Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Progressive Democrats of Buncombe Co meeting

Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County meeting/Kucinich Meetup on 01/22/08

Attending: 6 people

JP, Isaac, Eve, Paulina, Connie and Susan

Minutes taken by Susan

Susan gave a financial report for the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County. We have $65 dollars in membership fees (including four donations for low income membership). We paid $20 for room rent for February for the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County.

Eve and Paulina and Susan reported that they went to Greenville, South Carolina on MLK day and distributed a large pile of literature on Kucinich. This was the “Peace through Strength” brochure.

Upcoming events include the NC Democratic Party State Executive Committee meeting in Hamlet NC (on January 26), the Buncombe County Democratic Party Chili Cook off (on February 2) and the precinct meetings on March 11, 2008. We will not hold a meetup for Kucinich on March 11, 2008. There is a fund-raiser for the Iraq Vets Against the War on January 31, 2008 at UNCA. Contact Connie at newlease7@ if you would like to table at this event. Historic Thousands on Jones Street (H K on J) is in Raleigh on February 9, 2008. There will be two buses going from Asheville. Directions to Chili Cook off and information on H K on J march will be in next email.

Isaac said that the Republicans in NC are challenging the primary, so the date may get pushed back. We had a discussion around how the corporate media is keeping Kucinich out of televised debates, and how they are not presenting his positions. One person suggested that we develop a handout on how our tax money is spent and show how much is going for militarism and war. Another suggested that we should be able to delegate (via check offs on our tax forms) how that money is spent. The big primary day is February 2, 2008 and Tennessee is one of the states that has a primary. There was some talk about going up to Tennessee to hand out information on Kucinich. Susan can get more flyers from the state coordinator and signs this weekend. We did not break into committees since there were so few people attending. Our next meeting is February 12, 2008.

Please report corrections and omissions in the comments.

Next meeting of the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County is February 12, 2008. This will be held at 7 PM at North Asheville Library.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“60 Minutes” tells lies

I watched 60 Minutes last night and they had a part of their show about Saddam and WMDs. The first thing the old white guy said was: “After Saddam drew us into two wars and countless military engagements.....”

Well, the poor widdle bitty United States! Being pulled into wars against their wishes! And have to go bomb some other country when they would rather be watching TV!

This announcer went on to repeat all the bushies lies from 2002. He asked the question “Why did Saddam choose war?”. Of course, it was the USuk who choose war, but this guy is not going to let a few facts get in the way of a good pack of lies. The point of the show was to interview the FBI agent (pictured above) who was born in Lebanon and moved to the US at age 12. Now, this guy either does not know any recent history concerning Iraq and the US, or he is a massive liar also. But maybe he does not know how to read in English, and that is why he got so much wrong. I kinda doubt it, though.

This FBI guy said that Saddam did not know he was an agent for the FBI and they had lead Saddam to believe that bush himself spoke directly with this FBI agent. He spoke to Saddam for hours over several months. The FBI agent claimed that a speech Saddam made in June 2000 was about WMDs – but there was not a shred of evidence to support that claim. The FBI agent did finally get around to asking Saddam “why keep the secret? Why keep the charade going around WMDs in Iraq?”


But why talk about what really happened when you can foster a bunch of lies on the American public? The FBI agent claimed that Saddam did it to stay in power and to keep Iran at bay. The old white guy then asked the FBI guy why Saddam did not stop the charade when US troops were massing on his border. The FBI guy said that Saddam did not believe that the US would invade.

Personally, I wanted to believe that the US would not be so stupid as to invade either. But it was only a hope, I fully realized that the current US administration, along with most of the citizens, are really that stupid and immoral.

The FBI agent said that Saddam claimed that the “secret war” was to start after two weeks after the US invaded. This claim rather contradicts that Saddam did not think the US would invade – but hey, who needs any attachment to reality, when keeping Americans stooopid is so much more fun. Then he went on to say that “we” knew so little about Saddam – like he was not connected to al Qaeda or bin Laden. Well, I certainly figured that one out, and it was easy to figure out. The FBI guy claimed Saddam had no remorse or regret.

Well, bush has killed more Iraqis than Saddam and made their lives a WHOLE LOT WORSE and I don’t see any remorse or regret from him – or from any of the other politicians and assholes and so-called journalists that got this unnecessary war started. I believe that they are, like Saddam and the FBI agent and the 60 Minutes old white guy, sociopaths who just don’t care about the pain of others.

The FBI guy said that the FBI was really proud of their interview. I cannot see how they could be proud of this pack of lies. I guess they are proud of lying.

I was not the only one who saw this smorgasbord of lies. Here is a post on the subject written by someone else:

CBS Falsifies Iraq War History

In the real world, Saddam Hussein's Iraq announced in 2002 that it didn't have WMD, sent the U.N. a 12,000-page declaration to that effect, and let U.N. inspectors in to check. In George W. Bush's world -- and according to "60 Minutes" -- none of that happened.

I provided a link to the 60 Minutes story, but I strongly recommend that you DO NOT WATCH IT. It is just a mess of lies. The link to the article above is worth a read. He brings up my favorite all-time lie of bush around Saddam: when bush claims that Saddam did not let UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq!! bush says this in public in front of 'journalists' in the US and they don't even confront him or question him. I think we should just stop calling them 'journalists' and call them 'boot-lickers' instead.

ADDITION: Here is how it was easy to figure out that what the bushies said in 2002 was a lie: They said Iraq had WMDs. They said they knew where the WMDs were. They had UN weapons inspectors in Iraq in late 2002...... somehow, the bushies could not (or would not) tell the UN weapons inpsectors where the WMDs were........ and the logical conclusion to that set of facts is - THE BUSHIES WERE LYING!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Protest in San Francisco

This is a picture from the protest yesterday in San Francisco. I wish there had been a protest or vigil here, but I didn't organize it and neither did anyone else. We do have several vigils per week in my town, including Women in Black, so for a small place, we do a lot. The sign that is being held up here says "NO for the Palestinian People Blockage" in English, Arabic and Hebrew. There are more pictures at this link.

And there is a blog post about this vigil at this link. She says that activism isn't always pleasant, but stresses the importance even when we think it is not being noticed.

Today we got the news that Suharto, the mass murderer, has died. More information on him, his evil way, and how the US authorities supported him even while they pretended that they didn't. Hey, they are still pretending!

Of course, pretending is not limited to the politicians that we elect here in the USA. The American people like to pretend too - a lot of them pretended that there were WMDs in Iraq in 2002, even though common sense would have told any thinking person otherwise. Then some of them took up pretending that entire factories of production for weapons could be moved into another country without a trace. Most of these very dumb people pretend they were moved to Syria, but a candidate for president (Huckabee) likes to pretend they were moved to Jordan. Most likely, he could not find Jordan or Syria on a map. My dental hygienist supports him for president.

