"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Nativity for ALL of us

Dear Friends,

Once again churches everywhere prepare to tell the story of the Nativity during this watchful time of Christmas.  I have yet, in any church I've been, to see the full, unabridged and unsanitized version - the story of empire, of fear, of unabated greed and political savvy.

Elements of more modern history, whether it be the story of Columbus (and just about every other story of colonization), or that of the genocide of Native Americans or Aboriginal Peoples of Canada are contained in this story told in its much sanitized version each year.

In a modern world (quite ironically) much like that of the time in which Herod ruled, one has to wonder how much (or how little) we have learned in a little over 2000 years. As many times as we hear (or see) the story of the Nativity, do we really get it? And if we do, as so many (who call themselves Christians) claim, then why do so we still turn away the stranger, the immigrant, the homeless...???

Gary Kohls has, once again, reminded me of the following (timeless) story by Kevin Annett, called "Nativity." It is much more than a modern take on the Nativity; it is also a telling, between the lines, of the treatment of aboriginal peoples and of those who take Jesus' life and teachings seriously, and often suffer tremendously as a result.

It is, in a real sense, a Nativity for the rest of us, although my hope is that it might one day reach all of us.
A former minister of the United Church of Canada, Kevin Annett has helped give voice to the long suffering First Nations Peoples of Canada. 

Here is Kevin's offering for yet another desperate Advent as we wait in the stillness of these dark days.  May we hear and feel the deeper message in this story, and may it soften our hearts. 

Please read the end notes following the story for more on Kevin and the first nations people to the North.

In the spirit of Love, Nonviolence, Peace and Justice,



By Rev. Kevin D. Annett
     The last Christmas we were all together hangs over memory like the fog did that year in the Alberni valley. It was a time of gathering, two years and more of labor summoning so many together where once there were but a few. And it was a time of ending.
     The church stewards had warned me to expect an overflow crowd at the Christmas eve service, and like overgrown elves they had busied themselves around the building, stringing wires and sound systems in the cold auditorium kept that way to save money. The snows had come early, and our food bank was already depleted.
     With my eldest daughter who was but five, I had walked to the church one morning in the week before yule, pondering the cold and the sermon, when I met the one who would pierce the fog that year for us. She stood patiently at the locked door, her brown eyes relaxing as we approached. Her bare hand gestured at me.
     “You’re that minister, ain’t you?” she mumbled to me, as daughter Clare fell back and grabbed my hand.
     Before I could answer, the stranger smiled and nodded, and uttered with noticeable pleasure at her double entendre,
“They say you give it out seven days a week!”.
     I smiled too, gripping Clare’s hand reassuringly and replying,
     “If you mean food, we’re a bit short, but you’re welcome to whatever’s left.”
     She nodded again, and waited while I unlocked the door and picked up Clare, who was clinging to me by then.
     The basement was even more frigid than the outside, but the woman doffed her torn overcoat and sighed loudly as we approached the food bank locker.
     “For all the good it’ll do …” she said, as I unlocked the pantry and surveyed the few cans and bags lying there.
     I turned and really looked at her for the first time. She was younger than she had sounded, but a dark, cancerous growth marred her upper lip, and a deep scar ran down her face and neck. Her eyes were kindness, and in that way, very aboriginal.
     “I’m sorry there’s not more …” I began, since back then I still saw things in terms of giving. But she shook her head, and instead of saying anything, she looked at Clare, and the two of them exchanged a smile for the first time.
     I stared, confused, at the cupboard so bare, and heard her finally utter,
     “Them people in church, you know what they need?”
     I set Clare down and shook my head.
     “They need Him. They sing about Him, and pretend they know Him, but hell, they wouldn’t spot Him even if He came and bit ‘em on their ass.”
     I smiled at that one, and even dared a mild chuckle.
     “You doin’ a Christmas play for the kids?” she continued.
     “I bet it’s the usual bullshit with angels and shepherds, right?”
     I nodded.
     “That don’t mean nuthin’ to those people. Why don’t you do a story about … well, like, if He came to Port Alberni to be born, right now.”
     I finally laughed, feeling very happy. She smiled too, walked over to the cupboard and picked up a small bag of rice. Donning her coat, she nodded her thanks, and said,
     “My bet is Him and Mary and Joseph, they’d end up in the Petrocan garage, down River road. The owner there lets us sleep in the back sometimes.”
     And then she was gone.
     I didn’t try explaining the stranger to anyone, ever, or what her words had done to me. All I did was lock the food cupboard and lead Clare up to my office, where I cranked up the heat and set her to drawing. And then I sat at my desk and I wrote for the rest of the day.
     The kids in church were no problem at all. They got it, immediately. The Indians who dared to mingle in the pews that night with all the ponderous white people also took to the amateur performance like they had composed it themselves, and laughed with familiarity as the holy family was turned away first by the local cops, and then hotel owners, and finally by church after church after church.
     It was mostly the official Christians who were shocked into open-mouthed incredulity at the coming to life of something they thought they knew all about. As the children spoke their lines, I swear I saw parishioners jump and writhe like there were tacks scattered on the pews.
     “Joe, I’m getting ready to have this kid. You’d better find us a place real friggin' quick.”
“I’m trying, Mary, but Jehovah! Nobody will answer their door! I guess it’s ‘cause we’re low lifes.”
“Look! There’s a church up ahead. I bet they’ll help us!”
     If you believe the Bible, whoever He was loved to poke fun at his listeners and shock them out of their fog, and our play would have made him proud. As the eight-year old girl who played Mary pleaded fruitlessly for help from a kid adorned in oversized clerical garb, and was covered in scorn by the young “priest”, I heard a sad moan rise from the congregation.
     But things took a turn when Mary and Joe came upon an Indian, played by one of the aboriginal kids
     “Sir, will you help us? My wife’s going to have a baby …”
“Sure!” replied the native kid with gusto. “I got a spot in a shed behind the gas station down the road. The owner lets us all sleep in there!”
     And in a contrived scene of boxes and cans scattered where our communion table normally stood, Mary had her baby, as erstwhile homeless men with fake beards and a stray rez dog looked on, and one of the witnesses urged Mary to keep her newborn quiet lest the Mounties hear his cries and bust everyone for vagrancy.
     Voices were subdued that night in the church hall over coffee, cookies and Christmas punch, and the normally dull gazes and banalities about the time of year were oddly absent. The Indians kept nodding and smiling at me, saying little, and not having to; and the kids were happy too, still in costume and playing with the local stray who had posed as the rez dog in the performance that would always be talked about. It was the white congregants who seemed most pregnant that night, but they couldn’t speak of it.
     It was one of my last services with them, and somehow they all knew it, since we had all entered the story by then. For a churchly Herod had already heard a rumor, and dispatched assassins to stop a birth, and me, even though it was already too late.
     My daughter Clare was not running and rolling with the other kids, but in her manner joined me quietly with her younger sister Elinor in tow.
     Our trio stood there, amidst the thoughtful looks and unspoken love, and person after person came to us and grasped our hands, or embraced us with glistening eyes. An aging Dutch woman named Omma van Beek struggled towards me in her walker and pressed her trembling lips on my cheek, and said something to me in her native tongue as the tears fell unashamedly from both of us.
     Later, when we were scattered and lost, I would remember that moment like no other, as if something in Omma’s tears washed away all the filth and loss that were to follow. And perhaps that looming nightfall touched my heart just then, for I gave a shudder as I looked at my children, almost glimpsing the coming divorce, and I held my daughters close as if that would keep them safe and near to me forever.
     The snow was falling again as we left the darkened building, kissing us gently like it had done years before when as a baby, Clare had struggled with me on a toboggan through the deep drifts of my first charge in Pierson, Manitoba, on another Christmas eve. The quiet flakes blessed us with memory, and settled in love on the whole of creation, even on the unmarked graves of children up at the old Indian residential school.
     The old Byzantine icon depicts Jesus as a baby, hugging his worried mother while she stares ahead into his bloody future: her eyes turned in grief to the viewer, yet his loving eyes seeking her, past the moment, past even his own death.
     The image may still hang in the basement of my church, where I left it.
Kevin Annett
260 Kennedy St.
Nanaimo, BC Canada V9R 2H8
Ed Note [from Gary Kohls]: Reverend Kevin Annett was fired, without cause, from his successfully rejuvenated United Church of Canada (UCC) parish in Port Alberni, British Columbia (the United Church of Canada has no connection to the United Church of Christ [UCC] in the United States) when he refused to stop his probing into his church’s role in the abusive Residential Schools for Aboriginal children in Canada, where as many as 50,000 children died. (The Residential School system in Canada was essentially the same as the racist church-operated Mission School system for American Indian children in the US).

