Saturday, November 3, 2007

Ballad of Molly Ivins - first three great songs!

Well the Ballad of Molly Ivins Songwriting Contest is starting to take off with the first three (really great and wonderful) songs now entered in the contest!

This is a YouTube based contest so you can see and judge for yourself just how great and wonderful each song is.

Just go to the YouTube Channel set up for easy viewing:

All song are in competition to be officially called: "The Ballad of Molly Ivins"

One song is performed by Peter Tracy and the Left Coast Troubadours.

Another is by Walt Webb AKA Peacewebbs

And a third is performed by Sky Camfield on vocal and guitar, and Adrian Fallwell on the pots and pans.

The official judging is being done by an outstanding panel of judges.

Please tell any musical friends and any singer-songwriters you may know about this contest. And especially please tell any media or journalist to may be in touch with about this contest! It is still going on. Any and all motivated fans of Molly are encouraged to enter!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Author of “Fiasco” discusses the surge in Iraq on Talk of the Nation with soldiers and veterans

Listening to the radio this Wednesday I was fascinated to hear NPR’s daily call in show, Talk of the Nation featuring the Washington Post's senior Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks, author of the critically acclaimed book, 'Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. The theme of the radio show was What do solders think about the surge and how the war in Iraq is going.”

Ricks had his best selling book Fiasco published in 2006. The paperback version has just come out with a postscript added of new insights about the surge strategy and war up to April 2007. His previous books, Making the Corps and A Soldier's Duty and his career military correspondent has given him an intimate knowledge and respect for Americans who serve their country in the military and the career officers who lead them.

Fiasco is a devastating and detailed report on ignorance, mistakes and bad leadership of Bush, Ru
msfeld, Bremer etc. and the senior generals that ran the war. Since it was published, Ricks' inbox began overflowing with emails from men and women in the service, practically all of it thanking him for reporting the truths of the Iraq “fiasco”. The book has received a great deal of praise and attention by the media and political reporters. In 2006 Ricks was interviewed by Charlie Rose for a full hour.

This Talk of the Nation radio show is great because it combines an interview of Ricks with his commentary on the surge strategy and the situation in Iraq today plus commentary by callers who are active duty and Iraq veterans. I encourage everyone interested in what's happening in Iraq to take 20 minutes and listen to the online NPR achive of this show.

Ricks starts out by qualifying that the US military is not a monolith. Marines and soldiers at all levels disagree with each other on the war as much as civilian Americans do. However it is obvious that the vast majority of American military service believe that Ricks got it right in Fiasco.

Ricks says, “I think what I did was give voice to what a lot of people in the military where thinking and told them first of all, you are not alone. There are a lot of other people in the military that have this view, and gave them a coherent narrative, and gave them the documentation that what you saw in your little corner of Iraq was not unique. That these problem where generalized. That you did indeed have poor generalship under General Sanchez. That Tommy Franks probably did put on the table the worst war plan in American History.”

He says, “One battalion commander wrote to me, “Thank you for saying publicly what we have been saying privately.”

Indeed Ricks says he has been told that his Fiasco book has been selected for the required reading starting this fall at the US Army War College.

Ricks is no anti-war pundit or partisan for any political point of view. He stresses, “The important thing for me is to remain open the possibility of a turn around in this war – a turn in the tide. At the same time we can’t rush to optimism and come to overly optimistic conclusions in the way the US military and the Bush administration has done repeatedly for the last five years.”

“I try to walk a tight rope between seeing accurately what’s happening without getting too entrenched. I don’t’ want to have people to say, he wrote the book “Fiasco” so he wants the war to be a fiasco. The first four years of the war have absolutely been a fiasco in my mind. Where it goes from now - it could change and I am open to that possibility. I don’t think it’s going to change. I think it’s going to be a real mess for many many years to come.”

Ricks clearly believes the military counteroffensive as he calls it is theoretically the right thing to do. While he bemoans that it took us four years to get to this strategy. But he is just as clear that it may be fatally flawed because it may be too little too late.

