Monday, August 22, 2005

Democracy Now: Camp Casey - Peter Johnson, Patricia Roberts, Ed Boyd, Tammara Rosenleaf, Andrea Hackett, Dante Zappala; Tom Hayden, Joan Baez ...


REV. PETER JOHNSON: This is amazing. We're right in Dubya's backyard. You know, Cindy had to go to California because her mother had a stroke. I was here last week, and I brought Cindy greetings from Rosa Parks and Mrs. King. Mrs. King had a stroke also and asked that you all would keep her in your prayers and remember her. She is the widow of our 20th century Moses.

Because Cindy had to go to California, the movement for peace did not go with her. In 1967 and in 1968, Dr. King asked us to move around the country and begin to organize the Poor People’s Campaign to go to Washington. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King had gone down to Memphis, Tennessee, to help garbage workers. Standing on the balcony on the Lorraine Motel, talking to Ben Branch, a shot rang out and our Moses fell. The Poor People's Campaign continued. We dried our eyes, buried our leader and went on to Washington and established Resurrection City. Because Cindy has gone to California does not mean that the movement for peace should end. We must dry our eyes and continue to work for peace.

YORUBA RICHEN: Last night, Reverend Johnson talked about the importance of having African American mothers here, and what do you think about that?

PATRICIA ROBERTS: I think that it's very important for the African Americans and the minorities to support what's going on here and all over, statewide, worldwide. I think they should support it, because I believe that this is a poor man's war. They have solicited the minorities to go in, and if you look at all of the rates and you look at all the statistics, you have more minorities die in this war than you have had anything else, and between the ages of 18 and 25, you have wiped out generations of minorities. So, I think that, because it's us that's dying, we need to be the ones speaking out and standing up more than anyone else.

The above are excerpts from today's reports on Democracy Now! which focuses on Camp Casey. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marica says):
Headlines for August 22, 2005

- U.S. Drafts Plans to Keep 100,000 Troops in Iraq Until 2009
- Anti-War Protests Grow In Crawford Texas
- Utah TV Commercial Refuses to Air Cindy Sheehan Ad
- U.S. Backs Role of Islamic Law in New Iraqi Constitution
- 2005: Deadliest Year For U.S. In Afghanistan
- Unions Launch International Wal-Mart Organizing Drive
- Police Taser Anti-War Protesters in Pittsburgh
- Peruvian Man Dies in Texas After Being Pepper Sprayed
Cindy's Crawford: Camp Casey Continues to Grow Despite Sheehan's Absence

Hundreds of supporters converged on Camp Casey outside Bush’s Crawford estate this weekend. Although Cindy Sheehan had to leave temporarily to care for her ailing mother, other military families delivered a letter to the gates of the presidential property. [includes rush transcript]

Bush supporters also made their way to Crawford this weekend. About fifty people delivered sheets with messages of support written on them, a local business-owner started a pro-Bush camp, motorcyclists rode past Crawford to show support for the president, and mainstream media commentators continued to attack Cindy Sheehan.
"If Bush Is Right, Martin Luther King Jr. Was Wrong" - Activist Rev. Peter Johnson Speaks at Camp Casey

We play a speech by longtime activist and former SCLC staffer, the Rev. Peter Johnson who says, "War is not the answer. Only love can conquer hate. If Bush is right, then Marvin [Gaye] was wrong. If Bush is right, then Mohandas Gandhi was wrong. If Bush is right, Henry David Thoreau was wrong. If Bush is right, Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong. If Bush is right, Jesus of Nazareth was wrong."
Mother of First Soldier from Georgia Killed in Iraq Also Demands to Speak with Bush

We speak with Patricia Roberts, her son Jamaal Addison was killed in Iraq in 2003. He was the first soldier from Georgia killed in Iraq. She says, "[Bush] goes about choosing which parents he talks to because I don't know why I haven't gotten the opportunity to talk to him."
Former Homeless Veteran Describes How Horrors of War Continues to Plague Soldiers at Home

