Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Space for Peace in Korea


The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will hold its 17th annual space organizing conference in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18, 2009. The group is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the introduction of weapons and nuclear power into space. The theme for the annual conference will be Asian-Pacific Missile Defense and an End to the Arms Race in the region.

Ten Korean peace organizations, led by the Peace Network and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, will host the 2009 Global Network space conference.

Activists will come to South Korea from as far away as India, Australia, England, Italy, Philippines, Sweden, and Japan. The U.S. delegation will consist of activists from Maine, New York, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Florida. Of particular interest this year will be discussions about U.S. military expansion in the Asian-Pacific region including its controversial “missile defense” deployments in Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

According to Korea Peace Network activist Wooksik Cheong, "Tension has been recently increasing in the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia around the issue of North Korea’s planned rocket launch and of the U.S. and Japan’s mobilizations for the possible interception of it, using the missile defense system. It illustrates why the Korean peninsula is the core area regarding the issue of the space weapons including the missile defense system in the world. The conference in Seoul happens in the right place and time to make missile defense and arms race issue one of the focal points of the peace movements in the world.”

Global Network Coordinator Bruce Gagnon stated, “U.S. deployments of ‘missile defense’ systems in the Asian-Pacific, in addition to its massive military build-up in the region, is now driving an arms race there. Since 2000 the U.S. Navy has virtually doubled its presence in the Asian-Pacific, largely used to surround China. This destabilization of the region only benefits the military industrial complex that makes massive profits from a dangerous new arms race. Japan, a historic imperial power, is joining the U.S. in this deadly escalation of militarism which severely complicates the dynamics in the region.”

The Global Network contends that the Obama administration must immediately begin dismantling U.S. nuclear weapons and closing down the more than 800 military bases in the American military empire. In addition the U.S. must join Russia and China’s call to negotiate a global ban on weapons in space before a full-blown arms race in the heavens begins. Today the U.S. spends more on its military than all other countries in the world combined.

Each year the Global Network holds their space organizing conference in a different part of the world. Full conference details are available at the Global Network’s website www.space4peace.org

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
http://space4peace.blogspot.com (Blog)

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Real Threat to Peace in Korea

The Real Threats to Peace in Korea: Washington and Tokyo
Statement from the Party for Socialism and Liberation

The response of U.S. and Japanese authorities to the reported North Korean satellite launch is the height of imperial hypocrisy. Ostensibly to protect its country from potential debris falling from the North Korean satellite rocket launch, Japan has mobilized two missile-equipped destroyers into the Sea of Japan, and initiated its full missile defense system. The U.S. and South Korea have called a test rocket launch a "major provocation" and are preparing military deployments of their own. Both the U.S. and Japan are threatening to intensify or prolong sanctions on North Korea.

The Pentagon deployed the USS John Stennis warship for military exercises off the coast of Korea just two weeks ago.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that a missile launch "for any purpose is a provocative act." According to Washington, then, North Korea is banned from having its own satellites, unless, perhaps, they can get the U.S. to launch them on their behalf. This is absurd and unabashed imperial arrogance. North Korea, for its part, says it will interpret any physical interference with its rocket test as an act of war.

Just this month, the U.S. carried out its yearly military training exercise off the coast of Korea with 26,000 U.S. servicemen, including 13,100 stationed outside South Korea. The Pentagon also mobilized a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy's 3rd Fleet and a few Aegis destroyers for the exercise. The fact that the U.S. military is constantly thumping its chest in the Pacific, and in nearly every other corner of the world, is never made into an international scandal.

The Pentagon maintains 9,962 nuclear warheads, and performs an unknown number of test launches with the most advanced military weaponry in the world. But these are no mere tests. With this military might, the United States has launched war of aggression after war of aggression, illegal covert action after illegal covert action. Yet somehow, hypocritically, Washington retains the title of the "responsible" military power, while North Korea is portrayed as an aggressor nation for taking such threats seriously -- for having dared to even test their comparatively small arsenal.

Not a day goes by without North Korea being badgered and threatened, in some form or another, by its former colonizers. Japan, despite the supposed disarmament that followed World War II, is again a fully armed nation. North Korea is a country that full understands the horrors that can be inflicted by the U.S. military machine. Before its revolution, it experienced the full brutality of Japanese colonialism. It has experienced isolation, encirclement, and numerous brink-of-war showdowns with imperialism. It does not take war lightly and has no interest in it as an offensive tactic.

Korea, like Vietnam, was maintained as a cruelly divided nation by U.S. imperialism. The U.S. re-invaded Korea in 1950. According to the 1967 Encyclopedia Brittanica, more than 5 million Koreans died between 1950 and the July 1953 armistice that halted open military conflict. Fifty years later, the United States has refused to sign a peace treaty bringing the Korean war to an end.

North Korea has learned a lesson from its October 2006 nuclear test, which brought the U.S. and Japan back to the table for diplomatic negotiations: imperialism only speaks the language of power and for small countries, steadfastness has its rewards. It has insisted that the upcoming rocket launch is a space-related, non-military exercise. Either way, progressives and revolutionaries have to be clear: Washington and Tokyo are the real threats to peace in the Pacific. As a basic component of the right to self-determination, North Korea has a right to defend itself and test its machinery.

Jenka's Journal: Palestine

3/30/09 some reflections on jerusalem land theft, DC housing projects
and US-Mideast policy
by: jenka

After the horrors of january's gaza invasion, many people who joined
the protests for a minute are settled back to normal life.....it's
gotten me in a reflective mood, and after reading Zbigniew Brzezinski's
plan for obama's police re: the israel-palestine conflict (which ,given
Brzezinski's influence, will probably BECOME obama's policy - see
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/opinion/26cohen.html), I feel like I
need to craft a response.

But the thing that made me sit down to the keyboard right at this
moment are the words in an article about jerusalem, an article that is
pretty favorable to the new Jerusalem mayor's plan to raze whole
neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, the homes of thousands of people, to
build 'biblical theme parks' to attract tourists.

In that article, the mayor's deputy in east jerusalem is quoted, with a
phrase that brought chills down my spine, as saying "Jerusalem is a
laboratory. If we succeed in solving the conflict with the Arabs of
Jerusalem, it will also be possible to solve it everywhere in Israel."

And immediately, I flashed back to an article in the Washington Post,
in 1995, when I was just a newbie activist, tutoring kids in a housing
project in washinton DC. The housing project, called clifton terrace,
had been contracted out to a private contractor. the kids were living
in absolute squalor, with sewage pipes leaking into the stairwells,
rats running rampant through the halls and apartments, water clogged up
or not working, no heat in the winter - it was horrible, and made me so
angry to see these beautiful brilliant kids having to live like that.
And then I saw the washington post article, which quoted the contractor
hired to run the place as saying, "I consider Clifton Terrace to be my
laboratory", and then elaborated that he wanted to see how the place
could be run without security, and with only minimal maintenance, to
see how people would respond. That blatant sadism and outright
cruelty, the racist undertones and the smugness with which he peered
out over his sunglasses in the photograph, next to his windsurfers and
huge house in the north carolina outer banks that he bought, no doubt,
with the millions of dollars he was paid by the dc government to run
clifton terrace.....it made me so mad, so frustrated, so furious! to
think that he could get away with treating these people as lab rats,
and literally, in some cases, sentencing them to death in his

And now, almost 15 years later, I see that same expression in relation
to the people of east Jerusalem, and I see the parallels right in front
of me, so clearly.....the pent up anger of generations of Palestinians,
treated like lab rats or worse, now to have more of their historical
neighborhoods wiped off the map just like that! Like they didn't even
exist! In order to make some kind of Bible Disneyland for tourists! I
think about the quote from Langston Hughes (and unlike Barack Obama,
who quoted this without attribution, I will give credit where credit is
due), "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it shrivel up, like a
raisin in the sun? Or does it EXPLODE??" Because, for a people with
no civil or legal rights, no political or economic power, no
legislative appeal, no government or country to represent their rights
or their interests, where else can that anger go? Of COURSE it
EXPLODES. There is nowhere else it CAN go - and unless we, the people
most responsible, take the lid off this pressure cooker, it is GOING to

Do you think the first intifada, and the second intifada (and the
intifada that is coming, and the one after that, and the one after
that) just came out of nowhere? Or do you think that the people of
Palestine somehow organized and planned these uprisings? No, it was
the pent-up anger of a dream deferred, and deferred, and deferred
again, the daily humiliations, the resentments building up and building
up and building up until BOOM! It explodes! And of COURSE it explodes
- what else do you expect it to do?

When I think about that outright and blatant injustice that made me
shed angry tears for the children of Clifton Terrace in 1995, it is the
SAME outright and blatant injustice that makes me furrow my brow in
frustration today, for the people of Silwan and the other neighborhoods
about to be destroyed by Caterpillar bulldozers in east Jerusalem. But
justice was never done for the kids of Clifton Terrace -- their area
has been gentrified, their community scattered.....the kids, if they're
lucky, are still alive and not in jail.......but not many people are
that lucky on the streets of DC. As for the sadistic contractor, well,
as far as I know he's still living off the millions he stole from those
and many other kids around the city.

So why do I think that by writing you this note tonight that anything
will be different in the terrible injustice that is being perpetrated
by similarly sadistic city planners in east Jerusalem, or by the
sadistic soldiers who grin while they pull their triggers and shoot
Palestinian kids -- and while the report released today by military
officials exonerating soldiers of any wrongdoing in Gaza, saying the
testimonies of thousands of Palestinian eyewitnesses, and of the
soldiers themselves (see:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072475.html) were just 'rumors',
these are NOT rumors....I have seen it with my own eyes. I have seen
soldiers shooting at small children playing soccer, and when I
confronted them and said, "What are you doing? You are shooting at
little CHILDREN!", one blue eyed soldier turned to me and said, "These
children will grow up to be terrorists, so we might as well kill them
now." And that is not an isolated incident! Every Palestinian can
tell you stories of soldiers who shoot for fun, who use kids as target
practice and seem to take pleasure from the pain they inflict. Just
look at the t-shirts printed by Israeli army brigades on graduation
(http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072466.html), filled with
grotesque and disturbing caricatures glorifying violence against
civilians.....and these are not isolated 'bad apples'! Most brigades
in the army print these t-shirts, with horrible slogans and images like
"One shot, two kills", with a picture of a pregnant Arab woman with a
target on her belly.

Will writing this to you here tonight make any difference? Will I be
looking back in 15 years and shaking my head at the destruction that
was wrought on East Jerusalem after I wrote this, warning of what was
being planned?

Or will things finally change.....will the impossible happen, will the
Berlin Wall fall, the white minority give up power in South Africa, the
Roman empire crash and burn? These things actually happened, so why
can't justice for Palestinians???

The boycott of Israeli goods, which is already having an impact
(http://www.imemc.org/article/59662), is pushing Israel into a corner -
they've elected a racist, right wing government because they feel like
they're under attack. And the thing that's really frustrating is that
the Israelis have so wrapped the identity of the state into the
religion of Judaism that they'll interpret any pressure campaign
against apartheid-like Israeli policies as an attack on Judaism - and
that's totally not what it is! And meanwhile, ACTUAL anti-Semitism by
growing numbers of right-wing neo-Nazi groups goes unchallenged - it is
to the discredit of Israeli policymakers and supporters of Israel that
they fail to make the distinction between people challenging the
political policies of the state of Israel, and right-wing
anti-Semitism, which is something TOTALLY DIFFERENT. And the
right-wing anti-Semitism is real, and on the rise....

Ironically, in Israel's zeal to bring in bodies to fill up the
settlements on stolen Palestinian land, Russian immigrants with little
to no connection to Judaism have been shipped in by the hundreds of
thousands over the last 18 years, and a couple of years ago, a neo-Nazi
group was discovered in Jerusalem itself! (see:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/902712.html) Here's an interesting
response to that case: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/903972.html

My point is, the very visceral reaction to anything perceived to be
anti-Jewish stops debate cold in tracks! Which makes it impossible to
debate the policies of the state of Israel with anything resembling
factual analysis, because of this (totally false) popular perception
that criticism of Israel is necessarily criticism of Judaism.

