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In season of celebration, remember those who suffer

From our friend Dennis O’Neil at the Iraq Moratorium:

This Friday, December 21, is Iraq Moratorium Day #4.

The end of December is a time of celebration. On the 22nd, the days

start getting longer once again. Friends and family gather to observe

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. Whatever the stresses of the holiday

season, it is a time to rest, to renew ties, to be grateful for having

made it through another year.

But let us keep in our hearts those with less reason to celebrate:

Ho, ho, ho! The Iraq war has gotta go!

Many of December’s nationwide Iraq Moratorium #4 actions, calling for an end to the war, will take on a holiday flavor as activists adapt their protests to the season.

The Iraq Moratorium, observed on the third Friday of every month, falls on Dec. 21, just four days before Christmas.  It is the fifth Christmas with U.S. troops in Iraq.

Songs of peace and Christmas caroling, with both traditional songs and new antiwar lyrics, will be part of many of the vigils and rallies.   Santa hats and the Moratorium’s trademark black armbands are recommended attire for some.  In Boston, carolers will hand out information about how to support veterans.  

A number of vigils will take their message to busy intersections, shopping districts and malls to reach out to throngs of holiday shoppers, including a silent vigil at Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan.  Mall walks, with participants wearing antiwar T-shirts, are also planned, and protestors will leaflet subway stops in New York, train stations in California, and commuters elsewhere.

In Snellville, Georgia, a display of more than 100 pairs of empty combat boots will symbolize service members from Georgia killed in Iraq,

Lawrence, Kansas will have a wishing well to collect holiday peace wishes from passersby.  In Royal Oak, Michigan activists will walk a mile through downtown with signs, banners and flags.

The Brandywine Peace Community in Valley Forge, Pa. will hold a candlelight vigil at the Lockheed Martin weapons complex.

In Texas, a car caravan from Dallas to San Antonio is planned with black ribbons, Iraq Moratorium banners and US flags on the vehicles.  

The Iraq Moratorium encourage local organizers to “do their own thing” on the third Friday of the month – but to do something, whatever it is, to end the war.  It is all a loosely-knit national grassroots effort operating under the Iraq Moratorium umbrella.

Planned events and actions are listed on the group’s website,, along with reports, photos and videos from the past three months.  The Moratorium began in September and is steadily growing.

“Two-thirds of the American people want this war to end,” California organizer Eric See said.  “Our challenge is to mobilize them, and the Iraq Moratorium lets them get involved at whatever level they are comfortable with, from wearing a button to taking part in an action.”

Doing something beats doing nothing every time

(An op ed column from Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal, in Madison.)

The fifth Christmas with U.S. troops in Iraq is upon us, with no end in sight.

It’s a time to remember those families who are missing a loved one this season, especially those who are facing the first holiday of the rest of their lives without their loved ones. It’s a time to remember and honor the troops who are away from home.

It ‘s also a time to ask: How can we stop the war? And it’s a time to do something — even if it ‘s something small — to say we want it to end.

President Bush will not be moved, despite the fact that every poll says a solid majority, perhaps two-thirds, of the American people want to end the war and bring our troops home.

The Democratic Congress, elected a year ago with a mandate to end the war, is too chicken-hearted to confront the bull-headed president. Next year’s presidential election offers precious little hope, as the leading candidates refuse to commit to having our troops out by 2013.

Opponents of the Iraq war have become the new Silent Majority. They tell the pollsters they ‘re against the war, but do nothing — perhaps because it seems fruitless.

It is understandable if they are disheartened. They spoke out in huge numbers before the war began, and were ignored. Four years of beating their heads against the wall may have worn them out.

But it’s not a time to give up. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

That’s why I have joined many who have signed on with the Iraq Moratorium, a decentralized but growing national grassroots effort that asks individuals to take personal responsibility to do something — anything — to show their opposition to the war.

The moratorium asks people to take some action, individually or collectively, on the third Friday of every month, from wearing a black armband or button to participating in a large-scale protest, or many things in between.

The group’s website, ,has ideas, information and reports on past and upcoming actions.