Rev Annett’s persistence in this investigative work has resulted in two books and an award-winning documentary (entitled “Unrepentant”) about the sobering history of the Canadian government’s and the Canadian Christian church’s genocidal activities against First nation’s children. 

Further information at:

Hidden No Longer: http://hiddennolonger.com/

"I gave Kevin Annett his Indian name, Eagle Strong Voice, in 2004 when I adopted him into our Anishinabe Nation. He carries that name proudly because he is doing the job he was sent to do, to tell his people of their wrongs. He speaks strongly and with truth. He speaks for our stolen and murdered children. I ask everyone to listen to him and welcome him."Chief Louis Daniels - Whispers Wind
Elder, Turtle Clan, Anishinabe Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba


Friday, December 21, 2012

Must we shop till we drop??? Bah...


I cringe each holiday season when I have to drive into the big city and survive the onslaught of frantic shoppers coming from every direction attempting to honor the season (and boost corporate profits) by buying all manner of STUFF with which to stack beneath the tree (or wherever people stack such things).  Yes, I'm cheap, but that's beside the point!  I lament the seeping under the rug of whatever is left of the spirit of Christmas these days. 

Historian Lawrence Wittner has done (what I think is) an excellent job of analyzing the shopping madness (aka: consumerism) that passes for Christmas (and continues a full twelve months of the year).  This is no Scrooge, I tell you!  So in the spirit of the season I share his article here.  May it open our eyes, and may that open our hearts to the true spirit of Peace.

Peace on Earth (but we have to work for it),



America's Real Religion: Shopping

By Lawrence Wittner, December 3, 2012, published originally at George Mason University's History News Network, http://hnn.us/articles/americas-real-religion-shopping

Although fundamentalist fanatics have been working for decades to turn the United States into a “Christian nation,” they have not had much success along these lines. One reason for their failure is that religious minorities and non-believers have resisted. And another is probably that a large number of Americans want to preserve religious tolerance and avoid theocracy. But it might also reflect the fact that the United States is now firmly in the grip of a different religion: shopping.

After all, in this “holiday season” the dominant activity does not seem to be traditional religious worship or prayer. The recently-concluded Black Friday provided the occasion not only for an orgy of consumer spending, but for ferocious action by screaming mobs of shoppers who engaged in mass riots in their desperate attempts to obtain a variety of products. The frenzied participants were not starving, impoverished peasants or product-deprived refugees from communist nations but reasonably comfortable, middle-class Americans. Their desperation was not driven by hunger. They simply wanted ... more!

And now that the nation enters its Christmas shopping spree -- conveniently begun in November, to allow plenty of time for the practice -- there will undoubtedly be lots more commodity fetishism. The shopping malls are already alive with the Christmas music designed to encourage purchases, while visions of rising sales figures dance through the heads of happy store managers.

All of this, of course, leads to complaints by traditional religious believers about the commercialization of Christmas. Of course, the bloviators on Fox News seek to blame the decline of religious feeling during the Christmas season upon liberal thought. But the hard reality is that Jesus in the manger or bleeding on the cross has less appeal to many Americans that do the latest cellphones and other commercial gadgetry.

Actually, despite the emphasis on purchases during the holidays, shopping is a year-round phenomenon in the United States. Children might not be able to read, write, add, or subtract, but they know a great deal about the latest consumer products. Their parents and grandparents are thoroughly familiar with them as well. And why wouldn’t they be? A vast array of products are regularly featured on their TV and radio programs, on their roadside billboards, and in their newspapers and magazines.