The fact of the matter is, due to the worldwide reaction to Israel's
absolutely over-the-top massacre of civilians in Gaza, Israelis are
circling the wagons, feeling cornered and defensive. And a
nuclear-armed state with a massive arsenal and a citizen army
containing a high percentage of demonstrably sadistic soldiers - well,
it's a dangerous and precarious situation for the entire middle east.

And unfortunately, the Brzezinski proposal (which is likely to be
Obama's approach), while it hits on some key points, won't bring about
a just solution either. I just wish that Brzezinski and those of his
ilk would stop treating the world like their Grand Chessboard,
manipulating Mid-East politics at every turn (including installing
Saddam Hussein in Iraq in the 50s because the Washington policymakers
thought that he would be a good 'moderate' alternative to an Islamic
leader or a communist one). Whatever happened to the right to
self-determination? It's time to listen to the oppressed, indigenous
population - in this case, the Palestinian people. And maybe, who
knows, ten years from now we'll be looking at Marwan Barghouthi as the
Palestinian Nelson Mandela and celebrating an end to apartheid in this
case, as well.

it's up to us, after all......

Code Pink Denied Entry in Mississippi Parade

On Aprill 11, 2009 the city of Hernando Missippi is have a parade to send off National Guard troops being redeployed to Iraq. In response, Kelly Jacobs of Code Pink Mississippi submitted an entry fee of $10 to the MS Community Foundation as a representative of Code Pink Women for Peace to support the troops but to oppose the war. Below is an account of Jacobs experience with the city of Hernando, Mississippi which denied her free speech right to participate in a public event.

"On April 11th, 2009, at 1PM, my City of Hernando in Mississippi, is having another parade to send off our National Guard who are AGAIN being deployed to Iraq.
I got an entry application from the Mayor's Office, filled it out, and turned it in weeks ago with the entry fee of $10.00 made out to the Northwest MS Community Foundation, so I could represent Code Pink Women for Peace, who support the Troops but oppose the warS. There were no restrictions listed on the application, just the request of the entry fee.

Today I was called by Mary Beth Parker, who left a message on my answering machine that she's a member of the parade committee and to please call her back, which I did. Ms. Parker told me "No signs will be allowed in the parade." After I said what about Freedom of Speech she said this parade is for the troops and "We can't have anything against the war in the parade."

I asked her what her position is on this Committee who's saying I can't have signs and she told me she is the Vice President. I asked who is the President and she told me that she couldn't tell me. I said you have got to be kidding, is the name of the President of the Committee a secret?

She's not authorized to tell me and will have to call me back.

This is not the first time my freedom of speech was squished. When Dick Cheney came last year in May, the Southaven SWAT TEAM told me I couldn't protest in the FREE SPEECH Zone set up outside the DeSoto Civic Center. I had to leave or be arrested. I was also threatened with arrest in 2005 if I didn't remove my protest from the lawn of the County Seat because the Deputy didn't like the empty coffin I was using, and LIED and said I had to have a permit to be there... leave or be arrested!

November 1, 2005 The DeSoto Appeal page DS8 Viewpoints: Newspaper Editorial: Freedom starts with the Right to Protest. A REAL Editorial about how I was told I could not protest on Public Property, how that was wrong... I drove my decorated tractor in this same type parade in 2004, had signs all over it, and was never told of any restriction. I was boo' d all along the parade route, but I didn't care: Democrats Support the Troops!

Kelly Jacobs
MS State Coordinator for Code Pink! Women for Peace CODEPINK

Nashville Ministers Protest Meharry Cuts

More than 50 Nashville clergy have united in an effort to save Metro Nashville General Hospital as it faces a financial crisis that threatens the future delivery of vital services to uninsured residents of Davidson County, the education of more than 700 physicians each year at Meharry Medical College, and the jobs of more than 700 people in Nashville.

“Health care is a moral imperative, essential to preserving and protecting human dignity. As more Nashville residents become uninsured, General Hospital’s role as a safety-net hospital is increasingly important,” said Reverend Blaze. “This vital safety-net is threatened because of budget problems at both the local and state level. We need federal help to get through this crisis.”

He added, “The Metro General – Meharry Medical College partnership is a unique national health care resource that is deserving of federal financial support.”

NEWS CONFERENCE to announce a united effort by Nashville clergy to rally citizens and community, business, civic, and health care leaders as Metro Nashville General Hospital faces funding cuts.

Funding cuts threaten the medical care of uninsured citizens of Davidson County, the education and research mission of Meharry Medical College, and the Nashville economy because of potential job losses.

At the News Conference, a Call to Action will be issued to the community and to its leaders on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at 5:00 p.m., followed by Community Rally at 5:30 p.m. at Watson Grove Baptist Church, 1415 Horton Avenue, Nashville, 37203, parking next to church hosted by Reverend Henry Blaze, Progressive Baptist Church
Reverend Judi Hoffman, Edgehill United Methodist Church and Freda Player of Change that Works Tennessee.

CONTACT: Rev. Henry Blaze 615-292-3362 or hblaze@comcast.net, Progressive Baptist Church

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Don't Go There Mr President!

By tom hayden

The Obama Plan instead will accelerate any plans al Qaeda commanders have for attacking targets in the United States or Europe. The alternative for al Qaeda is to risk complete destruction, an American objective that has not been achieved for eight years. A future terrorist attack need not be planned or set in motion from a cave in Waziristan. The cadre could already be underground in Washington or London. The real alternative for President Obama should be to maintain a deterrent posture while immdiately accelerating diplomacy to meet legitimate Muslim goals, from a Palestinian state to genuine progress on Kashmir.

President Obama is right, at least politically, to take very seriously the threat of another 9/11 from any source. Besides the suffering inflicted, it would derail his agenda and perhaps his presidency. This is all the more reason he must understand that by repeatedly threatening to “kill al Qaeda” he is provoking a hornet’s nest without protection against a devastating sting.

The hard choices are laid out very clearly in writings by the CIA’s former point man on Osama bin Ladin, Michael Scheuer, who also ran the Agency’s rendition program and still supports it. Scheuer is a tough guy, in other words, who says the options are either to kill all the jihadists, make it quick, and withdraw [not a real option], or begin pursuing an agenda which addresses what he calls Muslim issues: the American military and civilian presence in the Arab Peninsula, the unqualified US support for Israel, US support for states which oppress Muslims [China, India, Russia], US exploitation of Muslim oil and suppression of its price, US military presence in the Islamic world, US support and protection of Arab police states. [Michael Scheuer, Marching Toward Hell, 2008]

Such an approach would create an option to violence for many millons of jihadi sympathizers and potential recruits. It would create an incentive not to inflict terrorism, blow up airplanes and hotels, or deploy a nuclear bomb in a suitcase. It would disturb the multinational oil companies and the Israel lobby, but open a better path to stability than wars against the Muslim world.


President Obama obviously has no intention of sending hundreds of thousands of American troops into Afghanistan or Pakistan. But escalation, once it begins, is increasingly difficult to stop. Already Obama’s generals want more troops than the president is sending. The neo-conservatives and Republicans are demanding a “Must-Win War” and denouncing any talk of an exit strategy. A gradual American escalation may play into the jihadist game plan, drawing more Western troops into jeopardy, or permitting a retreat into mountainous wastelands if necessary. Any “redeployment” [another word for retreat in the minds of the neo-cons] other than returning with Bin Ladin’s head on a platter, provokes a right-wing reaction at home. The easy solution to these pressures is another escalation followed by another, like one drink at a time. [See D. Ellsberg, Secrets, 2002]


In the model currently applied, military force is to be followed by diplomacy with NATO at the center. Whatever the reason – access to oil resources, global dominance, the clash of fundamentalisms, distrust of the region – this desire for Western dominance delays and may even derail any possible diplomatic solution. The primary powers in the actual region include Iran, India, Russia and China, all distrusted on various levels by the US government, which therefore wishes to include them only as junior partners or satellites of NATO. Take the example of Iran; with 150,000 American troops on its border with Iraq, and upwards of 100,000 more on its border with Afghanistan, are they going to revert to their 2001 posture of supporting the US in Afghanistan? Or take the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [China, Russia and Central Asian countries]; will they be persuaded to welcome NATO? – they already are on record calling for US military withdrawal from the region. Or take the Kashmir crisis; does the US expect Pakistan to withdraw support for the Taliban and other jihadists they see as a bulwark against the Indian threat in Kashmir and Afghanistan while the US tilts towards India?

The other problem with a diplomatic solution for the US is the uncomfortable matter of democracy. In Afghanistan, the Karzai regime might not survive this year’s election, in which case the US will be seeking a substitute who signs off on the occupation. In Pakistan, the US has spent nearly a decade, and $11 billion in taxpayer money, supporting a military dictatorship and now, after the assassination of Benezir Bhutto, the US has been backing the Zardari regime against the more popular movement of Nawaf Sharif supported by thousands of lawyers and civil society in the streets. Anything resembling genuine popular democracy in Afghanistan or Pakistan would end the Western military occupation, or at least the air war, house to house roundups, and mass incarceration at Bagram and force a reversal of the current ratio of 18:I spending priority on the military. [See, Tariq Ali, The Duel, 2008, and Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos, 2008].


Bush’s war costs in Afghanistan have been $173 billion from 2001 through 2009. Obama’s proposals for Iraq/Afghanistan are $144 billion this fiscal year, but not broken down. The secret war by the US-trained “Freedom Corps” in Pakistan is budgeted at $400 million. As America’s infrastructure decays, the Army Corps of Engineers is spending $4 billion for construction in Afghanistan this year, including 720 miles of roads this year alone. [W. Post, Mar. 22]. The expansion of Afghanistan’s army will cost “up to” $20 billion in the next several years, while Afghanistan’s entire national budget is $1.1 billion for this year.[Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation, Mar. 23]. Cost overruns and corruption being what they are, it is easy to predict the Afghan/Pakistan wars costing one trillion dollars by the end of the president’s first term. Military spending will continue to outpace civilian reconstruction aid indefinitely.

In summary, be prepared for a war that spans the length of the Obama presidency, an Obama War. Expect the Congress to be inert and distracted. Expect little help from the media.

But hey, we’ve been here before.

It’s time for a new movement against reckless escalation, especially one which threatens to divert our attention from the crisis at home, while only leaving poverty, malnutrition and anti-American hatreds rising abroad.

The new movement could begin this week, a living memorial to the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968.

Don’t Escalate, Negotiate
Diplomacy and Development, Not Predators and Prisons
What about the Home Front?

Visit Get Afghanistan Right and learn more about reasons to oppose an escalation in Afghanistan .
Call your Member of Congress and let them know you oppose escalation in Afghanistan. If you’re not sure who represents you, visit the House of Representatives website and input your address–it will give you the name of your congressperson (and, it will take you to their email form). You can reach them through the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121. United for Peace and Justice prepared some fantastic fact sheets to help you prepare.
Call the White House and tell the President you oppose escalation in Afghanistan: 202-456-1111.
Sign the petition over at Rethink Afghanistan calling for oversight hearings on the Afghanistan policy. (They’ve also just posted part 2 of their excellent film…see the trailer .)
Sign Sojourner’s petition to Obama .
Sign the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s petition calling for an investment in peace, not war, in Afghanistan .

Saturday, March 28, 2009

OREPA Plans Peace Rally for April 4th

April 4, 2009 - Non-Violent Action for Peace and Disarmament

The Y12 Plant in Oak Ridge is building nuclear weapons. Specifically, Y12 is manufacturing thermonuclear secondaries for the W76 warhead—the secondary is the highly explosive part that turns an atomic bomb into a thermonuclear bomb. Y12 is the only place in the United States that makes them. Under the “Life Extension” program, Y12 is producing new bomb secondaries that will effectively make the W76-1 the first new nuclear weapon built in the United States in 20 years.

