Senator Murray missed it, Darcy Burner saw it - East Side Democratic fundraiser @ Westin in Bellevue

My military family friends up there in Seattle area didn't plan it to go the way it went, but it sounds like a lot of the Eastside Democratic fundraiser attendees got a glimpse of democracy in action, courtesy of Maj. General Paul Eaton's instincts.  (Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.) General Eaton, was a primary speaker at the fundraiser, along with Keynote speaker, Patty Murray. General Eaton chose to welcome and invite returning Iraq veteran, Josh, to join him rather than dismiss him as Senator Patty Murray has been inclined to do weekly.

It also sounds like Darcy Burner didn't do such a good job either of making a returning Iraq veteran, a veteran Gold Star father, and a veteran father with son deployed to Iraq for a third time feel welcome.  I expect more of Darcy, as she is, after all, a military family herself and I expect that time honored military culture courtesy to be extended to other military families and veterans.

Read more below the fold

Report from my military friend, David, and let me give you the setting.  There are four men, veterans and fathers of veterans, in the Tuesday Vigil group who stand vigil every Tuesday at the Federal Court House in Seattle. Others join them, but these four are the core group who are faithfully there every Tuesday, rain or shine.

David - Vietnam veteran and father of son who is now on third deployment in Iraq.  Father and son are from Washington state.

Joe Colgan - veteran and father of Lt. Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003.  That makes Joe a Gold Star Father.  Father and son are from Washington state.  from Seattle Times article Among the soldiers is Lt. Ben Colgan, 30, a 1991 graduate of Des Moines' Mount Rainier High School. Colgan was killed by a roadside bomb Nov. 1, 2003, just weeks after he was filmed in Iraq. (war documentary, "Gunner Palace.")

Joshua - returning Iraq veteran, Washington state.

Howard - he stays in the background and is a trusted friend to all three, as well as crucial to the organizing the Tuesday Vigil.

They took their Tuesday Vigil to the recent Eastside Democratic fundraiser at the Westin in Bellevue.  Below is David's email account to me of that event;  

Hi All,

  It was supposed to be dark and stormy day, but it wasn't. Therefore the turnout was good. I counted 15. The sidewalk traffic is decreasing, however. I did speak with a tourist from England today who discussed P.M. Brown's decision to reduce by half the number of British soldiers in Iraq. She thought it was a good thing. I thought it was a great thing. The British do have a way with understatement.

  But there is more. Last Sunday several of us from the group attended the East Side Democratic Fund Raiser and Dinner at the Westin in Bellevue. It seems that Patty Murray was the keynote speaker. The main speaker was General Paul Eaton who retired so he could speak out against the war and Bush's war policy.

  We thought that it would be a great opportunity to speak to Murray given that she has dodged us for so long. A generous soul paid for our entrance and dinner. While several of the Tuesday Vigil Group stayed outside in the rain to hold banners, it was decided that Joe, Josh and I would speak when Murray had finished her speech.

 Our comments were to address Murray's continued support of the war through her votes on supplemental spending bills while maintaining that she is only supporting the troops but opposing the war. Joe, Josh and I planned to identify our personal stakes in this war then Josh would make the statement.

  The speech ended and Murray quickly exited the stage and out of the room not to return. I think she smelled us, or it could have been that we were introduced by the moderator prior to her taking the stage. We found this doubling strange since she spoke so highly of General Eaton but didn't stay to listen to his comments. In any case, she took what will be referred to in the future as "A Murray." This development put a slight kink in the plans.

  Darcy Burner then took the stage to introduce General Eaton. When she gave a slight pause, Josh seized the moment, stood and made his statement. God bless the courage of youth. Darcy tried to shut him down by telling him to sit down and she would explain how the war was going to be stopped. Josh, to his credit, did not sit down. He completed what he had to say, then sat down.

