Spirits were soaring on Monday morning, despite the cold rain that fell as a large tent for CAMP OUT NOW, the prelude to Peace of the Action, was erected on the grounds of the Washington Monument. People are here from California, Louisiana, New York and many other places, plus more are arriving daily. The elderly, middle aged, and young are represented, all sharing common goals of bringing our troops home, no more contractors, ending US Empire, closing foreign military bases, fully funding the VA system, saying no to robotic warfare, closing torture and detention facilities as well as paying reparations to those who live in war-torn regions.
Additionally, we hope to bring awareness to Americans about the cost of US Empire. The wars devastate those who live in the lands we invade and they impact us morally and financially here at home.
On Monday evening, renowned peace and social justice leader Cindy Sheehan took the microphone on a stage under the tent and introduced Kevin Zeese, co-founder of Voters for Peace. Zeese spoke about the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the grotesquely obese US military budget. The statistics he presented were staggering.
Then, Zeese introduced Dr. Margaret Flowers, the Congressional Fellow with Physicians for National Health Program. She recently challenged President Obama with a solution–a single-payer health system–to our healthcare crisis. Dr. Flowers talked about healthcare as a human right, from birth to end of life, and tied the profits pocketed by the Medical Industrial Complex to the inequities of corporate health insurance policies. Stressing the failure of employer-based health insurance, especially during an economic downturn when jobs are jeopardized and people are desperate, Dr. Flowers said that loss of or inadequate healthcare often leads to bankruptcy, home foreclosures, and even death.
Later, Monday night, I received an email announcement that Gen. David Petraeus and Adm. Eric Olson would be appearing Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building. I woke early Tuesday morning, drank a cup of jump-start, and dashed to the Constitution Avenue location. After the medal-chested warmongers were seated, Sen. Carl Levin did some welcoming. Someone gave a nod to newly-elected Sen. Scott Brown, the Hunka-Hunka Burnin’ Self-Love former Cosmopolitan Magazine nudie.
Questions were asked about the wars, the growing of the Afghanistan Army, Iraq’s democracy (?), the future, our security, and the customary BS about terrorism, the threat of al-Qaida, counter-insurgency strategy, the importance of US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, the Christmas Day undie bomber. Yes, he was mentioned more than once. Yemen and Pakistan were emphasized, along with “barbaric” attacks–not by OUR unmanned aircraft and mercenaries, but from the Taliban. And this–despite our diplomatic efforts, Iran continues the pursuit of nuclear weapons, is arming fundamentalist extremists, and is suppressing human rights. Sen John Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran McCain weighed in that Iran has “spurned” our offers, but that our capability to lead is “strong and enduring” and that America “enjoys a tremendous power in the region.”
Someone said sanctions, sanctions, sanctions against Iran and that Obama has “kept” a military option, that this is not off the table.
At some point, McCain monotoned (yeah, I know this isn’t a word) that the “existence” of the State of Israel is the issue, not the settlements. In other words, forget Palestinian rights. Support for Israel is paramount. Israel cannot be criticized by US government leadership. Ever. Not even on the anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who was bulldozed by the Israelis seven years ago as she nonviolently protested the destruction of Palestinian homes in Gaza.
I suppose my mouth should have been agape throughout much of the ordeal. It wasn’t. I just sat there, holding a sign that said: STOP KILLING CIVILIANS.
Now, parroting the words of our prez, I must say, “Let me be clear.” Because it’s necessary to clarify that I don’t remember every sentence I hear. However, I’m very observant. And I did notice that Louisiana’s David Vitter left after about 30 minutes. Hmm. Perhaps he had to make a call to a brothel–to, uh, a madam. Or two. Or not. Sometimes, my mind detours to the sordid. Okay, often, it does, but I simply couldn’t help but think of Mrs. Vitter–that if she were intelligent, she’d have a tracking device on his ankle. No, if she were smart, she’d never have married him, but since she did, she should have left his philandering you know what, even if she swallowed the make believe that his god had (weep) forgiven him.
I didn’t see Vitter return because I had to grab a taxi to the CAMP OUT NOW press conference to hear the spectacular array of speakers, peace builders Cindy Sheehan, David Zeese, Brian Becker, Col. Ann Wright, and Ray McGovern–oh, such a soothing and cleansing counterpoint to the earlier activity.
What a difference a short distance makes.
This evening, I’ll return to CAMP for more words of nonviolence and communion with those who oppose injustice. A peace movement is growing. Please join.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com