The Department of Energy has announced plans to build a new, $3 billion bomb plant at Y12 that will produce nuclear weapons for another century; a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is due to be released in April 2009 with a public hearing to follow.
President Obama has embraced the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, but he also believes in a safe, secure, reliable stockpile and a policy of nuclear deterrence. These two visions are irreconcilable. Our action will send a message: The Change we voted for includes nuclear disarmament. The $40 billion spent every year on the USnuclear arsenal can be better spent on health care, renewable energy, housing, education, and job creation.

• Puppet build | March 30 - April 3 in Knoxville. If you’ve ever wanted to be part of street theatre, creating giant art, or just want to help, the Puppet Build is a great place to start. Novices and veterans welcome. Come for all or part; camping space available and the community provides food. Call 865 609 2012 or email kvn792@aol.com for details.

• Peace Pilgrimage | March 30 - April 4, Nipponzan Myohoji will lead the 11th annual peace pilgrimage from the Peace Pagoda in Cocke County to Oak Ridge. All are welcome to walk for part or all of the pilgrimage. Contact: Sr. Denise Laffan, 404 627 8948 or atlantadojo@ yahoo.com.

• Nonviolence training | Friday, April 3 at Church of the Savior, 934 N Weisgarber Rd in Knoxville. 1:00 - 5:00. A basic primer in nonviolence in preparation for Saturday’s action; everyone is welcome. Persons who might be considering an act of civil resistance are urged to attend. Contact 865 776 5050 or orep@earthlink.net

• Concert for Disarmament | Saturday, April 4, Alvin K. Bissell Park [intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge]. Music, theatre, tabling, great community. Starts 12:30pm and concludes with March to Y12.

• March for Peace | Stepping off around 3:00, the peace march moves us from Bissell Park to the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Plant, about 1 3/4 miles; mostly on sidewalk, but the last stretch is on the shoulder. Accompanied by Peacekeepers and police; safe and fun for families. Bring your sign!

• Action at the Y12 Plant | Intersection of Bear Creek and Scarboro Road in Oak Ridge. We gather at the entrance to the bomb plant. The Action is family friendly, nonviolent, but direct. There is no risk of arrest unless you intentionally participate in a direct action scenario. Action begins when we arrive from the March and tends to last an hour or less. Contact: 865 776 5050 or orep@earthlink.net.

We’re glad to have help. We can use Peacekeepers (training is Friday evening, April 3 at Church of the Savior; puppetistas (contact info above), and First Aid assistants. If you have other skills, please offer them. Help us organize. We’re happy to email copies of this brochure to use as you spread the word and recruit others! If you live close, contact us about having a speaker come to your group or meeting; we are organizing trips now. Contact: 865 776 5050 or orep@earthlink.net

In 2010, the world will gather at the United Nations to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ratified by the United States in 1968. In the NPT, countries that had no nuclear weapons promised not to build them, and nuclear weapons states promised to disarm “at an early date.” If the United States does not demonstrate a serious commitment to achieving disarmament by 2010, the NPT is expected to collapse, opening the door for the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons. The critical moment is now to build citizen pressure for the United States to keep its word and to move decisively toward disarmament.

Bail Out the People April 3rd

Statement from United For Peace and Justice and the Bail Out the People Movement
Join Us for Actions on Wall Street in New York City
Friday April 3 and Saturday, April 4

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against war at his historic 'Beyond Vietnam' speech at Riverside Church in NYC. A year later to the date, April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis where he had traveled to lend support to the struggle of striking sanitation workers.

This year, on April 3 and April 4, we honor the legacy of Dr. King with our urgent call for a new direction by marching on the financial capital of the country: Wall Street. What brings us to Wall St. is clear:

The human costs of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mount every day, and each month upwards of $12 billion are drained from our national treasury. Now is the time to end these wars, now is the time to bring all the troops home! The long term solution to our nation's economic crisis must include major cuts in military spending and putting our money to work in the rebuilding of our communities.

Instead of pouring our money into bailing out wealthy bankers, we need government investments in spending that creates new jobs, provides health care and quality education for all, ends the foreclosure epidemic, and supports sustainable, clean energy.

Dr. King understood that the struggle for economic and social justice at home is tied to our work for peace abroad. On April 3 and April 4, we are taking the next step on this journey. By bringing people into the streets of the financial center on these two days, we will send a strong, clear message: Now is the time to raise our voices in a unified call for the changes we know must be made, the changes millions of people are demanding!

The activities on Friday, April 3 are being led by the Bail Out the People Movement and the April 4 activities are being led by United For Peace and Justice. On Friday, April 3, United For Peace and Justice will join Bail Out the People's program on Wall Street. On Saturday, April 4, Bail Out the People Movement will gather on Wall Street and join United For Peace and Justice's March on Wall Street that will end at Battery Park. We encourage you to participate in both days of action, but if that's not possible, we hope you will be out with us on at least one of these days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tax Plan Proposed for TN Budget Deficit

TFT Introduces a Tax Package that Provides Tax Cuts and Reduces the Budget Deficit
Tennesseans for Fair Taxation (TFT) is supporting a package of legislation designed to increase available state revenue, as the state faces a $1 billion deficit, while also providing much-needed tax reductions for most Tennesseans, and strengthening local businesses that employ people in our state.

"In times like these we simply cannot stand aside and let Tennessee citizens be penalized by a tax system that is deeply flawed, extraordinarily unfair, and incapable of delivering the benefits our citizens have every right to expect," said John G. Stewart, TFT State Chair.

"We applaud the legislators who have stepped forward with concrete proposals to fix our tax system. While each of these five proposals will draw a different set of supporters, taken together, they will move Tennessee forward by closing loopholes that benefit only a favored few, strengthen businesses that employ people here in Tennessee, reduce taxes for those hardest hit by the economic downturn, and raise much-needed funds to invest in Tennessee and avoid unnecessary budget cuts." "In assessing these various bills, Tennesseans need to look at the facts," Stewart said. "Some Tennesseans need to stop shouting, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and take the time to figure out what these bills really do, not just take the word of someone else."

"Tennesseans also need to face the most fundamental fact of all: like it or not, and I know of no one who likes it, the General Assembly, in order to meet its constitutional obligation to balance the State budget, will have to enact some kind of tax increase once the Federal fiscal stimulus runs its course."

"So the issue is not whether there will be a tax increase, the issue is what kind of increase it will be. These bills, taken together, provide the best deal for the overwhelming majority of Tennesseans-by increasing revenue, providing important tax cuts, and equalizing the tax burden across all income levels," Stewart said.

"Not every legislator will support every one of these bills. Some will support a few of the bills, but not others. But when legislators are contemplating deep cuts to higher education, public health, environment, and other public responsibilities vital to a strong economy, these bills provide real and far better alternatives," states Stewart. The five bills supported by TFT include:

1. - The Food & Business Tax Fairness Act of 2009, sponsored by Sen. Tim Burchett (SB 0502) and Rep. Charles Sargent(HB 1350). This legislation stops the practice of multi-state corporations shifting their profits to out-of-state subsidiaries to avoid paying Tennessee's business taxes that smaller, locally-owned businesses must pay. Toys-R-Us for example pays its own subsidiary in Delaware for the rights to use its corporate logo and trademark giraffe. While these are really the same company, such shell games mean that taxable profits in Tennessee can be greatly reduced or zeroed out on paper.

The Multi-State Tax Commission, an interstate agency, estimated that in 2001 alone, Tennessee lost between 14% and 32% of taxable revenue to these sheltering schemes. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC, has estimated that Tennessee would recover $110 million to $250 million by requiring 'combined reporting' of corporate profits.

This legislation would close these loopholes by enacting 'combined reporting' as 22 other states have already done. Part of the revenue would pay for another food tax reduction while the remainder could help with the current shortfall.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Economic Mobility Report Released

Recently Pew's Economic Mobility Project released a survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies that answers key questions about how Americans view their economic mobility. The results reveal that despite the current economic crisis, a strong and uniquely American undercurrent of optimism shines through. Americans believe in their ability --- and the ability of their children --- to get ahead. Resoundingly, Americans place greater importance on ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to improve their economic standing over reducing inequality. The poll, conducted between January 27 and February 8, 2009, provides clear insights into how the American public views the factors, institutions, circumstances and values that may aid or impede their path to future economic success. In doing so, it offers valuable perspectives for elected officials, advocates and policymakers committed to ensuring that the fundamental economic bedrock of the American Dream remains solid for generations to come.

Below are some of the key findings:

Even though we are facing one of the steepest economic downturns in almost a century and about 70 percent of those polled said their personal economic situation is only fair or poor, eight-in-ten people believe that Americans can still get ahead.
Looking to the future, most parents say their own children will have a better standard of living than they have (62 percent say better, 10 percent say worse), but are split as to whether their children will have an easier or harder time moving up the income ladder (48 percent say easier, 46 percent harder).
By a 71 to 21 percent margin, Americans said that ambition, hard work and education primarily drive mobility, rather than outside forces like the state of the economy or a person's economic situation growing up.
By a 46 to 36 percent margin, Americans believe the government hurts more than helps people move up the economic ladder, but a majority say that a number of policies (like job training, early childhood education and making college more affordable) would be effective to encourage upward mobility.
The poll confirms a long-held belief that hard work and talent brings just rewards and that our society should aim to provide equality of opportunity, not to guarantee equality of outcomes.

The full survey and analysis is available at http://economicmobility.org/poll2009.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two Steps Toward Monarchy

One Step Forward, Two Steps Toward Monarchy
By David Swanson

It has become almost commonplace, since the release last week of seven
"legal" opinions written in 2001 and 2002 by the Justice Department, to
remark that unbeknownst to us we came within an inch of dictatorship.
And with President Obama announcing an end to torture and a new policy
on signing statements, it is extremely common to speak as if we are
moving quickly and deliberately in the opposite direction. But this
picture is far too simplistic.

We knew a great deal about what was happening when Bush and Cheney were
president. In fact, the reason we find the latest handful of memos so
"shocking" is that we are already familiar with many of the actual
crimes and abuses they were used to justify. While the transfer of
unconstitutional powers to the president began when George Washington
held that office and has advanced over the centuries, it did take a
dramatic leap forward during the reign of Bush-Cheney. We were indeed
within a foot, if not an inch, of outright dictatorship, but we were
well aware of it. Many chose to avert their gaze for a variety of
reasons. Chief among them were approval of presidential power, loyalty
to Republicans, and loyalty to Democrats who chose not to rock the boat.

The picture is also too simplistic because there is far more smoke than
fire in President Obama's retreat from imperial power, and there is a
fundamental defect in our assumption that limiting presidential power
can and should be done by a president, rather than by Congress, courts,
and the American people. Obama has announced policy changes, some of
them very much for the better, but to choose a policy of not torturing,
or a policy of not altering laws with signing statements unless
absolutely necessary, is to make choices in areas we previously supposed
to allow no room for choice at all. In other areas, including the
launching of missiles into foreign nations, rendition, unlawful
detention, outrageous claims of "state secrets" and "executive
privilege", claiming the right to deny courts access to any classified
information, the continuation and even escalation of aggressive wars,
the refusal to prosecute known crimes of the previous administration,
and the creation of gargantuan powers to spend and lend without
accountability for the purposes of bailing out bankers, stimulating the
economy, and potentially even providing healthcare in a manner
acceptable to health insurance companies, Obama has not only made policy
choices but made the wrong ones, made the ones that the Constitution
does not allow him.

It strikes me as very unlikely that Obama and Biden will abuse their
offices to an extent equal to Bush and Cheney. But it is equally
unlikely that the presidency in 2013 will possess only the powers it
possessed in 2000, if we leave the job of restricting those powers to
the president. Most of us are pleased that Obama has just legalized
stem-cell research. Others of us are furious. But we should all be
terrified of the state of affairs in which a single person can make such
fundamental decisions. The problem is not just that the next president
can reverse such decisions, but also that he or she can make decisions
completely contrary to the will of the majority of Americans or the
rights of individuals. If Obama can choose to stop torturing, but not
prosecute any of the torturers, a number of horrible consequences
follow. First, the torturers have nothing to fear and torture continues
even within a government opposed to it. Second, the levels of secrecy
permitted the president allow no one to be sure how much torture is
happening. Third, we stand in violation of our laws and international
treaties, encouraging lawlessness around the world, allowing the foreign
minister of Algeria when accused of human rights abuses by our State
Department last month to reply, in effect, "Look who's talking!" Fourth,
no matter how much truth we get or how reconciled we become, there is
nothing to deter the next president from secretly or openly establishing
a policy of torture, and nothing to stop any president from violating
any other law. Fifth, we no longer elect executives to execute the will
of Congress, but elected despots, kings for four years.

