Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Peace Can’t Happen in the midst of Poverty!

September 29, 2008

This is a short rant about the cruel, obviously corporation supporting priorities of the current financial bailout proposal just hammered out with the complete cooperation of the Democratic leadership in the house and senate. Can you believe it? Unfortunately I can.

Yet again the people of the United States are being stampeded into unnecessarily rapid passage of a large re-distribution of the wealth of our nation. This is how the Iraq attack and occupation was authorized and the Patriot act that diminshed human and civil rights was passed and how the plan to attack Iran is being pushed.

Cause fear and panic, and then ride roughshod over the will of the majority of the people. The Bush administration is doing the exact opposite of what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did to turn the economy around in the face of the stock market crash of 1929. Instead of imposing regulations that would stop financial abuse and providing infrastructure, affordable housing and other economic programs that would help the middle class and working poor of our nation, this “bailout” removes huge amounts of money from the public coffers and hands it over to Secretary of the Treasury Paulson, a banker with current financial ties to Goldman Sachs, and President Bush to hand out to private companies who can then continue to gamble with it without real restraint or regulation or even the need to pay it back!

So what should we do instead? We need to slow this process down. Assure the world financial markets that we will act to stabilize the economy, but in the meanwhile hold hearings and craft a bill or several bills based on the idea that people, their homes, jobs, health care, communities, their streets, schools and all of the other things that they need to live decent lives come first. Corporations are not living entities. They can be changed and replaced. Men, women and children cannot be.

So here is an open letter to our Congressional “leaders” and to all of our representatives. Don’t be fooled, don’t be bullied, don’t believe the lies, don’t act out of fear or greed. Say NO to this huge, highly flawed giveaway to Wall Street. Let the corporations buy up failing banks at fair market prices and then regulate their activities stringently while meeting the needs of real, everyday people. Let the people have new bankruptcy judgements that allow them to keep their homes. Let them have healthcare and job training and unemployment benefits and guaranteed retirement benefits.

While 1 percent of the people own 90 percent of the wealth and are being offered free money on a silver platter there can be no peace in our nation or anywhere in the world. We could do a lot worse than to follow the example of how Roosevelt handled a large financial crisis in 1933. It worked and the United States economy and its people survived and thrived.

Perhaps we can’t have another “bank holiday” although it’s an interesting thought to close and individually evaluate the behaviors of each financial institution before deciding which can or can’t continue. But we can certainly have a Congressional legislative pause for reflection. Then we can have a meaningful national discussion about just what our priorities are.

This would also be very meaningful before the upcoming Presidential and Congressional elections. We could force some true examination of how our social and economic priorities are going to be determined and acted on. Then maybe we would find out more about the kinds of attitudes each candidate really holds and just how they might affect our lives and the lives of people throughout the world. That would be useful instead of staged uninformative “debates” where candidates try to put each other on the defensive and spout “qualified support” for unknown deals being worked out behind closed doors while blaming others for the results.

Whew, feels a little better. Now to call my Representative and Senators yet again and beg them to vote NO on this so called “compromise” financial bailout. Haven’t even mentioned the ugly, war affirming Defense Authorization Bill just pushed through both houses while we were mesmerized by the Wall Street catastrophe.

If you want to call Congress, here’s a toll free switchboard number: 1-800-473-6711. But act now. Tomorrow could be too late.


Violence in The Military Comes Home to Haunt Us

August 12, 2008

     As I think about going to hear retired Colonel Ann Wright this evening knowing that she wrote a definitive book about why the war on Iraq was wrong, and further sacrificed her own military career to protest US military policy.  I’m thinking about the domestic and sexual violence that has come home to affect the families of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, while they suffer from the violence that they have been forced to inflict and to witness in those conflicts.  Sometimes the violence takes the form of self-termination when the PTSD and inability to readjust to civilian life become too much to bear.

     But what I’m thinking most about today is the sexual violence that our young women soldiers are experiencing while they are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan or stationed in Kuwait.  And sometimes in addition to being raped and assaulted they are also being murdered by their brother soldiers and by US military contractors.

