Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sexual Assault in the Military Bulletpoints

Notes from today's House Oversight and Government Reform hearing titled, Sexual Assault in the Military:

  • Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY), "I don't ever want to any women to ever again have to salute the man that raped her."
  • Congresswoman Harman (CA), "Women in today's military are more likely to be raped than killed on the battlefield."
  • Congressman Shays (CT), "The DOD has no credibility, absolutely none."
  • Witness Ingrid Torres of the U.S. Red Cross was told by DOD psychologist, "Stop acting like a baby!"
  • Mother of Maria Lauterbach explaining how her impregnated daughter's perpetrator stalked and killed her, " No one even bothered to drive by his house."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Meeting LA - OBAMA'S Office

Elizabeth Olson LA at Obama's Senate office fit a few minutes in to
meet with the CODEPINK women. Gael shared our sentiments
regarding sanctions hurting the people instead of the government.
CODEPINK has many questions for the Obama campaign .............
OBAMA is the presumptive candidate due to the failure of the Iraq
war/occupation DON'T FORGET IRAQ is making US less secure
everyday Senator!!!

Obama Encounter & Scolding Dems (now with Lebanon!)

Dear Blogosphere,

It's been another fun day in DC, representing for Peace & Justice with Code Pink (yes, grammar-hawks, the word “representing” can now be employed in new, fresh & funky ways -- see Merriam-Webster online, if you don't believe me*).

I spent most of the morning reading newspaper articles, reviewing the (false/alarmist/bellicose) language of the bipartisan House and Senate resolutions calling for a blockade of Iran (an act of war... but a bipartisan one, so that's... well... sort of... progress??), and attending to my e-mail backlog (a relaxed morning, all in all).

I spent the early part of the afternoon writing... AND THEN THE PINK FUN BEGAN!!!

I was going over some U.S.-Iran history with the demure and charming Leslie when there suddenly erupted a great hue and cry from upstairs!

Squeal!!! Yelp!!! Yow!!! WooHOOO!!! Leslie and I halted the history session to investigate.

Upstairs we were given the scoop: “OBAMA is going to speak to the Democratic Caucus in the (Happy Donkey?) room in the Cannon Building!!!” Des informed us.

Supercool -- an opportunity to inflict some Code Pink messaging on an actual presidential candidate! Sweeeeet. (What? You grammar hawks don't like “messaging,” either? Again, I must refer you nerdlingers to*

(...and don't be bothering me about “nerdlingers!” If you have to look it up, you know what you are...)

In any case, a short while later, decked out in (wait for it...) PINK, we were off! First stop: The Rayburn building and the House Foreign Affairs committee. The subject: Lebanon!

A quick rundown of the hearing: Ackerman/Pence/Witness (ex-Ambassador Feldman) all lament current body politic in Lebanon... The largest Christian faction uniting with largest (Shi'ite) Muslim faction against minority Siniora government (Sunni) and foreign (U.S.) meddling (Christians + Shi'ites = “Unholy Alliance” per Pence); Pols decry throngs of thousands of Lebanese celebrating return to country of terrorist/freedom fighter/alleged child-murderer Samir Kuntar (freshly released from Israel's dungeons in prisoner exchange); Rep. Rayhall notes that Israel refused U.S./U.N. requests for info on where they dropped thousands of (child-killing) cluster munitions now littering Lebanon's southern border; Congressmen/witness lament popularity of Hezbollah and celebrate country's remaining divisions (Pence sees hope in “divided house”); Feldman sees hope in new President Suleiman's actions as Army Chief, protecting Siniora after '06 war and fighting Sunni extremists in Palestinian refugee camps last May (including al Qaeda offshoot, Fatah al-Islam, Sunnis funded by U.S. -- via the Saudis -- in order to cause trouble for Shi'ite Hezbollah -- per Sy Hersh's March '07 report describing “redirection:” U.S. employing “old lady who swallowed a fly/spider/rat/cat...” method of “fighting” terrorism); Pols/witness fret about coming (March '09) elections/Hezbollah's prospects and the recent Doha Agreement's prohibition against “strange gerrymandering” (which hadn't done enough, apparently, to prevent Hezbollah from doing well in Lebanon's '05 elections)... and so forth.

AND NOW for the BARACK OBAMA and Democrat-Scolding Intervention!!!

After leaving the hearing, I rejoined my Pink peers outside the Cannon Building (after a brief chat with m'good friend Jen and the legendary “Start Loving”).

Des, Liz, Tighe, Jen, Cynthia, myself... and several others (members of the Great Un-pink Masses) were amassed outside the west exit of the building... some of us in the full knowledge of what we were waiting for (the Obama- egress -- the quick, Senatorial dash to the black SUV waiting in the street with the engine running)... and others were just loitering about.

We chatted pleasantly with some members of the security detail, passersby, and Congressional pages. We caught a glimpse of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (my senator), and I took a moment to thank her for the strong role she played in the Senate hearing about “enhanced interrogation” a few weeks back, featuring witnesses Alberto Mora, Diane Beaver, and Admiral Jane Dalton.

And we continued to wait...

Des took a position sitting on the wall across the street with her peace banner. “Hurricane” Liz waited with the rest of us, bullhorn at the ready (Liz had earlier made the leap from Code Pink “Hero” to “Legend,” in my estimation, making it to the Cannon Building on a tandem bicycle -- sans partner -- bullhorn, backpack, and all! The only thing that could have made it more impressive, I thought, would be if she had also been transporting a CELLO... or live animal -- something large and unwieldy, anyway... Karl Rove, perhaps).

“Look,” someone shouted, “it's Anderson Cooper!”

