitment to an ideal known as the Rule of Law.

The Rule of Law includes the principle that no man is above the law.

The Rule of Law also includes the principle that crimes must be prosecuted.

If the Rule of Law is to be anything more than an empty slogan, then all American citizens, but especially legislative bodies such as this, where both laws and the consequences for breaking laws are established, must demand, when there is compelling evidence that criminal acts have been committed, that there be a formal, official investigation and prosecution.

Confidence that crimes will be prosecuted is essential to the existence of civilized society. If the New Mexico Legislature hopes to retain its moral authority to continue to write laws and set consequences when the laws are broken -- if, for example, the New Mexico Legislature wishes to be able to speak with moral authority when it declares that anyone who drives while intoxicated must be held accountable and experience severe consequences, then the New Mexico Legislature must insist that there be a formal and official investigation and prosecution to test the compelling evidence that exists that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have committed grave crimes ... crimes which have resulted in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people.

That there is compelling evidence of crimes having been committed is unquestionable. The evidence that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to take our nation to war is overwhelming. What greater crime could there be than initiating an unjustified, unnecessary war? AND, there is compelling evidence of still other serious crimes.

The United States House of Representatives has to date failed to meet its duty to enforce the principle that crimes must be prosecuted. Its failure is a source of shame, and if it persists, it will lose its moral authority to call for, or even speak to, law and order, let alone accountability, regarding it's responsibilities as a part of the governing body of this nation. It is our hope that a nudge from the New Mexico Legislature, making the statement that it takes its duties to honor and uphold the Rule of Law seriously, and leading by example, will remind the United States House of Representatives that it is responsible, first and foremost, to the people of the United States of America.

That said, let me add that we-the-people are becoming more and more frantic about Congress's failure to stop George W. Bush from doing still more harm to our country. Mr. Bush appears to have no understanding of the concept of checks and balances, of the meaning of the word democracy, or of the principle that in America the government governs only with the consent of the governed. He has made it clear that he intends to ignore both we-the-people and Congress with respect to escalating the occupation of Iraq. It sounds more and more that he also intends to attack Iran, never mind that a clear majority of the citizens of this country oppose it. Congress must act, but it looks to be almost paralyzed. The New Mexico Legislature must show that it is not paralyzed and in so doing help the United States House of Representatives regain its own understanding of the concept of checks and balances, of the meaning of the word democracy, and of the principle of consent of the governed. --statement of Anne Kass, Albuquerque, NM, testifying at February 16, 2007 NM Senate Rules Committee hearing at the Santa Fe Roundhouse on impeachment resolution

Note: This bill still has to pass the Senate Public Affairs and Senate Judiciary Committee before it will be voted on in the New Mexico State Senate. It is a hopeful step in the right direction.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Democracy Hypocrisy, Part 17

U.S. The Big Loser In The Mecca Deal?

"Palestinians may still be celebrating the Mecca accord reached between rival factions of Hamas and Fatah to form a national unity government, but there is no such sentiment coming out of Washington. "Peace is not at hand," a senior U.S. official said today. But while the Bush Administration may view the deal as a setback for the prospects of Middle East peace, many observers think it is really a setback for U.S. influence in the region — especially its goal of isolating Hamas."

Yes, the Palestinians are celebrating the formation of a national unity government in their occupied country. They are hopeful that this will bring an end to the in-fighting that has been going on. But, the plan of bush and the Israeli government is to continue the “Let’s You and Him Fight” plan, and have the Palestinian people kill one another off as much as possible. So, a cessation of fighting will not be productive in bush’s eyes and the Israeli government’s eyes.

Hamas was the popularly elected government of Palestine. So far, the bush administration has denounced them for this free election result (and they were totally not expecting it), has cut of the limited supply of aid that they formally gave the Palestinians, has given aid to Fatah branch of the government (which is the minority part of that government) and has shipped truck loads of weapons to Fatah – that was intercepted and kept by the Hamas agents. I guess we can say that the “Let’s You and Him Fight” plan will still work, since the weapons got through, but they are going to strengthen the supposed wrong side of the fight.

And the government of Israel has cut off the money that they hold – WHICH IS THE PALESTINIAN’S MONEY IN THE FIRST PLACE – and refused to give it to them. The Israelis, as an occupation force, collects tax funds and re-distributes these funds. Except, once Hamas was elected, they somehow feel entitled to keep the money and punish the Palestinians.


