Sunday, October 19, 2014

Obama's Legacy: Appeaser & apologist for Cheney/Bush; persecutor of whistleblowers & the press; & his continuation of the psychopathic War on a noun

The White House Press Office - Transparency and Open Government website accessed 10/15/2014

terror: [ter-er] noun
1.  intense, sharp, overmastering fear:  
2.  an instance or cause of intense fear or anxiety; quality of causing terror:  
3.  any period of frightful violence or bloodshed likened to the Reign of Terror in France.
4.  violence or threats of violence used for intimidation or coercion; terrorism.
5.  Informal. a person or thing that is especially annoying or unpleasant.
Origin :
1325-1375;Latin, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -or -or1; replacing Middle English terrour; Anglo-French; Latin, as above
to be frantic with terror.
to be a terror to evildoers.
terror. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: October 15, 2014).

"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you. They are unique manifestations of the human spirit."
~ Wade Davis, anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer

In 2008, Barack Obama used the criminal acts of the Bush administration as fodder for his campaign, promising "Change We Can Believe In" .... An end to torture, closing Guantanamo, respect for the rights of people everywhere; a government based on transparency and accountability, and a protection of whistleblowers.

He won by a "landslide" against old school Republican, John McCain, and inspired over 1 million people to show up at his inauguration.  Code Pink danced a Can-Can at the front of the crowd....

CodePink: First Day of Obama Presidency "Yes We Can End War" Action at the White House ("Yes We Can-Can")

...a crowd that broke out in mass song as GW Bush flew away in a helicopter....

A nation moved into a real hope for change; into a real belief the nation was, finally, turning away from the horrendous policies of the Bush Administration - the lies into war; the destruction of the budget; the torture, the illegal detention; the arrests of protesters; the spying on the people; the prosecution of whistleblowers and journalists.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediency's sake.
And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

Here we are, 6 years into the "Change."   The Obama Administration - one that promised peace and an end to "perpetual war"; transparency and accountability; and protection of whistleblowers - has generated another war on the heels of the last two; extended covert operations, continued the "kill list;" expanded mass surveillance; and has prosecuted or threatened to prosecute more whistleblowers than any other president in history (to include threats of prosecution of journalists).

Over the past 6 years, we have been hearing the whining and kvetching of the old guard Neo-Cons from Cheney to Kristol. They seem lost without a puppet to manipulate, or, maybe they are just jealous that the new guard Neo-Cons have taken over and stolen their shtick?

Each presidential administration has a tiny bit of reality from which to spin a web of deceit to build a believable "Noble Lie" - the truth is much different.

Barack Obama is a slick, well spoken and well educated politician - His rise to power was nothing short of meteoric but his presidency deserves "mixed" reviews - more on the negative than the positive side.

He has instituted a single minimally decent social policy - a milk-toast health care plan (far from the Universal Health Care plan on which he campaigned to beat Hillary Clinton...It's actually Bob Dole's response to Hillary's attempt at health care reform of the 90's) that gives $ billions in new business to insurance companies and Big Pharma while ignoring the fact that even with "insurance" many still can't afford to pay the co-pay for health care (let's not blame it all on the states that refused to expand Medicaid..  In a universal system, that would be moot since all would be covered without any interference by state officials).

There has been a lot of rhetoric about voters' rights and human rights and a DOJ that promised to "look into" the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown murders but, to date, has done little more than "look into" them; and he did, ever so slowly, begin a turn around in an economy that is still sluggish with jobs trickling back up to pre-2008 levels but refused any attempt at broad programs (a la FDR) that would assure work for millions immediately while continuing to ignore and even protect the criminality of those who brought the Middle Class and the poor to their knees - appointing the same profiteers and sycophants to government posts from Bernanke to Yellen, Geitner to Summers.

But, some of the most glaring issues with the current Administration are in its foreign policy and refusal to actually be the transparent and accountable president that he claims to be.

Obama's foreign policy has been a travesty - from multiple resets on troop withdrawal from Iraq and financial as well as weapons support of the al-Maliki government (a government that systematically committed genocide against the Sunnis of Iraq using those American weapons and money) to the surge in Afghanistan and continued support of Karsai and his druglord brother, use of black sites (Bagram and the Salt Mines) and the continuation of the policy that denied rights of habeas corpus to those accused of "terrorism" (another campaign promise and talking point widely used in 2008, Obama castigated Bush for his denial of basic habeas corpus rights to the men at Guantanamo and accused of "terrorism"..He would never do such a thing and promised to restore habeas corpus rights to all) as well as the continued torture, abuse and denial of basic human rights of the men imprisoned at Guantanamo -  most of whom have been declared innocent by 2, if not 3, commissions charged with case review); appointment of Bushites and war criminals to posts like the head of the CIA, and FBI; drone murder and covert ops in sovereign nations without approval by their governments (illegal acts of war); expanding mass surveillance to include everyone on the planet;  and, now, placing the CIA and Blackwater in Syria and Libya well before the latest declaration of war that continues the exceptionalist hubris of imperialism as established by his predecessor.

Obama's most concrete failure (not the biggest but the most obvious)  - Guantanamo Bay Detention Center remains open .  Barack Obama has made little attempt to resolve the matter.  In fact, he ignored it until the corporate media took up the story of the on-going hunger strike and the blatant abuse by the command there.  He, finally, decided to pay attention...for a minute; decided to set up another commission to review another series of ideas for the potential closing of Guantanamo.  That was last year.