The fourth monthly Moratorium Day is Dec. 21, four days before Christmas. It is guaranteed to be ignored by the media, George Bush and the Congress.

The cynics say nothing we do matters, so why do anything?

The answer is obvious: Doing something is infinitely more likely to have an impact than doing nothing. That’s what the Iraq Moratorium is all about.

Buttons and armbands won’t stop the war by themselves. Neither will rallies and marches, or letters to the editor, or phone calls to Congress, or speeches or civil disobedience. There ‘s no single magic solution.

Those who want to end this war need to do everything to keep the flame alive until the silent majority catches fire and demands an end to this senseless war.

That’s why I will do something for Iraq Moratorium No. 4 on Dec. 21. And you?

Iraq Moratorium #4 dawns early in Colorado

Just like New Years is celebrated in Australia long before the ball drops in Times Square, Iraq Moratorium #4 dawns a week early today in at least one location.

Interesting that it rises early not in the East, but in Colorado Springs.

The Iraq Moratorium is observed on the Third Friday of every month. This month it falls on December 21, close to the holidays, the winter solstice, campus closings and a number of other possible distractions that present a challenge to organizers.

So, Pikes Peak Justice and Peace , the sponsor, which holds an action every month, moved it up a week for December only. PPJP is also responsible for the striking graphic above. Newspeak’s listing: :

Join PPJPC on Friday, Dec. 14 at the corner of E. Fountain & S. Academy for the fourth Iraq Moratorium. As in past events, they call for an end to the criminal occupation of Iraq and a peaceful resolution to our country’s differences with Iran.  Presence near the local headquarters of several prominent defense contractors will draw attention to the problem of military dependency in our local economy and the problems of waste, fraud, and cronyism in military contracting.

Gather at the Justice and Peace Commission’s office at 214 E. Vermijo and leave in a carpool between 11:00 and 11:30.  Because of the cold and the possibility of snow, dress warm and bring warm beverages to share if you can.   For more information about the national campaign, visit

For the rest of the country, there’s still a week to decide what to do to observe Iraq Moratorium #4.

For starters, consider taking the simple pledge on the website, saying you’ll break your daily routine on the Third Friday of every month and take some action, by yourself or with others, to end the war in Iraq.

You’ll find a list of events and suggestions for solo action on the site, too.  Event listings are still coming in every day; the last three months there have been 100 or more across the country, in addition to the countless individuals actions taken under the Moratorium banner.

Check it out.

Muskies, seashells and balloons and organizing for peace

When we last checked in with our intrepid antiwar warriors in Hayward, Wisconsin, they were basking in the afterglow of Iraq Moratorium #3, having turned out some 40 people in a city of 2129 for a roadside vigil. We noted that the same percentage turnout across the nation would put 6 million people in the streets, calling for an and to the Iraq war.

Now comes the local weekly, the Sawyer County Record, to remind us that organizing for peace in a small, rural community is not all seashells and balloons, as Al McGuire used to say (meaning everything was coming up roses.)  The paper reports:

They’ve become a familiar sight at the corner of Highways 63 and 27 in Hayward.

They hold signs. They wave. They usually smile.

They appreciate the honks of support. They tolerate the jeers and middle fingers pointed in their direction


But members of Peace North, which organizes the event, are busy working on turnout for Iraq Moratorium #4 next week, on Friday, December 21.

It’s a challenging time to organize for peace — four days before Christmas, one day before the shortest and darkest day of the year. It’ll be below freezing if not below zero in some parts of the country.  Most campuses will be shut down and students scattered.

Organizers are responding with some creative ideas, many of them holiday-themed to match the goodwill the season seems to generate. More events and plans are being listed every day on the Moratorium website.

“Dress warmly and be ready to sing,” warned organizers of the Patriots for Change peace vigil in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Mall walks, antiwar carols, Santa suits and hats, vigils and actions to reach out to holiday shoppers all are in the works.

In Valley Forge, Pennsylvania the Brandywine Peace Community plans a Christmas candlelight vigil at Lockheed Martin weapons complex,to include: reading of names of Iraq war dead (both Iraqi and U.S.)to the backdrop of Christmas Carols, bell-tolling, poetry and music, reading of the Christmas story and guest minister commentary on “Seeing the World Through Jesus Eyes”.

