Friday, October 28, 2005

Another Fitzmas Carol! "All I Got for Fitzmas was Perjury!"

All I got for Fitzmas
was perjury
and perjury
yes, two perjuries

Obstruction of justice
and two perjuries
Now I can wish you Merry Fitzmas!

It seems so long since they did say,
"Wilson's wife is fair game since he fucked us"
Gosh oh gee, how happy I be,
They're handing out five big counts of Justice

All I got for Fitzmas
was perjury
two false statements
and perjury


Now, if I could also
get some Karl Rove
and Dick Cheney
and W
without DeLaaaaaaaaaaay...
I'll wish you another
Great Big Fitzmas!

I got a Scooter for Fitzmas!





Don't worry, Rove- you'll get yours!

Here are some Fitzmas cards for you.

And you might be getting something special too, Big Dick Cheney...

See page 5 of the indictment, via Kos via TPM:

"Go to page 5 of the indictment [PDF]. Top of the page, item #9.On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Divison. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

This is a crucial piece of information. the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is part of the CIA's
Directorate of Operations, i.e., not Directorate of Intelligence, the branch of the CIA where 'analysts' come from, but where the spies come from.
Libby's a long time national security hand. He knows exactly what CPD is and where it is. So does Cheney. They both knew. It's right there in the indictment."

Fitzgerald '08!!!


Happy Fitznukkah Everybody!

I got a Scooter for Fitzmas! What did you get?


Fa La La La La
HA HA HA HA

Link

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Vigil for the 2000, Hollywood Blvd. and La Brea Ave.

Held at the corner of Hwood and La Brea, at the silver screen ladies statue. Supportive car honks or blank stares, one wingnut in a truck set of one of ours but otherwise very peaceful.



Brian is a Vietnam War veteran who shared his medal for the first time in 30 years.



Goodnight.

2000

Join us at our local vigil tonight in Hollywood, or find one in your area.

Sadly we are now up to 2001.

Other than staying the course, anybody got a plan to end this?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Happy Holidays! Merry Fitznukkah!

It's beginning to look a lot like

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tom Delay's mugshot


Finally. Tom Delay's mugshot.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cindy Sheehan was here before me? Huh?


so i hear that bush and the stepford lady swung some hammers today...

i did a search on bush and habitat for humanity. the first article i found talked about bush driving down "unscathed" streets in covington, la.

if they look unscathed it's because of groups like "vets for peace" who went there directly from camp casey in crawford!

did he realize he was going to the very towns (also pass christian) that were not helped immediately by the red cross nor fema, but instead "camp casey covington?"

Sunday, October 09, 2005

in bed with the covers over my head -- how will i find a job saving the world this way?

The other day I told Ditch Bitch that I was having the worst day of my life and she asked me if it was worse than the day that Code Pink turned on us. It was a tough question...

I'll start with the most recent transgression against me, since I know Ditch Bitch doesn't really want me to dish about Code Stink in public (does anybody really read this? -- i think not). Not that I'll never tell the awful truth about those pink barbie vampire bitches... i will, but later. this is more pressing.

So, my dayjob is teaching. i find it incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. i teach drama and i take it very seriously. theatre is a village. there's a place for everyone. a play is a world and there's room for everyone to build part of the reality. not everyone has to be an actor -- god forbid, i spend my days turning innocent children into actors, i couldn't live with myself -- a play needs painters and writers and musicians and technicians and managers and furniture movers and audiences and.. you get the picture. mostly theatre requires collaboration and team players. it can be painful and messy and beautiful and scary and profound. and some kids really bloom in the theatre environment. and i'm honored to teach it to them.

so anyway, i've worked my way around town with various groups that teach in the schools. i'm not an accredited teacher. i'm an "artist in the schools." that works out fine since the republicans and libertarians and prop 13 have all cut arts out of schools. it's up to parents with bucks or non-profits with bucks or movie stars with spare time and bucks to bring arts back into the schools. they have to have fundraisers and sell their souls to raise money to pay us and train us to bring the very best to the kids.

a couple of years back i settled in with a group i really liked. unlike most non-profits this one treated the teaching artists like valued professionals (read: they didn't treat us like actors). they took out taxes from our paychecks (a good thing), they paid us for prep time (a really good thing), they held our hand while we learned about the VAPA standards and how to align our lessons to them so that we could kick ass as teaching artists (a challenging but ultimately empowering and wonderful thing -- i want to be the best teacher i can be).