(Cartoon above has signs on the countries of Venezuela, Palestine and Iran. The US government is also messing around with Somalia, Lebanon, and of course, Iraq. They are probably interfering in a few more countries but the evidence has not come out yet. And the "interference" can range from bombing runs to supplying arms to fighting groups to just doing an economic hit job on the country in question. Whatever it is, you can be sure innocent people will suffer and this shits will think that is a-okay, because the "ends justify the means." Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, which why I am up to Part 17 in this series.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Protest in Basra

PHOTO: Iraqis chant slogans while protesting in Basra, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. About 500 people launched a sit-in strike in front of the British Consulate in Basra in protest against the arrest of the Assistant Director of the Southern Power Distribution Department engineer Ziyad Rashed that was conducted by British troops Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

NC Democratic Party State Executive Meeting

January 20, 2007

There were a reported 700 people who came to this meeting at Elon University in Elon, NC. All 100 counties in North Carolina were represented. The meeting started with an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. Treasurer’s report was presented and accepted, and there were announcements of upcoming events and other news.

Jerry Meek, the chair of the Democratic Party in NC, spoke about how the Democrats are good for working families and that we need to focus on the future. Jerry Meek talked about party plans for voter registration dive and county officers training, GOTV training, and candidate training. Representative Brad Miller said thanks for the Democratic majority in Congress, and how this is his first time being in a Democratic majority. He showed appreciation for all our efforts.

The next order of business was the election of party officers. Jim Long, Commissioner, nominated Jerry Meek for the position of hair of the NC Democratic Party. He was re-elected by acclamation. Dannie Montgomery was nominated by Larry Kissell for First Vice Chair. (Kissell ran for the US House of Representatives in Congressional District 8, and lost by fewer than 400 votes.) Dannie Montgomery had served as the chair of Kissell’s campaign. She won that position in a close vote. Delmas Parker (who is also on the board of the NC Progressive Democrats) was re-elected to Second Vice Chair. Courtney Crowder was re-elected to Third Vice Chair. Roy Lucas was elected Secretary. Jerry Meek then recognized counties that have fulfilled their responsibilities to the NC Democratic Party in the sustaining fund goals. An introduction to the Devout Democrats was presented. This group was formed to counter right wing religion’s support for some national candidates. All religions were represented in this new group.

Resolutions were presented at this point. The first resolution was “Responding to the Report of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission”. In this resolution, the NC Democratic Party acknowledged and renounces the actions of past Party leaders involved in the Wilmington race riots and the subsequent suppression of African Americans and encouragement of racial violence. This passed overwhelmingly. The NC Democratic Party formally apologized for those actions.

The second resolution was “In Support of Orderly Redeployment and Withdrawal From Iraq” which I had written, heavily based on a resolution passed by the Arizona Democratic Party. This resolution called for an end to the occupation of Iraq, for the US not to maintain any permanent bases in Iraq, and for a withdrawal of troops by the summer of 2007. The resolution committee added that this resolution would be posted on the NC Democratic Party’s website and that it would be sent to the press and to our elected officials. I was the first to speak to this resolution, and I started by saying “All wars start with lies, and we know who the liars are for this war.” That got immediate applause. I spoke about how our troops are not providing stability in Iraq, they are instead pawns in the hands of the Bush administration. I spoke about how so much of our media does not know what is happening there in Iraq, and they make ridiculous claims about the natives of Iraq and who is fighting whom.

Some people, mostly ex-military, did speak against this resolution. They felt that this type of resolution would lead to disrespect for the military, and mention was made of how Vietnam War veterans were treated when they came home from war. It was mentioned that former Vietnam War veterans were spit on, which has never been substantiated. After some discussion, this resolution did pass. And the following week, it was posted on the NC Democratic Party website. (Representative Price and Representative Miller introduced a similar resolution in the US House the following week. More information on that is available on the NC Democratic Party website.)

From the website: "The American people, our troops, the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi people all need to know clearly that this war is not open-ended. When North Carolina Democrats considered this resolution on Saturday, some worried about the message it sends to our troops. Make no mistake, the resolution passed because we care so much about the thousands of brave men and women from North Carolina who continue to serve in this war. And that is precisely why Congress must act to bring about an orderly redeployment and ultimate withdrawal from Iraq," said North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek. "Thousands of lives have been lost, over 3,000 American troops have been killed, and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent. This must end."

