Friday, December 22, 2006

Vigil at Fort Benning, GA to Close Torture School

(Written November 20, 2006)
Whew! What a great day at the gates of Fort Benning.

22,000 people, including 1000 grandmothers, many religious groups from all faiths, students and people from all over our country. It was one of the most inspiring days of my life. The Solemn Funeral Procession and the celebrations were awe inspiring.

Sandy Meyer, Kyle Johansen and I just got back to Chicago a couple hours ago. At the Vigil we met Brian Nichols (also a Unity Temple member) and his wife Mary Kay, friends Ron and Carla Chew from Third UU, Jeff Olsen and other friends from First United, several other good folks from St. Edmonds Family Mass and great people from many denominations. The Chicago Religious Leadership Network organized us and over 100 other area people.

Father Roy and his group, SOA Watch have had several major successes these last few years, since they exposed the torture manuals that were used for years as training guides. They convinced three countries (Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina) to pull their troops out of the SOA / WHINSEC school, where the US has taught torture techniques, assassination and murder. The greatest success would be getting the US Congress to cut funding for the school. This became a possibility with the sea change after the recent elections. Father Roy has lobbied Congress for years to end the funding of SOA / WHINSEC, and he may succeed when the new Congress is seated next year.

SINCE THE NEWS PROBABLY WON'T COVER THIS EVENT, LOOK UP for more information. More details below.


In Peace,

Rich Pokorny

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------

From: SOA Watch <>
Subject: 22,000 at the gates of Fort Benning, human rights
activists arrested
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2006 18:26:55 +0000

Visit SOA Watch webpage for constant updates:

Sunday, November 19, 2006 at 12:30 PM
Fort Benning, Georgia
Over 22,000 people are marching here at the gates of Fort Benning in a beautiful and massive funeral procession led by Latin American torture survivors and social justice movement leaders, among them Renato Antonio Areiza from the Colombian Peace Community of San Josï de Apartadï. Last year, Renatosï's sister was murdered by troops under the command of an SOA graduate. This gathering, our largest and most diverse ever, stretches over the length of Fort Benning Road, with thousands holding crosses, stars of David and other symbols of hope and resistance. As musicians sing out Deyanira Areizaï and the names of hundreds more victims of School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)-sponsored violence, the crowd responds, "Presente!"

Along the procession route people have begun to transform the fences surrounding the protest site into expressions of hope and remembrance, placing their symbols in and around the three-layer chain-link barriers erected by the city of Columbus and military personnel.

Thirteen people just went through a hole in the fence and carried their protest onto the military base in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. Two of the human rights activists that engaged in the civil disobedience action were part of the 1000 Grandmothers organizing effort. The military police just arrested and handcuffed the linecrossers and are guarding the breached fence to prevent others from entering the base.

Cathy Webster, a 61 year-old peace activist and grandmother from Chico, California, was among those arrested by the military. "As a grandmother, I feel deep compassion and an urge for protection for the vulnerable, the young, and families," said Cathy Webster. "It breaks my heart to know about the continual murders and disappearances of countless people in Latin America. SOA trains the perpetrators of these crimes."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

what the 2008 election means

This is a historic win.

The Democrats not only won the House, but not a single Democratic incumbent was ousted. Not one.

The Dems will have the Senate as well. Webb is leading Allen by8,000 in Virginia, and that's a big enough lead to hold up even in arecount. Not a single Dem in the Senate was ousted, either.

Democrats won a majority of Governorships. It has been 28 to 22 with Republicans in the majority; now those numbers are reversed. Democrats won a majority of state legislative chambers, whereas before there was parity between the parties. Not a single chamber that changed party control went from Dem to Repub. Not one.

The state legislatures become all the more important when our federal government has abandoned its duty to the people. Not only that, but with Democrats in majority control of state governments they will be well positioned to map districts in the coming 2010 redraw--preventing Republicans from rigging the system the way they did in Texas.

And not at all least, I'm going to write this one more time because I love to write it: "SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Nancy Pelosi." She becomes the first woman to lead either chamber of Congress.

Future generations will study this election. Our kids will ask us where we were when it happened.

The talking heads are already carrying the Republican line that the Democrats that won yesterday were conservative, but that's not true. The overwhleming majority of the incoming Democrats are progressive on social issues.

Rahm Emmanuel is claiming all the credit, and he deserves some as chair of the DCCC... but not much. It's not true that this win was because he picked "the right kind of candidates." Tammy Duckworth, his cause celebre for a neighboring district in Emmanuel's home state, failed in her bid. Harold Ford-- the pro-life, pro-gun, anti-choice conservative-- was "the right kind of candidate" and he lost. Exactly who were "the wrong kind" that lost?

No, the person who deserves credit, if any one individual does standout for it, is... Howard Dean.

Howard Dean is the architect of the "50-state strategy" for the Democratic party. It was his plan that Democrats should challenge Republicans for every seat at every level of government. It was his work that invigorated state and local party offices that the national party had previously written off as lost causes. Rahm Emmanuel represents the old Democratic strategy of picking a few high-profile races as battleground contests and throwing all the party resources and money into them. That was what John Kerry did in 2004, conceding huge swaths of the country as lost before ever setting foot there. Howard Dean actually campaigned in more states in the 2004 general election than John Kerry did. Howard Dean's leadership of the Democratic Party was what made it happen that Democrats found themselves fighting against Republicans in areas where the punditry and party leadership had scoffed that the Dems would have no hope of victory.

The point to take away is this. When people argue that it was the "conservative Democrats" who won this round of elections, progressives should not let that stand. It wasn't. When people argue that the Democrats need to field "the right kind" of candidates, progressives need to answer that in fact it was the grassroots that went to bat for the party and pushed it (far) over the top. This election was won from the bottom-up, not top-down.

Howard Dean took a lot of flack within the party for channeling resources into areas where the party leadership assumed there was no hope of winning. He was criticized for not dumping all party resources into the bipartisan agreed-upon "battleground" contests, which was Rahm Emmanuel's strategy. Howard Dean's plan was for Democrats to fight the Republicans everywhere, and that is exactly where the Repubs found a fight. The Democratic Party fielded more candidates than they have for over thirty years. Progressives should recognize this, and make sure the DemocraticParty continues to fight hard like this, instead of sinking back into accepting agreed-upon "battlegrounds" as they're used to doing.

Next time, not a single Republican member of Congress should run unopposed. Not one.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Counterproductive Result of a War-First Policy

Can modern warfare, particularly when accompanied by occupation, ever accomplish the stated objectives of going to war, or is it more likely to produce the opposite of those objectives?

In an article titled "The Counterproductive Result of a War-First Policy", published on the OPCTJ Web site, Kevin McDermott argues that
modern war may inescapably lead to the opposite of its intended outcome. McDermott uses the ongoing war in Iraq and the recently de-escalated conflict in Lebanon as examples to make the point that in the age of global communication, globalization of the means of production, and the rapid dissemination of knowledge and news, power has shifted away from those with traditional military strength.

Please comment on McDermott's article. The full article can be found at:

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Peace Fair

We are interested in hearing your opinion about our Chicago Area Peace Fair. Should this event be continued? Should we network with other groups in other locations around the country to develop a larger scale version of this event? We need your feedback. Please start by reviewing the information about the most recent Peace Fair, held on Sept. 9, 2006.