Cindy Sheehan, Nadia McCaffrey and, for the troops, it's "Time to Head on Home"

Elaine here with you until Labor Day. Rebecca called me today and asked if I was fine with continuing until Labor Day and I told her that if she and her readers could put up with me, I was fine with filling in until then. So I'll be with you through the rest of the month and until Labor Day. C.I. forwarded an e-mail to me (remember, if you want to write e-mail me care of common_ills@yahoo.com because I don't have the password to Rebecca's e-mail account) and Doug asked why I open with "Elaine here" in some manner. Because this is Rebecca's site. I'm not sure when I started filling in but if someone's coming in after an absence, I want to be sure that if something here bothers them, they know it's not Rebecca. Doug points out that Rebecca writes her posts in lower case and I agree that should make it obvious to people who know the site but you never know who's going to find something for the first time. I'm comfortable stating my opinions but I don't want anyone else to have to be responsible for them.

Democracy Now! today was an especially strong show. I only had time to catch half of it while I was grabbing lunch but I'll be listening to it in full later. I hope you will as well.

"Exclusive Interview with Cindy Sheehan After Mother's Stroke: 'I Want to Get Back As Soon As Possible'" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Your reaction to the more than 1,500 vigils that were held around the country on Wednesday night?
CINDY SHEEHAN: It, to me, is just absolutely amazing and so gratifying that something I did – like, I was just a spark that just lit this fire, and it's blazing, and it's out of control now. Like I said, we don't need the spark anymore, and I am just -- I’m just so grateful that the universe chose me to be the spark, but also that America has responded. But I’m grateful and amazed, but I’m not surprised, because I have seen this coming.

There is so much to note from that one show but I'll just note one more thing.

"Mother Nadia McCaffrey Showed the World a Casualty of the Iraq War" (Democracy Now!)
AMY GOODMAN: You did something very unusual after Patrick died in Iraq. President Bush had invoked the executive order saying that videographers, film makers, photographers are not to photograph or film the flag-draped coffins of soldiers coming home, but you invited the press in?
NADIA McCAFFREY: Yes, I did. My son left for Iraq with a big smile on his face, and he was waving at us to cheer us up. Now, why should I hide him when he comes home? I'm proud of him. I love him. And I want the world to witness this. And it's just what happened. So I'm speaking on his behalf now.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you planning to ask President Bush? I think most of the press is not covering the fact that there are a number of mothers who are asking to speak with President Bush, who have lost their children in Iraq right now. What are the questions that you are thinking about?
NADIA McCAFFREY: Well, we are almost -- well, past 1800 mothers cross-country, and the questions are -- each one of us has a question. We are working, and these questions will be released this morning. Now, Cindy needs to speak to President Bush, and that's fine. We respect this, and we will keep this open, completely, for her. The rest of us will join and have those questions. Now, we were trying to talk this morning about not if it’s possible to have a meeting with all of us instead of one person. If it happens before Cindy gets back, for example, we would like to do it, as we are going to talk about it, but I think it sounds logical, and it might be a way to change the President's mind.

A few people wondered if this ended because Cindy Sheehan had to return home due to her mother's health problems and, no, I don't think it does. First of all, Cindy Sheehan hopes to be able to return. Second, there's a big protest planned for September. Third, this topic it out there. Fourth, other mothers remain at Camp Casey. I'll never forget when I got a call to turn on Jay Leno a few months back because Bright Eyes was performing "When a President Talks to God." (You can purchase that on the Bright Eyes CD single "First Day of My Life. It's available at Amazon.) There was excitement over that and there's been excitement over Cindy Sheehan. Each person stepping forward helps. That doesn't mean every person on TV. You can change things in your circle so own your power and use it.