History shows that powers claimed by one president are almost always
claimed by future ones, even if not abused to the same extent by the
immediate successor. A statement from a president, no matter how good
and righteous, is not the way to end a pattern of unconstitutional
statements from presidents. Congress should pass a bill banning the use
of signing statements to alter laws. Of course, this bill could be
signing-statemented or ignored, but it wouldn't be if the threat of
impeachment were reestablished. One way of doing that would be by
impeaching Bush and Cheney despite their being out of office, an action
for which there is precedent. Another step in the right direction would
be to impeach Jay Bybee, former torture memo author, now appellate court

We could also consider a Constitutional amendment, but there is good
reason to be reluctant about proceeding with that. No reasonable
interpreter of the current Constitution could ever have imagined that
the president had the right to rewrite laws with signing statements. If
we amend the Constitution to clarify that point, we could be seen as
suggesting that any bizarre outrage against the basic principles of a
government of laws is permissible until explicitly forbidden in detail
by Constitutional amendment. And the Constitution already includes the
power of impeachment. If, however, we ever significantly revise the
Constitution in convention, banning signing statements should be a part
of that revision.

As a candidate for the presidency, Obama committed to not using signing
statements to reverse laws. In a questionnaire published by the Boston
Globe on December 20, 2007, Obama said:

"Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties,
dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to
issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous
provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to
faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such
statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like
or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability. I
will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional
instructions as enacted into law. The fact that President Bush has
issued signing statements to challenge over 1100 laws -- more than any
president in history -- is a clear abuse of this prerogative."

On February 17, 2009, President Obama published his first signing
statement in the Federal Register, commenting on H.R. 1, the "American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009." He wrote the statement in plain
English and did not declare the right to violate the law. His statement
appears to be exactly what Bush's lawyers claimed his were, a press
release. But, unlike Bush, Obama did not post his first signing
statement on his website, and -- as far as I know -- he didn't send it
to any press. So what was the point? One point may have been to simply
establish that there would still be signing statements. Another may have
been to make part of the formal law these seemingly innocuous and
admirable phrases:

"My Administration will initiate new, far-reaching measures to help
ensure that every dollar spent in this historic legislation is spent
wisely and for its intended purpose. The Federal Government will be held
to new standards of transparency and accountability. The legislation
includes no earmarks. An oversight board will be charged with monitoring
our progress as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste and
inefficiency. This board will be advised by experts---not just
Government experts, not just politicians, but also citizens with years
of expertise in management, economics, and accounting."

While nothing is said here that Obama did not also say publicly, he has
hereby (if we allow this interpretation of signing statements to stand)
made part of the law his right to use the hundreds of billions of
dollars appropriated in this bill in "new" and "far-reaching" ways that
he "initiates," as well as the understanding that an "oversight board"
created by the executive branch will -- rather than Congress -- oversee
the activities of the executive branch, or as Obama calls it "the
Federal Government."

On March 9, 2009, Obama published a memo on the topic of signing
statements in which he defended the practice but promised not to abuse
it. The memo read, in part:

"executive branch departments and agencies are directed to seek the
advice of the Attorney General before relying on signing statements
issued prior to the date of this memorandum as the basis for
disregarding, or otherwise refusing to comply with, any provision of a

suggesting that Bush's signing statements permitting the violation of
laws would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis as needed. There was no
indication of how the public would learn of such reviews. But, of
course, unless we learn of such reviews we will have yet another form of
secret law, and even if we do learn of such reviews, we will have
legislating done by the executive branch.

Some commentators have exclaimed that by so reviewing Bush's signing
statements, Obama has finally agreed to "look backwards." I disagree.
Obama's "look only forward" idea is all about undoing bad policies and
creating new ones. What it is not about is holding anyone accountable
for their crimes.

As president-elect, in November, Obama said that he was preparing a list
of about 200 executive orders issued by Bush that he, Obama, would
simply reverse. I haven't seen that list yet, and this latest memo
regarding signing statements suggests that they will not be included.
The most Constitutional move that President Obama could make would be to
toss out every signing statement that authorized violating laws and
every executive order, memo, determination, finding, directive,
proclamation, or other royal decree that his predecessor did not have
the Constitutional right to issue. Instead, Obama has reversed a handful
of Bush's orders because of "policy differences." Some of these are
wonderful and lifesaving reversals, such as that regarding torture. But
they involve a life-threatening maintenance of dangerous monarchical
power. Congress should give the president explicit and limited
rule-making powers. All rules should be publicly available. And Congress
should be understood to have the power to overrule them. Outside of
those restrictions, a president should not be permitted to make decrees
carrying the force of law.

In the same pre-election questionnaire quoted above, Obama made an
encouraging comment regarding secrecy:

"I believe the Administration's use of executive authority to
over-classify information is a bad idea. We need to restore the balance
between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in our
democracy--which is why I have called for a National Declassification

But Obama has, at least thus far, chosen to release only a small
fraction of the Bush-Cheney crime documents known to exist. We have not
seen most of the memos and not seen the Emails. Eric Holder's Justice
Department has opposed releasing the Emails and urged a federal appeals
court to dismiss a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan
for its role in the extraordinary rendition program. Mohamed et al. v.
Jeppesen had been brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped and
secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence
agencies overseas where they were tortured. The Bush administration had
asserted the "state secrets" privilege, claiming the case would somehow
undermine national security, and Holder's department agrees.

Holder's Justice Department has also used a "state secrets" claim to try
to block a lawsuit over Bush's warrantless spying, and claimed in a
brief filed in that case that only a president can decide on the use of
any classified information in court (even in a closed court), a power
that would allow presidents to give themselves immunity by simply
classifying evidence of their crimes.

Britain's High Court of Justice ruled that evidence in the U.K. civil
case of Binyam Mohamed, one of the plaintiffs in the Jeppesen case, had
to remain secret because of U.S. threats to cut off intelligence
sharing. Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that "Mohamed's genitals
were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that
waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, 'is
very far down the list of things they did'." Britain's Daily Mail
reported that Mohamed "was identified as a terrorist after confessing he
had visited a 'joke' website on how to build a nuclear weapon. ... [He]
admitted to having read the 'instructions' after allegedly being beaten,
hung up by his wrists for a week and having a gun held to his head in a
Pakistani jail."

In a remarkable show of their continuing desire for Congress to exist as
a functioning part of our government, and willingness to challenge a
president of the same political party, leading Democrats in the House
and Senate have introduced the State Secrets Protection Act, which would
require court review of any "state secrets" claims. Senator Russ
Feingold (D., Wisc.) also requested a classified briefing to have this
particular "state secrets" claim explained to him. Of course, if he's
given an explanation he'll be forbidden from sharing it with us. And, of
course, Congress does not propose Congressional review, only court
review, of "state secrets" claims.

However, in what I consider a remarkable rush to give presidents more
power, Feingold joined with Republican Senators John McCain and Paul
Ryan last week to reintroduce legislation that would effectively give
presidents an unconstitutional line-item veto for spending bills.
Unwilling to ban or simply stop including wasteful earmarks, senators
and Congress members would like to give presidents the power to undo
congressional decisions. Rather than rejecting an item with a signing
statement, a president could legally "rescind" it, requiring both houses
to vote again on that item alone. The same result could be achieved by
requiring each house to vote on such items individually to begin with,
but that wouldn't transfer power to the president and therefore doesn't
look to Washington insiders like as much of a reform.

Barack Obama as a candidate for the presidency had advocated for
Congressional "approval" of the treaty President Bush made with Iraq. As
President-Elect, Obama favored Congressional "review." As President he
went silent. President Obama immediately upon taking office began
launching military strikes into Pakistan and has now escalated the
occupation of Afghanistan, without anyone even suggesting that Congress
be consulted in these matters. President Obama and his top officials, in
their first weeks in office, supported claims of "executive privilege"
allowing members of the former Bush administration to refuse to comply
with Congressional subpoenas, and explicitly doing so in order to
protect the "power of the presidency." Obama's lawyer conducted a
negotiation of terms between the first branch of our government and a
common criminal, Karl Rove, rather than hauling Rove in by force,
something that Congress itself of course refuses to do as well. The
result will be Rove testifying, at least in private and at least on some
topics, but also the maintenance of the idea that the president can
choose whether or not to allow Congress to subpoena witnesses.

I hate to sound ungrateful here. I'm delighted that Obama released seven
more memos. I'm aware that those memos exhibit a reckless, lawless
lunacy that outstrips anything previously seen in this country or likely
to be seen in the next four years. But the powers claimed by those memos
do not go away just because some other memos are written and the powers
are not used. The powers go away only if something is done to deter
their reappearance. One option, which really ought not to be an option,
would be for the Justice Department to enforce the law.


David Swanson is the author of the upcoming book "Daybreak: Undoing the
Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories
Press and of the introduction to "The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the
Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush" published by Feral House and
available at Amazon.com. Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy
from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter
and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary
for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for
the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as
communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson is Co-Founder of
AfterDowningStreet.org, creator of ConvictBushCheney.org and Washington
Director of Democrats.com, a board member of Progressive Democrats of
America, the Backbone Campaign, and Voters for Peace, a convenor of the
legislative working group of United for Peace and Justice, and chair of
the accountability and prosecution working group of United for Peace and

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kelly Jacob on Obama Inauguration

by Kelly Jacobs
Mississippi Code Pink

Writers block has prevented me from sending this accounting of my week in DC for Obama's inauguration until now, on the 2 month anniversary. It's a long read, I squished in "action" all 5 days that I was there and share most of it below, but it's like a book, which chapters and everything, and if I don't stop fiddling with it, I'll never send it..... So for those who are interested, Here are some pics and stories about my trip to Washington DC for Barack Obama's Inauguration. It's really long, so if you want to read it all, I suggest doing it in chapters.

The Chapters:
1. Pursuing Hillary
1.5 The Code Pink House
2. Congressman Childer's office is in a Van down by the River (you have to know the Saturday Night live Skit with Chris Farley to get this one)
3. Dancing the Can Can on Stage
4. Throwing Shoes at Bush/the White House
5. Obama Freezing his face off
6. The Wedding (The Inauguration)
6.5 The Booing of GW Bush and singing na na na nah!
7. The Eagle
8. The Southern Reception
9. The General's Luncheon
10. Hillary's Swearing
11. The Invisible Obama Blankets

Gertrude Bridgeforth (her trip was written about in the Washington Post: click 4 Washington Post article )and I left Southaven at 6:30 AM on Sat, Jan 18th in a very Festively decorated Obama Mama car/prius.. . Everyone else who might have driven in the car with us towards DC hadn't worked out, so we traveled together for 14 hours and I introduced her to McDonalds fruit and walnuts and chewing gum. Yeah, 85 and she'd never chewed gum because her school teacher mother hated gum. Gertrude's sister Bertha picked her up in DC at the CodePink Women for Peace house (5th and G Streets) where I was going to be staying right after we arrived so she didn't even get to see inside this amazing house....and took her to her home in Maryland to stay for the week. Sadly I didn't get to see Gertrude again until Thursday night, when I was invited to come and stay at Bertha's house so we could leave real early the next morning to drive back home to Mississippi. The picture of us above is when we got home from DC.
I had borrowed my son Graham's GPS for the trip, having never used one before... and I think that it's not very reliable... to start off it gave us a very convoluted way to get to the Pink House in DC that I didn't use last October when I first visited, then it did more leading me astray than helping during my stay.

