Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wrapping up at Crawford for now.

I just got off the phone with Barbara Cummings who acted as a greeter for 15,000 people over 19 days at the Peace House at Crawford. I contacted her to verify phone numbers she gave to Corey (from Tucson) for some people in or near D.C. who might be able to put up 4 of us for the 3 days of action in September plus a day on either side.

The buses have pretty well gone, and everyone there is trying to figure out how to help the flood victims on the Gulf Coast. They offered up their buses to take people out but were told not to send anyone anything into the area.

As we talked of the horror and what we might do to alleviate some small bit of suffering, she shared a hopeful story from two nights ago at Crawford. Even though they had been turned down every time they extended an offer for the "folks across the street" to join them at their end of day services; they extended the offer one last time. This time the group walked across the triangle and the peace circle opened and the two groups became one while taps was played and they sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beatutiful" as one. Then, without conversation, each of the two groups went its own way. But for a short the two groups found common ground.

We can build peace. There are always areas of agreement from which we can work, and we will find them - if we look for them.

Criminal Negligence and Corporate Conspiracy.

Envision all the souls lost in huge New Orleans jazz funeral. I try, but I can't. The corporate media is saying hundreds dead. Even a fool can see that the losses will be counted in the thousands. This will eclipse 9/11 in death toll. What follows is a very personal integration of many elements that evidence the disintegration of our once great country.

I started out this year in what now seems to have been a prophetic manner. As 2005 unfolded I planned a trip back to my childhood hometown on the way to D.C. to participate in the "counter-inaugural." I wanted to hold the hand of and say good-bye to my brother who was dying. And I wanted to protest the austentacious imperial inauguration that blatantly mocked the working masses and the gaping distance between the haves and have nots in this country.

My brother was dying far earlier than he should have largely because our country has no reasonable health care system. When he retired he had to give up his reasonable health care "insurance" and lost access to the physician who had found other cancers extremely early on and removed the small bits of the type of slow metastisizing cancer that my brother developed. After he retired (in his 50s) he had to change physicians. The new physician wouldn't authorize the frequent monitoring he needed. The next cancer that developed was not caught until after massive metasticization occured.

I now have a memory that makes me weep with its recall. My tall, blue-eyed, ever kind and gentle fisherman/hunter brother was sitting in a recliner next to the hospital bed in the make-shift bedroom that had been set-up in the first floor living room of this home. He could no longer get to his bedroom on the second floor. He was wrapped in a heavy comforter, hands swollen, flesh loose from the rapid loss of weight, and his eyes no longer blue, just hollow and very, very weary. During that last conversation in which I could look into his eyes, I told him I wanted to stay with him and not go on to the protests. His demeanor changed and he quite determinedly told me to go and continue the fight. Then he smiled at me. I was to continue to fight the ever increasing injustice in this country -- for him.

So I continued on to D.C. to lend support to CODEPINK events and actions. I was at the "Halibacon" action outside the Boots and Black Tie ball where the exceptionally mega-wealthy celebrated and hurled some of the most condescending comments at us that truly let anyone present see just how much contempt these robber-barons have for the serfs". I ended up having a sash put on me at the CODEPINK rally and I helped out with the March by keeping the folks within the permitted area and the flow moving peacefully and properly, and by dispensing information... while Medea and Diane and Jodie and a few others got into the inauguration to remind the world that there is resistance to the corporate coupe that has stolen control of our democracy.

But now, in retrospect, what I look back on is the ironic "theme" of the march. It was New Orleans-style Funeral lead by jazz musicians. We greeted the year and mourned the death of Democracy in an eerily prophetic way.

The situation seems surreal. The europeans must be laughing their asses off at us for our stupidity. I can hear the more cynical of them telling us, this is what you asked for by allowing your country to be taken over by corporate thugs in 2000, and then by believing the propaganda spewed from the media controlled by a fascistic australian who came into power because of the repeal of media ownership laws by his friend Ronald Reagan. And you know what? They have a very stong case. We have allowed the richest corporate "lords" to dismantle the few social programs that protected the poor and looked out for the common good.

From my perspective and understanding, the last few days are a model of what we can unfortunately expect to be a regular occurance as the rich run and hide and the rest of us face the consequences of global waarming, wars for profit, and massive disreguard for sanctity of life.

We know a storm that is on par with the four worst hurricanes in history is headed toward a heavily populated area. What do our leaders do in this situation? Well King George the Yellow continued on with business as usual. He travels to Phoenix for a canned program to a small and carefully selected "stepford" audience. Then he moves on to do the same in San Diego and in an unreal "let them eat cake" moment actually partakes of a celebratory party fundraiser the Hotel Del Coronado that is eerily reminiscent of another Oceanfront community that is dying as the party rages on.

This same man is the one who sent our homeland security forces overseas to fight a war to gain control over the oil reserves (finally he is beginning to admit that oil is the reason we are occupying Iraq) his buddies need to insure their continued rape and pillage of our economy and resources before the environmental collapse begins. Well it is already happening and these purported leaders criminally continue to refuse to acknowledge global warming and continue to CUT funding to essential domestic programs. The environmental collapse is happening. Those of us who live in the "liberal" world near academia have been screaming about the inevitable andrapidly approaching environmental devastation. The government refused to acknowledge this.

Calls are issued for mandatory evacuation, but no assistance is offered to those too poor to drive or fly themselves out or even to afford a hotel room while evacuated. The poor are left to drown. Where were the freight trains and cargo carriers turned into human transsport? Why are the halved guard troops only now being activated. Why was our government sleeping at the wheel? They were not sleeping, they'd jumped out of this unstoppable vehicle a couple of streets back.

This is what communities can expect to experience when weather diasters become common occurance and our largely dismantled social support system fails in the near future.

In spite of the bleakness of our situation, we can build peace. We must build peace. We must establish the human to human links that are our support structure and the reason we have been such a successful species up until this time. We must bring our troops home. We must have at least one-half of our leadership roles filled by women. We must stop war-profiteeering and disaster-profiteering (carpet-bagging). We must build a human governance based in cooperation not competition.

May the Goddess bless the souls of all those who are dying on the Gulf Coast to teach us these lessons. And may the whole U.S. begin to hear truth and hope in the voice of those leaving Crawford today as they make their way in three caravans across the country to the three days of action to Bring the Troops Home Now! in D.C. on Sept. 24, 25, 26.

Namaste and Blessed be.



Site that shows the economic and cultural makeup of the areas of New Orleans that were hardest hit and other pertinent info can be found at:

President's absenteeism before this year is discussed.

Global warming and emergent weather patterns.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

8/29/05 Protest in El Mirage attracts hundreds despite temps over 110 degrees

Bush Stages Propaganda Event While Citizens Die

Yesterday, as I protested with hunreds of others outside El Mirage Country Club in a western suburb of Phoenix, as hundreds if not thousands of citizens were trapped in attics because they were too poor to evacuate the areas where they live.

Throughout the time I was across the street from the country club where Bush spoke, I kept thinking about costs and alternatives. I cannot imagine the costs of diverting hundreds of local law enforcement officials, closing roads, doing the research to find the loyalists, busing them in, flying in the president and the various groups of people who comprise the massive entourage traveling with Bush. And all this cost was incurred essentially as a propaganda event for yet another of Dubya's ill-informed bankrupting schemes that would put money in the hands of the few at the expense of the nation.

And while this well-rehearsed event was taking place, horrific destruction was unfolding as sweeping devastation across the Gulf Coast of our Southern United States. The thought that repeatedly flashed through my mind and kept my stomach churning was, "What about all those people who could not evacuate the coastal cities in the path of Katrina because they had no car, could not afford hotels, had ill or extremely infirm parents they could not transport and did not want to leave?" Surely the National Guard troops would have activated all in a several state area helped evacuate people before and help set up camps for the 10 of thousands of people who will be homeless. But where are our National Guard troops? They are off fighting a war started by Bush and his inner circle. States are having borrow troops from neighboring states and hundreds are dying while they travel that distance.

Where were the trains capable of taking thousands upon thousands out of the area? Corporate automobile and oil interests saw those dismantled throughout the 20th Century to to benefit their businesses and create an automobile dependent society.

Who was coordinating the massive evacuation of the poor who did not have the means or connections necessary to leave these cities and parrishes on their own? I did not see any coverage of Guard Troops coming in to help with the evacuation? Why were our guard not out in these areas, pounding on the doors of people who do not have cable and really did not understand the enormity of what was coming?

