Thursday, July 20, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

A new Quinnipiac University poll released today finds Ned Lamont holding a 51 to 47 percent lead over Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters. Just six weeks ago, Lieberman was up by fifteen points. And a month before that, Lieberman's lead was three times that size.
Talk about a surge for Lamont. In a state where 83 percent of the population disapproves of the Iraq war and only 31 percent approve of President Bush, Lieberman's in big, big trouble with Democratic voters.

The above is from Ari Berman's "Lamont Over Lieberman" (The Notion, The Nation) and Lori noted it. In a week with little attention on events in Iraq (or events in this country opposing Iraq) it seemed a good way to open. Lieberman's in hot water and that's a result of people finally having enough. (Berman writes that, as an independent, Lieberman will probably win the election.) Molten Joe's been a disappointment for some time but his repeated stance as a War Hawk is igniting emotions. That's part of the reality in the opposition to Lieberman. And it shouldn't just be him.

From United for Peace & Justice:

No Peace, No Vote: Sign the Voters for Peace Pledge
The 2,500th U.S. serviceperson recently died in the war in Iraq. The majority of the people of this country, of Iraqis, and of active duty soldiers want to see an end to the war. But rather than take a clear stand against the war, too many candidates for Congress are fudging on what should be done.
We urge you to stand up with other outraged voters and
sign the Voters for Peace pledge:
"I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
Read More »

There are other things you can do as well. You can take part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! -- only one example of things you can do. Brenda notes Eli Painted Crow's "Becoming a Peace Warrior" (Troops Home Fast, CODEPINK):

Wisdom is sometimes found in the challenges that the Universe brings before us to make us strong in the places where we are weak, and to remind us that we need each other to create change.
I would like to offer my gratitude to CODEPINK for allowing me to voice what is in my heart for my compatriots still serving in Iraq. I am honored to share the gifts I have received throughout my journey with CODEPINK, and my perspective of the events that occurred over the last week during the Troops Home Fast action held in San Francisco. Rae does a wonderful job at coordinating and her openness to receive different points of views is one of the reasons I am proud to support this organization.
I honor those who have fasted; I could only fast for the first 24 hours, as my health and medications would not allow more than this. Fasting for me is a time of prayer and holding energy with others who by their sacrifice make this event very sacred. Thank you all for holding the energy of peace and life in this sacred act that continues.

Taking actions requires courage -- the courage not to be apethetic, the courage to take the nonsense from the last remaining Bully Boy holdouts. Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Arrest, Death Threat, for Farmer with Upside Down Flag" (McCarthyism Watch, The Progressive):

Dale Klyn raises beef cows in Corydon, Iowa.
For the past six years, he has been flying an American flag on his property.
But since May 21, that flag has been upside down.
He gives two reasons.
First, he's angry at a judge for allowing a debtor of his to declare bankruptcy. The debtor, who had bought a business from Klyn on a contract and still owed him $282,000, now only has to "pay me six cents on the dollar," says Klyn. "The judge approved that on the 18th of May. I was pretty upset about that."
Second, he wants to show solidarity for
Terri Jones.
She's the Iowa mom who has been flying her flag upside down after her son returned from the Iraq War and committed suicide. (Klyn had never met her before.)
"When I got the Des Moines Register and read the
article about Terri Jones and how her son didn't get the medical attention he needed, I decided I'm going to support her and oppose what the judge had done and fly my flag upside down," he says.