Check the website for an event near you.  But you don’t need an event to participate in the Iraq Moratorium.  All you need to do is to take some action on December 21 to express your wish for an end to the war.  Wear a button or a black armband to work or school.  Write, call or email your members of Congress.  Put a sign in your yard or hang one on a freeway overpass.   Make a donation.  The list is a long one, and you’ll find many more ideas on the website.

Do what you’re comfortable doing — but do something.

Curse the darkness, but also light a candle.

One closing note:  In our previous post in praise of Hayward, we erroneously identified the city as the Musky Capital of the World.  It turns out that although Hayward does play host to the Musky Festival and is the home of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which features a musky sculpture half a block long and four and a half stories high, that Hayward is NOT the Musky Capital of the World.

That honor belongs to Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, which guards it zealously.

When one of the Peace North members in Hayward pointed that out, we agreed that when Boulder Junction turned out two per cent of its population for an Iraq Moratorium event we might set the record straight. But we’re doing it now anyway.  How about it, Boulder Junction?  Want to be the Peace Capital of the World?

Obey tells White House to stick its spending bill

Wisconsin’s Dave Obey, the House Appropriations chair, is never one to mince words.  

He’s famous for his explosive language and telling it like it is, even on the House floor.  

He’s got a temper (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  And he hates to be pushed around.

So it should be no surprise that Obey has pulled the plug on the deal the Democrats were working on with the White House, to pour billions more into Iraq in return for some domestic pork.

The Washington Post reports:  

A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president’s spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers’ pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration’s top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“When the White House continues to stick it in our eye, I say to hell with it,” House Appropriations Chairman David Obey. He said he will push a stripped-down spending bill.

He’s just as hot in his Wall Street Journal quotes:

“I’m not in the business of trying to pave the way for $70 billion or $90 billion for Iraq for $10 billion in table scraps,” Obey said. “We asked Bush to compromise. He has chosen to go the confrontation route.”

“I want no linkage what-so-ever between domestic [spending] and the war. I want the war to be dealt with totally on its own. We shouldn’t be trading off domestic priorities for the war.”

Whether he can make it stick is another question.  As chairman, he has a lot of clout.  But too many Democrats seem far to ready to wheel and deal and sell us out on the war, as noted here on Saturday.

But Obey, at least, has had enough.  He sounds ready to dig in for the long haul — unless his caucus undermines him, which would not be a shock.  Back to the Post:

House Democratic leaders were scheduled to complete work last night on a $520 billion spending bill that included $11 billion in funding for domestic programs above the president’s request, half of what Democrats had initially approved. The bill would have also contained $30 billion for the war in Afghanistan, upon which the Senate would have added billions more for Iraq before final congressional approval.

But a stern veto threat this weekend from White House budget director Jim Nussle put the deal in jeopardy, and Obey said he is prepared for a long standoff with the White House.

“If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they’re smoking something illegal,” he said.

A timely call to your representative in the House would be in order, asking him/her to do the right thing and refuse to support any Iraq appropriations that are not tied to troop withdrawals.

Call the House Switchboard 202-224-3121

Or go here to find email and phone for your representative.

UPDATE: Another Wisconsin blogger notes that Obey has been less than consistent on war funding and wonders whether he has seen the light.  

Victory in Iraq? Who’s kidding whom?

Finally, some good news from Iraq.

“We are winning,” declared former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee…Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee said the U.S. “must prevail” in the war, and added, “… I believe that we are.”

…Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani … said that the goal in Iraq should be a “victory for America.”

The phrase was striking because Bush himself, who often touted the U.S. strategy for victory, recently dropped the word “victory” from his lexicon as part of an administration effort to avoid appearing to overstate progress.

Excuse me, but I think this is where I came in.  

Mission accomplished? Victory?  Hardly.

Who’s kidding whom?

At best, we have a temporary respite from escalating numbers of deaths and attacks in Iraq since the so-called surge began.  