Our Guard troops are not here. Our president continues on as though nothing has happened. I've yet to see any shots of rescue crews who are not Coast Guard, police or fire. I still can't get my head around the human cost of this devastation. I cannot begin to think about the financial costs. Our surplus has been squandered for no reason tied to National Security. Our social progams have been gutted, and we have a need that is undoubtedly only the first of many, many needs generated by the new intensified and irratic weather patterns or a warming world that the Dubya also refuses to acknowledge.

When will the people awaken to the fact they are being bilked, abused and dying for an illegitimate government who has no concern with the people's welfare or future (including the heroic people serving in the armed forces who are willing to put their lives on the line for our country?)

I will report about the protest soon, but now I'm still in shock that our leadership is so dysfunctional.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Live Streaming coverage from Crawford

Listen to LIVE Broadcasts from The Peace House in Crawford, TX
White Rose Society's Broadcast


IBC Radio Network

of the Brad Show or Brad's Blog Broadcast

or something or other (it morphs frequently)
and sometimes simultaneously as Air America -- Laura Flanders)
and others
(seat of the pants radio)
talk and music from ground zero of
Operation Noble Cause

that I have also heard called
aka Operation Enduring Vacation

I think it will be on 8 hours a day for a while.

It's also being broadcast on Air America occasionally (

You can check the schedule at for the broadcast schedule from Camp Casey this week - I think they'll be broadcasting even if Air America isn't picking them up.

Friday, August 26, 2005

It is official and the MEDIA picked it up! Grannies are free!

I've been busy trying to build peace so I haven't blogged a lot in the last day.... still catching up and trying to figure out how to get to D.C. Sept 24-26 wishing I could go to Crawford, talking about street theater,researching freeway blogging, talking to some Moms who are getting Opt Out Forms to high schools, planning how to protest Chicken George's visit to Phoenix (El Mirage, AZ -- west of Phoenix) but I finally looked at today's local paper and was quite pleased to see that a follow-up piece to the arrest of the Raging Grannies was done that informs the local public that charges against the Grannies and four members of the media were dropped. I was one of those four media folks so I think it is entirely appropriate for me to put the article here.

Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.26.2005
Section: Tucson Region
Raging Grannies charges dropped
By Joyesha Chesnick

Trespassing charges against five members of the Tucson Raging Grannies, who tried to enlist in the Army in July, have been dropped.

"They said they had insufficient information to continue to press charges," Raging Grannie Pat Birnie said of the decision to drop the charges earlier this month.

Birnie was one of eight women protesting at the military recruitment center at 2303 E. Speedway on July 13, as they have done on Wednesdays for three years. The group, ranging in age from 65 to 81, went into the center to enlist despite being decades older than the maximum age for recruits.

"We were naturally quite relieved because the charges were absurd in the beginning," said Birnie, who was one of three Grannies not charged. "But we were disappointed to lose our media audience as a result. Because we still have passion for the issue."

City Prosecutor Laura Brynwood said that the charges had been dropped against the five Raging Grannies and four members of the media because they would have been difficult to prove.

"Essentially, by the time the police arrived, 10 minutes after the initial call, they had already left and were back at their protest on the sidewalk," Brynwood said. "Proving they did not leave after they were requested to leave would be difficult."

Birnie said the Raging Grannies will continue to protest outside the recruitment center once a week "until there is no longer a need to be there."

But trying to enlist again is not in their immediate plans.

"We were feeling unwelcome, you might say, which is awfully unnecessary," Birnie said. "If they're afraid of old Grannies, then we're in trouble."

The Tucson Raging Grannies is a project of the local branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

The Opposition and Cindy

This just about says it all. Watch it. Listen. Send the link to others. Fear betrays the dishonorable...thus they attack.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bits Of Hope & Things To Look Forward To

There have been some great things happening that far outshone the minor annoyances of being a target for besmirching and such. I smiled and then laughed riotously (and laughter is a very good thing) at the image of a 73 year old VFW member attending one of Bush' canned audience events. The honorable vet wearing Bullshit deflector over his ear. What more can we say? The current attempt to depict the persons protesting or just questioning the war as members of a leftist fringe element is soundly debunked with this image.
You can find deflector patterns here here.

Here's another inspiring although far more moving link to an MP3 of Cindy Sheehan speaking upon her return to Camp Casey.

And one final fantastic article I read this morning is inspiring and explains the motivation of this burgeoning phenomena of women/mothers for peace. Julia Ward Howe called for all mothers to do just what Cindy Sheehan is now doing. Surely the authoress of The Battle Hymn of the Republic cannot be accused of having been a member of a left wing fringe.

And as this week winds down I will carry this inspiration with me as over the weekend I get ready to go to Phoenix to help show anyone watching that Bush isn't welcomedwith open arms in Arizona. The latest details I have on this is circulating in an email that in part give the following info.:
pResident Bush is supposed to be at the Pueblo El Mirage to speak at 10am. The location is 11201 N. El Mirage Road in El Mirage, AZ. (link to map)

Plan to be there well before 10am. The plan is to just gather outside the location and protest the war before his arrival and stay until his departure.
He is supposed to visit Luke AFB after he speaks in El Mirage. The time is not yet known but sometime in the afternoon. I may get more information soon and will let you know. People can gather on Litchfield Road outside of the base. There are three base entrances along Litchfield Road where people can gather. It isn't known for sure if he will make it to the base but he is expected to be there and the base in preparing for his visit in the afternoon.


A Tucson Raging Granny Chronicles Her Time In Crawford

By – Ellouese Upton
Photos by - Corey Butler

I felt a pull to drive over to Crawford, Texas when I heard that a mother who had lost her son in Iraq was setting up a camp two miles from the front gate of the President’s ranch , after being refused a meeting with him. I did start driving over on August 21st with a fellow Patriot (we had not met but we both recognized each other from Peace Vigils) We took turns driving and made the trip from Tucson in 16 hours, arriving early Wednesday morning.

We stopped at the Peace House in Crawford and was greeted outside by volunteers; shown a place to park, before going inside. Cindy Sheehan was seated on a sofa to the right of the door talking on the phone. (This is a constant with her, because she is being interviewed by reporters every minute, it seemed) After we went into the kitchen to get some coffee, I saw that she was off the phone and took a minute to go over and tell her that I was there as a representative of the Tucson Raging Grannies and expressed the heart felt love they had sent to her. She thanked me, smiled and returned to the phone.

I caught the shuttle up the camp. During the time I was there, I did not spend a dime. Contributions from concerned citizens from all over are being used to provide food and water and gas for the shuttles. This is an experience I would not have missed. I had not participated in any type of rally such as this before. Actually, before the invasion of Iraq, I had never marched in any event; for any cause.

I am 75 years old now and not quite as agile as a few years ago, so I was not able to assist with necessary work in groups like I did when I was doing est seminars during the eighties. However, I noticed a very similar atmosphere of which we were always aware during the est seminars. And, that is the safe place created by the integrity of the assistants for the participants. While assisting with some of the meetings, we were picking up lint from the carpets. Outside, cigarette butts, scraps of paper, foil, anything on the ground or floor was picked up. This was to “create” a safe place. I also experienced this space of safety there at Camp Casey.

Because the tents and cars were lined up along side of a two lane county road in the ditches, it was suggested that I leave my car at the Peace House. I had planned to sleep in it. After meeting the coordinator of the Military Families Speak Out, and joining that group because I have three grandsons in the military, two of which are heading back to Iraq for their second tour, I was invited to sit in with their group. When they learned I did not have a place to sleep, I was offered their tent which was on the corner just as this road came off of the one that goes into the Bush ranch. I gladly accepted, and did not know until the next morning when this huge truck came barreling through at 5:30 (before daylight) that there might be a security problem.Everyone was taking care of my safety. This is a safe place. My heroine Tamara from Montana made sure during the night that no one disturbed “her” Raging Granny that was sleeping in the tent on the corner. There have been some efforts to disrupt Camp Casey. I can tell you first hand, there are Vietnam veterans, Iraq veterans, Gulf veterans and Korean veterans that are there supporting this effort to find out from the president just what this “Noble Cause” is that he feels so good about sending the young people of our country over there to be targeted with roadside bombs.

The many people I met there were outstanding. New York was represented from many parts of the state. Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts, Illinois, Louisiana, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Montana, North Carolina and many, many wonderful folks from all over Texas. (These were the people that I met) There were many that I did not personally meet. This was a meeting of kindred spirits. Humble, peaceful people with only a pull such as I had in order to be there. If you have felt this pull, please honor it if you can. You will not regret it.

The candlelight service with Cindy and the Iraq veterans was touching beyond words. We had to move off the road several times, because the ranchers that live there were coming in and out. No one wanted to violate their rights. We were not there for that reason.

