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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Monday, July 30, 2007

Until Monday, August 6th then! in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids is the final Peace-In for today! A couple of white womyn have come up from Iowa City to join several Cedar Rapids folks. One awesome womon, Colleen, is getting Iowans for peace to sign her large, hot pink shirt!

We go in to speak with the state director! We do not actually get invited into his office, he has scooted out the door and met us in the foyer, but we do get to sit down in the tiny conference room that does accommodate us.

Tom Larkin is probably the closet staff to Tom Harkin! He reiterates Tom Harkin’s desire to get our troops out of Iraq. We reiterate Tom’s actions erasing those words.

Staff is reluctant to make the call to the scheduler and instead insists we follow the ‘procedures’ of sending in the email request, despite the fact that we report how unsuccessful we’ve been in getting a response. Colleen volunteers to try again to follow the procedures.

We leave the office to decide if anyone will sit in. Colleen, Wendy and Linda are willing – Tom will provide support including bail monies.

We are not in cell phone contact with Megan and David – they don’t have cell phones! Well, neither did Rosa Parks! We are in the hall, talking about what we will do when staff comes out, locks the door, and leaves for the day.

We decide we will request the meeting, wait to hear what happened in Dubuque, and plan on returning Monday August 6th 4:30p.m. to find out when the appointment is. The three womyn commit to sitting in on Monday and spreading the word, as does Tom, who is with the progressive peace activists here in Cedar Rapids.

Megan & David sit-in!!! in Dubuque

I continue on to Dubuque, which seems even smaller than Davenport, and much older – although maybe Harkin’s office here is just in an older part of town. Dubuque seems to be typical of those old towns that have sprung up along side the winding river.

I stand under huge shady trees next to the Federal Building that appears to be burned out and deserted on entire floors. It is a beautiful old building with windows boarded up and bunches of men, mostly white and burnt orange, cutting down huge trees. The men stare and finally grin & wave!

Another womon passing by stops and holds up an end of the banner. She cannot stay but signs up for CodePINK. Two awesome young white students have driven over an hour to come today. They are prepared to get arrested should Harkin refuse to make a meeting with us. Two other peace activists join us.

We are warmly welcomed again into the office. We sit with staff and are given the prepared statement. We ask staff to explain again how come the Senator took this vote.

Everyone clearly states her or his opposition to Harkin’s reasoning. Nothing new has been added since this morning, except maybe how difficult it is for Harkin to make this decision.

We state we didn’t elect him cause we know the job was easy. We empathize and yet hold him to vote NO MORE FUNDING.

Staff is willing to try to contact the scheduler in D.C. to make the appointment. The young students intend to return before the day is out for the appointment date.

I am leaving for Cedar Rapids so I cannot stay. The weekly peace vigil is happening at 5:00 so Megan and David will get lots of support if they decided to do cd, should Harkin’s scheduler not be able to make the appointment.

Stay tuned.

Progressive Action in Davenport: Moderate Democrats in Progessive clothing? to be continued

Davenport seems to be a small but sprawling town with large 4 lanes roads, strip malls, and lots of trees and single family dwellings. I won't mention the fields of genetically modified corn & soy.

I stand on the corner in front of the School Board Building and Senator Harkin’s Office, holding the “Honk 4 Peace” sign. Almost EVERYONE smiles, waves, gives me the peace symbol – but folks rarely honk. When they do, they kind of look down, as if searching for something familiar but misplaced! They often honk at least a block away!

A 30 something white womon walks by and then joins me. She is very concerned about ending the war and Harkin’s last vote. She speaks of how stunned and then hurt she was when she found out he had voted for funding war thru September. She has left 4 children at home – she was on a walk to the store this morning when she joined me

Maria, the local cp coordinator, breezes onto the corner, making a bold statement in her hot pink shoes and dress. A very tall white fellow also comes to stand with us, holding a trellis with “end war now’ spelled out.

It seems some of the ‘progressive’ group in Davenport have criticized our action: they seem to feel Harkin should be above accountability. They seem grateful Iowa has such a ‘liberal’ representative; they want to focus on the horrid republican, Grassley instead.

In CodePINK, first we are not partisan and second we have an agreement about criticism: 1) your criticism only holds as much weight as the work you do for the action; and 2) you have to be willing to do the work it takes to make the correction your criticism demands.

It is Harkin we worked hard to get elected and keep elected. We are his base – he needs to be accountable to us. If he is voting along side Republicans, it is our duty and responsibility to call him onto the carpet and persuade him to change his vote.

It is our belief Peace and Anti-War are not partisan, not Republican nor Democrat – but the folks that vote for peace – i.e. end the funding for the continued and escalated occupation of Iraq.

We are disturbed and saddened but know we are the vanguard of the Progressives! The three of us go up to Senator Harkin’s office, and are warmly greeted by staff that assures us that Senator Harkin is against the war, he just wants to "support the troops".

We equally as warmly cite all the times we've supported Senator Harkin, the deep love and faith we had in him, how proud we were, especially after he apologized for his first vote supporting the war – the strength it takes to admit making a mistake. We talked about SB93, his courageous bill in the Repbulican & Moderate Dem-led Senate to get our troops out by Dec 2006.

And thus our betrayal, hurt and shock at his vote is much deeper than if we expected him to vote like Ben Nelson, our neighbor republican in Dem’s clothing.

She gives us his prepared statement about the ‘time-line’ (one that was made necessary by this very vote to continue funding of war); and lists his reasons for voting to fund the war: 1) there was additional money in the funding bill that provided 1.8 billion to vets and money for health care for Iowans; 2) there wasn’t the 60 votes needed anyway to defeat the bill; 3) he wanted to provide better equipment and weapons for the soldiers that are there; 4) it is very complex and complicated and will take months and years to develop a plan to get us out of Iraq.

We point out that Senator Harkin knows how to write a bill; in fact he’s on the appropriations committee. We want to ask him in person why he did not just write a bill for the funding he supports instead of attaching it to funding he morally, legally, and if he’s in any way representing us, should not support?

We point out that we understand the Senator wanted to get 60 votes, and why wasn’t his one of the 60? Are we to believe it is a sound voting policy to NOT vote for something you want, i.e. vote with the opposition, if it is not going to pass?

We point out that no amount of money in the world will buy what our soldiers need to protect them from people fighting for their freedom from occupiers. Body armor may protect their torso, but does not protect their limbs, brains, genitals.

And then how does the Senator convince himself it is okay to vote for 90% of the money to go to private contractors & corporations as long as a drop in the bucket goes to our soldiers?

We say that we all know that funding the continuation of war is NOT supporting our troops, but it is the propaganda of war profiteers and war mongers to keep their sweet profit rolling in.

We all know that bringing our soldiers the hell out of Iraq IS supporting our troops.

We want Tom Harkin to hear that he cannot SAY one thing and then DO another. Anyone can SAY anything; it is the way he votes that counts.

Staff seems hurt that we seem to be overlooking all the great votes that Tom Harkin has made, that this funding of the war seems to be the only one we’re looking at – like that parent that ignores the A’s and focuses on the F.

We say it is the A’s that led us to believe he would never allow the F; and it is more like saying you are against drugs and then buying and using them. Anyone can SAY anything; it is what you DO that counts! We all know you cannot really be against war while you are funding it. It is simple.

We leave with the request for a meeting with Tom during this break. Staff promises she will contact the scheduler and make it happen!