now when i began with this org. i was paid hourly. i taught six classes a week -- i happened to teach them all in one day, pretty exhausting -- and was paid for prep time for the three different grade levels i taught. (i also taught an emotionally disturbed class but didn't get paid any extra for that because i thought i'd be able to modify my other curriculum to fit that class -- boy was i wrong. they tore through my lesson plans and i was constantly looking for new material to keep them stimulated)

then last year things started getting pretty sketchy on the pay front. they stopped paying hourly and kept talking about the "package." the pay "package" would include pay for prep, meetings and teaching. the "package" was never really explained to my satisfaction but the org refused to give me an hourly figure -- which was total bullshit since i occasionally subbed for other teachers and i was obviously paid hourly for those days/lessons so what the fuck? but, hey, this org was so much more professional than the others i worked with so, i hung in there. they were expanding so much and there were changes in the admin. so i decided to trust them. i'm just that way. and i always end up taking it up the ass when i do...

so that brings us to the present, or at least a week or so ago. i get back from dc and texas and doing things that have inspired me and and moved me and i'm wondering about my life and how i'm going to continue to feel as engaged and empowered and how i'm going to continue to contribute as much as i have this summer. and i'm really feeling like i'll be able to do it through my teaching. i'm getting excited about ways to get my kids involved in what's going on in this world, looking for lesson plans that deal with conflict resolution in creative and dynamic ways...

and my friend J calls and we're catching up. J and i have worked together for a number of years. he has called me a mentor. i used to joke that i kept him around simply because he always wrote down everything i ever said. what an ego boost! but J is an angel. a gentle soul, loving and guileless. lovely. and he works at this org too. because i got him the job, no less. and we're chatting about the pay and the schedule and that the pay went up a little or a lot or something and then he tells me what he's making and it turns out that he's making over twice as much as i am.

he's making over twice as much as i am.

he's making over twice as much as i am.

to be fair. he's teaching one more class a week than i am. he's making over twice as much as i am.

but his classes are spread out over four days -- a schedule that is more conducive to going on auditions, especially when you're making over twice as much as i am.

and he's only teaching two grade levels, so he has half as much prep load as i do. but he's making twice as much as i am.

and i remember all this shit that comes up from my days working in the business world when old white men paid me half as much money as the men i would replace when i would work my way up the ladder. the old white man would say "you can't compare salaries like that" when they meant "but men have to support a family and you don't." but i think there used to be some kind of rules like that... but i don't live by those rules. i don't have those values. so i spoke up.

because a couple of days later i sat in a meeting with some administrative something or other who, after explaining how "equitable" the system was for parttime teaching artists really is, pulled out J's schedule as an example! she actually was using his schedule to illustrate that it was fair and equitable. i finally had no choice but to say, "have you compared our salaries?" she was a little surprised. i think she was also innocent and possibly ignorant of what the fuck was going on. at least i hope so. god, i hope so. she asked, "have you talked to J?" of course i talked to J! he's my friend and i got him the job here and i practically trained him to be a teacher.

and that's where we left it that afternoon. then, that evening, i got a call from the chairman of the board who said she heard about my "complaints" and intimated that i had lied on my resume (i didn't) and misrepresented my qualifications (not required at the job interview) when i started working for the org and it all got ugly and icky and i was just so demoralized...

however, the next day the original administrative something called me back to tell me the chairman of the board had changed her mind and after reconsidering my vast educational background and experience they could offer me an additional $28 a day. this does not double my salary -- and i'm not asking that my salary be completely doubled. i do think that drive time should be taken into consideration and J should be compensated for that time. but i should also be compensated accordingly...

so after a few more back and forths i'm just worn down. adding in to all this is the fact that this org is doing these contract negotiations in OCTOBER. they are negotiating with teachers in OCTOBER. i'm supposed to begin teaching tomorrow. i've asked them repeatedly to get this straight earlier each year and instead it's gotten later. so i feel loyalty to my little title one school. my kids, my teachers. i can't just quit and leave them without a teacher. i've worked with some of these kids now for three years. there are a few whom i'm sure will blossom this year. they need this art. they are misfits who will fit... i can't abandon them.

so i give in. i'll just do it and figure it out later. even if i'm only getting paid half as much as other people doing the same job.

even if i'm only getting paid half as much as other people doing less work...

but i do figure out that maybe i have some leeway to make some adjustments to the schedule. in all of the negotiating i learned that i get paid the same whether i teach 4, 5 or 6 classes in one day. so i could teach 4 classes and call it a day, but what i want to do is mainstream the emotionally disturbed class (they are mainstreamed in their other art classes) and use the time as a "talent identified" class -- a class period i can use to pull students out of class who need additional attention. it would be ideal for isolated scenework for students who are "starring" in school productions, etc.

so i head off to meet with the teachers and make these schedule adjustments. and i'm met with a huge wall of resistance. now, granted, i can't blame them at all. like i said. since the org has it's head so far up its collective ass, i am trying to do this in OCTOBER. but the teachers, whom i normally love and laugh with, are just saying NO NO NO! (it doesn't help that No Child Left Behind and the guvernator make them teach to the tests all the time also) and then i get his with the biggest body blow of them all. one of my favorite teachers turns to me and says, "why can't you just do this after school?"