Two letters were delivered to the front gate while I was there. I did not walk up with those that delivered the letter to Laura on Wednesday, but did go up on Thursday to deliver the letter to Bush. There had been a press conference earlier in which the spokesman for Military Families Speak Out told the press and speaking into the microphone directly to the President, “We are not leaving”. Also a service had been in front of the crosses with many clergy members from around the country participating, before we loaded into several vans and drove within 50 yards of the gate. Then everyone got out and walked up to the gate where the secret service was standing. Two of the Military Families Speak Out representatives walked up and said, “We have a letter here for the President”. He said, “I cannot accept that.” They said, would you call a staff member out to take it. He said, “There is no one here to accept it.” After a minute or two, they laid the letter on the ground by the gate. All of this was being filmed by Amy Goodman from Pacifica Radio that was also standing in the crowd with us..

Another interesting thing that happened is as follows: Before I came over from Tucson, one of the ranchers that own land along this county road had shot a gun in the air saying, “I am out dove hunting.” I wondered if he meant Peace Doves! His cousin that owns an acre of land at Bush’s back gate donated that acre to this group for the duration of August which is when the vacation is over. This back gate is only one mile from the ranch. The Republicans had hosted a large fund rasing event just down the road from the camp a week before and the huge tent they had used was lying waiting to be picked up. As I heard the story, Ben and Jerry’s (Working Assets) heard about this and was able to rent this same tent and had it erected on the acre there at Bush’s back gate. Then as more new people came in, they could choose to set up their tent up there or down at Camp Casey1. There were also some speakers coming in and I enjoyed hearing the past president of the NAACP (He knew Martin Luther King) speak. He had with him three gold star mothers from Atlanta. He had an inspiring message for us and said that he felt the spirit of this movement as soon as he arrived. He believes, as do I, this will not die down. We as a people have found a voice.

Saturday evening as I stood in line at the “tent” waiting for the shuttle to take me back to Camp Casey 1, I noticed a large boat being pulled into the back gate. I could only see the reflections on the side. One of the young men walked over to the fence to view this scene. When he returned to the line, he said, “The name on that boat was “Invader”. I gasp! Well, this man is consistent in some things.

There are many other things I could mention for instance the young female journalist from Sidney Australia. She was in Fallujah with an aid group and had many pictures of the people of Iraq. The average people in Iraq, like a lot of us. Just humble hard working people. She told me that she can no longer go out and “party” as young people do. She can no longer have fun like she use to. She feels guilty because she knows of the suffering that is going on over there. This suffering has never been addressed (to my knowledge) from this administration.

After experiencing the heat for five days, I realized that I had to leave. I drove back alone and as I got closer to Tucson, when I closed my eyes (Resting for a few hours at the Rest Stops) I could see faces. At first they were women’s faces. Worn, haggard, some with a slight smile, then men’s faces. I did not have a clue what this was about.

After getting some sleep at home, on Tuesday I began to see faces which I believe were Civil War men also men’s faces from other wars. Those that had died serving their country. I believe these were the souls of the pioneer women and men who quietly worked for freedom and those killed in wars; For Freedom. I think it was an affirmation that I had tapped into an energy that will lead us to freedom of the spirit. We must speak out for our rights. If we silently become slaves; lose our privacy; being called traitors by those in charge just because we speak out, then I suppose we will deserve it.

I must comment on the professional way in which the deputy sheriff’s department from Waco handled this event. While I was there, these men were always dressed in full uniform, pressed and looking very neat. They did not ever have a sour look or foul word to us. They did their job to keep everyone out of the road (for our own safety) their performance and the dignity with which they worked was a true picture of what law enforcement is about. I did send an email to their office thanking them.

Also, the people of Texas were absolutely wonderful. Three women from Waco had brought three large trays of sandwiches and other foods the morning that I arrived. There were volunteers from Texas driving the shuttle all the time. Young people, couples, single people from cities all around the state came to offer a comforting hand and to share. I think that Connie from the Tucson Raging Grannies is writing a parody of a Bon Jovi song for them to sing very soon. The title will be, “Bush gave Texas a Bad Name!”

Voices in Wartime

Check out this Film Information if you are interested in the poetry of war times and how we can raise awareness by using it. Even if you don't preorder a copy of the DVD, you can dig around the site for individual poems, engage in dialog, and be encouraged that you you are not alone.

Coming Back to Crawford

Cindy Sheehan is Coming Back to Crawford So few are speaking out for those who have died fighting in a questionable war. I am very happy that Cindy is returning. I am convinced she is speaking for many families and for many of the fallen. How do we know what they thought about the war? We can't in most cases, but my gut tells me even those brave soldiers who seem supportive may just be "soldiering on."

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a member of the Air Force when I flew into Tucson a couple of weeks ago. As we exchanged the polite greetings that strangers sharing such tight quarters for a three hour flight do, he told me he was in the Air Force and was returning to DMAFB in Tucson. In this ritual exchange I then told him that I coordinated a local peace group. This produced an apparently involuntary reaction where he moved his head back in surprise.

I told him that I respected what he was doing, and that individuals willing to fight for our liberty and way of life were some of the most honorable individuals I could imagine. Then I said that because of that willingness to sacrifice themselves, that any violation or explotation of that trust was the worst form of abuse and that those who think like I do feel our troops are being abused in just that fashion. He seemed to relax, and then, rather than denying that that was happening, he just said that he couldn't really say anything detrimental of those from who he had to take orders. I then spoke of understanding the need for absolute observance of strict chain of command or the requisite military discipline and ability to act together as one would disintegrate instantly. He seemed relieved that I understood a bit about the world he lives in. We conversed about many things and he, a man being sent back to Iraq for a second tour in November to actually fight and perhaps die, seemed far more accepting of me than most of the war supporters I meet. I can't help but believe he felt better about all peace activists after having met one who respected him, understood the sacrifices he lives with, and was fighting for him and for increasing the respect and decreasing the abuse of people just like him.

A second tour without choice. Even in Vietnam soldiers had to reup for a second tour. They say this is an all volunteer army. If that were true, a second tour would be the choice of the individual -- it is not.

I'm glad Cindy is returning. Soldiers right now, need the changes she is working for.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Access to discord

Something I stumbled over this morning covered a great deal of information from not necessarily allied camps. Any time I find a place where verifiable facts are being discussed from truly distinct viewpoints, I pronounce the day a worthwhile one.

The people of Iran and Iraq are not backward. And they are not interchangeable entitites as many in the U.S. think. The Neocon Liberal dichotomy here does not map onto the issues in these countries. Social reform, political reform, and religious reform do not necessarily align nor split in ways that make sense to those persons using western mental templates. Nothing is neatly black and white -- both the left and the right in America make tactless errors that are seized upon by the opposition. Take the sticky situation of implying all Americans are racist as Saman Sepehri stated when he quoted Barbara Ehrenrich talking about "camel-riding rapists." The situation she described applied only to Darfur; Christians and Muslims both have been raped, tortured and slaughtered, and camels have been used as transport. A more or less leftist person uses an ethnic stereotyping slur to describe a genocide. Hmmmm. No easy answers there. Just as confounding, to people who like neat divisions -- many folks from these regions are both anti-theocracy and anti-imperialist. Thoughtful discussion of the rich history, ethnic and religious divisions, and long-term strife in this region do not map well into 15 second sound byte corporate media coverage.

This commentary was triggered as I listened to Postel and Sepehri
speaking at a July 2005 conference "The Threat of Intervention in Iran," organized by Chicago Media Action at Chicago Temple. I stumbled across this broadcast of a CAN TV program on Access Tucson.

Long live community media! I cherish access to all information.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fight 'em until hell freezes over, and then fight 'em on the ice.

The above quote is from Peter Johnson's speech this past weekend at the camp outside Bush's Texas ranch. Yesterday's Democracy Now included a great deal of coverage from the rally at Camp Casey. I recommend reading the transcripts of these personal statements from mothers of active duty soldiers, Gold Star mothers, veterans, brothers of slain soldiers, elders in the peace and justice movement, a wife of an active duty and a formerly homeless veteran who works in Baltimore to assist homeless veterans.

Not up for transcript reading? Get fired up about working for peace by playing the video at We Will Not Be Silenced.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

On the Fulcrum...Tipping

So much zipping around in my head. First thing this morning, even before coffee, I received a message informing me that Bush is probably going to be in Phoenix next weekend. Geesh -- that means a whole lotta organizing. And there were so many other significant stories popping out at me today from various sources. I really just want to spread the information I dredge and skim -- but there is so much information that I don't think folks can put together some fairly obvious trends.

