Thursday, January 25, 2007

TONC Statement in Response to the 'State of the Union' Address

TONC Statement in Response to "State of the Union" Address

The statement below is a preliminary response from the Troops Out Now Coalition to President Bush's "State of the Union" address last night. The definitive and most important response will be the "surge" of protests in Washington DC and around the globe over the next few weeks as the people demand: "Bring the Troops Home Now!"

January 27 - The Troops Out Now Coalition urges activists to converge on Washington DC this weekend, the first national antiwar protest of this year. Now, more than ever, we need a massive outpouring on the streets of Washington DC. The Troops Out Now Coalition is organizing buses, vans, and car caravans to DC to support this important demonstration, which will assemble on the National Mall at 11 am.

February 17 - Some time over the next few months, Congress will vote on Bush request for another $100 billion for war. This time, we must force Congress to vote NO. It's time to move from protest to resistance. Saturday, February 17 is No More Money for War Day, with local protests across the country to demand the cut off of all war funding. The Troops Out Now Coalition and other national and local organizations are calling for demonstrations, rallies, sit-ins, and other forms of creative resistance and direct action. Many actions are being planned targeting local offices of members of Congress. Check the Troops Out Now Coalition website for updates and local actions.

March 17 - March on the Pentagon - Stay in Washington - The Troops Out Now Coalition is working with the Answer Coalition and other national coalitions to organize a massive march on the Pentagon on the fourth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. This time, we are going to Washington prepared to stay until we force Congress to cut off all war spending--it is time to move from protest to resistance. Check the Troops Out Now website for details, updates, and transportation from your area.

Troops Out Now Coalition Response to the State of the Union Address, January 23, 2007

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq grinds on and the numbers of dead and wounded mount, President George W. Bush and Democratic Party leaders, the supposed opposition, continue to reject the growing demand to bring the troops home now. In Bush’s State of the Union address to Congress last night, George W. Bush continued to stick to his “stay the course” position and claimed he has a “plan for victory” despite clear evidence that the attempt to colonize Iraq has been defeated.

Bush made a desperate attempt to restore confidence in his failed adventure in Iraq, outlining a "new strategy" that is really just a repeat of the same lines he has been using since he declared "mission accomplished" almost four years ago. The so-called "surge" of 21,000 troops will not succeed in crushing the resistance of the Iraqi people; it will only bring more death and destruction. He did not mention the more than 600,000 Iraqi people that have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation. Nor did he address the fact that every reason he gave to justify the war has now been exposed as a deliberate lie.

Despite his talk of “a democratic Iraq," the ghastly torture chambers of Abu Ghraib, the continued bombing of Iraqi homes, the use of depleted uranium, phosphorous, napalm, and other illegal weapons of mass destruction, all reveal the brutal nature of the war against the people of Iraq. This war is not and never was about bringing democracy to Iraq--it has always been about seizing control of the country’s oil reserves.

What Bush also failed to mention is that even as the attempt to colonize Iraq is clearly failing, the Bush administration is moving towards another reckless adventure—war on Iran. Bush has deployed two second aircraft carrier groups—with destroyers, cruisers, submarines, cruise missiles and combat aircraft—to the Gulf, while sources report that the Pentagon is already identifying targets for U.S. air strikes.

Health care

Bush attempted to deflect attention from the catastrophe in Iraq by offering a tax deduction for workers who purchase health insurance or use employer-supported plans. His plan would allow standard deductions for health insurance — $7,500 for individuals, $15,000 for families — while subjecting employer-paid health insurance to income taxes.

Bush's plan would do nothing to help the estimated 47 million people in the US without health insurance. Rep. Pete Stark, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee's health subcommittee, has said that Bush's proposal to tax existing health benefits is so ludicrous that it is unlikely to be seriously considered by Congress. He said, "The president's so-called health care proposal won't help the uninsured, most of who have limited incomes and are already in low tax brackets. But it will hurt middle-income Americans, whose employers will shift even more cost and risk to their employees.''