so that's what it's come to. they all just see it as a fucking hobby. even after seeing me work for years she thinks i'm just teaching party games. i've spent weeks, months maybe, researching, teaching myself, studying how to align my lessons to the standards -- not just the VAPA standards but also how to teach theatre so that i can incorporate math and history and even science into my lessons... yes, it's done. theatre is a village. there's a place for everyone and a need for everything.

and then i reflected back on the conversation i had with J the night before. he had been upset that i told the org that we discussed his salary. i tried to explain that they used his schedule to tell me that things were equitable -- i didn't go as far as to remind him that, in an earlier conversation, he gave me permission to tell them -- but it all boiled down to his saying "put yourself in my shoes." when he had said that the night before it kind of flew past me. yeah yeah yeah. but as i was leaving the school in defeat after the "why don't you do it after school?" comment, it hit me hard, hard, harder.

yeah. if i were in your shoes, J, i probably would have fought even harder. because i would have worried less about being perceived as a complainer, as "difficult." i talked to dutchman ab out it, and he concurred. this is the kind of shit that he says i'm compulsive about. i'm a seeker of justice, motherfucker!

and it usually gets me in trouble. and it usually depresses the fuck out of me... for a little while, and then i realize that i can't go on without doing what i believe is right. i'll fight for what i believe in because i can't live with myself if i don't. so yes, maybe, it is a compulsion. and maybe i'm always going to get myself in trouble, or be "difficult." so i guess the question is this: if i'm going to always be such a pain in the ass, shouldn't i be doing it somewhere it will really make a difference?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ditch Witches represent at the White House civil disobediance.

Word was that the Camp Casey group had their shit together. When they called for water they got it and they shared. Mighty proud, am I.

The Revolution Starts Now - A DC Ditch Witch Diary

I was walking down the street
In the town where I was born
I was walking to a beat
That I’d never felt before
So I opened up my eyes
and I took a look around
I saw it written ‘cross the sky
The revolution starts now
Yeah, the revolution starts now
--Steve Earle, The Revolution Starts Now

The Ditch Witches are an independent service committee made up of Ms. Cassandra, Jesse Dyen, Mary Ellen Goodwin, and myself. The four of us met in Crawford,Texas in “The Ditch” – Camp Casey. We resolved to continue working together as a team after we broke camp at the end of August. We four left Texas for California and spent the first few weeks of September setting up fundraising events for the Veterans for Peace Hurricane Katrina efforts,working with US Tour of Duty, churches and peace groups in the Bay area. Then we headed to DC for UFPJ’s September 24-26 action, planning to help set up Camp Casey DC. We arrived the 20th, set up camp the next day and began working 16-18 hours a day in the days leading up to the civil disobedience actions planned for the 26th.

Then there's the longer version...

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 20 - When I pulled out of Basra,they all wished me luck.
After a Monday night event in Sacramento, Mary Ellen and I drove two hours back to Campbell, packed and flew out of San Jose at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. We arrive at BWI exhausted at 5:45 PM, take the train to Union Station and then the Metro to the Takoma station. There Whitney picked us up and took us to the CodePink house, where we were invited to stay because CP were hosting the Camp Casey Reunion tent. (Disclaimer: The Ditch Witches are independent and not affiliated with CP, or any other organization, for that matter.)

Cassandra arrived from LA a couple of hours behind us. We drank a couple of beers and went to bed.

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 21 - And the people gathered‘round…
We went to the Capitol to meet the Bring Them Home Now tour buses when they arrived from Baltimore, where they’d stopped the night before. The tour consisted of three RVs carrying members of the four Camp Casey coalition groups (Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans For Peace) which left from Camp Casey August 31, each following a different route – North, Central and South. They were followed by an assortment of other vehicles heading toward DC. They were due to arrive at the Capitol at 11:45 AM and hold a press conference.

There were often delays on the bus tour; despite obtaining parking permits, the DC police held up the buses several blocks away for over an hour, leaving the rather large press contingent to hang around the Capitol lawn. As it turned out, there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for this particular delay (go here for a hilarious NRO).Eventually it was decided we’d meet them a couple of blocks over and march from there to the Capitol, and we started to head over before someone gave the press the heads-up. When they figured out what was going on, there was a stampede to get the prized shot of Cindy stepping off the bus. As they pulled up, Lisa was running backwards in front of the buses, directing traffic to get them all in the small space allowed. It wasn’t exactly an intimate experience with all the cameras and reporters yelling questions, but it was a beautiful thing to see our friends again after three weeks. They looked exhausted, but glad to see us too.

We took the banners from the buses and began marching to the Capitol, chanting “PEACE NOW!” The press fell all over themselves and us too, knocking Whitney down at one point. They even knocked over the podium, tripping over the microphone cords trying to get closer. It was nuts. I guess Cindy is famous now, huh. It’s a good thing for the peace movement, but the celebrity-worship aspect feels weird. I used to work in the music business, so I’ve been around famous people before. But mostly, they were already famous when I met them. Over the next few days, seeing folks grab their cameras and chase after the media crowd surrounding Cindy, watching people dissolve into tears when they saw her, like she was Mother Theresa or even the Beatles… like I said, it just feels weird.