A few years back, many Americans thought that we should stay in Iraq until it is "better" -I am talking about 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and even 2006 - hey, there are probably STILL Americans out there who think we should stay until we make it all "better" in Iraq, and as far as I can tell, they truly and sincerely believe that American runs around the world freeing people from tyranny, just out of the goodness of our heart. So, while some Americans complain about feeding other American's hungry children, they say we should keep dropping bombs out of the loving goodness of our hearts.

Today, several people I have run into lately say that we should leave Iraq, but we should not do it "quickly" because that will make it worse. Well, if a large bulldozer knocked down EVERY wall of your home and then just sat there will no indication that it will ever leave, would you want to get the bulldozer off there quickly or slowly? Keep in mind, you cannot rebuild until the bulldozer does leave, and you are homeless.

I do not understand why some Americans who think they are progressive and informed what to prolong the suffering of the Iraqi people.

I think they are just dumb, but really, can you be that dumb for that long without being evil? I just don't think it is possible.

This weekend, I was supposed to go to a State Executive meeting for the NC Democratic Party in the eastern part of the state. My car is not reliable - and I will soon buy a new car - so I asked a friend who he is going with and could I come along. He told me yes, but apparently did not check it out with the person who was driving. On Friday afternoon, he called and told me that I did not have a ride because the driver does not want me in his car. So, I didn't go - but probably got a lot more productive stuff done here at home anyway. Apparently, I had an altercation with this driver, although I cannot remember it at all. I bet he decided that he does not like me because I have gotten up at all Democratic Party meetings (local and state) and let them know what I think of their very dumb ideas. And I feel pretty strongly about this because I know that the ideas that the US authorities are following (like in Iraq today, supporting Suharto in the past, and countless other times) are causing great suffering FOR NO GOOD REASON. As a matter of fact, I believe the only reason they are doing it is GREED. And Americans go on supporting this, and re-electing these people, and never come to acknowledge what is happening. They stay ignorant, and the US media certainly helps them in this goal - but really, can they be this ignorant for this long without being truly EVIL? I just don't think so.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Demonstrations against the USA

Photo: Demonstrators shout slogans in Medellin during a protest against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Colombia January 23, 2008. Rice will lead a group of U.S. lawmakers on a trip to Colombia on Thursday and Friday to help build support for a free trade pact with that country and to discuss regional security issues, the State Department said. The poster reads "Wanted for war crimes. Yankees get out of Colombia, Iraq and the whole world". REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera (COLOMBIA)

Isn’t this just lovely? People around the world protest against the US government and US influence – and rightly so. What the US government is doing, and has been doing for some time (way before and beyond bush) is pure EVIL. And the American people let them get away with it. They go right on being stupid and immoral, and vote people into office who reflect that. This year we will have an election for President, and it is looking more and more that we will elect someone who plans to continue these evil policies. And just like in 2004, the anti-war movement will focus on politics and elections rather than pressuring our officials currently in office TO STOP THIS EVIL SHIT.

And I can say, and write, and put up signs that say “the America I believe in does not torture” but the fact is, this country does torture, and has been doing so for……. Ever. And here is just one more story to show that we are still actively engaged in torture:

US and Thailand: Allies in torture

Revelations confirmed in a US congressional hearing that the CIA ran a covert interrogation facility at a Thai military base raise new questions about twisted links between the "war on terror" and Thai military and political officials - including denials that Washington has assisted Bangkok in its efforts to smash an increasingly violent Muslim insurgency in the south.

I love these mountains here in western NC. I have since I was a teenager. I want to have a piece of land far away from everything (except wireless internet and phone service) and build a tiny house (200 sq feet) on it. And listen to the birds as they flap their wings, and the crickets as they chirp, and the squirrels as they scamper around outside. I want to wake to the sun and see the stars without any city lights interfering. That is possible down here in the mountains….. but, I am feeling more and more that I have to leave this country. I cannot do the work I do without paying taxes and I am so sickened to be paying taxes for all this war and torture and militarism that will only hurt other people for no good reason. I am so sick of it. I could try and live off my savings, but that won’t last long. I could try to cheat on my taxes, but I am not a cheater or a liar and I don’t want to start. The only sane choice is to move back to Canada…… but I hate the idea of leaving these mountains and rivers, this folk culture and the feel of this ancient land. This feels like home, except for the awareness of what my fellow citizens have done and have allowed to be done. So, I feel like this land is home, but the people here are strangers to me (well, not all of them – but a good number of them).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kucinich drops out of presidential race

Kucinich announced he is dropping out of the presidential campaign to concentrate on running for the US House of Representative seat he currently holds. This cartoon is about the corporate media and their decisions to keep certain people out of the televised debates - namely, the only two candidates that are against the war - Kucinich and Paul.

Hope the print is big enough to be able to read it. I an not sure who sent me this cartoon, but there are more like it on this website.

The little mouse at the bottom says "Thank goodness for a free press!" Well, I guess we can say thank goodness for the internet and blogs, where we can still say what we want.

I worked on the Kucinich campaign, and am sorry to see him drop out. I knew he never had a chance, but I had some hope that Americans would hear his message and turn away from such a destructive and self-destructive course that they are intent on following..... but such is not to be.

Train wreck ahead and it looks like it will come in this form:

Going bankrupt: The US's greatest threat

A "guns over butter" mentality entrenched in the US political system since the start of the Cold War is starting to cause havoc in the nation which has the largest defense budget in the world, as well as having the largest trade deficit. The US's short tenure as the world's "lone superpower" is over and most of the damage can never be repaired, although trimming the US$1.1 trillion expected to be invested in the Pentagon this year would be a start.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

“The madness of militarism”

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. It was a dream that drove his life onward – the dream of civil rights for all Americans, the dream of justice for all in America. I share that dream, but where I really agree with, and appreciate, Dr. King’s work is in the area of resistance to war-mongering and the ending of the madness of militarism. In April 1967, he delivered a speech at Manhattan’s Riverside Church. Here are some clips:

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

……As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.

……As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the “brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant or all men, for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved His enemies so fully that He died for hem? What then can I say to the Viet Cong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this One? Can I threaten them with death, or must I not share with hem my life?