Most of the uninsured don't have coverage because they cannot afford to pay the premiums. Making those premiums tax-deductible will not make healthcare more affordable for most workers. Many others cannot get coverage because of
pre-existing conditions, which Bush's plan does nothing to address.

The net result of Bush's plan would be a decline in the number of workers having access to health coverage. Paul Fromstein, director of the health research and education programs at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, said the Bush proposal would ``mean the end of employment-based coverage as we know it because it gives employers an incentive to drop coverage. If employees can go out and get private coverage with the same tax breaks as they'd get through employer-sponsored coverage, more companies will simply give them the money and let them find their own coverage because they view [health coverage] as a headache."

We must continue to demand health coverage for all. The $300 billion that the Bush Administration has spent on war on occupation could easily provide complete health coverage for all uninsured children in the U.S.

The War at Home: Police Brutality and Police State Tactics

As he has done since repeatedly since the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush used the threat of "terrorism" to drum up support for his policies of endless war and repression. He said, “For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger." But he did not address the fact that many communities face threats of violence every day--not from "terrorists," but from the police. The police who gunned down Sean Bell the night before his wedding, firing 50 shots at an unarmed man, and the police who killed 92-year old Kathryn Johnson in her home in Atlanta, the ICE raids that haul away families in the middle of the night, and the police who commit acts of racist brutality in communities across the country, are a daily threat to the lives and safety of communities of color, immigrant communities, and the LGBT communities. Antiwar and progressive organizations must stand in solidarity with communities that are under daily attack from police terror.

Bush has used the words "freedom" and "democracy" repeatedly as justification for his policies of endless war, but an examination of his actions here and world-wide demonstrates that he has no interest in either. He has authorized the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency to spy on and infiltrate meetings of progressive organizations that oppose his policies. Under the PATRIOT Act, FBI agents search library records, book store sales, and other personal records and conduct widespread surveillance without any probable cause. He has ordered intelligence agencies to kidnap people off of the streets and drag them from their homes, fly them to other countries, and torture them in a secret global network of detention camps. Under his mantra of "freedom and democracy" lies a full-scale war on civil liberties and civil rights.


The President made no mention of one of the biggest failures of his Administration, the ongoing catastrophe that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But the whole world remembers watching the scenes of horror and despair on the streets of New Orleans, as people died, abandoned by every level of government because they were poor and Black. While everyone watched newscasts of people dying of thirst, as FEMA did nothing to help, Bush praised the FEMA director, saying, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

We must continue to support the right of Katrina survivors to return to their homes and to determine how the region will be rebuilt. They, not Bush's millionaire friends, have a right to control the money for rebuilding the area.

Energy policy

Every year, in an attempt to grab headlines on the following day, Bush has introduced a new initiative that never lasts longer than his address. A few years ago, he promised $15 billion for AIDS treatment in Africa--money that never materialized. Throughout his presidency--at every State of the Union address, Bush has talked about energy independence, but the funding for research and development never materializes. In last years address, he promised to take on the US "addiction to oil," but his 2007 budget actually proposed to spend less on energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy resources in inflation-adjusted dollars than was appropriated in 2001. In 2005, he cut the funding for alternate energy by 50%.

As soon as Bush took office, he proposed cutting the Department of Energy's renewable fuels and energy efficiency budget by as much as 40 percent. Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney was in secret meetings with executives from Enron, Exxon, Conoco, Shell Oil and other energy companies, where they studied petroleum maps of Iraq and developed the national energy policy of the Administration. We can only conclude that when Bush talks about looking for "alternative fuel sources," he actually means looking for another oil-rich country to invade.

For some, this policy has been enormously successful--oil companies are reporting record profits. But for others, like the people of Iraq or the soldiers and military families who are paying the ultimate price, Bush's policies have been an unmitigated disaster. We can be sure that, despite his talk about "alternative fuels," his primary and central goal is to ensure maximum profits for the oil companies.

No Opposition from the Democrats

Bush's criminal war against Iraq has brought justified resistance throughout Iraq and outrage across the globe. Everywhere he travels, he is met with massive protest in the streets.