  The General then took the podium and said that this was what democracy was all about and pointed at Josh, asking him to join him. Josh went to the stage where he saluted the general who returned the salute then hugged Josh.

  Following this, the General told Josh to take the podium while he stood back. Josh went to the podium, collected himself and gave the most eloquent, impassioned and  moving speech one can imagine.

  I couldn't see Darcy Burner's face during this, but she must have felt as though the General had taken her to the woodshed. It was priceless.

  Following his speech, Josh left the podium. General Eaton again hugged Josh and Josh returned to the table with the applause of the audience. Josh later described this as an out of body experience. One man at our table was reduced to tears.

  During General Eaton's speech he made reference to Josh several times. He also noted that one of his sons is named Josh and that he is soon retuning to the Iraq theater (he has two sons in the Army). Following the speech a man stood and made an anti-war statement. Joe stood and made a statement about the loss of his son in Iraq and his disappointment in Murray for dodging us at every turn.

  Following this I stood and was told to sit down by one of the organizers who was standing behind us (There must have been some fear that we were out of control.). I did not sit but made my statement. By this time the crowd was no longer focused on the fund raiser. Our planned event had become something much bigger than planned thanks to Josh's courage.

  At this point the auction was supposed to have started, but a woman in the audience stood and said that given how things had developed, we should all stand in a moment of silence for the fallen in Iraq. It should have become clear at this point to all in attendance that the dinner was about an immoral and illegal occupation for which few are paying the price.

  It's only too sad that Murray did not have the courage to stay to take a few comments from those of us who are in the 1% club who are sacrificing. Her rhetoric of "I support the Troops" must not be allowed to go unchallenged. After all, funding this war is killing out troops and she knows it. And it's ironic that an Army general had to identify to a person who wants to go to Congress what democracy is.

Following the dinner, and as we were leaving, several people approached Josh and thanked him. There were no negative comments. You could say that the East Side Democrats provided a forum for we of the West Side Tuesday Group. We will be forever grateful.

  Today Joe and I went to Murray's office in another attempt to talk with her and to get a sense of how the event was viewed by Murray and her staff. Ardis talked with us because Murray was "out of town." She said that she didn't know much about the event. She didn't even know that General Eaton was there. We expressed our regret that Murray won't meet with us. She said that we have a great deal of access to Murray through her. I reminded her that she is not Senator Murray. I also reminded her that my son is returning to Iraq for the third time next week and that being a member of the 1% club can be lonely when the other 99% are asked only to go shopping.

What can we all take from the Bellevue theater event and our visit to Murray's office today?

 Primarily we can always count on the courage of youth to bring us through. This is something that the military has known forever. We can also know that there are no limits to the depths to which a politician will sink in pursuit of power and the maintenance of office. There are some exceptions, but I can't think of them right now. For a Democrat like me, I am sad to make these observations about fellow Democrats.

Carry on the good fight and don't let the bastards wear you down.

In Peace and Solidarity,

  my comments - would be Congresswoman Darcy Burner and Senator Patty Murray - maybe it would be better to embrace us (military families in Washington state with skin in the game) than what seems to be efforts to try to distance from us  since we all share in common our grave concerns for our military at time of war.  If General Paul Eaton can embrace us, if General Wesley Clark can embrace us, then it no longer makes political sense for either of you to seemingly wish to keep distance from us.  Our messages may not be exactly the same, but all of us share in common those values of integrity, courage, honor, duty and service to our country....  we have more in common than we don't.

  Speak to Joe, speak to Joshua, speak to David - all have served our country as are you and some have paid a heavier price for doing so. They are not your typical anti-war activists, for some their authentic experiences are so compelling as to have them make the difficult choice to be a military family speaking out; countering the very culture of bearing it all in stoic silence, exactly so others won't have to keep bearing it all in stoic silence.

