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More on Joan-of-Boulder Fitz-Gerald

September 23, 2007

Two days of not-so-serious investigations – including many interesting responses to my `Wanted Dead or Alive’ (but mostly alive) poster – suggest the following to me:

Most likely Joan Fitz-Gerald has the Democratic Party nomination for Congress in Colorado’s 2nd District sewn up. Jared Polis has some interesting ideas and is better on the Iraq war but he is a big supporter of charter schools which pretty well knocks out his support from teachers – an important voting constituency among Dems.

It’s possible that there could be a revolt from below, but unlikely. Something of a political `hard-nose’, she’s done her homework well for this campaign. That counts for alot. She has the support of the labor movement (again, no small thing – although the labor movement might reflect upon how Bill Ritter didn’t hesitate to betray them as soon as he became governor), key figures like Gail Schoettler, who has her own following among liberal Democratic women. Fitz-Gerald has also genuflected before the altar of Brownstein-Farber-Hyatt (again) by signing an op ed last week (with Ken Gordon and two Republicans) calling for Colorado companies and foundations (particularly PERA) to divest from Iran – (the Netanyahu line) and, as a cynical bone thrown to the peace movement, chose Dorothy Rupert, symbol of the Boulder-Dems for peace, as her chair, (although I doubt Dorothy has much actual say in the campaign) hoping to siphon off some peace votes that way. Might work too.

On this subject, the title of my recent blog `Gordon and Fitz-Gerald: Once Again Doing AIPAC’s bidding on Iran’ – produced some concern from friends who felt the title slandered Fitz-Gerald unfairly. I would argue to the contrary, that I am criticizing her fairly, almost too politely. She’s been pretty well entrenched in one-sided, pro-Israeli activities here in Colorado these last years so much so that she’s something of a fixture.

So…a few more details….

+ in 2005 Colorado lobbyists for Israel – doing what they do so well – paid the $2618 in expenses for Fitz-Gerald – and a number of other prominent Coloradoans – to participate in `Mission To Israel’ to attend an intensive course on pro-Israeli p.r. Hard to tell if this comes from the heart, or simply what Fitz-Gerald felt she had to do to continue her political career. After all she’s not a multi-millionaire like her main opponent Jared Polis.

+ That investment paid off last summer when Fitz-Gerald along with Ken Gordon and two Republicans pushed a resolution through the Colorado legislature (interestingly enough when it was not in session) supporting Israel’s unconscionable war against Lebanon (under the pretext of freeing 2 Israeli soldiers captures by Hezbollah).

+ Just before Shaul Amir in June 2007, former director of Allied Jewish Federation of Denver, left Colorado for Israel, Fitz Gerald presented him an outstanding citizenship award. She commented on that time how `her trip to Israel had impacted her life’. Of course there is nothing `illicit’ about this, it simply shows a consistent, long-term pattern of support.

At the press conference announcing the July, 2006 pro-Israeli legislative `sneak attack’, some peace activists did a little guerilla action of their own. About a dozen of them showed up at the capital to have a `counter press conference’. It was perhaps the most creative thing done by peace activists during the Lebanon War. Peter Blake of The Rocky somehow got wind of the story and did a rather interesting investigative background story on how a resolution could be passed when the legislature was not in session. Peace activists in attendance that day related to me that while Ken Gordon was mostly embarrassed and saddened to be so caught in the act, that Fitz-Gerald went `ballistic’ (I believe the term that one of them used).

Perhaps that little encounter – so fleeting but suggestive – had something to do with Fitz-Gerald’s recent turn to peace on Iraq. Of course it would be completely cynical and unfair to suggest that Fitz-Gerald came to the conclusion that if she didn’t come out for peace in some way, she might not win the Democratic slot for Congress. But since I am fundamentally a cynical and unfair guy (and `unspiritual’, with no sense of humor I have been told), I’ll suggest it anyway.

True that 20 years ago, Fitz-Gerald, who lives in the hills above Rocky Flats, was involved in that great peace campaign (as was Gordon, Bruce Deboskey of the ADL and a number of others) and since has kept personal contacts with some Boulder peace activists. But it’s hard to tell what it is she has done peace-wise since.

Actually, since last summer there a number of liberal Colorado Dems have tried to re-fashion their positions on the Iraq war, So Fitz-Gerald, whose friends call her `Fitz’ is not alone. They almost had to do so because of the swing in public opinion against the war, but have chosen to take minimal steps – calling for troop redeployment to US bases. No calls for ending the occupation nor dismantling the bases though. It becames not much different, in essence, to what President Bush is proposing.

Here is how Fitz-Gerald seems to have proceeded.

