I had an activist's sampler of several issues and kinds of actions in the July heat in DC.
My week was bracketed by participating in the protests calling for Atty General Gonzales' resignation at the Dept of Justice on Monday and Friday.
In between, I met, had great conversations with, and did a little mentoring of a wonderful group of college students;
went to two hearings on FEMA f***-ups in Louisiana and on the poltical firings and hirings of US attorney;
took notes on abuse of immigrants in detention facilities at a Congressional briefing;
observed in both the Senate and the House galleries;
heard two of my favorite members of Congress speak (Boxer and Kucinich);
supported and celebrated as Leslie's campaign to stop the next war [on Iran] now came to a wonderful high point with the Iranian cyclists; and saw two documentaries, one a fascinating work in progress on our in-house media marvel, Midge Potts, and the other, Michael Moore's "Sicko."
Oh yeah, and got arrested for "disrupting Congress." Or as I prefer to think of it, affirming my junior senator at her workplace.
Bay Area Code Pinker Leslie Angeline had a 15-minute meeting with Lieberman that actually gave us hope he's going to tone down the rhetoric and re-examine his position on Iran (but don't hold your breath), and she will be on Democracy Now this Monday talking about her campaign. I am thrilled for her; this is a huge story that will continue as she and Jes go to Connecticut and I hope will touch many hearts. Try to watch, listen to or download DN on Monday and tell others. I haven't written much about Leslie's amazing work here, as it is her story to tell, but I certainly have been deeply moved by her courage and tenacity and grace.
I'll close by telling a story of how the Dems are FINALLY squashing Republican rhetorical tricks that they used to accept and parrot, not challenge. Some Congresswoman from New Mexico tried to introduce an amendment on electronic surveillance to Ike Skelton's bill. You know, more spying and listening in on phone conversations! Skelton kept interrupting her to say the amendment was not germane and she kept coming back to her microphone. This went on for four exchanges. Finally she launched into, "And we all know where we were on the morning of September 11, 2001..." and Skelton just cut her off so quickly and the president pro tem brought his gavel, ruling that her amendment (of course!) was NOT germane. It was a clear signal of "oh, no, you're not going to play that dogeared old card THIS TIME!" And then the "Responsible Redeployment from Iraq" bill passed by a comfortable if not large majority.
I feel some tentative hope, but it will take a tremendous push through the rest of this summer for Congress to realize they MUST vote to bring the troops home. Republicans especially. The best thing is to call senators' offices in DC this week at the Capitol Switchboard number: 202-224-3121. They definitely notice and record how folks are calling them on issues. You can call senators besides your own; my mother did and had a good long conversation with Lugar's staffer. Be organized and polite, but also speak from your heart. Encourage others to do so.
By Janet Weil