Then there is the issue of torture - his cover up, his use and his perpetuation of the paradigm regardless of his 2009 Executive Order against it - well, to be fair, only a slice of it.  Force-feeding and drugging, denial of basic civil rights, human rights violations, the use of isolation as "punishment," constant raids on detainees, and genital searches, are just a few of the on-going abuses at Guantanamo under the less than concerned Barack Obama.  It doesn't stop at Guantanamo - there is the matter of the abuse and torture of Chelsea Manning which the president blew off with:
"With respect to Private Manning, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are. I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning’s safety as well."
From here, we can move to the president's perpetuation of the PTSD that grips entire nations (e.g., Pakistan, Yemen) along with a growing fear and loathing of everything American (I guess one way to perpetuate a war on something as ridiculous as "terror"... to terrorize) incited by his continued use of drones against anyone the US paints as "terrorist." So much for improving our standing in the world.

Obama's failures in social policy and foreign policy as well as his failure to close Guantanamo cannot be entirely blamed on an ineffective and blatantly dysfunctional Congress, though Congress has been filled with obstruction, whining and temper tantrums in order to block many reforms and legislation since 2010. Obama didn't use the momentum, of the 2008 call for change for major reforms, nor did he attempt any dramatic change of course in a foreign policy gone mad.

Leading us to the matter of whistleblowers and journalists who report on matters of national interest.

In 2007 and 2008, then candidate Obama promised to protect whistleblowers - especially naming federal employees as a group he would protect.  From the website:

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

Since his election, Barack Obama decided he was going to war against leaks...but it wasn't just side comments and leaks by members of his inner circle, it was against anyone perceived as making the White House, the military, the NSA, the CIA, TSA or the FBI - past or present - look less than stellar regardless if they were US citizens,citizens of other nations, journalists, former employees or contractors of the NSA, the military...

In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues.

Six government employees, plus two contractors including Edward Snowden, have been subjects of felony criminal prosecutions since 2009 under the 1917 Espionage Act, accused of leaking classified information to the press—compared with a total of three such prosecutions in all previous U.S. administrations. Still more criminal investigations into leaks are under way. Reporters’ phone logs and e-mails were secretly subpoenaed and seized by the Justice Department in two of the investigations, and a Fox News reporter was accused in an affidavit for one of those subpoenas of being “an aider, abettor and/or conspirator” of an indicted leak defendant, exposing him to possible prosecution for doing his job as a journalist. In another leak case, a New York Times reporter has been ordered to testify against a defendant or go to jail.
Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

“Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy.

The Obama administration is expected to hasten the program’s implementation as the government grapples with the fallout from the leaks of top secret documents by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed the agency’s secret telephone data collection program. The case is only the latest in a series of what the government condemns as betrayals by “trusted insiders” who have harmed national security.

Prior to the Obama Administration's war on whistleblowers, only 3 other people have ever been indicted under the "Espionage Act" (enacted in 1917).  So much for protecting government workers as whistleblowers; So much for transparency and accountability.

As far as harassment of the Press, there are the cases of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald (now the Intercept), Laura Poitras (now the Intercept) and Ewen MacAskil; the previously mentioned James Risen; FOX New's James Rosen, the Justice Department demand for telephone records of AP Reporters from Verizon....And then there is Barrett Brown.  The US government under the Obama Administration is harassing reporters with impunity - So much for "Freedom of the Press."

Barack Obama still has a little time to turn his D grade as a president around - a few make-up tests and some extra credit would help - but, here is a limit to what can be accomplished in the last 2 years of an 8 year stay especially when we have seen no "epiphany," no attempts to turn around a poor foreign policy, no attempts towards that promised transparency and accountability, and a continued movement towards his own chapter in the perpetual war plan against the planet and against the US citizenry's rights to privacy, free press, and protections under the constitution.

Monday, October 13, 2014

One of the more poignant messages for the election year: Agenda Project Action Fund

Yes, it is "only" the midterms but the threat of obstruction, budget destruction, and a social safety net gasping for its last breath is very real...

And the latest issue to cause massive apoplectic hysteria in the right wing?  Ebola.

Well, maybe they should have thought about that before they started slashing the social safety include the CDC and NIH.

"NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here.'" ...
"Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready."

To drive home the point, here is a chart of the NIH Budget from 1990 to 2014....

I would be the last to say the GOP was entirely responsible for the latest outbreak of Ebola in Africa but I will stand on the front lines screaming that their attacks on the social safety net - in order to assure their big money bosses don't have to pay a dime in taxes, a dime in increased wages, a dime on health care for employees; that the government does not have to pay a penny in support for the citizenry of this country when they are in need of assistance or to rebuild an infrastructure that has been in need of overhaul for over 30 years. especially when the citizenry has unwillingly spent $billions to support illegal wars, war crimes and the MIC... (the Democrats aren't innocent here) - play a large part in the inability to actually treat, cure and prevent major health crises in America and, in part, the rest of the world.

From Paul Ryan to Rand Paul to Ted Cruz and the rest of the right wing nuttery pushing us to a purely corporatist state....

From Agenda Project Action Fund:


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Portrait of an artist as a surrealistic pillow

"I got up out of bed to sketch this after having a lucid dream of the image. 
I added some stuff, subtracted some stuff.  I made the center of the dashed circle, 
the center of Jack's head and the bling on Jack's tooth be in the center of the painting. 
This made for some challenging geometry along the way." ~ Thomas Gieseke

My long time friend and brother in Cosmic "wildiosity," Tommy Gieseke (Thomas Gieseke now that he is all growed up and has a family and life all his own), has been creating fantastic art for as long as I have known him and that's been  a very long time - let's suffice to say, we are both closer to 100 than we are that clump of replicating cells in  a womb (well, unless one considers we are all replicating cells in a gigantic Cosmic womb). 