…….There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy, and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. We will be marching and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

….A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Yes, we needed restructuring then and now. And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like the war in Vietnam and in a dozen other places over the years, is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within America. It is a reflection of the racism and fears that drive most Americans. It is a reflection of the power of the military-media-industrial complex that continually sucks up so much of our financial resources, which would only be possible with the continuation of the level of fear and ignorance and prejudice seen in America. In a couple of weeks, there will be a march on Raleigh called the H K on J March. The main gist of the platform behind this march is to put an end to poverty, war and racism. It is being lead by Reverend Barber, who is leader of the NC chapter of the NAACP. I plan on being on the bus that leaves Asheville at 6 AM to go to Raleigh for this march. And I plan to continue to speak out and work towards the end of the “madness of militarism” in our country. Unfortunately, I don’t see the problem as any better than it was under Dr. King’s time. I think it is worse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Video about Iraq

This video describes what Iraq is really like after the US invasion and occupation. The original video is here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

First we celebrate, then we bomb

As mentioned on Democracy Now! last week, the US is bombing more and more in Iraq. In 2007, the rate of dropping bomb is FIVE times higher than in 2006. And earlier this month, there was a massive bombing of an area in Iraq called Arab Jabour, which is farmland south of Baghdad. As Reuters reported on January 10, 2008:

ARAB JABOUR - U.S. forces launched their biggest air strikes in at least a year, dropping 40,000 pounds of bombs within minutes on al Qaeda targets in date palm groves on Baghdad's southern outskirts, the U.S. military said.

The US military even made some video about this bombing, and it is available on YOU TUBE. They call this Freedom Journal Iraq and they clearly think that shooting has a lot to do with “freedom” - which I find rather bizarre. This video has shots of rural farm lands and buildings being bombed. They report success in going after the “terrorists” but no reports on possible civilian casualties. They claim they drop flyers ahead of time, so that civilians will know about upcoming “operations”. I guess they think the local AQI (their name for al Qaeda in Iraq) men don’t (or can’t) read.

Since it is the locals who own the buildings and farm lands, I imagine they would want to stay there on their land and in their homes. I imagine if anyone was to leave it would be outsiders that are part of AQI - unless AQI is made up of locals. If AQI is made up of locals, and since AQI did not exist before the US military arrived, then the intelligent solution would be for the military to just leave.

However, if the “terrorists” are not local Iraqis, why would they keep their operations and supplies in an area about to be bombed? Not likely.

In that video, they also mention how they detained “AQI associates” and found machine guns and grenades in other parts of Iraq. Just last week, I saw a picture of an Iraqi police officer with grenades hanging off his chest, with an Iraqi women sitting right next to him, and certainly not making a big deal of the grenades. The Iraqi police regularly carry machine guns. So, the reports by US military of finding this is about like finding empty bottles in the trash.

This video also mentions new solar-power street lights in Baghdad. No mention that this area had plenty of street lights prior to the US invasion, and had them for years. They talk about how the security in this area has recently improved to the best level it has seen in years. (Still not as good as it was in 2002, but that is not mentioned.) They did mention that these changes allow the locals to see a “light at the end of the tunnel” - without a hint of IRONY. This video was made on January 10, 2008.

But the point of this post is not to present to you the propaganda (devoid of logic and morality, in my opinion) of the US military. Rather, I want to let you know that on December 27, 2007, the US military was CELEBRATING with local Iraqis in Arab Jabour. They were celebrating the opening of the local “Arab Jabour Governance Center” by the local “concerned local citizens” and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. They made a film of that, too. This video shows the US military celebrating with the locals of Arab Jabour on the opening on the Governance Center. In the later scenes of the clip about the opening of the Governance Center, you see an American military guy eating the Iraqi food. There is music and dancing by the Iraqi men, and it looks like a speech or sermon was given also.

Video: Arab Jabour Governance Center

B-roll of the grand opening of the Arab Jabour Governance Center. Scenes include Iraqi locals singing, dancing and eating, and shots of the interior of the building. Produced by Sgt. Jay Townsend.

Video Location: IQ||Arab Jabour

Unit(s) Involved: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

Submitting Unit: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

Date Taken: 12-27-07

[This video link above came from Roads to Iraq blog. – dancewater]

I also found another video, from the same “Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System.” This is also from Arab Jabour, and dated October 2007. The second video is about how the “local concerned citizens” provide cover for US troops who are running a medical clinic for the locals, and has several interviews of US military discussing this area and how well things are going.

Video: Concerned Citizens Provide Cover

Package of U.S. Soldiers taking charge of the Arab Jabour area with the help of local concerned citizens. Produced by Spc. Jay Townsend. [Another “success” story from Arab Jabour. Wonder if the kids got bombed? – dancewater]

Video Location: IQ||Baghdad

Unit(s) Involved: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (Fort Stewart, US)

Interviewee(s): Capt. James Anthony (US), Commander, C Company, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment and Lt. Col. Ken Adgie (US), Commander, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment

Submitting Unit: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

Date Taken: 10-20-2007

I find it very bizarre that the US is celebrating with the Iraqis over the opening of the local “Governance Center” and then less than two weeks later dropping 40,000 pounds of bombs in the area.

God help Iraqis, and may mercy come and wash away what we've done.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jena, Louisiana, breaking my heart

I just heard today about this sad event coming up in America: Group Plans March Against “Jena Six” on MLK Day. They call themselves the “Nationalist Movement” and they plan to go to Jena and protest the celebration of MLK day (Dr. King is a hero of mine) and to protest the support shown to the six teens in Jena who were charged for assault and given a horrendous prison sentence. There were reasons behind the assault – some other teens in the area had put up a noose and taunted them. Regardless, they teens that did the assault (school yard fight) should have some punishment, but not long term jail sentences. That is why I have “Justice for the Jena Six” on the back window of my car.

The sad thing is – this protest group going to Jena will be armed. They made a point of mentioning that. They are calling it “Jena Justice Day” which is hideous. I got an email today that alerted me to this event – from a young women in the eastern part of NC. She is headed to Jena. I will be with them in spirit and in thought, and I hope this ugliness does not turn violent. (I read another report that said they will not be armed. Hope that is correct.)

Unfortunately, I will miss the local MLK parade because I was dumb enough to schedule a DENTIST appointment, for crying out loud. I will head over to the meeting place on Monday morning and hand out some flyers that have information on Dr. King, voting and the upcoming H K on J march (more on that later).

And here is a poem I found recently on The Black Commenter website:


A stature man once told me

that I have the voice of many

hypnotized by his gray lazy pupils

mirrored a reflection of history’s past

while holding his staff—he paralleled it




wisdom explained the journeys

the struggles

the battles

& the lives lost in our advance toward

social change & equality

& must not forget the sacrifices

of our ancestors—for to forget

would mean

they as well

as all of us

would not exist—

it’s time to resurrect the spirits of

the dead and gone


men, women & children, so, their stories

will not die but live in our hears & minds forever.