The gatekeepers want to "fine tune" and bicker over how to wage an unjust war. Who are we at war with? We're occupying a country. Our continued presence in Iraq as an occupying power feeds and fuels the resistance. If Tony Blair decided tomorrow to go to war with us and put Bully Boy in prison, some of us might be happy, some of us might not be. But if two years later, England was still occupying our country, you think we wouldn't be angry and resisting? The people of Iraq are not children. If democracy is going to come to the region, the Iraqis will have to bring it. We can't impose it upon them. While we remain, we continue to trash their programs and push for "free" markets. Which basically means bringing in contractors to do work that the Iraqi people could be doing and could be making money off of to feed themselves.
It's time for us to leave. Or as The Third Estate Sunday Review editorial on July 10th said, "Time to Head On Home." I'll also steer you to "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" which remains one of my favorite things C.I. has written. That was published December 2, 2004.

The people arguing "fine tune" would do well to read "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?
St. Augustine

Thanks to C.I. for catching a mistake in the title of this post. I've reworded it to make it more clear.


Kevin Benderman

Rita J. King has a web site called Thursday, August 18, 2005

">Ruminations on America
and she's got links to her writing as well as the writings of others. I want to note a piece tonight.

"The Case of Sergeant Benderman" (Camilo E. Mejia)
The defense successfully showed how during that meeting Sgt. Benderman's chain of command, not knowing how to deal with his Conscientious Objector packet, released him to work on documents and to have dinner with his wife, just an hour prior to his unit's deployment, and how they made no effort to get him to the airfield, or to get him onboard a later flight. The defense showed how Sgt. Benderman, far from being absent without authority or having missed movement, continued to perform a sergeant's duties while and after his unit deployed to Iraq. The defense also showed the ambiguity in Sgt. Benderman's chain of command. For instance, one of the government's arguments in seeking both a conviction and a harsh punishment was that Sgt. Benderman's logistic duties were crucial for the unit in Iraq, yet the defense proved that his chain of command had planned to fire him from his job and to assign him to latrine duty. Another argument was the hazardous component of the unit's mission in Iraq, yet the 1st Sgt. insisted that Sgt. Benderman would be perfectly safe and in a position were he would see no combat at all. The defense successfully showed the humiliation Sgt. Benderman went through because of his Conscientious Objector beliefs, from the harassment of his wife by the Sgt. Major (who admitted to commenting on her physical figure) to his 1st Sgt. calling him a coward.
Why then, one wonders, was Sgt. Benderman convicted of Missing Movement by Design, and sentenced to 15 months of confinement, reduction to the lowest rank, and a dishonorable discharge? The defense strategy was sound and solid. The government's prejudice and Sgt. Benderman's chain of command's unmeasured persecution and incompetence were all made evident. Why the conviction and the harsh sentence then?
Perhaps because a legal strategy is no match for a political strategy. The Army had in its hands a blond, blue-eyed, six foot two, all American soldier, born and raised in the south, someone white America can look up to and identify with, someone who went to Iraq and came back with his humanity enhanced, most definitely a threat to a government on a mission to militarize its society and spread its empire. The government threw the book at Sgt. Benderman to ensure others like him don't follow behind. Therefore, his case should not have been boiled down to a forty-five minute meeting, because in doing so, the defense disconnected itself from the humanity of the action and from its message of resistance, and that is something America cannot afford at this time.

We really need to pay attention to Kevin Benderman's case. He is appealing but regardless of what happens with that, people do need to know the truth.

For more information you can visit the BendermanDefense.org.

I'm quoting one of his letters posted there:

August 17, 2005
On August 5, 2005, kind and brave people in Iraq held prayers for me in over 100 mosques throughout their country as a show of human kindness to me because of my decision to no longer take part in war. It amazes me that despite everything they're dealing with, they took the time to consider my actions and show human kindness and support to me. I am honored by this display of compassion.This is how the common citizens of any country can rid humanity of the scourge of wars, by laying down their weapons and extending their hand to their fellow brothers and sisters.
Politics cannot end wars but people can. So, why don't we combine our efforts worldwide to put an end to the senselessness of war?
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Conscientious Objector to War

Sherry and Eve both e-mailed about some of the mothers who have spoken out in favor of the war. They're allowed to. But they cross the line when they go beyond saying Cindy Sheehan doesn't speak for them. Up to the point, that's fine. But when they attack her, they've crossed the line. She didn't attack them, she spoke her thoughts on the Bully Boy and on the war.

