Monday, April 14, 2014

Break Co-dependency with Empire

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Break Co-dependency with the Empire
Cindy Sheehan



"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every wo(man) a conscience, then? I think that we should be wo(men) first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious wo(men) is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made wo(men) a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice."
Henry David Thoreau: Civil Disobedience 

When my children were young, my oldest Casey was 10; I transferred from Cerritos Community College in Norwalk to UCLA. Although I was familiar with the work of Henry David Thoreau, I was assigned On Walden’s Pond and Civil Disobedience in one of my classes.

After devouring Thoreau’s work, I tried to convince my husband to “cash out” and “check out” of the rat race. This was back in the “good ol’ days” of the ‘80s. I didn’t like what I saw of the corruption of government and the growing crass-consumerism and over-consumption of the society we lived in. I guess I have always been a starry-eyed idealist, but I cajoled my husband for days about moving to the woods with the children and creating some kind of paradise on earth. He resisted and here we are.

I think many people get trapped into accepting corruption, war, oppression, poverty, pollution, debt/wage slavery, etc., as normal that to try and wrest ourselves away from the disease of living in an Empire seems nigh onto impossible and it’s all “fun and games” until your firstborn is killed in another immoral war for profit. 

"The mass of wo(men) lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." HD Thoreau

 Casey was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004. I was in a daze of shock, anger, disbelief and pain when I jointly filed with my husband that year, but after I began to recover from the shock and confront the Empire, I had to first confront the role I had played in my own dear son’s murder.

I had to admit to myself that my addiction to driving a car contributed to my son’s death and destruction of the environment. I believe one of the primary goals of the US military is to protect and expand the interests of Big Oil. I would eventually dump the car and take to the streets on public transportation, my feet, or biking and come to the conclusion that saving the environment is obviously the most important issue.

To me, my biggest crime was funding the very institution that not only robbed me of Casey, but also has murdered, tortured, displaced, or wounded millions of people throughout its bloody history. George Bush and Dick Cheney didn’t invent Imperial Wars for Profit Based on Lies and the Bush regime wasn’t the first, or the last, to employ those murderous tactics.

So, I searched my soul, but I didn’t have to do it too long, or too hard, because I had been predisposed to withdrawing my funds and consent from the USG for quite some time and publicly became a War Tax Resister. First it was about Casey, and next it was about everyone in harm’s way of the Empire.

I could not, or would not, kill anyone myself, so I will not and cannot pay anyone else to do it.

I could not and would not torture anyone or anything, so, the same. 

I cannot dump most of my budget into feeding the evil and voracious war machine while ignoring human needs of those who struggle to survive under the boot heel of the war economy.

If Barack Obama came up to me and said, “Cindy, can you write me a check for $5k to help me buy another hellfire missile,” I would say, “hell no, take a hike,” so why should I funnel my funds through the IRS to be disbursed to the Military Industrial Complex?

Now, I know the IRS has made it its mission to terrify and persecute the citizens of this country, but I had to do a few things to become a War Tax Resister.

First, I had to divest myself of anything the IRS could steal from me, which were basically my house and car. HD Thoreau convinced me decades ago that, “you don’t own your things, your things own you,” so that wasn’t as hard as many fellow Americans would think.

“We are all poor in respect to a thousand savage comforts, though surrounded by luxuries...for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

"Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!" I had to live fully a precept from another Thoreau disciple: Mahatma Gandhi: “Live simply, so others may simply live.” It is so liberating to cut the ties between oneself and ones possessions and return to the basics of what is really important: Family, friends, love, and joy. None of those things can be bought, and if they can, I don’t want them.

Secondly, I had to come to terms with the fact that if I took this path, there could be a chance that I could go to prison. I don’t want to go to prison and have spent enough nights in jail to know this for certainty, but I cannot live with myself free, or not, knowing that I was being financially co-dependent with a murderous entity like the US Government.

According to the National Priorities Project, my state, California, sends 65 billion annually to the Feds for the so-called War on Terror since 9/11/2001. We have so many needs in this state that would produce a healthy economy, healthy environment and healthy humans that we could use that money for, so I also do not pay state taxes.

Instead of supporting The Death State (thanks Arthur Silber), my money goes towards making a society where I would be honored and eager to pay taxes: one where peace, universal-single payer healthcare, education, housing, sustainable farming and energy production, were fully funded, high-quality, and accessible for all.

