March 31, 2011

Josh Casteel and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Events

Thursday, April 14th
7:30 pm
Flaherty Community Room of Basile Hall
Mount Mercy University , Cedar Rapids

Friday, April 15th
Newman Center, Iowa City

Josh Casteel is a native Iowan who became a Conscientious Objector while a military interrogator in Iraq.
Bishop Gumbleton (retired) preaches every week, usually in Michigan, since late 2001 on a theme relating to peace, and posts the sermon at The Peace Pulpit at National Catholic Reporter (

March 30, 2011

We Are One Rally~"Defend the Dream"

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he was supporting sanitation workers demanding their dream: The right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. Today, that same demand is electrifying people across America. It's the demand of all people--black, white, Latino, and Asian American: The right to join together for our common dreams.

Join us at the Iowa State Capitol April 4, 2011, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the West Steps of the Capitol (1007 Grand Avenue), to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana across this nation where well-funded politicians are trying to take away the workers' rights Dr. King gave his life for. It's time to show: We Are One. For more information contact: IOWA AFL-CIO 515-262-9571 or

March 21, 2011

NEA's Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund

On March 11, Japan was hit with one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, soon followed by a massive tsunami. As all of us have seen in the news, the death and destruction have been enormous. During this time of crisis, NEA is working with Education International (EI) to establish a Solidarity Fund that will assist our colleagues at the Japan Teachers Union (JTU).

EI reports that the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima have suffered great damage. In addition to the immediate humanitarian needs around shelter and medical care, there will be longer-term needs around rebuilding communities and schools.

NEA is participating in the EI Solidarity Fund, which support education union members who are negatively impacted by natural and man-made disasters.

To donate, checks should be made out to the National Education Association, with “Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund” in the memo line.
Checks can be mailed to:

Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund
National Education Association
1201 16th Street NW, Suite 614
Washington DC 20036

All donations will be directed to EI to provide assistance in Japan. Thank you, in advance, for your generosity and good will.

March 7, 2011

We are under attack!

Dear Colleagues, we are in such a time when being under attack seems like a minimal statement. There is too much at stake for all of us not to stay in touch with our state and national directions. Please respond to the national need by March 8. Thank you.

The Coalition for Human Needs has spelled out the alternatives well--kids can’t afford an affirmative Senate vote on H.R. 1. Please read the following, and call your Senators today!

The Senate is expected to vote this week on alternative plans to approve spending for the rest of this year. They will vote on whether to agree to the extreme cuts passed by the House (H.R. 1) - $65 billion less than last year's spending for domestic programs. The House bill will deny vital services to millions of people, from young children to seniors. Please tell your Senators to VOTE NO on H.R. 1 and to vote FOR the Senate alternative. The proposed Senate bill cuts spending $6.5 billion below last year's levels, compared to more than $60 billion in cuts in H.R. 1. Most of the extreme cuts in the House plan listed below are not made in the Senate bill.

Call NOW toll-free 888-245-0215 (the vote could be as early as Tuesday)

Please call both your Senators and tell them to VOTE NO on H.R. 1 and FOR the Senate full-year FY 2011 bill. Tell them to vote NO on harsh and unprecedented cuts that will deny health care, education, food, housing, and jobs to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, while at the same time jeopardizing the economic recovery for all.

The House-passed cuts would be the largest one-year cuts in history. That is why it is so important that you call your Senators. Please forward this message to your networks.

If the House plan were to become law:
• 218,000 young children would not be able to receive Head Start services
• 10,000 people with long-term disabilities would lose their current rental assistance; most will be forced out of their homes
• 11 million patients would lose health care they've received at Community Health Centers (for more than 3 million, the loss of health care would be almost immediate)
• 20 million people, including 5 million children, 2.3 million seniors and 1.7 million people with disabilities, would lose some or all of the anti-poverty help now provided by community action agencies
• 9.4 million low-income college students would lose some or all of their Pell Grants
• 8 million adults and youth would lose access to job training and other employment services
• 81,000 low-income people, mostly seniors, would no longer receive supplemental food packages
• 1.2 million poor households in public housing will see their rental units deteriorate further because of cuts to maintenance and repairs; some units will no longer be habitable.
That's not all. Many thousands of jobs would be lost (for example: 10,000 teachers, 5,000 health care staff, 55,000 Head Start staff). And the cuts would slow down the economy, threatening our fragile economic recovery, and costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, just as we've started to make some progress. And remember: there are far smarter ways to reduce the deficit. A combination of fair revenue increases (examples worth many billion$: collect more revenue now sheltered offshore, end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy) and reductions in wasteful spending (many examples in the military, as well as oil and gas industry subsidies, etc.) can reduce the deficit without hurting those most in need or threatening the economy.

