Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Protest of Obama's Afghan Escalation (with poll)

I attended the demo yesterday, which was sparse, but got great response from passers-by to the “Honk – No Afghan Surge” signs and was well covered by local media. Fox and NBC affiliates, Gazette and another reporter who contracts with local radio stations. The Oklahoman even deigned to cover it!!!

My photo album is here. The Oklahoman’s coverage was just a photo sidebar to the president’s speech but it was a good pic of Vietnam War Vet Dennis W. See it here (link may die within a few days).

[poll id=”



Workshop kicks off 'Non-Military Vocations for Youth' project

( – promoted by peacearena)

We are very excited to be hosting a workshop on teaching peace in Oklahoma public schools, and with that workshop kicking off a program to provide alternatives to the pro-war messages and limited options offered to young people by recruiters in schools, malls and just about everywhere they go these days.

Here’s the text of our invitational flyer:





Monday, 8-10-2009, 6:30 – 9:00 pm

Joy Mennonite Church, 504 16th St, Oklahoma City

(corner of Lincoln and 16th, just south of Capitol)

Please join the Oklahoma Center for Conscience on Monday August 10 for a dynamic workshop on “counter-recruitment” or making sure youth have full information about the military and a wide range of options for constructive public service and caring careers. The recruiters have unprecedented access to students; we want to offer another view, and make sure their right for access to all the facts is honored.

The workshop will kick off a concerted effort in OKC and across the state to make sure our youth do not feel compelled to join the military for lack of other practical options and opportunities.

All are welcome. The workshop is free of charge; donations for our CR outreach is greatly appreciated. If you can’t make the workshop, but would like to donate, see

For more info, call 405-771-4743 or 405-615-2700. Or visit

Experienced CR activists from Fort Worth and Austin will share with us the resources and techniques they use to reach young people with an important message about the realities of war and military life. A report from the recent national CR conference will be part of the agenda.


Yvette Richardson is a U. S. Army veteran, who was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas from 1992 – 1997. While serving five years on active duty as a Military Police officer, she deployed to Honduras, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. When not serving as a client advocate for domestic violence victims, she works as a community activist in Fort Worth, Texas. She is co-coordinator of the counter-recruitment organization, Peaceful Vocations, and of CodePink Fort Worth. Yvette holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Diane Wood is a native Texan, a community organizer in areas of social justice for the past 30 years, and a retired Registered Nurse. She is a co-coordinator of Peaceful Vocations, a counter-military recruitment group serving North Texas. She’s been involved in nuclear and anti-war issues, Central American issues, local poverty issues, and a local movement to stop urban gas drilling. Diane led a coalition to establish a shelter in Fort Worth for Central American Refugees, and was the director of the shelter. She recently founded a local coalition, The Texas Christian University Divest and Boycott Israel Campaign.

Hart Viges joined the Army in reaction to the events of 9-11. He was with the 82nd Airborne Div. in 2003 when they invaded Iraq. Shortly after returning in January 2004, he applied and received Conscientious Objector status. Hart is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and works with Nonmilitary Options for Youth.

Below is our press release and a flyer (with the text above) you can print — please feel free to share.

2009 CR Workshop flyer

2009 CR Workshop news release

The Oklahoman's pity party

( – promoted by peacearena)

If you haven’t yet read the editorial that appeared in Friday’s Oklahoman, “Some refuse to believe this train has left station,” you need to stop right now and do so. And do NOT miss the many, many comments (48 as of this writing) left in reply to this piece of elitist tripe.

Come back when you’re done for my own full-throated response, an open letter to the OKC Council & mayor:

Dear Oklahoma City Council members and Mayor Mick Cornett:

“Pity the members of the Oklahoma City Council.” Thus began an editorial, stunning in its contempt for democracy, published today in The Oklahoman, which decreed that the location of the Crosstown is a done deal, and it’s a waste of time for the very important people running this city to bother themselves with the dissatisfaction of their constituents on the matter.

