Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Media finally covering women's voices against war.

I am so proud of the pink women! Finally the message we carry is being heard beyond our own non-amplified voices.

I am including an email I received this morning.

Peacemakers,

As debate continues to heat up over Iraq, CODEPINK's message is more and more in the news! Liz from Arizona's photo came out in ROLL CALL in the PINK POLICE outfit and this morning she is being interviewed on FOX. Dana (NY) will be on CNN tonite and Medea continues to do many radio and tv interviews both national and international.

We all need to be so brave!

Des in DC

So many women doing what needs to be done. Like always, it is up to us. If we want it done we have to do it. Des is from Texas, Liz from AZ and Dana from New York. When women initiated movements arise the populace should listen -- listening is difficult when voices are silenced. It is heartening that the movement has grown to a size that can no longer be ignored by national media. Listening is easier for large groups when there is amplification. This gives me some cause for hope.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And MORE of Liz in Arundhati Roy's documentation of CP in DC

13 April 2007: You Snooze, You Lose


I am often nostalgic for my childhood sleeping habits, which were as close to nonexistent as I could manage in the face of stern parental supervision. How I could never sleep and never run out of energy continues to puzzle me to this day, when almost nothing beats a good night's sleep—given the choice between sleep and sex, I'd have to have a written guarantee of the quality of the latter.


Today, however, I regret my passion for the pillow. After the mental, psychological and emotional stress—rewarding, but also taxing—of yesterday's assault on the senate, followed by our up-late debrief and wind down, I was ready for a big sleep. When Melissa told Desiree and Liz about the 4th Annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast (the Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave NW) Friday morning—with Pres Dubya as the keynote speaker—my response was less than enthusiastic.


"What time?" I asked skeptically.


"8 am," grinned Liz, who never sleeps.


"Er, that's probably a 'no'," I shuddered.


So when I waked to the elephants tromping above and below, and glanced at my watch—7:30 am—I rolled over and buried my head in the pillow, sighing in the comfort of the bed and with relief to hear the front door bang shut, leaving behind … blessed silence.


An hour later, however, I could no longer sleep. The house was quiet, the bed warm, and I comfortable and unaccountably content. It occurred to me that perhaps my depression was lifting for the first time in years, and that's why I didn't feel the need to hide from the world as long as possible. At this cheery thought, I rose and went downstairs for coffee (thoughtfully left hot and ready by Desiree) and had just enough time to settle into a chair and boot up my computer before a crash bang at the door and the entrance of a triumphant Desiree and Liz.


"I got in!" Desiree was gleeful. "I called him war criminal!"


Liz carried huge 4x3 blow ups of photos of Iraqi war victims, framed in pink, with "Honk for Peace" on the back. She grinned. "Excellent feedback on the street," she assured me.


I was bummed to have missed it, especially after the stories they told. Liz, totally Pinked Out, stayed outside to confront foot and car traffic; Desiree actually got into the ballroom. Here are their stories as told to (and envied by) me.


Both (together or interrupting each other): We got up at about 5:45 [this is after going to bed at 2—what kind of adrenaline do these women have?]. Liz dressed in the Pink Police Uniform, consisting of a pink button down with "Pink Police" in black letters on the back, over a pink T-shirt with "Impeach Bush" on the front; Des wore a navy business suit. We took the Metro to Dupont Circle and walked to the front of the Hilton, where we split up, Liz outside with Desiree attempting to infiltrate the event.


Liz: Where I stood on the sidewalk, the police came right up to me and said "You can't be here, please go across the street."


I told them, "I always stand here, but out of respect for you I will cross the street." I stood in the median with "Honk for Peace" and these blown up photos of Iraqi victims of war, bloody, holding dead children—very powerful. I set up the pics around a light pole so they were visible from every angle.


I was there for about 45 minutes. People walked past with coffee on way to and from work. They were locals and visitors—the feedback was excellent, people came over to thank me. Some of them asked, "What's going on, who's there?" I answered, "The Commander in Thief and liar is in there." A few people took pictures, one tourist lady from Texas. Police watched closely but didn't harass me.


I shouted, "Support our troops—bring them home" and "Stop funding for war." Being in the median was actually better as more people could see me.


I got a lot of honks—from cabs, bus drivers, people in Mercedes. A few "one fingered salutes". I'm sure the president drove right by me …


Des came out after some time and we joined forces. It was just the two of us; that's all it takes for a successful action. One person can make a huge difference


Desiree: We carried these big signs, hiked up to the Hilton, then split when we got there—Liz was obviously Code Pink and I wasn't.