Several yards away I saw the pin-stripe suit-jacketed back of a grey haired, svelte-ish man briskly walking toward Independence Avenue with a cell phone glued to his ear.

“That sonuva-bitch,” I thought, recalling Cooper's abysmally shoddy March report, “Shock and Awe: 5 Years Later,” a putrescent piece of pure propaganda that had excised virtually every significant fact about the Iraq war. (Anderson had apparently decided to let former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer do the editing... in addition to framing most of the issues in his “report.”)

I took off like a shot, running after Cooper to give him the very last piece of my mind (that's how much it meant to me). Doing the 100 yard dash in my Tevas was no problem. In moments I'd caught up to...

“Who the hell is THIS guy?” I wondered (not Anderson Cooper). So I did my own 360 and soon joined Des, sitting on the wall outside of Longworth, across from Cannon.

Des: “It wasn't Anderson Cooper, was it?”
Me: “Nope... It wasn't even Chris Wallace.”
Des: “Thems the breaks, kiddo.”

[Caution: Dialogue may be slightly fictionalized... kiddos.]

So we waited for a while longer...


Suddenly, the police, secret service, and security folks were all talking into their wrists, lapels, and spy-shoes. They immediately corralled all of us, telling us we had to be “three trees back” from where we were standing (even the Congressional pages, tiny things though they were).

Soon, the candidate would appear, but FIRST:

“James, look at all of those (bleepity-blank) Congressmen coming out the front of the building!” (Des, swearing a blue streak, as usual)

“Fuck a (bleep)” -- Oops... (Scratch that)... “(Bleep) a duck,” I said, “that IS a whole gaggle of Congressmen!”

“Go get the 'Pin the War on the Democrats' banner, you (bleep bleep),” Des directed me... and off I was (again putting my Tevas to the test).

I dashed across the street (“Hurry!” shouted Des behind me) and snatched up the banner, heading to Independence Ave. to head them off at the... Ave.

And there I stood for the next, oh, half an hour at the most, at the corner of (Cannon) and Independence, engaging one Democratic representative after another, thanking some, scolding others, letting them all know that:

“It's not just George W. Bush's war, anymore!” and “You (bleepity-blanks) ignored your (blipping) mandate...”

(Ok, there really wasn't ANY profanity in these exchanges -- especially not on Des's part... and me, I don't even know most of those words...)

LONG blog short: Obama DID exit the building, striding confidently (sans bowling ball) to the black SUV on the street. My Pinky friends let him know JUST how they felt:

“Out of Iraq!”
“No war with Iran!”
“We want a Peace President!” (i.e., Dennis Kucinich)
“Impeach Bush!”
“Impeach Cheney!”
“Re-Impeach Clinton!”
“Nice suit!”
“What the (bleep) did you do to FISA!??”

...and then it was all over (sigh) -- all but the part where one of us gets hassled by the one overzealous, (green) cop on the Pink beat: “How long have you had that bullhorn? Do you have a license for that banner?” (and so forth...)

When I asked my sister Pinkies about Obama, I received mixed reports:

“Good eye contact...”
“Too much swagger...”
“That lapel pin really makes him look taller...”

And then we headed back to the Pink House for pizza, veggie-burgers, and leftover soup...

WHAT a day! (I can't WAIT for the Republican Caucus in the Cannon Elephantitis Room with Senator McCain!!!)


*(Made you look!)**
**(...unless I didn't... )***
***( which case: damn bee-atches, you're just too smart for me!)****
****(...or just plain lazy -- how hard is it to go to your browser and type “”?!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hugs for Peace in DC

Jennifer our sweet Teacher for Peace from Fremont California spent summer vacation time walking the halls of Congress to work with CODEPINK Women for Peace
as a strong voice of peace,justice,education standards,human needs over the War economy
the constitution, basic civil rights,and a future filled with possiblities
for the children in her school!What a month it has been !~!
Nonstop creative activism.Street Theater,Boat Blockade of Cong.Ackerman's House boat on the Potomac,Douglas Feith Hearing,Ann Wrhight's Bday w/CODEPINK FANS,NEA ANNUAL conference(9,000 delegates)
Everyone misses our Teacher for Peace!
investing your free time as a volunteer
with the Peace Team in DC CODEPINK!

Obama Speaking on the Hill At Dem Caucus

We were ready for the Pelosi exit with this Banner.

Upon the presumtive presidential candidate's entry to the caucus
room Liz & Jennifer shouted out Peace Takes Courage OBAMA

The Peace Candidate supporters were outside Cannon building as the
Democrats Caucused with Obama this afternoon!We Chanted "We
want a peace President-OBAMA!

Monday, July 28, 2008

We missed the Impeachment Picnic ................

Sunday Report
CODEPINK Ann Dez James Jennifer Leslie Kim Liz were invited to a photo shoot and that is partially why we didn't make it to the IMPEACHMENT PICNIC as planned!!!Apologies from the PEACE FORCE....Gael you missed out!

We want IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS to be the next step for the Judiciary! No time to waste Congress!Let's tell CONGRESS -CONYERS -all judiciary members TO BE ON NOTICE----
Impeachment Hearings to investigate are an urgent step to start!

Do your Job John!

Code Pink On Florida Progressive Radio

If you missed today's edition of Blast Off! Radio with Liz and NTodd talking to host Sinfonian about Code Pink, you can listen to the freshly posted archive.


Tune In, Call In

My friend Sinfonian would like to announce:
Today on BO!R, we'll examine the Code Pink phenomenon. What is it that makes their protests so controversial? And are they making a difference -- or is there madness to their method? Joining us on the show today will be Code Pink advocate NTodd Pritsky of the blogs Dohiyi Mir and Pax Americana, as well as Code Pink organizer Liz (subject to change), and they'll take your questions and comments.

