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First Amendment Being Stripped Away

Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich today, November 24, 20023, released the following statement:
"Reports have come out that the FBI is collecting data on people who attend peace demonstrations. Retired Gen. Tommy Franks recently said that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government. The Bush Administration is clearly not waiting for an attack to discard the First Amendment. This past weekend supporters of my campaign who were peacefully protesting the FTAA in Miami were attacked by police with tear gas as part of a security operation funded through the bill that poured another $87 billion into Iraq. Also this past weekend, supporters of my campaign who joined those protesting the School of the Americas in Georgia found their demonstration drowned out by loud music blasted at them by the military. The FBI's data collection is part of this pattern of restricting Americans' right to free speech. "This kind of intimidation will undoubtedly have an effect on the opinions people give to survey takers asking about the occupation in Iraq. But, let me tell you this, I will continue to attend every peace rally possible, and I expect that I will see millions of Americans there standing proudly and openly against these fear tactics. The First Amendment protects controversial views, and nothing is more controversial than peace when your government wants war so badly it will lie and threaten to obtain it. The nonviolent movement for peace and an end to the Iraq occupation will only grow with every authoritarian abuse employed against it." To speak to people present in Miami or Georgia, call David Swanson 301-772-0210. For more information: http://www.kucinich.us For Rep. Kucinich's Schedule: http://www.kucinich.us/schedule.htm Contact: David Swanson 301-772-0210, cel 202-329-7847, fax 301-772-7293, swanson@kucinich.us Oregon/ SW Washington: Barry Marks, 503 292 3253, jobarry@teleport.com

homepage: homepage: http:// http://www.kucinich.us/schedule.htm

I <3 Kucinich 25.Nov.2003 10:53

B

I really hope he's are next president. Dean is not the progressive candidate everybody thinks he is.

Freedom's loss is not a progressive or libertarian or conservative issue 25.Nov.2003 12:10

KM

We make a mistake to pigeonhole freedom's loss as partisan--progressive, libertarian, conservative. It's not. It's a battle for the soul of America. The two parties are the left and right wings of the vulture.


Kucinich continued... 25.Nov.2003 14:19

James

"Instead of tracking and infiltrating activist groups, the F.B.I. should focus on hunting down those bastard flag-burning activists, and throw them in prison for a year. That is, after all, why I voted multiple times in Congress to criminalize flag burning.

"You see, I'm a strong supporter of the First Amendment, guys. Really, I am. I just think we should modify it a little bit. Throw in a couple paragraphs of extra verbiage, to ban flag burning and political contributions. That's all."

Kucinich gets no respect... 25.Nov.2003 23:14

Zach

I watched the Democrat debate last night - Kucinich is the man, he was one of the few that would actually answer most questions, as most gave answers that were had nothing to do with the questions. His plans and planned policies are by far superior, and really, what most Americans want. Only people don't seem to get it - maybe they're not really listening to this guy, or maybe they think his ideas are too good to be true - thing is America has never tried his ideas out, although I think it's obvious that we all want the reality he describes in his plans. If others took away from last nights debate what I took, then maybe his popularity will increase soon - but if no one was listening to him, then he will lose. Also he mentioned last night that he was a bachelor, which I don't think is important at all, but others will. So hopefully he could be picked up as a Vice Prez or something.

legitimate investigation? yeah right. 26.Nov.2003 03:40

zero_sumog

sam I am: I don't believe there will be a legitimate investigation at all, any more than there has been for any other recent voting irregularity. It's time to bring concrete grievances to our "representatives'" doorsteps and not leave until they address our concerns.
For the sake of all the middle-of-the-roaders out there - the people who will curiously watch us march on TV (if they even put it on TV) - we need to have some ground to stand on when we walk on down to our local, state and national government offices and demand justice from elections. Otherwise the administration will easily be able to paint all dissenters as "anarchists", "extremists", "enemies of the state", "domestic terrorists". If we can say "We are voters, and we demand that the Constitution be restored", we will have the support of many many more folks in this country.
Without popular support and awareness, there can be little positive social change which comes out of such an action.
With popular sympathy, we might actually be able to fix a few things. I think open, accountable elections and reaffirmations of Constitutional protections are a good place to start, and stand a chance of being palatable to Jane and Joe Schmoe.