 I met Tommy and his brother Joey, in my age of shyness and desperation - a period of alienation and angst ridden hypersensitivity not so unique to any young girl of 13...Not so unique to anyone at age 13 growing up, especially in wealthy, Republican Johnson County, KS.  We attended the same Jr. High School and, eventually, the same High School; we knew the same people and ran into each other often (it helped that they lived about a block away from Jesse Joe, wanna-be guitar god and car dude, and the guy I dated for years). 

Tommy and Joey were exceptional in their uniqueness - creatively absurd humor and perpetually surreal thinking.  They always had the uncanny ability to help me laugh - not an easy feat in those days. Where Joey flirted, clowned and strutted, Tommy was a bit more introspective, artistic and thoughtful.  Tommy's art ran towards the surreal, even then. 

"Secret Rhythms of the Amazon"
"The wonders of the Amazon rain forest. What lurks deep inside? 
I was always intrigued by the scientific illustrations of Rudolf Freund whose work 
would often appear in 'Life' magazine when I was a kid. 
His work had a big influence on me." ~ Thomas Gieseke

Today, Thomas Gieseke's Art (with a capitol "A") is exceptionally surreal, bringing humor and beauty to hit the viewer over the head like an Acme Mallet....You know, one of those things Wile E. Coyote would get through mail order in an attempt to nail the Roadrunner.

"The Extinction"
"Humans will be the next asteroid. The earth will go on, with humans like a distant 
memory of an annoying pimple on its butt. The process will only take a few 
centuries at most. Some other types of creatures will take our place, 
much like we ultimately replaced the dinosaurs. I just hope for them that 
they'll be smarter and wiser than we were." ~ Thomas Gieseke

Detail, form, composition and imagery exhibiting decades of labored love, a lifetime of study and practice, and a continuation of childlike play combined with just enough awareness of billions of years of cosmic evolution all dancing together in feverish dream - a surrealistic pillow on which to lay one's unsuspecting head.

"Russell's Teapot"
"Russell's teapot is an analogy created by philosopher Bertrand Russell for shifting 
the burden of proof of something unprovable away from the claimant. 
Russell said there's a teapot floating around in space between Earth and Mars, 
but it's so tiny that no one can see it. If you don't believe so, prove that it isn't there. 
Same could be said for the existence of gods, creationism, flying saucers, 
or even the flying spaghetti monster." ~ Thomas Gieseke

For more Thomas A. Gieseke,  artist extraordinaire:

Copro Gallery:  - Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave. T5, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Website: Thomas A, Gieseke, - Illustration/Art 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Police State Blues: Denver Deputies protest after getting feelings hurt by City demanding end to brutality

Keeping in mind that I come from a long history of protest - anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-corporatist, environment, Occupy, worker's rights, women's rights, animal rights, planet rights....
I love a good protest - screaming, shouting, marching and dancin' in the streets protest..Fist in the air, arm in arm, solidarity with my sisters and brothers in common cause of confrontation of an elitist status quo - confrontation of that fear and loathing of change; that fear and loathing of moving forward for human, animal, plant, and planetary kind.

But, one protest I can't get behind is the rally, Monday, organized by the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police at the Denver County Jail protesting that they just aren't getting "support." The protesters included deputies from the jail that has been the recent focus of attention in Denver's on-going problem with Police State tactics - brutality, excessive force, abuse of power and disdain for citizens. 

Multiple lawsuits - to include the death of a homeless street preacher during his booking into the county jail and the severe beating of an injured inmate who had just been returned from the hospital for treatment of severe burns and injuries, received at the hands of other inmates and facilitated by a deputy - have brought the focus back to the issue of on-going brutality committed by those "entrusted to keep the peace" in the City and County of Denver.

From The Denver Channel (7) News, Denver's ABC affiliate:

The deputies just don't think they can "trust" DPD Chief White and they feel maligned for their "hard" work. Yeah, we know it's hard to work in a jail. We also know that beat downs, bribes, extortion, inciting prisoners, inciting police riots and attacking protesters, and attacking citizens have become SOP for DPD and the Sheriff's Department.

In Denver, the Blue Wall is tall and thick - the DPD and the County Deputies are already merged behind it.  Denver has a history of an out of control police and sheriff's department that, not only, continues to support their on-going pattern of abuse, but rewards the behavior by assuring that many of those accused of brutality and excessive force are never brought to justice - charges aren't brought against perpetrators of horrendous brutality; in those cases in which charges are levied against perpetrators, they are, often, dismissed; those perpetrators found guilty and forced off the job are simply rehired; and attacks on inmates and suspects seem to be ignored or swept under the rug.

The City and County of Denver has paid out $ 13 Million, in taxpayer funds, over the past 10 years to settle lawsuits against the Denver Police and the Denver County Sheriff's Department for excessive force and brutality committed by officers and deputies during arrest and detention to include a July, 2014, $3.25 Million settlement in the beating and cover up of jail inmate Jamal Hunter. From ABC affiliate, The Denver Channel 7 report on the case:
    Hunter accused Deputy Gaynel Rumer of encouraging a brutal 2011 attack where inmates in an eight-man cell beat Hunter unconscious and burned his thighs and genitals with cups of scalding water. The lawsuit alleged Rumer ignored Hunter's screams and even turned off the lights in the cell to give the attackers cover. Along with the burns, Hunter suffered fractures to his face.
    Thirteen days after Hunter returned to jail from the hospital, documents allege another deputy, Edward Keller, got fed up with Hunter complaining about his pain and inadequate medical care.
    The records say Hunter called Keller a racist and then a surveillance video showed Keller choking Hunter's neck as he shoved the injured inmate down onto a cell bunk. Three other deputies rushed in to help pin Hunter to the floor as a fifth deputy shocked the fallen inmate twice with a Taser stun gun.
    In the video, Hunter doesn't resist or attack the deputies.
    The Denver Channel, ABC affiliate - A former Denver inmate claims his eye
    socket was broken and his teeth were knocked out when a deputy slammed him into a wall.