In fact, commercial advertising is ubiquitous in the United States, with few Americans able to escape it. Even when people are not in their homes, commercial television programs -- those shoddy, thought-free commodities developed to keep the ads from bumping together -- run continuously in doctors’ waiting rooms, auto repair shops, elevators, train stations, hospitals, restaurants, airports, school cafeterias, bars, and taxis.

Furthermore, advertising is not designed to merely alert people to the availability of a product, but to make them want it. Commercial enterprises understand that, thanks to the influence of advertising, purchases will not be based upon need, but upon desire. Advertising will stir dissatisfaction with what people already have and create a craving for something else. And this is a very promising route to sales. Naturally, then, U.S. corporations engulf Americans in advertising. It’s an excellent investment, and produces legions of eager, even desperate shoppers.

Only a very rare American politician would be willing to stand up against the resulting steamroller of consumerism. Imagine the political future of a candidate for public office who said: “There has been enough talk of economic growth and competition as the solutions to our problems. Our real challenges as Americans are to limit our consumption to what we genuinely need, to share with others who are less fortunate than we are, and to halt the plunder of our planet’s resources and the destruction of our environment.” I suspect that she or he would not get very far.

Nor, despite the similarity of this approach to the core values of religious faiths, is it popular among the mainstream U.S. churches. Yes, they encourage small-scale charitable ventures. But they do little to challenge the consumerist ethos. Indeed, the most active and rapidly-growing among the churches -- the fundamentalist and evangelical denominations -- have rallied behind political candidates championing unbridled capitalism and the prerogatives of wealth. “Drill baby, drill” seems far more popular among them than the Golden Rule.

Ironically, then, by not opposing the corporate cultivation of untrammeled greed among Americans, the churches have left the door open to the triumph of America’s new religion -- not liberal secularism, but shopping.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Arming the World... or Caring For the World?

The Nobel Peace Prize was given to the European Union (EU) earlier today in Oslo, Norway. The EU represents roughly one third of global arms exports.  President Obama, who was the previous recipient of the Peace Prize, is the president of the number one global arms exporter - the United States.

You might ask, and rightly so, just what gives here.  Yes, there is a huge disconnect.  How does arming the world, and constantly preparing for and making war have anything to do with peace???  Of course, it does not!!!  And the tragic irony is that even a small percentage of the money spent on the world's militaries could take care of most human needs around the globe.

Read David Swanson's article below to see just how much that would be.


UN Development Goals Could Be Met With a Few Percent of Military Spending

By David Swanson
Here's a useful new report from the International Peace Bureau. Globally, the report finds, spending on war preparations is higher than ever as an absolute amount and as a percentage of public spending (if not as a percentage of GDP). This spending is led and dominated by the United States, which of course pressures other nations to try to keep pace. The United States also dominates the manufacture and sale of weapons to other nations.

The figures that the IPB uses admittedly leave out many types of military spending. In fact, they capture less than 60% of U.S. military spending. So, the conclusions are all extremely "conservative" -- that is to say: dramatically wrong. Without knowing how much of other nations' war preparations spending is missing, one cannot do the calculations correctly. Nonetheless, IPB's conclusions are stunning and include these:

--the world's military spending is 12.7 times higher than its official development assistance, and

--604 times higher than UN budgets for peace, security, development, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and international law, and

--2,508 times higher than the combined expenditures of the UN's International Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Organizations.

--the war preparations spending of the world is $249 per day per person on earth.

--about 5% of that would meet the UN's Millenium Development Goals by 2015.

In other words, war spending does not just generate the well-known Military Industrial Complex's pressure for more war, which takes more lives, but the failure to use a little of that money for something useful means the failure to save and improve countless lives as well. Our budgets are at once sins of commission and omission. The millenium goals are goals for ending poverty and hunger, providing education, and protecting health, sustainability, and human rights.

There may not be a war on Christmas, but if our "leaders" have their way there will be several wars on Christmas, and we're paying for them in several senses of the word.

Peace on Earth. Pass the ammunition.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Israel & Palestine: Domination or Generosity?

Dear Friends,

It is Holiday time, and also the time of Advent, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.  While Christians await the birth of the Prince of Peace, the Palestinian people await full recognition of their human rights and dignity by the State of Israel.

A little over 2000 years ago the Holy Family made its way from Nazareth to Bethlehem in preparation of that history-changing event.  Had they taken the same route today they would have encountered a 25-foot tall concrete barrier wall, armed Israeli soldiers and massive steel gates that isolate and strangle the "little town of Bethlehem".

All this in the name of "security".

Here in Seattle, Washington, the Seattle Symphony will perform Handel's Messiah on December 15th.  Veterans for Peace, Chapter 92, will be outside the concert hall distributing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" cards to people attending the 1:00PM performance.

The cards are a way to raise awareness about US foreign policy related to Israel and the plight of the Palestinian people.  Israel has historically been the largest recipient of US foreign aid (most of which is essentially military aid), and is currently number two (just behind Afghanistan).

In this season of Peace I like to consider Rabbi Michael Lerner's views on the Israeli/Palestinian impasse.

Rabbi Lerner says that "the eyes of both Israelis and Palestinians are so glazed over with the immediacy of painful historical memories that they have not been able to envision new possibilities in their relationship that might bring both communities the peace they actually desire" (in Embracing Israel/Palestine: A strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East).

Lerner focuses not only on the psychology of the situation but also the spirituality (in terms of spiritual transformation) "that allows us to let go of the idea that security requires domination of the other and instead can embrace the idea that lasting security can be better achieved through generosity and caring for others.  This is the Strategy of Generosity."

So what will it be - the Strategy of Domination or the Strategy of Generosity???  In his book Lerner demonstrates a thorough and sensitive understanding of the history of both the Israelis and Palestinians, while presenting a provocative, radical and compelling proposal for healing the Middle East.  In understanding the history we can envision a (healing) path to the future.

For me this is a good book to be reading in the season of Advent.  It is a book I highly recommend to anyone even remotely interested in the volatile situation surrounding Israel and Palestine.  It would be a great gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday of this season. 