I walked through the lobby determined to get in—it was the same location as AFL-CIO conference a couple of weeks ago that we tried to get into, so I was familiar with the layout. I checked the electronic marquis to see where breakfast was, then went around corner, down the stairs, and saw the registration table.


There was no one around, so I set the posters down and went to registration desk. The lady couldn't find my registration. I told her I had registered online with Christine Grabosky. She asked for my receipt. I said, "Oh, there's a cost?" She said yes, $60, and offered to sell me a ticket right there. I thought for about 2 seconds, then said OK, and pulled out debit card.


I proceeded down hall, where I called Liz to come get the posters— we passed covertly and I whispered out of corner of mouth, "They're behind the bench"


At the entrance to the big ballroom were 12 Capitol Police with wands and metal detectors. I thought Oh shit, I've got all this Pink stuff in my bag. They opened it up and found all the Code Pink buttons and pink police uniforms. One officer looked down and stifled a smile. "What have you got planned today?" he asked in a conspiratorial tone.


"Oh," I said, feigning surprise, "I'm not going to use that."


He shook his head regretfully. "Sorry, you can't bring that stuff in here," he told me—so I called Liz to come pick up that bag too. By the time I got back, they were disassembling the detectors and stuff. I went downstairs to big ballroom with tables and about 1000 people. I was the only person at Table 12, 2 tables away from Press.


After five minutes, the woman who sold me ticket—probably alerted by the police—came over and asked me to leave. "I made a mistake," she said, "I shouldn't have sold you that ticket."


"Well, I paid my $60 and I have every right to be here. I'm a Catholic and I'm not leaving." About 7 different people came to encourage me to leave. I told them, "I purchased a ticket and I'm going to stand on the table and scream discrimination." We'd just finished Pledge of Allegiance and it was quiet. I was speaking a little louder than normal, and everyone started looking at me, including the media. They left me alone, but a woman with an earpiece came and sat at the table with me.


I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "You know, if you didn't have war criminals as your invited guests, you wouldn't have these problems."


Bush started speaking—he made some joke about it being the Friday after Lent which meant that Catholics could eat their bacon with a clear conscience. I didn't see any bacon—on my table there was nothing but muffins and some juice. Bush said he was sorry that Laura wasn't there because she represents his family better than he does. His remarks were brief, only about 10 mins, and it wasn't until he was wrapping up that I realized it was almost over.


I pulled out my copy of the constitution and the press started taking pictures of me. I stood up and shouted "War criminal" and walked in front of the press, saying what a shame to have a war criminal speaking. "Thou shalt not kill."


Security came to escort me out, but I walked faster than they did—nobody did anything to me—and I merged with press traffic who were speeding out to be ready for Bush's exit. The line led past a line of black SUVs with their windows down and what looked like machine guns pointing at me—I asked them if they were proud to serve a war criminal.


I dashed out, grabbed a poster from Liz and ran back to where a pair of nuns were coming out. I held up the photo of a mother weeping into her veil, holding her bloody child. "Sisters, sisters, how could you have breakfast with a war criminal?" I shouted. I was only four feet in front of them and saw their shocked, "deer in the headlights" look. In retrospect, I think I scared them and feel a little bit bad.


There was a family coming out of hotel—I showed it to them and said "This is your president's shock and awe." The grandmother took pictures, then said, "You disgust me."


"What's disgusting is this, ma'am," I told her, then went to join Liz.




POSTSCRIPT: Back at the house, Desire went to www.catholicprayerbreakfast.com and had a look at the Security Memo, which included:


· There will be NO physical tickets this year. We will have a master list with names available at the door.
· If you purchased a table and have not submitted your list of table guests – you must inform each of your guests regarding the table number.
· If we do not have your guests [sic] name on our master list they will be allowed entrance ONLY IF they know their table assignment.
· If guests do not know their table assignment and they are not on our master list, they will be denied entrance to the breakfast. All table guest lists must be submitted no later than Wednesday, April 11 at 5:00 pm.
· Due to security concerns related to a Presidential event, and with the possibility of chilly weather, we offer the following very important instructions:
· • Please arrive by 6:00 am to allow ample time to get through security.
· • Please DO NOT bring any bags, backpacks, or packages to the event. Cameras and small purses are permitted.
· • You MUST bring Government issued photo identification.
· • Business or dressy attire is required. Those not properly attired will not be granted admittance and a full refund will be provided.


