The FTAA forum this Friday night at the First
Unitarian Church in the Hillcrest neighborhood
of San Diego started off with a brief talk by
San Diego Congressman Bob Filner (D).
Filner drew parallels between Reagan-era
"trickle-down" economics and the FTAA. He said
we have seen the effects of such policies, and it
it is time for a new agenda, which he referred to as
"percolate up." He said he, for one, was tired of
being "trickled on" by the social elites, drawing
laughs from the crowd. Instead of conferring endless
privileges, taxcuts, and like giveaways to the rich
and hoping that the benefits to them will somehow
"trickle down" to the rest of us, he suggested we
needed policies that would directly benefit the
majority of people, and give them greater input into
Filner also cited California's disastrous experiment
with electricity deregulation as an example of the
same economic zealotry. He singled it out as one of
the greatest thefts of wealth from working people to
the rich in the state's history. He called for
seizing the assets of companies implicated in
Filner's talk was brief. He clearly spoke off the cuff,
not from a prepared text. He expressed gratitude to all
of us there for fighting the good fight.
On a personal note, when Congressman Filner walked past
the aisle where I sat, I caught him briefly to express
my gratitude for his actions this past January 6th. That
day, Filner was one of only a dozen Congress members to
challenge the Florida Presidential electors, calling
into question the legitimacy of the recently "elected"
In a very brief but poignant moment, the Congressman,
clearly moved, said, "You know, I did it on impulse.
It just seemed like the right thing. And I somehow
thought that everyone would follow me. But no one did."
I was deeply moved by the Congressman's candor. It
brought home to me the enormous and insidious power of
the men -- seen and unseen -- who call the shots in
our country. Only eleven others of Filner's colleagues
saw fit to take a principled stand against the travesty
that was election 2000 in this country -- an "election"
about which we seem to learn more and more shocking
details, albeit usually from the BBC or other
non-corporate, non-US based media. I could not help but
be reminded of the bizarre Skull-n-Bones "rites of
passage" described in Ron Rosenbaum's recent piece on
New York Indymedia
a rite endured by every initiate, including George
Bush Jr and his father before him, upon induction into
this elite fraternity of America's Golden Boys so many
of whom rule the leading corporate and government
institutions of the country.
In any case, one doesn't have to subscribe to conspiracy
theories to get a feeling something is deeply amiss
in this country's alleged democracy. Here was a Congressman,
a member of the country's greatest lawmaking body, from a
safe district, expressing powerlessness and bewilderment.
Filner's anguished admission brings home the fact that, if
ordinary citizens want a different future than the
one being crafted for them now by others, they won't be
able to rely on anyone but themselves to lead the way.