Author Archives: Brad Geyer

Vigil for Peace – Honor the Earth

VIGIL FOR PEACE Mondays Noon-1pm Madison Municipal Bldg.–Week 1626, 4-29-19

Monday Noon Vigil (since December 1981)

Last Monday, April 22nd was Earth Day, the 49th Earth Day since it was first observed on April 22, 1970. The theme of Earth Day 2019 is to protect and save all species.


Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who proposed a national teach-in on the environment after witnessing the aftermath of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in September of 1969. On April 20, 1970, twenty million people across the United States held protests and gathered in public areas to talk about the environment and find ways to defend the planet. They wanted to send a strong message to Washington that public opinion was behind a bold political agenda on environmental problems. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

In 1970 and the years following, an active government supported environmental protection through agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA was tasked with protecting human health and the environment through its laws and regulations. The Clean Air and Water Act was enacted in 1972 and became the primary federal law governing water pollution in the U.S.

Earth Day continued to grow over the years. In 1990 it went global and 200 million people in 141 countries participated in the event.

Another strand of the origins of Earth Day is that it was inspired by a single photograph, known as ‘Earthrise’ which was taken by the crew of Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968. It showed the earth, shadowed by the moon, floating out in deep space and was the first time anyone saw the earth from that perspective. Sixteen months later, on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was born. The twenty million people who came out onto the streets across American created an event that to this day remains the largest civic event in human history. (Jeff Goddell, Rolling Stone, April 22, 2019)


As powerful as this photo is, Jeff Goddell says, it is a poor symbol for Earth Day and sends the wrong message for the challenges that we humans face on the planet today.

There is no human presence in the photo and the point of Earth Day should be how we are impacting the earth. What is the human relationship with earth and how are we managing it? Also, the photo gives the impression that the earth is a fragile place. But in its 4.5 billion year history, earth has been through wild extremes of heat and cold, fire and ice.

“What is fragile is not the earth itself but life on earth. Particularly, human civilization has arisen during a remarkably mild, temperate interval in the earth’s climate.” We are changing that climate. Somewhere between 37-40 billion tons of carbon are dumped into the atmosphere every year, pushing the climate system into instability. According to Jeff
Goodell, “At this moment on earth, we are in a fight for our lives, and the lives of future generations… The science is clear. We have the technology we need. What we don’t have is the political leadership.”


On Earth Day, April 22, 2016, the Paris Agreement was signed by 120 countries, including the United States and China. This signing satisfied a key requirement for entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. However, in June of 2017 President Trump delivered an official notice to the U.N that the U.S. intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is legally eligible to do so. Because of the way the treaty was written, the earliest possible withdrawal date is Nov. 4th, 2019. (Wikipedia)

What is the Paris Agreement

On April 22 this year, 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, spoke at a public event in London calling for a general strike to ensure that politicians keep their promises under the Paris agreement. Her talk followed a week of protests by Extinction Revolution activists which pushed the climate crisis onto news broadcasts and newspaper front pages. “It’s an existential crisis.” Thunberg said. “It is something that will affect the future of our civilization. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must take action accordingly.” (The Guardian 4/23/20019)

Greta TedTalk The Disarming Case to Act Right Now on Climate Change

Extinction Rebellion


In the concluding chapter of Dahr Jamail’s new book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption he says: “For decades many of us have turned a blind eye to what is happening to the planet. But now, given that the Earth may be dying, we may be ready to stand up and protect what we love.”

“No one knows if the biosphere will completely collapse. Our future is uncertain. Given the fact that a rapid increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere coincided with previous mass extinctions and that we could well be facing our own extinction, we should be asking ourselves, ‘How shall I use this precious time?’ Each of us must find our own honest natural response to the conditions we have brought upon ourselves.”

Dahr Jamail quotes several Indigenous elders speaking to college students. When asked “What can we do?” one Lakota leader and elder said “Think about it. That’s up to you. I can’t tell you what to do. Educate yourself and then you decide.”

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel, Czech dissident, writer, and statesman


The Abe Lincoln Battalion: Equality on the Front Line 31st Jan 2019 Pete

It was in January 1937 when enough Americans had landed in Spain to form their own fighting unit in the army defending the elected Spanish government. Politically, these men and women came from all manner of progressive tendencies. Communists, socialists, liberals – in other contexts bitterly divided, on the sun-baked fields of 1930s Spain they stood united against fascism.

And no, the Abe Lincoln Battalion wasn’t organised by race – typical of the US socialist and communist movements of the 1930s and their total commitment to anti-racism. African-Americans were especially drawn to Spain because they saw in Franco the white supremacism they were fighting in Mississippi and Georgia. Langston Hughes put it well: “Give Franco a hood and he would be a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

They also rightly saw behind Franco the blood-soaked figure of Benito Mussolini (tens of thousands of Fascist Italian and Nazi German soldiers were deployed to Spain), who just a couple years earlier had invaded Ethiopia – a free nation which held sacred status in Pan-African and Black Radical thought in the US.

While relatively few in number – around 85 African-Americans served in Spain – they existed as full equals in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.