    Then there are the cases left without disciplinary action against those who "serve"....

      • The 2011 case of John Heaney...
      • The case of Mark Ashford, a witness to police brutality, was then, in turn, attacked brutally by police for that act of being a witness and speaking out...

      In some it took awhile but final justice was obtained...
        ...The 2 officers, Devin Sparks and Randy Murr, were eventually fired in March, 2011, for lying in an excessive force case, reinstated in September, 2011, and, finally, fired again from the force, in March, 2012.

      So when the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police sets its membership - a membership hiding behind that big Blue Wall - out to whine about "lack of support," they do these officers and deputies no favors.

      ... Next to the Tea Party, I have never seen another group so in need of a clue; so in need of growing a collective soul; and so in need of a reality check.

      Boys and girls of the DPD and Denver Sheriff's Department -  Look within and clean up your own house before whining to those of us who have seen too many of your Police State tactics up close.

      Saturday, October 4, 2014

      News from Guantanamo - finally a touch of transparency required: DoJ Plea To Keep Gitmo Force-Feeding Hearings Secret Rejected

      A federal judge dismissed a plea by the U.S. Department of Justice calling for a closed hearing into the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, according to media reports published Friday. In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the government’s arguments that an open hearing will jeopardize national security…

      Sunday, September 28, 2014

      Pompous Poseur Proselytizing on Protest: Kerry tries to bully Code Pink into silence & fails... Truth will never be silenced

      By Staff,
      September 17th, 2014

      John Kerry's condescending rant last week, in response to CodePink's protest, did little more than prove him to be the jerk most of us on the Left knew him to be....

      "I understand dissent. I lived it," says the pompous Kerry.

      Obviously not; Or he forgot.

      Veterans Against War and Winter Soldier 

      John Kerry was cheered as a hero for the "cause" in 1971, when, as a member of  VVAW  or the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (joined in early 1970 and left in 1972), he took testimonies from the first Winter Soldier, held by the VVAW, to DC and spoke as an invited witness giving testimony in front of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, Fulbright Hearings of 1971..

      From those hearings...

      From the transcript:

      I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....

      They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

      We call this investigation the "Winter Soldier Investigation." The term "Winter Soldier" is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

      We who have come here to Washington have come here because we f eel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

      John Kerry observed the Winter Soldier Hearings, hearing the horror of Vietnam through testimonials of those veterans; hearing first hand accounts of the evils committed under arrogant, war-mongering old men ordering young men and women (for there were plenty of women sent to VietNam), into a foreign land - into another nation's civil war - in order to wreck havoc on the land, maim and murder, destroy villages for "pacification," torture and rape men, women and children, for "freedom", "national security" and to stop "them" from coming "here."

      Kerry testified as to the absurdity of that mission.  The testimonies from Winter Soldier were read into the record of those hearings.

      30 years later, in 2001, Senator John Kerry voted for the  Authorization for Use of Military Force, SJ Res. 23. Upon signing to law, the Bush Administration used that law to justify attacking Afghanistan, spying on Americans and opening Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

      John Kerry never bothered to testify in a Congressional hearing against this war - testify to the absurdity of this mission.  Instead he tried to deny his support for the war.

      In 2014, Secretary John Kerry is now part of the agenda of arrogant, war-mongering old men ordering young men and women into a foreign land - into another nation's civil war - in order to wreck havoc on the land, maim and murder, for "freedom", "national security" and to stop "them" from coming "here" (but mostly for profit and Empire).

      CodePink Women of Peace

      CodePink - strong women and the men who support strong women - is against War; ALL War.

      Pink Action Principles

      CODEPINK Mission Statement: 

      CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.

      The following are suggested local group agreements for you to discuss, adapt as needed, and agree to at your first meeting.

      We will keep the following agreements present in our organizing:

      1. Nonviolence: We are committed to peace, which means both when executing our action(s) AND within our internal structure and relationships.

      2. Clear Goals: We will define CODEPINK's unique niche in our community (creative protest, cultivating women's voices, etc.) and set attainable goals for local projects that will further CODEPINK's peace mission. 

      3. Communication, Respect, and Integrity: We avow to not let disagreements, hurt feelings, or disappointments, get in the way of our important peace work, and will instead view these challenges as opportunities to practice peaceful and productive communication with each other.  We will keep our criticisms concise, specific, constructive and focused on future improvement.

      4. Responsibility and Teamwork: We work as a team, with activists willing to bottom-line, coordinate, and facilitate actions.  We won't let all the responsibility repeatedly fall on one person, and we will not allow ourselves to assume all the responsibility for an action—instead we'll delegate tasks, take on organizing roles, and rotate our leadership positions. We agree to be responsible for something only when we're 100% sure we are going to do it.

