MY DAY ON DOWNING STREET
As a Political Junkie, whenever I have an opportunity to attend Congressional "Town Hall" meetings in my district, I take the opportunity to go. The Downing Street Memo is so tied to Karl Rove's Outing of an undercover CIA agent for pure, spiteful revenge, one can't sneeze without the other hiccupping.
So, on Saturday, a clear, blue, 85 degree day in Oakland, when I would have rather been elsewhere (like on a beach in Monterrey), I crowded into the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland's Lake Merritt district, to hear what my representative, Barbara Lee, had to say about the DSM, Karl Rove's implication in the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame, and other stuff.
My first thought was that, although the theater was packed, and many were standing, more people should have been there to ask questions, and get information about what's going on inside the Beltway that you are not going to get from the likes of the MSM (or what's passing for the MSM these days). My second thought was me sitting there, fuming, at the apathy of my friends and colleagues, when I told them about this Town Hall Meeting.
" You should come with me to find out how the President has lied, manipulated evidence and events to facilitate attacking Iraq, and how he's now trying to cover it up", I said, with a catch in my voice.
"I'm not into that 'political' stuff. Leave me out of it", said my friends.
I wept with the frustration that the "political" stuff are decisions being made in our name as American citizens, that are basically screwing up our communities, our very lives, the lives of our loved ones; our children. The "political" stuff is resulting in one party government, fascist dictatorship in a democratic land, and the rich getter richer on the backs of, and at the expense of, the poor, working class and downtrodden.
Despite my friends' apathy, I went to spend my day on Downing Street, anyway. One day, I hope they will thank me for it, but I won't hold my breath. You never know what you have until it's gone, and thanks to Bush, it may be gone sooner than you think, if this Administration is not stopped.
After getting through with the parking nightmare (seven blocks away from the theater and hoping my car wasn't in a tow-away zone), I settled in with my notebook to record my observations of the Town Hall meeting. I was encouraged by many who came, and said that they'd invited friends to attend and got virtually the same responses I did. So, we all bonded in solidarity, Jew and Gentile, African-American, Latino, White, Asian - wealthy and just-getting-by; children, and the elderly, who still have the wisdom to pass on to those of us who think we know everything. We united on common ground - the right to know the truth, and the right to hold our elected officials accountable for what they are doing in OUR NAME.
The Town Hall meeting was opened and MC'ed by actress Mimi Kennedy. Medea Benjamin introduced Representative Lee. The panel seated included Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Pentagon Papers; Bill Mitchell of Gold Star Families for Peace; Steve Cobble, of AfterDowningStreet.org, and Representative from Iraq Veterans against the War. I learned that nine members of Congress were holding similar Town Hall meetings nationwide; John Conyers (of course), Maxine Waters, Maurice Hinchey, Xavier Becerra, Jim McDermott, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Tom Udall. Frankly, I thought that since 131 members of Congress signed Conyers' letter demanding answers from the White House, all of them should have been holding Town Hall meetings on the DSM, and I wondered why they weren't.
Bill Mitchell was the most poignant speaker. His son was killed in Iraq, and to listen to him share his pain with us was enough to make me weep in sorrow and anger. Sorrow for the families who had loved ones die for a lie. Anger, again at the apathy of my friends and families, for not caring enough to do something to stop the onslaught against our country, which is being peddled as governing. You would think C-Span would have covered some of these Town Hall meetings. Then you remember that C-Span is starting to have kool-aid addictions themselves, and forget about CBS, NBC, ABC coverage. Faux NEWS? Not unless they could include their own brand of snark.
Congresswoman Lee told us that this week, she is introducing a Resolution of Inquiry on the House floor, which essentially will force the Bush Administration to release their information from the DSM, and all relevant documentation or information or have hearings held. Although the Republican majority wouldn't think of holding hearings on DSM (they hope it will go away), Rep. Lee reminded us that the minority party does have rights, such as forcing hearings on these issues. Taking this issue to the American People is the only option the Democrats really have, now. Documentation of evidence, said Mr. Ellsberg and the Iraqi Vet, were the key to forcing the hand of the Administration.
Steve Cobble read excerpts from the DSM itself, and added his own brand of snark, as in "Man, can you believe this???". If you haven't read the DSM, go to AfterDowningStreet.org, and download the document for yourself! If the British knew America was looking for a reason to invade Iraq, and "sex" up the reason for attacking them, know you know why the Bush Administration pooh-poohed the release of the document when they did. But you must also notice that they haven't denied the authenticity of the DSM, nor have they denied the facts stated in the memo are true! So, we have to keep repeating that the Bush Administration hasn't denied that the document itself is telling the truth! We have to mention this along with the words, "Lies", "Treason" and "Outing a CIA Agent".
I was thinking there's always someone leaking stuff to the media in the hopes that the clones of Dan Rather, Bill Moyers and others will show up and do their jobs in reporting the true issues, and not get sidetracked by stories of missing white women and other fluff. I am convinced that someone in the White House remembers democracy, and is doing their best to restore it before being "outed" themselves by the cartel. You know what they do to those not pledging "loyalty" above everything else, even honor....
