Barbara Lee Runnng for Feinstein’s Senate Seat

Rep. Barbara Lee, 76, announced Jan. 11 that she’s running for the Democratic Party nomination to succeed 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (whose memory is but a memory). Southern California Congresswoman Katie Porter, 40, had previously announced, and pompous, sanctimonious Rep. Adam Schiff 62, entered the race soon after Lee.  Schiff, a closeted neo-con, will be the best-funded candidate and be seen as a ”centrist.” Lee and Porter are both members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and likely to split the lib-lab vote, enabling Schiff to slide into the nomination. It feels like the fix is already in.

Joe Garofoli, who covers electoral politics for the SF Chronicle, expects Lee to be age-baited, albeit discreetly. Porter described herself as the candidate best-suited for “fighting the battles of tomorrow” during a recent speech to the 500-member Democrats of Rossmoor (an upscale retirement community in Walnut Creek).

Her subtle message got across. Several Rossmoor Dem told Garofoli that age would indeed be a factor when they voted. He quoted an 81-year-old woman: “I love Barbara Lee, but we all need to get out of the way.”

Garofoli asked Porter if her line about “’fighting the battles of tomorrow” was a subtle dig at her older rivals, Porter replied, “I think it’s a comment on where we find ourselves in this moment, that sometimes the playbook that we have taken to Washington doesn’t work.”

“Porter is running against Washington,” Garofoli observes, “and that includes people who have been in office a long time like Lee (elected to the House in 1998 after eight years in the Legislature) and Schiff (elected to the House in 2000 after four years in the Legislature).

“Porter was elected in 2018 and said Washington won’t change unless there are leaders like her who want to change the system and can relate to ‘ordinary people’ — like herself, a minivan-driving single mother of what she calls ‘three lightly supervised children.’

“… Porter has made herself a viral star through clips of her grilling wealthy CEOs when they testify before Congress — like when she explained to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon that it is impossible for one of his bank tellers to live on what he pays them.”

Lee’s supporters say that questioning her fitness for the job is ageist. “She has more energy than most of the 25-year-olds I know,” one told Garofoli. Another said, “‘The reality is we have some Congress members who are 40 years old who should not be in Congress.'”

420 to 1

In the period of intense hysteria that followed the 911 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, Barbara Lee did her East Bay constituents proud by voting against the $40 billion appropriation that Bush/Cheney wanted for “our” shock-and-awe assault on Iraq. The vote was 420 to 1. Adam Schiff voted for the war. Years later, as the disaster became obvious, he claimed, as did many Democrats, that they’d been misled by “faulty intelligence.”  But how much intelligence was needed to recognize that Iraq had nothing to do with the 911 attack, which had been carried out mainly by Saudis (15 of the 19 on the planes), and planned in Afghanistan and Hamburg.

I wrote a song called “Just You, Barbara Lee.” A technically adept friend posted it to Youtube and changed the title to “420 to 1,” thinking that might induce a few potheads to check it out, but he never tried to drive traffic to the site.

When Lee was running for re-election in 2004, a fundraiser for her was held at the boathouse on Lake Merritt in Oakland. A peacenik/Democrat invited me to sing the song  at the event. He introduced me to the young woman in charge, who was wearing a Madras skirt and a crisp white shirt, and reminded me of the 20-somethings who had worked for Sen. Eugene McCarthy against LBJ in 1968. She trusted my peacenik friend (he was probably a donor) and said I would go on in about 20 minutes.

I left my guitar with her in a little office off the main hall and schmoozed with the attendees, who included Dr. Stephen Sidney, the Kaiser epidemiologist who had published the first study indicating that marijuana smoking did not cause lung cancer. I had interviewed him about the study but hadn’t made him for a progressive.

In due course I retrieved my guitar and was tuning it when the organizer in the Madras skirt came into the office and said there would be one more speaker, then me. I said, “Wanna hear the song?” She nodded with a smile. I made my usual apology about being a lyricist, not a musician, and explained that Ernst Gruening and Wayne Morse were Senators who had voted against funding the US intervention in Vietnam. (The song is still online with out-of-sync graphics.  Google “Just you, Barbara Lee Youtube”)

For two and a half verses my audience of one seemed to be digging it. And then, in an instant, Dismay wiped the approval off her face. I had lost her with one line. By the time I finished I knew that I was about to be disinvited.