Bill Gates is giving money to right wing kooks. As a friend who forwarded the article detailing Gates and Verizon and others as providing sustaining levels of support to the fanatics from the religious right who are making significant inroads into taking over our schools and the educational system. That is it. No more Microsoft anything purchases... ever. I'm beginning a total conversion to running open source software on an Apple. I will not support fundamentalist luddites. (I'm not talking about the true Christians who follow the peaceful and loving teachings of Jesus.) Join me in telling Bill Gates to put it where the sun don't shine by stopping his plan to make his "you must be afraid of technology and give all your money to those of us who can make your communication systems function."

The U.S. administration now supports the creation of an Islamic State in Iraq. Pardon me while I try to wrap my head around this. Our fundamentalist Christian president has lied and had his staff falsify data to fight an immoral, illegal war. He has done this for unknown reasons -- and he has been enabled, coached and backed by corporate entites and the very few men who contol these goliaths who are concerned only with profit and filling their own pockets, no matter what the costs of this murderous personally motivated war might be. His actions have done nothing but exponentially enlarged the fundamentalist, jihadist, wacko base willing, and even glad, to die in this war and now to have actually increased the number of countries ruled by narrow and by all accounts mistaken interpretations of Islamic law. And all this while our sons and daughters have been fighting and dying in Iraq, our national safety and the likelihood of terrorist assault on American land, people and/or interests has skyrocketed without appropriate funding to protect our land and people. Only corporate oil interests and Bush family allies have benefitted -- and they have done so with the blood of our children on their hands. These same folks attempt to disparage the just demand of Gold Star Families who want to have Bush tell them the real reason their children died in Iraq is outrageous. I hope it backfires... as do many others.

Right-wing PR thinlly disguised as media (Clear Channel) is censoring ads that feature Cindy Sheehan.

TV Station Refuses to Air Anti-War Ad Featuring Sheehan

SALT LAKE CITY (Aug. 21) - A Utah television station is refusing to air an
anti-war ad featuring Cindy Sheehan, whose son's death in Iraq prompted a vigil
outside President Bush's Texas ranch.

The ad began airing on other area stations Saturday, two days before Bush was
scheduled to speak in Salt Lake City to the national convention of the
Veterans of Foreign Wars.

However, a national sales representative for KTVX, a local ABC affiliate,
rejected the ad in an e-mail to media buyers, writing that it was an
"inappropriate commercial advertisement for Salt Lake City."

In the ad, Sheehan pleads with Bush for a meeting and accuses him of lying to
the American people about Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction
and its connection to al-Qaida.

"I love my country. But how many more of our loved ones need to die in this
senseless war?" a weary-looking Sheehan asks in the ad. "I know you can't bring
Casey back. But it's time to admit mistakes and bring our troops home now."

Salt Lake City affiliates of NBC, CBS and Fox began running the ad Saturday.

The ads were bought by Gold Star Families for Peace. Washington, D.C.-based
Fenton Communications, a public relations firm working for the group, provided
a copy of the e-mail received from station sales representative Jemina Keller
to The Associated Press.

In a statement Saturday evening explaining its decision, KTVX said that after
viewing the ad, local managers found the content "could very well be
offensive to our community in Utah, which has contributed more than its fair share of
fighting soldiers and suffered significant loss of life in this Iraq war."

Station General Manager David D'Antuono said the decision was not influenced
by the station's owner, Clear Channel Communications Inc.

Celeste Zappala, who with Sheehan co-founded Gold Star Families for Peace,
said she was puzzled by the decision.

"What stunned me was that it was inappropriate to hear this message," she
said. "How is it that Salt Lake City should hear no questions about the war?"

The e-mail read: "The viewpoints reflected in the spot are incompatible with
our marketplace and will not be well received by our viewers." It added that
the spot didn't qualify as an issue advertisement.

For the ad to have been considered an "issue" advertisement a ballot measure
would have had to be at stake, D'Antuono said.

Mark Wiest, vice president of sales for NBC-affiliated KSL television, said
that in the interest of freedom of speech, his station didn't hesitate to run
the ad. KSL is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The bigger picture is, by suppressing the message are we doing what is right
under the First Amendment and in an open democratic society?" Wiest said.

Bush received nearly 70 percent of the vote last fall in Utah, one of the
most conservative states north of the Bible Belt.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hypocrites and Liars

I'm reprinting/mirroring the article that appeared on Common Dreams today because I think everyone who wants to build a peace on this planet needs to seriously consider Cindy's actions and approach. She is sincere and she tells the truth without concern for what it might "cost" her. While I cannot get behind economic models (or any other singularly focused model) I can get behind passion with compassion.

Yes I personally believe that we women have to become so aroused with passion for peace, for children, for humanity that we finally say, enough is enough, "You have to stop killing each other!" Our world will not survive unless we do this. With the technology we have, we can destroy all life on this planet. To be doing anything other than everything possible to build peace, compromise wherever possible with adversaries to diffuse explosive situations, love our enemies as ourselves (for they are part of we), turn away from gain and growth mentalities toward balance and flow realities, well, to do anything less will be to murder our own children in an insane fit of territorial rage.

I don't know whether I'm a pacifist or not. In my heart I am. Violence slices with a savage recursion through our personal, societal, and cultural history. While we may not be able to end it, it is immoral to condone it. To stop Hitler, to stop Stalin, to stop Pol Pot, or Milosevic--those were or would have been noble causes if gain an greed and economic analyses had not been the factors that allowed these men to rise to tyrrany. Would Eastern Europe have been sliced up had women, who are more concerned with relationships than territory been the leaders in negotiation? It is a ludicrous question. Just as whether I'm a pacifist is also moot. It does not matter what potential evil we might be capable of carrying out -- we have to try a different approach. The economic expansionist one is killing our people and our planet. No theoretical or philosophical orientation will help us to survive. Only blatant honesty and a passion to save the children of our world can build enough of breaking mechanism so that we can screechingly halt the most horrific processes over which we still have some influence. If we can do this pragmatically as Cindy is doing then perhaps we might survive long enough to figure out how to live through the massive climatic and ecologial changes that are already underway and becoming more obvious every day. After that we can worry about theory, philosophy and religion. Right now we just need to survive and engage in behaviors that do not kill off our children for the temporary gain of those who would knowingly destroy our world.

Anyway... we need a lot more Cindys. We are being asked to believe in and to passively submit our lives and the lives of our families to maintain and expand the foolhardy industrial war games of hypocrites and liars.

Published on Saturday, August 20, 2005 by
Hypocrites and Liars
by Cindy Sheehan

The media are wrong. The people who have come out to Camp Casey to help coordinate the press and events with me are not putting words in my mouth, they are taking words out of my mouth. I have been known for sometime as a person who speaks the truth and speaks it strongly. I have always called a liar a liar and a hypocrite a hypocrite. Now I am urged to use softer language to appeal to a wider audience. Why do my friends at Camp Casey think they are there? Why did such a big movement occur from such a small action on August 6, 2005?

I haven't had much time to analyze the Camp Casey phenomena. I just read that I gave 250 interviews in less than a weeks time. I believe it. I would go to bed with a raw throat every night. I got pretty tired of answering some questions, like: 'What do you want to say to the President?' and 'Do you really think he will meet with you?' However, since my mom has been sick I have had a chance to step back and ponder the flood gates that I opened in Crawford, TX.

I just read an article posted today on by artist Robert Shetterly who painted my portrait. The article reminded me of something I said at the Veteran's for Peace Convention the night before I set out to Bush's ranch in my probable futile quest for the truth. This is what I said:

"I got an e-mail the other day and it said, 'Cindy if you didn't use so much profanity '. There's people on the fence that get offended.'

And you know what I said? 'You know what? You know what, god damn it? How in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence?'

"If you fall on the side that is pro-George and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out."

This is what the Camp Casey miracle is all about. American citizens who oppose the war but never had a conduit for their disgust and dismay are dropping everything and traveling to Crawford to stand in solidarity with us who have made a commitment to sit outside of George's ranch for the duration of the miserable Texan August. If they can't come to Texas, they are attending vigils, writing letters to their elected officials and to their local newspapers; they are setting up Camp Casey branches in their hometowns; they are sending flowers, cards, letters, gifts, and donations here to us at Camp Casey. We are so grateful for all of the support, but I think pro-peace Americans are grateful for something to do, finally.

One thing I haven't noticed or become aware of though is an increased number of pro-war, pro-Bush people on the other side of the fence enlisting to go and fight George Bush's war for imperialism and insatiable greed. The pro-peace side has gotten off their apathetic butts to be warriors for peace and justice. Where are the pro-war people? Everyday at Camp Casey we have a couple of anti-peace people on the other side of the road holding up signs that remind me that 'Freedom isn't Free' but I don't see them putting their money where their mouths are. I don't think they are willing to pay even a small down payment for freedom by sacrificing their own blood or the flesh of their children. I still challenge them to go to Iraq and let another soldier come home. Perhaps a soldier that is on his/her third tour of duty, or one that has been stop-lossed after serving his/her country nobly and selflessly, only to be held hostage in Iraq by power mad hypocrites who have a long history of avoiding putting their own skin in the game.