After the press conference, everyone hopped back on the buses and we headed over to the White House so Cindy could deliver a letter to Dubya. Another crazy scene; Jeff Key had to step in to move the press back as they inadvertently shoved Cindy up against the gates trying to get a better camera angle. There was a guy from the opposition there shouting something, but it was all so nuts I never heard what he said. The Camp Casey DC tent was set up on the Mall, across 15th street from the Washington Monument.

After the media chaos, we went over there to start unloading the buses and I showed Cindy our newly-designed Ditch Witch business cards. She was exhausted and had been fighting off the flu for several days, but she laughed her ass off and asked if we would make some for her as well.

As we finished unloading, Marcus from Arlington West arrived with the crosses from Camp Casey I and II. Ann Wright, Lisa and the bus tour gang set off to attend an event at American University where Hart made a speech that several people later emailed me about, not that I had much chance to check my email. We stayed behind and worked with Marcus, setting up crosses until 1 AM– just over 900 of them. Passersby occasionally stopped and helped us for awhile, including a guy on a bike who came by every day after that as well, on his way home from work. As we were unloading crosses off a cart on the north side of the designated area, I noticed many of them still had tire marks on them. The marks were from an incident that happened the week before I arrived in Crawford, when a guy from Waco mowed down the crosses with his pickup truck.

Ann returned to camp just as Mike and Elliot Adams of Vets for Peace were arriving for the overnight security shift and we were getting ready to head back to Takoma. All of us stood there in awe, looking at this vast expanse of crosses. It occurred to me that I’d felt the same way in Crawford a couple of times -when you’re in the middle of things, focused on the work, you don’t see the big picture – at least, I can’t. And the picture was stunning; it tore at my heart in a way I’d probably been avoiding for the last five hours. But you do what you have to in order to get the job done.

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 22 - Something about living in fear all your life makes you hard that way.
We worked at the tent all day, recruiting volunteers to help as Camp Casey alumni from all over the country began arriving and supporters of the movement stopped by to hang out. Jesse finally arrived, having taken a detour to Philadelphia to visit family on his way to DC from Oakland. We continued to hold down the fort while Cindy, the vets and the military families went to a nearby church to meet with Black Voices For Peace. A steady stream of visitors and media were now starting to arrive at the tent, asking questions about Camp Casey and the crosses, thanking us for being there, bringing donations of food, water and cash. All monies were going to the coalition groups; Mary Ellen took on responsibility for a Brinks-type system for handling cash to avoid the danger inherent in having large amounts of money on hand.

It was becoming necessary to occasionally defuse confrontations with the opposition. In that sense,Camp Casey DC was just like Crawford, just a bit more complicated. For one thing, we weren’t camped out by the side of a road in a sparsely-populated county anymore. The pilgrims were still from all over the map, politically speaking, but there were a lot more of them, and this time we were on public, not private land. Fortunately the Park Police were pretty easy to work with.

One challenge that came up right away was the determination of some well-intentioned new volunteers to “protect” us from any Bush supporters who might show up to hassle us. Their inclination was to engage in debate with the pro-war faction, a response that’s at odds with our operating principles for keeping the peace. There’s a lot of anger on both sides of the issue, and yeah, it’s often difficult not to engage in the kind of debates that lead nowhere and solve nothing. For me, and effort toward peacekeeping requires keeping my focus on the ultimate objective – in this case, ending the war – and not allowing myself to get distracted by people trying to stir up trouble. But since Crawford, I’ve discovered it’s a lot easier for me to do this if I can find some compassion for Bush supporters even while they’re calling me names. Cassandra, who has family members who oppose her positions on nearly everything, makes a rather eloquent case for providing “a soft place for these people to land,” as she puts it. It’s not hard for me to imagine the amount of pain they must carry around with all the anger. If I'm not going to paint all Bush supporters as deranged - and I can't - it seems the reason to hold on so tightly to that level of denial about the Bush administration, at this point, is tremendous fear of being wrong. Sometimes, I think that for them, the survival of the world as they know it depends upon their being right, and the idea of the President of the United States telling lies and betraying the American people is just too unthinkable – i.e., the end of the world. Lately, when I watch GWB give a speech, I see his shoulders creeping up around his ears, and in my mind, I see him saying “I didn’t do it! It wasn’t my fault!” to Barbara as she swats him with a newspaper. (But maybe that's because I started reading “Bush on the Couch” recently...)

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23 - Early this morning I was washing my face, thinkin’ ’bout going to town…
Long story short, we decided that pink was not the most flattering color for the Ditch Witches. We put out a call for new digs, and Cassandra ended up staying behind to coordinate our move, with no small amount of help from Laurie. Jesse, Mary Ellen and I continued to anchor Camp Casey DC. It was a long and stressful day but by evening, we were ensconced in a Days Inn on Connecticut Avenue, courtesy of a very kind and generous benefactor.