We hear a speech by former homeless veteran Ed Boyd. He says, "When the parade ends, and the military person takes off that uniform, and the horrors of war are still deep within them, and they can't get help because the Veterans Administration has got a $2 billion shortfall, they enter into a world of real terror, drug abuse, alcoholism, violence."
Military Wife Speaks Out on Eve of Husband's Deployment

Tammara Rosenleaf came from Montana to join other military families at Camp Casey. Her husband is about to be deployed to Iraq.
Mother of Soldier Serving in Iraq Calls Continued U.S. Troop Presence a "Moral Sin"

We hear a speech by Andrea Hackett speaking at Camp Casey. Her daughter is currently serving in Iraq. She says, "Let's make this a huge movement so that [Bush] has to either answer or go back to the White House and hide. We'll meet him there on September 24th, though."
Brother of First Pennsylvania National Guardsman Killed in Combat in 60 years Speaks at Camp Casey

We hear from Dante Zappala, whose brother, Sherwood Baker, was killed in Iraq in 2004. He was the first member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard to die in combat since 1945.
We'll start by noting Bob Somerby's latest at The Daily Howler:
THE LATEST DISAPPEARED FACT: As Paul Krugman notes in this morning's column, pundit reaction to his previous (August 19) column was truly remarkable. In that prior column, Krugman reported a simple fact about the Florida vote in Campaign 2000: "Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore." This fact has been perfectly clear since November 2001--but most Americans have never heard it! And amazingly, pseudo-con typist John Podhoretz seemed to be numbered among them last Friday. As a general matter, it's hard to tell when modern pundits are faking, dissembling, playing dumb or lying. But when pundits make statements as laughably wrong as those which follow, you can generally assume that they’re truly uninformed. Go ahead! Emit dark laughs as Podhoretz responds to Krugman's original column:
PODHORETZ (8/19/05):
KRUGMAN TRIES TO PULL A FAST ONE: Paul Krugman tells a whopper today in his column about media recounts in the 2000 election: "Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore." Um--no. Wrong. Bzzzzz...This will be the subject of about a billion blog entries today. Did Krugman really think he could get away with this?
Podhoretz spent the next several days back-tracking from this remarkably uninformed post. But, most simply put: Um--yes. True. As Krugman is forced to waste time explaining today, both consortium recounts showed that Gore would have won if all Florida votes were recounted. Almost surely, Podhoretz didn’t know this fact--a fact which has been clear for four years. And therein lies a remarkable tale--a tale which Krugman under-tells in this morning’s column.

Why is it?
Marci e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "More Mothers Doing Great!" (The Huffington Post): 

It was wonderful to hear all those additional mothers on Amy Goodman this morning. Cindy's been doing a great job handling the media mobs but more voices make it more threatening to Bush and impressive to the American people.

The grieving mom's elemental demand to know the "noble mission" for which their children died has met with a resounding silence, not only from the President but from the Democratic Party, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the networks, the "best and the brightest" architects of this madness.

Here's one, for example, who makes undisclosed bucks as a pundit, Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution. You've seen him everywhere ever since the invasion. Now he writes for the New York Times that "it's time for the Bush Administration to bite the bullet." Does he mean meet with the grieving moms? No, Pollack meets deploying more troops to Iraq [those four hands clapping are Hillary and Biden]. Pollack even calls for "a rationale that the American people would buy." Having searched for weapons of mass destruction, now these people are searching for an American purpose to market. Maybe that's why the meeting with Cindy is put off, the focus groups are still staring blankly at their moderator.
Lyle e-mails to note Norman Solomon's "Bush's Bloody War" (CounterPunch):

But some questions are based on assumptions that should be rejected -- and "What is it going to take to win?" is one of them. In Iraq, the U.S. occupation force can't "win." More importantly, it has no legitimate right to try.

