Interview With Cindy Sheehan – The Peace Mom vs. Congressional Madam (Speaker)
Cindy Sheehan gives a candid interview in which she explains exactly why she is running for Congress in order to oppose Rep. Nancy Pelosi and remove her from her throne.
In a July, 2007 Zogby poll (1) only 14 percent of Americans thought the Democratic Congress - led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - was doing a good job. One year later, that rating is down to an abysmal 9 percent (2) - Congress's worst grade in Rasmussen Reports' poll-tracking history.
Given this, one has to wonder about the Congressional Madam (Speaker) who had the audacity to call the President "a total failure" in a recent CNN interview. (3) In an apparent attempt to sound sincere, Pelosi said, "You know, God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States, a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject." Then, as if admonishing a pre-school child who had just peed the bed, Pelosi rebuked naughty-boy-George, for "challenging Congress when we are trying to sweep up after his mess over and over and over again."
Whatever you do, please don't misconstrue this as empathy for a sorry excuse for "the thing" masquerading as our national leader. (Yes, I said "thing," not person, as it's not yet been confirmed if it is human). Our Psychopath-in-Chief clearly more than deserves his "just desserts" - served up in Nuremburg-style flambé, shall we say? But as far as the Congressional Madam calling anyone else "a total failure" goes? Why, clearly there's never been a better example of the pot calling the kettle black!
Since becoming House Speaker, Pelosi has been regularly and "liberally" hounded by protestors like Code Pink in San Francisco, who gave Pelosi what The NY Times terms the "Crawford Treatment" (4) including no less than an ultra pink, not quite dainty April Fool's Tea Party. (5) Not surprisingly, hundreds of peace activists have conducted dramatic and colorful displays of activist theater, with Veterans for Peace and others setting up shop at "Camp Pelosi," (6) sitting vigil in protest against the Imperial Queen's "aiding and abetting" the Industrial and Military Complex - even conducting DIE-INS (7) and camping outside San Francisco's war enabler and Democrat Party leader's Pacific Coast mansion. (8)
In fact, as 2,000 progressive bloggers gathered at Netroots Nation 2008 last weekend, anti-war protestors in Austin heckled Pelosi throughout her speech (9). It's undoubtedly a pretty bad sign for a Congressional matriarch when liberals at a progressive conference heckle the virtual Queen of their own party! As Ronnie Cummins pointedly blogged on July 19 (10) in the midst of the outbursts, "Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party Speaker of the House, the third most powerful politician in the United States, is up on the podium, doing her best to damp down the mounting criticism of the Democratic Party's shameful collaboration in funding the war and aiding and abetting the Bush administration's shredding of the Constitution."
To get deeper insight into what would make anyone want to take on what so many have implied is, in all possibility, the devil in a skirt, I share below my recent conversation with the woman known internationally as the "Peace Mom," Cindy Sheehan, an intelligent woman who, while admittedly lacking the typical mega-huge corporate funders - possesses enormous amounts of both conscience and compassion. Now collecting signatures for placement on November's ballot in the House of Representatives as an Independent, Sheehan will be representing California's 8th District.
In my July 17, 2008 interview with Cindy Sheehan I was impressed with the unwavering conviction of a woman bound and determined to beat the odds and replace Pelosi's seat in Congress.
Q- Did I read that July 10 was your one-year anniversary of deciding to run for the House of Representatives - 8th district?
Sheehan: Yes, Cathy. One year ago on July 10---which was my 50th birthday---I was in Crawford Texas at Camp Casey and I said that if Pelosi didn't put impeachment on the table by the time our Journey for Humanity arrived in DC on July 23rd, I would challenge her in San Francisco for her congressional seat.
Q- That's an awfully HUGE and important decision to make! Can you remember what you were doing when you made the decision? And can you remember precisely what drove you to make it?