Since it is already all too easy to dismiss dissenting voices of the non-rich and non-connected that are shut out of any real input into decisionmaking around here, certainly council members can ignore without much discomfort or guilt those few tenacious souls who show up for their brief chance to make a last-ditch case at public meetings.

But the rabble does manage to find a few places to express its ire about the way things work around here. Ironically, the comment thread beneath the online version of today’s editorial became such a place.

I would strongly urge you city representatives to read every comment posted there — if, of course, you can bear to waste a few minutes of your time discovering what a large number of your constituents think. I hope that it is just the editorial board of the state’s largest paper that would entertain such an elitist attitude, and that someone like yourself, who does at least have to get elected occasionally, might not be so anxious to ridicule citizens who care deeply about their community.

Here’s the link.

The people of Central Oklahoma have again and again expressed their desire for decent and affordable mass transit, again and again, they have been ignored. I think it’s time that average people, and not just rich business owners, got what they wanted. A slight change to the Crosstown relocation would be a good place to start.

Serena Blaiz

Cross posted at my blog, Peace Arena, and on some local message boards.

Oklahoma teabaggers to meet in Amtrak station

Reposted with permission from original by soonerhq‘s diary at Daily Kos.

On Monday evening I stopped by the Hasting’s bookstore here in Norman, OK. While perusing the community bulletin board, I noticed a flyer for the Tea Party to be held on the evening of April 15th at the Norman Santa Fe Train Depot. I chuckled to myself and went about my business.  But then yesterday it occurred to me that the Norman Depot services the Heartland Flyer, an Amtrak line between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.  How ironic, I thought, that an anti-tax, anti-spending group would be meeting in a building associated with one of their perennial targets – a railroad company wholly owned by, and operating on a $2.6 billion annual subsidy from, the federal government.

But wait – there’s more!

So today I did a little more research, and discovered that the Norman Depot was renovated in 2003 using $480,000 of federal and state funds. The station houses a performing arts studio which is partially supported by local, state, and federal funds, including the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005, local protestors successfully lobbied for $2 million in state funds for the operation of the Heartland Flyer.

Best of all?  The bill that provided the $2.6 billion in annual funding for Amtrak passed the House 311-104 and was signed by President Bush in October of 2008.  So much for taxation without representation.

If it weren’t for taxes and government spending, I wonder where they would be meeting?

Peace Education Institute announces 2009 summer camps schedule

( – promoted by DocHoc)

The summer peace camps program offered by The Peace Education Institute is now in its third year of providing young people an opportunity to explore ideas and issues, to expand their knowledge of history, and to develop cooperative, community-building skills that will serve them throughout life.

* Peace Challenge Camp (for rising 5th & 6th graders) will be July 27-31.

This is a residential camp that takes place at St. Francis of the Woods Retreat Center in Coil, OK. It has a maximum enrollment of 16 students. The 5 day camp starts with a visit to the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum and then a trip to St. Francis of the Woods. The kids live in cabins of 4 campers, a teen helper and adult counselor. Throughout the weeks, they live and work together in this small team, including cooking and cleaning their home space. The curriculum focuses on non-violence as the preferred method for problem-solving. There is a lot of art and some team challenges that are scattered around the campus. Guest speakers include people who have experienced violence and have overcome the need for retribution and bitterness.

The cost of this camp is $200.00. Scholarship assistance is available.

* Peace Makers in Action (for rising 9-12 graders)

The High School Peace Camp is located at 3131 N. Penn Ave., Oklahoma City, OK. Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Vegetarian lunches are provided.

This summer, the youths will receive the full 20 hours of nonviolence training provided in the workshop entitled: “Creating a Culture of Peace: Nonviolence for Personal and Social Change.”

There is plenty of time for creativity in this camp. Bands form, photography groups emerge, etc.