How can you get your questions and comments heard? It's easy:

Blast Off! Radio
4:00 pm Eastern TODAY
Call in number: (646) 716-7543
Liz and I will be chatting with Sinfonian about what Code Pink does, where it came from, and whatever else callers want to discuss. Please call in or e-mail the show to lend your support and/or ask questions.

Based on some reactions to pinking Nancy Pelosi from people attending Netroot Nations last week, it seems many even on the left side of the political spectrum don't understand what Code Pink is all about, which is what spurred this particular show. I also think most don't realize how empowered they are to do things like engage our elected employees, put psychological pressure on war enablers, etc. So don't be shy, call the number above and help us educate!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Visiting Bolivia in turbulent times

Medea Benjamin

Saturday, July 26, 2008
: I’m in Bolivia as an invited participant in the Gathering of World Intellectuals and Artists for the Unity and Sovereignty of Bolivia that will take place on July 28-30 in La Paz. It’s a weighty name for a gathering of hemispheric leaders to show solidarity for Evo Morales before the recall referendum on August 10 and in light of the efforts of the nation’s elite to divide the country.

I arrived early to get oriented to Bolivia, a country I have not been to for 30 years.The Conference organizers warned us about two things. One is the cold—it’s winter here and the temperature can drop to below freezing at night. The other is the altitude. Many people to La Paz (4000 meters high) get altitude sickness, called soroche, which includes dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath—and can be life-threatening. They recommend that you drink coca tea (yes, made from coca leaves) and that the first few days you “camina lento, come poco and duerme solo”—walk slowly, eat lightly, and sleep alone. The only one I had trouble with was the “walking slowly.”

Saturday, my first day, coincided with an amazing folklore festival organized every year by the university UMSA. It had over 9,000 dancers who are part of 71 different clubs. Each club represents a different department—science, philosophy, medicine, etc.—and they choose an ethnic dance/costume/tradition that they want to represent.

It’s inspiring to see how much the young people here are fascinated and proud of their history. From 8am until late at night, they parade through the street watched by throngs of spectators who cheer wildly for their favorite group.

Llamerada, tinku, diablada, pujllay, kullawada, caporales, chacarera—these are just a few of the brilliant mosaic of dances the students have revived from Bolivian folklore.
My favorite was the diablada, the “dance of the devils”, where the dancers wear scary devil masks with horns and weave in and out of plumes of colored smoke.

As a “special guest”, I was given a seat in the jury stand where groups are judged by their costumes, choreography and music. It was an amazing introduction into the contractions of modern Bolivia, where the indigenous customs are celebrated, where the first indigenous leader has been elected president, but where indigenous people continue to be discriminated against in everyday life.

The evening was another spectacular opportunity. How often does one get to meet the president the first night in the country??? It so happened that Saturday night was the opening of a new documentary on the life of President Evo Morales. Since the filmmaker was Cuban—Jorge Fuentes—the opening was hosted by the Cuban Ambassador to Bolivia, Rafael DausÃ¥, who I had known when he was stationed at the Cuban Interest Section in Washington and when he visited us at Global Exchange in San Francisco. So I was invited to the opening and stood with the ambassador and his wife as they warmly greeted hundreds of other guests.

The guests ranged from the Chinese and Costa Rican ambassadors to indigenous groups in traditional costumes to social workers and Cuban doctors. Just standing in the lobby of the cinema watching the crowd was mesmerizing. Then the President, Evo Morales, and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera drove up. The crowd on the street cheered when Evo emerged from the car, and with little fanfare and minimum security, he greeted the crowd and took his seat in the front row of the theatre. What a thrill it was when I was also escorted to the front row to sit with the dignitaries! A far cry from the U.S.—I thought—where I am so often treated like some kind of dangerous terrorist.

While Evo sat modestly through the entire evening, with no public speech, the vice president gave a moving presentation before the film about how Evo’s life represented 500 years of indigenous suffering and resistance—and ultimately hope and triumph. The speech and the film painted an amazing picture of Evo Morales. Born to a poor family in Orinoco, his father was a llama herder and farmer. The film showed his home—an abode shack with a straw roof in the middle of a stark altipano. The film included an interview with the president talking about his childhood. He mentioned that he would run after the buses that came through town, chasing and eating the discarded orange peels the passengers threw out the windows. “My dream,” said Evo, “was to be a passenger on the bus and have the luxury of throwing away orange peels.”

He became coca grower and the movie showed how central coca has been to the lives of Bolivians—giving them the strength they need to survive under such harsh conditions. While today coca is associated with cocaine and Bolivia is seen as a provider of illicit drugs that make their way to the U.S. and Europe, the coca leaf continues to be a staple in the lives of Bolivian Indians and Evo, as a leader of coca growers, became a powerful force in the country—so powerful that he was eventually elected president.

The documentary didn’t delve into the present political situation, where the opposition is trying to squeeze Evo to the breaking point by organizing autonomous movements to physically divide the country. It’s amazing how tranquil the president and vice president seemed, given the difficult political situation they are facing, including a recall vote just two weeks away.

The movie ended to resounding applause, and the president left the theatre as humbly as he came in—shaking hands and greeting well-wishers. A far cry from the way George Bush interacts with the public!