1. Pursuing Hillary On Sunday January 19th I used that GPS to get to the Hilton Hotel for the Emily's List Luncheon ($150.00) and I was so very grateful to have it because DC was under a PLAGUE of sirens and emergency vehicles and road blocks. They were everywhere - stopping traffic and screaming - EVERY DAY in DC there were sirens and cars speeding behind them to get places. ... so whenever I couldn't turn at the "right place" the GPS gave me an alternate route until I found a parking garage (absolutely no parking to be found on the street) who charged $20.00 and I had to be out by 3PM. Since lunch started at 11AM I wasn't worried, surely we'd be all done by 2PM?? That Sunday was also the opening day of the Inauguration and Barack Obama attended a big concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial, but I missed it to pursue Hillary to get "our picture" (from Denver) autographed. Inside the Hilton, the room for the luncheon was JYNORMOUS and I realized I should have brought my binoculars, thankfully they had 3 big screen TV's for us to see the speakers. If you know a woman who wants to run for political office, this is the most inspirational woman's luncheon she can attend~ Emily's List. Women Governors, Senators, Congressmen, all wonderful inspiring speakers... it was riveting. I was wearing my black button coat and peace dress, and happily meeting people and posing for pictures with my Barack Obama talking doll. I brought my blown up Hillary/Kelly pic from the Dem Convention and was asking the Emily's list staff for pointers to find Hillary's staff so I could get the picture autographed.
I was in pursuit of a Hillary autograph and security was so tight! I've learned that if you want a personalized autograph, put a sticky note onto your item with your name and why you want it, that way you get something that's more than just a signature. I was told by the Emily's List staff ..NO WAY would Hillary have any time to meet anyone or sign anything.
So I asked other staff members.....NO, Hillary will be too rushed, sorry no autographs, pics, etc's. NO... no.... no way. . . OK so I didn't believe any of them because the Clinton's are the biggest smoozers, this is how they have so many unwavering supporters. I went in search of a person who could say more than no. I just kept asking until I found a Secret Service agent guarding a door (Robin) who said she recognized me (my dress) took my picture with the note, gave me her cell phone number and said that of course she'd get my picture signed by Hillary after lunch!... so then lunch started, but I didn't see Hillary sitting up at the front.
The President of Emily's List, Ellen Malcolm spoke, telling the huge luncheon crowd that 8 million more women than men voted for Barack Obama! She also said the landscape for women's issues will change dramatically not just because of President Obama's new administration, but also because of the women who won seats in the House, Senate and State Legislatures in 2008. "Our pro-choice Democratic women won critical races to build the political force that will change the direction of our country," The 2008 elections was one of the best years for female candidates (executive branch excluded) in 16 years. During the 2007-2008 election cycle, Emily's List raised more than $43 million to recruit and support liberal women candidates. Twelve new pro-choice Democratic women joined the House of Representatives, plus Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Kay Hagan in North Carolina both won former Republican seats in the Senate, becoming the first Democratic women to represent their states! Our Luncheon began with the food, which was a yummy salad, then salmon and a cupcake that was already on the table, A video started that told the story of this election, with Barack Obama's various speeches and noting our women's victories. When Hillary Clinton was shown endorsing Barack Obama and Joe Biden WE CHEERED. But I didn't see her sitting up front.
< I was grateful that they didn't "hide Hillary" like I thought they did in Denver at the Federation of Democratic Women's Luncheon did, when they wouldn't even mention her name.>
When Ellen said "George W. Bush is going back to Texas and Barack Obama is president of the United States," Wohooo! Boy did we cheer for that factoid! "Make no mistake ... for every woman in Congress there are still more than five men," the room was gushing with happy women eager to hear about - the Lily Ledbetter equal pay legislation, and the SCHIP program that will insure millions of American children. I tell you this was a Wonderful, uplifting luncheon because of the inspiring speakers... but my favorite, Hillary Clinton had not arrived when more speakers started stepping up to the podium.
Some of the luncheon speakers were: Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis, Homeland Security Secretary nominee Janet Napolitano, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, White House Communications Director Ellen Moran, Governor of North Carolina Bev Perdue, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Kay Hagen and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee; the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress from Wisconsin, who referred to Speaker Pelosi as "the lady in satin and steel. ... General Nancy Pelosi." She praised Pelosi's efforts to push the pay-equity bill through the House. "She's not just stomping out injustice but stomping it out in four inch heels," she roared, taking off one of her own shoes and banging it on the podium while we all stood up and cheered her gumption. But I worried....Still no arrival of Hilary for Lunch!
Brand new North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue told us about some media interest in her: "the first pro-choice female governor in the South since Ann Richards," and in a state where the first bill proposing to give women the right to vote, in 1897, "was consigned to the committee on insane asylums." At inaugural festivities, Perdue told us, a member of the press "had the audacity to ask me about the redecorating plans." She told us that there's a plaque hanging outside of the Governor's Mansion that "welcomes visitors to the home that was recently renovated for the Governors and First Ladies of North Carolina.... I intend to redecorate that plaque." Yeah, speeches with funnies in them are really easy to listen too.
The speakers were all really good/interesting, but none of the 2000 of us were leaving until Hillary got there, no matter what kind of "camping stories" we were threatened with (from Ellen), we were all firmly planted in our seats until Hillary arrived. We were told that Hillary had to fly in from New York but the plane was delayed when it had to be de-iced. Then Governor Perdue announced that Hillary was stuck in DC traffic, trying to get to the Hilton. New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen told us she had to take more time talking to delay for Hillary, so she regaled us about how she used to make her state troopers carry her purse. North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan stalled by talking about how only men are allowed to swim in the Senate gym's swimming pool...then we were told that Hillary had ditched her stuck car and was walking to the Hotel, and then... there she was behind the pillar! Introducing our very late guest, Emily's List President Ellen Malcolm called Clinton "an exceptional figure in American life, a powerful role model for women for our country and for the world." We gave Hillary a standing ovation, applauding a future secretary of state, a woman who made history running for President, we were so happy to see her and tell her with out applause and cheering how grateful we were for her hard work. The room roared...I cried, and looking around I saw that I wasn't the only one crying.
I am so proud of how she's handled the whole defeat and tirelessly supported Obama regardless issue.
When Hillary spoke (at 2PM) she said that "Emily's List has been the original hammer that helped shatter so many glass ceilings," "Those 18 million cracks are very personal to me." I remembered when I was given a handkerchief at the Denver Convention that said 18 million cracks - Go Hillary! Clinton did acknowledge her own presidential hopes, calling it an "honor to run for president," and thanked Ellen Malcolm for having changed "the face of American politics ... and the wardrobe. Every year there are more pantsuits of all kinds." She also thanked those of us in the crowd, which obviously contained many of us die-hard supporters, for our kind wishes and messages. Hillary spoke about other ceilings holding back women and girls around the world: "When women are vulnerable to economic, political and social marginalization, the potential for advancing democracy, prosperity and security is also vulnerable. " This is our smart and fierce thinker who had moved into the White House with Bill and Chelsea in 1992 and immediately worked on a National healthcare plan that is now a model for healthcare reform. "I believe it is essential in renewing America's leadership around the world, that we renew America's leadership on behalf of women and girls," said Clinton. Speaking of the criticism she received from Taliban leaders for speaking out on behalf of women in Afghanistan in the '90s, Clinton said pointedly, "I wear that, along with much of the rest of the criticism I've received, as a badge of honor." We cheered when she finished up and said, "I am absolutely thrilled to stand with you in the fights we have waged together. We've won some and we've lost some." Afterwards she shook a few hands with those lucky people who had a close table, but then she immediately left. I figured that no way did Robin have time to get the autograph. So I called to get the picture back, but Robin said she'd have it signed in 10 minutes! Since it was almost 3PM, I tip-toed/RAN (I was in heels) 3 blocks to check on my car, I didn't want to be locked out of the expensive garage, and the garage guy demanded one of my Obama buttons so they wouldn't lock me out (extortion!) ... then I went back and happily received my autographed photo in the hotel lobby: It now reads across her orange pant suit.Kelly, You're the BEST. Thanks for the "300". Hillary. See!! I knew I could get it! Ha! The Clinton's ALWAYS make time for their supporters, Paul framed the pic of Hillary and I for my 50th birthday, and it is my happy memento from last year's political work. OK, now if you want to know what Hillary meant on the autograph... on my sticky note I wrote that I was Hillary's MS delegate to Denver and a signer of the "300 petition". At the Democratic Convention, Hillary name was NOT going to be allowed to be nominated from the convention floor unless no less than 300 of her delegates (no more than 50 from each state) signed/notarized a petition asking that she be nominated. More than 600 of us signed it and this forced the Convention to allow her nomination. Most of us got a little green button, that has the number 300 on it with a pen in the center zero, and on the back it says exactly which number you were in returning your notarized petition. I was 207 out of 600.

2. Congressman Childer's office is in
a Van down by the River (you have to know the Saturday Night live Skit with Chris Farley to get this one)
Dancing around because I was so happy I got Hillary's autograph, I engaged the GPS to take me from the Hilton to Congressman Childer's Congressional office so I could get my purple ticket for the inauguration. Gertrude already had my guest ticket, which her nephew had picked up a few days beforehand. I didn't have the street address for Childer's office, even though I'd asked for it. The young man who answered the phone told me: "it's across the street from the National Library". like I'm a local and know where that is. He didn't give me the address, just the name of the building, and when I gave him heck he finally told me the cross streets which I'd entered into the GPS. There were all kinds of road blocks and sirens all over DC, and I watched our lovely Capitol Building, which was decorated for the 20th celebration, rise up in front of me, then end up behind me,... and then I was wondering where the heck is my Congressman's office?? Now I'm driving in more of a residential type neighborhood so I knew this GPS was not working but decided to see where I'd end up... because maybe I was wrong. I drove around what looked like a huge stadium, got onto a busy street that turned into a bridge crossing over the PATOMIC RIVER WHEN THE GPS ANNOUNCED, ....RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THE BRIDGE: ; DESTINATION ON THE RIGHT... DESTINATION ON THE RIGHT....DESTINATION ON THE RIGHT
That's when I discovered that our Congressman's office is in a VAN down by the RIVER!
I turned around and headed back towards the Capitol Building which I could see in the distance and called the Childer's office (the GPS kept wanting me to turn around and go back to the river...) and it took about 20 minutes for me to get to the real office, find an illegal parking space, bribe the security guy with an Obama button to let me park there, then run (IT WAS FREEZING OUTSIDE!) to the correct building ...stopping several times to pose for pictures with people who asked me to please stop because they liked my button decorated coat..... to face security for his building. They didn't like my coat, nor my box of home baked chocolate chip cookies, but eventually let me through. I couldn't believe that OUR Congressman's office was open at 4PM on a Sunday, wasn't that nice? He even personally welcomed me into his office and we had a little chat, (when I told him that now I'm telling everyone that his office is in a VAN down by the RIVER! and then I got
my purple inauguration ticket. Childers asked me what he could do for me and I asked him to talk to our new Dem Party Chairman, Jamie Franks because now that our State Party office has... one paid employee, now more than ever we needed to reach out and RECRUIIT people to participate in our party. I'm worried that the 1st district's representation are almost all coming from Lee county, and this will cause MORE resentment and distance from other counties who not only lack representation, but any knowledge of what the party is doing as they are NOT communicating (my opinion). I spoke about Childers re-election and how hard it will be without dedicated Dems to help so we'll see if anything changes. I doubt it. The good ole Boys still have the reigns in MS and secrecy seems to be their middle name.

