Monday, September 12, 2005




An Open Letter by Scott Tucker, Editor of Open
Letter Online


Readers of Open Letter,

Last night (Friday, September 9) Cindy
Sheehan spoke to a crowded audience at the Agape
Center in Los Angeles. CodePink ( ) helped organize
the meeting, and is also helping to bring the
message of Camp Casey from coast to coast. Camp
Casey was the peace encampment near the
president's vacation home in Crawford, Texas,
named after Cindy Sheehan's son, a soldier who
died in Iraq. Camp Casey was not the result of a
careful plan and strategy. Cindy Sheehan planted
the seed, but the encampment soon had an
astonishing civic and organic life. Sheehan is a
mother who wanted to ask the Commander in Chief
some tough questions. Why, for example, did her
son die in a war which the government first waged
with a campaign of lies? That's how Camp Casey

Her T-shirt was printed with these words:
"He's not my president." And the name of the
anti-war group which has mounted the largest mass
protests in recent American history was
emblazoned right below those words: UNITED FOR
PEACE AND JUSTICE. (For information on UFPJ and
the upcoming Peace Festival in Washington, DC,
September 24 - 26, check this weblink:

Sheehan told the audience we have the right
and duty to take this country back from the oil
profiteers and warmongers. She quoted the
ghost-written rhetoric of George W. Bush-- which
passed his lips almost without a thought, but
which set her own heart on fire: "We have to
complete the mission to honor the sacrifices of
those who have died."

Cindy Sheehan believes the lives of brave
soldiers (including her son) have been sacrificed
for a dishonorable cause. That makes her a ery
dangerous person in the minds of those who hold
power and wage war.

Cindy Sheehan told Anderson Cooper: "I'm here
in Crawford because you reporters aren't doing
your job."

When reporters ask why Sheehan calls Bush a
terrorist, she tells them plainly: "Because Bush
says a terrorist is someone who kills innocent
civilians. Bush is killing lots of innocent
civilians, so by his own definition Bush is a

A woman with a mind and a mouth like Cindy
Sheehan's has to be smeared. She's heard and read
it all. The smear campaign is full of
contradictions, and full of distractions.
Sheehan has been called "heartless," and she's
been called "emotional." Laptop bombardiers
have claimed she's not "a real patriot," and war
propaganda has reduced Sheehan to a mother with
no maternal feeling, a woman who dishonors the
life and death of her own son. This campaign is
orchestrated from the top and through the usual
far right channels. She's not backing down and
she's not shutting up.

"If they couldn't knock me down by killing my
son," said Cindy Sheehan, "how do they think
lying about me will stop me now?"

She added: "My son's blood lined the pockets
of people who were already rich. This war is
driven by guys who can't admit a mistake, but
it's also driven by corporate greed."

Sheehan introduced another Gold Star mother,
Vicki Castro, whose son, Jonathan, was killed
with thirteen other soldiers when a suicide
bomber infiltrated a lunchtime gathering of
soldiers in Iraq. Vicki Castro pointed at a
photo of her son smiling behind the wheel of his
pick-up, and then at a photo of Coffin #1306
being delivered under a flag.

Arianna Huffington and others also addressed
the audience. Huffington fancies herself "beyond
left and right"-- or that's how she is positioned
on a radio talk show called Left, Right, and
Center-- and she does distinguish herself among
the well known opiners by taking direct aim at
weasels, flunkeys, "centrists," social climbers,
and war collaborators in the leadership of the
Democratic Party. For this reason alone, she is
a great public servant. She is wittier than
whole corporate crews of talking heads, and
(having been a scholar of the Greek classics) she
also paid a great compliment to Cindy Sheehan.
Huffington reminded the audience that the ancient
Greeks made an important distinction between
Pericles and Demosthenes, two of the great
Athenian orators. Pericles was the finer
speaker, and better versed in the art of
rhetoric. But when the ancient Greeks listened
to Demosthenes, "then they were ready to march."
The audience erupted in applause, and the analogy
was clear: Cindy Sheehan is a Demosthenes, and a
force for peace no government can dare ignore.