On Sunday, 23 civilian deaths were reported.  On Saturday, 26.  On Friday, 32.  The worst day last week was Wednesday, with 45 killed. The weekly total:  202.  Those are conservative numbers from a reliable source.

Thirty-seven US service members died in Iraq last month, the lowest monthly total since March 2006.

Lest anyone confuse those numbers with “victory,” consider this sobering assessment:

BAGHDAD — The U.S. troop buildup in Iraq was meant to freeze the country’s civil war so political leaders could rebuild their fractured nation. Ten months later, the country’s bloodshed has dropped, but the military strategy has failed to reverse Iraq’s disintegration into areas dominated by militias, tribes and parties, with a weak central government struggling to assert its influence.

In the south, Shiite Muslim militias are at war over the lucrative oil resources in the Basra region. To the west, in Anbar province, Sunni Arab tribes that once fought U.S. forces now help police the streets and control the highways to Jordan and Syria. In the north, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens are locked in a battle for the regions around Kirkuk and Mosul. In Baghdad, blast walls partition neighborhoods policed by Sunni paramilitary groups and Shiite militias.

“Iraq is moving in the direction of a failed state, a highly decentralized situation — totally unplanned, of course — with competing centers of power run by warlords and militias,” said Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group. “The central government has no political control whatsoever beyond Baghdad, maybe not even beyond the Green Zone.”

The key word in the first paragraph of that story is “failed.”

And that’s the situation with US troop levels at their peak.  A relative handful — 5,000 of the 162,000 US forces — are on their way home this month.

By next summer, 25,000 more are to come home under the plan put forward by Gen. David Patraeus.  That would merely bring troop levels back to where they were before the surge — and Patraeus has kept open the option of changing his mind, depending upon the security situation in Iraq.  

At the absolute best, that leaves 130,000 US troops in Iraq next July.

Victory?  Hardly.

There are plenty of words to describe the situation in Iraq, but victory is not one of them.  

We’ve got to keep the pressure on, or we’ll be hearing Hillary & Co. talking about “victory” in their next debate.

A real victory would consist of ending the war and bringing our troops home.  That is not even up for discussion by the Republican candidates, except Ron Paul, and gets very little traction with the leading Demomcrats, either.

It’s time to turn up the heat. Iraq Moratorium #4 on December 21 is a good place to start, but don’t stop there.  We’ve got to not only turn up the heat, but keep it on.  

Or we should consider the solution proposed by Sen. George Aiken, a Vermont Republican, during the Vietnam war:  Just declare victory and being the troops home.

That’s the kind of victory we could all get behind.    

Chicken-hearted Dems too weak even to sell out when they try

If you ever wondered why the Democratic Congress hasn't ended the Iraq war — or even successfully made the tiniest step in that direction — it's all been laid out clearly in the last 24 hours.

1. The Democrats cave — again. The AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — After weeks of tough talk, Democrats appear resigned to back down again on providing money for the Iraq war.

What happened?

''Republicans, Republicans, Republicans,'' said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. ''The real problem here is the president and his Republican backers'' who have ''staked out an increasingly hard-lined position.''

(Wonder if Democrats have ever thought of that tactic? Nah, not nice.)

2. Next we get some details from the Washington Post via Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leaders are contemplating legislation that would give President George W. Bush $70 billion in new funds for war but without any timetables for withdrawing troops from Iraq, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The deal would also include about $11 billion in additional domestic spending through September 2008 that Bush had opposed, said the Post, quoting House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who met with the paper's editorial board on Friday.

Still unclear, however, is whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a vocal opponent of the Iraq war, would go along with the unconditional money for combat after several attempts in the House to bring the fighting to an end.

3. Then the coup de grace, from the AP again:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Saturday threatened to veto a massive spending bill being assembled by congressional Democrats, saying it's unacceptable to add billions of dollars to domestic programs.

The White House has not seen details of the $500 billion-plus measure — which senior Democrats are constructing behind closed doors — but reacted to it based on media accounts.