(The preceeding poem is included in Blackman Preach's self published chapbook titled, "The State of the Ghetto Address." Click here to listen to Blackman Preach read this poem. Spoken Word Columnist, Poet Blackman Preach (Cedric T. Bolton), is a poet (spoken word artist) and producer, born in Pascagoula, Mississippi and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. Cedric received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Washington University and currently resides, with his wife, in Syracuse, New York. He is the Founder of Poetic Black Fusion, a writers' workshop that provides access and opportunities to poets of African Ancestry living in Central New York. He is also the co-founder of Voices Merging, a student-run poetry organization (spoken word) at the University of Minnesota that provides a social outlet for undergraduate students to develop as writers, network and express themselves on stage. He has been writing poetry for 14 years and is published in the Ethnic Student Center's Newsletter at Western Washington University, The Spokesman Recorder, and St. Cloud Times. Click here to contact Blackman Preach)

Friday, January 18, 2008

The end of empire

I got this You Tube video from Left I on the News blog, which is one of the blogs that I like to read on a regular basis. It is a clip of Randy Newman singing a song at MacWorld. I think it is very appropriate for the times this country of mine is going through.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Local story on Vets for Peace

Veterans talk peace

There was a story last week in the local paper about the Vets for Peace vigil on Tuesdays in Pack Square in Asheville. It included the photo here, which is of Kindra, dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume (which came from the McDowells in Chapel Hill). Credit for the photo is Steve Dixon of the Asheville Citizen Times.

Basically, the story is about the local Vets for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War and their upcoming weekly radio show on WPVM. I read news stories for the Asheville Global Report on that community FM radio station. Here is a clip of what the paper had to say:

Two members of Iraq Veterans Against War and one member of Veterans For Peace will host the 30-minute talk show. The organizations plan to feature news, interviews and guest speakers on the show. They also hope to discuss benefits and resources for veterans and air spoken word and music from area veterans. “We want to give a voice to veterans because we don’t feel they are represented on a national, local or state level,” said Jason Hurd, Asheville chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “As much as a stake people put in us, we might as well have our opinions heard.”

I wish them the best in this new project! The Vets for Peace, Chapter 99, have been standing at Vance Monument in downtown Asheville for years now. They have been joined by the Iraq Veterans Against the War. They started with the start of the invasion of Iraq. Women in Black also hold a weekly vigil in Pack Square, and they have been doing that for over six years. Both of these groups are awesome! There is a couple of other weekly vigils in Asheville, and about four more in the surrounding mountains.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Iran’s Peace Museum

Photo: Space for Doves: A sculpture of the bird of peace is part of the new Tehran Peace Museum, which will open in City Park soon.
Scott Peterson

I found out about this through an article on the Christian Science Monitor, a great little newspaper by the way. This article was written by Scott Peterson.

The article starts off with: “In the soil of an Islamic state long defined by war and martyrdom, some Iranians are planting a new seed of peace, by opening a museum that showcases the horrors of war.”

First off, Iran has not been at war for quite some time. And they have only been an Islamic state since 1979 – when they overthrew the Shah. They have not invaded or attacked any country that did not attack them first. They did engage in kidnapping of American citizens in 1979, and did not release them until Reagan’s inauguration in 1980 (Isn’t that a co-inky-dink that it happened within an hour of that inauguration? The answer to that would be “NO”.)

The point of this Peace Museum is to document and display the horrors of war, in order to promote the idea that force is not a viable way to solve problems. It is to counter the belief that peace is the same as surrender. Here’s a bit from the article:

The Peace Museum brought together the voices of Iranian "victims of warfare … to speak of the sinister ills of war," a brochure reads. Giving people details of "its depravity [and] the acute human costs" of war – including graphic images of chemical weapons victims – is "tantamount to educating them for peace."

There is a Peace Museum in Dayton, Ohio also. I will try to go see this when I head up north next summer.

The article in the Christian Science Monitor had this to say towards the end:

During the war, Iranians were told that they were soldiers of God, fighting Iraqi infidels. Copies of the Koran found in captured trenches had been planted, Khateri recalls being told, to give the impression that Iraqis were believers. In fact, the Sunni Arab Iraqis were believers. And when Khateri's group returned remains of Iraqi soldiers to their families at the border, there were other unexpected similarities that made his heart turn against war and toward peace. “They call them 'family of martyrs,' just as we do," says Khateri. "It was really shocking psychologically to see those mothers, just like Iranian mothers, crying with photos in their hands, candles, and Korans.”

I have found in reviewing history (which I am not an expert in, by any means) that all wars start with lies, and it is the ones starting the war who are the liars. And they always follow one of two lies: 1) the war is needed to keep the people ‘safe’ or 2) the war is necessary to provide freedom and justice (or democracy) for the people we are going to war against. In some cases, both lies are operating at the same time, as when bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Hitler said he had to go into Poland to protect the German people, whereas saddam went into Kuwait to “free” them.

Of course, if the invading country cared one whit about the civilians, they would be careful not to kill or harm them, and make note of it every time they do. They would take care to try to make reparations if someone got hurt or killed. Since the invaders don’t care if their invading troops lives or dies, they surely don’t care if the civilians in the country they are making war on lives or dies…. So the idea that they are bringing them “freedom” is nothing but a pack of lies. In the Iraq war case, bush is only bringing the Iraqi people the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death.

I think the idea of “peace” museums is fascinating. Maybe by documenting the horrors of war, more people will turn to forsaking violence and force as an acceptable way to address problems, and will stop their governments from following this path. However, a true “peace” museum would be about building peace and resolving conflicts without violence. This is what the Department of Peace is trying to establish via a cabinet level position. They would study what causes violence and armed conflict (including domestic violence in the USA) and do research on ways to address these issues.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Channel 4 in England

This is from an email (sent out daily) from a TV channel in England. It is Channel 4 News, and I find that they are vastly better than American “news” on TV channels, but not as good as reading on the internet. But they came out with a good one today:

What Bush did next
George Bush has gone to see his old family friends, the Saudis, in what is proving to be an exhausting trip for this relatively untravelled president. Despite all the excitement in the States over elections, he still has more than 370 days to go before he leaves office. One wonders whether he will ask them how much funding originating in Saudi may be reaching the Taliban, and how many of the radical madrassas in Pakistan and elsewhere they have funded.

Hey, maybe bush will ask the Saudis if they are still funding al Qaeda and bin Laden, too, or are they done with them. Enquiring minds want to know.

Follow up to January 11th actions

In North Carolina, over 25 protesters lined a street in downtown Raleigh, and got Mayor Meeker (of Raleigh) to sign their petition to close down Guantanamo. They gave out ribbons, handed out information, and had people sign a petition. There is more information on the NC Stop Torture Now website.