Said Des: If I had read this the night before, I probably never would've tried to get in. It all goes to show that spontaneity and intuition take you a long way at chipping away at the war machine—it's not as difficult to get to them as you might think.


"We be many and they be few." —Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy mentions Liz too!

From and email forwarded to me:

"12 April 2007


Yesterday I drove up from my Mom's house in Tidewater Virginia to Washington to work with Code Pink for Peace. I've lived outside the US for the majority of the last 15 years, watching from afar; for the last five years (since Sept 11), I've been angry, depressed, stressed, anxious, and sad. My energy level dropped, I found it hard to get out of bed mornings, and my only passion came from ranting in chatrooms about how the US was fucking up the world and why weren't lazy, complacent US people doing something about that war criminal, election thief, George Bush.


After 2 months of living back in the US and dealing with the everyday issues of unaffordable health care, transportation, work and job search issues, being underpaid at the parttime job I have—not to mention bored out of my mind—I began to understand/remember why US folks have such a hard time being politically engaged and active. Their lives and minds are so full of trivia, stress, and things that make them afraid, informing themselves about the US's role in Iraq and the world is just too much stress to add to an already overloaded plate. My uncle has mesothelioma from 10 years in the Newport News shipyard; he had a lung removed and now he and his family are debate the pros and cons of debilitating chemotherapy. Other relatives have children and grandchildren with money, childcare, health and psychological issues. Both Mom and Dad (divorced) are constantly stressed about the cost of living—although they own their houses, their incomes are so modest that they have constant money worries about maintaining their houses, insurance, cars, etc. Both are also getting older, and because they live in a rural area with no public transit, I don't know how they will maintain their independence when they're too old to drive and can't get out to buy groceries and go to the doctor and other places they need to go.


So by the time Jodie called and asked me to come up and work with Code Pink on this action, I was about halfway to the level of angst and complacency that has affected so many people in this country. Getting stuck on I95 50 miles outside of Washington for four hours because of an accident did nothing to create a sense of optimism and hope. By the time I got to Falls Church it was 8:30 pm. Having been in the car since 2:30, I decided to treat myself to a frappicino at Starbucks and ask directions into Washington.


The guy behind the counter asked me how my day was and, too tired and discouraged even to rant, I gave him a brief synopsis in a flat, emotionless voice. "Oh, that sucks," he said sympathetically. "No, it's on me," he added, when I pulled out my money. "After a day like that, you deserve something nice."


That was the beginning of a complete change in my outlook. Even though it took me another two hours to get to 712 5 th St NE—in the dark, and unfamiliar with the bridge system into DC, I took the "scenic tour" through National Airport, up the George Washington Parkway; I then got a fairly thorough, if repetitive tour, of the entire NORTHWEST section of DC, before finding the alley behind the Code Pink house. As I pulled into the parking space, Desiree (who had been ringing my mobile phone and checking on my progress regularly) rang again to tell me, "We were getting worried." She stepped out the back door, pulled me inside, and I was immediately enveloped in the warm PINKNESS of the house and the movement that these extraordinary women have created.


Desiree, Liz and Janine watched the day's CSPAN report on a National Guard and Reserve Appropriations subcommittee meeting, which they had attended. The three women laughed gleefully at their two-fingered peace signs dancing roguishly above the shoulders of various members of the military who, unaware of their adornments, reported their findings with serious faces and authoritative voices. "Look, bunny ears" … "they look like earrings" … "there I am … no, there you are" the Pinkers shrieked with delight. They praised the effectiveness of Senator Patty Murray's insightful questions, shouted in frustration at another senator's repetitive rhetoric while they cut, punched, wrote and ribboned props for the next day's action. After a delicious bowl of lentils and cup of fruit and yogurt that Desiree had saved for me from dinner (no, Mom, I didn't eat my greens L ), I joined their work.


We cut out tiny stick-on versions of the now-famous Code Pink "Don't Buy Bush's War" ( www.codepinkalert.org) banner that adorns the living room wall. If you haven't seen it, figures of a skull, tank and warplane spill from a shopping cart, shooting out flames, careening across a shocking pink landscape in front of the Capitol Building. The cartoon shapes in the cart and the hot, garish colors could be fun, even playful and childlike, if not for the menacing black and grey figures of doom and destruction. It is, instead, confronting.