Contrary to what the mainstream media thinks, I did not just fall off a pumpkin truck in Crawford, TX. on that scorchingly hot day two weeks ago. I have been writing, speaking, testifying in front of Congressional committees, lobbying Congress, and doing interviews for over a year now. I have been pretty well known in the progressive, peace community and I had many, many supporters before I left even left California. The people who supported me did so because they know that I uncompromisingly tell the truth about this war. I have stood up and said: 'My son died for NOTHING, and George Bush and his evil cabal and their reckless policies killed him. My son was sent to fight in a war that had no basis in reality and was killed for it.' I have never said 'pretty please' or 'thank you.' I have never said anything wishy-washy like he uses 'Patriotic Rhetoric.' I say my son died for LIES. George Bush LIED to us and he knew he was LYING. The Downing Street Memos dated 23 July, 2002 prove that he knew that Saddam didn't have WMD's or any ties to Al Qaeda. I believe that George lied and he knew he was lying. He didn't use patriotic rhetoric. He lied and made us afraid of ghosts that weren't there. Now he is using patriotic rhetoric to keep the U.S. military presence in Iraq: Patriotic rhetoric that is based on greed and nothing else.

Now I am being vilified and dragged through the mud by the righties and so-called 'fair and balanced' mainstream media who are afraid of the truth and can't face someone who tells it by telling any truth of their own. Now they have to twist, distort, lie, and scrutinize anything I have ever said when they never scrutinize anything that George Bush said or is saying. Instead of asking George or Scotty McClellan if he will meet with me, why aren't they asking the questions they should have been asking all along: 'Why are our young people fighting, dying, and killing in Iraq? What is this noble cause you are sending our young people to Iraq for? What do you hope to accomplish there? Why did you tell us there were WMD's and ties to Al Qaeda when you knew there weren't? Why did you lie to us? Why did you lie to the American people? Why did you lie to the world? Why are our nation's children still in harm's way and dying everyday when we all know you lied? Why do you continually say we have to 'complete the mission' when you know damn well you have no idea what that mission is and you can change it at will like you change your cowboy shirts?'

Camp Casey has grown and prospered and survived all attacks and challenges because America is sick and tired of liars and hypocrites and we want the answers to the tough questions that I was the first to dare ask. THIS is George Bush's accountability moment and he is failing miserably. George Bush and his advisers seriously 'misunderestimated' me when they thought they could intimidate me into leaving before I had the answers, or before the end of August. I can take anything they throw at me, or Camp Casey. If it shortens the war by a minute or saves one life, it is worth it. I think they seriously 'misunderestimated' all mothers. I wonder if any of them had authentic mother-child relationships and if they are surprised that there are so many mothers in this country who are bear-like when it comes to wanting the truth and who want to make meaning of their child's needless and seemingly meaningless deaths?

The Camp Casey movement will not die until we have a genuine accounting of the truth and until our troops are brought home. Get used to it George, we are not going away.


Flip Flop Amnesia

I don't want to get in the habit of posting from other blogs... but August 17th's Daily Kos is just too good to keep to the regular readers only.

Primarily GOP quotes when Clinton invaded (i mean committed troops to) Bosnia:

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ann Wright on Democracy Now

Amy Goodman's interview of retired Army Colonel Ann Wright on Democracy Now gives some often overlooked background information about the beginning of Cindy Sheehan's Vigil as well as providing an alternative view into some historic events by a diplomat who was involved in restablishing a U.S. mission in Afghanistan in 2001 before being one of three diplomats to resign in opposition to the Bush invasion of Iraq. Decades of honored service to our country can't be denied by the chicken hawk pundits; Ann has credibility and passion. I first heard her speak this past January in D.C. at a CODEPINK Counter-inaugural Rally. I think I captured that passion in this photo.

'She Rocks'

My friend Elaine sent this to me...

'She Rocks'
by Ian Reed
(Ode to Cindy Sheehan)

A mother vexed and grieving for her loss
Demands an audience with the coward king
Who hides in fear, and couldn't give a toss
(So long as media its tribute bring)

That one more soldier for his falsehood died,
That one more corpse is stacked upon the heap
Of broken bodies, sacrificed to pride.
So has he sown, why waits his fate to reap?

No bloodguilt feels he who would own the blood
Of Christ he spilled on Iraq's soil, once rich,
Such blood that from irradiated mud
Cries out, encamped beside a Texas ditch,

Where tears into the guilty ground have soaked
Decrying the Orthodox, this age's vogue,
To witness how, when virtue is provoked,
One voice can vanquish a chorus of rogues.

August 2005

(Polemics a collection of political verse assembled since 2000)

Tucson vigil pics and Wrap-up has wrapped up the coverage of August 17th's Vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan on their website consolidating access to information about the vigils on one page. There is a great photo slide show of pics from vigils all around the country. Quite moving.

The final number of vigils across the country was 1627 with 190,000 participants. In Tucson the reported number of attendees at vigils was 673 with an additional 37 outside of Tucson in Pima County.

No pics from the Oracle at Wetmore vigil made the slideshow on the national site, so I am putting up some of the ones my daughter took as well as those taken by a couple other folks.

I want to thank all those folks who came out in support of Cindy and our troops to join our collective voices in demanding an explanation of what this purported "noble cause" that Bush speaks of just might be. Keep the pressure on.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Small Town/Middle America Begins to Awaken

It looks like the stubbornly somnabulistic American heartland is beginning to awaken with an understanding of just how far they have traveled while unconscious:

Texas Protest Changes Columnist's Perspective
by Mary deJuliis

Published on Thursday, August 18, 2005 by the Muskogee Daily Phoenix (Oklahoma)

Middle America does not like to be deceived. I suspect the outrage of an America that does not take abuse and exploitation of its core values is bgoing to be beyond anything we've seen in the U.S. -- ever.

Forward this article to every small town or heartland dwelling person you know. It is easy. There is an email forward option on the Common Dreams page that republished this story.

Vigil media coverage

Local coverage and coverage of locals.

Tucon Citizen coverage.

Arizona Daily Star coverage.

"Camp Casey", the anti-war outpost near President Bush's ranch led by Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey died in the Iraq conflict, continues to grow in population daily, in Crawford, Texas, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2005. New arrivals, left to right, Lee Stanley of Tucson, Ariz., Roger Cuthbertson from Shorewood, Minn., and Paul Searles of Columbia, Mo., prepare to deal with the summer temperatures of Central Texas as they join Sheehan who has continued her vigil since Aug. 6, demanding to speak with Bush whom she has accused of lying about the war in Iraq. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Queens and politicians needed

Most of my posts to this blog of late have been on Cindy Sheehan or The Raging Grannies... but I'm jonesing for an across the board women around the world for peace info fix.

Herewith some women/peace, peace, peace/women, women oriented links:

a Quaker site

Rights Group Appeals for Safety of Afghanistan's Women Politicians
by Abid Aslam
Published on Thursday, August 18, 2005 by

Campaigning against Fear: Women’s Participation in Afghanistan’s 2005 Elections a report by human rights watch.

The secrets of African Women by Yolandi Groenewald really moved me. We simply have to increase women's open, honest and autonomous participation in all areas of life if there is to be any hope for peace. As Groenwald illustrates in this snippet of her article, peace had long been the concern of women before European imperial, corporate and largely male-dominated conquest of Africa:

Peace-keeping in Africa was traditionally a diplomatic art practised by shrewd queens who could teach today’s politicians a few things. “Queen Nzinga of the Kongo kingdom and Queen Mantataise of the Basotho are both prime examples that African culture did not originally have a patriarchal structure,” adds Ntsoane.

“Women leaders have always played an important role.” He says that wars were often prevented by arranged marriages. “If the Basotho and Batswana had a dispute, the elders would advise their daughters to marry into the opposing tribe and so make the tribe their ally.” The spirit of healing is embodied as a goddess, which is why sangomas, both male and female, wear “female” clothing with a queen-like head dress.

I should start compiling a list of societal institutions through which women have participated in mediating violence at all levels of society. The one I first want to check out is the Iroquois Grandmother's Council that is so liberally bandied about without source attribution.

Vigil in Support of Cindy Sheehan

The vigil I "hosted" last evening in Tucson was one among over 1600 vigils held yesterday evening across the U.S. This particular vigil was only one of 4-5 big vigils held within the city proper. It was a great success. We had approximately 200 people attend, perhaps more. The delegated counter stopped at around 167 and people continued to arrive for another half an hour after that count. 135 people signed up and that was after I had to bump up the allowed number of participants above the initial 100 when we completely filled those slots. The response was overwhelming.