As I walked back to the hotel (slowly), I thought sadly about how my government has been working closely with the opposition to defeat Evo Morales, instead of embracing this leader who represents the dreams of a people who have been so oppressed for so long. I was also saddened by the thought of how few people in the U.S. know or care about Bolivia, how there is virtually no solidarity movement in the U.S. as there was with progressive Central American governments in the 1980s. Perhaps because Bolivia is harder to get to, perhaps because many U.S. activists are immersed in the Middle East struggles. But there needs to be a more organized effort to support this government that has taken on the daunting task of trying to undo 500 years of oppression…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Todd Pritsky Response to Piece

July 17, 2008

I'd Give It A 42, But I Can't Dance To It

Cintra Wilson asks the hard questions in Salon:

Code Pink welcomes anybody "willing to be outrageous for peace." But despite its emphasis on "joy and humor," its ruckus-raising techniques often cause me and my liberal community, who tend to agree with its politics, to regard them with distaste and embarrassment. Why did these shrieking middle-aged women in pink novelty hats believe this manner of protest was going to be effective in Congress, let alone in an almost completely co-opted media climate that seems hellbent on ignoring them?

I don't know Cintra from Lilith, but I see she's a celebrity writer who writes for Salon frequently. Good thing she came to this story with no clear agenda. Why, she didn't say 'cackle' even once!

But allow me to pose a follow up question that she for some reason failed to ask: why do allegedly anti-war liberal community members, who write about doing rather than, you know...doing, think that their own distaste and embarrassment is at issue when people are working hard to end the war? And why do they never seem to suggest alternative tactics when clearly the whole sitting around hoping or just voting for Democrats every cycle hasn't achieved their stated objective?

I look around and see the war is in its sixth year. How's all that status quo stuff working out, liberals? How's all that writing snarky articles about shrieking women in pink hats instead of supporting the people on the streets accomplishing your aims? Tried anything else recently?

I love peace, but why would any adult human who ever owned a nice belt want to be seen with this eyesore? Why does the peace movement have to dress and act like an irritating children's birthday party? More to the point, how was this peace demonstration supposed to convert the hearts and minds of the executive powers across the street, when the main event -- the tent city, and Code Pink, its most vital supporters -- didn't even bother to show up?

More to the point, how was this article supposed to convert the hearts and minds of the executive powers? Did the author propose solutions? Did the author offer support to people who have put themselves on the line for five years? Did the author consider that if more people actually joined in the action it might actually be more effective?

Murphy cataloged the "legitimate" work the group does behind the scenes (which, I had to admit, I had failed to recognize in my blindness from the glare of their prom dresses).

I like the scare quotes. Because clearly Code Pink doesn't actually do anything so legitimate as writing sarcastic articles for Salon. I also like how Cintra admits her ignorance and then blames it on party dresses rather than her inability to use teh Google to look up the Code Pink site. In fact, she seems to revel in it whilst focusing on the fashion statements!

"There's a huge gap between being against the war and doing something about it as a citizen," Murphy added.

Gael: 1. Cintra: 0.

Although I didn't say it, it occurred to me that apartheid and Darfur were issues that were comfortable to Congress -- and to mainstream media -- because of their high-level celebrity endorsements: Darfur had Bono, apartheid had Springsteen, AIDS had Elizabeth Taylor. It was mainstream media stars -- and the mainstream media that built them -- that ultimately allowed these issues to get enough momentum for serious support.

Indeed, the crisis in Darfur was solved once Bono weighed in. Apartheid ended not because of various colleges and corporations divesting and the nonviolent resistance within the country, but thanks solely Springsteen's participation in recording Sun City. And AIDS has been cured because Liz got involved!

Whereas the war? There are no celebrities interested in it. Ask Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, John Cusack. They just shrug their shoulders and sip their lattes.

I confessed to both women that I never would have known about Code Pink if they didn't disrupt congressional proceedings in pink tiaras. "That's right," said Benjamin. "Without the tiaras, you wouldn't be here. You know: 'If it bleeds it leads.' Code Pink is a manifestation of crisis, of a lack of democratic vehicles through which we can express ourselves. We're a manifestation of a broken system. You might not like the way we manifest it, but we'd like people to reflect on how broken the system is."

What a stunning confession. And so nice that Cintra then realizes that guerrilla theater, disruption of default behavior patterns and getting--GASP!--media attention is kinda the way to get people to notice what's happening. It's almost like all that stuff she mocked in the opening graf had a point.

I was beginning to feel a bit like a big-mouth bass: Lured by a bright pink artificial fly, doing the hula on the surface. It struck me how necessary pink tiaras were in the informational black hole that enables the inscrutable machinations of Washington to move forward without public scrutiny. A successful movement depends on a media that will grant it public legitimacy. Without it, the peace movement is left to masochistic zealots like Benjamin and Murphy: They crash Congress every day and destroy their own dignity for just the tiniest effect -- a nearly inaudible yelp from the dust speck of peaceful Whoville.

Perhaps some day people in the media like Cintra might realize that while they write with feigned detachment and bemusement about important matters like dissenting against war, they could communicate the message Code Pink is trying to get out. Perhaps supposed liberals, rather than intellectualizing about the bestest, most guaranteedest method of effecting change, could try doing something for, uh...a change.

And how have Medea and Gael destroyed their own dignity by acting empowered? I submit that dignity comes from doing what you believe in, not from snarkilicious supposed progressives writing on spec.

I came away from the Code Pink house believing that guerrilla theater is more critical than ever. For activists, Benjamin and Murphy represent the thin pink line separating the American peace movement from muteness, invisibility and depression unto disbandment.

Oh, so she thinks Code Pink does have value? Gee, that only took two pages of dismissive cynicism to get to!

Code Pink may have lost a little heart, temporarily, but the ladies haven't lost their way, or their flair: I was touched that Benjamin went out of her way to compliment my fishnet stockings.

And once again, it's really all about fashion, not the activism. Thank Dog we have a celebrity writer covering the anti-war beat.