Those who identify themselves as being part of Move America Foward are partisan, it's a partisan group put together by a P.R. firm as Source Watch has noted.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
In every child who is born, no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again: and in him, too, once more, and of each of us, our terrific responsibility toward human life; toward the utmost idea of goodness, of the horror of terror, and of God.
James Agee

Cindy Sheehan and "They Imprison Nuns in Bully Boy's America, Don't They?"

Elaine here and I'm late with posting, believe me, I know. Due to the late hour, I'm going to move quickly. Here's an item I hope you're already aware of.

Anti-War Camp in Crawford Texas Vandalized (Democracy Now!)
In Crawford Texas, Cindy Sheehan has announced her 11-day-old anti-war vigil will move locations - in order to get closer to president Bush's vacation ranch. A local Crawford resident has offered her to set up Camp Casey on his property. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until the president meets with her. Last year Sheehan's oldest son Casey died in Iraq. He was 24 years old. The right-wing attack on Sheehan is intensifying. Last week Fox News host Bill O'Reilly described Sheehan's actions as treasonous. On Monday night a Texas man drove his pickup truck through the vigil site running over hundreds of white wooden crosses and American flags that had been put up to honor soldiers killed in Iraq. The man -- Larry Northern - was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. Sheehan vowed there would be no retaliation. "We're all here for peace, and we're not going to lower ourselves down to the level of the violence," Sheehan said. "And we're going to let them get us off our mission either. This isn't only about my son. This is about all of the 1,800, over 1,800 people who have been killed in this mistake of a war. This is about the 130,000 who are still over there for no reason. This is about the millions of Iraqis in harm's way for no reason. We want this to end." Meanwhile support for the anti-war protest in Crawford is growing. Tonight MoveOn is helping to organize more than 1,000 candlelight vigils around the United States to support Sheehan.

I saw a new name at The Common Ills today, Rita King, and visited Ruminating on America where I found something I wanted to note.

"Sister Lelia Mattingly is currently serving a six-month prison term for civil disobedience after crossing the line at a protest" (Rita J. King)
For decades, Maryknoll Sister Lelia Mattingly followed a bloody trail across Latin America. Her journey eventually took her across the protest line at a military base in Georgia, and now it will take her to prison in Connecticut.
The Catholic nun, who has spent the last several years at Maryknoll in Ossining, will begin her six-month stint at the Danbury federal prison this Tuesday, the penalty for a repeat charge of civil disobedience for crossing the line onto a military base during a protest.
In November 2004, Mattingly, 64, and 16,000 others participated in the “largest anti-war protest since Vietnam” at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA) at the Fort Benning military base in Georgia.
Fifteen activists were arrested, including two minors and a blind man who, along with Mattingly, climbed over razor wire to access the military base after hiking through the woods.
Once on the base, Mattingly and her two partners created a makeshift cemetery with crosses painted with the names of two Maryknoll Sisters, another Catholic nun and a lay missioner who had been raped and murdered in 1980 in El Salvador by soldiers, months after the Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered while saying mass. SOA graduates, Mattingly said, were responsible for these slayings.
After Mattingly and her two companions prayed over the crosses planted on the military base, they approached guards and were arrested soon after, led off in plastic cuffs to be processed and charged.

In today's America, we imprison nuns. I'll apologize for the delay in posting. Tomorrow night's will hopefully go up at a reasonable time.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
A spiritual person tries less to be godly than to be deeply human.
Rev. William Sloan Coffin, Jr.


'Marine of the Year' Faces Attempted Murder Charges" (Democracy Now!)

