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by Cheryl Seal
Saturday, Jul. 19, 2003 at 11:13 PM
Today, the Democrats, pushed over the limit by the GOP and led by the outrageously outspoken Pete Stark, finallyy found their voices! They stood up and called the Bush government what it is: A POLICE STATE...and they said it on record.
Anyone who has ever heard/seen Bill Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, on C-SPAN knows he's a pompous, self-rightous, obnoxious bully. Thomas, like sociopath Tom Delay tramples over rules and fairness as if they were dirt clods. Republicans are allowed to run over time in their statements without complaint, while Democrats are subjected to constant gavel pounding and shouts of "Time's up!" Republicans are allowed to be insulting, intimidating, patronizing, even threatening, without any censure, while Democrats, if they so much as sound impatient, are threatened or otherwise verbally abused. Republicans are allowed to dominate the floor for hours nitpicking over bills they don't like, while Democrats are routinely given the wrong times to show up for a vote so that they have no chance at all to voice dissent.
Now, today, during yet another frustrating committee meeting, Thomas abused the rights of the minority - and thus the Constitution- once more. The minority was closed out of debate (mark up) over a bill concerning pension plans for Americans - not exactly a SMALL ISSUE!! The Democrats were not given an opportunity to hear the bill fully read, nor allowed to object when Thomas declared that the Democrats had to "consider it read" even when it had not been. They were not given an opportunity to state their objections, nor for any sort of dissent. In short, the bill was shoved down their throats - and America's throats - without recourse. All but one of the Democrats withdrew to the nearby Ways and Means library to conference and decide what to do, thereby holding up the vote. Their RIGHT. The remaining Dem, Pete Stark lingered behind. The angry Stark got into an exchange of words with Republican, Scott McInniss, who provoked the fights, taunting Stark and shouting at him to "Shut Up!" Stark lost it and called McInnis a "fruitcake" and a "wimp" and said that if McInnis wanted to beat him up (paraphrase) then he could just come down and try it. Not exactly the sort of dialogue you want to hear on Capitol Hill, but hardly a violent confrontation. In fact, it is in the transcript of the incident that everyone was laughing. In any case, no one is responsible for Pete Stark's behavior but Pete Stark. Last time I looked, this was still, at least theoretically, a free country where people have autonomy.
This was all the excuse Bill Thomas needed to try to prevent the Democrats in the library from regrouping and challenging his attempt to shut down their dissent to the bill. Instead of demanding that Stark leave, or even just threatening to call security if he did not leave, Thomas called the Congressional Seargent of Arms, Dan Kelleher, who was told, falsely, that physical threats had been made, and that the the police should be called to "clear the room" - not the committee room, but THE LIBRARY. So, imagine the shock the Democrats had when policemen stomped into the library saying they had orders to remove them forcibly if necessary!! Stark, of course, was not in the room. When the Democrats refused to leave, Thomas immediately knew he had to back-pedal. He "rescinded" his order to the police, saying it was a "mistake."
The Democrats, I am highly proud and relieved to report, refused to be intimidated and confronted Thomas with a resolution, that wiill go on the record, even if blocked (of course it will be!) by the New Nazi party (better known as the GOP). The number of GOP reps willing to lie - and to lie for the cameras and audio stream of C-SPAN astounded me. Rep after Rep claimed that the police were called because of Stark. Yet not one addressed the issue of why the police were sent not once but THREE TIMES to the library, and not to the committee room where Stark was arguing. The Democrats pointed out that the GOP has now established a pattern of intimidation and abuse of power, citing the recent Texas incident in which Tom Delay tried to use HOMELAND SECURITY to track down absentee Democrats and force them to return to the state capitol.
I could tell by the tones of voice of many of the Democrats who spoke, that it had, at last, fully dawned on them what was happening: They were becoming the minority party in developing police state and THEY ARE IN DANGER, as is America and all it stands for. Nancy Pelosi said it was clear that the GOP no longer knew the difference between right and wrong and she vowed that the Democrats would no longer be putting up with this pattern.
You would not believe the outrageous, obviously desperate spin and fact-bending the Republicans engaged in in the final discussion of the resolution. They kept trying to make the issue all about Pete Stark's "fruitcake" comments. They didn't seem able to address the issue of why the police were sent three times to the LIBRARY when Stark was in the Committee chamber. They lamely tried to plead "confusion." Yeah, right. Thomas, who called the complaint was IN the committee room. If there was confusion as to where he was when he called the police, then maybe Thomas is not only arrogant and abusive but SENILE, as well!! In any case, the GOP counterarguments to the resolution, amounted to the biggest pile of horse poop I've seen since I worked at a morgan horse farm and cleaned the stables for 20 horses (Mark Foley was shoveling hardest and fastest!). They were even willing, to all intents and purposes, to call the sergeant at arms and capitol police liars.
The obvious fact was, that the GOP is in the wrong, knows it is, and is using the only tactic it knows how to use - stonewalling, blocking real debate, lying, spinning, and using the media to publish the "truth" according to the GOP.
The way the corporate media immediately began to report the incident serves as absolute proof that the media is now a seamless arm of the police state. Now, compare my account above, based on listening to an entire 45 minutes of statements by people involved in the incident to this report by mockingbird "writer" Mary Dalrymle at the Washington Post:
"A House committee on Friday approved a billion pension bill that would allow Americans to put more tax-deferred income into personal retirement accounts, but only after the Republican chairman summoned police in the midst of a Democratic boycott and protests over the way the measure was being handled.The legislation, which over the next 10 years would also allow retirees to wait longer to draw money from their retirement funds, was approved by Republicans while Ways and Means Committee Democrats were huddled in an adjacent room. It could be considered by the full House next week.Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., summoned police because he thought the lone Democrat to remain in the room, Rep. Pete Stark of California, was speaking out of line, other Republicans on the panel said. He asked police to remove Democrats from the adjacent room, but later rescinded that request, the Republicans said." Dalrymle did not include a single statement by Democrats on what really happened! It is quite a shock, no matter how much you accept the existence of ongoing spin and propaganda, to actually SEE lies being dumped into the paper in PRINT, even as you are actually HEARING the truth first hand.
I guess Dalrymle and the rest of America's journalistic Benedict Arnolds and Judases sure earn their weekly pieces of silver for services well rendered to the Reich.
UPDATE NOTE! The Washington Post must have seen this article (which is now linked to two other sites as well). Within ONE HOUR, they had pulled the Dalrymle piece and replaced it with a less blatantly spun version. So looks like the Indymedia is a mouse with a ROAR!!!
However, the "new and improved" article by Juliette Eilperin and Albert B. Crenshaw
is still a masterpiece of spin..all told from the GOP point of view and filled with inappropriate (inappropriate to real journalism, anyway) speculations, adjectives, and assumptions. Keep in mind what I do is COMMENTARY...what Eilperin and Crenshaw are supposed to do is reporting) Here are examples:
"By any standards, today represented a low point in the history of congressional comity."
Thankyou so much. Ms. Eilperin and Mr. Crenshaw for for deciding the meaning of the event for us all, and in one sweeping phrase, for assuming all of our standards.
"House Democrats have adopted combative tactics to draw attention to what they see as Republican heavy-handedness"
Sitting in a library is COMBATIVE? But calling this police is not?
"Rather than concluding the fracas, however, this simply emboldened House Democrats..."
As my old editor Kent Ward would have said, "Your business is to report the FACTS, not speculate on motivations." Since when do Crenshaw and Eilperin know what Pelosi felt? They certainly didn't ask her.
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