Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2000 Dead

PeaceAction-WI organized a candle light vigil to commemorate the 2000th soldier to die in Iraq. Hundreds of people lined Lincoln Memorial Drive holding candles and carrying signs. Cars beeped their horns in support, some voiced their disdain for the message. Police on horseback stood watch on the perimeter and a few television crews were on hand collecting file footage.

Several leaders spoke at the event including myself. Here is the speech I gave at the rally in Milwaukee Wisconsin USA.

Thanks George welcome everyone,
I'm Charlie Koenen and I've prepared something for today,
Peace Action and United for Peace and Justice also prepared for this day... Cindy Sheehan prepared for this day.... People in cities across the nation have prepared for this day...

Unfortunately, another family of an American soldier has to make real the preparation for this day.

And now we gather to send out a message locally and to join people in cities nationally— to SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER- to say BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW!

We stand here today to tell the Bush Administration that a WAR BASED ON LIES will never succeed... That A WAR BASED ON LIES that sends our troops out to kill and destroy nations based on false fears and forced sense of duty... will not be tolerated.

We stand united with our soldiers in the knowledge that their duty and devotion to the founding principles of our great nation IS worth fighting and dying for!

But we also must stand together in our outrage against a system of corruption and manipulation that has misled our nation into acts of hideous aggression against people of other nations.

We must stand united in our sense of duty and patriotism to speak truth to power. To risk alienation, persecution and discrimination in order to end this unjust occupation.

We honor our soldiers and their role as defenders of freedom and liberty. We realize that their duty and honor is preserved by their strength and allegiance.

This strength and allegiance is also why so many families seem to object to our actions. For in battle they are trained to not ask why, but rather to do or die. Unfortunately for the families of the 2000 soldiers, this duty has become forever real.

But if their duty is to hold rank and follow command, then what is our role as citizens in this democracy? Are we not the conscience of our governing body? Do not we have the duty to question our leadership?

Our obligation to this great nation is not merely to march to the polls every two or four years to choose a leader--- to read a few talking points or sound bites and then pull a lever or pencil out a spot on a ballot card...

No our obligation is to put in office, leadership that we think will help advance our nation and be true to our sense of place in the world, AND to hold that leadership accountable for the trust and allegiance we granted them through our democratic election process.

It seems to clear that we as a nation have lax in our duty to hold leadership accountable. We are so busy trying to carve out a niche in this world for ourselves and our families... that we have slackened our duty to the Democratic process we so enjoy and defend.

But today we stand united, and today we are beginning to see once again that there is hope- That we the people will again hold our democratic process high and see that liberty and justice prevail over the abuse and greed, of the fear and contempt, that seems to have taken control while many of us were busy with our lives.

Today we mark a milestone, and today as further revelations unfold and incriminate the leadership of our great nation, we have the chance to take back our democracy,
to see that questioning authority, and speaking truth to power can bring about change.... can make right the wrongs, and can make us strong and sensible once again.

We are but one planet, with one people.... the sooner we realize this...the sooner we find the true way to end terror

through love and by peace.

thank you and keep growing the effort....
Patriotism is a duty not an elective.

Come out tonight- Bring forth your light -
Share in our plight - Keep real the fight....
to Make Peace our Right!

Bring them home now!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Do our Morals need a Brake Job?

Insulated by our ready-to-wear materialistic surroundings its easy to loose track of the moral backbone that used to define our nation as the pinnacle of the success of Mankind... Especially when all the typical touchstones to judge our moral barometer have been hijacked and used to support that materialism and moral recklessness.