May we all share the message of Peace this season and all seasons,


Note: If you happen to be in Seattle on December 15th, you can join VFP (in the spirit of peace) at Benaroya Hall, 3rd Avenue between University and Union to show solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people. Email fourinchorangehinge[at]gmail.com for more information.

Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East, by Rabbi Michael Lerner, is published by Tikkun Books and North Atlantic Books.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Getting in the Spirit...

Greetings of the (shopping) Season my Friends,

It is that magical time of year when people's blood pressure goes through the roof as they engage in the seasonal madness known as HOLIDAY GIFT SHOPPING!!! 

I have no doubt that hospital emergency rooms see a vast increase in admissions of people suffering symptoms of anxiety, chest pains and other symptoms associated with the stress related to finding the right gift(s) for people on our list.

Besides the obvious benefits of creating a "naughty or nice" list (that can really cut down on the number of gifts one needs to give), we can simplify our shopping exploits as well as do our shopping in a way that reflects our desire to make the world a better place.

My personal favorite is giving the gift of time and presence.  It can be as simple as making a certificate or writing a card promising someone the gift of your time to do something (or go somewhere) together - taking that person to a museum, gallery, hiking or any number of activities.  Or maybe helping with gardening or other household tasks.

OK; so you still want to buy something you can put in a box and wrap.  You probably have lots of sources, although here just a few of my favorites.

I'll start with one I recently discovered. From War to Peace turns weapons meant to destroy us into art meant to restore us. They create jewelry and accessories from disarmed and recycled nuclear missile systems, "transforming swords into plowshares, hate into love and war into peace." The Nuclear Resister receives 20% of the price of your From War to Peace purchase when you use the coupon code "RESIST", and you receive an additional 5% savings yourself.Now that's a win win situation!  

SERRV.org - Fair trade, handmade gifts from around the world.  SERRV has been around for 60 years, and works to eradicate poverty through our direct connections with low-income artisans and farmers in the U.S. and around the world.  One of the first alternative trade organizations in the world, SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT) and a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF).  I love their beans soups, and organic olive oil from Arab farmers in Palestine working in partnership with Israelis.

Speaking of handmade things, depending on where you live you can probably find local artisans making all manner of things including soaps, honey and other food items, jewelry and clothing.  Nothing better than shopping (really) local (cutting out the "middleman") to stimulate the local economy.

 For me there is nothing quite like giving the gift of self reliance.  Heifer International represent gifts that literally keep on giving (and giving, and giving).  The recipients of Heifer's various animals receive support to ensure success with their animals to create sustainable income for their families, and agree to "pass on the gift" - to give at least the first offspring of their animals to another family.  Heifer's efforts have been responsible for helping rebuild the connections within communities torn apart by war and civil strife. Although you can't fit a water buffalo under the tree, Heifer has very cool gift cards.

Of course, there are countless other possibilities.  These, of course, come from my own experience.  But you get the point.  It's about being intentional, and a nice added benefit is ramping down the stress levels that seem to inevitably creep into our Holidays.

And just think of all the time saved not fighting for a parking space at the mall... ahhh; Holiday bliss!!! 

Peaceful Holiday Season to All,


Monday, November 19, 2012

Jeju Island: A Pawn in the Imperial Struggle

A truly heroic citizens' struggle continues on the tiny island of Jeju Island where the South Korean government is building a naval base that will serve as yet another outpost in the vast array of U.S. military bases around the world

This particular base is of particular note because it represents the massive shift in focus by the Pentagon to the Asian continent, and of course CHINA!!!  Just 500 miles off the Chinese mainland, a base at Jeju will give the U.S. a new choke point in the East China Sea to control China's strategic access to resources and commerce.

The base being constructed by the South Korean government will directly support U.S. ships - including Aegis missile defense destroyers, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.  The Commander,U.S. Naval Forces, Korea has specified design specifications to accommodate U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers.

Art meets protest on Jeju Island
With over 1000 military bases around the world (even the experts differ in the exact number), the last the U.S. needs right now is another one, especially one that will only inevitably ratchet up tensions between the U.S. and China in what could become the newest  clash of superpowers.

But beyond the talk of superpowers and their petty land and resource grabs, this is a story about people struggling to hold onto what is rightfully theirs.  To maintain a way of life.  To be left alone, and not be made pawns in the disinterest of empire. 

To call the struggle of the Jeju Islanders "heroic" is not hyperbole.

Father John Dear sums up the situation on Jeju in a single paragraph:
The base is being built near Gangjeong village. These heroic villagers have maintained an impressive public stand against nuclear weapons, U.S. imperialism, environmental destruction and basic injustice. They’ve been arrested, imprisoned and had their land and civil rights taken from them. Nonetheless, they keep at it. They are demonstrating one of the most brilliant instances of active, engaged nonviolence on the planet, but they have to: South Korea, at the request of the Pentagon, is about to destroy one of the world’s natural wonders.
The struggle to extricate Jeju Island from the jaws of militarism and empire is one that affects not only this small, peaceful island, but the entire world.

  Even as I write this post, President Obama is in Southeast Asia to ensure military and economic dominance thoughout the region.  Secretary of Defense Panetta confirmed last Friday that the U.S. will be increasing the numbers of military exercises in the Pacific in conjunction with Southeast Asian allies, and of course "devoting new funding to this goal."  And guess what huge country lies just North of all those Southeast Asian countries???

There are many ways people can support the people of Jeju Island.  Go to Save Jeju Now to learn more and get involved.  And - Check out the Save Jeju Island Facebook page.