      5. Diversity and Tolerance: We embrace feminist principals of cooperation, problem-solving, critical thinking, compassion, analysis and processing.  We will speak up against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, and other forms of oppression and prejudice.  We will work towards a deeper understanding of our own power and privileges, and seek to cultivate a diverse local group with connections to the array of social justice groups in our cities. We highly recommend that every activist read this piece about recognizing privilege, entitled "Unpacking the Invisible Backpack":

      6. Resource Sharing: CODEPINK does not require official affiliation or traditional “membership” to speak, act, or protest with us.  Anyone who is acting for peace can be CODEPINK!  Our logos, photos, and the downloadable resources on our website are free for local groups to use.  Central staff can help send email alerts and provide local contact info for local organizers.  The central website offers local webpages to groups.  Our ideas and campaigns are freely available to any peace or justice group that wishes to adapt our tactics for their use.  Local groups can endorse or cosponsor local events in the name of their local CODEPINK group without seeking permission from the central staff. Local groups are autonomous and are invited to take on national campaigns as appropriate or interested. We are a grassroots movement with a central organizing team.

      7. Appreciation and Caring: We will support each other to take risks and take on key roles in organizing actions, and cultivate a spirit of sustainable activism to prevent burnout.  Support may include delegating work into small portions, providing childcare or encouraging mothers to bring their children to meetings and actions, taking on realizable projects, providing new activist trainings, and modeling healthy civic engagement and personal time. We will build a culture of appreciation, thanking and valuing all the work that people put into our actions and local group, awarding pink badges of courage, and acknowledging donations, cosponsors, and support.

      8. Messaging: We will work to make the messages on our banners, flyers, and public statements clear and potent. We will do everything possible to ensure positive media coverage  -- for example, doing press releases, press calls, press liaison at events, talking points for participants, media trainings for group, etc.

      9. Global Community: CODEPINK's work to end the war in Iraq is created by over 250 local groups in the US, and over a dozen international groups.  The solidarity between CODEPINK sisters in the US and overseas strengthens our work.  International pressure and raising awareness globally about US militarization is integral to ending the Iraq war.  We will ensure that our campaigns can, when possible, speak to domestic and global tactics for ending the war. 

      10.  Long Term Vision: We are in this for the long haul—we know that the US occupation of Iraq will not end until all the troops come home and successful rebuilding of Iraq has begun, as well as the healing of the returning soldiers and the Iraqi people.   In the words of CODEPINK Cofounder Medea Benjamin, “Activism is good for our health and spirits—it keeps us engaged, active, upbeat, and passionate.  It's no fun being depressed alone.  Ending war may take a long time, and we can use that time to inspire ourselves and each other with positive, creative actions that embody the world we want to see!” 

      The basics:
      Respect each other
      Take a risk—try work that is new for you (if you usually make press calls, try painting a banner).
      Be flexible. Be willing to change.
      Cultivate sisterhood and teamwork.
      Commit to nonviolent communication and action.
      Build relationships—within your group, with allies, funders, and opponents.
      Don't give up.
      Start where people are, not where you want them to be.
      Clarify what you want to achieve.
      Communicate creatively.
      Create beauty and share it.
      Remember to check egos at the door of the community.
      Engage youth.
      Have fun!

      These are suggested agreements that local groups are invited to adapt or choose to use as they see fit.  If you have suggestions for additional or revised agreements, please email your thoughts to locals[at]

      As for the current perpetuation of perpetual war, from CodePink's, "Why We Shouldn’t Attack Syria":
      • We can call for a second UN weapons inspection team, to determine who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack.
      • We can recommend that whoever is found responsible be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court, understanding that timing of such indictments might require adjustment to take into account ceasefire negotiations in Syria.
      • The US (maybe with Russia) can call for a meeting of the signers of the Convention Against Chemical Weapons – to decide collectively how to respond.
      • Most important, we must urgently to help end the war in Syria, starting with a ceasefire and arms embargo on all sides. Russia, Iran, and others must stop arming and funding the Syrian regime. Washington, Saudi Arabia and other US allies must stop arming and funding the armed Syrian opposition. Washington may have to threaten the Saudis and Qataris that if they don’t stop, we will cancel all existing weapons contracts with them.
      • International law, the UN Charter, allows military action only in two cases – immediate self-defense or authorization by the Security Council.
      • Syria hasn’t attacked or threatened the U.S., so there’s no self-defense claim. And the Security Council hasn’t authorized force, and likely won’t. The UN Charter deliberately makes it really hard to get all the major powers to agree on going to war.
      • U.S. law says only Congress can declare war – President Obama has asked Congress for approval, but claims he has the right to go ahead even if they vote no. That would violate the Constitution – and with or without Congressional approval, a military strike would still violate international law.
      • Military strikes threaten harm to Syrian civilians – the Pentagon admits cruise missiles aren’t always accurate. And the Syrian government is reportedly moving more military offices to populated areas, increasing the likelihood of civilian casualties.
      • The Obama administration admits its planned “limited surgical strikes” won’t do anything to bring the horrifying Syrian civil war to an end any quicker.
      • Military action will increase the levels of violence and instability inside Syria, within the region, and potentially even globally.
      • Extremist forces in the region have the most to gain from military strikes, which will use the direct US involvement as a recruitment tool and potential target.
      • Syrian civilians could face greater repression by the government in retaliation for US military strikes, as happened in Kosovo in 1999 when many more Kosovars were thrown out of their homes after the US/NATO bombing began.
      • Military strikes could fuel escalation of all five wars underway in Syria: the civil war, the regional power war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the global war of words between the US and Russia, the sectarian war between Shi’a and Sunnis, and the war over nuclear policy between the US/Israel and Iran – all now being fought to the last Syrian.
      • If Syria retaliates against US troops or ships, or US bases in neighboring countries, or Israel, it is almost certain the US response would risk regional escalation and a dramatic expansion of US involvement in Syria’s civil war.
      Adapted from “Striking Syria: Illegal, Immoral, and Dangerous” by Phyllis Bennis on Aljazeera

      CodePink confronts the war-mongering paradigm and will not be silenced by arrogant, war-mongering old men ordering young men and women into foreign lands in order to wreck havoc on the land, maim and murder, for "freedom", "national security" and to stop "them" from coming "here" (but mostly for profit and Empire).