In the meantime, Joan (Baez) and her assistant Susie arrived at camp as we prepared for an influx of visitors planning to attend the candlelight vigil at Camp Casey that evening. The evening vigil was something that we did nightly in Crawford among the crosses, always ending with Jeff Key playing taps on his bugle. Somewhere around 7 PM, Dennis Kucinich and his new wife, a lovely woman who appears to be at least nine feet tall, showed up. They kept a low profile, however, preferring not to speak to the press. The vigil was followed by a march up Constitution to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.

Cassandra was beat after the relocation ordeal and was resting back at the hotel, and Mary Ellen and Jesse planned to attend the candlelight march after the vigil. I opted to stay behind and anchor the tent with the help of several volunteers, while vigil attendees bearing candles (and the ever-present cameras) followed Joan, Cindy and Kucinich up the street. As they trickled back to camp, those who had never been to the Wall before appeared moved, some even shaken, and I thought about my first time there. If you haven’t been, I can assure you that it’s a powerful experience. For my part, I think at least part of the reason I stayed behind was that I was trying to avoid getting too emotionally overloaded, which is easy to do when I’m running on too little sleep. As it was, everyone was trudging through an emotional minefield the whole week.

Hadi from the Crawford Peace House showed up at some point with a truckload of provisions for the Camp Casey reunion the next day. He recruited a street vendor to help him deliver it to camp, and a crew of volunteers helped us unload it all. As we worked, we gradually noticed we were hungry. So we went to the brewery near the hostel where most of the bus tour gang was staying. There we ran into some Camp Casey alumni who'd just arrived in town drinking at the bar. We barely got our orders in before the kitchen closed, but we were all too tired to stay out late. We chowed down and went back to our new digs to crash.

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 24 - Jimmy joined the army ‘cause he had no place to go.
With a small army of eager volunteers at hand to cover the tent, we took a couple of hours off to march. The Camp Casey contingent was held up for nearly two hours at the corner of 15th and Constitution. We were too far away from the stage to hear the speeches, but for the most part, we didn’t care – we were pretty much unanimous in our lack of interest in most of the speakers for International A.N.S.W.E.R. Cassandra was listening to C-Span radio on her headset, transmitting any important details. But despite our impatience with what we thought was mostly bullshit, frankly, we were also aware that not only was the Blue line temporarily shut down, Amtrak was holding up three trains carrying a large number (there were varying reports) of protesters headed to DC from Boston, Philadelphia and New York. We heard later that each group was given a different reason for the hold-up. Anyway, one rumor was that the delay from the stage was to give those trains time to get to town, so we allowed for the possibility that the delay was due to more than just poor organization and microphone hogs. And my mother, who watched on C-Span, later told me Jessica Lange’s speech was quite good, actually.

Finally, we started marching. Somewhere near the turnoff onto Pennsylvania Ave, a reporter I know from the Lawrence Journal-World called me. It was pretty hard to tell him what was going on, because once again, in the midst of things, all I could see was the groups around me. At one point we passed a group of evangelicals, about six of them, including a little boy who looked about 6 or 7 years old. They were all chanting “Shame on you!” It seemed a bit pathetic, if only because there were probably close to 300,000 people smiling, chanting and singing as we marched past this tiny, tiny group of really angry people spewing threats of eternal damnation. Marching with us, however, were plenty of religious groups – United Methodists, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists,Buddhists… along with a line of BushCo puppets and puppeteers, a group of Billionaires for Bush, and Death and a dancing Statue of Liberty, both on stilts. There’s lots more about the march, including some video on TruthOut.org.

Later in the march route, on 14th, there was a larger group of counter-protesters, but even then I heard there were less than 100. I didn't see them - because it took so long to start, we cut our march short and headed back to the tent, where those at the front of the march had already begun to arrive. After her performance across the mall at the Operation Ceasefire concert, Joan arrived back at camp with Susie, Jeff Key, Whitney, Cody Camacho, Laurie and food. With them was Rebecca, an independent filmmaker we’d met in Crawford who is working on a film about free speech. I got a quick hug from Joan, which made me suddenly and acutely conscious of the sorry state of my personal hygiene. They sat down next to the crosses and began eating French fries, which was when I remembered yet again I hadn’t really eaten all day. The concert was going on across the mall, but Jesse and a few others had picked up their guitars and a crowd gathered around. Soon one of the women from Sweet Honey in the Rock turned up after their performance across the way, and the unofficial musical portion of the evening was underway. Jesse was needed where he was, so I told him we were going for food and that we’d bring something back for him and started looking around for Cassandra.