Many times people will post pictures on social media of little children's mangled bodies that have been torn apart by hellfire missiles dropped from US drones in far off places; or of torture victims; or of police state violence here in the USA and say something like: "Your Tax Dollars at Work." My response is, "not mine." My conscience is clear in that regard, but for years, my hands were bathed in blood and the stains are still there.

There are many ways to be a War Tax Resister, all or part.
Please go to the War Tax Resistance CoordinatingCommittee’s website for more information.

Stop funding things you oppose while simultaneously working for the things that will improve conditions for everyone on the planet: peace, justice, environmental sustainability and income justice and equality.



The US needs to calm the hell down.




Work for Peace?Why Pay for War?

Tax Day 2014

 


PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: April 9, 2014

Contact: Ruth Benn, Coordinator
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)
PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY11215 • 800-269-7464


Refusing to Pay for War and Weapons
“War Tax Resisters” Protest with their Money

On April 15 people in communities across the United States will be leafleting, marching, doing street theatre, committing civil disobedience, and picketing at post offices, IRS offices, federal buildings calling attention to what they see as the harmful effects of military spending. A list of U.S. Tax Day events can be found at http://www.nwtrcc.org/taxday2014.php.

Many of these actions include individuals who are refusing to pay for war as an act of civil disobedience, a protest made famous in this country by Henry David Thoreau. For several years, he refused to pay a $1 poll tax that supported the Mexican-American War, once resulting in a night in jail.

Today the stakes are higher — both in weaponry and in refused taxes. While some people make their protest by refusing just $1 of income taxes due, others refuse to send hundreds or thousands of dollars to the federal government. These people often say, “I pay my taxes, just not to the IRS,” because they donate the money to humanitarian groups. Many pool their refused taxes and hold ceremonies to give grants to organizations that fund human needs and peace and justice projects.

The Conscience and Military Tax Campaign, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is granting $10,900 to 18 organizations, including Veterans for Peace, an urban farm, Virginia Student Power Network, and peacemaker trainings for African conflict zones. Bill Ramsey, who administers the fund, says, “Redirection is our version of Gandhi's constructive program. It is the fruit of our deeply rooted resistance.”

Across the country in Portland, Oregon, for the 11th year John and Pat Schwiebert will deliver their redirected taxes to the Multnomah County Commissioners, a gift to the county to “promote the general welfare.” As their annual letter explains, “loving others cannot, by any stretch of morality or logic, include killing them or paying for others, including our government, to kill them…hence this need to redirect the amount the IRS says we owe to this local government body.”

Also in Portland, other individuals figure their taxes and then collect their “taxes due” into one fund. Together they choose how to distribute the money. On April 12, 2014, their "Redirection Program" will feature the granting of over $6,000 to five groups. Resisters in Eugene have a similar process, and longtime Eugene activist Peg Morton says, “It means a lot to me to be able to redirect my taxes to life-giving groups and to have them receive these donations knowing where they come from.”

Other such ceremonies take place from Boston to Berkeley, along with tax day events like a circus in Denver, a “Human Penny Poll” in Austin, and a parade with a marching band in New York City.

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), founded in 1982, is a coalition of local, regional and national groups providing information and support to people who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for war. NWTRCC publicizes antiwar, tax day protests and supports individual resisters.

Tax day in the U.S. coincides with the annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending. See the action list at http://www.nwtrcc.org/taxday2014.php.

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Tragic Quest for Education by Cindy Sheehan



 "S(he) who opens a school door, closes a prison."
Victory Hugo
 
 Article 26 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “education is a right.” While public education from K-12 is technically “free” in the United States, access to safe education of an acceptable “well-rounded” quality is essentially disappearing.

Article 26 also declares that: “Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”

Of course many elementary, middle and high schools are being closed due to budgetary concerns and as I stated before, quality public education is hard to find and College and University in this nation are not even close to being “equally accessible.”

Most nations around this world have free, or highly subsidized universities, even in that “evil” Cuba. However, even our public institutions in the USA are becoming increasingly over-priced and with good jobs that have fair wages and decent benefits also disappearing, many of our young people are being forced to weigh the cost of education with will it be realistically “worth it?”

I have a tale of two young Americans from the working-class who dreamed of obtaining a University degree.