The result for Klyn has been a lot of nonsense but he's standing strong. That really is the most important thing about a protest. People will try to shut you down, try to bully you, shame you, any technique in the world, to stop you from standing up. Everytime someone caves, it makes it that much harder for anyone to stand up. And it emboldens the bullies who think they can go after everyone and have the same reaction. So good for Klyn because action and standing strong is the only thing that will end the illegal war.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the count for American troops who'd died in Iraq stood at 2546. Tonight? 2558.
The war drags on. As nearly 6,000 Iraqis lost their lives in May and June, as Baghdad's morgue reports nearly a thousand Iraqi civilians have already died this year. The war drags on. Some people lose their lives in Iraq (a lot of people) and some return. Remember Klyn's mentioning Terri Jones earlier? Lloyd also provides the background on that via Matthew Rothschild's "Mother of Iraq War Vet Who Committed Suicide Flies Flag Upside Down" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Terri Jones lost her son Jason Cooper just over a year ago.
He was an Army Reservist in the Iraq War.
On July 14, 2005, four months after returning home to Iowa, he hanged himself.
He was 23.
Since then, Jones has been flying her American flag upside down, though someone came on her property once and turned it right side up, and another person stole it.
"We had a flag out the whole time Jason was in Iraq," she says. "Once he died, my boyfriend Vince turned it upside down to protest everything that's happening with our government, especially our soldiers being failed when they come home."
Jones says Jason wasn't the same when he got back from Iraq.
"He was a really upbeat, happy, funny kid" before he left, she says. "You could tell his smile was gone when he came home."
He also had a hard time paying attention.
"We did notice right away that he'd space off while you were trying to talk to him," she says. "His thoughts were floating off somewhere else."
And the reaction of some of his friends caught him by surprise.
"He was excited to see them," she says, "and he thought they would be, 'Hey, Coop, good to see you.' But instead, the first thing that would come out was, 'Jas, you shoot anybody?' He was so taken aback he didn't know how to answer. He'd just say, 'I don’t want to talk about it.' "
Jones tells me her son was hit by enemy fire. "His flack jacket took 37 pieces of shrapnel," she says. "He didn't even get a bruise."
Jones also told Jennifer Jacobs of the
Des Moines Register of one haunting memory he had about an insurgent who executed an Iraqi child in full view of Cooper and other members of his unit.
Jason was having a lot of nightmares and flashbacks, his mother says. "His girlfriend said he'd wake up in night sweats, and she had to take him out for a walk at three in the morning."
Jones says she really got worried three days before her son died.
"He called me at work towards the end of the day," she says. "He was at the mall. He was crying. He was really disoriented. He didn't know what was happening. He was afraid. He told me a friend of his had just died. I asked what his name was. And he said Jeremy Ridlen, who had died a year before." (Ridlen, an Army National Guard Specialist, died in East Fallujah on May 23, 2004.)
Jones says her son "knew he needed help, but he didn’t want to go the VA." She says he'd gone there the month before, after he hurt his wrist in a motorcycle fall. "When he went to the VA, they didn’t have room to treat him that day," she says.

Some casulities who return are visible to the eye, others not so. It's all a part of Bully Boy's illegal war that's destroying Iraq, destroying the United States, and destroying humanity. And there are many of these stories. Stories of casulities, stories of survivors, stories of people speaking out and taking stands. There's a lot going on in the world this week and Iraq's been pushed off the radar in many ways (in many outlets) but the war drags on and will continue to do so until we get serious.

When the topic seems to be everything but Iraq, what do you do? Dig deep. Micah notes an article from The Objector's July issue (PDF format) which is available online.

Before we get to his excerpt, I'll note that Sunny Raleigh writes of her decision to become a consceintious objector while serving in the Navy (as a doctor): "I would not have continued my participating in the United States Navy had my CO claim been rejected. They threatened me with jail time and I informed my investigating officer I would choose jail over active duty. In all practical purposes, there will be conflicts of interest amongs people of the world. The approach to the resolution of conflict must be nonviolent."

