20 March 2007

Blue Sky

I really like that CBC documentary on the Lies that Led to War. But...It has been a few days so I suppose I should post something new. I drove from Olympia to Grants Pass OR today. Quite an adventure, and mostly fun, it definitely required a focused endurance toward the end. I am just not in long distance driving shape. Though I do enjoy driving. Anyway, Southern Oregon is absolutely beautiful. I haven't had the pleasure of touring in this region. And although I am driving directly to Auburn, CA, I hope to spend more time on my return trip exploring some of the areas two-lane roads.

Unfortunately I was in a hurry to find a place for the night, so I didn't stop to take any pictures of the absolutely gorgeous sunset tonight.

Here's a picture from Evergreen to remind me of home:

Red Square

Sweet dreams...

16 March 2007

15 March 2007

Beauty Tips from Audrey Hepburn

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone..
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

photo credit UNICEF / John Isaac

14 March 2007

Photos from March 12th, 2007 at the Port of Tacoma

Here's a link

Cross Posted at Flickr.com:
Activists gathered at the Port of Tacoma to protest the deployment of the 4th Stryker Brigade (2nd Division) from Ft. Lewis to Iraq.

Participants gathered and held an open and inclusive democratic meeting for nearly an hour in order to discuss and strategize the night's actions.

SpeakerFinally, the demonstrators took action, and the group, by some estimates around 200 individuals, took to the street and marched approximately 1/2 mile to an intersection nearby the USS Soderman - the military vessel which is accepting Stryker vehicles for shipment to Iraq.

I told the police that I believed that their barricade was an obstruction of justice, as the activists gathered were prepared and willing to serve justice and uphold the rule of law by stopping the deployment of the Stryker Brigade via actions based on nonviolent civil resistance.

The federal government has failed us. To whom and where do we turn?

I think it is to us that we turn, to our communities, to our local governments and institutions.
I think it is imperative that local institutions, like the Pierce, Thurston and King County Sheriff's departments; and the Tacoma Police Department, not hinder or obstruct the citizens' volition to uphold the rule of law by stopping this shipment.

I believe that to nonviolently occupy the USS Soderman in order to prevent its departure is an appropriate tactic at this time. But the relevant police forces are not allowing this democratic and humanitarian mission to fruition.

10 March 2007

The Lorax Video

This video is based on the Dr. Seuss Book, The Lorax. The Lorax speaks for those who can't speak for themselves, like the animals and the trees.



07 March 2007

Surge Failure Before Full Implementation?

go to original
The president just gave a rosy assessment of his plan, but insurgents have adapted and Iraqis continue to be slaughtered.

By Juan Cole

March 8, 2007 | On Tuesday, President Bush said that "even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signs" that the so-called surge is working in Iraq. In fact, three weeks into what the president refers to as the "surge" and what Iraqis call the "new security plan," it's already clear that Bush's last-gasp bid for victory faces challenges that can't necessarily be surmounted by a few thousand additional troops.

With plenty of warning of the U.S. escalation, the Shiite Mahdi Army is lying low. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army and the much better equipped and trained U.S. military have made no appreciable progress against the real drivers of the country's civil war, Sunni Arab guerrillas, who have so far adapted successfully to the new deployments. And perhaps most important, a new spate of massive and deadly bombings has spread insecurity and further compromised the Iraqi government.
Civil war...um, isn't that an oxy moron?

The surge has failed even prior to full implementation. There is no prospect of military victory in Iraq. To send more US soldiers into harm's way is akin to manslaughter. But that hasn't stopped the Bush Administration before. What's to think that they will listen to this argument now?

That is why the people of the USA must enforce accountability on our failing governmental institutions. The federal government is failing the people. In a government of, by, and for the people - it is up to us, the people, to make the necessary corrections.

06 March 2007

Counterinsurgency Warfare

go to original
Dead End

Counterinsurgency warfare as military malpractice

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2007. Originally from February 2007. By Edward N. Luttwak.

