How did you spend Memorial Day?

May 31, 2007

Iraq Vets Against the War: Operation First Casualty

Giving our cities a glimpse into what occupation feels and looks like and that really supporting the troops means ending the war.


Another Very Large Blank Check for the Emperor Bush’s Quagmire

May 25, 2007

by Kevin Martin
Executive Director, Peace Action
Will the people of Iraq ever forgive us? Every Member of Congress who voted for this is an accessory to quagmire, murder and destruction, plain and simple.

Senate vote was 80-14 for blank check, interesting that Obama and Clinton voted right, shows they are no dummies, they know their presidential aspirations woulda been toast had they voted wrong, a bit of a silver lining in a very dark cloud of entitlement and cluelessness in the “world’s greatest deliberative body”, surely that is a cruel joke at this point.

Here are some senators Peace Action/Peace Action PAC endorsed/supported last year who voted to continue the blank check for the worst president in US history – Sherrod Brown (what the hell was he doing voting for this pile of manure?), Daniel Akaka, Robert Byrd, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Jim Webb. To be clear, we didn’t think any of these folks were the second coming of Gandhi, but neither would we expect them to vote to give Bush a blank check.

See how your senator voted at http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/a_three_sections_with_teasers/votes.htm

Only 11 Democrats made anti-war/anti-blank check votes:

Boxer
Clinton
Dodd
Feingold
Kennedy
Kerry
Leahy
Obama
Sanders
Whitehouse
Wyden

Repubs Burr, Coburn and Enzi voted no, presumably because of the minimum wage increase or something else they didn’t like, I doubt any of them have seen the light and crossed over.

A few others who deserve special spanks for their blank check votes – Tom Harkin, Frank Lautenberg (what in the hell were they doing voting for this?), Debbie Stabenow, Ben Cardin, Barbara Mikulski.

House vote was 280-142, roll call vote is at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll425.xml

Thanks and very, very hard spanks are in order. Sorry for my anger here, trust you share it. We have been doing our jobs, would that Members of Congress would do theirs.


“Funding the troops means more troops are going to die.”

May 23, 2007

I would add “and so will tens of thousands of Iraqis” to the above quote from U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY).

Unfortunately, even self-described anti-war members of Congress continue to vote to spend our tax dollars to perpetuate the U.S. occupation of Iraq because of the need to “fund the troops, ” which they still inexplicably equate with “supporting the troops.”

Tell Congress to Vote NO on the War Funding Bill!

We at Peace Action join with our allies in veterans and military families peace organizations in recognizing the only way to really support the troops is to bring them home to the warm embrace of their families as soon as possible, not to fund or “support” their continuing to fight, kill and die in Bush’s quagmire.

Congress is set to vote today or tomorrow to give a blank check to Bush – and a large one at that, nearly $100 billion. This is the second version, after Bush vetoed the first, of the “supplemental” appropriations bill to continue funding the war in Iraq, and this version contains no timelines for withdrawal. The money is for just the next four months — Bush has requested another $140 billion in the 2008 budget that would kick in October 1.

Please call your Congressperson and Senators today (you can call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative and Senators) and tell them to vote NO on this war funding bill. Tell them to stop enabling Bush’s quagmire, and to support the troops by ending the war and bringing them home.

After you call, leave us a comment here and let us know how your call went.

For Peace,
Kevin Martin


Congress on Iraq and Iran

May 17, 2007

by Kevin Martin, Executive Director

 Yesterday, Congress showed once again it is tone-deaf to the wishes of the people, with the Senate voting down an amendment to cut off funding for the Iraq war by March 31, 2008 and the House failing to adopt an amendment to send a strong NO WAR ON IRAN message to Bush.  Clearly, much more pressure, in many forms, needs to be brought to bear on Members of Congress who remain timid when they ought to be aggressively promoting peace.

On Iran and Congress,  the current issue of Mother Jones features good analysis by Jonathan Schwarz at http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2007/05/plan_for_iran.html

On Iraq, Win Without War (a coalition of which Peace Action is a founding member) features an interesting interview with Iraqi Parliamentarian Mohammed al-Daini on its Stand Up Congress website at http://www.standupcongress.org/content/index.php


They Want Us Out

May 15, 2007

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/they-want-us-out-iraqi-p_b_48448.html

THEY WANT US OUT
Iraqi parliamentarians sign withdrawal petition

By TOM HAYDEN
For the Huffington Post
In an historic step, the besieged Iraqi parliament has taken a stand against the US occupation and  for a  rapid withdrawal of American troops. This is the perfect opportunity for a face-saving and orderly US withdrawal based on the request of a sovereign government. To reject the offer would paint the US as a naked imperialism without a fig leaf of legitimacy.

