Sunday, June 18, 2006

Incident you should have heard of

Though quite a few wanted to act as though it didn't happen, it did.

At the so-called Take Back America conference, CODEPINK attempted to do just that. Medea Benjamin outlined the events in "Peace Activists at Hillary Clinton's Speech Try to Take Back 'Take Back America'." The speaker was noted War Hawk Hillary Clinton. CODEPINK had been promised they'd be able to ask the first question. Then it was decided Clinton would take no questions. The political organization was told that they could distribute fliers "inside and outside" the hotel. Security guards prevented fliers from being passed out anywhere.

It certainly is strange that Clinton was going to take questions and then . . . she wasn't. That it was known CODEPINK would pass out fliers and security guards prevented that. One might conclude that the entire meeting held with CODEPINK was not held in good faith but to determine what actions the group might take and then prevent those actions.

Fortunately, it was CODEPINK and no one, not the GOP convention, not the DNC convention, not former FCC head Michael Powell, not Donald Rumsfeld, not anyone silences them. Not face to face. (Though some tried to after the fact in what passed for 'coverage.')

A group did make it in. They stood on the chairs waving the peace sign, they attempted to display a banner but it was confiscated. A lot went on and Ann Wright may have summed it up best:

They took away leaflets supporting Jonathan Tasini, the anti-war Democrat who is running against Clinton in New York. They searched people's bags for banners; they even took away an 'Impeach Bush' banner from Veterans for Peace. Free speech needs to be upheld by progressives and trying to curtail dissent undercuts the whole purpose of this conference.

No shit. We're in 100% agreement with Ann Wright.

You may be as well. Of course, you'd have to know about it to have an opinion one way or the other and not a lot of people ran with this story. Not a lot of people even provided you with Medea Benjamin's column (though it's frequently popped up all the over the net). (Common Dreams and CounterPunch were two of the few who did provide the column.)

What happened at the so-called Take Back America conference was disgusting. We'd love to presume that the disgust factor (with Take Back America) was why it wasn't covered by many.
Some did worse than not cover it, they rewrote history or they lectured. Take the man trying to resurrect the Florence Henderson Brady Bunch hairdo. (Ava and C.I. add, "Or maybe he likes his bed ruffle so much he decided to turn the back of his hair into one?") C.I.'s already addressed it at length, so we'll just summarize briefly: If you don't like a War Hawk's speech (at a progressive conference) the answer is not to 'heckle,' you just don't cheer as loudly at the end.
Really, Flo Henderson? And we supposed that if you didn't like segregated lunch counters, you didn't stage a sit in, you just smiled a little less wide when you walked past one.

Flo hair or bed ruffle, something's interfering with the thought process. Which might be why, in this article obviously about CODEPINK and aimed at the organization, he can't mention them. Silenced and invisble. The left should be so proud.

A similar thing happened at the DNC convention in the summer of 2004. Now it's not a surprise that when CODEPINK stands up, they're going to be escorted out -- provided it's by Bully Boys. When it's the DNC, the party reinforces the "not a dime's worth of difference" message. At that heavily planned but highly awkward convention, there was to be no mention of troops home now. That was the decree by the Johnny Come Latelys hopping onto the campaign (and onto the convention including one disgusting woman who should never be allowed any party function after her actions over a decade ago). They knew what they were doing, the war issue must be silenced. Most played along. (Al Sharpton didn't.) But a banner about ending the war was just too much for the bean counters (who keep losing elections). They were smart enough not to have Medea Benjamin arrested (must have realized how that would look), they just made sure the banner was confiscated and she was escorted off the floor.

The Democratic Party that has weathered intense debate and intense infighting in public at many a convention, now wanted to 'streamline' the process. Maybe if people saw that fights, saw the debates, they wouldn't feel the whole thing was nothing but a pre-ordained pageant? But they're still running scared from Miami (not Chicago, mind you, those some lazy minded fools would have you believe that was the case).

So you got everyone playing War Hawk. Even those who didn't serve strutted onto stage with shimmering hair to talk the war talk. Everything was war. It seemed even the kitchen table issues were combat. They played it perfectly . . . for Bully Boy. Their candidate has never had anything to offer. The only "strategy" (outside of voting issues) is to destroy the opposing candidate not by going after weaknesses but by slandering their strengths. Where JFK was turned into Prince John at his convention, John Kerry was turned into G.I. John. Of course the Republicans were ready for that. When they destroyed that image (with the help of a lazy mainstream media), what else was their to offer? Nothing. You can't start a presidential campaign in September of the election year.

(As we've said before, John Kerry deserves blame for going along with the strategies. He did not, however, devise the strategies. The ones who did need to take responsibility for that. Instead, they're now offering more strategies. Yes, James Carville, we mean you. You earned a special place for blaming the candidate for the "message" when you were one of the ones hired to devise the message -- a fact you forgot to expound upon when you were in your race, right after the election, to see who could be the first to pin the blame on the candidate.)

CODEPINK wasn't silent on the war in 2004. The Democratic Party was. And we see how well that worked for them. In race after race. Still the minority party in Congress and still locked out of the White House. (The White House race was a close one and we all believe John Kerry won.)

Now, two years later, a conference wants to call itself Take Back America. It wants to represent "progressives." Yet it wants a leading War Hawk at it's conference. Speaking. To garner press attention and to suck up. That's more important than the war, that's more important than free speech.

For those who heard of what happened (a small number, we're sure, since so many played deaf, dumb and blind), it was telling. We'd suggest that Ray McGovern make sure he birddog Rummy and others in the administration because the Democratic Party is apparently not to be questioned about the war. Try to and you'll be greeted with silence or civility lectures.

In the meantime, and in the real world, you can show your support for CODEPINK and your opposition to the illegal war with two CODEPINK sponsored actions:

Take a Stand by Signing the Voters Pledge!
What if millions decided to vote their conscience and said 'No More War Candidates'? The Voters Pledge makes visible a powerful political force, the peace vote, a force that politicians cannot continue to ignore. It sends a clear message to the hawkish minority that leads both major parties to end the occupation of Iraq and to end unprovoked attacks on other nations. Sign the Voters Pledge and ask at least 10 of your friends to sign as well. You can help get 2 million signers in 2006!


On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.

(And to the male Flo Henderson wanna-be, lose the bed ruffle.)
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