In DC, it was reported that 80 people were arrested. This is a report by a NC person named Joan, that I received by email from Vets for Peace, Chapter 99:

> Hi, folks. Three of us from NC got back from the DC action around 9:30
> - 10:00 pm last night. There were quite a few people from NC there,
> not all of whom have been involved with NC STN. It was a very intense
> and well-planned action. It was small, in the hundreds rather than
> tens of thousands, but the "prisoner" procession from the mall to the
> Supreme Court and the action at the Court were very moving and
> well-orchestrated. The pre-procession rally and some of the procession
> took place in the rain, which added both to solemnity and to
> discomfort. Wearing hoods, we couldn't see how many of us marched as
> prisoners, but we heard that the double line stretched for blocks.
> Some protestors wore fatigues and played the role of our guards, and
> did a fine job both of appearing gruff and military-like and of warning
> us of curbs and other changes in terrain. Some of us hadn't known
> about the action inside the Supreme Court earlier, where the majority
> of folks were arrested, but 23 of the "prisoners" from our procession
> became actual prisoners at its end. The last we heard, via a 9:00 pm
> call to Beth Brockman who is doing arrestee support, was that over 80
> people were sent to central cell-block, which is reputed to be a nasty
> place. She didn't know how soon they would be released.
> Joan

Inside the US Supreme Court, these actions were taking place:

Inside, a member of Witness Against Torture delivered a letter to the nine Supreme Court justices regarding Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush, the two cases brought by Guantánamo detainees that they are now considering, along with a writ of habeas corpus for each of the 275 current detainees. Other activists attempted to unfurl a banner inside the Court building but were prevented from doing so by police, who began arresting them and shut the front doors to the building. Another group then started reading the names of the Guantánamo prisoners, but were prevented, whereupon they sat down and started chanting, “Shut It Down!” prior to being arrested.

And, further on in the article, it says that all persons arrested had surrendered their identification, and they were taken into custody under the name of a one of the Guantanamo prisoners. There was a simulation of water-boarding, which has been done in Asheville also at protests.

Here is what the Witness Against Torture is calling on the US Government to do:

* Repeal the Military Commissions Act and restore Habeas Corpus;
* Charge and try or release all detainees;
* Clearly and unequivocally forbid torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, by the military, the CIA, prison guards, civilian contractors, or anyone else;
* Pay reparations to current and former detainees and their families for violations of their human rights; and
* Shut down Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and all secret CIA detention facilities.

And, the picture above is from the DC action, sent out by Rae of Code Pink. She is the one who took the photo. There are more pictures available from Code Pink here.

Rae had this to say in her email:

Few dozen arrested on steps of Supreme Court, very picturesque arrest, slow, hauntingly visual. Misty drizzle, somber energy, well coordinated, hundreds marched single file from the Mall to the Supreme Court, estimated 500+. Gael and I interviewed by cnn.

I regret that I was not involved in the actions on January 11th. It certainly is a shame on our national identity to have such things as torture and kidnapping and illegal detentions going on, and so few people protesting them. But, at least I blogged about it. I am very proud of the Americans who stood up against this, especially those who were arrested.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County meeting/Kucinich Meetup on 01/08/08

Minutes of the meeting on 01/08/08
(Photo is of Eve's car and some attendees of the meeting. Taken in the parking lot of N. Asheville Library.)

Attending: 15 people

Minutes taken by Susan

Next meeting of the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County/Kucinich Meetup is January 22, 2008. This will be held at 7 PM at North Asheville Library.

Susan started the meeting by encouraging everyone to become paid members ($5/year) of the Buncombe County Progressive Democrats in order to pay for the room and printing costs. She also encouraged everyone to contribute directly to the Kucinich campaign. Any payments to Progressive Democrats over $5 will become gift memberships for someone else.

Everyone (except one person) present is on the email list from Progressive Democrats. Those without email (three people) will be on a phone call list, and Connie will contact these people to keep them informed.

The South Carolina Democratic primary is January 26th. A discussion was held on possible actions down in Greenville, and Susan will head up a group to go down there on January 19th to hand out flyers and post on cars. We have received various flyers and some teeshirts from the NC coordinator, Gloria, and we will use these for the events in SC. We will meet in the morning for this and car pool, please email Susan at for meeting time and place.

There were some other events discussed – Buncombe Country Democrats will hold a chili cook off on February 2nd. This is a fun event, and a great time to wear your Kucinich materials. It starts at 1 PM and costs $10 per adult, $3 for children under 12, and free for children under age 3. Some of the cooks will be Asheville Mayor, Asheville City Council persons, Sheriff of Buncombe County, and candidates for various local and state offices. To volunteer for this, contact Marianne Cote at 298-9503 or email

A play called “The Pentagon Papers” will be held at Diana Wortham theatre on January 19 and January 20th. Some members thought this would be a good time to hand out flyers for Dennis Kucinich.

Buncombe County will hold a clean up on January 12th, and that is a good way to help the local Democratic party out. There will be a march on February 9, 2008 in Raleigh, organized by the state NAACP. The purpose of this march is to promote a progressive agenda in the state of North Carolina. This is called the H (historic) K (thousands) on J (Jones Street) March. There will be buses organized by the local chapter of the NAACP, but we do not have information on time or cost or reservations yet. More information on the march at this website: This would be an excellent opportunity to march together wearing Kucinich materials and hand out informational flyers to people there.

There was a brief discussion on precinct meetings and how to get involved on this level. Several people got involved on this level in the past and there were several stories about having a progressive precinct and promoting resolutions. Several people have locally been successful at this, and feel that is where we start to influence and change the Democratic Party. This lead to some discussion about resolutions and how the resolutions get passed from precinct to county to district to state convention. It requires a lot of progressives to get them passed at the district and state levels. We also discussed how we need delegates to the national Democratic Party convention to promote the progressive platform that Kucinich is running on.

There were suggestions by Gayatri and Debralee that flyers be made up to show where contributions to the presidential candidates (who are running for the Democratic nomination) come from. They will work on making up such a flyer. Connie felt that a flyer on Kucinich should include information on the Iraq Oil Law, and how stopping our US Congress and other US officials from promoting this oil law is imperative. Connie gave me information on the National Day of Action on this – February 23, 2008. (Right now, nothing is planned locally, but there will be actions in the USA and UK.) Kucinich has issued a statement about the US Congress and their blackmail of Iraq via the oil law on his website.

Eve mentioned that she has painted her car with KUCINICH (and we did a group picture, shown on the blog post). There was also discussion on freeway blogging and making a banner for Kucinich. We felt we would like some more signs here.

We had some reports from committees:

Fundraising – One young lady raised $30 from busking for Kucinich, and she will send this directly to the Kucinich campaign.

Flyer – Paul has printed up some flyers and delivered to Susan. There was also some flyers and materials mailed to Susan from Gloria. These were all put on the table and everyone is urged to take what they want and bring back anything they don’t use. There are flyers made up to promote the Kucinich Meetups in Asheville, and everyone is encouraged to put these up around town. There are lots of bumper stickers available also.

