Monday, February 11, 2013

What's In A Name? @SenFeinstein And Her "CODEPINK Associates"

Homework by Codepink to prepare for the Brennan hearings.
Since CODEPINK is the most visible presence among anti-drone lobbying citizens, Sen. Diane Feinstein presiding over the Intelligence (sic)  Committee of the U.S. Senate said:
I am going to ask that the room be cleared and that the Codepink associates not be permitted to come back in.
This delayed the confirmation hearing for torture and drone czar John Brennan who is the current president's pick to head up the CIA. Most citizens who don't want their government to torture, or to drone bomb children, with their tax dollars oppose Brennan's nomination.
Codepink at a candlelight vigil for civilian drone victims outside John Brennan's house in Herdon, Virginia.
My attention was snagged by Feinstein's use of the word associates. Was it pre-meditated? Why did she not say disruptors if she didn't want to say demonstrators or protestors? Or for that matter, why not just call them those rude people?

What does "associates" connotate?

It is the sort of bland bureaucratic word that lends itself to the distortion, even perversion, of language that occurs under oppressive regimes. The kind of language that George Orwell warned us about. It has the root to associate which is a vague concept if there ever was one. It could just mean people you are around on a regular basis; in the old days, it meant "and company" as appended to someone's name who was the head of a business firm. Nowadays the strongest connotation for "associate" would be as a term for someone working at Walmart or a place like that.

When jobs became McJobs, clerks became associates.

Really, anyone can become an associate. They are the endlessly interchangeable cogs in the machine of low-wage, no-benefits jobs. They are the worker bees, so to speak. (Drone bees, by the way, are not worker bees. They just hang around and eat a lot, mating occasionally.)

Codepink has worker bees, mostly volunteer, who stand in line for hours to exercise the rights of a citizen to witness the show confirmation hearings where senators pretend to ask hard-ball questions (ok, sometimes they don't even pretend to do that much) and the nominee gives vague non-answers without being challenged.

Chairing such a committee is usually not that difficult. It's a chance to appear as a senior statesman in charge of something terribly important, where everyone is super polite and deferential, with C-Span and networks covering the non-news event.

It can become a big headache however, like it did for Sen. Max Baucus when doctors and nurses had the audacity to stand up in the audience and demand to know why the hearings on reforming health care had no voices for universal healthcare seated among the insurance industry representatives.
Retired Col Ann Wright speaking outside the hearings about drone deaths: "And don't forget the Afghans!"
Sen. Feinstein had an especially thorny problem because she could only identify disruptors and potential disruptors as "Codepink associates" but they were mostly a bunch of adults in unremarkable clothing who blended in reasonably well with the lobbyists and policy wonks. I spotted a couple of people I know in the aidence that are perennially active around issues like torture , closing Guantanamo, or the trampling of the rule of law. They are not members of Codepink and I have never seen them wear that particular color while in action. Are they, therefore, Codepink "associates"? How would one determine who was, or was not, an "associate"?

Sen. Feinstein, as a bona fide Codepink associate in the SF Bay area told me, tends to speak in a "fusty old-fashioned way." We speculated about whether she coined the term on the spot (my Bay area friend added: "She probably wanted to call them those fools") or whether her staff came up with the word in advance.

Because when you're holding a hearing to confirm the man widely viewed as the architect of the president's CIA drone assassination program, you can be pretty sure Codepink will be in the house.

Expect us.

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