Look, sarcasm is great. I've been known to use it myself sometimes, even when discussing the war--no, really! But while Cintra et al decry actionists who go out and engage in tactics that make them uncomfortable, I would suggest they turn their rapier wit and wry skepticism toward the architects of the war, and think about how they can support the variety of anti-war organizations that are doing yeoman's work to achieve the goals they supposedly share.

When mentioning Code Pink works with other organizations like UFP, instead of asserting without substantiation that Pinkers try to steal credit from them, howsabout discussing they also work with Veterans for Peace and IVAW--members of which I've met at the regular Wednesday potlocks at the DC house--amongst other groups, both national and international? Why not learn more about how small organizations do outreach in various ways? Or educate yourself and your readers about nonviolent tactics, stragtegies, and successful implementations?

What has Cintra done to end the war she says she hates, if she hasn't engaged in guerilla theater? Vigils? Counter recruitment? Civil disobedience? War tax resistance? Haunted war enablers? Used her platform to engage in sedition? Advocated for a general strike?

As I've said in the past, I don't expect moral purity from anybody. However, when you're going to attack people actively doing something, I think it behooves you to reflect on your own actions and inaction first, and think of solutions instead of just mocking, deriding, dismissing, and otherwise pulling out the rug from under those who are at least trying to throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Maybe even do a little research to see what traditions these people are continuing.

It's interesting that Code Pink (not to mention Cindy Sheehan) are so readily identified as "the peace movement" when they're really just components of a diverse tapestry of individuals and organizations working together oft times as a loose coalition to end the war. Why is it that women and mothers, like Las Madres in Argentina, are the ones who have to always seem to be the ones getting the ball rolling? Why do so many concerned people wait for somebody else to take that first step? It would be grand if more people would engage in the streets instead of passively, snarkily and counterproductively remarking from the sidewalk on what's happening in front of them.

In the interest of edumacation, here are a few links:

And remember: Action is always going to be more controversial than inaction.


07.26.08 on the road to impeachment

Peace Constituents followed the Chain Gang criminals all over Pennsylvania avenue this afternoon as we tried to make citizen arrests. It was a difficult task trying to put Condi Cheney and W Bush into custody as there was so much Police presence near the compound.
We engaged tourists with reasons for IMPEACHMENT of Cheney & Bush starting with War Crimes.Crimes against humanity.

Inside the Holy of Holies: CodePink attends the Impeachment Hearing

Some of you know me - for those who don't, I'm Eileen Coles, a Desert Storm USAF veteran who served at HQ USAFE (Ramstein Airbase) with Lori Purdue. Impeachment is very personally important to me. In 2002 I swore to never cut my hair while Bush remained President of the United States, a form of protest and spiritual statement of distress that I take from the example of Harald Fairhair in the lore of pre-Christian Scandinavia.

I feel strongly that the oathbreaking, lawbreaking, lying, theft and murder perpetrated by the Bush administration has made a mockery of my military service and that of three generations of my family who have been represented in all four branches of the US Military. Indeed, that this creature who couldn't even serve his skate stateside duty without going AWOL for a year and having his daddy's rich friends cover it up is now the Commander in Chief makes a sickening travesty of the service of anyone else who put on the uniform and served honorably. One might say I oppose the continued abuses of this administration on a molecular level. So when I heard that there was going to be a "sorta kinda impeachment hearing", I came down to DC straightaway from New York.

The CodePink house in DC serves as a natural locus for other groups to come and network. Gael and Desiree hosted a meeting on Thursday the 24th for the purposes of coordinating a unified response to the hearing, which was attended by many blogosphere luminaries and representatives of activist groups who are concerned with the issue of impeachment.

Here Sue Serpa and Ralph Lopez of Republicans for Impeachment (that's right, read it and weep, freeps!) talk to Gael about whether or not to engage in active protest in the hearing. The decision was made to respect movement in a positive direction by dressing formally, minimizing the pink and not planning any protests or disruptions.

Also present was David Swanson of, one of the premier political blogs out there. As a matter of fact, in this picture David can be seen reading the list of official witnesses to the room, which he received while the meeting was still going on. David also let us know which radio stations and CSPAN channels were going to be broadcasting and streaming the hearing over the Internet.

To restore the rule of law, this administration must be held accountable for it's myriad crimes. Right now our country is being run by a gang of organized criminals, and if we are to look for our steely-spined Elliot Ness we will evidently not soon find him in John Conyers, who told Desiree last MONTH that they were going to arrest Karl Rove that same week. Somehow that just hasn't happened yet... However good news is that Dennis Kucinich and Robert Wexler have not abandoned Constitution or the American people.

Merely getting into the hearing was the usual "Simon Says" ordeal with the DC Capitol Police, resulting in one arrest. 110 people lined up in the hallway. Only 16 people were allowed in, although we were initially told there was room for 40. Here are Laurie Arbeiter of World Can't Wait and Jenny Heinz of CodePink, who both came down from NYC for the hearing.

As was agreed, CP did the minimal pink/Sunday best thing for Conyers.

Veterans for Peace have been a constant presence. Their ferocious, impassioned and well-informed lobbying of Conyers contributed directly to this hearing finally happening.

Cindy Sheehan was the first in line to get in - and who would dare say her nay!