A warrior spirit and a commitment to peace
make Sheehan a woman who has to be smeared,
baited and bullied. She marched as close to the
president's home in Crawford as she could get,
before security guards blocked her and before she
was pushed in a ditch. That's how Camp Casey
began. A grieving and angry mother wanted the
Commander in Chief to answer her questions, not
just use her as a prop in his own photo ops. She
didn't have a flashlight that first night in
Crawford, much less a tent or portable toilet.
The government told her she'd better take No for
an answer. So she went over the head of the
Commander in Chief and took her questions to the
rest of us: we, the people.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents
the 35 th District of California ( ) was introduced as
one of the very few "unbought, unbossed"
politicians in the Democratic Party. True--
which raises questions. Waters gave a rousing
speech but she is waging as hopeless a battle in
her own party as Bush is waging in Iraq. The
Democratic Party is dominated by the Democratic
Leadership Council, the bailiwick of the Clintons
and their kind. And Howard Dean-- remember that
"peace candidate" ?-- now heads the Democratic
National Committee. Dean changed his tune on the
war as soon as he got his new job. Dean said,
"Now that we're there, we're there and we can't
get out." Dean's words should be tattoed in red
ink on the foreheads of every liberal who still
believes the Democratic Party is some kind of
humanitarian organization. (See "Howard Dean,
Leader of the Other Pro-War Party, Backs the
Occupation," by Kevin Zeese, in CounterPunch,
April 22, 2005:

Liberals-- excuse me, "progressives" (as
liberals scared of their own shadows now prefer
to be called)-- will be demanding that we vote
for Hillary or some other corporate "centrist" in
2008. Liberals who are literally invested in the
Democratic Party-- the big donors, the career
social climbers-- will give their party leaders a
free pass on every urgent and critical issue.
War, health care, welfare, housing, decaying
infrastructure, systemic corporate crime, the
trashing of air, land, and water-- each and every
one of these issues damn well better be a litmus
test for any candidate asking for votes in 2008.
The proof of liberal ineffectuality is that they
continue to vote by rote. "Progressives" who
pull levers for such career politicians are among
the most conformist and regressive people to be
found in the United States of America.

Until we make a radical break away from their
ideology and from the party of their choice, we
can expect continuing war collaboration from
"centrist" leaders-- no matter which corporate
politician reigns in the White House. Huffington
told last night's audience that the definition of
madness is doing something that does not work
over and over again. Huffington can huff and
puff, but she'll never blow the bipartisan system
down until she starts speaking out for the real
and growing opposition party: the Green Party of
the United States. (For more information on the
Green Party, check ). And a
thousand editorials in The Nation are not worth
one person who makes an honest break from the
stranglehold of corporate politics.

Last night proved that minds can change-- and
that in politics people can evolve not just year
by year, but week by week, and hour by hour. The
Democratic Party will not disappear-- it will
remain a partner in corporate wars and crimes.
That is the very reason a distinction must be
made between the career professionals of that
party-- the "centrist" hired managers of
capitalism, the party leaders such as the
Clintons, Gore, Dean, and others-- and the many
citizens and voters who are ready to think again
about war, peace and democracy.

The cry for peace must also become a
political battle cry:


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Latest news from Andrea Garland

Well, folks.... it's been a long and interesting day. I apologize - no pictures will be posted tonight.

A whole lot of BS went on today and it's not worth going into too many details. Suffice to say that Jeffrey and I returned back to the camp in Covington from a supply run to be surrounded by a dozen police officers asking for our ID, all sorts of questions, wanting to search our van... all about this renegade RN that showed up last night offering us lots of medical stuff, long story short we gave him a ride to his van last night and they had to make sure we weren't in cohots - with someone who it now appears was being pursued on trumped up charges as after all the nonesense they let the dude go. I know, that's all very incoherent, but that's the best I can do.