Your calls will make a difference! A big vote against the House plan will help protect the vulnerable and the economy as Congress continues to negotiate. Your silence will mean the cuts will be worse. It's as simple as that.

For more information about the House plan and other budget background, see the CHN report,A Better Budget for All: Saving Our Economy and Helping Those in Need.  For state data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing the impact of the House cuts click here.

March 4, 2011

Barbara Lee’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Resolution Passes Democratic National Committee Without Dissent

By Tom Hayden, The Nation [Monday night]

The Democratic National Committee, whose leader is President Barack Obama, passed a resolution at last weekend’s Washington DC conference calling for an acceleration of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan more rapidly than the president’s current 2014 timeline. The policy resolution demands a “swift withdrawal” of troops and contractors starting with a “significant and sizeable reduction [of troops] no later than July 2011.”

The resolution may not be a game-changer, but certainly a shape-shifter in the months ahead, when war funding and exit strategies are debated in Congress and Obama announces how many troops he will “begin” withdrawing this July.

The goal of Democrats like Lee is to “change the president’s political calculus” and encourage his running on a 2012 platform promise of ending two wars – instead of the specter of trillion-dollar quagmires. Gen. Petraeus and national security hawks like John Nagl are lobbying for Obama to keep American combat troops in Afghanistan through 2014 or beyond. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has staked out a position supporting the generals.

According to Bob Woodward’s prescient book Obama’s Wars, however, the president himself told Sen. Lindsay Graham behind closed-doors last year that “I can’t lose all the Democratic Party. And people at home don’t want to hear we’re going to be there for ten years.” The president slipped his promise to begin withdrawals by July 2011 into his West Point speech in December 2009, without first informing the generals.

So why did the DNC just try to speed up the president’s clock.

First, the American public is catching up with Barbara Lee’s timetable. A January Gallup Poll shows that 72 percent of American voters prefer to “speed up” the withdrawal of troops from the 2014 date. Eighty-six percent of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 61% of Republicans favored the more rapid withdrawal. But Pentagon denial persisted. Nagl, the counterinsurgency expert who heads the Center for a New American Security, wrote in the New York Times [Feb. 21] that there was “surprisingly little objection” by the public to the 2014 deadline.

Second, despite the recently-revealed Pentagon “psy-ops” spin to visiting members of Congress, the war is not going well. The US is withdrawing from the Pech Valley in eastern Afghanistan which the Pentagon once described as “central” to the war against the Taliban. [NYT 2/24]. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point last Friday, said that any future Pentagon secretary who advises a president to fight wars like Iraq and Afghanistan “should have his head examined.” [NYT, Feb. 25]. In a book review this weekend, the New York Times lead war correspondent, Dexter Filkins, wrote that progress in Afghanistan would take a “miracle” over many more years. {Feb. 27]

Third, the US budget crisis cannot be addressed without facing the trillion-dollar war costs. Afghanistan military spending is projected at $200 billion minimum for the next two years, more than the domestic budget gap for the fifty American states combined. [NYT, Feb. 27]. If, as the president has said, “the only nation I am interested in building is the United States of America”, the spending on the Long War has become an albatross.

Little gets by the White House, especially party resolutions disagreeing with the president. In fact, when Lee first submitted her proposal to the resolutions committee, the DNC staff pushed back with an alternative draft which mirrored the official line. The staff version removed language noting that a majority of Americans opposed the war. Instead of Lee’s call for a “significant and sizeable reduction” to be announced in July, and “swift withdrawal” after that date, the staff revision asserted the 2014 deadline.

Lee’s staff argued back. Then something happened. The DNC staff objections disappeared. Democratic insiders like Donna Brazille and Alice Germond signed on as co-sponsors of Lee’s language. The resolutions committee reported out the Lee measure [Amendment #13, as it was known] in a package of measures designed for voice adoption. There was no opposition. One member of the Resolutions Committee told this writer in an email that “I’m quite sure the White House is okay with it.”

The president may be encouraging his party to become a counter-weight to the generals and Republicans who desire a long occupation. He then can claim, as he did in the Woodward book, that he can’t lose the Democratic Party. That would be more than shape-shifting. It could be game-changing.

But that’s only speculation. The next step is likely to be a follow-up letter from 100 or more Congressional representatives- including a few Republicans like prospective presidential candidate Ron Paul- asking the White House to heed the call to speed up the withdrawal and shift to a diplomatic peace strategy. Then will come debates and votes on war funding and exit strategies.