While the only removals from the room were instigated by Steven King, who whined about statement shirts and pins and the roars of protest that met his pathetic, blatant lies; for the most part our behavior was restrained. At one point at King's insistence several veterans were forced to leave the room, one of them for wearing a pin. As the people protested, "These are our VETERANS! You'd have them killed for a lie but you're afraid of having to read something on a shirt or a pin!" King and the other Republitards writhed in shame - as well they should have! As he left the room the veteran scornfully snarled "Where's your integrity!" and threw the pin at King. There were definitely times when you could feel the people's silent rage crackling in the air like thunder. Given the unnecessary hardships this administration has brought upon the people of our nation and our world, I think the congresscritters are just going to have to deal with wilting under the icy glare of the people they pretend to serve.

The eyes of CodePink are upon you...!

Ex-Congresswoman Liz Holzman was a welcome addition to the witnesses.

The crux of the reason for the hearing revolved around this testimony by Dennis Kucinich. (I can be seen sitting behind him, for whatever that's worth, heh. Hi, mom.)

I am very grateful to CodePink for giving me the opportunity to attend this historic hearing, and the CodePink DC house just keeps getting better and better. So stop reading and get yourself here already! You're missing all the fun!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Long Lines few public seats in Conyers Hearing room

Witness list Bruce Fine Constitutional Lawyer
Liz Hotzman Former NY Senator
Bob Barr- Presidential Candidate
Rocky Anderson-Former Mayor Salt Lake City 2000-2008
and others
Concerned citizens stood on the streets outside the House office buildings starting at 6am this morning to eagerly participate in the Bush Presidency & Consitutional limitations Hearing in the Judiciary.This is a first step toward urgent impeachment hearings.We Thank the Chairman but let's get on track with implementing REAL IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS so we as a people can make certain NO ONE WILL EVER be as criminal as W BUSH!NO ONE
It was a miscarriage of our Justice & a discredit to the people, our democracy, our rights,and our efforts to participate in our government as the conscience of the US...........
that the Chariman didn't notice the loud & unhappy members of the public in the halls.
There were only 16 seats for public participation.We stood for hours on line while staffers came in and out frequently of the hearing room.
Oh Mister Conyers why were only 16 people allowed to attend a public hearing
that was so popular & well attended that it demanded extra seating or fewer staffers in the main room to allow more participation from the majority of the US?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gandhi Peace Brigade/ Leslie Returns to DC

Dear Friends,

Leslie flew to Washington DC Wednesday, hoping to talk with Congressman Ackerman. He's calling for a naval blockade of Iran through his sponsorship of House Resolution 362 She met him last year, along with the Iranian bicyclists Miles for Peace, and she wanted to talk with him about withdrawing his resolution, or at the least, to delay the House vote until after Congress returns from its upcoming break. This morning Leslie got some good news. Howard Berman, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has decided not to "mark up" the resolution, which means it's possible it won't come up for a vote until next year. Berman has indicated he has "no intention of moving the bill through his committee unless the language is first altered to ensure that there is no possible way it could be construed as authorizing any type of military action against Iran."

Iran and the United States were recently involved in a much touted diplomatic effort and instead of negotiating, the United States once again told Iran to stop enrichment or face increased economic sanctions. Iran has been given two weeks to reply. This is one of the reasons why Leslie went to DC. If the House votes in favor of Resolution 362 during this two week period, Iran will most likely react negatively to this Congressional "act of war".

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies stated "with high confidence" that Iran ceased its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003. There weren't any WMD's in Iraq and there isn't a weapons program in Iran. Israel, the country most vocal about Iran's nuclear program, hasn't even signed onto the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Leslie plans to attend Chairman Conyers' pre-impeachment Judiciary hearing tomorrow (Friday). She'll be wearing her special "Conyers' Bonnet". She has met with him on seven occasions and each time she has encouraged the Chairman to start impeachment hearings for Cheney. Leslie doesn't want this administration's criminal acts to set precedents for the next administration. Impeachment hearings for Cheney might also distract him from his burning desire to attack Iran.

On a more personal note, Leslie and I have just celebrated our second anniversary of being partners for peace. We met (Thank you Rae!) during CodePink's Troops Home Fast vigil at Dianne Feinstein's house in San Francisco on July 5, 2006. I was standing on a ladder putting up the Giant Gandhi Puppet when Leslie came over and asked if she could help. I said "YES!" and we've been together ever since ... except for short separations like this one.

As most of you know, Leslie and I went to Iran last year. This was a life-altering experience for us. When we came home, we quit our jobs, put everything into storage and drove from California to Washington DC to lobby for diplomacy with Iran. We have become full time Peace with Iran Activists.

I'm staying in San Francisco to lay the groundwork for our upcoming Peace with Iran tour. If you know a talk show host, a newspaper or magazine editor, or an organizational leader who wants to hear an American's impression of Iran, please get in touch. Our presentation also includes lots of photos: and a video piece depicting our journey in Iran and Leslie's CodePink activism in Washington DC.

People have been asking how they can contribute to our Journey for Peace with Iran. Tax-deductible donations can be made on-line by going to our web site and clicking on the "donate" button. We'll send you one of our favorite photos from Iran as a thank you.

We appreciate having all of you with us on our Journey for Peace with Iran.

Peace and Freedom,

Jes & Leslie

Support the Kucinich Impeachment Hearing on Friday

Anti-War Movement Successfully Pushes Back Against Military Confrontation With Iran

Read about the National Impeachment Network

Dancing! Absolutely Wonderful!!

Red Cross Finds Bush Administration Guilty of War Crimes

Forty-three Nations to Seek Middle East Free of WMD's

Jes & Leslie
... A Journey for Peace and Freedom:

If you would like to be added to The Gandhi Peace Brigade Group List,
let me know: Thank you. Jes

Why we are going to the Conventions

Here at CODEPINK we're getting ready to bring our Peace Platform to the Democrat and Republican National Conventions.

Click here to find out why we think it's important to make the trek to Denver and the Twin Cities.

