I write letters to the president.

You know, sometimes I get it in my head that it’s worth taking five minutes of my finite existence to do something utterly and pathetically futile, just because I will feel better having done so, and because I can (<–no small thing, that).

Dear Mr. President:

For what it costs in both tax dollars and lives, here and abroad, perhaps you might consider upending the entire U.S. military paradigm. Humanitarian aid, even to our “enemies” would be far cheaper, far less inhumane, and far more likely to settle conflicts with a WIN-WIN.

For just one example, why not provide Palestinians the same amount of aid we give to Israel without accountability, in the form of rebuilding and improving their destroyed infrastructure, including creating world-class healthcare facilities that all people in the region would have access to?

Think outside the box, because the box is making a darker world and suffocating all of us.

-Iris Vander Pluym

Hey, I never said they were good letters.

Have a go at it yourself: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Juneteenth: Boosting Black Voices.

Today, this Whitey McWhiteperson yields (most of) this space to BIPOC.*

Following are messages I received from two congresspersons I admire deeply. (I helped elect both to Congress by donating as generously as I could during their primary campaigns – where cash really counts – and in the latter case, also by providing intel and oppo research to him and his campaign peeps throughout his successful run to unseat a 16-term incumbent and darling of the Democratic Party.)

First up, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-5) (emphasis in original):

via email:

Iris,

156 years ago today, Black southerners in Galveston, Texas, finally learned the news of their freedom from enslavement — nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — now known as Juneteenth.

[Read more…]

Veterans Day 2020: Fun, free and low-cost ways to honor U.S. vets.

Today is Veterans Day in the US.

Here are some things you can do for the veterans of our wars:

Veterans for Peace™.

Veterans for Peace™ is a coalition of military veterans and their allies whose mission is threefold: exposing the true costs of war (economic, environmental, human casualties, PTSD & suicide, social); building a culture of peace; and healing the wounds of war, at home and abroad. VFP is at the forefront of our most pressing issues – see e.g. this open letter from veterans to recently activated National Guard troops – and on the right side of many others with which it stands in solidarity. Current National Projects include:

It offers many ways to donate and participate meaningfully in making a better world, not just for veterans but for everyone.

__________

Wounded Warrior Project®

Because America’s Owners believe themselves entitled to the sacrifices made by these men and women and their families, VA programs are chronically underfunded and veterans benefits are perpetually on the chopping block. Until we can fix that problem, Wounded Warrior steps in with counseling, job resources and material support for veterans and their families. Even if you cannot donate funds, there are all kinds of opportunities to donate time. You can also stay on top of WWP’s news by signing up for their emails. If you’d like to keep on top of precisely how and where the U.S. government is failing veterans, just sign up for their weekly e-newsletter here.

__________

Contact Your Representatives and Senators.

Call them up and tell them exactly what you think of cutting veterans benefits so that the planet-polluting corporations who benefit from the sacrifices of our soldiers and their loved ones can pay low-to-no taxes! Email your congresscritters a little note telling them to cut the defense budget in half and fund universal single-payer health care with mental health parity! Demand legislation requiring that all companies benefiting financially in any way from our wars be run as non-profits! I am sure you can think of numerous hilarious and fun things to say!

Put those congresscritters’ numbers on speed dial and bookmark their sites. The least we can do to honor our veterans is get ourselves on a whole bunch of anti-lefty government watch lists – today.

__________

[excerpted, heavily edited and updated from a pre-FtB blog post.]

SIGNAL BOOSTING: Crip Dyke in Portland.

I have been viewing reports of the federal response to protests in Portland, Oregon with mounting horror, terror, disgust and rage. My sources have been mainly mainstream media reports, as well as emails/social media posts from Democratic congresscritters and Democratic-allied NPOs. Of course all my sources – actually, all sources – have built-in biases and agendas; some I tend to agree with at least on certain issues, and some I do not.

If only I had a connection to someone reporting from ground zero in Portland, someone I trust implicitly, and who I know for a fact shares my social justice perspective and leftist values! Wouldn’t that be fucking amazing?! Well it’s Christmas in July here, people! My brilliant and righteous FreethoughtBlogs colleague (and longtime friend) Crip Dyke is there now, posting updates and pictures to her blog Pervert Justice.

Not only am I eagerly reading them, I am sharing them here so you can easily read them too. Here is what we’ve got so far, and I will make every effort to keep updating.

I am in Portland. I am acting.

Pictures from Portland

A few more pics from Portland

I have questions, Marriott and Enterprise.

99% of Portland Moms “Not angry, just disappointed”

The chaos of tear gas

The Story of July 21: Three offensives

Please spread these posts as far and wide as you are willing and able.

RELATED:

One of my aforementioned sources whose messaging on this issue (and others) I find particularly spot-on is VoteVets. On Monday they released this ad, and it ran for the first time nationally on Morning Joe today.

[Read more…]

IRIS ♥︎ #VeteransForKaepernick.

After his grandson tweeted this photo of his grandfather kneeling in solidarity with NFL protests against racist police violence, John Middlemas, a white, 97-year-old World War II veteran, became an instant social media star. He said he wanted to join athletes who knelt in protest during the national anthem. Middlemas also had this to say: [Read more…]

“Supporting the Troops,” everyone.

The Los Angeles Times ran a piece over the weekend revealing efforts by the California National Guard to claw back reenlistment bonuses and student loan payments from 9,700 soldiers it has determined were ineligible for these incentives. According to California Guard official Col. Michael S. Piazzoni, “The system paid everybody up front, and then we spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible.”

“‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.'”

“‘Stuff and nonsense,’ said Alice Iris loudly.”

[Read more…]