Daniel Ellsberg was the most prolific speaker in that he could draw distinct parallels between what happened during his days in the Beltway, when he found that LBJ was lying during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and other matters pertaining to the Vietnam War. For me, having watched the movie, "JFK", there is a clear indication that the theory Oliver Stone raises in "JFK' wasn't too far off (that LBJ may have conspired with the government to assasinate Kennedy because Kennedy had no interest in going to war in Vietnam, and Johnson was willing to give up a war, if he got the Presidency). Mr. Ellsberg also gave sharp commentary on the fact that several Democratic leaders are too cowardly to vote their conscience and do their jobs (he invoked Dianne Feinstein's name several times to choruses of boos and hissing). He also lamented if he had been brave enough to come forward with his information on Vietnam before he did, how many lives would have been saved?
Likewise, how many lives would have been saved from the egregiousness which is now known as the Iraqi war, if the person who leaked the DSM leaked it three years ago. Or if the United States have a second version of "Deep Throat" to out the Bush Administration's culpability in this whole mess.
I forget the name of the representative from Iraq Veterans Against the War - but I remember that he made the point of telling us not to just shout our frustration, but become more methodical in asking questions, organizing, and most of all, being able to argue with those who are still drinking Bush's kool-aid regarding this war. You can stop them by asking them why do they still support Bush, even though you can now park a truckload of the lies his Administration have parlayed into reasons. Ask them if their lives are any better under Bush, now that their job has been outsourced, they don't have medical coverage, and oh, yeah, your kid has been shipped off to Iraq and could be killed in a war that was facilitated on the basis of a lie. Collect documentation to convince them that you're not talking out the side of your neck. Documentation is the only evidence that stops rogue Administrations like this one in their tracks. The fact that Nixon taped his conversations was what basically hung him out to dry...
We were also told that the Administration has Iran in its' sight for the next "war on terror". We were reminded that if there is such an uproar from the American People, GeeDubya may want to re-think going after Iran, since it's been verfied that they DO have WMDs as well as a few nucs to take out America.
The Question and Answer session was lively. Most of the questions were directed at Congresswomen Lee - primarily thanking her for her representation of US! She invited us to participate in mass demonstration that's going on in Washington the weekend of September 24th, regarding the Iraq war, the DSM and other stuff. She reminded us we need to keep connecting the outing of Valerie Plame to the article her husband, Joe Wilson, wrote in the NYT, which basically verified the contents of the DSM. We keep it up, the Administration is going to basically have to look the American people in the eye and tell us to go to hell (my words, not Rep. Lee), which, I think, GeeDubya and Cheney are just that arrogant to do.
One question asked - Why isn't no one in Congress willing to mention the "I" word? As in "Impeachment"? Rep. Lee outlined the process of introducing Articles of Impeachment, but she also informed us who chairs the judiciary and rules committees (Senselessbrenner and the Cockroach, DeLay) and how that hurdle would have to be overcome. It can be overcome with the help of people like you and me keeping pressure on our representatives. My thought is to start by emailing and calling the other 122 Democratic members of Congress and ask them why they didn't host Town Hall meetings on the DSM in their districts this weekend.
Lord, someone asked why John Kerry wimped out after the election, after promising he would question the votes. Rep. Lee told us to ask John Kerry, LOL! Personally, I'm offended that Kerry would deign to promote himself as a candidate in 2008...
Then another audience member reminded us that the GOP weren't they only guilty parties in the Iraq war. He reminded us that there were a godly number of pseudo-Democrats that aided and abetted the abidication of Congressional authority in authorizing the Iraq quagmire, such as Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, and Dianne Feinstein (talk about the boos and hissing that drowned out Rep. Lee's response!). I believe the guy was asking what could be done about the pseudo Democrats and how they voted and are basically complicit in the whole mess.
Rep. Lee responded that as long as the Progressive members of Congress stayed strong and begin to increase, either the pseudo-Democrats will either get with the program, or be exposed to their constituents and get voted out. I remember how some pseudo-Democrats are counting on keeping their constituencies ignorant of their Beltway selling out, and how pissed they got with David Sirota when he exposed how they sold out their constituents on the BK bill. Educating the constituencies was the key, said Rep. Lee, and I whole heartedly agree with her.
I took a bunch of flyers to pass out, urging a petition to initiate Articles of Impeachment against GeeDubya. As Rep. Lee reminded us, we on the West Coast don't drink a lot of kool-aid and we saw the lies for WMD and other toady reasons given by Bush as far back as 2002. If we'd had that DSM then, Bush would have been a one-term President. For every one of my "apathetic" friends who aren't into "political stuff" but will some day be screaming about the loss of social benefits as a result of the government's robbing of Peter to pay Paul, I will continue to stand in your stead, because I want my country back.
And a fine time was had by all.