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Reason #486,948,321 to say “Stop the war”

As if we needed another, here is reason Number 486,948,231 (and counting) to do something to end the war and occupation in Iraq:

A year after he ordered a large increase in American troops in Iraq, President Bush said Saturday that he was prepared to slow or even halt further reductions of forces there, emphasizing that any decision depended on security and the stability of the Iraqi government.

After meeting with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker here at a sprawling desert base in neighboring Kuwait, Mr. Bush noted the sharp reduction in attacks on American troops and Iraqi civilians in recent months, saying the decline in violence was too hard-won to be squandered.

So the surge, intended to buy time to allow for some political progress in Iraq — which has not happened — now must be sustained simply to maintain the status quo, it appears.

Is anyone surprised?  Even the Democrats who keep funding the war without demanding any plans for troop withdrawals?

More, on the anniversary of the “surge,” from the NY Times:

Mr. Bush said that additional withdrawals would depend solely on conditions in Iraq, which General Petraeus was reviewing. During an 80-minute meeting, the president instructed the general, who is due to report in the spring on suggested troop levels, to make no recommendation that would jeopardize improvements in security.

“My attitude is, if he didn’t want to continue the drawdown, that’s fine with me in order to make sure we succeed, see,” Mr. Bush told reporters inside a command center that oversees Army operations in a region stretching from Kenya to Kazakhstan. “I said to the general, ‘If you want to slow her down, fine.’ It’s up to you.”

Friday, January 18, is Iraq Moratorium #5.

If you like the way things are going, and will be content to keep US troops in Iraq as long as we’ve kept them in Korea, don’t do anything.

But if you thing there’s something rotten in Washington, not to mention Baghdad, please do something to turn up the heat on the President — and, more importantly, on the Congress and the presidential wannabes in both parties.

It’s got to stop, and we’ve got to stop it.

What will you do in 2008 to end the war?

By a Gold Star Mother, who lost a son in Iraq, writing on the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus blog:

What did you do in 2007 to end the war? Did you act? Did you contact your legislator? Did you write a letter to the editor? Did you pick up the phone? Did you participate in a rally or a protest? Or were your days filled with inaction?

Were you indifferent when you heard of our young men and women’s souls were leaving this earth from the sands of Iraq? Were you affected by the death and displacement of so many Iraqi’s who never asked that this fight be brought to their land? What did you do to stop the war/occupation? Did you think it isn’t your problem? Did you think nothing you did would matter or did you just not care?

Were you silent about the injustice of this pointless and endless war? Were you silent when your voice could have been heard and counted? Were you silent because it was easier that way or did you just not care?

Iraq Moratorium #5 on Friday, January 18

Ready for Iraq Moratorium #5?

The Raging Grannies of Mountain View CA will bring cookies and tea to “welcome” recruiters to a new Armed Forces Career Center to the neighborhood on Friday, January 18 – and to let the recruiters know they are moving into territory occupied by the Grannies, part of a national network of antiwar activists.

A vigil at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Maryland will call for money to be spent helping wounded veterans, not the war.  A march in Brattleboro VT will feature drummers, horns, bagpipes, and dancers.  A public forum in Duluth MN will feature Native American and African American leaders speaking against the war.  

Don’t let them change the subject; the war goes on

That image, courtesy of the Defense Department, is just a reminder of what’s happening on the other side of the world as we count the caucus votes in Iowa.

A resolution: To work to bring the troops home

A New Year’s resolution:  To do what I can to end the Iraq war and occupation.

To do something, even if it’s something small, to try to accomplish something big.

It takes a leap of faith, in 2008, to believe that anything you do can make a difference.  After nearly five years of being ignored by the Bush administration and the Congress, many are disillusioned and/or cynical.

But, for the most part, they are still planning to vote.

If you believe that your one vote will make a difference in this country’s direction, why wouldn’t you believe that your one voice against the war can also make a difference?

When I wrote recently about the Iraq Moratorium , some readers responded that protests are meaningless or even counterproductive.

Protests not your thing?  Fine.  Do something else.  Contact a member of Congress.  Help an antiwar candidate.  Wear a button.  Whatever.  Let a million ideas and individual actions bloom.  But do something.

That’s what’s attractive about the Iraq Moratorium, a national umbrella uniting people and groups who want to bring the troops home.  There is no “one size fits all” philosophy.  There are no rules.  People are encouraged to do their own thing.  But they are encouraged to do something, and, whatever it is, to do it on the Third Friday of every month.  

The Iraq Moratorium website collects information about past and future actions across the country and makes it accessible so people can share ideas and tactics and support and inspire one another.

Since Moratorium #1 in September, there have been several hundred actions in about 30 states, ranging from simple vigils to rallies and marches challenging war profiteers.  The next round is scheduled on Friday, Jan. 18, and organizers are beginning now to list their plans on the website.

But group actions are just a part of the Iraq Moratorium.  Individuals can take part, too, by doing something on the Third Friday of every month, whether it’s wearing a button or armband to work or school, putting up a sign, writing a letter to the editor, or dozens of other possibilities.  