The first was a young man who always felt great responsibility to “do the right thing.” His parents sent him to Catholic School from K-8 and he was an Eagle Scout.

After graduating around the middle of his class in high school, he studied Theater Arts at a local community college for three years before he was able to complete his AA degree. He worked fulltime at a local department store and was active in his church whenever he had the time.

In his final semester of courses at the community college, a lying Army Recruiter preyed upon his trusting nature at a college “Job Fair.” Long story short, the young man was promised a college education and he enlisted in the Army in 2000 and was murdered in the illegal and immoral war in Iraq in April of 2004.

Our other young working-class American is a woman who did well in high school and on her SATs, but her family couldn’t afford to send her straight to university and she did not do well enough for many scholarships.

She struggled in community college because she also had to work fulltime as a food server to make ends meet.

She matriculated to a university after spending about eight years in a community college and within 4 years of that, she had completed not only her B.A., but obtained an M.A. as well.

The young lady did not join the military to do this, but she now has a lifelong debt of $50k. After all her hard work, what was her reward? She now works at two bars as a bartender. She jokes wryly, “I needed a Master’s degree to tend bar in San Francisco.”

Why is it that the children of the “99%” have to go into the military or onerous debt to obtain what most people/governments of the world consider a “human right?” It’s not right and a country that sends all good jobs with decent pay and benefits overseas, and fails to properly educate all of its young people cannot sustain itself for long.

The above examples come from my own family, my son Casey and my daughter Carly.

When I graduated from high school here in California in 1975, state colleges and university were free for residents. For an easy solution, this state needs to redirect some of the resources it uses to maintain a vast prison industrial complex and subsidies for big oil and other corporations back into education and other social services like housing, healthcare, healthy food and clean water. 

It's not only possible it's historically accurate and urgently needed.

Cindy Sheehan is an internationally known peace and social justice activist who is currently running for Governor of California: www.Cindy2014.org


The Great John Pilger Returns to the Soapbox (Soapbox Podcast 4/13/14)

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
April 13, 2014

Russia, Venezuela and the Asian/Pacific Pivot



SHOW PLAYER

GUESTS: JOHN PILGER
MATT SEDILLO



This week Cindy chats with journalist/filmmaker John Pilger about world events and his new film, Utopia.



Then young Angeleno revolutionary poet Matt Sedillo will perform one of his poems for us.




 

Friday, April 4, 2014

"We're stuffing our faces, yet starving our bodies." (Soapbox Podcast 4/6/14)

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
April 06, 2014


GUEST: MARILU HENNER
TOPIC: ANTI-GMO; PRO-HEALTH


Marilu Henner is now the host of "The Marilu Show." It airs every weekday morning on the GCN Live network or at Marilushow.com where she features guest physicians, health experts and celebrity guests and friends.





Henner has written nine books on diet, health, and memory, the most prominent being Total Health Makeover, in which she explains the virtues of a non-dairy diet in conjunction with food combining and exercise. She leads monthly classes on her website, www.marilu.com, designed to help people integrate these steps into a healthier, more active lifestyle. Both of her parents died in their 50s, which prompted her to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

htpp://www.marilushow.com



 CLICK THE PLAYER TO HEAR SHOW



http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/p/tax-deductible-donation.html

 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Army of NONE! (Soapbox Podcast 3/30)

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
March 30, 2014

GUEST: MICHAEL PRYSNER
TOPIC: EFFORTS FOR COUNTER-RECRUITMENT

On April 04, my family will be mourning the 10th anniversary of Casey's murder in Iraq in 2004.

Casey was a US soldier who was horribly lied to by an Army recruiter and to help pay for college and serve (he thought) his country, he enlisted in 2000.

Of course, as Iraq War Veteran, Michael Prysner lays out, 
war is NOT for "freedom" or anything good--the Empire counts on obedient drones in the form of human beings to carry out its program of War for Profit of the few and global hegemony.

Don't buy into it and help Michael and his organization 
work to prevent our young people from being sucked into the meat grinder of Empire.

