Thursday, June 21, 2007

Claire Gives Peace a Cold Shoulder

With our congress people still funding war and leaving our soldiers to be killed- despite what we-the-people (aka- their bosses) voted for, I felt compelled to dedicate my summer to helping to end the Iraq war. During the school year I am a teacher in St.Louis and also the local coordinator of CODEPINK St.Louis- Women for Peace. I accepted an arts-coordinator/media outreach position with the CODEPINK House in Washington DC, for a couple of months, to help non-violent activists from around the country to creatively exercise their rights, represent their communities (majority) voice-of-peace, and teach (primarily) women useful outreach-tools before they return home. We at the DC-CODEPINK House are encouraged to make goals for the week- benchmarks, if you will, a sort of a timetable which acts as our road map for the week before we leave to go back home to our own states... to ensure each activist who visits the DC-CODEPINK House has an imperative exit strategy before returning home...

One of my benchmarks for June 21st, 2007 was to visit Senator Claire McCaskill's office. Claire had just voted for another $100 billion more funding without a timetable for withdrawal which she claims she wants (...even though she is on record saying she doesn't think the troops should come home). Claire recently returned from a visit to Iraq, proclaiming that money is being “wasted”. When I confronted her about her reckless war funding vote $100 billion spending habit, during her morning public meeting today, she brushed me off and made small talk about the Cardinals and weather instead.

I explained to Claire and the small group of constituents that “my cousin, who has a new baby, is serving in Iraq and I want him to come home to see his daughter; so “after funding more war... what steps is she taking to bring the soldiers home?”. Instead of responding to my question, she redirected it; and spoke of her visit to Iraq, of entering the green-zone, and blah blah blahed until she quickly asked others in the room if they had any other questions. A couple of young students in the room from St.Louis asked, again, about the Iraq war and Claire told them “we had just talked about that,” and she blah blah blahed again while I discreetly corrected her careful sound bytes into the reality of what she was actually saying. For example, when she talked about funding an important..blah blah blah that would help give the troops what they needed- I would interject grounded things like “giving the corporations” what they wanted and “funding more troops” to be killed.

Yet another man from this small group of constituents asked about the war and by this time she seemed thoroughly uncomfortable and clearly flustered with my subtle and righteous corrections (which she ignored and didn't challenge. I had to sit at her neglect; I felt sickened and on the verge of crying– which I didn't want to do, because my message of peace could risk being discounted. She had no acknowledgement of my cousin, his family, nor any of her contradictions I was bringing to light. The gut-quaking wails, I couldn't help, came out of pure realization that she really has no intentions of bringing our soldiers home nor hearing or really listening to her constituents.

She then, quickly maneuvered another distraction, to take a happsy whapsey group photo and began to hustle out of the room. Out of pure desperation at her ridiculousness and cowardice I sang her a song through my tears and distressed emotion called “Stop In The Name of Peace”, sung to the tune of “Stop In The Name of Love”. It went as follows:

Senator I'm aware of how you vote
Each time you reach the floor
I'm watching you talk on TV
Knowing that you're gonna lie to me
But this time before you run to war
Without the nation's support
(think it over) Haven't Missourians been good to you?
(think it over) Haven't Missourian voters been sweet to you?

Stop! In the name of peace
U.S. Out of the Middle East
Stop! In the name of peace
U.S. Out of the Middle East
Think it over
Think it over

My CODEPINK sisters later reflected that Claire had turned her back on us immediately after I had introduced myself and friends as members of CODEPINK. This seemed symbolic to me of her turning her back on the majority of Missourians, who helped her get elected to bring peace, the people, I felt, I was there representing. And also I feel as though she hasn't the strength and backbone she claimed to have to stand up to this administration, like she said she would do during her campaign.

Although Claire broke me down for a minute today, she should understand that her constituents are watching what she is doing. She has not destroyed my hope for peace. She just destroyed the hope for a female congress woman brave enough to balance peace with the over-bloated war, and be a real leader worthy of American women's dreams. She's clearly allowing herself to be a pawn buying Bushes war... well, now, officially in my mind, she bought it and needs to own it now too.

Laurie Meier in Washington DC
CODEPINK St.Louis – Local Coordinator


caterliz said...

Always have Hope

So glad your in DC!

JimPreston said...

Have faith too !! This is just another example of someone (McCaskill) who has maneuvered themselves into a leadership position and then lacked the courage and intelligence to actually provide leadership. So what do we do? Exactly what you did!! Show them how to address real problems. Tell them what the people want from them. Tell them that they are not addressing the real questions. If the leaders do not know the way to peace, then WE must lead the leaders. It is clear from your post that you are up to the job. (and I always love a new song, I can't wait to hear it, and I can't wait to meet you next week)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were present at this Inaugural Coffee with Senator McCaskill on Thursday, June 21st. Our recollection of what transpired is very different from Laurie Meier's. First of all Claire allowed Laurie an uninterrupted tirade for several minutes. When it was Claire's turn to address the questions that were posed to her Laurie was rude and started interrupting Clair before she had a chance to finish speaking. Claire had to remind Laurie that she had listened to Laurie without any interruptions and she expected the same courtesy.

Claire explained that the Coffee wasn't just for Code Pink but for everyone that was invited to the Coffee and she wanted to hear from the others that were present. During the time that other people were speaking Laurie obnoxiously started "wailing" which was very rude and inconsiderate. When it was time for the guest to have their pictures taken Laurie started yelling out an anti war song. She then preceded yelling out profanities. What gives Code Pink the right to monopolize this Coffee when there were other people present that had their own concerns. This monopoly of the event doesn't portray freedom of speech for all of the other people present.

I am neither pro Republican nor pro Democrat, I vote for the issues. I would love to have all of our soldiers home from the war as well. But if Code Pink wants to be taken seriously they need to act like reputable adults and not like some crazy radicals.

CODEPINK said...

I was not at this coffee meeting, but I am another CODEPINK lady who is a constituent of Senator McCaskill, so I feel obligated to give my two cents.

To the anonymous person who witnessed what she felt was "rude" behavior, I must say that Laurie was sincere in that she passionately wants to end the occupation of a country that we never should have went to war with in the first place... her passion got away with her, but then again, there are Iraqis dying everyday due to our ignorant foreign policy... Maybe you should ask how the Iraqi people feel about our "rude" invasion of their nation that was sold to the American people with a pack of lies.

And radical? We are hardly "radical" compared to the foreign policy I just previously mentioned. Embargoing, and bombing, then invading and occupying the People of Iraq is what is radical, and it has got to be put to an end.

I believe that many of Claire McCaskill's constituents expected her to do more to right the wrong America has done in Iraq. The Senator has done little or nothing to ensure that the U.S. will not be in Iraq for many years to come. She continues to vote for funding the occupation without ensuring that "non-combat" troops on permanent bases will be left in Iraq!

Shame on you Senator McCaskill for continuing to rubber stamp Bush's radical foreign policy.

~ Midge Potts