Today I took my annual floating holiday for my birthday, a benefit won by union collective bargaining with my employer, Clark County. I spent the day in two political actions under the hot Las Vegas sun; it was only 108 here today.
The first action was a press conference and delivery of a demand to the Republican Nevada 3rd Congressional District Congressman John Porter asking him to stop being in Bush’s pocket in supporting the illegal occupation of Iraq and to begin listening to his constituents, like myself, and to vote to end the war. This action was sponsored Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a non partisan coalition group opposing the war. While I am personally in disagreement with supporting weak antiwar legislation such as Congress passed yesterday (HR2956) setting time tables for troop withdrawal and a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq, these moderate groups are the only organizations making public antiwar statements in Las Vegas today.
I want to remind all my friends who are active in supporting the Democrat's proposals for ending the war, Dennis Kucinich has a bill, HR1234, that would end the war and occupation by U.S. military within three months of being passed. This bill removes all U.S. military from Iraq and would replace them with a multinational peace keeping force. It also would end the role of the war profiteers, Halliburton, and U.S. hired mercenary army, Blackwater Security, in addition to stopping U.S. attempts to get Iraqi oil resources privatized so they can be taken over and exploited by U.S. and multinational big oil corporate robber barons.
Back to the action today. While most of the speakers supported the congressional action on HR2956, I felt that standing up to Rep. John Porter (my congressional representative) was more important than not taking action. Rep. Porter maintains office space in a private office building in Henderson, Nevada. A group of about 20 some people attended the Americans Against Escalation press conference, including some Democratic party representatives, Kucinich supporters, and Edwards supporters. Five individuals representing the coalition calling for an end to the war spoke, two were veterans, one was a registered nurse, and one was from a leading Nevada political family and involved in the Campaign for America’s Future. During one of the veteran's statement to the press, the building manager interrupted the speech to tell us we were on private property and could not block access for the public. This same building manager came out and told us the same thing about four or five times, but never actually told us to get off the property. After the speakers were finished, all those in attendance walked into the building and went to Rep. Porter’s office with the news cameras following. Upon arrival at the office we went inside and delivered our demands to the congressman’s staff. The camera was not permitted inside so the camera man left the door open and filmed through the open door. A Porter staff member then walked to the door, told the cameraman to turn off the sound, which the media refused to do, then shut the door (with Congressman John Porter stenciled in big letters) on the still running camera.
Should make a great media moment, except the media present, Las Vegas Channel 3, chose not to broadcast that scene, and instead used footage of a war supporting veteran stating that actions like this lower the moral of our troops. As a veteran of 22 years in the military myself, I’ll tell you what lowers troop morale – it is being sent to an illegal war by a president and Congress who have never risked their lives for the personal agenda of Bush, Cheney and their lackeys like Porter. Porter’s response to the delivery of the demand was that we were a bunch of Democrat operatives and that we cannot stop Bush’s surge as it has not been given enough time to work. From listening to many retired generals and seeing what is going on in Iraq today, it is pretty clear to me that giving Bush another few months with his surge is not going to make the Iraqi Civil War end. Withdrawing the U.S. military and replacing it with a multinational peace keeping force will begin the stabilization of Iraq. But because Bush and Cheney and his congressional supporters like Porter choose to lie to the American people to instigate an illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, it has led to this civil war and once the genie is out of the bottle it can’t be put back in.
The question for us is: How many G.I.s will die before the U.S. government understands it cannot stabilize Iraq through U.S. military action and that the deaths of our G.I.s will only stop when they are withdrawn? Again, I support an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq; 3,800 plus Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives have been lost and this must stop NOW!
My stepson is currently on active duty. How will those who call for time tables and permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq answer me or other parents of American service members if our children are killed during the time frame that HR2956 allows the war and permanent military presence to continue?
I call on all Congressional representatives to sign on to HR1234 -- a real peace bill. Congress, especially the Democrats, in passing HR2956 again voted for war to continue with the exception of a few like Dennis Kucinich who will do what he says -- "vote of peace, if you want peace."
The second action I participated in today was sponsored by Nevadans for Health Care, a political action group formed to hold all presidential candidates accountable for fixing our broken health system as the number one priority in the upcoming election. A group of about 25 Nevadans rallied outside a funding raising party for Senator Obama (who appeared) to take the message that health care is the number one issue that must be addressed by presidential candidates. Nevadans for Health Care takes no partisan position on candidate preference and only wants to be visible to remind all candidates that they must address health care in their platforms and that their plans will be a major decision making factor with the voters. I support the single payer not-for-profit health care system which ends the stranglehold that insurance companies have on health care in America. It totally disgusts me that in America, the richest country in the world, 40 million Americans have no health care plan and another 45 million are under-covered and that all Americans are at the mercy of an insurance adjuster making decisions on which medical tests ordered by doctors the insurance will allow.
I support the Conyers/Kucinich bill, HR676, which sets up a single payer not-for-profit health care system. Currently 46% of our total health spending per year is spent on overhead under our insurance based health care system. Using these funds and the funds saved by ending the occupation of Iraq, there is more than enough funding available to have a progressive not-for -profit health care system in America in which all Americans are given health care, not health insurance. For an expose of the health insurance industry, I highly recommend everyone see Michael Moore’s SICKO, it will open your eyes.
So I had another typical holiday for myself today – one of political action under the hot sun.
Lastly, all I have left to say for today is VOTE FOR KUCINICH in 2008 for real change: The Peace, Health Care candidate who refuses campaign contributions from corporate sponsors.