It would be nice if folks would sign the simple pledge on the website:

I hereby make a commitment that on the Third Friday of each and every month, I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq.

But even that formality isn’t necessary.

All you need to do is do something, once a month.

The Pentagon and the war machine will operates 24/7/366  this Leap Year.

How about resolving to spend a small amount of time, once a month, to try to make a difference?

Happy New Year.

Taking it to the malls: Bringing the war home

Even before the California Supreme Court’s ruling that shopping malls can’t bar protestors, participants in Iraq Moratorium #4 last week were taking their message to the malls.

Some of the action moved to the malls because that’s where the people were, doing holiday shopping four days before Christmas.  Most “mall walkers” did just that — walked the malls wearing antiwar shirts or singing carols, not staging actual protests.

An exception was Madison, Wisconsin, where seven people were “arrested” — and later “unarrested” at West Towne Mall. Organizer Joy First tells what happened:

When we got to the center [of the mall], we unfurled our banners saying “3896 US soldiers killed in Iraq,” “Over 655,000 Iraqis killed” and “Stop the War Now”. A couple of us began slowly and loudly reading names of Iraqis and US soldiers killed in the war, and a couple handed out leaflets. It was only about 5-10 minutes before the mall security and manager came over and told us we had to stop. We talked to them about why we were there and why we couldn’t stop.

We felt we had the right to be there and that we needed to get this message out. Doing this action at the mall is important to juxtapose the suffering of the Iraqi people with the commercialism of the holiday season in the US. So, we continued and mall security called the police.

Bonnie, Susan, and I laid down on the floor and were covered with the banners we had been holding. Someone laid a red rose on top of each shroud. It is very uncomfortable laying there because once you are covered with the sheet, you cannot see what is going on any more. But I did continue to hear the clear, strong voices of my friends reading the names of people killed in the war as the jolly Christmas music from the mall played in the background.

I could also people walking by – some of them supportive and some not. One comment I heard several times was that we shouldn’t be doing something like this because there were kids around. I am listening to names being read, such as Mariam, daughter of Haider Mujed, age 3, or Ayat, daughter of Jaider Mujed, age 1 or Saif Alwan, age 14, or Ali Hamid, age 2. Do you remember your 2-year old and how sweet and lovable they are at that age? People are complaining that we shouldn’t do this with children present, but I think about all the Iraqi children who are being killed and wonder who will protect them.


You can read the full report and see a video of the entire action on the Iraq Moratorium website. Go to the reports section.

Elsewhere, mall walkers in San Mateo, California confronted Marine Corps recruiters in the mall (above.) Palo Alto and San Jose groups also did mall walks, and protestors sang antiwar carols outside of Macy’s in San Francisco. In Nashville, activists held signs along the roadway entering a busy mall.

A group in Hobart, Indiana pioneered the mall walks for peace in October, strolling the mall and buying a few items while wearing “Out of Iraq” T-shirts and armbands.

Being “shoppers” or mall walkers seems to remove some of the legal questions about holding a protest on private property.  

There have been arguments over the years that malls are the new town squares, public places where free speech should prevail. The California decision does not answer the broaader question, but dealt with union members asking shoppers to boycott a store.

The First Amendment Center offers a summary and links to stories on some of the cases, most of which have come down on the side of property rights over First Amendment rights:  

Court upholds Florida candidate’s petition rights in mall

State district court agrees that Kevin Wood should not have been convicted of trespassing for seeking signatures. 02.07.04

‘Peace’ T-shirt spawns legal fight against N.Y. town, mall

NYCLU argues that since Crossgates Mall receives tax incentives from town of Guilderland, it’s a public area in which free speech is guaranteed. 05.31.04

Mall owners can limit speech, Connecticut high court says

Justices rule managers legally prohibited union members from distributing leaflets, saying shopping center is private – not public – entity. 07.20.04

Protesters at Hawaii malls can be prosecuted for trespass

State high court rejects argument that shopping center’s common areas should be considered public space where free speech is protected. 08.14.04

La. man wins right to protest in front of Wal-Mart

Federal court order allows Edwin Crayton to picket on public sidewalk in front of store without permit from city. 11.14.06

Prediction for 2008:  More mall walks, more protests, more legal challenges as antiwar actions escalate.

Says Joy First in Madison:

We must and we will continue to speak out against the war and occupation. As the devastation in Iraq continues and more and more people are hurt and killed, as more people become refugees, as more US soldiers come home with injuries physical, emotional, and spiritual, as more children in this country are starving and homeless because we are using all resources in Iraq, we will continue to take more and more risks in speaking out against the horrors that are caused by our government’s actions. We cannot and will not remain silent. It is our duty and responsibility to speak out.

Cheeseheads show how to build a peace movement

If you were looking for excuses for December’s Iraq Moratorium to be smaller than previous ones, there were plenty available. It fell four days before Christmas, on the darkest day of the year, with cold weather in much of the country and campuses closed for winter break.