He says, “The purpose of this counteroffensive, called the surge, is not to just to improve security in Baghdad. Its stated purpose and strategic goal is to create political breathing space, an opening in which Iraqi political leaders could achieve reconciliation. Here we are now seven months into this new stated strategy and there is absolutely no sign of that effect occurring, of that strategic goal being realized. And our soldiers know that. So they are looking around and saying, OK, so what are we going to do now? The Iraqis are not showing up politically.“

He offers this ominous observation, “Iraqis are in a very difficult position. One of the things I believe that Americans don’t get is that Iraqis really don’t share our agenda. Iraqis have different goals than this. We are asking them to do things that they don’t want to do, can’t do or both. “

Rick concludes with this assessment, certainly open-minded, but certainly not optimistic. “General Petraeus is a unique leader; my worry is that just I wish we had done in 2004 what we finally have finally did in 2007. If anyone can do it, Petraeus can. But maybe nobody can do it. That is a very good summary of the general feeling I am hearing from Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels these days.

I believe this is a very good example of what most people know but hate to say; that we are past the tipping point. That every military and political option we have really is all too little too late.

Ricks feels we may be Iraq with troops for another twelve to fifteen years. Maybe he is right. Or maybe Congress will act to bring the troops out in twelve to fifteen months. The question is when do we realize, when do we admit, that anything America can hope to do to avoid defeat of its goals is too little too late. The Bush administration has driven American ship of state right into an iceberg with its Iraq war policy and the ship is sinking. Rearranging the deck chairs on a rapidly sinking ship is not a strategy for saving American or Iraqi lives. It is a strategy of too little too late.

The very real and often stated problem is that pulling American troops out condemns tens of thousands of Iraqis to death and raises the possibility of genocide. The American people and our soldiers can see that and know that. But unlike Bush and the dead-enders in Congress, we are willing to face terrible facts that their leadership has created. We as Americans have our own share of responsibility for re-electing Bush and company in 2004. But Americans voted very differently and very clearly in 2006. We are ready to brake out the lifeboats and see how many Americans and Iraqis can be saved.

Seven out of ten Americans want to bring our troops home from Iraq. The large majority of Iraqis want US troops out. And still the occupation grinds on.

We who call for bringing US troops home now are not isolationists. We do not have our heads in the sand. We certainly are not callus to the humanitarian crisis of death and destruction that is the reality today in Iraq and that will continue in the future. We simply believe that if you are dug into in a hole and you want to get out, you should stop digging and do something else.

Last night I had a chance to meet Tom Ricks at a bookstore signing. I got three copies of his book, One for my Dad and one for Robert Manning, a Korean War veteran and a driving force behind the Molly Ivins Campaign. Rick was very gracious and signed Robert's book, “Thank you for your service to our country”.

-Brian Webster
San Francisco

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Ballad of Molly Ivins Songwriting Contest !

I have some exciting news about the Ballad of Molly Ivins songwriting contest.

We have now confirmed six fantastic judges for the contest!

Four are singer-songwriters;

Country Joe McDonald

Utah Phillips

Kinky Friedman

Ronnie Gilbert

plus David Richards, Author & Attorney

and Charlotte McCann, Publisher of The Texas Observer!

The Ballad of Molly Ivins songwriting contest is a competition designed to honor the legacy and spirit of Molly Ivins.


The contest has been initiated by our “Raise Hell for Molly Ivins” anti-war campaign. In the folk tradition of singer-songwriters memorializing great Americans with ballads, we are putting out a call to write the “Ballad of Molly Ivins”. The winner of this songwriting competition will win a modest prize, and make history by honoring a great American journalist and hell raiser.

The Contest is being officially announced and launched on July 19th. It will be open to amateur and professional songwriters. The contest is using the as a platform to showcase and judge the song entries.

People will post YouTube videos of their song entries and the public will get to see all the entries that the judges will choose from. We are asking for the song entries to be performed with at least one musical instrument and using pots and pans as background percussion.

The judges will be looking for a ballad that is fun, irreverent, uses powerful words and satire to speak truth to power with wit and style. Something Molly would have liked. Something that people can sing on picket lines and at Texas bonfires for the next hundred years.

We need activists, journalists, musicians and media worker to help us get the word out about the contest. We will have a press release ready on July 19th. Anyone who can help us reach songwriters and publications and networks that can reach songwriters is encouraged to contact:

The Ballad of Molly Ivins will soon be ready to join the community of songs honoring hell raisers such as the Ballad of Joe Hill and the Ballad of John & Yoko!

