9:24 pm, December 5, 2006
Staying Ahead By Staying Behind
The Tao Teh Ching, a Chinese book written by a wise man for the edification of kings, says "The sage stays ahead by staying behind." By this definition, Barbara Lee, the Democratic Congresswoman from Oakland and Berkeley, has certainly earned her props as a sage. Back on September 15, 2001, four days after WTC Towers One, Two and Seven came crashing down, she stood alone on the House floor and cast the only vote against authorizing "President" Bush to go bomb the hell out of Iraq. Not one other Congressperson stood with her, and 420 stood against her. Still, she stayed behind, following the dictates of her conscience.
Now Barbara Lee should be hailed as far-seeing, and elevated for her wisdom. I hear Democrats asking, "Who shall guide us in this time of uncertainty?" Obviously, those who had the foresight, like Barbara Lee, to see that we would inevitably end up here, bleeding, bruised, and broke, after five years of mayhem passing for a military adventure. But I doubt that Barbara Lee's phone is ringing off the hook from Nancy Pelosi, who pre-promised Bush-man a no-impeachment, no embarrassment, anti-fiasco, pro-America agenda as a peace offering from one hypocrite to another.
Back when she was the only person in Congress who didn't want to issue "Letters of Marque and Reprisal" against Iraq, Mother Jones interviewed Lee, who showed that she indeed understood very well what she was doing when she voted against making Bush into a "war President." In the interview, Lee expresses concern about not letting "things get out of control." This note of caution rings presciently now that the Blunderer in Chief and his Torturer General have explained to the courts that the vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq also authorized them to spy on good American citizens in every imaginable way. Even the privateers of old wouldn't have had the gall to overreach their authority to such a degree. Lee understood the type of villainy that had made its lair in the White House and knew to be on guard.
Mother Jones wrote:
Mother Jones: I read that you made up your mind as you were sitting in the National Cathedral during the prayer service for the victims. You listened, as so many Americans did, to the dean of the National Cathedral as he prayed that "as we act, we not become the evil we deplore." At that moment, you said, you knew what you had to do.
Barbara Lee: Well, the vote was a very agonizing vote. Like the nation, I'm grieving and searching, in mourning, angry, trying to sort through all my feelings. I think everyone is doing that. And of course the memorial service was a time to really stop and reflect on all those who so tragically died, the victims and their families, and what an appropriate testimonial to them would be. ... And so in that context I was listening to the members of the clergy, searching to try and see if I could find some direction and clarity. You know, in moments like these — when you're agonizing, when you're uncertain in terms of the ramifications of any very serious actions that you're going to take — you have to go within, and use your head and your heart, and all the faculties that you have, to try to make decisions. And so, as I thought about that one line in the prayer, I said, "You know, this is the right vote — you've got to vote no."
MJ: Did you know before casting your vote that you were likely to be the only dissenting member of Congress?
Lee: Oh, no — I did not know that. Many members have these same concerns. The use of restraint is of concern to a lot of them. We don't want to see this spiral out of control; we don't want to see the cycle of violence continue.
We all agree that we've got to bring these terrorists to justice and to make sure that they're never allowed to perpetrate such an evil act as they did. And so all of us are dealing with that. We know that the President has the authority to go to war under the War Powers Act. The Congress has a responsibility to provide the checks and balances and to exercise some oversight. I don't believe that we should disenfranchise the people of America in the war-making decision-making process. At least minimally, we should be able to know which nation we're planning to attack and have some input into that. We should know what the exit strategy is. I'm not talking about all the details of a war plan, but certainly we should have more than a five-hour debate. To me, that's just not the best way to make public policy.
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature ... 9/lee.html
Bringing All The Troops Home, For Good
Barbara Lee is now sounding another note of caution on Iraq. Beware of partial withdrawals, stay-behind forces, and permanent bases.
Barbara Lee wrote:
While Congress debates how to best, and most quickly end the occupation and bring our troops home, we need to begin with an agreement on the outcome: when our troops come home, they should all come home. There should be no permanent military bases in Iraq. When President Bush refused to rule out permanent bases, as he did in a recent press conference, he fed the widespread perception that the U.S. intends a permanent occupation of Iraq, which is one of the forces that is fueling violence on the ground.
It is also not too soon to begin the process of ensuring that the lessons of this failed war are learned. That means oversight and accountability: we must examine how we got into this position – the administration’s case for war, the use of prewar intelligence, the implementation of the war, everything – in order to ensure that our nation NEVER finds itself in this position again. http://lee.house.gov/index.cfm?SectionI ... tionTree=2
The mistakes of the past are not the place to dwell. There are so many challenges facing the nation, the world and humanity at this time that we must look forward constantly. While excoriating Bush is always pleasant, the Democratic majority is taking shape at this time. Those who get to the table first with the best ideas will have the greatest opportunity to shape the future. As resurgent liberals, we need to MAINTAIN MOMENTUM, which means keeping the political heat on our representatives to turn the Ship of State around at a swift clip.
Stopping Genocide In Darfur by Stopping Trade With Sudan
One of the things the nation isn't addressing is "Islamic fascism" and state-sponsored terrorism in Darfur. The reason is simple — we don't want to piss off the Sudan dictatorship, because it sells us oil. Although Colin Powell called it genocide in September 2004, and the African Union managed to paper over the bloodshed with a bilateral disarmament agreement in May 2006, around 80 infants are dying per day according to the current Wikipedia article on this topic.
Barbara Lee has sponsored legislation, HR 6140 supported by 70 cosponsors that would ban the US Government from contracting with any companies that do business in Sudan, aside from those business activities that further implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement of May 5, 2006.
Now that's the kind of "unrealistic" legislation that I fully support. Why? Because it would be effective, and could only save the taxpayers money. Because of its drastic effect, it would immediately alter the course of Sudan's conduct as soon as it became law. Democrats, it's time to start refusing to write war checks! 'Cause what's a War President who can't pay his soldiers? A loser! As if you hadn't heard.
A New ABOL Page: Black Members of the US Congress From 1870-2005
11:00 pm, December 5, 2006
The American Buddha Online Library (ABOL) is an educational resource for students of democracy. Webmistress AmbuFortunaZapataGaudi has just posted a new page that presents for the first time in standard web format the entire record of all of the Black Members of the US Congress From 1870-2005. In addition to liberating the original document prepared by The Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress from its PDF format, the ABOL version provides photographs of each of the Congresspeople. Give the page a visit and bone up on Black Congressional history. You will have to get a free ABOL library membership to enter the site, which is well worth your consideration.