I found her sitting out among in the crosses with two soldiers, one of whom was in some serious pain. He had already done a tour in Iraq, while his friend was soon to be deployed to Kuwait. He was very depressed, convinced his life was over because he couldn’t live with what he’d seen and done – he told Cassandra of killing men who were fathers, brothers, sons, and said he would never be able to marry or have children now. She spoke to him about counseling, and he was adamant about not using military channels, which usually marks a soldier as weak, and in any case doesn’t seem to be very effective. The suicide rate for Iraq vets is appalling.

While we were in Crawford, we heard one of the MFSO fathers speak about his son, who was in the psych ward at Walter Reed hospital - and had just received his re-deployment papers. His father was beside himself at the thought that they were putting a gun in the hands of a young man who was suicidal. In the case of the soldiers in the crosses, we eventually decided to fetch Jeff and Cody. This wasn’t the first time we’d called on the Iraq vets to counsel a fellow soldier; there were more than a couple of occasions in Crawford where we sought out a vet to help one of his brothers who was in trouble. You have to keep an eye out for them like Cassandra did though, because they don’t always identify themselves right away. But some are drawn to Camp Casey, though they often hover on the edges until they feel comfortable.

Finally, Mary Ellen, Cassandra and I hiked over to the brewery near the hostel. With us were Thomas, a Camp Casey vet who’d driven on the bus tour, and Jeremy Hogan, a photographer I’d met in Crawford. Along the way, this guy began walking alongside us, sort of eavesdropping, then joining in our conversation as he figured out we were from Camp Casey. He ended up buying the first round, saying it was in appreciation for our service. He was a masterbuilder from Maryland who’d come down for the march. We ate and drank and told him some stories from Crawford, and when the check finally came - $160 – he insisted on covering the whole thing. His name was Fred Fox. We invited him to come back to camp with us, but he seemed kind of shy about it. So we took the food we’d ordered for Jesse and headed back. Not too long after that, Fred showed up to hang out. I guess he changed his mind. Once again, we got to bed long after midnight.

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 25 - Been called a traitor and a patriot…
Those of us who don’t fit the membership requirements for any of the four coalition groups from Camp Casey needed to decide whether we would form our own Camp Casey affinity group for the civil disobedience action or participate as independent actors (not an appealing prospect, for several reasons). So Lisa and I went to the action meeting being facilitated by the leaders of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance affinity group. There were some updates from the Park Police about the fences, some basic information for “virgin” arrestees, a sheet with directions for walking to the Metro stop from the Anacostia holding facility, and then individual group meetings about strategy. We decided at that point to go ahead, and the Camp Casey crew had to decide whether they were going to participate as either potential arrestees or as members of our support team. The Ditch Witches decided to split up – Cassandra and Mary Ellen working on the support team with Elliot and James Hill, Jesse and I risking arrest along with Laurie, Rebekah, Wally, Cheryl, Lisa, Ann, Deb, Will, Cree and Jamie. I gave Cassandra my mother’s number to call in case of unforeseen complications (like, say, me being injured or held longer than 48 hours), but I felt confident about our support team.

While we were sitting on the mall next to the Washington Monument, working out logistics, Bush flew overhead in his helicopter, escorted by two others as he returned to the White House. The escorts dropped low and circled us. We waved.

Then we went back to the Camp Casey tent across 15th Street. An interfaith service was being held that evening at 17th and Constitution, another one of Camp Casey’s traditions. Jeremy came back to camp with footage of the counter-protesters at their rally, including an unfortunate sequence of the head of the American Legion, who followed G. Gordon Liddy at the podium. Standing in front of a gigantic American flag backdrop, he apparently made an impassioned speech denouncing antiwar protesters, which he ended with“God Bless America”. And then fell flat on his ass leaving the stage. I laughed pretty hard when Jeremy showed me the footage, but later I felt kinda bad about it, it was mean. Sometimes I'm a bad pacifist.

UFPJ had sent someone by earlier in the day to tell us that the tent was due to come down sometime on Monday – decisions had to be made about the supplies and equipment we’d unloaded off the bus tour Wednesday, decisions about what was to be shipped and what was to be donated, and it all needed to be sorted. In the mix was a number of light-weight tents Ann ("The Colonel") had brought. We had asked her several times what they were for, since our permit did not include camping on the mall, but she was being very mysterious. The night before she'd asked us to set them up next to the crosses and the boots, creating a tent city that reminded us of Crawford. But apparently, that wasn’t the whole plan. Sunday night, Ann instructed us to put the names of the fallen on those tents – Camp Ken (Ballard), Camp Gordon (Gentle), Camp Patrick (McCaffrey), Camp Lori (Piestewa), Camp Sherwood (Baker), Camp Alejandro (Arredondo), Camp Juan (Torres), Camp Jeremy (Smith)… there were more. Cassandra was drafted to do the writing because of her excellent penmanship. Ann told us, “I want to scare the SHIT out of him. I want him to think we’re coming to live on his LAWN.” And that was how we found out that in the morning, we were carrying Camp Casey to the White House.

