On February 21, 2011 I traveled from Seattle with three progressive friends to hear Dennis Kucinich speak on “The True Cost of War” at the Capitol Theatre in Olympia, Washington. As we drove in the fuel-efficient Prius, we left a trail of sticky smugness behind us in the aether.

Kucinich was preceded by a peace choir, with an interpretive dancer/gesturer;  at first I thought she was signing for hearing-impaired audience members.

A web search turned up these videos of the talk.

Dennis Kucinich’s Presentation Available on TCTV and Internet

If you know of more, please add them as comments or let me know and I’ll add them to this article.

Here are my

Notes and impressions

The greatest cheers from the audience came when Kucinich called for prosecution of Bush Administration officials. “If there’s any justice in the world, every high ranking official in the Bush Administration must be brought to justice.” The lies were deliberate. There must be accountablity.

The current administration has failed to hold them responsible.

Why do we have to ask Spain to prosecute?

Forgiveness has transformative potential.

UK had a commission, as did South Africa.

After 9/11 the world was pouring out their hearts to us. The event was appropriated for nefarious ends.

[I think accountability is really a core issue for so many progressives. President Obama’s choice to look forwards allowed the Republican criminals off the hook and empowered the GOP’s resurgence. It allowed them to hide the truth from the American people.]

We now have National Security State. Patriot Act.

Stiglitz’ $3 trillion war. Borrowed 2 trillion. $1.6 trillion macroeconomic increased cost of oil due to war. (War is profitable!) Overall, $5 trillion macroeconomic estimate plus $3 trillion for war.

Kucinich told of a congressional hearing at which the military officer admitted that the missile tests for a new weapon system were rigged.

“What a war does to the soul of a nation.. What a war does to disconnect us from our deepr humanity.”

“The Pentagon is over 50% of discretionary spending.”

War mentality has infected the country so that even good, smart people can’t escape it.

Most of his colleagues in Congress are basically good people, even the Republicans. But the system is broken.

Kucinich worked the crowd with calls for:

Jobs for all!
Education for all!
Health care for all!
Peace for all!

We need a Department of Peace, funded to the amount of just 1% of defense spending.

Though I like Kucinich, it’s sad that he lacks the charisma (and height) of great leaders. He spoke of his debilitating intestinal disorders when he was younger. Becoming a vegan greatly improved his condition.

Questions from the audience

Afterwards there were many good questions from the audience.

“What’s your exit strategy from the war in Afghanistan?” After a pause, Kucinich responded, “Just go. Quickly.” That brought cheers from the audience.  This video shows the interaction.

“How do we get Bush and Cheney to the gallows?” Kucinich cleverly responded with, “I think it’s KLM out of New York.” He then said, “There isn’t any bigger High Crime than misleading our country to war.” Amen.

Someone asked about what we should do about Wikileaks. Kucinich recommended three things: (1) Get Bradley Manning out of solitiary confinement. (2) Government has too many secrets, but they know too much about us. (3) How on earth does a mere private in the Army get such delicate information?

What to do about the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens’ Unitied? We need a constitutional amendment requiring only public financing of elections.

How can we save the women of Afghanistan from the Taliban? “1. By not bombing them. 2. It’s the responsibility of the international community.”

Someone said to Kucinich, “I disagree with your backing down on the single-payer issue;” — voting for Obama’s health care bill, despite it’s lack of even a public option) — “I think for-profit health care is a disgrace.” Kucinich explained that it was a very difficult decision. He spent an hour on Air Force One with the President. Kucinich thought of the children who would benefit from some of the regulations in the new health care law.

Kucinich ended with some touch-feely talk about our need to realize human potential. That we’re all interconnected and All One. Comprehension of human unity.

Note on my companions

My companions — two women and a man, all middle aged like me — are a bit to the left of me politically. Unlike me, they are 9/11 truthers. Oddly, the guy is a supporter of President Obama, saying that we ought give him a chance. It’s sad, he said, that Wisconsin went Republican, but Democrats didn’t turn out to vote. (Golly, I wonder why.)

Our political differences led to some lively discussions, including raised voices, though no angry outbursts. We continued debate about 9/11 via emails.