'Marine of the Year' Faces Attempted Murder Charges (Democracy Now!)
In Massachusetts, a decorated Marine who served in Iraq is facing attempted murder charges after he fired a shotgun from his apartment window at a group of revelers outside a nightclub. Just last month the Marine -- Daniel Cotnoir - was named 2005 Marine of the Year by the Marine Corps Times. After he won the award Cotnoir posed for a photo with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Cotnoir has reportedly been suffering from post-war stress since serving in Iraq where he worked as a mortician preparing bodies of U.S. soldiers for burial.

Apparently nothing changes. In every war, people are asked to serve and then left to fend for themselves. As with every other "plan" for this invasion/occupation, concerns were elsewhere.
The suicides at Fort Bragg didn't result in a change, the domestic abuse (and murder) only resulted in a white wash. Lariam, a routine drug, is dispensed but questions about it are swept aside. (Maureen Orth wrote about Lariam's possible effects in the December 2002 issue of Vanity Fair.) Medications, training and experiences all have effects but our government would rather live in denial.

Astronauts are "decompressed" better than the military is. Possibly that's due to the fact that, in terms of ratio, the government's dealing with far fewer astronauts than military members. But the military is expected to return to "normal" and fend for themselves with few resources.
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in "Unpublished Adminstration Budget Documents Show Domestic Cuts Would Significantly Reduce Funding For Most Public Services:"

As a group, veterans’ programs would be cut by 16 percent by 2010. These include programs that provide health care to veterans.

That's how this administration deals with reality. "Touched by war" has been used, to explain certain behaivors off the battle field, for all of recorded history. But we want to act surprised when something happens today or avert our eyes and pretend it didn't happen. Cotnoir may have pre-existing conditions but it's highly doubtful, especially given his public statements, that they weren't aggrevated by his service. Pre-existing or not, the United States judged him healthy and able to serve. When his service ended, what resources were available to him?

Those are questions our administration should be asking but more likely they will dismiss the incident as an abberation or as Cotnoir's own personal problem. There were obviously no "personal problems" that precluded his acceptance in service so the administration should be asking what safety nets they're going to provide to the returning?

It's easy to avert eyes for any number of excuses. Cotnior served and that's not the "example" we want of those who served, Cotnior served and we should overlook the incident because he's been "touched by war," Cotnior's problems are his own . . . Those excuses can't conceal the fact that Cotnior is having difficulty coping and that fact should make us ask what's being done to help people in Cotnior's situation.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.
Leo Tolstoy


Are you "anti-war"?

Elaine here. One of the first things I did when I started filling in for Rebecca was begin cleaning up her blogroll. I'm still in the process of that.

But I get an e-mail copy and paste of someone claiming that Cindy Sheehan is not for bringing the troops home now. Mike calls about it. Asks me to call C.I. to be sure it's addressed tonight. (Which I do. It will be. It would have been addressed from Mike's call alone; however, Mike knows that C.I. and are friends from many, many years ago. We knew each other in the college years and, I'd have to check with my brother, but I believe we knew each other in high school.) (I first met C.I. through my brother.)

So are you "anti-war"? In quotes. I guess some people are "pro-war." In quotes. I find it sad that someone fixates on Cindy Sheehan and attempts to utilize her to get their pro-war message out of "fine tune" the war.

That is not Cindy Sheehan message and never has been.

But when someone writes "anti-war" you already know where they're coming from.

When I was cleaning up Rebecca's blogroll (and I'll be doing more of that) one thing I looked for was where did the person stand on the issues? Calling yourself "left," "progressive," "liberal" . . . doesn't make it so.

So one of the first that I pulled was someone who didn't know they stood on the war and floated back and forth.

Cindy Sheehan has not floated back and forth. Her message has always been "Bring the troops home now." The Bully Boy knows that. He knows her message so why some who are not Republicans feel the need to to distort her message or to claim that she's not for "Bring the troops home now" is a mystery to me. But when they type that the people around Cindy are not the usual "anti-war" types, I think you know where such people are coming from.