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 26 - The revolution starts now.
Maybe four hours of sleep, then Mary Ellen and Cassandra were up and out of the hotel early to head to the tent, leaving Jesse and I to snooze an extra half hour. We got up, showered, and wrote the phone number of the Capitol Hill apartment Elliot had secured for the support team to work out of upon our legs in indelible ink. Then we took the Metro to the Foundry Methodist Church at 16th and P, where we were meeting the other participants. After a briefing on last-minute details and some prayers, we left the church and marched to the Ellipse. This route took us past Camp Casey DC, where we picked up both the tents and the rest of our support team. From the Ellipse, the march split into two groups, one going left, one right, in order to surround the White House. Both groups then re-converged at Lafayette Park in front of Dubya's house. Or rather, The People's House.

Jesse carried the tent with Gordon Gentle’s name on it. One night in Crawford, at a candlelight vigil among the crosses, he happened to put his candle down in front of the cross with Gordon’s name on it. The connection he felt caused him to track down Gordon’s mother’s email address and he wrote to her because he wanted Gordon’s family to know that he had not been forgotten. He was careful with his words, not knowing what their stance was on the war, but he soon discovered that Rose Gentle is an antiwar activist from Scotland who is suing Tony Blair for her son’s death, and was hoping to make it to DC. She made it, too. Rose and Jesse finally met in person in DC; she spent the week speaking out with Cindy and the other Gold Star families.

I carried the tent that bore Patrick McCaffrey’s name. Patrick, who had a wife, a son and a young daughter, joined the National Guard after 9/11 because he wanted to serve his country. I met his mother, Nadia, in Crawford, and we had worked on several events where she spoke, including the one in Sacramento the night before we left for DC. Nadia told us Patrick believed that he would be helping his fellow Americans in the event of another terrorist attack or a natural disaster - guarding the Golden Gate Bridge, maybe. Instead, his unit was sent to Iraq to take on a job for which they were untrained – i.e., training Iraqi recruits for the military police. Patrick was eventually killed by those recruits. Nadia has since traveled to Iraq to meet with the mothers of the Iraqi dead. She’s an amazing woman. When the casket containing Patrick’s body was returned from Iraq, she defied orders from the Pentagon and let the media take photos of it at the airport.

The “you will be arrested” area was the walkway in front of the White House. The permit allowed us to be there, but not to sit down and block it. The clergy and laity led the way to the guardhouse to request a meeting with the President, followed by the military families, including Cindy. Camp Casey went right behind, stopping at the walkway to set up our line of tents. When the request was (predictably) refused, they began to walk to the front gates. At that point we began chanting, “A LIAR! A COWARD! SAY IT A LITTLE LOUDER!” The chanting went on until they sat down. At that moment, our permit was revoked, and the cops threw up the barricades behind us to contain the lawbreakers. The clergy knelt, encircling Cindy and the families, and began to pray. We handed our tents back over the barricades into the crowd of witnesses. Mary Ellen and the support team collected them and fell back a little ways to set up an encampment in the legal area while we moved forward to the circle.

It took a long time to go to jail. Cindy was arrested at about 1:30 PM, and I was taken to the bus at 4:20 PM. The general consensus was that they took her early on to get rid of the cameras, and the mainstream media did indeed leave after getting their “money shot.” This left the independent media and average citizens to record what happened over the next four hours. There were over 400 arrests, including 41 at the Pentagon earlier in the day. Some of those arrested with us at the White House were people who had already been arrested that morning.

They started taking people in vans at first, but then they started using buses as it became clear no one was leaving. I had the thought that they were hoping we’d all get thirsty or hungry or have to pee and wander off, but that wasn’t happening – we had planned ahead. Our support team was passing water through the crowd and getting it over the barricade to us. We all had Powerbars in our pockets, and boxes of Triscuits or Cheet-os occasionally made their way through the crowd. Lisa even organized CodePink to form a pee circle, shielding participants from the eyes of onlookers as they relieved themselves into various containers.

The police were mostly calm and professional. At one point, an officer repeatedly asked Laurie to move off the ledge next to the White House Fence – she ignored him, until he finally said “Please, ma’am.” At that point she said, “Look, officer, I know you’re here doing your job, but I’m here to get arrested. That’s why I’m not doing what you asked.” He replied,“Please, ma’am. You know, just because I’m wearing a uniform doesn’t mean I’m not with you.” At that point, Laurie relented and stepped down. Another officer actually helped Mary Ellen get water to us.