Say NO to Empire!  Say YES to Peace!  Save Jeju Island!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Empires Go To Hell: A Poem by Dennis Serdel

For Veterans Day, 2012

By Dennis Serdel, Vietnam 1967-68 (one tour) Light Infantry, Americal Div. 11th Brigade, purple heart, Veterans For Peace 50 Michigan, Vietnam Veterans Against The War, United Auto Workers GM Retiree, in Perry, Michigan

Empires Go To Hell

the heat seeps through the helmet
boils the sheet metal on all the desert
camouflaged trucks and vehicles
the oversized rucksack pulls
on the shoulders
grinds away on the gut
everybody is not fighting the war
only a few considering
all the Soldiers around the world
this long war is taking its toll
like sores eating the brain
the body is beginning to ache
the head the back the legs
grind on but the pain pills
only help but canʼt cure exhaustion
they canʼt give back
the days the months the years
who canʼt count all the steps
nobody can count the miles
and waiting feel the minutes
the hours the days then go on
wasting a life for this battlefield
that goes back to blood on the soil
to every invasion by all sorts
of empires in the past
where only cemeteries
and memorials remain
the world must get rid of empires
all they do is invade and rape
small countries for any type
of gold the little countries have
but the empires may be
brought down within
and work against the empires
of the world until there
are no empires anymore.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Last Word on the Election!!!

Yes, I've voted for Nader in previous elections (and caught a lot of flack for it).  As much as I understand (and agree with many of) people's reasons for voting for a third party candidate rather than obama this November 6th, I also see the potential (and highly probable) consequences of a Republican victory (and its NOT a pretty picture; even far uglier than the current one).  My peace and justice work, and in particular my work on nuclear weapons, has given me a particularly pragmatic view of our current situation along with the challenges that lie ahead.

This is one very, very scary Republican party (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers), and should we end up with both a Republican White House and Republican controlled Congress I fear the worst.  All that being said, I am agreement with Daniel Ellsberg (and others) who see Obama as the "lesser of two evils."  The difference this time is the magnitude of the other evil.  Here is Ellsberg's take:

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers Whistleblower: Obama The Lesser Of Two Evils

It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.

The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine -- progressives, especially activists -- to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.
An activist colleague recently said to me: "I hear you're supporting Obama."

I was startled, and took offense. "Supporting Obama? Me?!"

"I lose no opportunity publicly," I told him angrily, to identify Obama as a tool of Wall Street, a man who's decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who's launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. "Would you call that support?"

My friend said, "But on Democracy Now you urged people in swing states to vote for him! How could you say that? I don't live in a swing state, but I will not and could not vote for Obama under any circumstances."

My answer was: a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better -- no different -- on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women's reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.

I told him: "I don't 'support Obama.' I oppose the current Republican Party. This is not a contest between Barack Obama and a progressive candidate. The voters in a handful or a dozen close-fought swing states are going to determine whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to wield great political power for four, maybe eight years, or not."

As Noam Chomsky said recently, "The Republican organization today is extremely dangerous, not just to this country, but to the world. It's worth expending some effort to prevent their rise to power, without sowing illusions about the Democratic alternatives."

Following that logic, he's said to an interviewer what my friend heard me say to Amy Goodman: "If I were a person in a swing state, I'd vote against Romney/Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there is no other choice."

The election is at this moment a toss-up. That means this is one of the uncommon occasions when we progressives -- a small minority of the electorate -- could actually have a significant influence on the outcome of a national election, swinging it one way or the other.

The only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama: not stay home, or vote for someone else. And that has to include, in those states, progressives and disillusioned liberals who are at this moment inclined not to vote at all or to vote for a third-party candidate (because like me they've been not just disappointed but disgusted and enraged by much of what Obama has done in the last four years and will probably keep doing).

They have to be persuaded to vote, and to vote in a battleground state for Obama not anyone else, despite the terrible flaws of the less-bad candidate, the incumbent. That's not easy. As I see it, that's precisely the "effort" Noam is referring to as worth expending right now to prevent the Republicans' rise to power. And it will take progressives -- some of you reading this, I hope -- to make that effort of persuasion effectively.

It will take someone these disheartened progressives and liberals will listen to. Someone manifestly without illusions about the Democrats, someone who sees what they see when they look at the president these days: but who can also see through candidates Romney or Ryan on the split-screen, and keep their real, disastrous policies in focus.

It's true that the differences between the major parties are not nearly as large as they and their candidates claim, let alone what we would want. It's even fair to use Gore Vidal's metaphor that they form two wings ("two right wings," as some have put it) of a single party, the Property or Plutocracy Party, or as Justin Raimondo says, the War Party.

Still, the political reality is that there are two distinguishable wings, and one is reliably even worse than the other, currently much worse overall. To be in denial or to act in neglect of that reality serves only the possibly imminent, yet presently avoidable, victory of the worse.

The traditional third-party mantra, "There's no significant difference between the major parties" amounts to saying: "The Republicans are no worse, overall." And that's absurd. It constitutes shameless apologetics for the Republicans, however unintended. It's crazily divorced from present reality.

And it's not at all harmless to be propagating that absurd falsehood. It has the effect of encouraging progressives even in battleground states to refrain from voting or to vote in a close election for someone other than Obama, and more importantly, to influence others to act likewise.That's an effect that serves no one but the Republicans, and ultimately the 1 percent.

It's not merely understandable, it's entirely appropriate to be enraged at Barack Obama. As I am. He has often acted outrageously, not merely timidly or "disappointingly." If impeachment were politically imaginable on constitutional grounds, he's earned it (like George W. Bush, and many of his predecessors!) It is entirely human to want to punish him, not to "reward" him with another term or a vote that might be taken to express trust, hope or approval.

But rage is not generally conducive to clear thinking. And it often gets worked out against innocent victims, as would be the case here domestically, if refusals to vote for him resulted in Romney's taking key battleground states that decide the outcome of this election.

To punish Obama in this particular way, on Election Day -- by depriving him of votes in swing states and hence of office in favor of Romney and Ryan -- would punish most of all the poor and marginal in society, and workers and middle class as well: not only in the U.S. but worldwide in terms of the economy (I believe the Republicans could still convert this recession to a Great Depression), the environment and climate change. It could well lead to war with Iran (which Obama has been creditably resisting, against pressure from within his own party). And it would spell, via Supreme Court appointments, the end of Roe v. Wade and of the occasional five to four decisions in favor of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The reelection of Barack Obama, in itself, is not going to bring serious progressive change, end militarism and empire, or restore the Constitution and the rule of law. That's for us and the rest of the people to bring about after this election and in the rest of our lives -- through organizing, building movements and agitating.