It is easy to just maintain course, its almost like we keep the cruise control set on "numb", and carry on with life as we know it to be... we don't even notice the changes. We head off to work every morning after getting the kids off to school, we shuttle them from one event to another while finding time to meet with friends or office buddies. On Wed nights we head out for volleyball league... We catch the news on the 24hr news channels when we can... grab a paper to confirm the "facts" - and if we really want to be "involved" - we might even grab a second paper, or watch another news station so we can feel as though we've done our civic duty to fact-check the news views. But for the most part, as long as nothing jars our immediate surroundings, we aren't really concerned about noticing as things change around us—subtle changes by themselves—but collectively they represent a substantial shift in the world around us... and again, as long as it doesn't jar our immediate world... we are too busy to observe them... we've got housework to do, a halloween costume to make, the car to fix, a new television to save for and buy... we keep our moral barometer close to our chest... we've not done anything wrong to speak of... most of our friends seem to be okay too... good enough.

Well what if good enough wasn't good enough? What if by focusing on the immediate and up-close, we failed to see the forest for the trees... we failed to see the big picture because we're busy with our little corner. When's the last time you had the brakes replaced on your car? You've been driving it for years and never thought about brakes... you perform maintenance as the manufacturer directs... but one day the service technician calls to say your brakes are nearly gone and need to be replaced. You approve of course... and they repair the brakes... replacing the worn out pads and bleeding the hydraulic system. You pay the mechanic, jump into your car and head out onto the road.... at the edge of the service station's driveway you go to step on the brakes and screech the tires, nearly causing the car behind you to collide into your car! What happened? You've grown to accustomed to your brake pedal engaging so far down that now the newly restored pedal is pushed to lock-up in a fraction of what you were accustomed to... has that ever happened? You been driving for years and never noticed the subtle degradation of your brake pedal... until someone brings it to your attention.

The same can be said for our brake pedal of morality... slowly over time it has begun to degrade. Almost imperceivably it becomes less critical of transgression, of impropriety, misconduct and corruption. It becomes unaware of immoral behavior and injustice unless they jump in front of us and require us to slam on the brakes to avoid contact.

What does this mean? How does realizing this help you? It's time to take our moral code in for a "brake job". Time to accept responsibility for our deteriorating ethical and moral standards before they fail and involve us in a tragic accident.

Today our collective moral fiber is becoming like a brake without pads. Soon we will be running metal on metal, scraping deep gouges into the wheels and becoming unable to avoid obstacles. If we do not correct the problem, we will meet with catastrophe. And just like the inconvenience and hardship we must endure as the brakes are repaired, we will be required to endure hardship to fix our moral brake pads. We have to seek alternative modes of transportation and adjust our lifestyle as the car's brakes are fixed... So too will we have to consider alternatives and adjust our lifestyle as we attempt to fix our moral brakes.

As we allow ourselves to question our sense of morality, our very way of life comes into question. Have we been riding the brakes? have we driven our car too hard? Have we loaded it too full and caused the brakes to work beyond tolerance? We need to look at our world and see where we have let slacken our moral fabric.

First we need to open our hearts (and minds) to the possibility that many things that make secure our lifestyle, could possibly also have side-effects that keep us comfortable and numb to to truth. We have to temporarily suspend the structures we have grown to depend on to hold our world together... life is terribly busy as it is... but we need to be able to question the things that seem to support the busy chaos we face daily- and call life. Just like it was a good thing for the mechanic to tell us to question our seemingly safe and secure car's brakes because upon closer inspection, they were teetering on the brink of failure... We need to give heed to the social mechanics who are warning of our moral brakes nearing catastrophic failure.

Look around and begin to ask the big questions... what are we doing as America, the leader of the known world— an international world that grows closer and more similar every day? What are the logical outcomes of the lifestyles we lead as they relate to the rest of the world we are so intrinsically involved with?

We might give pause to ponder just that... How has our lifestyle become directly intertwined with the entire planet?... because it is—and we really need to give time to ponder what that means.

