Monday, March 21, 2011

A Postcard from Quantico

At the demonstration at Quantico, Virginia yesterday, peaceful protesters and supporters of the imprisoned (but as-yet untried) American citizen PFC Bradley Manning were met by a wide array of heavily-armed personnel.

Lisa Simeone participated in the demonstration and sends along this photo, taken by a fellow protester. It shows riot police arresting Daniel Ellsberg, of the Pentagon Papers, who is 80 years old--and for whom this arrest was his 83rd--and Ann Wright, a gray-haired grandmother and former career military colonel who resigned in 2003 when the US invaded Iraq.

Riot police.

There were also heavily-armed personnel everywhere, automatic rifles, police on horseback, you name it. Because of all those pacifists doing their peaceful, Constitution-respecting First Amendment thing and protesting the unconstitutional treatment of an imprisoned but as-yet untried (and therefore, under the law, still innocent) American citizen, Bradley Manning.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Peace protesters arrested at White House; Chris Hedges speaks: War promises to give us an long as we go along with the myth"

This is award-winning author and war correspondent Chris Hedges, speaking at a peace rally in front of the White House Saturday that marked the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war.

I hope you'll take a moment to listen to this beautiful, thought-provoking speech, and that you'll share it, too. Rarely have I heard these clear, obvious truths--about not only war itself, but the culture that continues to fuel its very existence--so eloquently expressed.

And here is footage of the protesters marching and getting arrested yesterday. These included civilians as well as veterans of numerous wars--Americans who have experienced war first-hand and who now work to promote the cause of its opposites: Peace. Life. The building of things as opposed to the tearing down of them. You'll note they are peaceful and respectful, as are the police who begin quietly handcuffing (and arresting) everyone at the White House fence, including my heroic friend, co-blogger, and role model in standing up for what is right, Lisa Simeone (seen at about the 2:27 mark, to the right of the screen and wearing a leopard-print trench coat and sunglasses; when this was filmed, Lisa had not yet been apprehended).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beauty for a Saturday afternoon: Federico Mompou; Preludio from the Suite Compostelana

Frederico Mompou is one of my favorite composers. This Preludio is part of the Suite Compostelana, which he created in 1962 for fellow Spaniard Andres Segovia. Guitarist Thomas Rouw's obvious talents, and his faithfulness to Mompou's complex but nonetheless weightless--almost airborne--progressions, really honor this exquisite piece.

Bon Weekend, everyone.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid": State Dept.'s P.J. Crowley, prior to forced resignation, on Pentagon's treatment of PFC Bradley Manning

On Sunday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned, just days after his remarks to a BBC journalist--at an informal lecture--about the abusive treatment of long-detained whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning:

And then, inevitably, one young man said he wanted to address “the elephant in the room”. What did Crowley think, he asked, about Wikileaks? About the United States, in his words, “torturing a prisoner in a military brig”? Crowley didn’t stop to think. What’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He paused. “None the less Bradley Manning is in the right place”. And he went on lengthening his answer, explaining why in Washington’s view, “there is sometimes a need for secrets… for diplomatic progress to be made”.

But still, he’d said it. And the fact he felt strongly enough to say it seems to me an extraordinary insight into the tensions within the administration over Wikileaks.

A few minutes later, I had a chance to ask a question. “Are you on the record?” I would not be writing this if he’d said no. There was an uncomfortable pause. “Sure.” So there we are.

The next day, a group of residents and activists, including Code Pink, mounted an impromptu protest march that began at the State Department and concluded outside the White House. They applauded P.J. Crowley's candor and urged President Obama to put a stop to the unconstitutional pre-trial treatment of Manning.

Former C.I.A. analyst and present-day peace activist Ray McGovern--who last month attended a speech by Secretary Clinton and was bound and physically dragged from the room after merely standing and turning his back in silent protest--was among those who gathered peaceably in protest of the Obama administration's amplification of Bush-era detention and torture policies.

And so was Lisa Simeone (between the 1:20 and 1:30 minute mark, in black coat and sunglasses). Lisa reports that the group included both ordinarily-dressed citizens and some prison-garb-wearing activists and that, despite having been organized at the last minute, the mood among (and surrounding) the protesters was upbeat and positive, with onlookers saying things like "God bless you".


Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

-- Hermann Goering

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm back! From my mailbox: Alan Grayson reminds us why unions are vital

Five years (whoa) (yes, it has been that long) after starting litbrit, it has sort of established itself as a formula: life intervenes; reality contravenes; blogging retrocedes. Yet here I am, back at my digital stomping grounds once again: receiving this note from ex-congressman Alan Grayson this morning inspired me. (And with all that's going on right now, both globally and locally, little has been able to inspire me very much lately.)

Given that it hails from the Committee to Elect Alan Grayson, I assume he is aiming to be elected to something? Because if so, hooray! Anyway, reprinted in its entirety:

On May 4, 1886, in Haymarket Square in Chicago, the public rallied peacefully in support of 40,000 workers in Chicago who had gone on strike, to win the right to organize. The police attacked, and eight died.

On July 6, 1892, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, 3800 workers went on strike, to win the right to organize. Three hundred hired and armed goons attacked them. Five people died.

On April 20, 1914, in Ludlow, Colorado, 1200 coal miners went on strike, to win the right to organize. The Colorado National Guard attacked their shantytown, and burned it to the ground. Nineteen people died. Two women and 11 children were asphyxiated, and they burned to death.

Here and around the world, many people have fought and died, so that you and I would have the right to organize.

And so that 250,000 public workers in Wisconsin would have that right, too.

This is not exactly a new idea
. Six months after the Ludlow Massacre, President Wilson signed the Clayton Act, prohibiting the prosecution of union members under Antitrust Law. That was almost a century ago.

Two decades later, during the Franklin Roosevelt's first term as President, he signed the National Labor Relations Act into law. It protects the right to organize. That was over 75 years ago.

The right to organize also is a fundamental principle of international law. Over 150 countries have ratified the "Right to Organize" Convention, an international treaty. It was adopted in 1949, over 60 years ago.

So why are we even talking about this, 11 years into the 21st Century?

Because the teabaggers want to "take back America." They want to take it back, all right – take it all the way back to the 19th century. When there was no right to organize. When people worked for a dollar a day. When grown men competed against children for jobs. When women were barred from most jobs entirely. When you worked until you died. Not to mention slavery.

I want to see an America that is healthy and wealthy.

They want an America that provides cheap labor to our corporate overlords. An America where the middle class is chained by debt.

We didn't ask for this fight. But we have no choice except to fight back. For the survival of the middle class in America. For us, for our children, and for our grandchildren. And so that the victims in Haymarket, in Homestead and in Ludlow did not die in vain.

As Cardinal Spellman said 45 years ago, "it is a war thrust upon us, and we cannot yield to tyranny."

I'm ready to fight for what's right. What about you?


Alan Grayson