      CodePink is not alone in this confrontation. The US has other intelligent and knowledgeable people shouting the same thing to include war veterans and their supporters who know the horror and stupidity of the perpetual warring for profit and for Empire.


      Our Mission
      We work to build a service-member and veteran led movement that ends militarism by transforming ourselves, military culture and American society.

      Our Values
      1. We value leadership and act with honesty and integrity to build mutual trust.

      Leadership development forms the basis of our organizing model. We build our own personal power through transformation and growth as competent leaders, thereby building the power of our organization and movement. We work together from a place of honesty, communicating openly with sincerity and candor. We operate with integrity, holding ourselves accountable and creating mutual trust—the glue that holds our community together.

      2. We value our community, treating everyone with dignity and respect.

      We are not simply an organization. We function as a community built by our collective experiences as Global War on Terror veterans. As former and current members of the armed forces, we know the values currently underpinning American military culture dehumanize our so-called enemies, as well as ourselves. Everyone deserves dignity and respect; we recognize the humanity of all people.

      3. We value solidarity and seek justice with compassion for all those affected by U.S. wars and militarism.

      We share common human interests with all those affected by war and militarism. We understand militarism as a value system that prioritizes aggression, violence, and regimentation throughout many sectors of our society. We know that our own transformation is tied to the transformation of those we impact through war. Compassion guides us as we seek transformative justice and build solidarity with those affected by U.S. military intervention.

      Our Vision
      We strive for a world free of unjust war—a world without the political and economic conditions allowing militarism to exist, and without structural forces pushing our youth, our poor and those facing incarceration into the military; We strive for a society that prioritizes care for its warriors—where all who serve receive adequate benefits and the highest standard of compassionate care regardless of discharge status; We strive for a society that holds political leaders, profiteers, and war criminals accountable for the consequences of their actions; We strive for a political and military culture that embraces full human rights for service-members, veterans and all people; We strive for a political culture that prioritizes nonviolence, open communication, and democratic decision-making over militarism—a culture committed to building peace and preserving life, solving international conflicts through diplomacy and alternative conflict resolution; We strive for a political culture that acknowledges our nation’s moral responsibilities to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, and all civilians adversely affected by U.S. military intervention. The United States must fully accept guidance from these affected peoples and provide support they find valuable; Finally, we endeavor for our movement to be an ally to the oppressed—a community connected in solidarity with war torn peoples, working across differences for reconciliation, mutual healing and collective liberation
      and on Syria, from August 29, 2013:

      published by IVAW National on 08/29/13 7:14pm
      posted to: Staff

      On August 23rd, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the suspected use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad, and a proposed military response. In his remarks to the nation, Secretary Kerry condemned the use of chemical weapons, calling it a “moral obscenity.” Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) agrees. We believe that US military action in Syria is also obscene. Our vision includes building a movement that is “an ally to the oppressed—a community connected in solidarity with war torn peoples,” including the people of Syria.

      We condemn the use of chemical weapons, not only against civilians, but against all peoples in all nations. We know intimately that chemical weapons indiscriminately harm, maim, and kill, while causing long-term health problems and environmental destruction.

      As veterans of the Global War On Terror, we are acutely aware that these sorts of indiscriminate and inhumane weapons have comprised our own arsenals throughout history, and that we inherit this legacy. America’s atomic bombs, napalm, and agent orange have killed millions of innocent civilians. For strategic gain, the U.S. actively supported Saddam Hussein while knowing that he was simultaneously using chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War. Nevertheless, we were called upon to deploy to Iraq under the false pretense that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

      In Iraq and Afghanistan, we were party to America’s introduction of white phosphorus and depleted uranium and know all too well their disastrous legacy on the people of those countries. We continue to watch our veteran brothers and sisters die of cancer from exposure to these and other substances employed on the battlefield. As veterans, we cannot help but recognize the glaring hypocrisy of America’s leaders as they demand immediate military action against any country that uses chemical weapons.

      Our condemnation of chemical weapons is also based on the principle that military violence against civilians by any means is wrong. Whether through Assad’s artillery—or through American bombs, bullets, Tomahawk missiles, and drones—killing civilians for military and strategic gain violates international law and basic human decency.

      Many of us are Iraq veterans and know what sacrifices have been made in the name of fighting against illegal weapons, only to find that the justification was a lie. We implore our leaders not to follow the mistakes that led to the Iraq war by violating national and international legal conventions.

      But beyond law, the use of military force in Syria would be reckless, dangerous, and morally wrong. It will destabilize the conflict and lead to further civilian casualties. As Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, we have also seen how narrow military actions have devolved into invasions and occupations.

      So long as non-military avenues exist, we demand their use before war. According to current opinion-polls, the majority of Americans share our deep opposition to military intervention. As veterans, we know all too well the limitations of military action to bring meaningful resolution, and this is why we now call upon the U.S. and international community to exhaust every available non-military option to ensure that a cease-fire is diplomatically secured in Syria. We firmly believe that the Syrian people have the right to self-determination and that international leaders should work tirelessly to secure a space within which the Syrian people can pursue a lasting reconciliation free of outside interference.