What is our lifestyle? How does it come to be? Who do we look to -to create the lifestyle we call our own? TV shows, famous people, nameless people who parade across magazines, television, websites and papers that show us what the "good life" looks like... we go to malls, big box retailers, to stores and online to obtain material possessions that help us define comfort as we are told it is... but what are they? How did they get here? Who was involved in the creation, production, delivery, showcasing and sales of these possessions? Who was behind the making of our desire to covet these items? Who marketed them, who brought the message before us - in print, pixel, proximity, or perception? What was their gain and motivation? More importantly, what was lost in the process??? Dignity, family, community, economy, rights, healthcare, freedoms, will, morality, sense of self... Yes there are many who seem to gain at the process of getting us more material possessions... but i think if we look closer, we'd find the gains for a few, far overshadow the gains of the many and overall, the system itself fails.... if we're looking at the forest—not simply the trees.

How is that possible? How can we find a real understanding of the human condition when many of the very doors of our perception are built to numb our views? Yes- it is said we have a liberal media.... who exactly is saying that? ... conservative talk show hosts, right-wing pundits? our leadership in this administration? ... the media corporations who've been purchased any company with enough money and connections to power? Multinational Corporations who's holdings are as far-flung as toilet paper and machine gun bullets? Recently these Corporations have been allowed -nay- encouraged to swallow up entire sectors of mass communication creating monopolies and changing news into views, reporting into propaganda, and communication into coercion— don't believe it?

Explain the 2002 news media outlets "reporting" of Iraq's WMDs and connections to AlQueada- effectively verifying the Bush administrations need for war. Explain Judith Miller and Michael Gordon breaking story after story on the front pages of the Times after talking with Cheney and Bush aides-then the bush administration taking to the Sunday talk show circuit using the very story they leaked to the times as the justification for their actions! Explain how the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative who happens to be the wife of Joe Wilson the very ambassador who days before had publicly attacked the credibility of the entire Bush administration's case for war... Explain how "propagandist" Judith Miller an operative for the pentagon with close ties to Cheney and Rumsfelt could have unfettered access to the front page of the newspaper without fact checking.... not because people with the paper weren't doing their jobs... but because the editors in charge... who answer directly to the ownership, carried out policy... Explain how a "reporter" who has repeatedly manipulated information in leading news stories, still holds her job... while a scandal of miniature proportion is blown to national attention with the revelation that Jason Blair had fabricated some facts in his stories... Blair is fired, while Miller serves time in jail and comes out to win a 1st amendment award for protecting journalistic rights! Why? Because the media outlets have become propaganda tools for the government.... Miller works for the administration... A government who desperately wanted to create support for a military aggression with Iraq— an effort with tremendous benefit to the owners many multinational corporations and executives with holdings in these multinational corporations. Don't believe it? Time to make an effort to look into who owns the media outlets, and what other outlets these outlets own... what executives run these media monopolies and what interests have they served prior to heading these media outlets... Since 1996 went the Communications Act was passed allowing for Media Monopoly ownership and government oversight of public airwaves.... nothing has been furth from the truth about liberal media.... except that the media tries to sell us that they are still biased... allowing them to put more right wing shows on air... and cancel the remaining real news programs- like Bill Moyers.

How does this matter to us and our little tree in the forest? What's that got to do with our moral brake pads? Well if we don't begin to look beyond our corner of the forest, if we don't listen to the social mechanics telling us our brakes are near failing.... when it comes time to stop these transgressions, our infrastructure will fail us and we'll careen out of control into catastrophe.... our tree and surrounding trees will be no match- no matter how well we pruned and tended them- no match to the corporate machine that will overrun our part of the forest... and our refusal to look to the forest for larger signals or signs, will be our own undoing when the trees nearby begin to fall.

This week in the forest:

Bankruptcy Law went into effect... the law helping the billion dollar credit card corporations from being on the hook for people who are cooerced into massive debt by lending agents. Now folks who get in trouble or lose their jobs, will also lose their homes and possessions to pay back the ultra-rich credit card corporations.