Modern armed forces continue to be structured for large-scale war, but advanced societies whose small families lack expendable children have a very low tolerance for casualties. Even supposedly warlike Americans gravely count casualties in Iraq that in three years have yet to reach 3,000—fewer than were lost in many a single day of battle in past wars. Fortunately, this refusal to spill the blood needed to fuel battles diminishes the likelihood that advanced societies will deliberately set out to fight one another (pas des enfants, pas des Suisses, pas de guerre) unless they are somehow able to convince themselves that a war could be entirely or very largely aerial and naval. Such wars, however, are difficult to imagine, except when islands are involved, as in a China-Taiwan war, which is very improbable for its own reasons. Air and naval forces can certainly be employed advantageously against any less advanced enemy incautious enough to rely on a conventional defense, conducted by regular forces, but in that context as well there must be severe doubts about the continued usefulness of the ground forces of advanced countries that are intolerant of casualties. It is easy enough to blockade the enemy, to successfully bomb all the right nodal points and shut down electrical, transportation, and communications networks. Air strikes can disable runways and destroy both sheltered and unsheltered aircraft, ballistic missiles, and nuclear installations. Air power can also sink warships, or rout any mechanized forces deployed in the open, as the United States did with Iraq in 1991 and partly in 2003, and as it could do with Iran. No real role would remain for ground forces except to dislodge the enemy from any territory he had occupied, or to occupy his own territory. That, however, is bound to cost casualties that might not be tolerated; it is also bound to provoke an insurgency.

In that event, naval forces cannot do much, because insurgencies rarely have an important maritime dimension (the Sri Lanka case is an exception) and riverine operations are usually minor. Air forces can have surveillance and transport roles, but insurgents rarely present targets of sufficient stability and sufficient contrast to be identified, designated, and effectively attacked from the air. That leaves almost everything to the ground forces, and when the advanced attack the less advanced, the more advanced forces will have large advantages in firepower, mobility, and operational coherence. But they will also have no visible enemy to fight, so that the normal operational methods and tactics of conventional warfare cannot be applied. True, there are the alternative methods and tactics of counterinsurgency warfare, but do they actually work? Insurgents do not always win, but their defeats can rarely be attributed to counterinsurgency warfare, as we shall see.

05 March 2007

Injunction to Halt Military Weapons Shipment to Iraq

This is something that I wrote up on Saturday night while awaiting the arrival of Stryker Brigade Convoys at the Port of Tacoma. A Fort Lewis (WA) Stryker Brigade is being mobilized as part of the escalation's "surge" in troop levels. Photos from the event are linked in the previous post.
Draft Injunction March 5, 2007

Citizen’s Injunction to Halt the Shipment
of Military Weapons to Iraq


The occupation of Iraq is contrary to the rule of law inasmuch as:

- It defies agreements that expressly prohibit the belligerent and aggressive invasion of a sovereign nation


- It defies both the letter, and the spirit, of internationally and domestically recognized legal statutes such as;

- The UN Charter
- The Nuremberg Tribunal Charter
- The Geneva Conventions
- The US War Crimes Act (1996)

and Whereas:

- Military victory in Iraq is unachievable,

and Whereas:

- The invasion of Iraq has led to - and the ongoing occupation exacerbates - an ongoing humanitarian crisis,

and Whereas:

- The escalation of conflict in Iraq via a surge in troop levels is widely considered to be militarily ineffectual,

The undersigned, citizen(s) of the USA (or Iraq, or world, or other nation) (and maybe the Great State of Washington, for example, and etc.),

Hereby prohibit(s) the shipment of military vehicles from the Port of Tacoma to Iraq.

Signed on this day of this month and date and year.

[updated March 18th, 2007:] Here's a copy of the injunction as it was delivered on Sunday March 11th, 2007 at the Port of Tacoma. This version of the injunction was updated by those who partook in a civil disobedience action on that day. 23 citizens were arrested while expressing their freedom of speech and in an attempt to halt the shipment of military cargoes to Iraq:
Citizens Injunction - March 11, 2007

Citizen’s Injunction to Halt the Shipment
of Military Material to Iraq

Whereas, the invasion and occupation of Iraq is contrary to the rule of law inasmuch as it defies agreements that expressly prohibit the belligerent and aggressive invasion of a sovereign nation, and

Whereas, the invasion and occupation of Iraq defies both the letter, and the spirit, of internationally and domestically recognized legal statutes such as the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the United States War Crimes Act, and

Whereas, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has resulted in a humanitarian crisis of significant proportions, and

Whereas, the escalation of conflict in Iraq is counterproductive to the goal of establishing a stable sovereign nation, and

Whereas a majority of United States Citizens oppose both the occupation of Iraq and the escalation of the conflict through the deployment of additional United States military forces, and

Whereas, the cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq now exceeds $500 billion dollars, money which could have been spent to meet domestic and international needs needs such as health care, education, and the provision of essential public infrastructure, and

Whereas the best way to support United States soldiers is to prevent them from being placed into the middle of a conflict in which they have a high risk of killing and being killed, and

Whereas I have exhausted every legal means available to me to petition my elected leaders for the cessation of conflict, and

Whereas, under legal precedent and historical practice, control over the American military rests firmly within the civilian population,

Now, therefore be it resolved that I, the undersigned, as a citizen of the United States of America, do hereby prohibit the shipment of military vehicles belonging to the 4th Brigade through the publicly funded Port of Tacoma.