None of that mattered in Hayward, a city of 2,129 in northwestern Wisconsin, which we’ve reported on previously.  When 40 people turned out there in November, we projected that on a percentage basis that was equivalent to 12,000 people in Milwaukee, 160,000 in New York City, or 6 million nationally.

Puffed up by that kind of publicity here and elsewhere, one of the organizers, Steve Carlson, boldly set a goal of 75 for Iraq Moratorium #4 in December.  He later had some second thoughts, no doubt.

So, what happened? They doubled attendance. Here’s the report:

Consider a holiday gift of peace

Still not finished with your holiday shopping?

Hate shopping?

Hate the war?

Here’s a last-minute holiday gift idea for you — and you can give it without ever leaving your keyboard, where you’re sitting right now.

Consider a donation to the antiwar movement as a gift to a friend or relative, or in someone’s memory.  Or simply in the name of building the peace movement, to stop the war in Iraq and bring the troops home.

I’ll get to some others in a minute, but my favorite cause is the Iraq Moratorium, which continues to grow on the Third Friday of every month, as more people take the pledge and participate.  Friday was Moratorium #4, and reports of actions are beginning to come in from around the country.  You can read them here. Some of them are really inspiring.

But we have a long, long way to go.  There is much work to be done.  And the Iraq Moratorium urgently needs your financial support. It’s a low budget, volunteer organization, with virtually no overhead and zero fundraising expense. Every dollar you give goes directly to building the movement.

To make a holiday contribution, simply click here.

Others that also will put your dollars to work in the cause of peace:

Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Veterans for Peace.

Iraq Veterans Against the War.

United for Peace and Justice.

Brandywine Peace Community.

Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The list is far from exhaustive.  You may know of other organizations, local or national, which do good work and need financial help.  (Feel free to plug them in the comments.)

If it matters to you, many of these contributions are tax deductible, including the Iraq Moratorium.  In most cases you’ll find info at the website.

But please consider a holiday gift of peace, even a small one.  It will help, and you’ll feel better, too.

Have a peaceful holiday season.

Can’t defund the war? Then defund the Democrats

(Cross-posted on DailyKos, where it has really stirred up the Kossacks.)

Enough is enough.

I spent 20 years of my life working to elect Democratic candidates.  Because that’s how I made my living, and because I believed it would make a difference, I’ve also given regularly to Democratic candidates over the years.

But the list of Dems who might get a check from me just got a lot shorter, after their latest cave-in on Iraq.

If they won’t defund the war, maybe it’s time to defund the Democrats.

There are 70 billion reasons to quit giving — one for every dollar they just appropriated for the Iraq war and occupation.  

Writing it that way makes it seem like too little.  This is better:  $70,000.000,000.00.  That’s how I’d use it in a campaign commercial against one of them in a Democratic primary.

No matter how you write it, it is a lot of money.

Did I mention that it’s with no strings attached?  No requirements to even begin to plan for troop withdrawal.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.

Seventy billion.


Too busy to stop the war? Buy an indulgence

Happy Iraq Moratorium #4.

You say you’re not planning to do anything today for the Moratorium; too much shopping left to do, holiday stress, overbooked, busy, sick, exhausted and who knows what all? And, anyhow, it’s too cold to stand on the corner for a vigil, right?

And if that weren’t bad enough, you’re feeling just a teensy bit guilty about not doing anything to stop the war today?

Well, here’s the easy way out:  Buy yourself an indulgence.

Simply go to the Iraq Moratorium website and make a contribution.  A one-time donation of any amount counts as doing something today.  And the Moratorium desperately needs the dough.

If you don’t intend on doing anything on the Third Friday of coming months, either, you might want to consider a monthly pledge — sort of a plenary indulgence that will keep you in the state of grace right on through.

If you’re still motivated to do more and take some action today, it’s not too late.

Organizers ask people to do something — anything — to call for an end to the war in Iraq.  A few ideas from the website, which also lists some 90 actions planned today:

Wear an antiwar button or sticker to work or school.

Wear a black armband to let people know you mourn the overwhelming loss of life in this war.

Hang an antiwar sign in your window, or put one on your lawn.

Call a local radio talk show and explain why you want this war to end.

Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper and let people know about the Iraq Moratorium and how they can get involved.

Call the Washington, DC, offices of your senators and your representative.

Attend one of the many vigils, pickets, rallies, and other events going on across the country.

There are no limits on what anyone can do.  Creative ideas that stir discussion or attract media attention are what’s needed.  

Too many choices?  Can’t decide?

You can always buy that indulgence.

Happy Moratorium Day to you and yours.

‘I am only one, but I can do something’

I am only one,

But still I am one.

I cannot do everything,

But still I can do something;

And because I cannot do everything

I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

— Ten Times One is Ten (1870), Edward Everett Hale

Making the connections: Homelessness, vets and the Iraq war

This Friday is a day designated to remember the homeless, as well as a day to take some action to stop the war in Iraq.

And, yes, they are related. As the environmentalists remind us, everything is connected.

We are creating future homeless veterans every day in Iraq.

It’s got to stop.  And we’ve got to stop it.

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