1. She has let it be known that the she had wanted `different language’ in the last summer’s pro-Israeli legislative resolution, but blames Gordon for not making the changes. (I have several emails to prove it). Gordon is decent enough not to blame her for the language but has said semi publicly that he regretted signing the document. So much for Fitz-Gerald’s contrition on the issue.

2. Secondly there was a need to take a public stand against the war in Iraq. Again, she and other Dems including all the presidential hopefuls minus Kucinich, were responding to the fact that public opinion polls against the war in Iraq began to zoom to 70% levels (including in Denver’s Jewish Community where the opposition to the war reflects national trends). I wouldn’t call waiting to come out against the war in Iraq until the polls reach 70% particularly an act of political courage (although I do welcome her position) on any of their parts.

Perhaps Fitz-Gerald is learning from Tom Strickland, former Democratic candidate for the US Senate (he lost to Allard) who was pro-war until the last weeks at which time he gingerly approached a number of Colorado peace activists asking for an endorsement. They might have given him something but Strickland refused to come out publicly against the war. And they refused to endorse. He lost. Perhaps his failure to win the support of Colorado peace activists had something to do with his defeat. Actually I suspect it did (although there were other issues too).

Still, Fitz-Gerald’s epithany – that the war in Iraq is immoral and must end – is modest, minimal at best. She stays away from any calls for complete withdrawal or the dismantling of the base network the US has built as fire bases to dominate the region. There are fair number of Republicans whose position on the war is better than hers. It is a weak anti-war position at best, cynical and self-serving at worst and is no different from what Ken Salazar is trying to do: straddle the fence – appear anti-war – because popular opinion demands so – while doing the minimum possible to end the war and then calling those who call for an immediate withdrawal `impractical’…or worse. It might work for a while to boot.

3. Shift the focus of her energies on the Middle East to supporting those (I wonder who they could be?) who pushing for the US to attack Iran. Of course some of them (AIPAC/ADL et. al) are clever. For example, AIPAC’s meetings – both nationally and in Colorado – have been nothing short of anti-Iranian orgies featuring Vice President Cheney. You know – the Ahmadinejad = Hitler stuff. Several of the people who attended the last AIPAC meeting in Colorado (in February I believe) were so offended by the anti-Iran rhetoric that – to give an idea of how bad things got for them – they actually contacted me! But the approach is clever. They don’t call for military action against Iran – simply choking the Iranian regime to death by any other means (boycotts, divestments of companied doing business with Iran etc) as if this position is somehow better.

Let’s not be coy.

People in the peace movement might not have political power – and although it might on occasion seem otherwise – we (in the main) are not idiots.The anti-Iranian campaign which Fitz-Gerald unhesitatingly is a part of – is basically about drumming up popular support for an attack. Bush knows that he probably won’t get 50% of the American people behind it, but if he get’s 30%, that’s enough. And it appears – if the p.r. campaign to attack Iran does not have the momentum of the war drums before the 2003 attack on Iraq, still, Bush, Cheney and friends are making headway.

And Joan Fitz-Gerald has lent her name to this effort.

As to who actually wrote that op ed, I can only speculate (although the speculation has rather narrowed to a few sources, the likely suspects).

As Dave Chandler of Colorado’s Green Party wrote in his blog (worth reading) on Fitz Gerald’s op ed on Iran:

“Nevertheless, Fitzgerald and Gordon may think that they can buff-up
their foreign policy and ‘macho’ credentials by agitating for a course
of action that promotes a ‘tough’ line towards Iran … they might want
it to sound as if divestment of any PERA funds in “foreign companies
investing more than $20 million in Iran’s energy sector” is a ‘tough’
sanction. But the real effect of their language is to diminish diplomacy
and raise fear through unfounded allegation.”

4. Finally, the last point of the approach seems to be…if at all possible,

– keep the subject on Iraq within strick limits but away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – away from the Occupation, Israel’s unjust, inhumane war against Gaza – because focusing on that does not play so well in the public eye as it used to.

– and of course, don’t be inviting Jimmmy Carter to address the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners this year.

Despite the strength of her position in the Congressional race, Fitz-Gerald appears to be moderately nervous about her support in the peace camp and not sure what to do. She can’t seem to gauge what is worse: talking to peace movement people in Boulder (whom she knows well and for many years) or not talking to them. At this point, I’m not sure how to advise her to address this nagging dilemma. Maybe, for starters she should give Dorothy Rupert a call.

As for myself, I’m looking at the ideas of one of her opponents , Jared Polis (I’m far from supporting him as of yet) who opened a campaign office today in Boulder…and waiting to see if the Green Party or some other independent left candidate might through their name into the hat.

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