While leveling harsh criticisms at the White House, many analysts fault Bush for the absence of victory on the horizon. A plaintive theme has become familiar: The president deceived us before the invasion and has made a botch of the war since then, so leadership that will turn this war around is now desperately needed and long overdue.

Some on Capitol Hill, like Democrat Joseph Biden and Republican John McCain in the Senate, want more U.S. troops sent to Iraq. Others have different messages. "We should start figuring out how we get out of there," Chuck Hagel said on Sunday. He lamented: "By any standard, when you analyze two and a half years in Iraq ... we're not winning." But a tactical departure motivated by alarm that "we're not winning" is likely to be very slow and very bloody.

In the Democratic Party's weekly radio address over the weekend, former senator Max Cleland said that "it's time for a strategy to win in Iraq or a strategy to get out."

Cleland's statement may have been focus-group tested, but it amounts to another permutation of what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism." All the talk about the urgent need for a strategy to win in Iraq amounts to approval for more U.S. leadership in mass slaughter. And the United States government does not need a "strategy" to get out of Iraq any more than a killer needs a strategy to stop killing.

"It is time to stand back and look at where we are going," independent journalist I. F. Stone wrote. "And to take a good look at ourselves. A first observation is that we can easily overestimate our national conscience. A major part of the protest against the war springs simply from the fact that we are losing it." Those words appeared in mid-February 1968. American combat troops remained in Vietnam for another five years.

Skip e-mails to note this Cox Newspapers article from the Sydney Morning Herald, "Joan Baez offers ode to war dead at ranch vigil:"

Folk singer Joan Baez, a leading figure of the 1960s counter-culture and peace movement, was given a rousing reception just over a kilometre from the Western White House.

Even before she sung a note in her concert in support of grieving mother Cindy Sheehan, Baez received a standing ovation from the 500-strong audience.

"Sit down. Y'all sit down," Baez told the crowd. "I'd say thank you for inviting me, but I already had my plane ticket."

As the sun set on the Texas prairie on Sunday, Baez sang a variety of folk songs, including Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream, the African spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and Song of Peace, patterned after the Finnish national anthem.

Earlier, Baez spoke to reporters and to parents whose children were killed in the Iraq war. Baez said she came to Crawford to support Mrs Sheehan's cause and to comfort other military parents grieving for their fallen children.

Baez is forever linked to her activism against the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Through the decades, she has lent her voice against aggression and militarism.

Liang e-mails Angela K. Brown's "Folk Singer Joan Baez Shows Support for Anti-War Protestors Near Bush Ranch" (Associated Press):

Joan Baez was against the Vietnam War and she showed it appearing at marches, once even blocking the entrance of a military induction center.

The folk singer is against the Iraq war, too, and she showed her support Sunday to protesters camping out near President Bush's ranch.

Baez took to the stage for about 500 people on an acre lot offered by a landowner who opposes the war, performing such classic peace anthems as "Song of Peace," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

Olive e-mails to note Tabassum Zakaria's "Baez raises voice at anti-war protest" ( Brisbane's Courier-Mail):
FOLK singer Joan Baez joined anti-war protesters near US President George W. Bush's ranch on Sunday to meet military families who want troops pulled out of Iraq.

"You know in the first march I went on against the war in Vietnam there were 10 of us," Baez said as she met a group of women whose sons died in Iraq or were being deployed there.

"This is huge," she said.

[. . .]

"I think the question that nobody wanted to deal with is the question they're posing: did my kid die in vain? Because the answer is too awful," Baez said.

She has never met Ms Sheehan but said she spoke to her on the phone.

"If I can do anything, sing a song, talk, listen, I'm here," Baez said. She performed on Sunday night.

Kara e-mails to note Thaddeus DeJesus' "Baez brings peace activism, music to Crawford" (Waco Tribune-Herald):

Baez held her concert under a giant tent dubbed “Camp Casey 2.” The second camp, named in honor of Sheehan's slain son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, is on land provided by Wacoan Fred Mattlage, who has said his donation was an act of compassion for Sheehan. Casey Sheehan was killed in an ambush on April 4, 2004, in Baghdad.