Sheehan: Um, I was "retired" from the peace movement and I was heading to Crawford, Texas to have my 50th birthday party there and to say "good-bye" to my Camp Casey which I had just sold to Bree Walker [progressive talk show host in L.A.] and I had just "un-retired" because Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence for obstruction of justice and perjury. I was incensed that Congress didn't do anything to Bush, because I think Bush was involved in Libby's crimes.
So, we decided to jump back into things by starting our Journey for Humanity from Camp Casey to DC to join other activists in demanding impeachment. John Conyers had told me that his major obstacle to impeachment was "Pelosi" and that the only thing that would move Congress was if their jobs were threatened. So, I had an inspiration one day to challenge Pelosi, whose district was not far from where I live in California.
Q- It has been an amazing ride for you since I first saw you covered... before Camp Casey... I believe it was your first video before that, on truthout, if I'm not mistaken. When was that? In late 2004 or early 2005?
Sheehan: It was in March 2005...I went to Fayetteville, North Carolina for the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq to speak at the rally there.
Q- I remember the first time I saw you in a video and was absolutely mesmerized by the eloquence with which you spoke - and also the fact that you spoke from the heart - and you spared no words! Do you remember that first videotaped speech and what you were thinking at the time?
Sheehan: I do remember it...but after literally hundreds of interviews, it is hard to remember what I was thinking. I know at the time, I was still in fresh and raw pain from Casey's murder and I was super-pissed at Bush, of course. It wasn't even a year since Casey died then. [Casey was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004]. I can now speak most of the time without crying, but I cry at least once a day for Casey---and I just teared up, now.
Q- I am truly, sorry, Cindy. I can't even imagine... Since then, what would you say is the most interesting thing you've learned that most people do not learn from the mainstream media?
Sheehan: I think the most interesting and devastating thing that I have learned is that there is little, if any, difference between the two political parties in this country and that is why I am challenging Pelosi as an Independent. It is hard, but I think it is worth it because this needs to be highlighted.
Q- It's obvious you not only believe it's worth it, but that you put your life into living your values, as well. I read that you've traveled to different countries. What has been your mission while traveling?
Sheehan: I have traveled to many foreign countries and my main mission and message is that we members of what is called "civil society" in most countries is to join hands and hearts together to be able to understand different cultures and different ways of doing things, so we can no longer allow our so-called leaders to demonize and kill our brothers and sisters in other countries.
Q - I admire you so much - for both your strength and your determination to end these wars. Is that what motivated you to run against Nancy Pelosi in Congress? Or was it something else?
Sheehan: I left the Democratic Party shortly before I "retired" because they gave George more funding for the wars, but I challenged her specifically for her anti-impeachment stance.
Since I have been here on the ground in San Francisco, I have learned so many disgusting things about Pelosi: How she worked diligently to privatize the Presidio - a former Army base that became a National Park, which Pelosi gave to private developers to develop as a national park for profit... and her and her family's part in gentrifying San Francisco's only remaining black neighborhood: Bayview Hunter's Point. Hunter's Point is a closed Naval shipyard that is deeply poisoned by radioactive waste and dozens of other toxins (11) and is an EPA super-fund site that Pelosi, Feinstein [Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)] and Newsom [Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco and nephew to Nancy Pelosi by marriage] want to use as a new football complex for the 49ers who want to move to Santa Clara anyway.
Pelosi is a corporate elitist who has lost touch with her constituents, if she ever had any contact with them at all.
Q- Lately, Congresswoman Pelosi has caught a lot of heat for taking impeachment off the table - and it is official now, as we learned the other day. (12) [Update: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) stated on July 25, "To the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing. To have an impeachment hearing, the House of Representatives has to vote to authorize that a committee begin an inquiry, and that has not taken place yet."] (13)
In addition, she's being blamed for the continued funding of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - over more than $650 Billion now. (14) Do you feel these are fair criticisms?
Sheehan: Of course...she has committed treason to her oath of office as an officer of the Constitution by taking impeachment off the "table" and her Congress has appropriated over one-half trillion dollars for the occupations. One cannot say that one is against the wars if one continues to fund them.