Signed on this Eleventh day of March in the year 2007.

02 March 2007

"Impeachment Investigations," Nation, Land and Humanity

Capitol North EntranceI attended a rally and hearing yesterday in support of Washington State Senate Joint Memorial (SJM) 8016, which would, if passed by the Washington State Legislature, call on the US Congress to begin a thorough and uncompromising investigation of actions by the Chief Executive, and the Vice of that office, that could lead to impeachment...

You can find a photo album of the event here.

After thinking about yesterday's events, the rally and the hearings, I have realized that they were a very profound experience for me.

During the hearings, I listened to the testimony of the expert witnesses and my fellow citizens as they urged the Senate Committee to adopt this bill (SJM 8016). The testifiers told their truths and then thanked the Senators for their work and for listening.

I felt a great sense of pride for being not only a Washingtonian, but also, an American. But the reasons for my feelings of pride were not the usual feelings of pride in country. They were only due to the courageous and grave actions of my fellow citizens, and a few of my elected officials, to confront the wrongs of my government. My fellow citizens and elected officials came together to discuss the very serious and dangerous time we live in. A time when the actions of the office of the Chief Executive are contrary to what is good and right, as well as contrary to both domestically and internationally recognized legal agreements.

As I listened to the testimony I realized that to investigate the president is the right thing to do, and without question. There is no way, indeed, to justify not investigating the actions of this man. These are actions which have cost us so dearly - so much in economic strength, as well as in human life and moral principle.

To turn a cold shoulder and say that there are more important things to do is an extraordinary breach of responsibility and would set a grievous and dangerous precedent.

As I listened to the convincing testimony I thought about how great it was to be among my fellow citizens and to be taking part in this momentous activity - and I was sure that the passage of this important memorial was an eventuality which I could look forward to with great certainty!

To be honest, there was some doubt (yes I am jaded by the horrors committed by my government - in my name,) but the doubt was very minimal (at the time.) After all, the testimony was truthful and accurate and highly persuasive.

So, with some doubts in mind, I couldn't help but think about what might happen if this memorial doesn't gain approval in the full Senate and isn't, subsequently, forwarded to the US Congress with the express importance of approval of the Washington State Legislature. What if? Indeed, what then, I asked. And that set me to wondering, and maybe even worrying a little.
"What then" is where I am still. What if Bush escapes after 8 years without being impeached, or even investigated, for the grievous and heinous trespasses upon civil rights, upon privacy, and indeed upon the very fabric of humanity itself - what then?

A very real question came to me then. I asked myself, do I want to be part of a nation that has no respect for humanity, no respect for civil rights, no respect for the very Rule of Law that has ordered civil society for hundreds of years? Do I want to live under tyranny and oppression? Well, of course not!

Well then, what can I do? What can I do to avoid being part of and contributing to this government? Well, I could move. I could go North, I could go to Canada. I could go South to Mexico, or Central - or South America. I could go to Europe. Yes I could, probably, if I put my mind and energy toward it. The government, which belongs to me has betrayed me, and I have very good reason to reject and abandon it.

But there is more to it than that. As much as I disagree with the government that belongs to me, I feel kinship with the Land that I belong to. Indeed, I feel a belonging to this land, not only Olympia, or Washington State, but the whole of America (much of which I have had the opportunity to visit in travel.) I was born an American (in Minnesota, specifically) and I belong to this land - but I do not belong to the government - no, it is the government that belongs to me, and it is supposed to be here to serve me.

But it is not serving me. And by allowing the government to run rough shod over me, over humanity and over the land - I am not doing justice to that which I belong.

I won't leave. I belong to the land! I will stay and I will resist the onslaught of tyranny, oppression and fascism.

I will rise up and with a clear voice armed with the truth, I will defend myself, my fellow human beings and the very land, to which I owe this life.

cross-posted at OlyBlog and Daily Kos