Check out our plans at

Why I'm going to the conventions...
By Rae Abileah

Part I: DNC ~ Live it!
I will travel on the train to Denver from San Francisco with a group of CODEPINK activists because I am tired of waiting for politicians to change, and ready to amp up my modeling of the world I want to live. That modeling includes taking the "Peace Train" and talking with the passengers and singing all the way around the mountains, riding in a pink bicycle brigade through the streets in Denver, visiting a free healthcare clinic, and issuing CODEPINK security alerts to renew public trust and confidence. Out of emails and phone calls and webpages will arise a flock of women (many of whom I get to work with from afar), a force for peace, that will make history. The world's media will be landing in Denver to cover the "who will be the next president of the superpower" story, and we tell them the "who are the electorate" story about peace voters. I am committed to training and building capacity in (primarily female) organizers, building a skilled movement. I still believe that it is the people that must lead the US out of war, that must refuse to fight, that must call for campaign finance reform, that must engage in civic duty to create a democracy. And in these dark times, my civic duty includes out-of-the-box creative actions that shed a little light in the tunnel to guide us out.

Part II: BRC ~ Love it!
I will fly to Black Rock City, home of the Burning Man festival, in the weekend between the conventions because it is my annual ritual to return to my desert-dwelling community of eccentric artists, who this year chose "The American Dream" as the theme of the event. Last year at BRC activists in pink slips served up peach mint martinis and peach cobbler while chatting up im-peach-mint. This year some of us will be handing out copies of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and weaving dreamcatchers, not only to drive out the nightmare of the bush regime, but also to call awareness to the ongoing US occupation of indigenous lands. I will go to BRC to release, at the temple there, these past eight years of ill-governance: I know the time is approaching to put the Bush years to death, and I want to be ready to rise from the ashes of this broken government. I go to BRC to reignite my spirit and passion for artivism, to keep living a succulent joyous life, to find the Phoenix inside me.

Part III: RNC ~ Reclaim it!
I got swept into the pink whirlwind of CODEPINK activism at the RNC in NYC 2004, which was the summer after my college graduation in Manhattan. I found a ride home from the protest to California on Craigslist with a CODEPINK activist, Zanne, and her moving truck. Who knew a rideshare would lead to my first job out of college and my future traveling, ruckus-raising lifestyle?! Zanne and I spent two weeks on the road in the South registering voters and talking with women about pinkslippin' Bush. We chose tiny towns with fun names like War, West Virginia and Truth or Consequences, Texas. We spoke out. Four years later, things are worse now then they were then. How could I not return to the scene of the crime, the gathering of the war hawks?

Someone once sang, "Bush stole the best years of my twenties," and I think that's true for most of my peers (certainly those of us hit hard by the economy, or in youth prisons, or overseas fighting to keep our buddies alive, or just trying to get by in poor schools or without college funding)... not to mention the innocent lives of over a million Iraqis, thousands of soldiers and contractors, and people all over the world who have been impacted by US foreign policy (I mean, imagine what we could do with all those billions, no, trillions, of dollars if we weren't spending it all on violence and weaponry ~ sustainable solutions for world hunger, poverty, debt relief, environmental degradation, clean energy, education, healthcare, bicycles for everyone, subsidies for organic produce... the list goes on and on.) The Republican party's politics of domination and consolidated executive power have become not only an embarrassment to the world, but a slow demise of our Constitution. While some of my leftist sisters may believe that this party is rotten to the core, I think there are republican values that are integral to our American culture, the values that my stepdad espoused when he became a Republican after fighting in the Vietnam war, like fiscal conservatism (hello 3 trillion dollar war--NOT in line with this value!), state and local rights (PA Attorney General Tom Corbet recently said to townspeople protesting toxic sludge killing kids in their own back yards, "There is no inalienable right to local self-government." Say what?!), and a focus on family, faith, and neighborhood organizing based on values. This time around, I am going to the RNC not only to protest and agitate, but also to reclaim these ideals. I'm going to the RNC with all the messages of the bills that have been passed over the past nightmare of a presidency, with a simple request--action, not doublespeak. I want: Clean Energy, Healthy Forests, No Child Left Behind, Women's Liberation, an end to Terrorism, and the announcement of a true CODEPINK Alert!

Part IV: The Race
I will continue traveling onward after the RNC because just like in 2004 there are a lot of conversations to be had with Americans about what issues are important to them and how each of us can do something to make our lives, our country, and our world a safer, healthier, more sparkling, heart-centered and joyous place. Being on the road with activists, singers, artists gives me hope that a world free of war is truly possible. While the nation turns to candidates, I will be turning to candid conversation and practical action. Getting out the vote means having something to vote for (and one day maybe not having to hold our noses while we check those boxes in the booth) and also creating community.

Part V: The Finish Line?
After the election when, like the silence that follows Christmas morning after all the presents have been sufficiently ravaged, the political fervor dies down and people forget about platforms and promises, when the election is "so last season" and the latest sitcom or new iPhone is consuming our attention, CODEPINK will still be taking creative action for peace because the war will still not be over. I'll be at the inauguration with my PINK sisters, mostly because that's what my mom taught me growing up, when she kept me home from school to watch the inauguration live broadcast on TV and said something like, "When you grow up you must do something to make the world a more beautiful place." Only now bearing witness means I have to act too, and engage in the stuff that is sometimes too scary to seem real, and be committed to changing it.