The original Camp Casey, on the roadside to Bush's ranch, remained standing.

The second, larger camp also welcomed Liz Carpenter, Lady Bird Johnson's chief of staff and press secretary during the Johnson administration. The 85-year-old Salado native called on the audience, especially women, to advance peace in lieu of war.

“When I first went to Washington in June 1943, I ran into the first ambassador I'd ever met, and I said to him, ‘What is diplomacy?' and he said, ‘Keeping the conversation going.' Wouldn't we be a lot better if we kept the conversation going?” Carpenter said. “We are all ambassadors in this country and we've got to learn how to wage peace.

“When it happens, it will be because of women, and women like Cindy Sheehan.”

We'll note Joel Bleifuss' latest entitled "End It Already" (In These Times):
Here is the question to the parents of American service men and women that the Bush administration never thought to pose, much less answer: Is the war in Iraq worth the life of your son or daughter?

"No," was the answer Cindy Sheehan gave on August 6 as she walked down the road in Crawford, Texas, to Bush’s country estate. Her son Casey, 24, was killed in April 2004, within days of his arrival in Iraq.

By taking a public stand, Sheehan is playing the historic role of women in time of war. She has become an emblem of the sacrifice made by the mothers, wives and daughters who lose family members in battle. But unlike the Spartan mother, she did not tell her son: "Return from Iraq victorious or dead." Instead, she used her loss to make Americans pause to consider whether the deaths of Casey and his fellow soldiers--as In These Times went to press, 1,852 and counting--has been worth it. In essence, she broke through the media's monotonous recitation of daily deaths to put a human face on the tragedy.

Erika e-mails to note Christine's latest entitled "The Evolution of Democracy Does Not Depend on Women's Social Rights" (Ms. Musing):

Meanwhile, an e-mail from the Feminist Peace Network points to this Meet The Press transcript, which reveals the extent to which women's rights are a priority for the Bush administration. Reporter David Gregory asks his two guests -- Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former Middle East specialist for the CIA and author of The Islamic Paradox, and Larry Diamond, former adviser for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq -- about the role of Islamic law in the constitution:

[. . .]

MR. GREGORY: Fast forward to this morning. Gentlemen, we put this on the screen from The New York Times. "[American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay] Khalilzad had backed language [in the constitution] that would have given clerics sole authority in settling marriage and family disputes. That gave rise to concerns that women's rights, as they are annunciated in Iraq's existing laws, could be curtailed. ... [The] arrangement, coupled with the expansive language for Islam, prompted accusations from [a Kurdish leader] that the Americans were helping in the formation of an Islamic state."

Mr. Diamond, is that a change of position?

MR. DIAMOND: It would be, I think, a substantial change if it's true. We need to wait and see what exactly is true. All of these are just reports. Let me say, I don't think we have -- and I think Reuel would agree with this -- we don't have the power anymore to foreclose this, to veto this. We're not a veto player there anymore. But neither do I think the United States should be endorsing it. And I think our clear stand should be in favor of individual rights and freedoms, including religious freedom, as vigorously as possible. So I hope the ambassador on the ground is standing up for that principle.

MR. GREGORY: Mr. Gerecht, the consequences of this?

MR. GERECHT: Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

Thanks for clearing that up! I suppose Laura Bush will be briefed to smooth things over during her next pro-women tour.

Ava phoned to note Joan Baez's upcoming album (September 6, 2005) Bowery Songs.  You can find a track list here (and listen to samples).
And, at Susan's request, we'll quote from Joan Baez's "All The Weary Mothers of the Earth" for the final note of this entry:
All the weary mothers of the earth will finally rest
We will take their babies in our arms and do our best
When the sun is low upon the field
To love and music they will yield
And the weary mothers of the earth shall rest
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