After I got "home" to the CodePink house, (Thank-you GPS) I was too tired from the long drive to DC and the day's excitement to go to the "Olm Ball" that night so everyone else put on dancing clothes, left, and I went to bed... too bad it's hard to sleep with all the comings and goings of 21 women.
2.5 The Code Pink House (rental in DC) is a 3 story brownstone (plus a basement) that has been helped along by volunteers so that it has bunk beds and regular beds so that 21 of us ladies slept there.... with only 1 1/2 bathrooms! (Groups can rent it out for a short time.) That's right only one shower, but everyone was so congenial, they kept them short and there was just never an obvious line to use the facilities. Sleeping, however was difficult. There was snoring, talking, walking (upstairs/downstairs/hallway) and sleep talking. There were TWO other Kelly's in the CodePink house and another who stayed elsewhere but came to visit. One stayed in my room, and has a brother serving in Afghanistan, and she told me she won't be able to sleep well until he gets safely home in March. My bed was the top of a bunk bed, which I kid you not, was 7 feet off the ground. I couldn't even see the mattress by standing on top of the lower bed, so imagine creaking and wobbling and any movement from either person and you'll understand why sleeping/ getting up at night to go pee was difficult.
Around the corner from the CodePink House, CodePink had reserved a business spot where we could meet every day with some of the 150 other ladies who'd come to DC for the inauguration and we'd work on project like these lovely Pink Ribbons we handed out for free: Obama keep your promises for Peace! We also had a small flyer to hand them with the ribbons that said: Barack Obama has promised to:
1. End the war in Iraq
2. Shut Down Guantanamo
3. Reject the Military Commissions Act
4. Stop torture
5. Work to eliminate nuclear weapons
6. Hold direct, unconditional talks with Iran
7. Abide by Senate approved international treaties

After 8 long years of the Bush Administration’s lawless ways, we applaud Barack Obama’s vows to bring the United States back into compliance with international law. We ourselves pledge to hold President Obama accountable for fulfilling his promises. These are promises to keep and we will hold him to them! Join us in pledging to hold Obama accountable to his promises. TAKE YOUR VOTE TO THE NEXT LEVEL! www.REMINDOBAMA.ORG Sometimes we took their picture, with the ribbons for the website. www.codepinkalert.org CodePink volunteers passed out about 20,000 of those ribbons plus hung banners and was on so many news shows it was hard to keep up. (Very exciting was seeing Medea and Desi's appearance on National TV during the Inauguration right up front with a CodePink banner!)

I helped get a huge banner ready at one of these meetings... I taped sand filled condoms (non lubricated) to the bottom of the banner so it would have weight to keep it down . The banner was hung on Obama's parade route at 15th NW. This became another running joke for me because Dana had been yelling into her phone the night before "WE NEED YOU TO PICK UP SOME NON LUBRICATED CONDOMES, OTHERWISE THE SAND WILL STICK. NO... I SAID NON LUBRICATED CONDOMS!
YES THEY DO STILL MAKE THEM, JUST ASK FOR NON LUBRICATED." I still laugh remembering it. You can see more pictures of the inauguration activities at this link by Paul Park of the banner drop on 15th NW, one block from the White House:

3. Monday, January 19th Dancing the Can Can on Stage Monday was MLK day. I was up early and dressed in my CAN CAN outfit which was a full skirt (thanks Mom!) I added ruffles and bells to, so I jingled when I walked (since it was freezing outside I wore CodePink pants underneath). There was a big WAR PROTEST at 11AM at Dupont Circle Park (a ShoeBush action at Dupont Circle) and so we raced over there and were invited to do our CAN CAN dance on stage, (which we had to learn REAL QUICK before we got up there) with microphones, press and gobs of people - the song has 4 verses of complicated words, no pressure, just sing and dance in the freezing weather on the stage. I handed a guy my camera so we'd get a pic of our first dance together.

Yes We Can Can End War!
To the traditional can-can tune
By Dana Balicki, Rae Abileah, and Betsy Rose

Yes We Can Can
We can end the war war
It's what we voted for for
Bring our soldiers back
Obama lead us, will you?!

…Can Can
Start talking with Iran, ran
Leave Afghanistan, stan
And get out of Iraq
Can't win an occupation!

…Can Can
Close Guantana-mo, mo
Torture we say no, no
Tear the prison down!
Obama do it, will you?!

…Can Can
Build a world that's green, green
Coal power isn't clean, clean
And oil will run out
It’s time for wind and solar NOW!

There was press all around, photographing people throwing their SHOES at a 20 foot tall blow up figure of George Bush with a Pinocchio (huge/long) nose, wearing a flight suit, kind of like Bush wore aboard the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier. When we finished dancing and throwing shoes at the inflated Bush, we picked up shoes (I grabbed a pink Crock) and proceeded to march in a parade all the way to the White House to throw them there at a planned/permitted event. We sang songs, and waved at the traffic that was stopped for us by the police, and sang more songs like "Hit the Road Bush" and "Bye Bye Georgie". I had a tambourine (from the Democratic convention that says Obama in 08!)
and I was banging on it when I didn't know the words to keep a tune going, as we marched along Connecticut Avenue. A big pink feather flopped around on the back of my head, Kylies stayed much better in hers. People honked and waved at us, I'd say there were about 200 of us marching along...as the police kindly stopped traffic while we walked and sang peace songs like "Hang down your head, George Bush/Hang down your head in shame, and "We're singing for a Peaceful World". In addition to our own Medea Benjamin for CodePink..., Jamilla El-Shafei, was a leader of this anti-war protest... for Shoebush.org, which sought to emulate the actions of Iraqi journalist Mutandar Al-Zaidi. There were also a lot of people there with The World Can't Wait, and I believe that I saw signs from Iraq Veterans Against the War. El-Shafei said she was grateful for that.we would be able to throw shoes at the White House without the threat of being arrested, even though there was heavy security for Tuesday's inauguration. "We were determined to make a statement and the police let us make it," she said.
The VIILLAGE VOICE wrote about us if you want to read it here with these pictures of Josie and I (she's from New Mexico) :

Live from D.C.: Throwing Their Last Shoe at the White House

Posted by Elizabeth Dwoskin at 9:07 AM, January 20, 2009

Code Pink brought up the end of this "parade" so when we got to the White House we were at the back of the milling crowd...many people joined us along our march, so we waited to throw our shoes, singing songs while those in front threw their shoes and spoke to the hoard of press. When they were finished we heard them chanting: CODE PINK COME THOW YOUR SHOES! CODE PINK COME THROW YOUR SHOES.... so we started forward chanting We're Code Pink and we have shoes. Cutie Patootie, Josie was standing with me while we posed for about 8 reporters who were brave enough to stand between us and the fence/shoe repository/White House. I lobbed my pink crock over their heads, but Josie throws just like a girly girl and boinked a reporter on his head with her shoe - so funny! (This is Desi)
Once all the shoes had been tossed into "the White House", the officers collected them and piled them into the back of a small truck. "The next person who throws a shoe gets arrested," Later we heard the news report that someone else, did indeed throw another show and was arrested.

(Today I read that Bush made his first trip to Canada for a paid speech and they were throwing shoes outside.... that's going to follow him for the rest of his life, and probably further.)
After the parade/White House Shoe throwing we tried to get home using the underground train. When we got to the top of the escalator to exit the train station, there were so many people squished into the station that there was no room for us to get off the escalator, but it shoved us into people anyway where there was no room! We ended up going BACK DOWN the other escalator, the only place we fit, down into the downstairs area of the train station, and I asked security to do something. The guy told me that's out of his jurisdiction! It was packed and pushing and just heading for trouble, but out of his jurisdiction because he only has the area to the bottom of the escalators, someone else has the top. Meanwhile we'd tried to exit the train station using the downstairs mall door, but that area was totally closed because of... Secret Service who couldn't tell us but the rumor was Michelle Obama was there, or going to be there. So there was another line of people trying to exit that way and being turned back, WE WERE TRAPPED UNLESS WE WANTED TO BUY ANOTHER TRIN TICKET TO GET OUT! The police finally stopped the escalator from running, and then they let hundreds of us ALL back into the train area (without paying) of the station, so we could walk to another gate to exit. Outside again, we passed out more pink Obama keep your promises for peace ribbons to the milling crowd and here's Keisha with some of them below.

Back at the Pink House, after dinner we got ready to pass out our pink ribbons outside of the GREEN Ball (Pre-Inaugural hosted by The Huffington Post at the Newseum). So many women dressed up in expensive clothes, (I think the ticket price was $1,500.00) mostly black with lotza jewels, not too many furs (it was still FREEZING OUTSIDE and accompanied by their dates. About 1/2 of them took Obama keep your promises for Peace! ribbons from us, we danced the CAN CAN, held up a HOPE Banner, and sang but most of the attendees wouldn't pose for a picture and it was FREAKING COLD outside!!! There were PEOPLE WALKING AROUND EVERYWHERE IN WASHINGTON DC, crowding the sidewalks...and merchants selling stuff along every street. I told the other dancers that I would only stay for an hour, (until 8:30PM) because it was cold and I wanted to try to get some sleep. Desi snuck into the GREEN Ball and Medea (who looked spiffy and had a ticket) asked me if I wanted to try to get in, (I wanted to dance, since it was my 50th birthday, and I love to Dance I was looking forward to dancing whenever I could in DC because my Paul hates to dance..... but...) I told her I didn't want to go inside the Green Ball, I was getting up REAL EARLY for the inauguration and I didn't want to be tired. We rode the city bus to get to the Green Ball, but finding a bus to get home was impossible. After waiting and waiting,
the buses weren't showing up so we went to find a train, then had a long COLD walk home. I wrapped my cape around tiny Josie to try to keep us warmish.

5. Obama Freezing his face off By 4AM I was up, ate a good breakfast (but no water so I wouldn't have to pee), and was walking the 15 or so blocks to the purple gate for Obama's inauguration. I wore 2 pairs of tights, my peace dress, boots, long glove and (Mom's) cape. I didn't want to wear a hat, but it was so cold out I wore my fake fur hat with Obama buttons on it and of course, since it was only 12 degrees outside I still froze. I was interviewed by a reporter from Finland, who wrote about those of us WHO FROZE in line in his Finnish Newspaper. The line for the purple gate of the Inauguration wasn't too long when I arrived, and was 2 person's wide.. but people just kept CUTTING IN LINE, until at least 1000 more people were ahead of me when the line started moving than when I'd arrived. The line even had chants" DON'T CUT IN LINE! DON'T CUT IN LINE. STOP LINE CUTTERS!!! STOP THE LINE CUTTERS and other chants that were started by irate people who had yet another person cut into the line directly in front of them and were then told not to worry about it. There were some fun, young college type guys right behind me singing fun songs, like Gilligans Isle and Jingle Bells, but the line cutters eventually had them about 100 people behind me! I couldn't even see the end of the line... it went around the block, down another and into a tunnel. Those people who were in the tunnel, never did get out of it... and to this day are still waiting for the line to move so they can see the Obama inauguration. OK just kidding on that part, but they didn't get inside.
The POLICE refused to help us by forcing line cutters to the back of the line, they actually enabled line cutters to keep cutting further and further ahead because short of assault, they saw that there was nothing we could do to stop them. In addition to our frustration with the line cutters...It just kept getting colder and colder as we waited in the dark....and then OBAMA'S FACE FELL OFF! The Obama doll I had with me, The duct tape couldn't stand the cold so his face just kept falling off! Even my warm chewing gum didn't last long against the cold, and it all just lost it's stickiness so Obama's face refused to stick onto the Mr. Incredible doll I'd disguised as Obama because he says
" Iiiiiiitttttttzzzzzzzz's SHOWTIME!!". My cameras also stopped working ( right after this pic because the batteries got cold) and some people commented that their cell phones wouldn't work. When it warmed back up... at about 11AM Obama's face stuck back on, but please accept my whine here: IT WAS COLD!Here I am, it was about 8:10AM, and the Secret Service had stolen my brass school bell from me when I went through security... like I could throw it at Obama, way up there behind that tree! Yes that tree there is obscuring our view of the stage. I never did get used to the late hours the sun chose to shine on DC. I was happy to FINALLY be at the Inauguration, but the cold kept me doing squats and jumps and anything else to stay warm. I had some of those chemical warmers in my boots and both gloves but DANG.... IT WAS COLD!!! As soon as I secured my spot, I started to try to call Gertrude again, but her telephone wasn't working so all I could do was keep an eye out for her.
Gertrude and I had an agreement, she'd attach a helium balloon to her walker so it would stick up into the air and I'd save her a place and help her find me by looking for the balloon. Well, I saved her a place, and made sure everyone around me knew Ms. Gertrude was coming and we were ALL looking for the balloon but we never did see one. Vivica Fox was standing about 3 person's behind me but no balloon. It wasn't until later that I found out that some of the crowd, that had tickets but didn't get in line had RUSHED THE PURPLE GATE AND PUSHED IT DOWN so the secret service closed the entry gate for the purple section and didn't let anyone else in, including Gertrude. The ladies behind me bragged that they didn't get out of bed until 7:30AM and got into the gate at 8AM, so they must have been line cutters. That's why the line never moved for the people in the tunnel and why Gertrude ended up watching Obama's inauguration from the train station. (at least it was warm there). Gertrude got locked out, I felt so bad when her phone finally warmed up and we talked. Also closed were the silver and blue ticket areas, which means that thousands of people traveled all that way to Washington DC to see Obama's Inauguration, BECAUSE THEY HAD TICKETS... and were denied entry!