      And from John Kerry's former brothers (for the 2 years he was a member), the VVAW:

      VVAW: Where We Came From, Who We Are

      Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. (VVAW) is a national veterans' organization that was founded in New York City in 1967 after six Vietnam vets marched together in a peace demonstration. It was organized to voice the growing opposition among returning servicemen and women to the still-raging war in Indochina, and grew rapidly to a membership of over 30,000 throughout the United States as well as active duty GIs stationed in Vietnam. Through ongoing actions and grassroots organization, VVAW exposed the ugly truth about US involvement in Southeast Asia and our first-hand experiences helped many other Americans to see the unjust nature of that war.

      VVAW quickly took up the struggle for the rights and needs of veterans. In 1970, we started the first rap groups to deal with traumatic after-effects of war, setting the example for readjustment counselling at Vet Centers now. We exposed the shameful neglect of many disabled vets in VA Hospitals and helped draft legislation to improve educational benefits and create job programs. VVAW fought for amnesty for war resisters, including vets with bad discharges. We helped make known the negative health effects of exposure to chemical defoliants and the VA's attempts to cover-up these conditions as well as their continued refusal to provide treatment and compensation for many Agent Orange Victims.

      Today our government is still financing and arming undemocratic and repressive regimes around the world. Recently, American troops have been sent into combat in the Middle East and Central America, for many of the same misguided reasons that were used to send us to Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, many veterans are still denied justice -- facing unemployment, discrimination, homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder and other health problems, while already inadequate services are being cut back or eliminated.

      We believe that service to our country and communities did not end when we were discharged. We remain committed to the struggle for peace and for social and economic justice for all people. We will continue to oppose senseless military adventures and to teach the real lessons of the Vietnam War. We will do all we can to prevent another generation from being put through a similar tragedy and we will continue to demand dignity and respect for veterans of all eras. This is real patriotism and we remain true to our mission. JOIN US!

      On war and, more recently, the War on a noun ("War On Terror"):

      What We Know and When We Know It

      By Meg Miner

      "They should have known better," said the Vietnam War vet to the Gulf War vet. "I feel bad for what they're going through, but after this long they should have known what they were getting into."

      I was calling to request support for IVAW's Operation Recovery. I hate phone banking, but here I was cold-calling a list of VVAW members halfway across the country on behalf of the latest generation reeling from the effects of "defending" American ideology.

      "They should have known better." It knocked the wind out of me. He meant that they had volunteered, not been drafted like his generation. Or maybe he meant that after years of anti-war work, this generation should not have been fooled. They must have understood the stakes.

      With very little further discussion he did agree to a few ways he would help the group but his words stayed with me. In my mind, the accusation became "I should have known better." My career spanned over a decade before our first war in the Gulf region and only a handful of years afterwards. I voluntarily enlisted in 1979 at age 18. Why hadn't I learned from Vietnam? After enlistment, why hadn't bearing witness to the routine violence of military culture been enough to turn me against it? I was sheltered from the struggle VVAW was going through by the culture you readers of The Veteran were working to change. It took becoming a student, in college and through self-education, not actual combat, for me to start seeing our militarized country clearly.

      But that's not the thought that came to mind on phone banking day. Quickly the thought came, "He's right." I've been a VVAW member for a little under a decade. I stood on street corners with like-minded peace advocates in my community even before that, starting out right after the suicide bombers ignited America's fuse in 2001. First daily, then weekly, then monthly, we braced against the insults hurled by other citizens, adults and teens alike, for taking a stand against the prevailing winds of war words. Odds are good that some of these same smart-mouthed teens marched off to our recent wars.

      It seems to take a deep sense of self and personal courage to stand up in the face our country's thirst for vengeance. Or maybe it takes the kind of wisdom that comes with hindsight...with the pile of debris that remains when our personal ideological towers fall.

      Ribbons tied, care packages sent, tours rotated. How many now-grieving families of the dead and suffering ever thought one thing that countered the flag-waving masses? How many of today's young veterans were like the mocking teens in my community? And how many have come back and started protesting? And now, many are part of IVAW's efforts to secure needed services for their generation of vets. Isn't that what VVAW members did before them?

      It's been awhile since the concept of an economic draft was raised, but even when it was being talked about it wasn't a new idea. That's the trick that got me to enlist. A steady paycheck is all it took to buy my loyalty. Oh how times have changed! An indebted college senior I work with recently told me he'd talked to a recruiter. When he graduates he'll be a nurse and he was offered an Air Force commission AND $40,000 to sign on for a four year hitch. What obscene temptations we taxpayers support. Their effectiveness should not be surprising!

      I talked to this young man for a long time about what the military might want in return for that 40K, but I don't know him well enough to know what he'll decide. Should he know better? What 20-something doesn't think mortality is the thing that happens to other people? What young American hasn't been brought up with a sense of a birth right to invincibility?

      With the blood spilled, treasure gone, minds and lives strewn in the wreckage of this never-ending War on Terror, I wish I would have told my phone call recipient, "We should ALL have known better." DOD receives astronomical budgets and devotes more resources than seem believable on slick multi-media enticements. On the other hand, American communities hold diminishing economic opportunities for our youth who too often come from school systems that languish on thin budgetsÑthat must teach to tests and not to enhance the power of thought. Movies, music, games, news, religion, politics...all support the glories of war and the infallibility of American actions. What person stands a chance against the economical and psychological forces that assault us all daily?

      Yes, we should know better, but we never do. The question to face is, can we swallow our own disappointment long enough to help make sure this generation of vets will be there for the inevitable generations to come? I didn't find VVAW right away, but the steady voices of VVAW members in my community during the run up to our invasion of Iraq helped me find confidence in my veteran's voice.