Their website is

The third group of resolutions presented had to do with proposed amendments to the Plan of Organization. The first one was to prohibit the holding of simultaneous offices in certain circumstances, and this passed easily. The second one dealt with state auxiliaries and how representatives are elected to the congressional district executive committee. This passed. The final one was to say that the duties of the state Chair of the Democratic Party will formulate and promote a legislative party, based on the Platform and resolutions passed by the membership. This generated a lot of discussion. A motion to table failed, and a substitute amendment by the Progressive Democrats also failed. It was decided to allow the lawyers for the Party to discuss implications for lobbyists if this was passed. A motion to table was finally passed. At this time, a quorum call showed that there was not a majority present to consider further resolutions. The resolutions developed by the Progressive Democrats were not considered. The meeting was adjourned.

NC Progressive Dems Meeting

January 20, 2007

I arrived shortly after the meeting started, and there was standing room only, with about 50 people there. They discussed starting a speaker’s bureau, developing a newsletter, and working on developing chapters in the state. They also discussed developing forums and improving communications internally and externally.

They discussed the resolutions and amendments that they planned to present to the NC Democratic Party State Executive Committee meeting that follows this meeting. Here is a list of those resolutions:

  1. Legislative Advocacy
  2. Appointment of State Board of Elections Members
  3. Election Reform
  4. Resolution in Support of “Same Day Registration” in NC
  5. Independent Redistricting Commission
  6. Ending the Winner-Take-All System of Awarding Presidential Electors
  7. Progressive Taxation
  8. Collective Bargaining for State Employees
  9. Education Lottery Funding
  10. High Quality, Well Funded, Diverse Schools for All Children
  11. Clean Energy Future
  12. Right to Health Care
  13. Death Penalty Moratorium
  14. Out of Iraq
  15. No Preemptive War Against Iran

The last two resolutions were submitted directly to the resolutions committee of the NC Democratic Party, and the “Out of Iraq” resolution is part of the upcoming agenda for the State Executive Committee meeting. The resolution on Iran was not accepted by the resolutions committee.

There was a discussion the same day registration and other aspects of voting. It was pointed out that we have seen some success in this area. In 2004, voting in North Carolina was a fiasco. Over 4,000 votes went missing, throwing a couple of state races into question. Today, we have paper trail verified voting through out the state. We managed to run Diebold out of the state. There was discussion and concerns about same day registration during early voting (not on Election Day itself). Someone stated that there is no evidence of fraud with same day registration.

There was a discussion of the upcoming proposed amendment #3 to the Plan of Organization of the State Legislative Policy Committee. This proposed amendment makes one of the NC Democratic Party Chair’s duties to: “Formulate and promote a legislative policy agenda, based upon the Platform and upon resolutions adopted by the State Convention, the State Executive Committee, and the State Executive Council.”

There was discussion of NCPD holding a forum in April or May of this year to discuss Lt. Governor – and after that, to endorse a candidate. It was suggested that we do this after they file, but others felt that we should offer grass roots support earlier.

There was discussion and a vote of support for the upcoming Historic March on “J” Street in Raleigh on February 10, 2007. This march is organized by the NAACP and it’s purpose is to promote a more progressive legislative agenda in the NC House and Senate. They will hold a rally and then march to the State House on “J” Street. A resolution was passed to show support for this Historic March. All were urged to attend.

I gave a short update on PDA. They are supportive of ending the occupation of Iraq. They are supportive of Woolsey’s bill to end the funding of more war while allowing funding to bring them home (HR 508). PDA supports impeachment, since we feel that the only way to stop Bush is impeachment. I urged everyone to go to DC on January 27, 2007 to be a part of United for Peace and Justice March. I also told them about Walter Jones’s resolution (HJR 14) forbidding an attack on Iran without congressional approval. I told them a little bit about NC Stop Torture Now and the work they are doing – which is not a PDA project. Everyone was encouraged to visit the website of PDA and sign the petition there to cut war funding. Also, PDA stickers were handed out at this meeting. This meeting was adjourned to go to the State Executive Meeting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

More on Rendition Flights Out of North Carolina

This blog post is about extraordinary rendition and AERO Contractors – which is located in North Carolina. If you are unaware of the connection of extraordinary rendition to North Carolina, please read on and follow the links. If you are aware of the issues, please follow the action suggestions below. There are less than 300 people who have signed the petition asking for Aero Contractors to be investigated by Governor Easley’s office. We can do better than that! We need to speak up and stand up and STOP EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION by a North Carolina firm.