  I urge you to hear their personal stories, get to know them personally, hear why they feel compelled to do weekly Tuesday Vigils and hear their personal messages.  They do not typify what is casually referred to in Seattle media as anti-war - they have authentic experiences to share and have earned the right to be heard above the din of the noise made by the anti-war crowd.  


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for this stirring account of courage in action.

I feel inspired by this story. Please keep us informed of any developments.

by DWE on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 04:47:12 PM PST

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Lietta - this is a confusing account.  It isn't clear to me how appropriate or inappropriate it was for someone to stand up in an audience and interrupt someone on stage introducing a speaker.  Normally that not viewed as appropriate behavior.  Not to belittle the reason for the interruption, but it was an interruption, and so often the people making these interruptions are simple being rude and disruptive.  I wouldn't blame anyone for asking for the person interrupting to stop.

That Murray "smelled" these folks begs the question of how.  Does she really have that special power, or were they being disruptive during her speech?

I sympathize with your passion, and the passion and service of these war veterans, but I think some of the conclusions here sound a little more like projection, and less like objective observations of this event - which again, I can't really get a sense of by this account.

On The Road To 2008: Countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

by Daniel K on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 05:00:43 PM PST

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here and read it. What Lietta and Dave have written doesn't come from some sort of objective emotional "spell-checked" writing based on disciplined or suppressed passions that somehow pretend to convey objective reality.

Had I written this piece I would be making no claim to offering an objective report of a fund-raising event in Bellevue. Nor would I strive to convey in a school-marm dutifully self-suppressed tone about how events were seen and heard by the home culture club of stiff prim and proper lords and ladies out for an evening of tea and crumpets.

If such an event were to be scheduled in my county promising a careful and attention-avoiding keynote speech by a U.S. Senator followed by a general allowed to only offer military-sounding platitudes and democratically (oh ... excuse me)politically-correct verbiage intended to avoid showing any party official or candidate in a bad light - I'd be bored just reading the flyer.

I go to fund raisers with the idea that if the speakers can't light my fire, they don't get my money and quite probably won't get my vote.

If the Senator isn't interested in lighting my fire then she'd be better off asking a genuine firebrand to keynote.

And if David's description is even close to accurate, that introducer who wants to be elected might just one day attempt to shush the wrong person and blow her own election all by herself.

I recall our meeting in 2006 with Senator Cantwell which we attended despite the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth objections from our own Pacific County party members as well as the defensive terror of devout Washington State Democrats on Blogs.

In that interview, Maria was cool, calm, collected, objective and totally unable to convince anyone else in the room but her own aides that she was genuinely angry, upset or concerned;

about how we got into Iraq,

about how her constituency might look askance at her vote to support the war,

about how we might fail to understand her lack of gut fire and willingness to make an overdue change of course.

I'm certain Sheriff Reichert would have even more forcefully told young Josh to button his lip.

I've seen this sort of thing with politicians up close. I even tried to tackle one in genuine verbal combat recently. But agree with him or not, U.S. Rep Brian B. would have known what to do with a fired up Iraq veteran who literally WAS the skin in the game; a veteran who had every right to raise a ruckus if he perceived indifference or bland emotion in an elected official talking about HIS war.

In Raymond, I saw a Vet my own age take Brian to task in an openly disrespectful manner way beyond what David describes in his article here.

Baird's performance was genuinely poised and effective. The Vet was allowed to express his outrageously mean-spirited opinion and get away with it.

Right or wrong on Iraq, Brian profited by how he handled it and let the man have his say.

No one's darling even needed to try to shut him up.

Baird's was a big-time demonstration of how to think on one's feet wisely.

What they inwardly imagine is the only thing they'll accept.

by Arthur Ruger on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 08:32:02 PM PST

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Reading this account, the first thing that strikes me is the straightforward way in which General Eaton recognized the veteran, saluted him, and hugged him.

After all the abuse that soldiers and their families are going through -- from the regular enlisteds following orders, losing their lives, limbs, and peace of mind in this occupation ...  to those who speak out -- being ignored, villified, this account really lifted my spirits.