The Leave no Oilman behind bill was passed by a two vote margin. This Bill Actually had members of the house of representative chant "SHAME, SHAME, SHAME" on the house floor as the vote was read.... yes after coming up short in the vote because some members of the republican congress actually stood up against a bad bill... Republican leaders and the now criminal Tom Delay extended the vote an extra 40 minutes while they roamed the room looking to squeeze republicans who voted with their conscience- not their loyalty cards.... they found the two they needed and closed the vote... 210-212 in favor of a bill giving billions in concessions to energy companies- but far worse... worded in the bill is a clause that forces any community or group who objects to an energy company wanting to build or expand a refinery in their community... to pay the energy company's legal fees-regardless if they win or lose!!!

Medical Malpractice Caps were signed into law- limiting the exposure multinational corporations and their doctors can be held liable for wrongdoing.... who else benefitted?? Insurance companies!

The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve ANWAR drilling rights was up for a vote today...
Congress- under pressure from an awoken public and misled by a media that wants to profit from its opening has voted to begin drilling in the disputed AREA 1002... The truth is the oil from ANWAR will not be used in America... it is well documented that it will go to asia because the cost of transporting is much less than sending it to the lower 48. SO while Exxon reports a 4.5 million dollar PER HOUR profit, we are giving them access to and ownership of our natural resources... not even the oil- so much as the wildlife refuge... Truth be told that the 1002 area is the one grazing area for ALL the caribou of the 100 million acre arctic region... its fragile meadows bloom and produce for precisely 1 month every year... the one month that dozens of animals come to sire their young on the lush vegetation... the remaining 11 months of the year... the area is mostly baron... but the very existence of several species of arctic animals depend on that land for that one crucial month per year...

Also today in the forest, Texas Strongman Tom DeLay had a warrant served for his arrest. The once undisputed heavyweight of the House of Representatives now faces multiple charges for corruption, money laundering and fraud. Senate Heavyweight Bill Frist is under scrutiny as well as top whitehouse advisors Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.... rumors point all the way to to Pres and vp in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Harriet Miers moves closer to becoming another presidential crony appointed to a job they have no qualifications to head up... 250 million people in america and the best choice Bush could find was his own lawyer!!! She is on track to become the next Supreme Court Justice... SHAME SHAME SHAME!!!

Saddham went on trial today... in an interesting spectacle of a trial.... only one reporter Dan Murphy from the Christian Science Monitor was allowed into the courtroom... cameras showed the ruler on a 20 minute delay in case he said something america didn't like.

Also the Steroid abuse trial that former Atty General Ashcroft said would be punished to the full extent of the law for their involvement in national sports doping.... were sentenced today to a whopping 4 months in jail.... kids selling grass get more time than that... well it sounded good when Ashcroft spoke to the nation... now little or no press covers the results.

Meanwhile we quickly approach 2000 dead american soldiers in the "skirmish" in Iraq. Condi Rice testified in front of Congress today... saying the war is going along as planned.... but refusing to tell congress what that plan was.... Once again she lies to protect the president and his desire to conquer the oil fields... just as she did countless times in the ramp-up to the invasion of iraq... proof positive of WMD's, Proof of chem/biologic weapons, proof of links to AlQueada and 9/11—yes the Millionaire Condi Rice DID have a supertanker named after her... no conflict of interest here.... business as usual.

Time is running out to wake up and fix those moral brakes... if we truly do believe in god -more than the president does... then we might want to consider our actions here on earth and their repercussions in the afterlife... eternity is much longer than the run time of Friends.... and the almighty is no judge wabner, for (s)he can see through our thinly veiled attempt at looking pious as we feed off the desecration of others... as we profit from others misfortune, as we buy stock in the companies who exploit for riches rather than help for redemption. Jesus ran through the temple overturning the tables of the money-changers.... watch that that doesn't happen to your portfolio. As we ignore the health of the forest, our trees will surely die and no one will be there to help us when the wrecking crew arrives. Look at the cause of our insulated lives, see through the efforts to preoccupy us as all our freedoms are stripped away... fight now to regain our self-determination from the tyrannical corruption of our government leadership and the corporations who hope to win independence from US rule with every new law and judicial appointment.