CLICK PLAYER TO HEAR THIS SOAPBOX INTERVIEW:


 

MICHAEL'S TESTIMONY AT WINTER SOLDIER IN 2008:

PART ONE:


PART TWO: 



***********************************************
CINDY SHEEHAN ON PAGE 12:
U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013
-
5050
This SSCFP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements imposed on Senior Service College
Fellows. The views expressed in this student academic
research paper are those of the author and do not
re
flect the official policy or position of the Department
of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S.
Government.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

11 Years of War Against Iraq and Peace Work (Soapbox Podcast; March 26, 2014)

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
March 26, 2014

To commemorate the 11th year of 
War Against the People of Iraq

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
presents a retrospective of anti-war and pro-peace
activism over the years.


 CLICK THE PLAYER TO LISTEN 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Women and Politics by Cindy Sheehan



I think most of us know that in the beginning of the US, voting was reserved only for white-male property owners (WaMPOs as I call them). Even black slaves were counted as "3/5ths" of a person in the Constitution while women were left completely out. In fact, the Founders didn't even quite trust WaMPOs, hence the institution of the electoral college.

Former slaves and women fought hard and sacrificed much for their inclusion into this WaMPO paradise (oops, I mean, Republic) of voting. The picture above is of women picketing the White House (something I have done dozens of times and been arrested for many times). The WaMPOs fought back hard and even now with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution some 94 years ago, women, although more than 1/2 of the population in general, are elected to only about 18% of offices in this country.

The WaMPO paradigm was, of course, terrified that the entry of women into the electoral arena would screw things up for their comfort and positions of power. I only wish that this were true. I wish that when we earned our right to vote and entry into higher politics that we would have used OUR power and OUR insights and intelligence to put the breaks on Empire. Jeannette Rankin (first woman in Congress) from Montana should have been our beacon to follow, yet we are left with plastic women who get their minds and pocketbooks filled with Imperial plunder. 

When people of color and/or females rise to high prominence in government, a la Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, they often exhibit more loyalty to the old WaMPO way of doing things than being ground breaking leaders for their race or gender. I believe it's tragic that many leading female leaders from around the world have been such war-like creatures that we have very little integrity or courage to look up to or strive for.

To most of our fellow consumers (oops, I mean "citizens") as candidate for office myself, I have a few societal strikes against me: I am a socialist (with a small "s"); I am counter-cultural in regards to what most people feel is the "American Way," and I am a woman. But I am a woman who thinks that the WaMPO way of doing things has been given free reign to destroy the planet with its form of predatory capitalism and imperial overreach for far too long. 

Even women hold these things against me and use some of the basest stereotypes to try to undermine me, or maybe force me to slink back to my home and hearth in shame to lick the claw marks and think about how I can be a better woman.  

For example, when I ran for Congress in San Francisco against then Speaker of the House and apparent WaMPO, Nancy Pelosi, MySpace was a big thing. I will never forget this one woman who messaged me on MySpace to tell me that I wasn't "qualified" to run for Congress.

Was I younger than 25? Um, no, I was 51 on election day that year.

Did I fail to meet the nine year state residency requirement? No, I had lived in California for 51 years on election day that year.

However, I did fail her requirements: "You aren't qualified to run for Congress because you don't have a car, a job, or a husband." Sadly, she was serious.

Recently, at a protest we were campaigning at, a woman told me
that I should wear pantsuits and more makeup because voters want "Stepford Wife" candidates. Wow! That may be true, and probably is, because in this celebrity and excess worshiping culture, appearance is far more important that substance. However, the term "Stepford Wife" implies far more than perfect hair, stylish clothes and clownish makeup. It also implies a woman who will fall into lockstep with the dominant WaMPO culture with a smile on her face, legs ready to spread on demand, and a pan of warm cookies cooling on the stove.

Until we all break free of what an appearance obsessed culture demands and break out of the DemoPublican political chains, all we are going to continue to get will be wars, economic slavery, and environmental destruction.

I refuse to change myself for a few votes because, win or lose, I know I must be authentic. I was never, and will never, be a "Stepford Wife." 

Hopefully, there is a growing contingent of human beings who are sick and tired of the fraudulent images of crass politicians who bend and twist to the winds of Madison Avenue generated sales campaigns.

NASA just completed a study that said that life on this planet can no longer exist with the crushing weight of demand for shrinking resources. Male or female, we need new and fresh ideas and people who are committed to doing the hard work of pulling humanity from the brink of extinction. 

Me, sans Stepford treatment, in Sacramento at anti-fracking rally.



http://www.cindy2014.org