We are in an insane situation where those who fight in this occupation and those who have family serving, who have lost family, can speak up only when they are "behaving".  They seem to be squeezed between two sides.  The Bush-ites censor anyone who disagrees with their agenda.  Many of the Democrats, it seems, are so fearful of being labeled peace activists or unpatriotic, so fearful of being associated with the fringe -- that they are abandoning those they should listen to.

As for Darcy Burner, I do see how this was an awkward situation to be on your toes for.  If she wasn't told in advance who these people were, maybe she was taken by surprise.  

It would be good to hear from her and Patty Murray on this.  

by noemie maxwell on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:29:12 AM PST

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Now I was not at the dinner this year but until I moved I had never missed one, starting with the first.

These events exist to raise money for local democratic districts and the success of this event from year to year has much to do with the gradual election of democrats on the East side of the lake in King County. Events like these are based on the goal of making the attendees feel good and inspired to go out and work hard. Attracting elected leaders involves consistent delivery of a safe environment for them to deliver their chosen message.

So while I am sure their were a large number of folks in the room who are opposed to this war and frustrated with the House and Senates lack of majority support for forcing a real change of direction, I expect that a substantial majority of these same folks wished to set this aside in favor of decorum. This event for many is an annual chance to reconnect with those they have worked with over the years. The feeling is generally festive and fun.

So while the event was not a public forum and most would favor a brief time out when it comes to exerting pressure on honored guests, I do not think your fellow activists were too far out of line. Desperate times, after all, call for desperate measures. But, it is a bit much to be offended that the guests and master of ceremonies should have tabled the messages they came to express and allowed the evening to evolve from one which stressed opposition to the war into one which stressed disappointment in the Senator Murray.

by Particle Man on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 10:39:16 AM PST

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 The camera taking the video is a bit shaky, but I think the video of Josh speaking at the Democratic fundraiser conveys the 'tone'.  General Paul Eaton (off to the left) gives Josh time at the podium -  well see for yourselves ...

'Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? ~ Abraham Lincoln

by Lietta Ruger on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:58:30 PM PST

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From The Nation via Information Clearing House:

How the Military Can Stop an Iran Attack

By Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith

10/11/07 "The Nation" -- -- Sometimes history--and necessity--make strange bedfellows. The German general staff transported Lenin to Russia to lead a revolution. Union-buster Ronald Reagan played godfather to the birth of the Polish Solidarity union. Equally strange--but perhaps equally necessary--is the addressee of a new appeal signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and many other leaders of the American peace movement:
"ATTENTION: Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. Military Personnel: Do not attack Iran."

The initiative responds to the growing calls for an attack on Iran from the likes of Norman Podhoretz and John Bolton, and the reports of growing war momentum in Washington by reporters like Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Joe Klein of Time. International lawyer Scott Horton says European diplomats at the recent United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York "believe that the United States will launch an air war on Iran, and that it will occur within the next six to eight months." He puts the likelihood of conflict at 70 percent.

... Marcy Winograd, president of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, who originally suggested the petition, told The Nation:

"If we thought that our lawmakers would restrain the Bush Administration from further endangering Americans and the rest of the world, we would concentrate solely on them."

Because our soldiers know the horrors of war--severed limbs, blindness, brain injury--they are loath to romanticize the battlefield or glorify expansion of the Iraq genocide that has left a million Iraqis dead and millions others exiled.

Military Resistance

What could be stranger than a group of peace activists petitioning the military to stop a war? And yet there is more logic here than meets the eye.

Asked in an online discussion September 27 whether the Bush Administration will launch a war against Iran, Washington Post intelligence reporter Dana Priest replied,

"Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions."

She acknowledged that she had indulged in a bit of hyperbole, then added, "but not much."