In the roar of total loss
REASON lifts a lonely voice
Old Ernst Gruening, Wayne Morse
Trying to give Peace a choice
Back when we had a little more democracy
Now it’s you Barbara Lee
Just you Barbara Lee,
just you

Underneath the Capitol Dome
Our so-called representatives
Cheer their leader in the Andover sweater
Yelling “Fight! Smite Evil wherever it lives”
They’ve got what’s called a gang mentality
‘Cept you Barbara Lee
Just you, Barbara Lee,  just you

In the star chamber night
Forgotten are the scents of old Tonkin
Four hundred and twenty to one
For WAR what’s another forty billion?
Where was Barney Frank, Where was Pelosi?
Just you, Barbara Lee,
Just you, Barbara Lee, just you

HISTORY has a way they say
It sometimes gets repeated
And those who didn’t learn yesterday
Tomorrow might get de- shshshsh 
This is still top-secret in D.C.
‘Cept to Barbara Lee
Just you, Barbara Lee, just you
all alone.

Never Schiff

The Democratic National Committee wouldn’t let us have Bernie Sanders in 2016, even though he was beating Trump by almost 20% in the polls while Hillary and The Donald were neck-and-neck. And the DNC will foist Adam Schiff on us in 2024 even though Barbara Lee would easily carry California, and it’s disgraceful that there are no Black women in the Senate. There have only been two: Carol Mosley Braun and Kamala Harris.

 Adam Schiff is a trustworthy company man. In 2014 Nancy Pelosi appointed him to the seven-member House Select Committee on Benghazi, a position that required total devotion to Secretary of State Clinton and the CIA. The committee was supposed to investigate the attack on the US consulate in September 2012 that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and another diplomat dead. In reality the attack grew out of a protest on 9/11 by the locals against the US presence in Benghazi, which included the largest CIA station in North Africa at a site one mile from the consulate. Tortures were conducted there. Everybody knew. Their protest march turned violent.

 The DNC immediately pushed an alternative reality.  Chris Stevens hadn’t been dead for 48 hours when Sen. Dianne Feinstein told CNN that a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda had done the deed. She added, “The weapons were somewhat sophisticated, and they blew a big hole in the building and started a big fire.”

The truth about Benghazi was blurted out in late October by Paula Broadwell, General David Petraeus’s mistress. Barack Obama had appointed Petraeus to run the CIA and Broadwell was plugging her book about him, “All In.”  (Insert your own comment here.)  She was speaking at a University of Denver alumni symposium, a fundraiser for a program to help wounded veterans be physically fit. At the time, in addition to almost 7,000 deaths, some 45,000 US Americans had been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan —”amputees, multiple amputees,” Broadwell reminded the Denver alums— and 450,000 troops had returned with post-traumatic stress, brain damage, and other disorders not readily apparent.

Broadwell’s revelation about Benghazi came in response to a question from the audience. “I don’t know if a lot you have heard this,” she confided, “but The CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to get those prisoners back. That’s still being vetted.”

The truth about Benghazi –that Libyans were enraged by the CIA’s presence– would be thoroughly covered up by Adam Schiff and his cronies on the Select Committee. They deemed it  “likely” that an “Al Qaeda spinoff” had organized the attack, and called for “better security for US diplomatic facilities.” The State Department then hired more mercenaries from Blackwater to protect their buildings and personnel in Libya.

Today it’s page-one news that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden took highly classified documents home with them.  Does anybody remember that Barack Obama’s CIA chief gave his girlfriend access to his emails? This aspect of the story, like the cause of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, has been erased from our collective memory.

Sex is always a good distraction when the political truth is unpalatable to the corporate media. The Benghazi coverage quickly devolved into a cat fight between Paula and a woman from Tampa named Jill Kelley. Paula had warned Jill in an email not to fondle Petraeus under the table, or else!  Jill went to the FBI and accused Paula of “threatening and stalking” her. Paula  to had her computer over to the FBI and numerous classified documents were found on it. Petraeus resigned on November 9.  I think his wife stuck with him. Paula and her husband split the sheets.

Adam Schiff’s next foray into foreign policy was in support of the Saudi Air Force bombing Yemen. He said, “The military action by Saudi Arabia and its partners was necessitated by the illegal action of the Houthi rebels and their Iranian backers. … But ultimately, a negotiated end to this crisis is the only way to restore order in Yemen and shrink the space for terrorism.”

The DNC man yearns for peace but votes for war.

The DNC celebrates Black History Month but won’t let us have Barbara Lee.

Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at