Ann Wright has also documented this situation in an article, “Is There an Army Coverup of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?” Published in April of 2008, on the Common Dreams Website.
I became interested in this issue after reading and hearing about the rape and murder in Iraq of a beautiful 19 year old soldier named Lavena Johnson but in reading the article I discovered that a similar scenario may have played a part in the death of another lovely young woman whose picture I carried in the 2007 Albany event called Remembering the Fallen.  Her name was Melissa Jennifer Hobart and she died in Iraq at the age of 22, in June of 2004, leaving behind a 3 year old daughter and many other people who loved her.

So I’ll be going to hear what Ann Wright has to say tonight about the mistake of invading Iraq and the consequences of bringing the war back home, literally and figuratively.  If you want to read more about this you can visit the blog on the Times Union Website at and read more about what the training to kill other humans can produce, when it breaks down the social bonds that begin with mother and child and take years to nurture and develop.

This is a very troubling topic because it deals not only with the visible and direct consequences of war but with the pervasive and destructive results of teaching our young people to hurt and kill others without protecting them (and us) from the consequences of such programming.

Just one more reason to try to solve our conflicts through negotiation, diplomacy and other non-violent means.

Trying to stop a US military attack on Iran

August 5, 2008

It seems as if this week so far has been filled with activities aimed at preventing our current administration from carrying out a wild plan to use military force against Iran just when there are openings and calls for negotiations leading to a diplomatic solution coming from statesmen in both nations.  Unfortunately that doesn’t include either our President or theirs.

So this weekend we worked to update the wonderful leaflet called Iran Next? No War, No Way! Myths and Truths about Iraq Iran.  There’s been a change in focus of the alarmist rhetoric from our government.  Now that the NIE of 2007 has agreed that there has been no evidence of a program of making weapons grade uranium since 2003 in Iran and now that Iranian diplomats and the Foreign Minister of Iran are considering allowing an EU and US consortium to work on enriching uranium for power generating purposes within Iran, it’s more difficult to justify the use of force or even of cruel sanctions that will cause suffering for the most vulnerable people in Iran, (very old and very young civilians and the women who care for them).  Since that tactic of scaremongering is coming up against some facts and findings that are slowing it down the Bush administration has been ramping up another set of fearful accusations that Iran is sending fighters, explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) and all manner of other weapons and munitions.  Never mind that there has been no evidence that the EFPs were made in Iran and no Iranian fighters have been captured.  But I digress.The updates to the leaflets deal with the new myths and with updates to the truths that can counter them.  If you want to read the old (2007) leaflet you can visit Then click on the Iran section and click on Iran Resources

So that’s one form of work and then there’s lobbying and legislative work.  Last Thursday, July 31st we got the chance to meet with our local Representative Mike McNulty’s Chief of Staff, Charlie Diamond.  We were lobbying against a terrible bill in the House of Representatives HCR 362 that contained language setting up a likely blockade of Iran.  There was lobbying of all of the co-sponsors but we were pleasantly surprised when we got a chance for a follow-up meeting on Monday, 8/4/08 with Mike McNulty himself.  He had read all of our materials and, at our request, had signed on to a second bill that advocates multilateral peace negotiations in the region to bring about an end to the Iraq occupation and includes Iran as one of the regional key players.  That bill is HCR 321, if you’re interested.  So yesterday he told us that he had spoken to the author of HCR 362 and said that he would not support the bill unless clause 3 with the blockade like language was removed.  And Representative McNulty along with Charlie Diamond came to a media conference after our meeting and said so!

I know, remembering these bill numbers is kind of like remembering which cholesterol, HDL or LDL is the healthy one.  But never fear, help with Congressional bills is available at an outstanding website

Iran vigil, 8/6/08

No War on Iran Vigil at the I Love NY Food Festival, 2008

 And the other form of media work that we’re doing is vigiling in a public place when a big local food festival will be going on and thousands of people will be walking by us during the lunch hour.  We have large dramatic banners, amazing photos of Iranian people, and informative leaflets to hand out.  We’ve been working with these props for about a year and a half and we’ll keep doing it until we think that diplomacy with Iran and not military force is the path that our government will follow.  I’d be overjoyed if we could move on to another area of peace and justice.  There are so many choices.