Most protesters were cooperative, but Camp Casey had determined we would be non-compliant. This, as it turned out, meant that we were taken at the end. As our time approached, we sat in a circle and linked arms. A number of people who had also opted to let the cops carry them out, including a group of guys wearing Abu Ghraib prison uniforms, sat in a semi-circle around us. As they took us one by one, we chanted
ARREST BUSH, NOT ANN!
ARREST BUSH, NOT LISA!
ARREST BUSH, NOT JESSE!
ARREST BUSH, NOT REBEKAH!
ARREST BUSH, NOT LAURIE!
ARREST BUSH, NOT WALLY!
ARREST BUSH, NOT DEB!
ARREST BUSH, NOT WILL!
ARREST BUSH, NOT CREE!
ARREST BUSH, NOT JAMIE!
until I was the last representative of Camp Casey left, sitting on the ground, chanting ARREST BUSH over and over as the cops came and asked if I was going to get up and go with them. I shook my head no, still chanting, and they asked if I was going to resist. Again I shook my head no, still chanting. So they cuffed me, picked me up and carried me to a bus where they were holding the women separately from the men.

I felt I was handled rather carefully, considering the circumstances. However, Laurie's cuffs were way too tight, and the officer refused to loosen them even when it became clear that her hands were going numb from lack of blood flow. We saw James outside the bus and yelled out the window to him to let the press know she was in agony and they were refusing to help her. Between that and the intervention of Medea Benjamin, who was arrested shortly after we were, another cop came and adjusted her cuffs, relieving the pressure.

James has film of what happened next. The Camp Casey women started chanting out the window at the crowd gathered around the bus, “NOT ONE MORE! NOT ONE MORE!” The crowd joined in as we began to mosh, and the back of the bus began to hop up and down. As the CodePink contingent were loaded onto the bus behind us, they started stomping their feet and screaming along with us. It was so out of control, they couldn’t process us. So off we went to the Anacostia detention facility, screaming all the way, the streets of DC lined with pedestrians who were either cheering and waving or looking utterly bewildered. As they drove us past Camp Casey DC, a cheer went up from our comrades who were still breaking camp.

They kept us on the buses outside Anacostia for quite awhile; at least 3 hours – since I had removed my watch before we left the hotel and left my cell phone with Cassandra, I’m not too clear on time. They did re-cuff us – loosely, and in front. We could actually slip out of the cuffs after that, but they instructed us to make sure we wore them outside the bus when they escorted us to the porta-potties. At some point, they pulled us ahead of the other four buses (I’m still not sure why, though I have my suspicions) and put us in a holding tank for processing, which consists of showing them your ID, emptying your pockets, having a Polaroid taken and getting fitted with a fashionable blue bracelet. We’d all carried next to nothing with us into the arrestable area because we knew that the more stuff they have to inventory, the longer it takes, but some of the other arrestees apparently didn’t get that memo. Oh well. We stayed in the tank close to 5 hours; at some point the cops brought us some cold KFC and biscuits. Then we were moved in groups of ten or twelve to smaller cells, where we waited to have our official mug shots taken and finally, get fingerprinted. This took maybe an hour and a half, and I was finally released at about 1:30 AM, along with Laurie, Deb, Jamie and Rebekah.

From there, it was probably a twenty-minute walk to the Metro stop, which was closed. But our support team had that covered. The Park Police did not allow parking in front of the Anacostia facility, so there were several shuttle vehicles running between the facility and the Park-and-Ride lot at the Anacostia station. I hopped into the van, which delivered the Camp Casey detainees – me, Rebekah, Laurie, Deb and Jamie – to James, who greeted us joyfully. He then drove us to the basement apartment near the Capitol where Elliot, Cassandra and Mary Ellen were waiting for us with spaghetti and beer. James returned to wait for the others, and we stayed at the apartment until first Cree, then Ann and Lisa, and finally Jesse arrived. At about 4:30 AM, a cab arrived to take the Ditch Witches back to the Days Inn.

Bet you can’t guess what we did then.

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 27 - The revolution starts here.
BTW, go buy Steve Earle’s latest album.

Cheers,

Ditch Bitch

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Welcome ABroad!


nowwhatchoogottosay?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ann Wright




Lillian Hellman wrote this in the play Little Foxes:

Alexandra

You couldn't [make me stay], Mama, because I want to leave here. As I've never wanted anything in my life before. Because now I understand what papa was trying to tell me. All in one day: Addie said there were people who ate the earth and other people who stood around and watched them do it. And just now Uncle Ben said the same thing. Really, he said the same thing. Well tell him for me Mama, I'm not going to stand around and watch you do it. Tell him I'll be fighting as hard as he'll be fighting some place where people don't just stand around and watch.

And in an interview with Tamara Dietrich, Ann Wright, my hero, said this:

"What we the people of America need to do is stop this stupid war. It's unwinnable. It's not unpatriotic to say that. It's unpatriotic to stand there like a nerd and watch while idiots tear up our country and tear up another country. I ain't no idiot, and I ain't standing by to let that happen. That's why we're here on these buses."

In all my latest wanderings, Ann Wright has moved me the most. Of course, there are many amazing women involved in this movement whom I hope to know forever, but Ann Wright is amazing.

Read all about her here and here and here.