In the eight to twelve close-fought states -- especially Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, but also Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin -- for any progressive to encourage fellow progressives and others in those states to vote for a third-party candidate is, I would say, to be complicit in facilitating the election of Romney and Ryan, with all its consequences.

To think of that as urging people in swing states to "vote their conscience" is, I believe, dangerously misleading advice. I would say to a progressive that if your conscience tells you on Election Day to vote for someone other than Obama in a battleground state, you need a second opinion. Your conscience is giving you bad counsel.

I often quote a line by Thoreau that had great impact for me: "Cast your whole vote: not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence." He was referring, in that essay, to civil disobedience, or as he titled it himself, "Resistance to Civil Authority."

It still means that to me. But this is a year when for people who think like me -- and who, unlike me, live in battleground states -- casting a strip of paper is also important. Using your whole influence this month to get others to do that, to best effect, is even more important.

That means for progressives in the next couple of weeks -- in addition to the rallies, demonstrations, petitions, lobbying (largely against policies or prospective policies of President Obama, including austerity budgeting next month), movement-building and civil disobedience that are needed all year round and every year -- using one's voice and one's e-mails and op-eds and social media to encourage citizens in swing states to vote against a Romney victory by voting for the only real alternative, Barack Obama.

Daniel Ellsberg is a former State and Defense Department official who has been arrested for acts of non-violent civil disobedience over eighty times, initially for copying and releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers, for which he faced 115 years in prison. Living in a non-swing state, he does not intend to vote for President Obama. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Attack Iran... Violate International Law... NO Kidding!!!

Well, it's about time!!!  AND, it didn't happen in the U.S.  NO, it's a safe bet that the U.S. Attorney General won't be finding that an attack on Iran (or any other country for that matter) just might violate international law.  But that's just what the British Attorney General has done. God Save the Queen!!!  Of course the news has been ringing in the hollowed halls of The White House, yet likely falling on deaf (and morally bankrupt) ears.  At least the UK government has, at last, stood up to the US.  And let us hope this will be just the beginning.

 Here is what Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament General Secretary, had to say about the news: 
"It is good news that the UK Government has both sought legal advice on the status of a pre-emptive military intervention in Iran, and is actually following it through. The Government has recognised that international law prohibits not only direct participation in such a strike, but also support or assistance to any state engaging in such unlawful actions. This is an important and laudable step. Indeed, the Government appears to have learned from the disaster of Iraq.
"The current tensions in the Middle East require diplomatic solutions. This is where the energy of our government must be focused. It must continue to reject developments that make a military conflict more likely, and work to ensure that the diplomatic process can operate and succeed." 

Click here to send an email thanking the United Kingdom's Attorney General for correctly interpreting international law and taking a stand for justice.
Here is the full story from The Guardian.
Britain rejects US request to use UK bases in nuclear standoff with Iran, By Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, October 25, 2012
Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law.

The Guardian has been told that US diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.

The US approaches are part of contingency planning over the nuclear standoff with Tehran, but British ministers have so far reacted coolly. They have pointed US officials to legal advice drafted by the attorney general's office which has been circulated to Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

This makes clear that Iran, which has consistently denied it has plans to develop a nuclear weapon, does not currently represent "a clear and present threat". Providing assistance to forces that could be involved in a pre-emptive strike would be a clear breach of international law, it states.

"The UK would be in breach of international law if it facilitated what amounted to a pre-emptive strike on Iran," said a senior Whitehall source. "It is explicit. The government has been using this to push back against the Americans."

Sources said the US had yet to make a formal request to the British government, and that they did not believe an acceleration towards conflict was imminent or more likely. The discussions so far had been to scope out the British position, they said.

"But I think the US has been surprised that ministers have been reluctant to provide assurances about this kind of upfront assistance," said one source. "They'd expect resistance from senior Liberal Democrats, but it's Tories as well. That has come as a bit of a surprise."

The situation reflects the lack of appetite within Whitehall for the UK to be drawn into any conflict, though the Royal Navy has a large presence in the Gulf in case the ongoing diplomatic efforts fail.

The navy has up to 10 ships in the region, including a nuclear-powered submarine. Its counter-mine vessels are on permanent rotation to help ensure that the strategically important shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz remain open.

The Guardian has been told that a British military delegation with a strong navy contingent flew to US Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, earlier this summer to run through a range of contingency plans with US planners.

The UK, however, has assumed that it would only become involved once a conflict had already begun, and has been reluctant to commit overt support to Washington in the buildup to any military action.

"It is quite likely that if the Israelis decided to attack Iran, or the Americans felt they had to do it for the Israelis or in support of them, the UK would not be told beforehand," said the source. "In some respects, the UK government would prefer it that way."

British and US diplomats insisted that the two countries regarded a diplomatic solution as the priority. But this depends on the White House being able to restrain Israel, which is nervous that Iran's underground uranium enrichment plant will soon make its nuclear programme immune to any outside attempts to stop it.

Israel has a less developed strike capability and its window for action against Iran will close much more quickly than that of the US, explained another official. "The key to holding back Israel is Israeli confidence that the US will deal with Iran when the moment is right."

With diplomatic efforts stalled by the US presidential election campaign, a new push to resolve the crisis will begin in late November or December.

Six global powers will spearhead a drive which is likely to involve an offer to lift some of the sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy in return for Tehran limiting its stockpile of enriched uranium.

The countries involved are the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China. Iran will be represented by its chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "As we continue to make clear, the government does not believe military action against Iran is the right course of action at this time, although no option is off the table. We believe that the twin-track approach of pressure through sanctions, which are having an impact, and engagement with Iran is the best way to resolve the nuclear issue. We are not going to speculate about scenarios in which military action would be legal. That would depend on the circumstances at the time."

The Foreign Office said it would not disclose whether the attorney general's advice has been sought on any specific issue.

A US state department official said: "The US and the UK co-ordinate on all kinds of subjects all the time, on a huge range of issues. We never speak on the record about these types of conversations."
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, warned at the UN general assembly last month that Iran's nuclear programme would reach Israel's "red line" by "next spring, at most by next summer", implying that Israel might then take military action in an attempt to destroy nuclear sites and set back the programme.