The candle light reflected on the various ages, sizes, shapes and hues of participants created a soft golden glow of support and compassion that stretched around the pubic property and sidewalk of thesouthwestern corner of The Tucson Mall. Visibility, access to parking, were key factors in location selection.

As an occasional participant in many local actions, I recognize the "regulars" who are the backbone of the Tucson activist community. Of the 200 folks at this vigil -- only two other people (plus myself) are regular protests participants with me being a relative newbie and only an occasional participant. Many folks had no idea there are other regularly scheduled vigils and protests occuring in Tucson every week. The participants were simply regular folks so upset by the disrespect the Bush administration shows to military families and the brave soldiers who fight and die for obscure, constantly changing, and increasingly obvious delusions and lies.

One of the most touching images that will stay in my mind was of the petite woman with her simply lettered sign that read, "Bring my son home."

Another woman, Corey, brought cards for people to sign that she she will hand deliver to Cindy in Crawford this weekend when she goes to stand with Cindy (and she had to go to get more cards when the first cards filled up within the first few minutes of the vigil because the response was so great.)

I am beginning to believe that the tide really is turning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Review list of significant Cindy Sheehan / Crawford sites:

Cindy's Blog

Crawford Peace House

Monetary donations are needed and can be sent to:
Crawford Peace House
P.O. Box 710218
Dallas, Tx. 75371-0218

or your can go to their main web page and use a paypal link.

They have also established an online community.

Peace House / Camp Casey Needs listed on CODEPINK's site.

Gold Star Families for Peace

Military Families Speak Out

Iraq Veterans Against the War

These heroic guys have a great links page with hard to find information about the war, resistance, opting out, and more.

Truthout's coverage of Cindy in One Mother's Stand a blog started by William Rivers Pitt and continued by Scott Galindez

Poets Against War: Postcards to Crawford

Write a post card in support of Cindy every day until Bush explains just what his "noble cause" is!

I just received this email from Poets Against War. (One of my pieces was featured in Feb 2004: braided dreams that is posted at the end of this entry.) It is a great way to share thought-word art.) They say to identify yourself when you write as a member of PAW -- but if you aren't a member, you could become one or you could just identify yourself as a PAW supporter. This post card campaign isn't featured on their web page just yet, but I suspect it will be.

Dear Poets Against War:

Please visit the Poetry Matters page of the PAW website for the following new features:

"Writers of the Storm: Fake News, and Public Decency, in the Age of Terror" Berkeley, CA 9/28/2005 Sponsored by Writers-At-Large, Jayne Lyn Stahl

Poetry and the Pentagon: Unholy Alliance? by Eleanor Wilner

Also, PAW supports a mailing campaign that has been organized in support of Cindy Sheehan. The idea is to write her a postcard a day, inundating the Crawford P.O. Please send to:

Cindy Sheehan
Crawford Peace House
9142 East 5th Street
Crawford, TX 76638-3037

It is important to include all 9 digits of the zip code.
The Crawford Post Office is not delivering mail that does not include all 9 digits.

Please identify yourself as a member of Poets Against War.

Sam Hamill & the PAW Board

braided dreams

i dreamt of second planes diverted
of the world powers still suckling from milky towers
of wars ended
but not the one we are fighting
of oil never pumped for the patriarchy
of grassy knolls with gunshots never fired

impossible dreams
of resurrections of camelot
of peace

the mythic moments
real only in the other world
where fact fiction and logical conspiracy
live in balance
where competing realities
agreeably alternate
braid sleepy dreams
into the connecting fibers of companion worlds
a rapid cycling brigadoon
surfacing altantis-like from undepleted oceans

if we all slept at once and dreamt the same dream
would we awaken to a different world

© N F Hill, all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

updates on all fronts - tucson, crawford, cyberspace

Travel to Crawford, Texas

Keith from Food Not Bombs in Tucson put out the following call today:

Cindy Sheehan, a mother who's son Casey was killed in Iraq, called Food Not Bombs asking us to provide food to the people attending the vigil for peace. Thousands of people have arrived in Crawford to support Cindy and to join their voice in her call to end the war in Iraq. We are offering to take people to Crawford on our bus. We need 20 people to join us and help pay for the gas. Cindy really hopes we can bring 20 people from Tucson. We plan to leave Thursday. We also need donations of food and money. To find out more call Keith McHenry at 770-0575

Sherry from Phoenix Sums Up Her Experience in Crawford

From: "Sherry Bohlen"
Subject: A "Rosa Parks" Moment in Crawford, Texas

Date: August 16, 2005
From: "Sherry Bohlen"
Subject: [PDA] A "Rosa Parks" Moment in Crawford, Texas

Date: August 16, 2005

"A Rosa Parks moment"… "history in the making"… "a pivotal moment in history"… "the spark that will ignite a national anti-Iraq War moment"… these are all phrases that I used dozens of times in the 40 plus interviews that I did during the past week at Camp Casey. Standing with Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey was truly an experience like no other.

Cindy Sheehan took a courageous stand along the roadside just outside President Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas. She simply asked the President to be accountable and to justify the loss of her son’s life. She was willing to stand alone. She had no idea that hundreds (thousands before it’s over) would caravan and pilgrimage to simply stand with her in support.

Many who came have loved ones who are currently serving in the military in Iraq. That’s my story. My son, Thor, is serving at Tallil near An Nasiriyah. He’s been there two very long months. Others who came have had loved ones serve and are safely home. Many of us belong to Military Families Speak Out. Others who came have paid the ultimate sacrifice and have lost a loved one. Those are members of the club none of us wish to join – Gold Star Families.

There were incredible moments that will forever be etched in my memory. Moments like the Friday morning when President Bush’s entourage drove down the road right by the camp -- the road that’s flanked by over 500 white crosses. Earlier that morning the local authorities had shut down the road from Crawford out to Camp Casey; but not before 72 of our cars were able to make it through. Many of us were able to stand in silent vigil along the roadside as he drove by. I was there to stand with my sign that shows a picture of my son along with the caption: "Bring my son home now. He doesn’t deserve to die for a lie." The only way that the President didn’t see the crosses and those of us standing along the roadside, was if he closed his eyes.

The following morning, hundreds of supporters gathered at a rally in Crawford. After an hour or two of inspiring music and tender stories of lost loved ones, everyone was encouraged to pile into cars and caravan to Camp Casey. Over 500 cars made the pilgrimage a la "Field of Dreams." Cindy built it and indeed they came. Camp Casey was visited that day by 1,000–1,500 people.

The mood at the camp and at the Crawford Peace House is one of tranquil certainty that a movement is afoot. Dedicated people are showing up from across the country to direct traffic, cook food, wash dishes, and haul away trash. Food continues to magically appear a la "loaves and fishes." Beautiful people from across Texas walk in every day with pots of soup and a dozen pies at a time. Supplies are being shipped in from across the country. Much-needed money is being sent to help pay the exorbitant power bills that will come next month.

Cindy has vowed to stay the course and remain at Camp Casey until the end of George Bush’s vacation on August 31 or until he comes out to speak with her. If he doesn’t speak with her before August 31, she’ll follow him to Washington DC and set up an encampment there.

So come stand with Cindy if you can. If you can’t come, send a donation, supplies, or food; say a prayer; or send a good thought. Reach out and be a part of it. It feels rich. It’s truly history in the making.

If you can’t make it to Texas, I hope to see you all in Washington DC on September 24-26 at the national mobilizing events geared to end the occupation and bring our troops home. This event was already destined to be huge. With the new wind of change, it’s going to be monumental.

in peace and solidarity
Sherry Bohlen

CODEPINK in Crawford, Tx
(abridged from letter to CODEPINK Local Coordinators)

August 16, 2005

As you all know the vigil outside the Bush Ranch in Crawford Texas has captured the eyes, ears and hearts of the nation's people and media. We at CODEPINK have been with Cindy since her 2nd day in Crawford and have not missed a beat in supporting her, the growing message of peace, and getting the word out about Camp Casey and the President's rejection of Cindy and her plea for a meeting.

This experience has been amazing, inspiring and life-changing for many of us here at Camp Casey. Cindy Sheehan and her family (relatives and Gold Star family) are tireless and brave; a new family has been forged here in the heat and passion of the past week and a half. We encourage you to coordinate with your friends, families and CODEPINK community to spread the word (through vigils, banner hangs, letters to the editor, etc.) and keep the flame of peace growing in your city.