The important news to impart is: WE ARE GOING HOME. Our friend James went into the city today and checked on our neighborhood and reported back that "it is beautiful." He estimates there are some 30-40 people left in our area. The national guard is patrolling - but - as was stated to us by the national guard we met yesterday in
Algiers "well, we'd rather be here than being shot at in Iraq, so our mission here is not to complete our mission (evacuating the city)." So after a long, stressful day with all sorts of craziness with cops and the Red Cross and everything else under the sun, we have decided we are going home. My friend Leenie just got back to LA and she is down with the plan. So... here is the deal: tomorrow, we are are going into the city - first to Algiers to drop off the supplies we picked up for those folks today, and then we will make a run through our neighborhood and check out our house (James did a check from the outside today, other than the awning that now sits in front of our door instead of above it, we are pretty much ok). The day after, we will load up on supplies - replace the generators we have given to others, stock up on food and water, get ourselves hooked up with broadband internet so we can stay in touch with ya'll... and the day after, we are going back in and we are going to stay.

I don't have the energy to explain, so I'm just going to tell you all how it is. 'They' are trying to take our city from us. Thousands upon thousands of poor, mostly African American citizens of
New Orleans were murdered. Those levey breaks? Dynamite. Don't ask me for proof yet - just give us some time, we will get it to you. The ones that didn't die were starved. The rest, 'evacuated.' To quote one of our state reps, who now claims the quote was taken out of context, they solved the public housing problem in New Orleans.

Little thing they forgot, though.
New Orleans isn't like any other place in this country. We've always (half)jokingly referred to it as the only third world city in the United States. Some of you might be familiar with this nickname: the city that care forgot. Well.... Haliburton has the contract to clean up the city, the developers are salivating at the 'new' New Orleans they will build, and the lower ninth and all the dead people in its attics are to be bulldozed so the land can be turned into a barrier reef to protect the city. Ain't that lovely?

Only one thing - the powers that be are not from
New Orleans and they don't know that this city is born of hardship and survives not despite, but because of it. We have been forced into the outside world these last couple of weeks - and while I want to make it clear that the love and support of the American people has been phenomenal - there is no place like home and we are not going to watch it be taken from us.

So we are going back. We're going to shove the muck on the first floor as far back as we can and set up a soup kitchen and a distribution center. Daniel is going to set up an animal sanctuary in the back yard. We've heard that the National Guard there is friendly, and our friend James will be our liason and run supplies for us. Tomorrow I'll be figuring out the intricacies of having myself an online connection in the middle of a half destroyed war zone, so don't worry - we'll be coming to you live.

We don't aim to get ourselves killed here - we've made this decision based on the experiences of recent expiditions into the city and have determined now that it is possible to do what we set out to do: to go home. But we will have our car ready and waiting... if they force us out at gunpoint, we will leave.

New Orleans can go two ways now - it can stay true to the place that holds our heart or it can become the so called new New Orleans, the brain child of developers with hard ons, government officials happy to be relieved of that pesky impovrished African American 'criminal element' and key positions to keep the oil flowing. Or, as we se it, it can become the free republic of New Orleans, the pheonix arising from the flood waters and the flames with spirit boiling over, righting wrongs and shining its light ever so much brightly than ever before.

So please with us luck and keep us in your prayers. We intend to be just fine - and after our experiences in the outside world, we think we'll feel better and safer back at home in our militarized zone with no running water and no electricity.
New Orleans is our home and we are taking it back.

Please keep sending us donations and supplies - we will be turning the first floor of our house into a soup kitchen and distribution area so we can help our friends and neighbors get back on their feet as they start returning to the city, whenever that day may be. In the meantime, we are staking our claim.

I know this may worry a lot of you, but please just wish us well. We are doing what we have to do, this is what we came back for and now the moment has come.

Soon, there will be pictures. Apologies again for the delays, but like I said, it's been a crazy day.

We are going home, folks, we are going home.

Peace out -


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