07.24.08 Evan Bayh's Office Re 580

CODEPINK Peace Lobbyists Gael, Des, Jenifer,Liz,Lisa,Devon,
Kim,Natalie,Marjon,Azita,Hashem,Pete,Fatemah,Florian and others secure an appointment with Todd Rosenblum Senator Bayh's Office to discuss our concerns regarding Sres 580.Thjis is the Iran Sanctions resolution sitting in the foreign relations committee .......
We were given ample time to make our points & resonate our fears using facts and our well researched refutations! Todd Rosenblum engaged our concerns on the matter of sanctions without Diplomacy is fruitless- for over an hour patiently.We felt it was the beginning of a necessary negotiation to expose the staffers to the deeper understanding that the usual target of sanctions are the most vulnerable in society children women the poor people.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

07.23.08 I love Justice

The House Judiciary held an oversight hearing of the Justice Dept featuring Attorney General Michael Mukasey.Congressman Wexler seemed to be the only hard ball questioner in my humble opinion.It is so disappointing to listen to thank you for your service from each member while the hard questions seem off the table? Voter Caging,Election Fraud, Torture Policies,extraordinary rendition,overpolitization of the Department .............what is happening to our country! Does anyone have a backbone?Does the Judiciary or Congress have a conscience??
CODEPINK had an exercise in fight for your rights planned outside the hearing room.Kim made 4 tshirts I (heart)love Justice,I(heart)love Capitol Police,I (heart)Peace,and I Love Teresa Vest( Committee Lady) just to see where the line is on the pink profiling? We put our shirts on just before the room opened up for public seating.Ms. Vest gave a brief statement on the conditions, parameters, & regulations to enter the hearing room and how to participate under these rules! CODEPINKers had to turn Tshirts inside out or take the pieces of art off completely to enter! After obtaining my seat i turned my T shirt back to I LOVE TERESA VEST .........Miss Vest asked me to take it off because it stated a position I replied what statement did this shirt make in her mind she got a little flustered and after a few minutes of back & forth she let it go but only after i put pink duct tape over the Heart............Now is ok I covered the heart---- NO MORE HEART!
now it said I Teresa Vest and i just smiled and giggled .......looked around inquiring if anyone was studying law.....suddenly all the lookers turned away............

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

07.21.08 Peace Message for the Christians


Local Iranian activists joined CODEPINK & others to keep the message of Peace
and no more wars even for Israel in view of hundreds of religious followers outside the Convention Center where Rev Hagee was in the audience!CODEPINKERS sang sweet peace songs to cheer up the few angry WAR Mongers who feel justified in Killing for the sake of selfish desire and total control of resources.
Who would Jesus Bomb??Thou Shalt not Kill!
There were many opportunities to support our truth with the passersby.
War is not the answer and we are waiting for a more peaceful world!Israel will not be safer if there is another WAR!!Let's talk! Let's be diplomatic and attempt to find common ground

Saturday, July 19, 2008

07.19.08 NOW Conference

Retired Col.Ann Wright put together a panel for the annual Now Conference on Sexual Assault of Women in the Military.Des & Liz were there early to reach out and get as many NOW women into that room to listen to these important stories as possible!!!!!!!!!!It helps the victims and family members to tell the story is therapy!Sharing is part of the healing process.
The turnout was pretty good.Everyone stayed the entire panel discussion.
The public needs to hear these stories of military families to begin to right these wrongs!Sexual assault is common in the military.Men think of women as bitches hoes or dykes? (Disgusting)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Baker's Story continued


all our love,

Heather & kids

(Continued from blog I wrote about "Bakers: Why we're Here and What It's Like"by one of the kids- I left off with describing the Feith hearing) The police had told us however, to wear our shirts inside out, take off our code pink hats, no interruptions during the hearing, plus no signs or banners. Freedom of speech! Hissss… 'Kay, that was off topic. Back on topic, the hearing, in the end, was pretty much not in favor of Feith. It was funny because after the hearing, when Feith came out of the courtroom, we code-pinkers chased after him with signs. Almost everyone, even the police, found it funny as Feith was chased after signs calling him a war criminal and that he should be arrested. Feith said nothing, while taxi drivers ignored him, of course with people and signs behind him calling him a war criminal. I think there were a few reasons
why the four empty taxis ignored him, but I think you can picture at least three reasons why. Anyway, it was very fun. We also spent most of our day going to congress men asking them not to sign the 362 resolution, the entire time we were there practically.
The next day, we went to a hearing in the morning about how detainees under United States custody were treated, based on/charged by terrorist activity. It basically revolved around Guantanamo Bay, on how it is totally illegal because of the tortures they do there, and constant interrogations. I researched a whole lot on the topic, and I found that according to the "L.A. Times," it stated that out of the 59 detainees (at that time, now they have around 130 or less) only 2 knew how to spell "Al Qaeda." Hem Hem… So, as I explained before, we asked more congressmen why they had signed the act. So far, we have only 1 congress men/women who has changed their mind and taken their name off the list. Some have not signed the 362 resolution at all, and are not thinking of signing it, but we still have a few others who need a change of heart on the matter.
In the end, I had so much fun, while getting to learn a whole lot about how our government works. I also got to meet Congressman Conyers, who was very nice, and we (my family) got to interview him about a few things that we learned in these past four days.=2
0For people who are thinking of going to go to code pink, GO NOW! The people there are really nice, and it's good for families with kids who are around middle school age, probably from possibly fourth grade to any age, but if you feel that your eight year old can survive an hour, maybe two, long of hearing, it's okay, because I didn't survive either. BUT they allow you to go out if your kid is having trouble sitting still, which happened to me, and I'm thirteen, but I cannot sit still listening to people debate. It's a bad flaw of mine.
Many people there have very interesting stories to tell about how they got to code pink. I had a great time, and I believe code pink is fighting for a good cause, PEACE DUDE!