freedom of religion was killed... 27.Nov.2003 09:40

TheTroll

...when the Judeo-christian majority forced us to finance Jehovah's offensive promise of OPP to Jehovah's chosen offending crusaders destroying Palestine lives and lifes for thier own profit. jesus said to treat Palestinians as we would have them treat us. Judeo-christians have denied us Christians the RIGHT to follow Jesus' teachings. And the whore polititians have sold out our peace to buy ZIonist votes and campain contributions, with public taxes no less. Democraps and republitrash have betrayed America for thier own political gain and created the hatred that has been getting Americans targeted by terrorist for decades. It wasn't just 911. Whore politicians have been sacrificing America's people for decades for thier own lust of special intrest votes and campain contributions. Whore polititians don't like to talk about how THIER offensive action of reloading the Zionists guns every time they unload them into Palestinians has created the hatred aimed at us for DECADES! They say we were attacked because we are rich and free. They don't have the character to face the light of day and run from the truth. In the year before 911, Zionist crusaders MURDERED (chalenge me on this choice of words, I dare ya) over 800 of the locals (over 180 BEFORE the suicide bombers struck) , and democraps and republitrash reloaded thier guns as fast as they unloaded, as a matter of established practice. Even when ZIonists drop 2000 lb bombs on apartment complexes, whore polititians use American taxes to replace the bomb.

Kucinich outshines them all 01.Dec.2003 13:54

Susan susq@att.net

I am glad that Kucinich is standing up for his supporters and against the coporate greed and interests of this overmilitarized state that we are in currently. I believe when we have the courage to finally elect a real leader like Dennis and to stand up for our individual rights rather than retire to our comfortable TV rooms things will begin to change for the better for all. I am looking forward to actually having a reason to vote and for having someone that I want to vote for, not the lesser of two evils as has been for the last 20 years!! I will be voting for Dennis.

Stop the Madness 01.Dec.2003 14:35

susq@att.net susq@att.net

I feel more vulnerable than ever since Bush has taken office, I worry more now about a terror attack and even being harassed inside my own country. Look at this letter I received today about a priest being harassed... we've got to stop this madness please!

 http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1129-07.htm

Published on Saturday, November 29, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
The Soldiers At My Front Door
by John Dear


I live in a tiny, remote, impoverished, three block long town in the desert of northeastern New Mexico. Everyone in town--and the whole state--knows that I am against the occupation of Iraq, that I have called for the closing of Los Alamos, and that as a priest, I have been preaching, like the Pope, against the bombing of Baghdad.

Last week, it was announced that the local National Guard unit for northeastern New Mexico, based in the nearby Armory, was being deployed to Iraq early next year. I was not surprised when yellow ribbons immediately sprang up after the press conference.

But I was surprised the following morning to hear 75 soldiers singing, shouting and screaming as they jogged down Main Street, passed our St. Joseph's church, back and forth around town for an hour. It was 6 a.m., and they woke me up with their war slogans, chants like "Kill! Kill! Kill!" and "Swing your guns from left to right; we can kill those guys all night."

Their chants were disturbing, but this is war. They have to psyche themselves up for the kill. They have to believe that flying off to some tiny, remote desert town in Iraq where they will march in front of someone's house and kill poor young Iraqis has some greater meaning besides cold-blooded murder. Most of these young reservists have never left our town, and they need our support for the "unpleasant" task before them. I have been to Iraq, and led a delegation of Nobel Peace Prize winners to Baghdad in 1999, and I know that the people there are no different than the people here.

The screaming and chanting went on for one hour. They would march passed the church, down Main Street, back around the post office, and down Main Street again. It was clear they wanted to be seen and heard. In fact, it was quite scary because the desert is normally a place of perfect peace and silence.

Suddenly, at 7 a.m., the shouting got dramatically louder. I looked out the front window of the house where I live, next door to the church, and there they were--all 75 of them, standing yards away from my front door, in the street right in front of my house and our church, shouting and screaming to the top of their lungs, "Kill! Kill! Kill!" Their commanders had planted them there and were egging them on.