The cost of this camp is $100. Scholarship assistance is available.

For details about the camps or to register, visit, or call 405-204-6479.

OKC peace community welcomes war resister Daniel Sandate

Join us to celebrate release of war resister Daniel Sandate on his release from Ft. Sill & welcome him to OKC, Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6 pm (after 5 pm press conference)

The Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Joy Mennonite Church would like to invite you to help us celebrate the release of war resister Daniel Sandate from military prison.

Daniel is a veteran of the Iraq War who came to see the war as wrong and to resist it. He fled to Canada after his first deployment to Iraq because his unit refused to give him treatment for his PTSD. Daniel lived underground in Canada until last year when he was deported to the US and sent to Fort Carson, CO. He was court martialed there, given an Other Than Honorable discharge, and sentenced to 8 months.

He was released from the brig at Ft. Sill this past Tuesday (in time to watch President Obama be inaugurated).

We are having this event to show Daniel and our community that we stand with him and support him. Please join us and welcome Daniel to Oklahoma City. Bring a dish of your favorite food, and your friends. We want to pack the house with supporters of Daniel!

OCC helped sponsor Daniel’s lead attorney, James M. Branum, in his case at Ft. Carson. OCC is supported by Joy MCC, Veterans for Peace, Oklahoma City Friends Meeting, Oklahoma Catholic Peace Fellowship and Tulsa Peace Fellowship.

The event is free, though we will gratefully accept donations so we may continue to provide legal support for Iraq war resisters and conscientious objectors seeking discharge from the military.

WHERE: Joy Mennonite Church, 504 NE 16th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73104 (corner of 26th and Lincoln, just south of Capitol)

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009


5 p.m. (press conference — if you can come for this to show support for any media attending, it would be great)

6 p.m. (potluck dinner)

6:30 p.m. (Daniel will speak and answer questions)


Handwritten statement by Daniel while in jail:…

Film Screening: Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future

Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future

On Jan. 13, we will show the film Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future. It is a short film with a big agenda: ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  

Just a dream? The election of Barack Obama has brought a new spirit of hope to the U.S. and the world and an opportunity to remove the greatest threat to peace and stability. Many organizations are getting behind the campaign, and even some prominent US politicians are getting on board.

How could it work? There are so many myths and naysayers. The organizers present seven steps:


  • De-alert.  Remove all nuclear weapons from high-alert status, separating warheads from delivery vehicles;
  • No First Use.  Make legally binding commitments to No First Use of nuclear weapons and establish nuclear policies consistent with this commitment;
  • No New Nuclear Weapons. Initiate a moratorium on the research and development of new nuclear weapons, such as the Reliable Replacement Warhead;
  • Ban Nuclear Testing Forever.  Ratify and bring into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;
  • Control Nuclear Material.  Create a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty with provisions to bring all weapons-grade nuclear material and the technologies to create such material under strict and effective international control;
  • Nuclear Weapons Convention.  Commence good faith negotiations, as required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to achieve a Nuclear Weapons Convention for the phased, verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons;
  • Resources for Peace.  Reallocate resources from the tens of billions currently spent on nuclear arms to alleviating poverty, preventing and curing disease, eliminating hunger and expanding educational opportunities throughout the world
  • .

This film by the nuclear Age Peace Foundation makes the case. We’ll provide info and resources for adding your voice to the call, and ways to spread the word. The film will then be added to our Peace & Conscience Library, and made available to the community. If you would like to show it to your group in the Oklahoma City area, contact us. It can also be borrowed by individuals. There is a version that can be watched online as well.

The film should prompt a good discussion about how we can take action to make this dream a reality.

Free and open to the public; 90 minutes total.  Refreshments provided.

Tuesday, January 13; 7-8:30 PM

Joy Mennonite Church, 504 NE 16Th St (corner of 16th & Lincoln — parking is limited so carpooling is encouraged)

For more information call: 236-4938.