Some crucial details of the parliamentary call remain murky. First, 144 parliamentarians have signed a petition that has yet to be translated into legislation. Second, to the dismay of some in the peace movement, the timeline for withdrawal is unsettled but sure to be one year or even longer. In interviews with Iraqi parliamentarians last summer, the consensus favored two simultaneous timelines: one for withdrawal and another for “fixing the problems” caused by the occupation. That will not change. And third, under the Iraqi constitution it appears that any measure on this subject passed by a majority of those present and voting has the force of law.

Iraq therefore is on the brink of officially setting in motion the end of its occupation.

What is most puzzling is the blindness of the mainstream media, the White House and the military to these developments. As if the measure isn’t very fit to print, the New York Times reported the petition on page A6 with no emphasis on its implications. Last December the Washington Post reported that the signature count had reached 131, but only in passing. Back in mid-2005 when the petition first surfaced with 82 signatures, it was reported only in Knight-Ridder. The Institute for Policy Studies later estimated that approximately 102 MPs had signed on.

But trees fall in the forest whether reported or not. The Iraqi people, aside from the secession-bent Kurds, have wanted the US out of their country for at least three years, in percentages ranging from two-thirds to 80 percent, with 61 percent claiming a right to national resistance through armed struggle. This news, never reported in headlines, is the underlying basis for the elected parliament’s stance. In fact, the CIA warned that Iraq’s first elections might produce a mandate for withdrawal, a warning characterized by the Times as “grim” news.

But the convergence between the US Congressional majority and the Iraqi parliamentary majority is grim only for the occupation. It is a moment when more Americans might learn what the Iraqis already know, that formal democracy becomes a sham when it conflicts with military and economic occupation. The war cannot long continue with such feeble public support in both countries. Even if a two-year deadline becomes official, a “decent interval” so to speak, it will accelerate the momentum towards ending the occupation on the ground.

Who will want to die ten days, or even ten months, before withdrawal is officially concluded?

What American parent will want their kid to risk death in Iraq now that their parliament wants us out?

If the Iraqis demand that we leave, what case is left for protecting them from themselves?

The peace movement, the Congress, and even the Baker-Hamilton group should seize on this news in pressing the case for withdrawal. Anyone who  favors “staying the course” is overriding the democratic will of both the American and Iraqi people.

Tom Hayden is the author of Ending the War in Iraq [Akashic Books]. He has reported on Iraq’s “peace parliamentarians” since 2005. He teaches at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.


Action Alert: Tell Congress to Stop Funding War

May 9, 2007

by Kevin Martin and Paul Kawika Martin

Instead of responding to President George “Commander Guy” Bush’s veto of the nearly $100 billion supplemental war funding bill with a proposal to only fund the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops, contractors and bases from Iraq, the House of Representatives will vote Thursday or Friday on a plan to give Bush $40 billion now and force a second vote in July on the balance of the money. The second vote will be conditioned on “benchmarks” to be met by the Iraqi government.

Media reports will portray this as a crafty challenge to Bush by the congressional leadership (though early reports are the Senate will not take this approach, so a conference committee will presumably need to be called in the next week or so to reconcile the House and Senate bills).

Make no mistake, this is a vote to continue funding the war. Peace Action has never supported a dime for this war, and we’re not about to start now.

There will be many more rounds in this legislative saga this summer, and we will keep track of and work to impact the to-ing and fro-ing between Bush and Congress.

But we need to remain clear and consistent in our demands to Congress, and right now, today, is an opportunity to tell your representative you want this war to end – period.

Please call your representative today (you can reach him or her through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121) and urge a vote against the supplemental appropriations bill that continues funding the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.  While you’re at it, call back two more times and tell your Senators to bring our troops home for the holidays.

After calling, please leave us a post here to tell us how your call went.


KANSAS TORNADO RECOVERY EFFORTS – LATEST VICTIM OF IRAQ WAR

May 8, 2007

By Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund

My ancestral homeland, Kansas (my great-great grandparents were Quaker abolitionists who helped found Kansas as a free state) is often devastated by tornadoes (in fact I witnessed a powerful one in Topeka when I was a little boy visting my great grandparents).

This tragedy is compounded by the lack of equipment the Kansas National Guard should have on hand but is instead in Iraq, and then compounded again by Sen. Sam Brownback’s denunciation of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’s analysis of the situation.

For shame…

http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN0528506520070507?src=050807_1008_TOPSTORY_fort_dix_plot_foiled

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas — A shortage of trucks, helicopters and other
equipment — all sent to the war in Iraq — has hampered recovery in a
U.S. town obliterated by a tornado, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said on
Monday.