-Brian Webster

San Francisco

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tom Hayden on Ending the War in Iraq

One of the important things about organizing a campaign to stop a war is knowing you don’t have to start from scratch. Americans have a long tradition of organizing against war and many experienced “veterans and “generals” to draw knowledge from. Tom Hayden is such a person. Tom is one of the founding members of Students for a Democratic Society and a key player in the struggle to end US intervention in the Vietnam war. He has published a very important book, “Ending the War in Iraq”. Just published in May in paperback by Akashic Books, it is very timely with analysis of the current situation in Iraq, including President Bush’s failing surge strategy and the crumbling support for it in the House and Senate.

Hayden clearly spells out how the war can be brought to an end by applying public pressure against the pillars of Bush’s foreign policy. In five chapters and 217 pages he draws together the history and lessons from Vietnam and other clashes with national insurgencies and relates it to the current situation is in Iraq. Chapter 1 is titled – From Vietnam Syndrome to Iraq Syndrome. Chapter 2 – The nature of the Iraq Insurgency. Chapter 3 The Rise of the Antiwar movement, 2001-2007. Chapter 4 – Recommendations to the Antiwar Movement. Chapter 5 is simply titled – Lessons.

I have not yet finished reading the whole book. As I read it, I hope to post several entries here on its contents. For antiwar organizers it has a tremendous amount of insightful history and practical information. I have been underlining many passages and treating my copy as a text book to study.

In chapter 4, Hayden identifies eight pillars of the Bush administrations policy that he says require people pressure for ending the war and occupation. They are: 1. Iraqi Support 2. American Public Opinion 3. American Media 4. Political Support 5. U.S. Military Capacity 6. U.S. Financial Capacity 7. Moral Reputation 8. U.s. Global Alliances

Hayden gives a detailed analysis of each of theses pillars and follows that with a section titled, A Model for Local Antiwar Organizing. That section begins, “Given a strategy of pressuring these eight pillars, what would an anti war organizing model look like? The heart of the pillars strategy must beat at local levels, among volunteer groups like those in Los Angeles neighborhoods who hold peace placards to passing to passing motorist every Friday night.” Well that’s an encouraging endorsement to our Molly Invins Campaign strategy of pots & pans protests in front of local congressional offices. It’s great to have that kind of unsolicited encouragement for the direction we are taking.

There is a boatload of great information in this book and I will try to write it about more in the future. I do encourage people to buy it. Its a great textbook study of what people can do to end the war.

-Brian Webster
San Francisco

Sunday, July 1, 2007


The Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign”. The campaign is focused on building a series of peaceful public protests of the Bush surge strategy and the war in Iraq. It is inspired by Molly Ivins last column calling for people to, “Raise hell... hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge!"

Our goal for this blog is to share thoughts and ideas for creative strategies to end the war in Iraq. Here you will see blog posts from the people involved with the campaign as well as other peace activists and progressive bloggers. We are excited about the opportunity to add our voices to the larger chorus of people blogging to end the war!

Our campaign is organizing people in cities and towns throughout the country to demonstrate in a monthly nationwide remembrance of the March 19th 2003 anniversary date that started the Iraq War. We are gathering at local offices of congressional representatives and Senators on the 19th day of every month to bang pots and pans and peacefully demand that Congress act to end Bush’s policy of war without end.

We invite all Americans, peace groups and veterans groups to join us as we mobilize the voting public to tell Congress, as Molly said, "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders.” We ask our fellow citizens to join us as we gather in front of Congressional district offices in towns across the USA on the 19th day of every month to bang pots and pans for peace!

We are strongly inspired by Molly Ivan’s life and work. We hope to continue her legacy by organizing to speak truth to power with wit and style. We are working on a variety of creative strategies to do this and bring attention to our campaigning.

  • We have Yahoo and Google Groups for people in cities and towns to organize local demonstrations

And now we have a blog!

Back in 1861, Wilbur Storey of the Chicago Times said, "IT IS A NEWSPAPER'S DUTY TO PRINT THE NEWS AND RAISE HELL." That’s exactly what we intend to do with the Molly Ivins Campaign blog.

-Brian Webster

San Francisco