The bill contains $11 billion above President Bush's February budget, awarding the money to domestic programs such as education and health research. It also may contain several billion dollars in ''emergency'' funding for border security, foreign aid, drought relief and a food program for women and children.

Singing songs of peace for the holidays

Mission:  Find some antiwar versions of holiday carols to sing at December 21 Iraq Moratorium #4 and other peace events around the holidays.

The call for lyrics or song parodies, with some samples for inspiration, went out a few days ago.  

And now Pat Wynne of the Freedom Song Network offers this:


Words By Pat Wynne

(Tune: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)

Soldiers resting near an open fire

Generals safe in the Green Zone,

Explosions, shots and unfriendly fire

Arms and legs and bodies blown.

Everybody knows

There were no weapons- let’s come clean

Just lies to feed the war machine.

Tiny tots with their homes all aflame

It¹s hard to not affix some blame.

They know no Santa’s on his sleigh

There’s just more death and maiming on the way.

And every mother’s son would like to say,

“Just send me home to my family today.”

And so I’m offering this simple  plea,,

To folks from one to ninety-three,

Peace In Iraq, Stop the war, Let’s all say,

“Bring the troops home today”.

Bush-Cheney may still have their World War III

Just when you thought Bush and Cheney might have to rethink starting World War III, Matt Rotshschild has to spoil your mood.  Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, writes:

Hold on a second here.

The risk of Bush attacking Iran is not yet over.

When the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran came out earlier this week, a lot of people jumped to the conclusion that Cheney and the hardliners have lost, and so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Well, I’m not exhaling at the moment.

Because I still believe Bush and Cheney are going to do the deed.

And he may well be on to something.

If there’s one thing our own, DC-based Axis of Evil learned in the runup to the Iraq war, it’s that if one argument doesn’t work you should just keep making others, until you wear down the resistance and something finally sticks.

And if it turns out later that you were wrong or lying about it, so what?  

Will bombing be enough?  Sending ground troops might be problematic, since most of those available are bogged down in another quagmire at the moment.  And World War III will be a bit of an overstatement when it turns out Iran has no nukes and little ability to fight back.  So maybe, despite Bush’s hype, it’s just another dirty little war.

Rothschild posits that Bush will simply switch gears and find another reason to attack:

“Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” [Bush said.]

Note well that he didn’t say Iran will be dangerous when it acquires such a weapon, but prior to that, when it acquires the knowledge to make one. That’s a big difference, and it shortens the timetable laid out in the NIE, which doubted Iran would have such a weapon until 2015.

Who knows when Iran will have the “knowledge to make” one? Maybe it has that knowledge already and lacks only the technical sophistication…

He reiterated that “Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace,” adding: “My opinion hasn’t changed.” And he remained as macho as ever in boasting that he wouldn’t allow Iran to acquire such a weapon while he’s around.

There’s more.  And it doesn’t read like paranoia.

There’s no reason to be jolly; fa la la la la, la la la la

Congress Isn’t Stopping the War

(To the tune of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”)

You better shape up,

You better get tough.

Or this next election

Is gonna be rough

If Congress doesn’t stop the war

We’re watching your votes

We’re taking good notes

Gonna insist on more than good quotes  

Congress isn’t stopping the war

We see you when you’re voting

We know when you sell out

We know when you don’t have the guts

To get our troops right out

So you better shape up,

You better get tough

Or this next election

Is gonna be rough

If Congress doesn’t stop the war.

(VARIATION: Substitute Democrats for Congress, with a few word adjustments)

Think that’s bad?  You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.  Read on …

Quit giving $$$ to politicians; give the gift of peace

We’ve been regularly donating to two presidential candidates — not large amounts, but smaller contributions about once a month – for the past year.

But we’ve declared a moratorium on those checks and online contributions until after there is a Democratic nominee.

Instead, we’re going to put that money somewhere that is more likely than any politician to end the war in Iraq.

Whether we max out to Obama, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, Clinton or whomever isn’t going to have the slightest impact on their policy stance.  Our contributions are a drop in the multi-million dollar campaign bucket.

The same amount of  money, given to an organization working to stop the war, is far more likely to actually accomplish something.

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