Feb 22, 2007
The elections of November 2006 marked a historic turning point and produced a sea change in our country's political landscape. It heralded the beginning of the end of the Bush nightmare; the end of an administration that has been the most destructive and most evil in our country's history. The worst President, ever!
Contrary to Bush's juvenile assertion that he's "the decider," when it comes to our country's future and that of the world, the American people, in their votes, stated the truth - We, the people, are the deciders, not the leaders and misleaders of governments, not Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice and Blair. The future course of the world, the history that is yet to be written, depends on the world's people. All the military might and destructive force at Bush's command cannot change that elementary fact. And so it has been throughout history. And so it will be now.
That doesn't mean it'll be easy. Bush and Cheney are consummate bullies -- they won't give up even if the tide turns against them. It takes the committed unity of people opposing them and putting pressure on the new Congress to stand up on behalf of the people - to finally put the kibosh on the Bush presidency.
And therein lies the battle: to pressure the new Congress to take definitive action. It has begun with so-called non-binding resolutions. But non-binding merely plays into Bush's hand; it shows cowardice and an unwillingness to challenge, head-on, the bullies in the White House. Non-bindng to Bush means "we don't agree but go ahead and do it anyway." And he will!
More decisive action lies in the likes of House Resolution 508, authored by Representative Lynn Woolsey of California and co-sponsored by 45 other members, which would mandate the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the region within six months of its enactment. It would also repeal the authorization (read "blank check") given to Bush by the Congress in 2002. And it puts teeth behind its assertions by cutting any funding used to continue deployment of troops to Iraq (i.e. Bush's surge). In addition, it contains strong language that provides money for reconstruction in Iraq to attempt, in some small way, to undo the horrendous damage done to that country by Bush's unprovoked and immoral war.
So it was with the idea of pressuring Congress that a group of some 30 residents met last night, in a Park Slope home, with their newly-elected Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke.
To her credit, Clarke has joined the Congress' Progressive Caucus as well as its Out-Of-Iraq Caucus, two of the institution's most progressive groupings. In addition, she has signed on as a supporter of the above-mentioned resolution 508. She also stated forthrightly that she intends to vote against the supplemental budget request to further fund the Iraq and Afghan wars (adding still another $93 billion to the $369 billion already spent on Bush's terror-fying wars!)
Residents peppered her with questions about Iran (she stated that she's firmly opposed to military action against Iran), impeachment (she's in favor) and other issues that were on their minds. She stated emphatically that her constituents, who, she said, are in great need of health services, new schools and affordable housing, cannot expect any help from government as long as the war continues in Iraq and the billions being spent there continue to be diverted from the social needs of people.
It was a good start, I thought, for a freshman congresswoman to be so bold and outspoken on these urgent issues. Would that our two U.S. Senators were as principled and forthright! In concluding, Ms. Clarke urged those in attendance to keep pressing her on the issues of peace and economic justice and that we would find her responsive. Time will tell, but the promise was made and we must make sure to follow up on it.
That was yesterday. Today was witness to another action on the same agenda: i.e. pressure on the Congress. The effective and impressive internet-born organization, Move On was delivering thousands of letters, nationwide, to Congress Members, telling them - "You're the decider. You must stop the escalation in Iraq." In Brooklyn, as part of that effort, dozens of citizens gathered at the corner of Remsen Street and Court Street. This was outside the offices of Congressman Edolphus Towns, who represents Brooklyn's 10th C.D. Just the day before, members of Brooklyn Parents For Peace had met with Towns and he was ambiguous on opposing the supplemental budget request, coming before Congress in the days ahead. But today, apparently, with this visit of two peace delegations in two days, he changed his mind when I asked him again -- "Yes, I intend to vote against it," even though he complained of the Republican/Media's attempt to smear funding cuts as, somehow, undermining the troops. The truth is -- and it was pointed out to the Congressman who then agreed with us --that keeping the troops in Iraq is truly undermining them and putting them in harm's way. Bringing them home, safe and alive, is the only way to support the troops.
And so to return to my point: unremitting pressure brought to bear on the Congress (friends and foe alike) is not only urgent, but a necessity, if we are to succeed in ending the war and preventing further bloodshed in Iran. The month of March represents the fourth anniversary of this debacle, of this war launched on lies. Demonstrations in New York are scheduled on March 18th and other dates. We should make these as big as possible so that Congress gets the message: In November, we voted for peace...now you must listen! We are the deciders!
Hundreds pass the busy intersection of Remsen and Court Streets as peace demonstrators stood outside Congressman Ed Towns' office - "Congress - you are the decider!"
Many stopped to listen and look and nod their heads in agreement.
Vietnam veteran Hugh Bruce made an impassioned speech and many passers-by stopped to listen.
"Hey Congress - are you getting the message??!!"
After the street corner rally about 20 or so people took the elevators to the 15th floor and crowded into Congressman Towns' office.
Democracy in action: citizens demanding answers and action. Congressman Towns vowed to oppose the war, said he would most certainly vote against Bush's supplemental request for more billions and would oppose Presidential diktat when it came to escalating the conflict with Iran.