Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Open Forum?" -- What is Waxman Worried About?

"I ask the questions!"
To the voters in the 33rd Congressional District:

It would appear that free speech is under attack in the South Bay, and unfortunately so. I will allow you to decide your response.

As a voter and a constituent in this district, I attended  an advertised "Open Forum", scheduled for October 27, at the Jewish Community Center of the Beach Cities. This forum was advertised in the Beach Reporter. I was really surprised and enthusiastic, as I would have a chance to ask Mr. Waxman  some questions about his record, so that the voters in this region will have a full appraisal of this incumbent.

Two days before the event, I  called ahead asking if I had to reserve a space. The secretary who answered my call informed me that there was no need to reserve a space or pay a fee. I was impressed and appreciative. Every Congressman is expected to receive questions and feedback from prospective voters, and now was my chance.

When I arrived that morning, I was fortunate enough to run into Independent Candidate Bill Bloomfield. He is running a spirited campaign throughout the district. Very soon, a number of other  voters congregated with him to share their support.
"Let Me Do the Talking!"

As we had arrived just before the Shabbat service was about to end, a number of the congregants were coming out of the main synagogue. I met with many of them, who turned out to be very kind and welcoming. Visitors from throughout the region also came to visit and hear the two candidates discuss their views on Israel, Iran, and the future of America. These constituents did not tell me if they were members of the congregation or not.

Sitting near the front of the synagogue, I also had the opportunity to share what I had learned about the Congressman with a prospective voter who had not yet cast her vote. When I mentioned that Bloomfield has a plan as well as a record for balancing budgets, the voter seemed more interested in supporting the Independent.

At the outset of the open question and answer forum, Head Rabbi Yossi Mintz announced a few terms for the debate. He requested that the audience refrain from applause during the debate. He also requested no photos in the Synagogue. He further asked that there be no personal attacks against either candidate.

All well and good. Decorum and respect are the order of the day. Free speech is not license to attack or demean.

The two candidates then outlined their platforms and proposals in two ten-minute speeches, just like at the Venice Neighborhood Council this past Tuesday. Mr. Bloomfield touched on his humanitarian efforts in the Middle East, I record which I am now learning about more fully. Mr. Waxman talked about his efforts in supporting Jewish families to make"Aliyah" or to immigrate to the Jewish homeland, Israel. After their ten minute presentations, the audience clapped, and the moderator began taking questions.

The first questioned offered by a member of the Congregation touched on the growing tensions between the United States and Israel, with growing concerns about US Government resistance to Israeli housing in the West Bank. The two candidates offered their views on this matter. Mr. Bloomfield's simple message needs to be heard around the country, a message which properly criticized President Obama's poor treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Praise your friends in public; criticize your friends in private." Good advice which our President needs to heed in regards to Israel.

The moderator then called on me, and I was about to ask my question, when Mr. Waxman interrupted me.

"This is a Republican blogger who has been writing nasty attacks about me."

With that, Rabbi Yossi in charge of the synagogue told me to sit down, since I was not a member of the community.

I protested that as a voter and a constituent in the district, I had every right and interest to participate and ask questions. The advertisement informed all readers that it was an "open forum". The Rabbi then interrupted me again, saying that he wanted the questions to come from those who were in the community who attended the Synagogue.

I could not believe what was happening. I intended to ask a simply question relating to Mr. Waxman's record of 'I don't know!" "I'm sorry!" and "We're not broke!" I was told to sit.

"What? I actually
have to answer
Your questions?
Bloomfield pointed out that the "Open Forum" was advertised for everyone to attend.

I approach the Rabbi at the back of the synagogue. I was upset and confused to say the least. I told him that the meeting was for members of the community. He then said we would talk about it later.

I sat down and raised me hand again -- twice more I was passed over. One of the constituents tapped me on the shoulder: "So they're not going to let you speak?"

That was the impression that I received. I then spoke to Mr. Waxman:

"I thought this was an open forum? What are you afraid of Mr. Waxman? That your record will come out. This is disgraceful."

Mr. Waxman labeled me the same in turn, then I left the proceedings.

As I was about to leave, the Rabbi approached me. He informed me that he had seen my blog. He was worried about  personal attacks. He did not want personal attacks. I responded that everything in my blog is based on public records and research. I would have added that I do not need to engage in personal attacks, for Waxman's record indicts him without any assistance from me or others.

The Rabbi kept telling me to "calm down" and then he charged me with "you're being hostile." I did not raise my voice or impugn anyone, but understandably I was offended  by their scandalous refusal  not to permit someone to ask questions at an open forum.

He then told me to leave, that I had lost my chance to share, claiming that he was going to let me share, but that I had "jumped up" and left. Outrageous.

I have never felt so at peace in my life. No matter what may happen, I know that voters are learning about the Congressman's record, and they see Bloomfield as a welcome and worthy alternative. Thank you to everyone who has visited and has spread the word about Congressman Henry Waxman. After thirty-eight  years in office, his record of raising taxes, spending time on issues either not paramount to the needs, and his unacceptable conduct with colleagues and inattention to detail  have gotten much needed attention.

Please defend free speech. Spread the Word. Send the message to your country that we elect the legislators, not the other way around. Vote for Bill Bloomfield for the 33rd!

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