“There is no doubt at all that this will slow down and hamper the
recovery,” Sebelius, a Democrat, told Reuters in Kansas where officials
said the statewide death toll had risen to 12 on Monday.

“Not having this equipment in place all over the state is a huge
handicap,” Sebelius said.

The tornado that devastated Greensburg, 110 miles west of Wichita, started
a weekend of violent weather in Kansas, a state in the heart of the
central United States region known as “Tornado Alley.”

Ten died in Greensburg, a town of 1,600 people. An 11th died in nearby
Pratt County and a 12th in a separate tornado in Ottawa County.

The twisters were accompanied by widespread flooding on Sunday and Monday
that required more than 200 water rescues and closed many roads and
shuttered several schools in another part of the state.

“We’re getting pounded in Kansas. We have the need for National Guard in
two different parts of our state now. This is really going to be a
problem,” Sebelius said.

Sebelius and other Democratic governors earlier this year assailed the
Republican Bush administration for the strains they said the war had
placed on their states’ National Guardsmen, frequently mobilized for state
emergencies.

On Monday, anti-war groups, including the National Security Network and
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq cited the shortage of equipment to
deal with the Kansas disaster as the latest example of what they see as
the war’s detrimental impact on domestic security.

OTHER STATES

A Pentagon spokesman in Washington said other states were supposed to help
provide resources in an emergency. White House spokesman Tony Snow said
the administration was doing what it could and equipment would arrive if
it was needed.

Kansas Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson said because of the
shortage of National Guard equipment, the state was rushing to hire
contractors to help clear debris.

Nearly 70 Kansas National Guard troops were arriving in Greensburg on
Monday to supplement about 40 troops already on the ground, and some guard
Humvees were available to start clearing wreckage, Watson said.

Sebelius said the failure by Washington to replace or return state
National Guard equipment deployed to Iraq was “not a very satisfying
effort.”

The governor said Kansas lacked about half the large equipment it could
use for recovery efforts and debris removal, including dump trucks and
front loaders. More than 20 percent of its Humvees and 15 of 19
helicopters were sent to Iraq, the governor said.

The National Weather Service said the twister that hit Greensburg on
Friday about 9:45 p.m. was an F5, the highest on the scale. With winds of
205 mph (330 kph), it stayed on the ground about an hour, traveling 22
miles and wreaking a path of destruction nearly 2 miles wide.

“It’s been one of the most destructive tornadoes in the last 10 years,”
said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Gerard.

2.

BROWNBACK DISPUTES CLAIM THAT TORNADO EXPOSED GUARD SHORTAGES

Associated Press
May 8, 2007

http://news.bostonherald.com/politics/view.bg?articleid=1000016

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback disputed
claims by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that a deadly Kansas tornado
exposed holes in National Guard readiness caused by the Iraq war.

Sebelius said Monday that Kansas is missing about half its National Guard
trucks and many well-trained personnel that could have helped respond to
last weekend’s tornado in Greensburg, Kan. The twister killed at least 10
people and razed the farming town.

“The issue for the National Guard is the same wherever you go in the
country. Stuff that we would have borrowed is gone. It’s gone across the
country,” she said Monday.

Brownback said Tuesday that local officials and the Kansas National Guard
commander all told him they have the resources needed to respond.

“That’s what really got me, is her saying that,” Brownback said in an
interview.

“So I asked, privately and publicly, the adjutant general, do you have the
equipment you need?” he said. “Because if you don’t, we’re going to hit
Fort Riley and McConnell (Air Force Base) and other places to make sure we
have all the equipment we need to respond to disasters. Everybody there
said no, we have the equipment we needed.”

He added: “I think what we need to do is to focus on what we need here
now, and not draw a broader political question in. We’ve got a disaster,
and we need to all pull together to get everything we need from the state
and the federal for the local need.”

After visiting the town Monday, the Kansas senator said he asked about
resources because, “I think FEMA has a lot of proving to do after
Katrina.”

President Bush intends to visit Greensburg on Wednesday.

As governor, Sebelius has control over her state’s National Guard and has
repeatedly raised concerns about shortages caused by the Iraq war.

She asked President Bush about the shortages in person last year when he
visited Topeka, Kan.

“He assured me that he had additional equipment in his budget a year ago.
What the Defense Department said then, and continues to say, is that
states will get about 90 percent of what they had,” Sebelius said.
“Meanwhile, it doesn’t get any better. I’m at a loss.”

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the state’s adjutant general, said the Kansas
National Guard was equipped to about 40 percent of its necessary levels,
down from the 60 percent it had at the start of the war. About 850
soldiers have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It just leaves you pretty tight,” he said. “We’re fine for now.”


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