      Growing up in America doesn't equip the majority of us to reason through alternatives to the party line. I support IVAW because I'm willing to work with anyone who figures out the Big Lie of our peace-loving nation no matter when or how they get there.

      Meg Miner retired from the Air Force in 1995 and became a librarian in 2001.

      The Cowardice of Power

      By Fred Samia

      Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.

      —Martin Luther King Jr.
      Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, 1964

      As President Obama celebrates the 50th anniversary of the great peace march on Washington with tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, he simultaneously contemplates an attack on the people of Syria which according to international law would be illegal. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam war, a registered independent who voted for Barack Obama, and an American journalist of Syrian ancestry who has lived and worked in the Middle East, I urge our government not to attack or join in any attack on the people of Syria. It will be the people of Syria, already paying a terrible toll in that fratricide, that will suffer under the missiles and bombs. Having witnessed first hand collateral damage in Vietnam and Lebanon, I can attest that such weapons will never be "smart." Rather, they miss their targets with predictable and horrible consequences. I also saw in person and reported on the repression and fear that Hafez Al-Assad, the father of Syria's current president, instilled in that country's citizens.

      The waywardness of the technology aside, President Obama also risks trampling whatever moral rectitude the United States has left in its foreign policy bag. He, and especially Secretary of State John Kerry, himself a Vietnam combat veteran, should know that violence can never stop violence. In the words of singer Holly Near, how does "killing people show that killing people is wrong?" And despite Kerry's impassioned statement on the use of chemical weapons the administration has yet to provide any hard evidence as to who is responsible. Kerry astounds when he rejects out of hand the possibility of an act of provocation, no matter how reprehensible the idea. Has he already forgotten Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction? The American ad agency-scripted "stolen incubators" performance by the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in front of the UN? The Gulf of Tonkin incident? Or the gassing of Kurds in Halabja, Iraq by Saddam Hussein that the US initially blamed on Iran? Also to be considered is al-Qaeda's infiltration of, and influence on, Syrian rebel groups such as the al-Nusra Front, and what they would gain by an American-led attack on Syria.

      Killing more innocents, as is sure to happen with any kind of bombardment, is not the way to bring peace and justice to the Syrian people. Neither is letting the fighting continue unabated. The best solution would be an immediate negotiated ceasefire and multilateral peace talks co-brokered by nations of the West and the Middle East. More than anyone, President Obama and Secretary Kerry should know that we do not have the moral superiority to dictate to another country, and that, like Vietnam, like Iraq and Lebanon, Afghanistan, Libya and Tunisia, the only legacy of a military intervention in Syria will be chaos, heartbreak and more hatred of the United States. Acting from a place of power against the weak or defenseless is not courage but cowardice.

      The dissent doesn't end there - not with ANSWER, WarIsACrime and just plain intelligent pacificists on the march (sounds like 1962 to me).  We get it.

      War and other games mad men play

      War is only declared by reptilian brained old men -  many of whom had never served in the military; others had never actually experienced the blood of their brothers and sisters as well as the entrails of innocents spread across the land - sitting in Washington, DC.  These old warhawks order young men and women to fight in foreign lands;  to slaughter innocent men, women and children; to fulfill the far from noble "cause" of killing the latest "evil other,"  for the profit of Wall Street.  It has nothing to do with "right" or "wrong," Old war-mongers only want their investments to go up in value, their campaign contributions to sky-rocket and their masters, of Wall Street, to pat their little heads.

      If the attack on Iraq and Syria had anything to do with what was "right," we would be spending the $1 million to $1.6 million per missile (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, or TLAMs , are made by Raytheon, one of the oldest and biggest members of the MIC) and $100s of thousands in bombs on humanitarian efforts for the people ($10 million++ a day can buy a lot of humanitarian relief - food, clothing, clean water, shelter)- that is the only way to defeat a group like ISIS.  It's not about beating heads and bombing buildings; it is all about winning the hearts and minds of the people, standing for them and not waving the Pentagon's collective limp dick.

      ISIS or ISIL is just the latest group of extremists that John Kerry, Senator, and the rest of his cohorts in Congress voting "yes" to war in 2001 and 2002, helped create by supporting the Bush Administration's slaughter in Iraq, in 2002.  ISIS was born from the US destabilization of Iraq and the hubris under which it was done, the destruction of infrastructure, communities and resources in Iraq; the disregard for the people of Iraq; and the complete refusal to comprehend the extent of the anger, fear and hostility the US left in its wake. The Bush Administration set up a corrupt Shi'a government, sending arms and money that were used to foment bigotry, genocide and abuse of the Sunni minority in Iraq.  The Obama Administration continued the arms supply, backing the corrupt al-Maliki government, who used them to attack Sunnis in Fallujah and other locales in Iraq, ISIS was born of that hate, bigotry, inequality, and hostility.

      The fact that the majority of people injured in all wars, never lifted a finger against anyone; the fact of those men, women, children injured, slaughtered and left in the rubble is lost in the blood-lust and dick-waving; The fact that all the pompous rhetoric and fear-mongering does nothing but create more hate and fear, appears to be lost on arrogant, war-mongering old men ordering young men and women into foreign lands in order to wreck havoc on the land, maim and murder, for "freedom", "national security" and to stop "them" from coming "here." (but mostly for profit and Empire).

      The idea of humanitarian aid never once crosses war-mongers' minds,  but bombs and rockets do every time.

      So, when Secretary John Kerry tries to bully CodePink, or any other protest into silence, he will always fail...

      Truth will never be silenced.