Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Pink House report
by Lisa Savage
Springtime in the capital! It's so great to be here.
Yesterday I arrived at the CODEPINK House in Washington DC around noon. Welcomed warmly and immediately swept up into the swirling clouds of pink action!! I met Medea Benjamin, one of my biggest heroines, right away, and then sat in on a conference call she and the other founders of CP had to plan the days ahead. I am learning a lot, both about process and about what's really going on in the world. For instance, did you know that there are now 4 million displaced people inside Colombia? They have surpassed Sudan in numbers of internal refugees. U.S. military aid and the so-called war on drugs (spraying farmers off their fields) are responsible. Your tax dollars at work, but who knew? Practically the first thing I did (besides knitting a pink square for the Mother's Day fence cozy) was a solidarity action with Witness for Peace in Lafayette Park. They had created paper dolls representing each 1000 people driven off their land, and we helped them hold those up within sight of the White House while listening to speakers from Colombia explain our government's role in creating this tragedy. From there we hopped into the pink van (soooo cool) for a ride to Busboys and Poets Peace Cafe. This event was filled with local activists who had gathered to listen to Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor in Gaza and who lost three daughters in an air strike there just a few months ago. His message: the patient in the ICU, and the treatment is dialogue between all parties to the
conflict. Forget about one state vs. two state right now --- save the patient! Only love and listening will do that. An amazing message from a father with every reason to respond to unspeakable grief with anger. He shared some beautiful photos and quotes from his children, including: VIOLENCE NEVER SOLVES ANYTHING! Amen to that.
Today Medea and Liz and I staked out the oversight hearings where Treasury Secretary Geithner testified. The early pinks got front row seats and were joined by college students Maggie and Sarah to help surround Geithner with pink signage proclaiming: We Want Our $ Back! This was the first time the Treasury had agreed to appear before the committee and there was a lot of press coverage, so the sea of pink was seen on Reuters video, C-SPAN (lead story), AP and so on. Go team! Then Liz led us neophytes on a whirlwind tour of various senator's offices -- I dropped in on both Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, leaving my calling card as neither were home. I shook hands with Senator Burris, who got Obama's seat, and talked to lots of other folks in and around the senate building and cafeteria. Pink makes friends everywhere! Oh, did I mention that the CNN reporters we hung out with before Geithner appeared lent us their duct tape? Later a cameraman named Eddie in another hearing showed us a clip of our coverage saying, "You folks have been busy today!" That was in a hearing of the senate committee on contractor fraud, run by Senator McHaskell of Missouri, who was in red not pink but seemed happy to see us there as she worked with inspector generals on the ridiculous rules that hamper their oversight of the billions paid out to KBR, Blackwater, Halliburton, et al. Senator Collins is the ranking member and made a brief appearance but I was not quick enough to jump up and run out into the hall to speak with her when she departed before the hearing ended. Liz schooled me on that one as we walked back from the senate to CP house. She is showing us how it's done, knowing who's who and what to talk with them about and never hesitating to speak up. So inspiring.
That's all for now. The only downside of the trip so far is I lost my cell phone in the taxi on the way here, but with pink friends all around me, I can survive.