6. Tuesday, January 20th - The Wedding I had secured a spot at the front of the purple ticket area which was behind the <> " I get to sit down in a chair in the orange section ticket area" and in front of the reflection pool which was a lot further back. There were 2 different chest high metal barricades up to preventing us from jumping our one fence and taking one of their chairs, and I hung my peace flag on the other side of it. A security officer patrolled this unpopulated security area , between these 2 barricades, which was about 15' wide and kept us away from those lucky ones who had tickets for seats, also known as rich celebrities: I couldn't see the stage where Obama stood, nor a TV screen because of the trees, but I was happy to be there. OBAMA WAS THE GROOM AND AMERICA WAS THE BRIDE AND THE MAJORITY OF US WERE JUST SO PROUD TO BE THERE AT THE WEDDING!
Many of us didn't dress well for the cold weather, I kept doing squats, the lady next to me was saying not to call the paramedics unless she passed out (she kept squatting down and putting her head between her legs). Mariah Carey left before "the wedding" started (she was only wearing a miniskirt and a short jacket) and was accompanied by a uniformed guard and her husband. ... and many people where taken away in stretchers, sick from the cold. Ashley Judd walked back and forth in front of us, but the 15' separation made it too far away to get an autograph or anything. I saw Steven Spielberg and his wife, plus Jessica Alba, Will.i.am and MC Hammer. I'm sure there were many others that I knew, but people were wrapped up against the cold and only those who left their heads bare were easier to recognized ....and I was too cold to write them all down so I'd remember. It also helped to have people all around who spotted them, then called their names until they waved with recognizing them all. This picture was taken the next afternoon.. my hand is where Obama stood, they still had that area fenced off.
(I was located to the left of those trees you can see on the left during the inauguration.)
When THE SWEARING IN CEREMONY PART FINALLY STARTED... the security guard's supervisor came by to ask him how's he's holding up, is there any trouble, how's he feeling??? - IN A LOUD VOICE. We were all shushing him, but he blasted us back not to tell him to lower his voice, and by the time the commotion was all over, the swearing in ceremony was concluded.
What I really didn't like was how those lucky folks who had great tickets started LEAVING before the inauguration was even in the middle of being over. They started LEAVING right when Obama began speaking. One, two, three up and left! Then, when that horrible Poet started trying to READ her poem... they started seriously leaving. It was quite distracting for those of us who couldn't see a TV screen, could only try to listen to what was happening, and a river of celebrities were walking around in front of us because they were LEAVING. I looked behind me--->>> NOBODY in the purple section was leaving. By the time the poet was done, the exodus was so large that they had to slow down and wait, so they wouldn't trample each other. It was horrible, and very disrespectful....
After the inauguration program concluded, I started earnestly passing out the pink ribbons from a large bag I'd brought for the wedding. Standing on a tall curb so the Capitol Building was behind me and I was high enough to feed the mob of hands that wanted a free ribbon to remember this wonderful wedding with, I guess I passed out about 800 ribbons. This was the only time I saw the America press, and coincidentally, a reporter from the Commercial Appeal recognized me from a picture. The Detroit news service took lotza pics of people getting ribbons but I couldn't find any of theirs on the Internet. The walk home felt very long, I was TIRED, and still horribly COLD, so when I finally got back, I filled up the bathtub with really hot water and just tried to warm up by laying in it for an hour.

6.5 The Booing of GW Bush
Before the wedding, every time President GW Bush's picture was shown on the TV screens up and down the mall, having breakfast with Obama earlier in the morning, then arriving at the Capitol Building, or just at the Inauguration, he was BOOED by the American people on the mall. Not a little BBBOOOO but long, loud, happy BOOOOOOOS!
The massive show of dislike was so enamoring to others that when the next opportunity came to booo GW Bush, more vigor/volume was added and since I was on the capitol building grounds - there's no way Bush didn't hear the booing when it was done (again) when he was seated outside. For me that Booing was heartfelt music to my ears that I sure never hear in Mississippi!
Then, when GW Bush got onto the helicopter for the ceremonial leave taking, the crowd SANG all together!
na na na nah
na na na nah
hey hey HEY...
bye bye Bush
(about 5 times!)
this song was also crooned outside the White House after we threw those shoes the day before.

7. The Eagle During the inauguration I was awed by a huge bird of prey that was flying around the capitol building, checking out all those seated guests, who then landed in a tree. It looked very large which made me think it was an Eagle and I was amazed that the enormous amount of people didn't scare it away. It was just majestically soaring around, having a good look.
On my last day in DC I was surprised by a Coopers Hawk that tried to grab a pigeon from the front of the Code Pink house, missed and landed on a tree branch just 10 feet above my head. It left before I could snap a pic. I never thought that my trip to DC would be an opportunity to see birds of prey!

8. The Southern Reception Some People called them Inaugural Balls. I used my GPS to drive to the Southern Inaugural Ball but I ended up in the wrong side of town at a brownstone. The people who live there didn't know where the National Armory was, and after about 15 minutes I figured out that I had put the wrong destination into the GPS and it was supposed to be west instead of east or something like that. I still wasn't accustomed to the dark, it was pitch black by 6PM... so I was going to be early to the BALL, and excited to DANCE!!! Which was good because I got lost, and then the big parking lot I was told I could easily park in ... was closed to the public, so I had to circle around and around to find a space in a residential neighborhood, who had more guests than ever before also parking outside...and then walk about 10 blocks to get to the SOUTHERN BALL.
My dancing ticket (Southern Ball ticket $250.00) was not delivered in advance, so I could only hope that it was in will call. The ticket taker sent me outside, down the block to get it, only she didn't know what she was talking about, nor did the Secret Service, nor the regular police so I finally walked back to the main entrance and was admitted thought the original door, only I was a lot colder than when I arrived, to find the will call was non existant... they just looked at my computer print out and ID, then of course the metal detector which LOVED my button coat (141 buttons). I didn't want to give up my coat at the check place because I felt like a frozen popcicle and I decided to wear my Obama button Coat to celebrate the wedding so it was a topical coat. Unfortunately for me, there was NO DANCING.
The terrific band had a dance floor full of people, all standing around for HOURS, waiting for our new president to arrive.
I found a couple (Rosemany and John, who were dancing to the side of the band, next to the bar and joined them. Even when John left to get Rosemary a drink, we danced
There was food, so people walked around, ate, and waited for Obama, so it was morte like a RECEPTION than a ball. The only celebrity I saw there was Eveander Hollyfeld who was told by the public to pose with the heavyweight button lady. I wore a pink chiffon gown that I got for the Denver Convention, but had never worn, because the ladies voted that it was more unusual than the (typical) darker outfits I'd brought to choose from- plus it was our color. I wore my son's OLE MISS scarf, in case there were Mississippians there, but there was no dancing!!.. WITHOUT DANCING THEN IT'S JUST A RECEPTION, NOT A BALL!

The Obama's arrived around midnight and since ONLY 3 OF US had been dancing at the sidelines, there was no room in front for me to stand, so here's my best picture from the back of the mob. You can see that I primarily got pictures of people taking pictures!

After the Obama's left, so did almost everyone else, although I did notice a new country swing band started playing on a third stage, and some people were actually square type dancing. I was pooped, so home I went... the GPS worked fine.

Wednesday, January 21st it was still pitch black outside but Keisha's alarm didn't get her up and she was going to miss her bus home, so I charged out of bed and ran her down the street to where I'd finally found a parking spot the night before and we were off to the Greyhound bus station. I didn't think she'd make her bus because it was supposed to leave at 6:30AM, and it was past that when we pulled up, but happily she made her bus so I didn't have to drive to PA that day. As long as I was awake, then it was time to grab a very hot shower, while the rest of the house was still sleeping, then try to find someplace to lawfully park my Prius for the luncheon I'd been invited to attend by Burns Strider, because I wouldn't be home to move the car every 2 hours if I left it on the street in front of the Code Pink House.
The General's luncheon. I was invited to attend a luncheon at the Phoenix Park Hotel on the Hill (parking lot charged $17.00... but at least I didn't get a parking ticket) where retired military officials, WWW.MISSIONREADINESS.ORG were uniting with the Eleison Group www.Eleisongroup.org to announce that the direction of America needs to change. Captain John Powers jpowers@eleisongroup.com was the host of the event who served in Baghdad 2009-2004 and told us that they could only take off their protective gear when they visited the orphanages where they disbursed 5000 shoes, food and gas because 40% of the Iraqi people are now under the age of 14 years of age. They were trying to stop children from being recruited into the insurgency. Amy Goodard, who's with the Eleison Group was the only woman to speak... I like hearing women speak... about the need to invest 2 billion dollars into HEAD START which is the long term solution to reduce recidivism. . Only 30 percent of Americans are eligible to serve in the military! 7 out of 10 Americans are ineligible to join the military because they are: Felons, haven't graduated from High School, too fat, or other health problems. They want to work to strengthen America's young people by Crime prevention, increasing graduation rates and developing more FIT Americans. Investing in HEAD START would also help the health of the intellect and family development (so stated General Blunt) which is needed because troops need to successfully pass high technical courses for their more sophisticated military equipment (this is all my paraphrasing).
Another speaker was the 1st Iraq Veteran elected: Congressman Patrick Murphy who spoke about developing leaders of character for a lifetime of service to our country. Ronnie Shows from Mississippi was in the audience and Burns Strider, bstrider@eleisongroup.com who invited me was one of the speakers, and is now a member of the Eleison Group. I met him when he worked on Hillary Presidential campaign. Since I wore my peace dress to the luncheon, some may have thought I was there to be disruptive/anti-war (like the ladies at the sign in desk who kept asking me if I was sure I was at the right place??). But in reality I was there to eat the AWESOME buffet, and support this group WHO THINKS HEAD START SHOULD BE FULLY FUNDED! Yep, the Generals realize that Head Start children are 44% more likely to graduate from High School so they want our Mississippi Senators to support it! They have a National Advisory Committee. Their advisory committee is a bi-partisan contingent of retired senior military leaders and former members of the Cabinet. I decided to list their Military Leadership below for you to scroll in case you need a speaker or want to ask them to visit your Senator/Congressman to fund Head Start... very impressive!
General Henry H. Shelton, US Army (Ret.)

General Wesley Clark, US Army (Ret.)

General Johnnie E. Wilson, US Army (Ret.)

Admiral Leon A. "Bud" Edney, US Navy (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Joe Ballard, US Army (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Jerome B. Hilmes, US Army (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Donald L. Kerrick, US Army (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Joseph Wehrle, US Air Force (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, US Army (Ret.)

Vice Admiral Donald Arthur, US Navy (Ret.)

Major General Buford "Buff" Blount, US Army (Ret.)

Major General Roger R. Blunt, US Army (Ret.)

Major General George Buskirk, Jr., US Army (Ret.)

Major General George F. Close, Jr., US Army (Ret.)

Major General James W. Comstock, US Army (Ret.)

Major General John T. Crowe, US Army (Ret.)

Major General Paul D. Eaton, US Army (Ret.)

Major General Paul E. Mock, US Army (Ret.)

Major General Paul Monroe, Jr., US Army (Ret.)

Major General Paul Vallely, US Army (Ret.)