Also, we are still encouraging people to join us in Crawford- if you want to organize a carpool (or know someone who does) please send your information (name, email address, how many seats in your car, etc.) to and we will soon be setting up a page off of the Cindy page from our site that will host a small carpool posting board. Check the Cindy page (link from the homepage) regularly for updates. If you are interested in sending supplies to the Crawford Peace House, "campers" are in need of flat sheets, towels, disposable cameras, and the other supplies listed on the CODEPINK site.

Thank you for your understanding, dedication and support!

Peace, love and solidarity from Crawford,
Dana on behalf of Tiffany and the CODEPINK crew

Monday, August 15, 2005

More on The Raging Grannies

90 years of social justice actions for peace and freedom were celebrated in San Francisco at the gathering of Women's International Peace and Freedom. Tucson's own Grannies were prominently showcased for their attempted enlistment in the Army that resulted in their arrest and some notoriety when newspapers around the world and some network and cable tv coverage. Pictured are a Granny from Tucson, another from Michigan and another from Vermont in the foreground, and one other Granny from Tucson in the background wearing the red hat. Picture from

And on this arrest front... it looks like all individual granny and reporter and photographer cases have been dismissed. (Yes! This writer was one of them... so I'm very happy.)

Anyway, there is some great Raging Granny coverage at Check it out.

More folks from Tucson, AZ headed to Crawford

Okay -- Cindy is staying in Crawford until the end of this month, August 2005. Then, if Bush hasn't met with her, she will move the vigil to D.C. Half of this month remains. There is still plenty of time to get there and support Cindy and the Gold Star Mothers and Military Families and Iraq Veterans against the War who are sending a very clear message that families of soldiers, both those fallen and those still fighting, are not going to take the squandering of their family members' heroic sacrifices any longer.

Chicken hawks can squawk all they want, but these folks from military families are true patriots. They raised their children to honor our country and to revere the principles which make our country stong, and they are not fooled by political puppets of the corporations who speak in platitudes and lies. We are not fodder. We are America.

Sherry, Rebecca and Paula (and Debbie another Tucsonan I've spoken with who was at Camp Casey this past weekend) are on their way back to Tucson. My friend Lee will be heading to Crawford within a day and Keith from Food Not Bombs is trying to get at least 20 folks who want to go to Crawford rounded up so they can all split the gas for the bus. If you are near Tucson or between Tucson and Crawford and looking for a ride, give Keith (one of the original Food Not Bombs organizers) an electronic hi-dee-ho and Get on Up, Get on the Bus, Get to Crawford!

If you can't go, Please Make a Donation to the Crawford Peace House! to support the provisioning of those involved in the vigil. The Peace house is feeding, providing some laundry support, phone access, and A/C to the constantly replentished and still growing number of vigil supporters. (That is why Tucson Food Not Mombs is on its way there.)


I'm ecstatic. This little blog isn't really needed any longer. Now you three or four folks who regularly read this, don't go getting excited... I'm not stopping the reporting, extemporaneous spouting off, nor the collection and posting of snipppets about Cindy, The Grannies or anything else. I started the thread about Cindy in this blog to help a few friends who were headed to Crawford... and I figured if this was anything like the Story of the Raging Grannies being arrested here in Tucson that if we were exceptionally fortunate alternative and foreign media might similarly pick it up a week after the fact prompting some corporate news-T.V. coverage in the U.S.

I am smiling because this same-said corporate media seems to have accidentally ignited a wildfire. I suppose the story of a lone grieving mother doing vigil outside Bush's ranch was a very interesting one that all the reporters assigned to Crawford, TX just couldn't resist filing a story on. It perhaps fulfilled a slice of misfortune story niche while Dubya vacations/plans another war from his little tiny parallel universe there in Crawford, TX. Perhaps no bizarre fate befell a young white woman recently, or Cindy simply filled the news slot for misfortune befalling a white woman last week. In any case, newspapers from all over the globe have picked up the story, including regional U.S. papers who are finding other stories to link to the original one about Cindy. Turns out there are a whole lotta folks who are so fed up they are ready to head to a tiny town in Texas to support this woman. Some have lost children, spouses, siblings, parents in Iraq. Some have vivid memories of other wars and injustices that spur them to act.

I thought I really needed to put some stuff out there on the web so people could find it. There is nothing more rewarding for an honorably motivated activist than to find out there is no longer a need bang the drum or drop the banner from on high. I won't feel quite as guilty now if I don't get a blog entry out every day. And I will be able to host a vigil this Wednesday.

We are gaining ground and momentum in our march toward peace.

Mother's Protest Gains Steam

Published on Monday, August 15, 2005 by Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

Re-distributed by Common Dreams.

Mother's Iraq-war Protest near Bush Ranch Picks Up Steam

Hundreds Converge on Peace House, Riling at least One of the President's Neighbors.
by Michael Fletcher

CRAWFORD, Texas -- Barbara Cummings was home in San Diego last Monday, listening to an Air America radio broadcast, when she heard the tale of a woman who was going to join Cindy Sheehan in her growing protest against the war in Iraq.

Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan speaks to the media after land owner fired off his shotgun in the air during an interfaith prayer service at Sheehan's camp near Crawford, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005. Sheehan came over to try and talk to the land owner who did not accept her offer. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
The woman on the radio had a son who had signed on for a second tour of duty in the Army after losing his job. In two weeks, he is scheduled to ship out to Iraq.

Cummings jumped on the phone and called her friend, Gloria Polk. "I asked her, 'Are you following the Cindy Sheehan story?' She was."

The next day, the two retirees hopped into a rented minivan for the 22-hour drive to the heart of Texas.

Several hundred war protesters converged on Crawford during the weekend, and many of them had similar stories. They think Sheehan, a 48-year-old mother from Vacaville, Calif., whose son was killed in Iraq last year, has ignited a struggling peace movement with her quiet, but defiant protest.

Cummings found herself in front of the Crawford Peace House, a gathering place for protesters, holding a hand-lettered sign. She was directing a stream of cars descending on this normally sleepy town to a dirt parking lot adjacent to a high-school football field.

Polk, meanwhile, was at the wheel of her blue Dodge Caravan, shuttling protesters up to the roadside campsite near President Bush's 1,600-acre ranch where Sheehan has been holding her defiant vigil for more than a week.

"We're both here because of our grandchildren," Cummings explained. "It feels like a word-of-mouth thing. Everybody I meet is saying they had to be here."

More than 150 flag-waving marchers made their way toward Sheehan's camp to show their support for the war. Also, a lone demonstrator drove a pickup blaring country music with a large American flag flying from its bed. A sign on his door read: "Texas Is Bush Country."

"It's just a miracle what's going on here," said Bill Mitchell, who lost his son, Michael, in Iraq on April 4, 2004 -- the same day Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed. Along with Sheehan, he has protested the war for more than a year.

At the Peace House, a small wood-frame cottage, things were humming. Before Sheehan's arrival, the house, established in 2003 by Dallas peace activists, had $121 in the bank and its phone cut off because of overdue bills. But once word of Sheehan's protest took flight, money began to flow in. In one week, the house has amassed enough money to pay off its $40,000 mortgage.

"I've been walking around with my mouth open and in a daze for the past two or three days," said Kay Lucas, Peace House director. "It's a blessing, a miracle. It's like the parable of the loaves and the fishes."

But neighbor Larry Mattlage has had enough.

He's tired of all the commotion at the anti-war camp across the road from his ranch house. He wants all the cars out of his ditch, and the war protesters, the pro-war demonstrators and the media to leave.

On Sunday morning, as Sheehan and a small gathering of other anti-war activists prepared for a worship service, he stood in his goat pasture and fired a shotgun into the air.

"I'm getting ready for dove season," he told reporters. "I'm practicing."

His message, though, was unmistakable.

"These neighbors out here are upset," he said. "I don't want nobody getting hurt. I just want them to pack the . . . tents and go where they came from."

Within minutes of his shotgun blast, deputies and Secret Service agents rushed in. McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch said he counseled Mattlage to exercise some restraint.

Information from The Dallas Morning News was used in this report.

© 2005 Orlando Sentinel


Music to build peace by

As you might have surmised, or not, I'm back in Tucson with my head a buzzing about what to do to move forward in our construction of a reality in which we are not at war.

I just received an email pointing me to a website where you can soon download the following song by Dave Rovics as an mp3.
The download is free and according to the email you can link to it or use the MP3 for
any purpose. Same goes for the other songs you find there, including many
related songs ("Four Blank Slates," "Waiting for the Fall," "When Johnny Came
Marching Home," many more). William Rivers Pitt has an article at entitled Every Mother's Son.

Chris Chandler has a new piece, too, which now has a video to go along with it, called "There's Something In The Air But It's Not On The Airwaves." It's the first link down after his picture on the site.