2/8/07 - ACLU Forum on Challenging Torture Flights & Other Abuses of Power

First DVD shown was “Stop the Abuse of Power” and this addressed corporate flights, secret prisons, and detention and kidnapping of citizens of other countries. It addressed the illegality of Guantanamo. It talked about the 400+ people kept there, and how the rule of law is totally absent – it is a legal black hole. Then they went on to discuss illegal spying here in the USA, and how the police and FBI and CIA are infiltrating peace groups and interfering in legal first amendment activities. A report was given on the 30,000 national security letters sent to librarians.

They then showed a DVD called “Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture, and Disappearances in the War on Terror” which was made by ACLU and Amnesty International. This DVD covered how torture was approved by Bush and Gonzalez, and how due process was removed with the Military Commission Act in 2006. This second video talked extensively about rendition and torture of Mr. El-Masri. He was detained by the CIA in Macedonia and kept inside his hotel room (he was on vacation) and interrogated. He was drugged and stripped and then sent (via Aero Contractors) to Afghanistan where he was tortured and threatened. He was released after five months, with no charges filed. He was released by the CIA on a deserted road in Algeria. He was given nothing, no money at all, to help him get home. When he got back to his house in Germany, he found his family gone. They did not know what had happened to him, so they moved to their original home country of Lebanon. Mr. El-Masri could not talk about a lot of the torture he was subjected to. It was too difficult for him. This DVD also gave the details of Mr. Arar’s abduction and shipment by the CIA to Syria to be tortured.

First speaker was Mr. Goldsmith of the ACLU. He said that the rendition program by the CIA started in 1995. Today, Mr. El-Masri’s case is being appealed. He filed for compensation for his illegal kidnapping and deportation in US courts, and it was denied by the US government with the excuse “state secrets”. The ACLU is filing an appeal. This is still being processed. This kidnapping was apparently a case of mistaken identity.

He also spoke about Aero Contractors, which flies out of Johnston County Airport near Raleigh. The ACLU in North Carolina has filed a suit against them. There is a grassroots campaign to shut down AERO Contractors here in North Carolina. Mr. Goldsmith said our laws require that we treat people humanly via treaties we have signed. We are required to follow these via our constitution. The ‘state secrets doctrine’ is in effect if the release of information would be “imprudent” to the welfare of the state – then the information is suppressed. The speaker gave some examples of this from US history, and some of these examples were totally ridiculous.

Mr. Roth, attorney and member of ACLU, said that civil rights situation is the worst in the USA that he has ever seen. Also, the US reputation in the world is the worst ever seen.

Mark Gibney, professor at UNCA, spoke about International Law and the cases of Nicaragua verses the USA. This resulted in two findings: the US had committed atrocities and the courts said the US was responsible; and the US had supported and armed the contras, which the US should have been held responsible but the courts said they were not responsible. The US is making the claims that since the US is not committing the torture, therefore they are not responsible under international law. He said the states write their laws so that international human rights laws ONLY apply domestically. So, people held outside the USA are treated differently because of this idea that there is a difference in the application of the laws internationally vs. domestically. This is a large failure of international law.

Ms. Shahshahani, outreach coordinator for ACLU, has been working on these issues for quite awhile – both the NC issues with AERO contractors and the international issues. She asked that we put pressure on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Senator Leahy is the head of this committee) and ask for OPEN hearings on extraordinary rendition. We should also ask: “Why is Guantanamo still open? Why not hold hearings at Guantanamo?” She also recommended that we put pressure on Governor Easley to investigate AERO Contractors. About 16 members of the NC House have asked for an investigation in this area. (You can see which ones have signed HERE.)

Three panel members felt that the Democrats were doing nothing to correct our deficiencies – they voted down habeas corpus just weeks before the last election. This Military Commissions Act passed with lots of Democrat votes. This group of panelists were not approving of how the Democrats have acted in this area.


What can you do? For starters, here is an on-line petition to sign about investigating AERO Contractors. The link to the petition is HERE.

More information on this issue and Aero Contractors, HERE and HERE.

Information nationwide to work on torture issues is HERE.

If you live in North Carolina, we were asked to call Governor Easley’s office about Aero Contractors and ask for them to be investigated. You can contact the Governor's Office by e-mailing or by calling the Governor's Office at: 1-800-662-7952 (valid in North Carolina only). Other contact information for Governor Easley is HERE.

And we were asked to call Senator Leahy’s office (202-224-4242) to ask for open hearings on extraordinary rendition and to investigate and close Guantanamo Bay.

UPDATE: There is a new bill written by Rep. Ed Markey of MA meant to put an end to renditions (here's a LINK to a fact sheet on the bill). It is called “Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act” (H.R. 952). Please contact your US Representative and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 952.

So many outrages, so little time……..