Rear Admiral James A. Barnett, US Navy (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Roland Guibault, US Navy (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Stuart Platt, US Navy (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, US Coast Guard (Ret.)

Rear Admiral David M. Stone, US Navy (Ret.)

Brigadier General John Douglas, US Air Force (Ret.)

Brigadier General Michael A. Dunn, US Army (Ret.)

Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote, US Army (Ret.)

Brigadier General Keith H. Kerr, US Army (Ret.)

Brigadier General David L. McGinnis, US Army (Ret.)

Brigadier General Preston Taylor, US Air Force (Ret.)

Brigadier General Ted Vander Els, US Army (Ret.)

Brigadier General John M. Watkins, US Army (Ret.)

Brigadier General Jack Yeager, US Army (Ret.)

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Frederick J. Finch (Ret.)

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James L. Herdt (Ret.)

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada (Ret.)

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Alford L. McMichael (Ret.)

Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve Michele S. Jones (Ret.)

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vincent W. Patton, III (Ret.)

Sergeant Major of the Army Jack L. Tilley (Ret.)

Civilian: Former Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton and Former Under Secretary of the Army Joe R. Reeder for more: If you want to read more about the Eleison Group , they posted an article here: http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,182860,00.html Strong Military Needs Early Education Focus, by Dalton and Shelton | January 12, 2009

I was stunned by their presentation only 30% of AMERICANS were eligible??? They've been lowering standards to fill the ranks???!!! Mississippi is listed as one of their 10 target states ???... so after the luncheon, I walked over to the offices of our Mississippi Senators with Lola, who was one of their guests from New York, and asked the MS staff (Senators were in session) to please support Head Start. Of course nobody from either office EVER called me back as promised. After visiting their offices we played tourists, and we went and posed by Hillary Clinton's Senate office, and then got tickets to go see her confirmed as our next Secretary of State!! Mind you, our MS Senate offices didn't offer us Senate Gallery tickets, but the Senator (not Hillary's) from New York did!

10. Hillary's Sworn in! The Senate was packed, not just with Senators and press but with every seat in the gallery/audience filled. ..and you could stay there watching as long as you like. But the security... man they were STRICT! Not only did we have to pass security to get into the building, but the ticket required that we pass in all of our personal belongings at a check point, then we had security AGAIN where we again walked through a metal detector, and were wanded and more stuff was taken away like coats....everything all over again. No camera nor cell phones so no pictures to share from the gallery, just Clinton's Senate office with her Senate Seal on the hallway outside her office door with Lola.
Lola and I were interested in what was sold at the Senate and Capitol building gift shops... I was surprised that they had NOTHING FOR OBAMA. I kid you not, if you wanted Obama souvenir trinkets, the streets WERE FULL OF VENDORS, but those stores, the only thing I found were some rulers that have all of the 44 president's faces and a mouse pad with the same. I bought a mouse pad for Adrienne, and plenty of rulers, which turned out to be VERY popular for the children.. Once we left the Capitol Building, it was quite a disorienting walk to figure out where I was and where was the Pheonix Hotel with my car. Lotza walking!

Wednesday night was CodePink's pot luck dinner party. The house was crammed with all kinds of visiting and local peace activists who brought a dish and were happy to celebrate. The singing was grand! I myself had quite the adventure FINDING a grocery store that had something good looking to buy for my contribution to the pot luck, and rejected the first (supposed) grocery store I stumbled upon. It was hard to find stores and gasoline, really, I only found them because I asked. I ended up bringing 2 cartons of fried chicken and a coconut cream pie.. only 1/2 of the chicken was put out (the rest was held back for the house members) and I don't think the pie was set out either... I made yummy choices!.
Our great CodePink leader, Medea announced to our group that The Nation (magazine) had chosen Code Pink as their best activist group for the last 6 years of the Bush administration! Quite a compliment! If you'd like to read their article, it's here:

Most Valuable Progressives: Code Pink's Transition posted by John Nichols on 01/19/2009

I was all tuckered out so after dinner, I crawled up into my high topped bunk bed and rested... who could sleep with all the noise?

Thursday January 22nd I went with my fellow Code Pink ladies and walked to the Senate Building, where we found Medea already attending a Senate hearing and we quietly protested Admiral Dennis Blair, who was being confirmed for the Director of National Intelligence position. Some of us had the pink foam peace signs and others held up signs about Stopping the Torture in Timor( which he appeared to have some hand in). When we first got there I applauded after Senator' Finesteine's opening remarks, and then ...........
there was SECURITY -->>>>right IN my face <<---telling me I'd better be QUIET or I was out! He would be watching me, and I'd better not cause any MORE problems or I was OUT --->>>>>>>>>.
Code Pink - Team leader Medea Benjamin was shaking her head, we'd just arrived and already in trouble. I didn't want to sit in the back of the room, where I could barely hear so I moved up to the front row, and made a overly large man give me 3/4's of my seat, the rest were full. Senator Finesteine was wonderfully articulate, (you can read her remarks here: http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=NewsRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=0081539c-c16a-36e6-7ba7-d00771d6f5e9) and then Senator Dodd (who writes all his stuff???) read his speech and it went on, and on and on. Meanwhile I got an electric Zap right on my thigh!
Zap - Zap
the big guys cell phone started zap/vibrating. He had it in his coat pocket which was on my thigh and boy was he popular....Zap Zap Zap!!! It was quite disconcerting but since the police WERE WATCHING MOI, I didn't say any of the things that came to my mind.
The Admiral spoke and when the Senator from Hawaii was getting ready to speak we decided to leave and we all stood up to go.
RUSH..... SECURITY CAME FLOODING INTO THE ROOM TO GET US! But since we weren't doing anything other than leaving it was all kinds of non drama for naught. At the door, the police bade us good bye and asked it we'd be back again today???
No, but maybe tomorrow!

We split up and some of us went to meet our elected officials from Florida, New York and Mississippi! Code Pink had never called upon Congressman Childers office so I had to get that fixed right away! As luck would have it my Congressman was in, his usual congenial self, and he invited us all into his office for a chat.
WE SANG TO CONGRESSMAN CHILDERS "We are singing for a peaceful world, we're singing for a peaceful world.." He'd never had anyone sing to him before, and there were 7 of us in his office.
Ariel (far left) had just returned from Gaza so she spoke a little bit about that area and her hopes that Childers would bring about PEACE in the middle east. while we were there, I asked Congressman Childers staff; Michael Fayoyin, to please get something special done for Gertrude since she didn't get into the Inauguration with her purple ticket. I gave him a First Day of Issue, stamped envelope decorated with an Obama picture, stamp/dated November 4, 2008 and asked that he get Obama to autograph it and then send it to Gertrude as a keepsake for her inaugural disaster. So far it hasn't happened, and now he no longer works for the Congressman!
There are tunnels underground that connect all of these buildings, and security posts, and so we took a picture at one of the junctures, but the man who we coerced to take the picture cut off the statue ladies head. I think they should paint the wall behind this statue a different color so it stands out.

We also sang to the new Congressman from Florida, and then we split up some and I went with Ariel so we could meet up with Rae and 2 other Pinkers to met with Rae's Congresswoman from California. These 3 ladies have BEEN TO GAZA, so they spoke to her about their concerns. I was very interested to hear that the children of Palestine are not allowed to travel. Ariel works with a program that gets Israeli and Palestine teens together to interact. The Israeli teems just arrive (at the Israeli site) in their cars, while the Palestinian teens had to get permission to travel, had to go through 7 check points and it was a big event for them to enter Israel. Once they were together, the plans for them to interact were curtailed because WAR broke out and they all had to be returned. Frantic parents immediately wanted their children home, but they still had to go back through all of those check points.
Side Note: Rae and Ariel saw a photograph of me, taken in New York at the 3rd Presidential debate... displayed in a store front window in Amsterdam when they were walking down the street! !
Congressman Childer's office gave us ALL tickets to get into the House of Representatives Chambers to hear them speak. Wasn't that nice??There are all kinds of tunnels that connect all of these buildings together... and it means a LOT of WALKING! But at least it's walking inside instead of freezing outside.
The line to get into this Chamber went swiftly, and here's the reason why: The Congressman from Indiana was speaking about how WONDERFUL our President is and how he's not going to talk about the FORMER President and his women problems let alone Monica Lewinski and BLA BLA BLA.
It's like he was in a time warp and was totally ignoring that Obama had been our president for 3 days. - the turnover was amazing, people came in, sat down, then left... it didn't look like any of the 20 people in there were staying to listen, unlike when Hillary was Confirmed and hundreds of people wouldn't move. The Congressman after him also was still speaking with his head up GW Bush's behind! They were incredible imbeciles so I left!
The RULES of the gallery are:
Nothing can be taken into the Galleries other than articles of clothing and handbags (but they took those too)
Guests must remain seated and refrain from reading, writing, smoking, eating, drinking, applauding or taking pictures (they seized all cameras, I really wanted to BOO the guys)
Front railing must be kept clear of all objects and guests must not lean on the railing
Appropriate hats may be worn by gentleman for religious purposes ONLY.
Any disturbance or infraction of these rules is justification for expulsion from the Galleries.

When I went to leave there was a huge line for the one elevator, so I decided to take the stairs. But there was a sign that said the stairs are closed. I went down them anyway and then the guard cam,e and said I cannot use the stairs. So I went back upstairs to stand in the long line for the elevator... a tour guide told me.. just go down the stairs, following that guide (who had 3 people with her), so I did and then the yelling started again... bottom line, they don't want to save energy and let us use the stairs.

That evening I engaged the GPS to take me to Gertrude's Sister's home in Maryland. The GPS decided that she lives in a very busy intersection, about a mile west of her actual home... but at least it got me close. Gertrude and I shares some lovely chicken soup with Bertha, went to bed early, then set out on Friday for home sweet home! No more drama... except for the invisible blankets.

11. The Invisible Obama Blankets,
On Dec 3rd, I ordered 2 Ole Miss Blankets from WalMart in their photo department. They advertised that Fuji could add a picture (of your choice) to the center of the flannel blanket in 7-10 days. I decided that since it was going to be freezing in Washington DC, I'd make myself a colorful MS blanket wrap that was also topical. I gave them the 2 pictures and they said because of the Christmas rush, there'd be no way I could get them by Christmas. I said no problem, I want them by January 16th. After Christmas I went to WalMart to get my blankets...after they scanned my ticket number I was told that they'd arrived! But they couldn't find them in the drawer so that must mean they are arriving in the next delivery. The invisible blankets continued to be on the truck for 4 days, then they told me they'd been delivered to another WalMart store. I started getting impatient, because if they couldn't FIND the blankets, then I needed to order another pair. Nobody knew anything so I finally called the WalMart district manager who had the local photo store manager re-order my blankets... because now Fuji decided to tell them that they couldn't make them from the photo disk we'd sent, they had to be ordered on the Internet. Now that it was January, I was pressing them, when are they going to arrive? Not to worry!
Two days before I'm supposed to leave for the Inauguration I check on the blankets. The Store Ass. Manager's been trying to help me with them and can't believe they haven't been delivered. He calls Fuji, he gets my address in Washington DC, they're going to FedEx them to me. So while I was in DC, the invisible blankets were never delivered. I come home and when I'm next shopping in WalMart I ask about the blankets. The blankets have been delivered... but they can't find them... they call. Oh they were delivered to the WRONG STORE. I said you're kidding me, I've heard this before. Sure enough, one week later I get a notice, they decided that the pictures I want to use are copy written. Now this was not possible because one of their own photo employees used THE SAME OBAMA FAMILY PICTURE to make a set of sheets and pillow case. The other was a design I paid to have made onto a button. A different employee decided that I needed to fill out another form that dealt with copywrites. After THREE months, the invisible Obama blankets arrived.
The assistant Manager of the photo department took down their sample Ole Miss blanket off the wall, she told me it was too much drama to get the merchandise, and another customer was being similarly jerked around like I was so he will also get his blanket for FREE, if it ever arrives.

I'm sending this now, or I'll never send it.
If you made it this far, WOW1
Kelly Jacobs