Q- Excellent point. In addition to these national issues like ending wars and impeachment, what do you hope to bring to the residents of San Francisco that you believe Nancy Pelosi has not adequately addressed while in office?
Sheehan: Like I said before, she is a corporate elitist who does not know how the average San Franciscan suffers.
Key issues in this town that I will address by addressing the occupations and cutting military funding are affordable housing; better and cheaper public transportation; eliminating this country's sick dependence on fossil fuels; single-payer universal health care; excellent, inexpensive, and easily accessible education from pre-school to university; jobs programs and repealing all "free" trade agreements that increase our work force and also reducing a work week to 30 hours, at 40 hour pay, to make more jobs.
I oppose any amendments to the California constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage and I am for a woman's right to reproductive freedom.
All of these are important progressive issues that can not be addressed when our politicians are beholden to the Military Industrial Complex.
Q- Judging by the way people you've met have reacted, are they happy to hear that you are planning to bring about change?
Sheehan: Many people are very happy, but San Francisco is a deeply Democratic-machine town that is mired in the status-quo. We will break through that last barrier because our campaign is principled and we are standing up for what is right: Peace, environmental sustainability, justice, economic equality... and for our rule of law.
Q- When you are elected (and I'm not the only one who seems to believe you will be!) what are the first three things you would like to accomplish once you get to DC?
Sheehan: Number one, end the occupations. Number two, impeach Bush and Cheney. Number three, work on electoral reform so third party and independent candidates' voices can be heard and we can have a true democracy... which means a variety of opinions working together and in opposition for the people - *not* corporate interests.
Q- Thank you so much for speaking with me, Cindy! When you get to DC, which is not far from where I live in Maryland, will you please autograph my copy of your book, "Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey through Heartache to Activism." I have a strong feeling that your book one day is going to be worth a whole lot of money after you get into Congress and turn that whole place around!
Sheehan: (with a smile in her voice) ... Ummm, well, Okay... Thanks, Cathy, it was wonderful to talk to you and when I get to Congress, I will never sell out my principles for a buck or a vote ... That will be a true revolution! Integrity in DC!
In what currently are the dark days of Congress, a full 91 percent of Americans agree that in all certainty, something revolutionary inside the nation's capital has got to go down. And soon. And with regard to sincerity, integrity, and a proven ability to live one's values and uphold solid principles like providing service to the community and humanity? Sheehan's just the one to deliver the goods and bring about much needed change - not just for San Francisco, but for the rest of the world as well.
Many around the nation - and the world - agree. The most notable of American supporters is former Congresswoman and Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, who teamed up with Sheehan as Honorary Co-Chair of her campaign just three days after what her website refers to as the "No-Strings Occupation and War Funding" (15). This relates to the compromise of a $162 Billion war funding bill called the "biggest blank check ever," (16) by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA 9th).
McKinney's backing of Sheehan also came just two days after the telecommunications immunity [i.e., surveillance] bills were ushered through - thanks in great part to the Congressional Madam - through Democrat-controlled Congress. As McKinney put it, "The point was to change Washington, DC, but instead Washington, DC changed Nancy Pelosi." (17)
According to the national Green Party website, (18) San Francisco support is strong for the woman known internationally as "The Peace Mom. According to Erika McDonald, spokesperson for the San Francisco Green Party, "We are glad she is taking on Speaker Pelosi, who has been a huge disappointment even to her Democratic Party base." Mc Donald continues, "We admire Sheehan's bravery in standing up to the corrupt two-party system. She has suffered immeasurable loss because of the unwillingness of our government to stand up for justice."