That red line, which Netanyahu illustrated at the UN with a marker pen on a picture of a bomb, is defined by Iranian progress in making uranium enriched to 20%, which would be much easier than uranium enriched to 5% to turn into weapons-grade material, should Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, take the strategic decision to abandon Iran's observance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and try to make a weapon. Tehran insists it has no such intention.

In August, the most senior US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, distanced himself from any Israeli plan to bomb Iran. He said such an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear programme".

He added: "I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it."


Monday, October 22, 2012

Backcountry Resisters Infiltrate Vandenberg AFB

Editor's Note:  News release below.  Click here to read an article in the Santa Maria Times announcing the ‘backcountry non-violent resistance action’.  Among those trekking the beautiful Vandenberg backcountry was Fr. Louis Vitale (can't keep a good resister down).  Resistance is NOT futile my Friends; and actions speak louder than words.


October 21, 2012
Nonviolent Backcountry Resisters Cause Disruptive Breach
of Vandenberg Air Force Base Security Zones

Vandenberg has lots of backcountry!!!

For the first time in nearly a decade, nonviolent civil resisters caused a disruptive breach of the backcountry security zones at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. VAFB enforces a sweeping global pattern of violent high-tech military abuse. Three participants were arrested for federal trespass and others eluded base security patrols. One participant [Theo Kayser] was hand-cuffed face down on the ground with an M-16 automatic rifle trained on his back during his 2 a.m. arrest, while search lights swept the surrounding hills. He was then held under armed guard for nine hours at a special security command post which VAFB had set up to deal with the backcountry occupation. Vandenberg security stated that they believed at least 15 individuals were spotted in base security zones between 0ctober 20th and 21st

Action participants hope that others will follow their example in the months ahead. They entered the huge US Strategic Command facility at widely dispersed points and hiked miles into the base, crossing fences and rough terrain under cover of night, hanging banners on nuclear first-strike missile silos deep inside Vandenberg. They also conducted an unauthorized Christian prayer liturgy and exorcism of evil inside VAFB boundaries. Multiple sources, including contacts within VAFB, confirmed that the announced plans and the backcountry security zone occupation caused days of disruptive base alerts, interrupting Vandenberg’s business as usual to prepare for and deal with the security zone breaches.

Backcountry action participants and their supporters say that “Vandenberg, built on land stolen from the Chumash nation, launches and controls key satellites which run worldwide drone strikes that kill civilians, and are positioning US forces for a catastrophic peak-oil war with Iran. VAFB is making nuclear world war more likely by its first-strike Minuteman III flight tests, which seriously contaminate stolen indigenous territory at the Earth’s largest coral atoll, Kwajalein.”

Arrested action participants include Franciscan Priest Louie Vitale and Los Angeles Catholic Worker community members Theo Kayser and Rebecca Casas.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ellsberg and the Vandenberg 15: Still Speaking Out!

(Editor's Note: This piece originally posted October 20, 2012 at MacGregor Eddy's Vandenberg Protest Blog: http://vandenbergprotest-macgregor.blogspot.com/)

Prosecution drops all charges against Vandenberg 15

By Robert Bernstein

Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst during the US war in Vietnam and very much believed in the cause. But the more he learned, the more he realized those in power were lying to the American people. The result: He risked going to prison for life in order to smuggle out the Pentagon Papers.

He was the Bradley Manning and the Julian Assange of his day.
Ellsberg's life would never be the same. In the decades since (he is now 81), he has been arrested numerous times to draw attention to illegal and unethical activities by the US government, mostly on military matters.
Back in February, he was part of the "Vandenberg 15" who were arrested on their way to protest a missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
This Tuesday, October 16, he and most of the rest of the Vandenberg 15 explained why they were there.
Ellsberg explained that the US is in violation of numerous laws because of its continued testing and development of nuclear weapons and missiles. For decades, the US has been obligated by treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons and nuclear missiles. It has failed to do so.
As John Amadon of Albany, NY explained, this was not civil disobedience. It was "civil resistance" to highlight the illegality of US nuclear weapons policies.
Also speaking at the event was David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, sponsor of the event. And Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in the US war in Iraq.
During Q&A an audience member described how Ellsberg had given him the courage to speak up quietly with a sign to protest another violation of law. The occasion was a speech by John Yoo at the Reagan Center. Yoo had signed off to torture captured prisoners of war during the Bush Administration, in violation of both US and international law.
Ellsberg was honored that he had helped inspire such courage. Ellsberg went on to say that he himself had been inspired to his courage by those who had come before him.
The Vandenberg 15 had gathered in anticipation of their trial. They had been warned by the judge that they would not be allowed to introduce any substantive evidence or issues regarding nuclear weapons or policy and the relevant violations of law by the US government. It would only be treated as a trespassing case.
But, at the last minute, the government asked the case to be dropped. As in the Pentagon Papers case, the government itself had apparently violated the law in its zeal to go after the protestors and it wanted the case to end before it started.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Call on the President and Congress: Peace, Not War with Iran

A war on Iran would be an absolute disaster, not only for the people of Iran, but for the entire Middle East. 

Whether or not Iran is currently seeking to build nuclear weapons, any attack on its sovereign soil, and particularly on its nuclear facilities, will strengthen its resolve to vigorously pursue development of nuclear weapons.  Adding one more member to the prestigious (albeit archaic) global nuclear club will only further undermine efforts at nonproliferation and global nuclear disarmament.

Furthermore, Israel's nuclear weapons program is the proverbial elephant in the Middle Eastern closet.  The global community has yet to face this issue; Israel has been give a pass even though it most certainly possesses a hundred or more nuclear weapons.

What should be most disconcerting would be the presence of two nuclear powers at each other's throats.  It would be an extremely uneasy "peace" indeed.  Should even a limited nuclear war ensue among Israel and Iran, much of the Middle East would become an uninhabitable wasteland.

Veterans for Peace is circulating an open letter calling on President Obama and the Congress that you are opposed to the war on Iran and support the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.

Please sign on to VFP's letter and share it widely.  We need to raise a groundswell in opposition to war and in support of peace (and nonviolent conflict resolution). 

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones have been established elsewhere, and it can be done in (and is critical to the future of) the Middle East.

