By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Help promote true democracy in Iraq. Since Bush's sole remaining excuse for invading Iraq was that we needed to free its people, shouldn't they be allowed some actual freedom? Yes, a constitution would be nifty, but most Iraqis have more immediate concerns, such as how they've had no say in the reconstruction of their country, which was shopped out largely to Bush-supporting U.S. companies, which despite multibillion-dollar contracts have not provided even the meager electricity, potable water, sanitation, food distribution, transportation and other basics the country previously had. How about building support (write your congressperson; contribute to democracy-building organizations in Iraq, etc.) for an election to allow Iraqis to participate in their future, instead of leaving it to Bush cronies?
While they're at it, the election could ask whether the Iraqi people really want their oil and other resources seized from them and privatized. That's not even a topic in the new constitution. Instead, Iraq's oil fields were laid open to foreign oil companies via policies imposed by Paul "Mr. Viceroy to You" Bremer, without a word from Iraqis. Do you suppose the Iraqis might have an opinion on that?
One thing that Americans and Iraqis have in common is the majority of folks in both countries want U.S. forces to leave Iraq. In Iraq, where the issue is decidedly more compelling, polls show a whopping majority—well over 70 percent of Iraqis—want us to bid adieu. Remember how proud Bush was of the voter turnout in the last Iraqi election? Just think of the huge numbers he could boast of if a U.S. withdrawal was on the ballot. Suggest this to your congressperson today. C'mon, Dana: You love democracy, don't you?
Leave some children behind. Perhaps you've read about the massive new government/commercial database Army recruiters are using to aggressively target and track schoolkids as young as 16, trolling for those hard-up or screwed-up enough to be persuaded into uniform. Consider also that Bush's much-touted but underfunded education act contains a sneaky clause requiring schools to provide student information to military recruiters, and you get the real meaning of "No child left behind." But you can help tell parents what the government isn't telling them: that they have the right, at least for now, to have their kids put on a do-not-call list. Contact your local school district and insist they make parents aware of their opt-out right, and check out www.militaryfreeschools.org to see what else you can do.
Don't give George W. Bush your money. Or Osama bin Laden. Every time you buy gasoline, you're handing money to the oil companies that handed tens of millions of dollars to Bush and other Republicans' campaigns, not to mention the hundreds of millions they've spent in the past five years lobbying for their interests, which is why some of the most insanely profitable companies on earth just got $6 billion in subsidies in Bush's energy bill. In Iraq, they'll be getting the oil wells, while America's sons and daughters get the shaft.
A lot of the oil they sell us comes from Arab dictators, who may socialize with the Bush family, but don't have much use for the rest of us. They're modest about it, but rich Saudis have funded al Qaeda for years, and they also fund schools that turn out antsy little extremists who have been taught to hate us.
If you must buy gasoline, buy it from Citgo stations. The company is wholly owned by Venezuela, which, unlike Saudi Arabia, has a democratically elected president, and none of its citizens have flown jets into U.S. buildings. Citgo does not contribute money to Bush, possibly because, at the same time in 2001 when the White House was ignoring warnings about the al Qaeda threat, it was busy supporting the military coup that temporarily ousted Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's elected president. Chavez enjoys huge popular support in his country, in part because he uses the country's oil proceeds to benefit his nation's poor. To find the Citgo near you, visit the company website (citgo.com); most 7-Elevens offer Citgo gasoline.
This Tuesday, Chavez extended his policy to our poor: While Bush flitted between GOP fundraisers and war-touting speeches in California—seemingly oblivious that America is amidst one of its worst natural disasters in history—Chavez met with Jesse Jackson and offered the US heating oil at reduced rates, so our hardest-hit citizens might make it through winter.
Help the Democrats find their spines. It's sad to see so many Democrats in Washington suffering from spinal lackofitus, crawling about with barely enough skeletal integrity to proffer their butts for their weekly rump ride from the Republicans. Why didn't more Dems vote against the war or the PATRIOT Act? Why didn't every single Democrat in Congress try to crowd into that basement cupboard where Rep. John Conyers was forced to hold his hearing on the Downing Street memos? Why, when Democrats do speak the truth, do they so often back down and apologize for it?
Because they're scared. They don't know just how many people out here are hungering for truth and action. Write to them, let them know you've got their backs, that you'll support and applaud their efforts if they rise to the cause, and that you'll boot their sorry reamed asses out of office if they don't. Go to www.house.gov to contact representatives, then go to www.democrats.org, click on "contact," say hi to Howard Dean, and let him know you like his style.