Media – There has been a list of media contacts made, and several people on this committee have written letters to the editors of local papers. There was discussion of other ways to get the information out – shop dropping, pamphlets, and actually being the media yourself. A mention was made of URTV and getting programs on there. More letters to the editor is encouraged.

GOTV –Cicada talked about the organizing of phone banking for Kucinich. He has done that on a couple of Sundays (from 3 to 7) at North Asheville Library. The last one was for voters in New Hampshire, and the next one will be for Michigan voters. He found the input from the website to be slow. He is planning on holding these on Sundays up until Super Tuesday and maybe longer. Please contact him directly for more information and confirmation of planned phone banking at Cicada also mentioned that people can do phone calling from their own homes, just go to Kucinich website and download a contact number. The website is Cicada said that Buncombe County Democratic Party headquarters was not available for phone banking or meetings on candidates. There was some discussion on phone calling and how that can get annoying.

One person mentioned that he had sent out letters to Iowa (addresses from the DFA website) asking them to caucus for a progressive candidate and the letters were all returned to him. Susan mentioned that everyone needs to make a list of people they know who will vote for Kucinich and then call them and remind them to go vote. Susan knew of three people who would have voted for Kucinich in the 2004 primary, but they forgot about it. Locally, we felt it was too early to start GOTV in our state, but not too early to plan for it.

Internet – This is about going to websites and posting information on Kucinich. There was no report from this committee, although we thought it was important. Everyone is encouraged to post more on websites.

Events & tabling – Connie reported that they did the SiCKO bus event and it was successful. There was discussion around tabling at the play called The Pentagon Papers, but we have not been invited to do this. The Orange Peel was also mentioned as a location for handing out Kucinich information. Susan mentioned doing tables outside of Earth Fare in Westgate. Most local grocery stores and malls will not like people handing out literature, but Earth Fare is supportive of this in the past. Susan also mentioned that balloons were very popular with children at public outdoors events. We don’t know of any events like that at this time.

Networking –no report from this committee.

Please post corrections or admissions in the comments section.

January 11th - a shameful anniverary

Photo: In this photo reviewed by U.S. military officials, a detainee whose name, nationality, and facial identification are not permitted, walks within the grounds of the maximum security prison at Camp 5 in the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, June 26, 2006. Lawyers for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay will argue in the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the prisoners' detention is unconstitutional, focusing renewed attention on the United States' tarnished human rights record.

REUTERS/Brennan Linsley/Pool

From ACLU:

On January 11, 2002 the first prisoners from Afghanistan arrived at the prison at Guantánamo Bay.

In the six years since, the prison has been a mark of shame for our country. In fact, three years after the military tribunals were first established there, there has yet to be a single trial completed for any person in custody.

Every day that the prison at Guantánamo stays open is an insult to our values and makes a mockery of our commitment to justice and the rule of law.

That’s why on January 11th, the ACLU is leading a nationwide movement calling on people of conscience to wear orange and demand an immediate end to the injustice at Guantánamo Bay. By standing in solidarity we can shift the debate on this national disgrace. So, we’re teaming up with organizations across the country to demand the prison be closed and asking ACLU activists to get involved.

ACLU is asking everyone to wear an orange armband today in honor of our shame for the last six years. I still cannot believe this country kidnaps and imprisons people without charges and trials for years and years on end. This is not the America that I thought I knew.

Also, last month, I and a few friends wrote letters about one of the Guantanamo prisoners – a man named Sami al Hajj. There is more information about the letter writing campaign at this link. (Hope that link still works.)

Amnesty International also supports this work.

Several other actions to mark January 11th - go to Witness Against Torture - they are listed there.

90 were arrested last year in a protest against US Federal District Court in DC. I cannot join them in DC, but I am with them in spirit.

And, if you get the chance, watch the movie THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO. It is about the “Tipton Three” – which is three young men from Britain who were stupid enough to go to Afghanistan (via Pakistan, the country of their birth) in October 2001. They were turned over to the American troops there (the locals got a bounty for turning people over) and imprisoned in Guantanamo for years. They were released without charges or trial or apology. This is a complete mockery of the US Constitution.

And, last but not least, you can help tear down the prison at Guantanamo, one pixel at a time.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lament for Iraq

Slide show and original music dedicated to the people of Iraq. The chord changes for this tune I had in my head for over a year and when I played it on guitar I kept thinking of Iraq and the suffering of the people over there. A picture paints a thousand words. The tune took 3 days to record. [This was put together by bob, a commenter on Iraq Today blog. - dancewater]

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kucinich and his Iowa decision

That would be his decision to ask his supporters in Iowa, if they found they did not have enough people to caucus for Kucinich on the first ballot, to go and join up with Obama supporters for the second ballot. Kucinich sent out this email:

In answer to your questions about why I didn't support former Senator John Edwards on the second ballot in Iowa: I have serious concerns about his connections to a Wall Street hedge fund, Fortress Investment Group. While attacking others for accepting campaign money from Washington lobbyists, he is up to his ears in money from Wall Street special interests.

He made half a million dollars in a single year for attending a few meetings for Fortress and has invested a substantial part of his own personal wealth in the hedge fund whose portfolios are responsible for sub-prime predatory lending practices, Medicare privatization, and an entire range of corporate sharp dealings that are driving the middle class into poverty.

While I indicated Senator Obama as a preferred second choice in Iowa, Progressives have fundamental disagreements with him and all of the other Presidential candidates on most of their major positions on the issues.

We must have the courage of our convictions to fully support and vote for what it is we really want. For once, we must realize our power, stop playing tactical games, and vote as a bloc - which, as you know, is what the religious right does and why they often win.

We Progressives are in the majority in this election. We will win only when we refuse to compromise and vote with integrity.

I have got to say that I once was an Edwards supporter. That ended, totally and completely, back in 2003 when he decided to vote for this god-damn war on Iraq and then did nothing to stop it in spite of the fact that the UN weapons inspectors found NOTHING in Iraq to support the claim that there were WMDs there. Now, to take this position (that we needed to go into Iraq for WMDS in March 2003) requires either great stupidity or the ability to lie extensively. I don't see Edwards (or Clinton) as being that stupid. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that they are practiced liars, and I do not believe a word they say. And my position will only change if they sell off most of their earthly possessions (like the 28,000 square foot house in NC that Edwards has) and donate it to Iraqi charities. That would indicate that they have realized what evil they have done and that they needed to make amends. Until that day, I will not vote for Edwards or Clinton.

I may vote for Obama. I have trouble with his wanting to "get along" and bring "all of us together" in a bipartisan fashion. I do not want to "get along" with liars and murderers. I do not want to "get together" with them. That will not change.

