26 September 2005

On Capitol Hill

I put on my power pantsuit and made my first-ever trip to Capitol Hill for some lobbying. The following is my post to the Democracy Cell Project regarding my experience.

Just came back from the Lobby Day activities, where I met with my Senators' representatives.

Near Feinstein's Senate office, I spotted Cindy Sheehan making a drop-in visit at Richard Lugar (Indiana)'s office!

The California delegation made the following points to Boxer and Feinstein.

  • Support Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)'s HR 551, which amends No Child Left Behind to make students opt-in, instead of opt-out as is currently the case, into the military recruiters' databases.
  • A Latino man who lost his son in Iraq asked for benefits for veterans' parents.- No more budget appropriations for Iraq combat operations.
  • Support Senator Feingold (D-WI)'s resolution to set a timetable for withdrawal. In fact, Boxer turns out to be the co-sponsor.
  • Direct money toward re-building of Iraq, but not through the likes of Halliburton. Let international organizations (UN, etc) take charge.
  • Better healthcare for veterans. Support the troops, remember!
  • An Army commander was quoted as saying "Geneva convention doesn't matter in Iraq." Make sure that internal Army rules at least apply to our soldiers in Iraq.

Boxer's office was super-receptive. Feinstein had a canned position which basically deferred determination of Iraq's readiness for self-rule to the W regime.

At Boxer's office, I spoke with legislative assistant Ann Norris, regarding how South Korea is being used by the neocons as a case where US military intervention worked out well. My point was that (1) South Korea was attacked by North Korea, whereas Iraq did not attack the US or any ally; (2) The US forces went to Korea with full support of the international community; (3) The US forces stayed in Korea not to further democracy, but to hamper it by supporting right-wing military dictatorships. Ms. Norris was very receptive, saying that she knew where I was coming from; she had visited Seoul and DMZ last year on the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs-sponsored trip.

All in all, a very productive day. Now I need to take a break.

It was an amazing day, to be able to spot Cindy Sheehan through pure luck. It was a wonderful experience meeting with legislative assistants for both Senators, and to share my views with them. I was shaking like crazy when speaking with Ann Norris at Boxer's office, because of all this first-time rush!

I hope to be able to do this again in the future. There is nothing like participating when it comes to democracy.

Word is coming that Cindy Sheehan has participated in the White House civil disobedience, and has just been arrested. I'm keeping myself informed. But for now, I need a break, maybe a sightseeing trip back into town...