Click here to read and sign VFP's open letter to President Obama and Congress.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fifteen Issues This Election Is NOT About (By Bill Quigley)

Bill Quigley has once again done what he does so well - cut through the smoke and mirrors to discern the rkey issues, and the stark reality surrounding them.  In this particular case he has laid out in a very concise way the striking similarities in the two candidates (of the controlling political parties) running for president.

One of the key lessons learned from this should be that no matter who ends up in The White House for another four years, We The People will have an extraordinary job ahead of us.  We face a deeply entrenched Corporatocracy and Military-Industrial Complex that continue to strengthen themselves at the extraordinary cost of this nation's (and quite possibly humanity's) future.

Fifteen Issues This Election Is NOT About was published today (September 24th) in various online publications including Countercurrents.org and Commondreams.org. 

Fifteen Issues This Election Is NOT About
By Bill Quigley, September 24, 2012
Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of the death penalty for federal or state crimes.

Neither candidate is interested in eliminating or reducing the 5,113 US nuclear warheads.

Neither candidate is campaigning to close Guantanamo prison.

Neither candidate has called for arresting and prosecuting high ranking people on Wall Street for the subprime mortgage catastrophe.

Neither candidate is interested in holding anyone in the Bush administration accountable for the torture committed by US personnel against prisoners in Guantanamo or in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of drones to assassinate people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia.

Neither candidate is against warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention, or racial profiling in fighting “terrorism.”

Neither candidate is interested in fighting for a living wage. In fact neither are really committed beyond lip service to raising the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – which, if it kept pace with inflation since the 1960s should be about $10 an hour.

Neither candidate was interested in arresting Osama bin Laden and having him tried in court.

Neither candidate will declare they refuse to bomb Iran.

Neither candidate is refusing to take huge campaign contributions from people and organizations.

Neither candidate proposes any significant specific steps to reverse global warming.

Neither candidate is talking about the over 2 million people in jails and prisons in the US.

Neither candidate proposes to create public jobs so everyone who wants to work can.

Neither candidate opposes the nuclear power industry. In fact both support expansion.
Bill Quigley is a law professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans. He is also Associate Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights.  Bill is extraordinarily involved in matters of social justice both in the U.S. and in Haiti. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

"No More War..." says Dennis Kucinich

Congressman Dennis Kucinich continues to speak out against the runaway train that is military spending in the United States.  Of course, it is about much more than just overspending (and he certainly speaks to that reality).  It is about an out-of-control Military Industrial Complex/National Security State.  It is about insane policies that unleash U.S. military power against our brothers and sisters around the globe in ways that make the rest of the world, and our own nation, far less safe than if we were to make that major paradigm shift wherein we would seek to resolve conflicts in nonviolent ways and share the world's resources rather than try to control them.

Dennis Kucinich speaking at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, August 7, 2011
Here (below) is Kucinich's statement against the "Continuing Resolution" in which he speaks strongly against current spending on war.  When you finish reading the release from Kucinich's Congressional office, please watch the YouTube video that follows.  It was made when Kucinich gave a policy speech at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on August 7, 2011.  In that speech Kucinich articulated his comprehensive "Doctrine of Strength Through Peace."  And it is, indeed, comprehensive.

Kucinich speaks out loudly and clearly for freedom from fear, from nuclear weapons, and from war.  We need to hear that clarion call as well, and speak out ourselves and demand these things from our elected representatives in Washington, DC. Do not let Kucinich be a voice in the wilderness!  Write to your Congressperson today!!! 

Click here to find your Representative, and then send an email calling on him/her to stand with Kucinich in voting against the "Continuing Resolution" as it now stands.

You can also read the transcript of Kucinich's speech at Ground Zero by clicking here.


“No More War. No More Business as Usual,” Says Kucinich

Bill Provides Another $100 Billion for War, Kucinich Calls on Congress to Stop Funding

WASHINGTON - September 13 - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today spoke out against bloated Pentagon spending and hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer money wasted on unnecessary wars. Kucinich vowed to vote against the “Continuing Resolution” which will fund the federal government for another six months.

See video here.

“I rise in opposition to the rule for the Continuing Resolution. The Continuing Resolution contains $99.9 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operation funds to continue the war in Afghanistan and to fund other operations in the so-called war on terror.

“This is on top of over $1.3 trillion we've already spent in waging war abroad. This is a war that cost U.S. taxpayers $2 billion a week. It's a war that according to the Congressional Research Service has cost the lives of nearly 2,000 U.S. service members and resulted in another 17,519 being injured. Yet the war seems to have fallen from headlines in our national conscience. This is wrong.

“We cannot afford another $100 billion on a war that will never result in stability in Afghanistan or the region. War against Afghanistan boomeranged against the Soviet Union. It’s boomeranging against our country.

“When you look at the amount of money that is being spent not just for the war but the United States Pentagon -- we are looking at a Fiscal 2013 budget of $653 billion, spending almost more money than every other country in the world, combined, for so-called defense.

“We have an obligation to defend our country, but we also have an obligation for housing, for health care, for education, for retirement security.

“If you're concerned about Congress regaining authority under Article 1, Section 8, then we should be voting to end this war right now by striking the money for it.

“If you are concerned about the debt, then we should be voting to end this war by taking money away from funding and then you could contribute that to resolving the debt.

“If you are concerned about emboldening radicals in other countries, who are following in the wake of our invasions, then we should be taking the money out of this Continuing Resolution for more war.

“If you're concerned about the budget: that it doesn't have enough for jobs and housing and health care and education and the energy and the environment, then end the war now, vote against it.

“If you're concerned about America taking steps to create peace, then we should get this money out of this budget which creates more war.

“This is the time for us to reclaim our country, which we are losing not just to war but to a national security state, like yesterday when we voted as a House -- I voted against it -- to empower security agencies to be able to intercept the phone calls of anybody in the United States who makes calls internationally.

“We have got to reclaim our nation. This Continuing Resolution doesn't do it. This is the same old, same old, same old:.war and national security state, forget the real needs of the American people.

“I am going to vote against this rule and I am going to vote against the underlying bill.”