We were at Obama campaign headquarters in Portland, Maine yesterday to stand up for imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning. There was only one person working in the amazingly obscure location chosen for the campaign offices in Maine's largest city, miles from downtown and upstairs from a mattress store that has been going out of business for several years. The lonely field coordinator working in an suite of offices devoid of volunteers would not take our petition because "I'm not at that pay grade." I left it there anyway, on the bathroom sink, and we shared a lot of stickers.
The petition is particularly poignant because its online version includes the testimony of scores of disappointed former Obama supporters, people who actually worked to get him elected in 2008. I printed it out and I suspect that Obama field organizers really ought to read it. A typical comment by a signer goes like this:
Judy Stiller signedThe field organizer tried to tell Portland CODEPINK Local Coordinator Pat Taub and I that "Many people don't realize that Congress hasn't let..." but I am afraid that I interrupted the flow of scripted response to criticism of the POTUS to share that imprisonment of Bradley Manning is all Obama's. Well, actually I said something like, "I'm not sure you understand -- under our form of government, the punishment of whistleblower Bradley Manning is the responsibility of the Executive Branch. Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department are also part of the Executive Branch, and their failure to prosecute war crimes that Manning revealed, meanwhile allowing him to be tortured at Quantico, has nothing to do with Congress."
I gave money when I really could not afford to do so. I canvassed and used many social media websites to promote Mr. Obama for President. I regret every bit of it. President Obama has caved to the right at every turn. Do the right thing and let this young hero go free!
It was exciting to know that people in more than 30 cities all over the U.S. were visiting Obama campaign HQ to share similar messages. Pat made sure to make that point.
It doesn't matter what pay grade human beings define themselves by. They still have hearts and minds, and we can still reach out to offer them some truth. I really should have heard her out, and not interrupted. My bad.
I came home to find exciting news of several bold actions by my Pink sisters and brothers at the Democratic Party national convention in Charlotte. Rae Abileah had interrupted Steny Hoyer's speech by unfurling a banner and calling out, "Bring our war dollars home!" a meme that originated in Maine and has spread widely during the time Obama has presided over a federal budget that climbed from 51% to 57% military spending.
Then, in downtown Charlotte, pinksters unfurled a giant pink slip with a version of the slogan Obama campaigned on: YES, WE CAN END WAR. Twenty-three year old Codepink staffer Alli McCracken was surrounded by 32 police officers and arrested for attaching the banner unlawfully to a parking garage. The magnitude of this crime can really only be appreciated by viewing said pink slip, the handiwork of prop genius Tighe Barry.
To paraphrase one of my favorite Occupy Wall St. slogans, if banking regulations were enforced as well as ordinances against unlawfully displaying banners in this country, the economy would not be such a disaster for the 99%.