After cutting out the stickers, we wrote the names of senators on the supplemental war funding committee on the back, along with the statistics from their state about the war: Dead, wounded, and financial cost to each state (sources, www.ips-dc.org and www.icasualties.org ). I was shocked at the 294 dead from Texas, and 341 from California—numbers that had risen by as much as 50 since October 2006. We then punched a hole in each sticker and attached, with pink ribbon, tiny green toy soldiers. Our message? War is not a game, US soldiers are not toys—stop playing power games with them and bring the troops home NOW.


You have to realize that I had never met any of these women before, yet I felt instant sisterhood. All around my age (that is, not young—but how not young I do not feel obligated to reveal here), they were obviously committed, passionate—and informed. This was new for me, having spent so many years outside the US, and the last 2 months in a town and around family who thought Ronald Reagan was the salvation of this country. We stayed up til 1:30 (sans drugs or alcohol), cutting, punching, tying ribbons and talking.


"We can sleep in tomorrow," Liz commented as we climbed the stairs to our rooms.


"Yeah?" I said. "How late?" expecting an 11 o'clock wake up call.


"Oh, Gael's not coming til at least 9."


At 7:30 am, I waked to the sounds of obvious activity above and below me (the house has 3 floors and a basement which had, in the night, flooded). In the chaos of landlady, calls to plumbers, arrival of Gael and Melissa, I grabbed and hoarded a cup of coffee in the quietest part of the house I could find. And even that unpeaceful peace was shattered when someone turned on the TV, people began issuing directions and suggestions in authoritative tones, and mobile phones began to ring. I was reminded of my days back in the 80s, when I was an organizer with NYPIRG at SUNY Stonybrook. Every morning at 8 am, as I struggled to organize my day in the basement office of the student union, the group next door would open their doors and crank the stereo as high as it went, blasting Guns 'n' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle." My first morning at the Code Pink house was like that, only without the testosterone.


By 10:45, dressed in as much pink as our bodies could carry, we jumped the white Subaru belonging to Gael (who, unPC as it may be, smokes. Hooray for foibles in our heroes) and headed to the senate offices. In the car, we practiced Desiree's song, "Take us out of this war game" (sung to the tune of "Take me out to the ball game") and double checked the cards with fact sheets about the human and financial costs of the war. I frankly, had no idea what we would be doing. I'd been to dozens of marches and rallies in Washington and my homes; had organized events and participated in guerilla theatre; staged fundraisers and coordinated letter-writing campaigns. I knew about delegation visits, but I'd never been on one.


Apparently, Code Pink's eye-catching regalia has a reputation in the hallowed halls of the senate. People smiled and spoke, or grimaced and avoided eye-contact, depending on their reception to our message. Our first visit was to Senator Carl Levin, a fervent supporter of our peace message. His chief of staff was receptive, apologetic, defensive, and resigned, in that order. "You're preaching to the converted!" he insisted to Gael's unrelenting demands that the senator push harder for NO MORE funding, and bringing the troops home this year. I watched with astonishment as Gael and Liz pressured chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and various aids with our message—without once crossing the boundaries of mutual respect and appreciation.


Even in staunch pro-military, fund-the-troops, up-the-surge Senator McCain's office, where we got into a heated debate with his active-duty intern, we parted with handshakes and thanks for our opposing perspectives. In the morning meetings, our warm receptions were probably t influenced by our coalition with three Iraqi Veterans Against the War members. One of them, Jeff Millard, argued several senior senator staffers into corners Clarence Darrow would've been hard pressed to get out of. In addition to being polite, articulate and passionate, Millard used specifics of his tours of Iraq and his treatment from VA hospitals to drive home points few could argue with. He spoke of casualty numbers who were names and friends to him; of troop awareness of the futility of the operation more than two years ago; of how March's troop surge in Iraq had resulted in more US than Iraqi security forces deaths for the first month since the war began; of the year-long waiting list for his knee surgery from a VA hospital and the fact that, because it is an active duty, not VA hospital, the Walter Reed scandal has no bearing on his care and that of his veteran friends. As anyone familiar with Ron Kovac's story knows, returning war veterans—young men and now women who have risked life and often lost limbs in service to their country—have, since Vietnam, been shamefully neglected by that very country on returning home.