Here's Sherry, from her e-mail today, "Can you believe this nonsense? Wake up! America, more and more, is the face of anti-war."

The polls back Sherry up. The scales have tipped and hawks rushing in to prove how strong they are won't change that. Rebecca would call them New Republicans. I'd agree with that. Advocating the continuation of this occupation is the same as advocating the invasion.

Fixating on some concept that you'll look reasonable and not like one of those "anti-war" types may win you seat at the pundits table but it's not where the nation's at now.

Get out the road if you can't lend a hand time (to steal from Bob Dylan) for "The Times They Are A-Changing."

As Janeane Garofalo said tonight on The Majority Report:

It is time to withdraw and allow an international organization . . . allow them to do their good work and help them do the rebuilding. . . . Clearly, the American power cannot handle it and will not do it. . . . So it is now time for aid organizations.

You cannot impose democracy (as the missed deadline for the draft of the Iraqi constitution proves). Nor is it your right to impose something on another country.

Self-determination is democracy. Occupation is not.

I've got an e-mail from Billie who was down in Crawford showing her support for Cindy Sheehan and Billie is one of those "anti-war" types. But then African-Americans, polls have shown, didn't have the repeated waffle moments that the white race did on this invasion.

"Anti-war" types?

Well put me down on the list. Certainly don't put me down on the list of "moderates" who can't quite figure out what to do from one day to the next but want to suggest that the plans don't require our input -- that it's not our place!

Maybe someone who truly believes that, believes that in a democracy we cede our authority and voice to elected officials, still believes democracy can be imposed?

It can't be. It won't be.

Photos and reports from Falluja, from non-embeds, speak to how well that "imposing" has gone.
I'm not okay with repeated "sweeps" through Falluja or any other city in Iraq. Nor do I support occupation.

People who do should try to come up with examples where occupation has worked because there are psychological dimensions to occupation that their "moderate" brains can't grasp. A culture breeds in an occupation and to deny that reality is to live in a fantasy world.

So by all means mark me down as "anti-war."

It really saddens me that someone wants to say that Cindy Sheehan isn't for bring the troops home now. It saddens me because if they're not misinformed, they're lying. When someone's willing to resort to lying about Cindy Sheehan, one wonders what they won't lie about?

The name of the organization she co-founded is Gold Star Families for Peace. That's not a Bully Boy-ism. The name means what it says. Cindy Sheehan means what she says.

Cindy Sheehan Begins Day Nine of Her Protest in Crawford, TX (Democracy Now!)
In Crawford Texas, Cindy Sheehan has begun day nine of her vigil outside President Bush's vacation ranch. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until the president meets with her. Last year Sheehan's oldest son Casey died in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Hundreds of anti-war activists have now joined Sheehan in a protest that has received international attention. "You know, this is really hard. Not only am I, like, trying to stop the war, but I have to grieve my son every day," Cindy Sheehan said. "Every day I wake up, it's like April 4th all over again. I have to realize that I have to go for another day without my son, and it's really, really hard. And then I do this on top of that." On Saturday, Bush defended his decision not to meet with Sheehan. He said "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But. I think it's also important for me to go on with my life." Bush's comments came before he went on a two-hour bike ride with journalists and aides. In addition, Bush spent Saturday attending a Little League baseball game, having lunch w/ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, napping, fishing and reading. On Friday Bush attended a political fundraiser. Tensions are also rising in Crawford. One local farmer fired a gun on his property near the protest site. When asked if he was trying to send a message the farmer said, "Figure it out for yourself."

Did you read that? Cindy Sheehan says "Not only am I, like, trying to stop the war, but I have to grieve for my son every day."

Lying about what Cindy Sheehan stands for disgusts me. Let's hope that those who put words in her mouth and claim she's not for bringing the troops home now just don't know better. The alternative is too sad.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The only thing that's been a worse flop than the organization of nonviolence has been the organization of violence.
Joan Baez