President Bush's poll numbers are in a freefall. A new CBS News poll has the President's approval rating at a career low of 28 percent-- 14 points below where he was at before he delivered his State of the Union speech a year ago. In November, he had a 34 percent approval rating. In December, it was 31 percent. In early January, it was 30 percent.

Less than 3 months ago, voters in the U.S. made their opposition to the war very clear as they handed the Republican Party a resounding defeat at the polls. President Bush's announcement of a "surge" in the occupation was met with more than 500 protests across the U.S.

Despite this clear and overwhelming opposition to the ongoing occupation, the Democratic response to the State of the Union offered no real opposition to the Bush Agenda. Senator James Webb did not call to bring the troops home--in fact, he waited until he was half way through his speech before even mentioning Iraq. When he did get around to it, he merely indicated that the U.S. needs a "new direction."

It was clear from his remarks that his difference with the Bush Administration is only tactical. The Democratic Party criticism of the war in Iraq is not based on the fact that the war is a criminal act that has resulted in the death of more than 600,000 Iraqis, but on the fact that Bush has been unable to successfully crush the resistance and establish a stable puppet state. The Democrats in Congress marched in lockstep with the Administration when they thought the war to seize Iraq's oil would be over in weeks.

Senator Webb claimed that the President "took us into this war recklessly." But the President could not and did not act alone. He could not have launched the war in Iraq without the eager complicity of the Democrats in Congress, a complicity that continues to this day, as Democrats continue to assert that they do not plan to carry out the mandate that brought them into office -- the demand to end the war now and bring all the troops home now.

It is clear that politicians in Washington are not going to end the war. The people themselves must take action to force them to bring the troops home now.

If we want to end the war, to have health care, education, and housing for all, to fight racism, to defend the rights of women, immigrants, and the LGBT communities, then we have to build a mass movement in the streets, and we have to stay in the streets. We can never again allow the antiwar movement to be misled into serving the interests of corporate politicians.

We must build a movement that will do what the war parties will never do --link the struggles of working people here with the struggles against war and occupation everywhere, including not only Iraq, but Palestine, Haiti, Afghanistan, Nepal, the Philippines, and everywhere people are struggling to for freedom and self-determination..

March 17, 2007 will mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The Troops Out Now Coalition is working with the Answer Coalition and other national coalitions to organize a massive march on the Pentagon on the fourth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. This time, we are going to Washington prepared to stay until we force Congress to cut off all war spending--it is time to move from protest to resistance.

Together we must grasp the opportunity to help transform the turning tide against the war into a human tidal wave of antiwar resistance in the streets. Nothing should stand in the way of building a massive, united movement to converge on Washington and end the war. Our sisters and brothers in United for Peace and Justice had initially called for a national march on the fourth anniversary of the war, but have now changed to calling for "local actions." In the interest of unity and strength we call on them to unite with the call for to converge on Washington DC on March 17. The crisis and opportunities ahead of us demand unity, and we will continue to do all we can to work for that unity.

Six hundred thousand Iraqis are dead. More than 3,000 U.S. soldiers are dead and tens of thousands have been wounded. This is not time to talk about timetables and "non-binding resolutions" or to get distracted by 2008 Presidential politics—it’s time to take direct action to stop the war. We call on everyone to descend on Washington this weekend – January 27, followed by local actions on February 17 at Congressional offices. Then, on March 27, come to Washington, prepared to stay until we stop the war.

Immediate, Unconditional, & Complete Withdrawal from Iraq--Out Now!
End Colonial Occupation & Imperialist Aggression from Africa to Asia, from Iraq to Palestine, to Afghanistan, to Haiti, to the Philippines, to Puerto Rico
No New Wars Against Iran, Syria, North Korea
Hands Off Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, & Lebanon
Solidarity with Immigrant Workers and Katrina Survivors
Stop the War at Home -- Stop Racist Police Terror -- Stop ICE raids
Military Recruiters Out of Our Schools and Communities -- No Draft -- Education, Not War

How You Can Help:

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