Now for the thing Micah notes and members reading it will grasp when he notes this one.
Bill Evers contributes "My Path to Conscientious Objection" which traces his own awakening:

A new life started in the summer of 1967, after spending a few weeks with one of my sisters, who lived in Manhattan. Sally was into Manhattan and the bigger world. She got the Village Voice, which I started to read. There was this guy, David McReynolds, who was with a group called the War Resisters League (WRL). He wrote some things that were not typical Socialist Worker, jargon-laden, ego-tripping stuff. They were clear, gave facts, asked questions, and opened the door to the notion that humans could be humane and still live a good life. I was reading about people who were speaking out and realized that the things that didn't make sense to me being macho, killing people to end wars that killed people, or not liking someone just because of their skin color were things than an entire group of people were objecting to.
When I went back to college that fall, I kept on reading the Village Voice.

Those days (for the Voice) are gone. But when the alternative media realized their power and excercised it (not in pursuit of approval from outside but to create a true alternative flow of information) it had tremendous power. We're still waiting (in vain?) to see something similar from some outlets old enough to know better. (As Micah has noted, the Village Voice is dead.)

When you think of all the people who are doing the one fast or the ongoing fast (or a several day fast) and realize how little coverage it has gotten, you realize how far the focus has gone away from Iraq. A number of e-mails are noting "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" and asking why I didn't give a heads up to that?

Because surprises are always nice. Kat's on vacation, Mike and Cedric are attempting to fill in for her. But the main reason is I'm not advocating a long term fast. If you read that and think, "Screw you, I'm going on a long term fast" -- well good for you. But that needs to be your decision. It's a very serious one. I do encourage a one day fast. I think most people can do that. (And wish that they would -- it's an ongoing fast, you can grab a day at any time.) But if you decide to try a long term fast, that has to be your decision. It requires a committment and no one can give you that, it has to come from inside. (And as I noted in the surprise entry, you should check with your doctor or medical advisor.)

Some people are on the long term fast and planning to stay on it through August. (I'm stopping August first.) Ben notes notes Ann Wright's July 14th reflections in "DAY 10 OF THE FAST" (Troops Home Fast, CODEPINK):

Not eating frees up a lot of time. You don't spend much time in the grocery store, except for buying juices and health supplements. No time for food preparation. Time with friends is not spent in eating, but in talking and discussing critical issues of our time, such how to put more pressure on the Bush administration and the US Congress to end the war in Iraq to save tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and thousands of American and coalition lives, how to have fair trials for those in Guantanamo and administration secret prisons throughout the world, how to restore civil liberties while maintaining national security and how to restore domestic programs reduced or closed by diversion of funds to administration corporations in the war on Iraq. That's a lot to chew on, I would say!
Other than a small decrease in energy, I feel just fine. I don't get hunger pains and my stomach doesn't rumble anymore. Around mealtimes, I still have the habit of thinking I should be stopping to eat, which brings a smile when I remember that I don't need much time for that--just a sip of water or juice and I'm finished!
We now have over 3900 people who have signed up for the fast. There are fasts going on in virtually every city in America. Fasters are in ten other countries. Some are fasting for one day, some for one day a week, some for two weeks and some have signed on to fast until the war in Iraq ends. The length of the fast really does not matter. What matters is that an individual has made the decision that she/he will focus energy on an issue that is critical for the destiny of America-ending the war on Iraq.
This summer we will have fasters at the Veterans for Peace Conference in Seattle August 9-13, fasters at Camp Casey August 16-Sept 2 and fasters at Camp Democracy in Washington, DC September 5-20. Fasters will be in Washington, DC for September 21 and the following week for the week of Civil Disobedience.
The commitment and dedication of fasters to an issue is a time honored tradition. Governments and administrations have altered policies due to fasters. In talking with veteran fasters Dick Gregory who fasted over 2 years during the Vietnam War and Diane Wilson who has fasted for environmental issues in Texas, fasting requires patience, tolerance, and understanding of the psychological dimensions of physical actions and their long-term effect on others. In the beginning, many of those not on the fast, think the fasters are crazy and stupid.
On July 25 in Lafayette Park in front of the White House Codepink Women for Peace, and members of Gold star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and various Washington, DC anti-war groups will have an International fasting day. We will be joined by a woman member of the Canadian Parliament.

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