There have been many other hints of military disaffection from plans to attack Iran--indeed, military resistance may help explain why, despite years of rumors about Bush Administration intentions, such an attack has not yet occurred. A Pentagon consultant told Hersh more than a year ago, "There is a war about the war going on inside the building."

... In an article published by Inter Press Service, historian and national security policy analyst Gareth Porter reported that Adm. William Fallon, Bush's then-nominee to head the Central Command (Centcom), sent the Defense Department a strongly worded message earlier this year opposing the plan to send a third carrier strike group into the Persian Gulf. In another Inter Press analysis, Porter quotes someone who met with Fallon saying an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch." He added,

"You know what choices I have. I'm a professional.... There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box."

Military officers in the field have frequently refuted Bush Administration claims about Iranian arms in Iraq and Afghanistan. Porter says that when a State Department official this June publicly accused Iran of giving arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US commander of NATO forces there twice denied the claim.

More recently, top brass have warned that the United States is not prepared for new wars. Gen. George Casey, the Army's top commander, recently made a highly unusual personal request for a House Armed Services Committee hearing in which he warned that

"we are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies."

While this could surely be interpreted as a call for more troops and resources, it may simultaneously be a warning shot against adventures in Iran.

... The appeal for military personnel to resist an attack is primarily based on principle. It asserts that any pre-emptive US attack on Iran would be illegal under international law and a crime under US law. Such an attack would violate Article II, Section 4, of the UN Charter forbidding the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

Since Iran has not attacked the United States, an attack against it without authorization by the Security Council would be a violation of international law.

Under the US Constitution and the UN Charter, this is the law of the land. Under the military's own laws, armed forces have an obligation to refuse orders that violate US law and the Constitution.

And under the principles established by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after World War II, "just obeying orders" is no defense for officials who participate in war crimes.

But the petition also addresses some of the practical concerns that have clearly motivated military officers to oppose an attack on Iran. It would open US soldiers in Iraq to decimation by Iranian forces or their Iraqi allies. It would sow the seeds of hatred for generations. Like the attack on Iraq, it would create more enemies, promote terrorism and make American families less safe.

The petitioners recognize the potential risks of such action to military personnel. "If you heed our call and disobey an illegal order you could be falsely charged with crimes including treason. You could be falsely court martialed. You could be imprisoned."

But they also accept risks themselves, aware that "in violation of our First Amendment rights, we could be charged under remaining section of the unconstitutional Espionage Act or other unconstitutional statute, and that we could be fined, imprisoned, or barred from government employment."

In ordinary times, peace activists would hardly be likely to turn to the military as allies. Indeed, they would rightfully be wary of military officers acting on their own, rather than those of their civilian superiors--in violation of the Constitution's provisions for civilian oversight of the military. But these are hardly ordinary times. While the public is highly dubious of getting into another war in the Middle East, there now appear to be virtually no institutional barriers to doing so.

Military-Civilian Alliance

Is there a basis for cooperation between the military brass and citizens who believe an attack on Iran would be criminal and/or suicidal? Perhaps.

The brass can go public with the truth and ask Congress to provide a platform for explaining the real consequences of an attack on Iran. The peace movement has already forged an alliance with Iraq War veterans who oppose the war and with high military officials who oppose torture; a tacit alliance with the brass to halt an attack on Iran is a logical next step.

What they inwardly imagine is the only thing they'll accept.

by Arthur Ruger on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 09:18:45 AM PST

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I love it!  Those three guys are doing the hard work of democracy.  I know Democratic Party people hate big messy public scenes, but as a radical activist, I love them.

Paul Eaton will be speaking at our Northwest Progressive Convention Saturday November 1oth, and Darcy Burner will be there thay day as well.  I would love it if these three guys and more vets from Iraq would come and speak forcefully again.  The more opposition these phony Democrats hear from the people, the more likely they will be to do the right thing.

Check out all the details at www.americasolidarity.org


by Tahoma Activist on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 12:25:34 PM PST

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