The Abe Lincoln Battalion: Equality on the Front Line 


Spanish Civil War Tea Towel

The Radical Tea Towel Story

The Radical Tea Towel Company was founded by the Pearce family in South Wales, who’ve demonstrated that it’s perfectly possible to work with members of your family and still get on!
The idea came about when Beatrice was looking for a suitable politically-themed birthday present for her late mother’s partner, David. She decided that some kind of left-wing tea towel would be ideal (given David’s radical inclinations), but somehow the internet had not yet produced such an obviously useful product.

After a discussion over dinner with husband Tim and son Luke, the family decided they’d strike out and create a bunch of radical tea towels, with the aim of encouraging left and liberal-minded people to proudly display their political and social beliefs…

Link to Radical Tea Towel Story

The VFP Clarence Kailin Chapter 25 Book: Long Shadows

Long Shadows: Veterans’ Paths to Peace Edited by David Giffey

The long shadows of war follow all that have participated in the horrors that come with militarism, but some of those involved have taken those shadows on a path towards peace.

The men and women of the Madison, Wisconsin area Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace group, along with editor David Giffey have brought together nineteen interviews that share the stories of veterans and their paths to peace going back as far as the Spanish Civil War, with an interview with Clarence Kailin up to Patrick Wilcox, an Iraqi war veteran.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

“There is an immense literature of war, so any new entry into that formidable body of narratives…needs to be looked at carefully to see if it adds something significant to our knowledge of war and those drawn into it. I believe that this book meets the test and informs us, in ways that we will not easily forget.” – Howard Zinn

Vigil for Peace: War is a Racket – Apr 8

Monday’s Noon-1pm Corner MLK Jr. & Doty St. Madison City-County Bldg.

Week 1623 Date 8 April 2019


(October 14, 1890-March 18, 1969)

“During the long lane of history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals.”

(From 1961 farewell address.)


“Now is the time for even greater activism to end the endless wars, to stop potentially catastrophic new wars, and to link the work for peace to the movements for special, economic and climate justice. ”

(b. 1947- )



(July 30, 1881-June 21, 1940)

“In his book, “WAR IS A RACKET” Smedley Butler points to a variety of examples, mostly from World War I, where industrialists, whose operations were subsidized by public funding, were to generate substantial profits, making money from mass human suffering.”

War is a Racket – Online Book by Smedley Butler

We are moved to say that not only is it not enough to say, “War is a Racket,” which this writer greatly respects Butler for saying, but it’s what we do that counts as well. The saying and the doing are two quite different things which brings us to next week’s Vigil for Peace.

With 57 percent of the Trump $1.3 trillion discretionary budget going to the Pentagon and nuclear weapons enhancement, we are calling attention to those ways in which our tax dollars are spent. Join us next Monday at Noon in calling for an end to paying for our country’s numerous undeclared wars and all matter of violence leading to war. Take for example the F-35A.

Butler wrote this:

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possible the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”





5 Billion Dollars on F-35A planes OR Human Needs & the Environment?


Currently each F-35A plane costs $110 million to manufacture. The F-35A costs approximately $42,000 per hour to fly. Assuming a plane flies 120 hours a year, over 20 years, that comes to $100 million.

The F-35 Is About to Get A Lot Cheaper. Sort Of.

24 x F-35A Fighter planes (@ $210 million each) = approximately 5 billion dollars.

Here are nine things we could buy for $5 billion instead:

1. Provide Medicaid for 1.4 million people. At the program’s current costs, $5 billion could provide Medicaid – cost-effective, quality insurance – for 1.4 million Americans.

2. Triple federal spending on energy The United States budget for energy efficiency and renewable energy is $2 billion. Adding $5 billion would triple the budget.

3. Give the Environmental Protection Agency a 60% Raise This federal defender for clean water, clean air, protection of endangered species, safe disposal of toxic waste, land conservation and even food quality and safety has been under assault by the current administration. A $5 billion raise would be enough to raise its budget by 60%, from $8.2 billion to $13.2 billion.

4. Increase federal aid to public K-12 schools by 30% The primary source of federal aid to public schools is the Title I program that provides federal funding to schools that serve lower income students. More than half of all public schools in the United States benefit from the program. In 2017, Title I grants to public schools totaled $14.9 billion. An additional $5 billion would be a 30% increase to this aid.

6. Double heating assistance for low-income households The Low Income Home Energy Assistance program provides support to low-income households to help them afford heating and cooling costs. Its 2017 budget was just short of $3.4 billion, so a $5 billion increase could more than double it.

8. Double funding for substance abuse and mental health

Yet the current budget for the main federal agency that handles both substance abuse and mental health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), received just $4.1 billion in federal funds in 2017. Adding $5 billion to that could more than double current funding.

Nine Things to Buy with $5 Billion Instead of a Border Wall from National Priorities Project

The group meets in downtown Madison from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm on the corner, by the County-City building: The corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Doty Street. There are signs and flyers available each week. The flyers to be handed out to passers-by.

All are welcome to join this group, which meets every Monday noon, except Federal holidays – (or if the temperature sinks below -20 degrees… and even then, some members enjoy standing for peace.)