I support Kucinich right now - I may vote for Obama, Paul, or McKinney. The only reason I would vote for Paul is the fact that he has enough sense not to start or continue illegal wars, I am not in agreement with him on other issues.

ALSO - our idiot president bush AGAIN said that Saddam would not allow UN weapons inspectors into Iraq prior to the US invasion. He said this:

"And when he defied, when he refused to allow the inspectors in, when he made a statement by his actions that he didn't really care what the international community said, that I decided to make sure words meant something."
Words meant something? Well, I would like to share a few words with bush:

Bush is a liar.

Bush is a mass murderer.

Bush is a kidnapper, rapist, and torturer.

Bush is not worthy of licking dog shit off the streets in any part of the world.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Rebel Jesus

Music by Jackson Browne, pictures added. "from a heathen and a pagan - on the side of the rebel Jesus"

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Senator Edward’s Letters to a constituent


An Iraqi child cries during a funeral for one of four civilians who were killed after a car bomb exploded Thursday in the al-Jadida district, eastern Baghdad, Iraq, in this Friday, Oct. 12, 2007 file photo.Iraqi civilian deaths have tracked the decline and overall violence across the country in 2007 and is down roughly 60 percent.
(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) He was crying for his brother. This is what Senator Edward's vote for more war accomplished.

I decided to go through all the letters I have saved to and from Senators Edwards, Dole, Burr and Rep. Taylor and Shuler. There were also a few letters mixed in to bush and various other elected officials. I have (over the years) just stuck them all in one file – a very large file. I found just separating them out to be like going through sewage.

The first letter that I received from Senator Edwards was dated October 18, 2002. It was in response to my letter telling him not to vote for the authorization to use force on Iraq. It is clear in his letter that Edward’s understood this to be an authorization to use force (and wage war) on Iraq, and it is very clear that he supported it. It is also clear that he either believes that Saddam had WMDs or that he is willing to repeat the lies fostered on the American public. Hard to tell if this is stupidity (I figured out there were no nuclear capabilities being developed – and it was not hard at all) or if he is just lying. I would think if Edwards was generally just misinformed by having been misled, then he would have gotten very angry at some point and started an investigation into why he was misled. That never happened. Here’s a bit of what he said:

I believe that the risk of inaction is far greater then the risk of action.

Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies. For more than 20 years, Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every possible means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today, that he used them in the post, and that he is doing everything he can to build more. Everyday he gets closer to his longtime goal of nuclear capability.

He goes on to paint a scenario of how horrible it would be for the world if Saddam obtained weapons of mass destruction. Edwards also stated that he wanted our “allies” to join in this war on terror, which became a war on Iraq. He is also concerned about continuing the search for al Qaeda. He said this:

Even as we lead the world to eliminate the Iraqi weapons threat in particular and global proliferation in general, we must maintain our resolve in the long-term fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. I reject the notion that this is an either-or choice. Our national security requires us to do both, and we are up to the challenge.

Well, living aside the fact that bin Laden is still out there and al Qaeda is stronger than ever, I am personally interested in “global proliferation in general”. I don’t recall Senator Edwards doing anything along those lines. I do know that he was recorded as “Not Voting” for the Smaller Nuclear Weapons Research bill and the Bunker Buster Nuclear-armed Development bill. Maybe he is only concerned about global proliferation outside the USA. That was in June 2003 – a staff person told me he ‘was not on the job’ at the time.

The next letter that I have in my file from Senator Edwards comes from March 2003. I had asked him about humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, and he stated that he supported that effort. However, he did not answer my follow-up letter asking why the US was giving 300 million in aid to Afghanistan in 2003 while giving ONE BILLION to Pakistan. However, the letter that I wrote to him in March of 2003 was on many more subjects than Afghanistan….. for example, I wanted to know why there was so little money ($3 million) devoted to study of what our government officials knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened and $50 million devoted to study of the Challenger explosion and $80 million devoted to study of Clinton’s zipper.

But the main thrust of the letter was to argue against starting a war on Iraq and how ashamed I was of my country for even considering such a thing. I brought up several other issues in my four page long letter (which was shorter than some letters I wrote in the fall of 2002), but Senator Edwards did not address those issues. His letter only talked about Afghanistan.

In April of 2003, I started writing letters to Senator Edwards that quoted from his letter to me in October 2002. I was quite certain that the US would not find any nuclear WMDs in Iraq long before the US invaded. I could not be certain that there were no biological or chemical WMDs prior to the invasion, but I knew by April of 2003 that if Iraq had any, they would have used them. Common sense told me this.

Common sense also would have told anyone that any possible chemical or biological WMDs could not be used against people in the US in 2003 – Iraq had no way of getting them to the US. Common sense would also tell one that while chemical and biological weapons can kill a lot of people, they are not true WMDs anyway.

Common sense is in short supply in the halls of the US Senate and US House of Representatives apparently.

I pointed out to Edwards that “WAR IS A FAILURE OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE AND HUMAN COMPASSION”. Maybe I should have also pointed out that, through out history; the ones starting up a war where none exists are LIARS.

A letter I received from Senator Edwards in May 2003 contains these statements:

Victory means winning the peace. We have proved that we have firepower. Now we much show that we have staying power.

In the coming months and years, America faces the enormous challenge of helping the Iraqi people rebuild their lives in peace and prosperity. If we do this right, we have a chance to ensure that the United States occupies a place of respect and admiration in the world.

Well, I certainly have never considered myself part of that “we” he is talking about. And I have seen NO sign that the US has helped Iraq rebuild their lives in the past five years. All I have seen is more and more destruction of structures and the lives of ordinary Iraqis. And I certainly do not see the US occupying a place of respect and admiration in the world. I also have not seen or heard Edwards leading the charge, or even advocate, for rebuilding Iraq or helping the Iraqi people.

I went to Google and linked "John Edwards"+"Iraq civilian casualties" just to see what I might find. I got 984 hits. I took at look at 30 of them – none had direct quotes from Edwards that I could find. Then I went to Edwards campaign site - and looked at the Iraq page on that site.

Not a word on that page about Iraqi civilian casualties, or how much the Iraqis are suffering, or any plans to do something about that suffering. Nothing in any article I read, but I didn’t read every last one of them – only about half.

As far as I can tell, Edwards has not addressed the Iraqi deaths or injuries, or how the US invasion and occupation has destroyed their country and the lives of tens of millions of people. Rather, it is like they do not exist. I do not recall him every saying a word about reparations to Iraqis, much less giving a detailed plan for such reparations.

