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David Swanson: Cindy's Day in Court

Cindy's Day in Court

By David Swanson

Cindy Sheehan has a court date Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C., and faces up to 6 months in jail for the charge of demonstrating without a permit, as a result of the civil disobedience action at the White House in September at which Cindy and nearly 400 other activists protested the war. Some paid a $75 fine. Others, including Cindy, are refusing to pay anything.

Some of those refusing to pay are required to appear in federal court at 9:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday. They'll be at the Federal Courthouse at 3rd and Constitution Ave. NW, and a group of supporters will be there to hold a vigil at 8:30 a.m.. Supporters planning to be there include Congressman John Conyers.

Cindy has a second court date pending for a second identical charge dating from a die-in in front of the White House on the occasion of the 2,000th death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq. (I was arrested at that time, as were two dozen others, and have paid my fine.)



Also happening in D.C. at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the Out of Iraq Caucus, led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters will be holding a press conference at 1539 Longworth House Office Building to announce a new strategy aimed at bringing a debate on the Iraq War to the floor of the House. The strategy involves a discharge petition, a petition which, if signed by a majority of House Members, forces a bill to the floor without having to win approval from any committee. (Numerous bills and resolutions on Iraq have been killed in various committees.)

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The bill being used for this (H.J.Res. 55) is the weakest one out there and has the most Republican support, but the discharge petition will allow amendments once the bill reaches the floor. So, the Democrats will be able to propose anything as an amendment on the floor and have it debated.

Whether even this weak bill (which calls for beginning to get out of Iraq by Oct. 1, 2006) will garner the necessary 218 signatures to allow a debate to occur may depend on whether the Democratic leadership gets behind it and whether signing it is widely understood as supporting a debate, as opposed to supporting this particular bill.


A strong proponent of the discharge petition is Congressman Jim McGovern, the sponsor of the strongest bill out there, one which would cut off funding for the war.


Tuesday evening was also an interesting time in our empire's capital. It began with a fundraiser for Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), which was attended by Congress Members McGovern, Conyers, Waters, and Raul Grijalva. The event was used to announce the establishment of PDA's advisory board, which a number of progressive Congress Members have joined.

Congressman Conyers spoke passionately about the Bush Administration's war lies and announced that he will be releasing a report, this week or next, on the topic of the Downing Street Memos and other evidence of lies.

"The misrepresentations of the sorriest administration in my lifetime," he said, were crumbling around them. "What did Bush and Cheney know about what their chiefs of staff, Rove and Libby, were doing all this time? Nothing? Please! We want these truths to come out."

Conyers said he was working to achieve a Democratic majority in Congress in next year's elections.


Some of us, including Cindy Sheehan, her sister Deedee Miller, and PDA Board Chair Mimi Kennedy, went to see the new anti-Wal-Mart movie after the fundraiser. The Campaign for America's Future hosted the event. Congress Members George Miller and Jan Schakowsky attended, as did the director Robert Greenwald. Some 700 house parties watched the movie too, and there were other big premiers around the country.

What got to me about the movie were the parallels between the almost unfathomable arrogance of the White House and the incredibly flagrant disregard for law or decency by Wal-Mart. Apparently even something less than absolute power can corrupt absolutely.

I knew about the union busting, the destruction of small towns, the low wages, the discrimination, the horrible Chinese factories, the dependence on public subsidies, the wealth and the political influence. (I would have liked to see more about the political influence of the Waltons, actually, and something about their promotion of school vouchers).

What I had not seen before was all the stories of violent crime in Wal-Mart parking lots, and Wal-Mart's refusal to spend a dime protecting people, while spending a fortune on security within the stores. Here was Wal-Mart putting people's lives at risk in the most direct way for simple greed.

But there was a section of the film that lasted a few seconds in which a man commented that there was just no way to talk to people who would sacrifice lives to greed. On the wall behind him (with apparently no irony intended) was a big poster that said "BUY WAR BONDS."

At some point the progressive movement, and that includes the Campaign for America's Future, will have to start drawing connections between wars and domestic affairs. And that should start with beginning to recognize that it is wars that open up the political space for destructive politics.

Bush has demolished workers' rights under the protection of a waving flag and falling bombs. And far more money has gone to his war than has gone to Wal-Mart subsidies.


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