I was astonished and appalled. I suddenly realized that I do not need to go to Iraq; the war had come to my front door. Later, I heard that they had deliberately decided to do their exercises in front of my house and our church because of my outspoken opposition to the war. They wanted to put me in my place.

This, I think, is a new tactic. Over the years, I have been arrested some 75 times in demonstrations, been imprisoned for a "Plowshares" disarmament action, been bugged, tapped, and harassed, searched at airports, and monitored by police. But this time, the soldiers who will soon march through Baghdad and attack desert homes in Iraq, practiced on me. They confronted me personally, just as the death squad militaries did in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, which I witnessed there on several occasions.

I decided I had to do something. I put on my winter coat and walked out the front door right into the middle of the street. They stopped shouting and looked at me, so I said loudly, publicly for all to hear, "In the name of God, I order all of you to stop this nonsense, and not to go to Iraq. I want all of you to quit the military, disobey your orders to kill, and not to kill anyone. I do not want you to get killed. I want you to practice the love and nonviolence of Jesus. God does not bless war. God does not want you to kill so Bush and Cheney can get more oil. God does not support war. Stop all this and go home. God bless you."

Their jaws dropped, their eyeballs popped and they stood in shock and silence, looking steadily at me. Then they burst out laughing. Finally, the commander dismissed them and they left.

Later, military officials spread lies around town that I had disrupted their military exercises at the Armory, so they decided to come to my house and to the church in retaliation. Others appealed to the archbishop to have me kicked out of New Mexico for denouncing their warmaking. Then, a general called the mayor and asked him to mediate "negotiations" with me, saying he did not want the military "in confrontation" with the church. Really, the mayor told me, they fear that I will disrupt the gala send-off next month, just before Christmas, when the soldiers go to Iraq.

This dramatic episode is only the latest in a series of confrontations since I came to the desert of New Mexico in the summer of 2002 to serve as pastor of several poor, desert churches. I have spoken out extensively against the U.S. war on Iraq, and been denounced by people, including church people, across the state. I have organized small Christian peace groups throughout the state. We planned a prayer vigil for nuclear disarmament at Los Alamos on the anniversary of Hiroshima this past August, but when the devout people of Los Alamos, most of them Catholic, heard about it, they appealed to the archbishop to have me expelled if I appeared publicly in their town. In the end, I did not attend the vigil, but the publicity gave me further opportunities to call for the closing of Los Alamos. I receive hate mail, negative phone calls and at least one death threat for daring to criticize our country. But New Mexico is the poorest state in the U.S. It is also number one in military spending and number one in nuclear weapons. It is the most militarized, the most in need of disarmament, the most in need of nonviolence. It is the first place the Pentagon goes to recruit poor youth into the empire's army.

If we are to change the direction of our country, and turn people against Bush's occupation of Iraq, we are going to have to face the ire and persecution of our local communities. If peace people in every local community insisted that our troops be brought home immediately, that the U.N. be sent in to restore Iraq, that all U.S. military aid to the Middle East be cut, and that our arsenal of weapons of mass destruction be dismantled, then we might all find soldiers marching at our front doors, trying to intimidate us. If we can face our soldiers, call them to quit the military and urge them to disobey orders to kill, then perhaps some of them will refuse to fight, become conscientious objectors and take up the wisdom of nonviolence. If we can look them in the eye and engage them in personal Satyagraha as Gandhi demonstrated, then we know that the transformation has begun.

In the end, the episode for me was an experience of hope. We must be making a difference if the soldiers have to march at our front doors. That they failed to convert me or intimidate me, that they had to listen to my side of the story, may haunt their consciences as they travel to Iraq. No matter what happens, they have heard loud and clear the good news that God does not want them to kill anyone. I hope we can all learn the lesson.

John Dear is a Catholic priest, peace activist, lecturer, and former executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. His latest books include "Mohandas Gandhi" (Orbis) and "Mary of Nazareth, Prophet of Peace" (Ave Maria Press). For info, see. www.johndear.org