The Green Party is not supporting a candidate of its own in the race, with the hope of providing a strong showing of support for Sheehan. As stated in the June 24 press release, (18) the goals of the Green Party and Sheehan are similar - protect U.S. troops in Iraq by ending the war now, a position rejected by Pelosi and other Democrats in Congress who say they are opposed to the war, but continue to fund billions for it." Furthermore, "Greens, like Sheehan, have endorsed the impeachment of Pres. George Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney and other Bush Administration officials. Sheehan also comes from working class roots, which compares favorably to the Green Party's strong social justice platform."
In order to get Cindy Sheehan on the ballot for the November election in California's voting District 8, a total of 10,198 signatures must be collected. As of this writing, 9,764 signatures have been gathered. It would be a sad day indeed for California (not to mention the rest of the world) if this great humanitarian, winner of numerous awards, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee was not placed on the ballot over a measly 434 un-collected signatures. One suspects gathering these signatures will be no problem in the upcoming few days for the totally committed and tremendously popular Peace Mom.
On August 8, however, after the 10,198 signatures have been collected and handed in to San Francisco election officials, that's when the real battle begins. For all intents and purposes, Sheehan will be running on not too much more than a wing and a prayer - a prayer for grassroots support and contributions made by many thousands of supporters for peace all the world over.
After all, the woman called "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement," (19) faces a truly formidable foe in her opponent altogether supported by the Democratic Party Machine. Just uptown from the Mission District it's quite easy for the well-connected Rep. Pelosi to collect corporate and "big interest" funding. In just the 2007-20008 one year funding cycle alone, Pelosi's campaign collected over $2 Million. (20)
In sharp contrast, witness Sheehan's campaign, where every dollar collected can be attributed to the blood, sweat, and tears grassroots variety courtesy of the hard work of Sheehan and her dedicated volunteers. In fact, according to Dede Miller at Sheehan campaign headquarters, the Sheehan campaign has already earned $250,000 in contributions - coming in one donation at a time. In fact, according to Miller, "A blind gentleman came in off the street and gave us his stimulus check. $637.00! Everyday folks send us very small donations saying they wished they could give more." With an upbeat, winning attitude certain to help Sheehan get on the ballot - then into Washington - Miller adds that there is "No stopping us now!"
This is not about politics but, rather, the Sheehan campaign has everything to do with putting decency in Congress "back on the table" and taking care of America's health, best interests, and well-being. It's Sheehan's stated Job Number One to get Congress to stop funding these illegal wars of aggression in a trumped up "war on terror" which, as the Congressional Madam (Pelosi) herself reminds us in her own words, she is going to support "the fight against terrorism... wherever it exists." (21)
Fighting terrorism "wherever it exists" is a chilling mission once only reserved for the illegal occupier of the Oval Office and his staunchest neo-conservatives and war hawk cronies in only one of the two major political parties. With both sides now thoroughly immersed in trying to out-macho each other in terms of "defense" (actually a now-Orwellian term meaning hegemonic Offense)? We must stand firmly behind Cindy Sheehan and all prospective members of Congress willing to boldly break free from warmongering wherever our soldiers are sent to fight fabricated "enemies" - in combat actions never officially declared acts of war by Congress - waged out of the ends of Depleted Uranium-blasting armored tanks' cannons and A-10 Warthog fighter jets' Gatling guns.
Together we must work to put an end to this ruthless war- making insanity. Regardless of political party affiliation, it is imperative we work together to replace Pelosi and show the door to all of those in Congress who support this illegal, unjust, genocidal carnage without end. Remember, no donation is too small, as it all adds up, in terms of both your financial contributions and your gifts of time. To learn how you can make a difference right now and support Sheehan's effort to defeat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, visit the Cindy Sheehan campaign website at www.cindyforcongress.org.
Cathy Garger is a freelance writer, public speaker, activist, and a certified Personal Coach who specializes in Uranium weapons. Living in the shadow of the national District of Crime, Cathy is constantly nauseated by the stench emanating from the nation's capital during the Washington, DC, federal work week. Cathy may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
homepage: http://www.mytown.ca/garger, www.cindyforcongress.or
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