Edwards did make the statement: “the Iraqi people must solve the problem politically by taking responsibility for their country” on his webpage. Yes, it is true that the Iraqi people will have to solve the problems in their country by themselves; much like an abused child has to “solve” the problems in adulthood that resulted from that abuse. It would sound cruel for an abusive parent to say “the children must solve the problems they have from their abusive childhoods by taking responsibility for their own lives.” It is true, but a heartless thing to say when you caused the damage.

I wrote several more letters about Iraq to Edwards during 2003, and received a response from Senator Edwards in a letter dated October 7, 2003. In this letter, he starts arguing that he had warned president bush about the challenges of what to do after Saddam was gone. He points out that bush did not heed his advice. He makes the claim that bush did not plan at all – and I really question that. (I think bush and company had a plan, and they followed it exactly.) Senator Edwards also addresses how other nations needed to get involved in reconstruction in Iraq, and he outlined how they could do this in cooperation with a UN civilian administration. He pointed out how this would preserve the “absolutely essential American control of our forces” but still allow other nations to participate. I guess he forgot about the UN bombing in August of that year and how the UN pulled out after that. He argues that the bush administration needed to present a long-term plan for success in Iraq. Personally, I think the bush administration has achieved their idea of “success” in Iraq, except for the oil law. I think that this letter from Edwards is a CYA kind of letter.

He further states in this letter “Winning the peace in Iraq will require many months, probably several years. It will cost tens of billions of dollars more than can be accounted for by Iraqi oil revenues.”

I find several interesting, if fallacious, ideas in these two sentences – like “winning the peace” – how can we “win” a war crime, an illegal war of aggression? Edwards is quite off in the “several years” and “tens of billions of dollars” assessment. I find it strange that “Iraqi oil revenues” should be used to rebuild what the US has destroyed. The US should pay every penny to rebuild what they have destroyed in Iraq, and reparation for the lives they have destroyed. That is what every aggressor country that starts wars should do.

I got another letter from Senator Edwards dated October 14, 2003. It was identical as the prior letter – only the last sentence was different.

The next letter I received was in May 2004. I had written several letters in between. Edwards said that “I share your concern for these soldiers” but apparently he does not share my concern for Iraqi civilians. He made the claim in this letter that America’s military personnel went to Iraq “to defend this great nation”. Well, that is a lie. Edwards also commented that we needed to bring in other countries into “this effort” in Iraq and that the US does not shoulder these burdens alone. I don’t see why other countries should be asked to help “this effort” in Iraq. They did not make the evil mess. I think they did the morally correct thing by staying away.

The next letter, and the last one I have, is dated July 12, 2004. (I believe I saved all the letters I received from Edwards, just for the record.) In this one, he addresses my concerns about the prisoner abuse and torture in Iraq’s prisons. He had this to say:

We have an obligation to Americans, Iraqis, and the larger international community to ask difficult questions of the US military and civilian leadership, especially Secretary Rumsfeld. We should expect and demand that these officials and the Administration cooperate fully. We must take actions to ensure that such deplorable acts never occur again.

And Senator Edwards had the PREFECT platform to ask such “difficult questions” – he was running for Vice President at the time. The issue was not raised. No one demand that the “officials” cooperate at all. Only a few low-level troops were brought to justice. (I personally will never believe those soldiers just got creative at Abu Ghraib, took pictures and posted them as screen savers, all on their own initiative. Also, I will also always believe that Rumsfeld deliberately “outed” Joe Darby, and Rumsfeld was never brought to any justice for having done so.) Actions to “ensure that such deplorable acts never occur again” were not pursued. Those abuse and crimes, uncovered in 2004, likely continue to this day – along with kidnapping (rendition), rape, torture, murder, and god-knows-what-else. We do know that evidence (tapes) of the ongoing torture was destroyed. Edwards and Kerry did not raise these issues, and did not pursue efforts to see that they don’t happen again.

I fail to understand why this was not a big campaign issue in 2004.

Edwards made a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in May of 2007. He had this bit to say:

We need to get out of Iraq on our own timetable, not when we are forced to do so by events. As a recent Council report put it, the U.S. "has already achieved all that it is likely to achieve in Iraq...[and] staying in Iraq can only drive up the price of these gains in blood, treasure, and strategic position."

Iraq has done tremendous damage to the U.S. interests in the Middle East, our military, and to our moral authority to lead. It has also completely consumed our country's foreign policy debate. In Congress and the White House, the focus has been on when to get out, how to get out, and how quickly. Too little consideration has been given to what happens after we get out -- and that is the very least we owe to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces and their families, who have sacrificed so much.

I believe that once we are out of Iraq, the U.S. must retain sufficient forces in the region to prevent a genocide, deter a regional spillover of the civil war, and prevent an Al Qaeda safe haven. We will most likely need to retain Quick Reaction Forces in Kuwait and in the Persian Gulf.

I am glad he wants to get out of Iraq, but find the retaining “sufficient forces” in the region a bit worrying. In the first paragraph, I find it very odd to claim that there were “gains” made in Iraq. The invasion did get rid of Saddam, and then turned most of the country into a pure hell-hole. This invasion and occupation killed a million (or more) Iraqi people and made another four million (or more) refugees. This is not a “gain” – it is a horror beyond mere words. I wonder what exactly Edwards thinks we have achieved in Iraq….. beyond destroying the place and putting tens of millions into misery.

And, it is bizzare that he said that Iraq has done tremendous damage to US interests, but actually it is quite the other way around. We did a huge amount of damage to Iraq and Iraq’s interests. I don’t know if the country will recover, frankly.

I also find it very odd and troubling that Edwards sees what happens in Iraq after the US troops get out as somehow connected to “the very least we owe” to our military. Does he think that our troops are to be used for democracy promotion (a pure line of b.s.) or does he think that our troops are to be used for access to Iraq’s oil? I see our military’s role as being protectors of our country from an invasion or attack. What they are currently doing in Iraq is working to build empire and control a resource (that is not ours) – and this is totally wrong.

So, in summary, Edwards now admits that voting for this invasion and occupation was wrong, but it took him quite a while to do that. And it seems to me that he has deducted it was wrong for all the wrong reasons, and missed the real reason his decision to vote that way in 2002 was wrong.

And that reason would be because wars of aggression against a country that did not attack us is EVIL and IMMORAL, just like it was when the Nazis went into Poland and occupied that country. The Nuremberg Principles spells all this out nicely, and any person with any real morals would be able to see that this war was evil before Edwards and Congress ever voted on it. A little bit of thought (back in 2002) would also have lead to the conclusion that this war was also very stupid.

All of this lack of regard for the damage resulting from his decision to attack and invade Iraq makes me wonder if he has the ability to think about what has happened to the Iraqi people…… or if he even has a moral base that guides his life and decisions.

This was also posted on Daily Kos blog.