Later in the day, in order to reach all of our senate targets, we split into two groups. Desiree and I were not as successful in meeting with high-level staff in the—mostly republican—offices that we visited. Low-level aides' and receptionists' responses ranged from disinterested smirks to sympathetic but not particularly helpful. Following the example of my more experienced colleagues, however, we smiled and tried to connect on a personal level, asking about Mississippi's continued recovery from Katrina and complimenting the rustic, authentic Tennessee d├ęcor of Senator Lamar Alexander's office.


The highlight of my day, however, was our visit to the office of Senator Patty Murray. The legendary "Mom in tennis shoes" turned her senator's snide remark all those years ago into impetus to run against and replace him as senator from Washington. Desiree and I grinned in surprise as a senior aide appeared and asked us to sit and talk with him. He listened attentively to our concerns, answered our questions, and gave us assurances that Senator Murray would continue as much as possible to push for troop withdrawal— and appropriate confirmation of soldiers' fitness for duty before returning them to combat, one of her pet issues.


We caught up with Melissa, Liz, Janine, Jeff and Joan (whom I'd spoken to on the phone but not yet met) for several final triumphant meetings with legislative directors and senior aides in the offices of Senators Lautenberg, Kohl and Domenici. Even after 5 pm, each gave us a warm reception and sincere hearing of our issues.


Exhausted but elated, we headed back to the Code Pink house in the misty falling dusk, where Desiree whipped up excellent enchiladas with salad and rice, and we discussed personal issues—my former life in Australia, Melissa's upcoming road trip to New York, and family. Now I sit in the living room under that brave, confronting banner, full of optimism. I am still worried—when will the troops come home? What will happen when they leave Iraq? When will Jeff get his knee surgery? What about all the thousands of young men and women who, because of modern medicine, survived this war when they wouldn't have survived earlier ones, but with devastating injuries that will need care for the rest of their lives? What about the impending environmental crisis? Will the Democrats find the courage to stand up to Bush? Will the US people find the hope to force our government to our will, rather than the other way around?


But one thing I know: Code Pink will continue to speak truth to power, to push the hesitant, encourage the weak, and cheer on the righteous in government to a more accountable, just, and, in the end, democratic society. They've given me the impetus and the optimism to become one of them—because they have restored the thing I didn't know I'd lost until I got it back today: Hope.
"Remember, we be many and they be few. … Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

—Arundhati Roy "

"Liz from Arizona"

Women from all over the country are leading the way to peace. There is an absolutely incorrigible part of myself that wishes I could be more active now that our efforts are getting noticed, but like women during the entire history of the human race we have to juggle extremely complex requirements of family and community life. These demands never allow for easy, guilt free choices.

At the moment I cannot be in D.C. leading and maintaining the charge to peace. Thank heavens Liz is there speaking clearly to anyone and everyone she possibly can speak to.

I was so proud this morning when I clicked on a link to the article "Democrats break their promise to voters to end Iraq war" in The Final Call and read extensive quotes from "Liz from Arizona" in the piece.

I'm trying to remember the first time I met Liz. I can't. I can't imagine a CODEPINK in Arizona without her raucous give 'em hell attitude, her johnny-on-the-spot handshake and look 'em in the eye greeting that meets local precinct level politicos and John McCain with equally fierce determination, preparation, as well as sincerity and amazingly spontaneous sound bytes that distill and convey the essence of the issues that mean the most to the common person on the street. And somehow she manages to do this freshly each time with words that speak intimately and to the heart of the person she is with.

I remember Liz coming down to Tucson to support the Grannies after their arrest (that was thrown out) for attempting to enlist in the Army. I remember Liz handing out water and sunscreen the to children, the elderly, and everyone in between who stood in searing 114 degree heat to make a statement with their presence as the President and his convoy of black SUVs with rear gates thrown open and machines at the ready to mow us down as Bush was rushed from Air Force Base to securely gated community at the edge of Phoenix. I remember Liz looking totally bemused unbelieving as to her state of attire as she was fully decked out in a pink fairy godmother costume (complete with wand and crown) in order to give DNC members the balls to stand up for peace in order to grant the American people's wishes for the Democrats to sprout pink balls of courage and stand up to the war mongers. I could continue with stories of Liz's fierce determination to make a difference -- her "Breakfast with John" actions on thursday mornings in front of John McCain's office in Phoenix where she dons a hood and orange jumpsuit and lies prostate on the ground as another person enacts the torturer stance.

Never let it be said that one person cannot make a difference. In Arizona or Washington, D.C., Liz is making a difference because Liz is being heard.