Here are the lyrics...

Song for Cindy Sheehan
David Rovics

Casey was a good boy
He treated people well
And his momma loved him
Anyone could tell
She'd send him off to school
Pack his lunch with care
When he came back home she hugged him
With her fingers in his hair
Cindy, she loved Casey
And when all is said and done
She is every mother
And he was every mother's son

When Casey was a little older
He spent his time each week
In that church in Vacaville
In the service of the meek
In the service of his city
In the service of the lord
With his momma in the pews
All the time they could afford
And if their love alone could save us
Then the world would be one
She is every mother
And he was every mother's son

People thought the priesthood
Was where he'd someday be
So some folks were surprised
When he joined the army
The recruiter told him
He wouldn't have to fight
Cindy hoped this was the case
And prayed for him every night
That was before they sent him
To the desert with a gun
She is every mother
And he was every mother's son

His truck had no armor
And when it came under fire
It and half the soldiers in it
Became a funeral pyre
Cindy, she was sleeping
The moment Casey died
And she knew she'd never see him
Standing by her side
There was no consolation
No safe place she could run
She is every mother
And he was every mother's son

The president, he told her
He died for a noble cause
But Cindy's wondering
Exactly what that was
Since they never found the weapons
And now that Casey's gone
It seems that oil is the game
And Casey was the pawn
Cindy's got some questions
And so does everyone
Because she is every mother
And he was every mother's son

Thanks to all the folks who send stuff my way!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Video of Phoenix rally supporting Cindy

See pics from the Code Pink rally in support of Cindy Sheehan in Phoenix, AZ on August 12, 2005. Or watch videos from the rally. All images are by Michael Sigmon /

Saturday, August 13, 2005

McNutt report from Crawford

I received this Monday, Aug. 15th in an email from my East Coastally connected friend, Fran. I'm back-dating this posting to August 13th -- the date sent.

Subject: Report from Crawford, TX
Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 03:52:59 -0400

From Rochelle McNutt, KPFT (Pacifica) News:

hello all,

lee taylor and i just got back from crawford a few hours ago and i want to try to convey a little of the feeling of what is going on there with cindy sheehan's courageous stand outsideof the bush ranch.

we drove up yesterday and arrived about 10 pm intodowntown crawford where we easily found the Crawford Peace House, purchased in 2003 by a group of people who decided rather than driving to crawford every couple of weeks to demonstrate, they would just buy a property balance out the energy in the area due tow's purchase shortly before just down the road. it was night and it was raining. we had heard of the ditches and the fire-ants, and, anyway, we didn't know where the actual camp site was, so the warm welcome we received when we walked in the door was almost over-whelming. Food and water were abundant, a delicious vegetarian soup was available to everyone, volunteers in the house were fielding phone calls for cindy from all over the u.s. and all over the world, directing parking places, assigning floor space for anyone wanting to sleep there. an entire table was full of gorgeous flower arrangements that had been sent to cindy and to the other gold star families who were joining the vigil.

after only 15 minutes, who should walk in the door but cindy sheehan herself. as lee and i were standing near the front door, she came to each of us and hugged us and thanked us for coming. she had some soup and made sure she was back at the campsite for 12:01am when it had been rumored that they would arrest her. she didn't want to disappoint them by not being there.

intimidated by the rain, the fire ants and a tent i had never set up before, we sensibly opted to drive 7 miles into macgregor and rent a motel room. we were rested and fresh and back at the peace house just after 8 am today. volunteers were offering to shuttle people the 5miles or so back and forth to the camp site, since the law enforcement agencies were restricting all kinds of no trespassing zones and parking was limited.

i had my trusty little handy-cam with me and started filming as soon as we got near the camp...a colorful cluster of banners, tents, people, cars up ahead. i was able to kneel in front of the many, many media people documenting the press conference, so i got close ups of each of the people who front of the main tent with a peace sign embroidered/painted on it, bouquets of flowers everywhere, a cross with casey sheehan's name on it, crosses with all the other fallen soldiers' names on it stretching out in both directions, 3 rows deep, between the ditches and the road.

cindy spoke first, simply and gently, saying she would not leave until she saw bush and asked him why her son had died, what was the noble cause that he had died for. she said if he would not see her and if she were not arrested, then after august 31 she would go camp out in d.c. until he would speak with her. she spoke of her son, of her family's devastation and of their support for her taking this stand, even casey, she was sure. she said the decision to come to crawford had come to her while she was typing to her email list about some event she was going to in austin...and that she just sort of saw her fingers typing..."and then from austin, i am going to crawford to ask to talk to bush".

after cindy, bill mitchell spoke. he lost his only son, the baby of the family, on the same day as cindy's son, in the same battle. cindy's son had only been in iraq 5 days when he was killed. bill's son, michael, was scheduled to return home just a few days later. bill said he had been against the war in the beginning and had protested on the first anniversary, carrying a sign saying bring our boys home now. he said that 4 days later his son was killed and 2 weeks later his boy did come home, in a coffin, in one of the coffins in the photo that caused that woman to loose her job.

after bill, celeste spoke. her younger son stood beside her. her older son was killed in iraq. then, a young woman named jean, in a green shirt, spoke. her son had been killed also. next a couple spoke who had 3 sons and 2 grandsons in iraq, none of whom have yet been killed, but they explained the anxiety they live with every day. later in the day, a woman named barbara from arkansas arrived who had lost her only child. she was interviewed later. a number of veterans for peace and even one young guy eligible for being called back in were all there, making signs, participating in whatever was going on.

i felt honored to be able to just be in the presence and lend the little support i could to these brave parents whostand straight and talk to the cameras about their losses and their grief, thru their tears, or remaining calm, just that they can keep ongoing. it was evident that they gave each other tremendous support...lots of hugs, and sitting around talking with each other later, sharing photos of their sons.

i was able to speak with and film ann wright, the woman who resigned from her 16 year position in the state department because of her disagreement with the iraq war. no one, not even the gold star families, minded being filmed or interviewed by me. i hope i can edit it all and get it onto a dvd to make available for anyone who wants to see it. there was a fantastic folk singer from oklahoma named peggy who sang her own political songs, accompanied by some congos (our very own heather, at times) and other instruments.

a woman named diane (not diane wilson, who was in her 5th day of a hunger strike and who i missed seeing somehow), a minister from dallas, was walking around having people sign a guest book. there were 250 names in it just from today. people came and went all day. cindy and a few others slept in tents (or tried to)during the nite. heather and katie said it got pretty scary about 4am with large cars driving by really fast, just beside the tents, and honking.

but, our experience spending the day at the campsite and back at the peace house, was uneventful with police. the few sheriffs at either place were friendly and easy to speak with. about mid-afternoon, 3 helicopters flew over us, apparently condi and donald and maybe bush on their way to a fund raiser on the other side of us from the ranch.

there was a great feeling of solidarity, compassion, vulnerability, thoughtfulness, hopefulness, sorrow, joy, gratitude, devastation, but, above all...connectedness. we all had a feeling that this was something really important happening and that maybe now there was going to be the shift we so desperately need in stopping this horrible and wrong war. we overheard at the camp someone saying that john conyers and maxine waters were on their way there.

our hitched ride back to the peace house was with the san francisco chronicle reporter, joe garofoli. he said his piece was on the front page today in san francisco (as another reporter's article was on the front page of the houston chronicle) and to look for the next one tomorrow. i'm sure we can find it online. he was intrigued with some of our texas bush stories and hearing a little of what's going on politically in texas.

at the peace house, as we said our goodbyes and packed up for houston, david van oz and his wife rachel arrived, on their way out to the camp.

i believe cindy arrived to camp out on either saturday or sunday and the idea and event has kept growing. it seems people come and go from all over (we met people from montana, illinois, georgia, ecuador and more) and stay as long as they can. then it seems like more people come to take their place and even multiply. they were pretty desperate for donations of food, money, medical supplies, but i think they have had a generous response. the crawford peace house is making it all possible and i think they could use some financial help.

but, most of all, i encourage all of you who are able to, to go join these brave and tender people. go for the day or for longer. cindy plans to stay til aug. 31 unless??? take what ever you can to share. help the numbers swell until bush cannot possible continue ignoring this mother's request for an answer to her question of just exactly why her son died.

sorry, i feel i've rambled and still not said what iwanted to say. it's late and i'll leave it at this. there are lots of places you will be able to get more precise and timely news, but maybe some of you will be able to get a little of the feeling from this.

let's keep on....with all hopes for an end to this war,

Visit the Regional Roundup websiteTri-state community news and information at Listen to WBAI - 99.5 FM in New York City Peace and Justice Radio On the Web at