Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Its the corruption, stupid (and the war!)

The bell tolls for the GOP

Hey you - yes you, sulking in the corner there...all wrapped up in your American flag and clutching your bible. You still don't get it, do you?

Oh you 'get' that Americans are leaping off the sinking GOP ship at an alarming rate (a realistic rate, when you consider how angry we are out here.) The number is now especially high in the military, where polls show that 46% now lean Republican (down from 60%,) and the number is in a 'free fall. Returning troops are spreading the word that the Iraq war cannot be won, and more and more are openly outraged with Bush and his surge.

But as long as you allow Bush to remain in power - and his corruption continues unchecked by you Republicans yourselves (the Democrats are all over this now;) the GOP will slide right off the approval cliff.

Fix it yourselves

I believe the only hope you have of surviving as a viable party, is to remove Bush and Cheney from the White House yourselves; via Impeachment (or the threat of it.)

If you wholeheartedly embrace reality -- the Constitution, the rule of law, the will of the American people, and bipartisan cooperation -- you can save your party. If you continue to stand by Bush and support this war, and condone the many illegal deeds that are finally surfacing under unflinching Democratic probing, you will lose. And lose big. Perhaps even permanently (or until the Democrats become the next tyrannical power-brokers.)

The country would be better served if it had two reasonable parties, accountable to the people. These parties should act as oversight over one another, so as to maintain some equilibrium in politics. Any party that becomes too powerful will become a pawn for special interests - our government is now completely infested with corporate lobbyists, and they are equal opportunity employers.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely - and absolute power has eaten the GOP alive.

Getting a new 'brand'

Sadly - but of course, predictably - the GOP pundits are still asking the wrong questions.

How to restore the GOP brand? "That's what we're struggling with, honestly," said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). "Do you positively brand yourself, or do you negatively brand the other side?"

I hate to break it to you Shelley, but its a little late to 'negatively brand the other side'... not while Bush is in the White House. And we are sick to death of your smear campaigns, your 'swift-boating,' and your hate-spewing Coulter-geists.

Americans are turning against smear campaigns, especially in light of the background information we all have on how the GOP plans their attacks. We know what you're up to Rove... hell, everyone now knows: now that your papers are leaking out, we even know the order in which you plan to wage your attacks.

Its not working anymore. It's disgusting. We aren't hate-filled partisans like you, and we're sick of receiving hate mail directed at the representative we just elected -- that guy who's finally listening to us.

Just ask the residents of Jerry McNerney's district (California's 11th: formerly Oilslick-Pombo's neck of the woods.) These poor people are now subject to an endless stream of McNerney-bashing leaflets - stuffed right into their mailboxes - and in spite of the fact that McNerney (#3 on Rove's attack list,) only took office in January.

I received this email from the McNerney campaign yesterday:

"It’s only March, 2007. But it might as well be November, 2008.

Yesterday, our campaign got hit with a one-two punch. First, a scandalous House hearing unearthed a secret document from a deputy of Karl Rove revealing that the GOP “architect” is targeting me as #3 on his political hit list.

Then, the National Republican Congressional Committee carried out Rove’s hit yesterday with “The Real Jerry McNerney” -– launching a slick Swift Boat-style web site that smears my record of service to you in Congress. The NRCC plans to promote this deception site by spamming voters in our district with over 100,000 e-mails."
This is exactly this sort of behavior that will sink the GOP like a rock.
Slander doesn't work anymore Karl; it just pisses people off, and they will turn on you. Harassing us - and the candidate we elected to office - makes us angry. Seriously -- it does. Stop doing it. Just stop.

Getting that minority vote

"We have to win back the confidence we lost in '06 from swing voters and ticket splitters," said Mehlman. "The way you do that, in part, is by being a party that is less reliant on white guys and expands its support among Hispanics, among African-Americans."

Once again, this racist thing. As though simply buying the votes of Hispanics and African-Americans will do the trick - its not like you have to actually represent them.

So many of you GOP truly do not get it yet. Perhaps you cannot get it. You are so conditioned to the 'show' that you forgotten what real integrity even looks like: or why you'd even want integrity if it doesn't serve partisan positioning or help the 'bottom line.'

Hispanics and African Americans are never going to vote GOP - who do you think has been hit the hardest by Katrina and those GOP budget cuts? Guys -- you blew that one last year, and blew it on a massive scale. Right now, the only voters you can really count on are those 5% of the rich, White guys to whom you gave the tax cuts.

Until you consider - really consider - becoming a party with ethics, we want no part of you. Until you stop defending and enriching only the already wealthy and fat corporations at our expense, we want no part of you. Until you stop covering up for this maniacal and renegade president and his rampant corruption, not to mention his illegal occupation of Iraq, torture and those secret camps - we want no part of you. Until you choose to tell the truth, on the first try, without subpoenas to drag it out of you - we want no part of you. Until you start to at least see the Middle Class, and admit that our nation needs both Middle Class and working class to remain strong, healthy and able to dream some sort of American dream (or at least survive here;) we want no part of you. Until you stop creating wars for profit, and condoning partisan corruption in your ranks, we want no part of you.

We liked Ike

I suggest you take a look at Eisenhower. I suggest you look back through your party's history to another time; a time before you were completely compromised by greed and corporate interests. I suggest you remake yourself in earnest... not just in appearance. Appearance isn't going to fly this time. Too many skeletons clacking around in White House closets and GOP legislative offices, with more emerging every day.

Oh, and if you really want to win friends and influence people before 2008... remove Bush and Cheney from office.

That's right, you heard me: remove them. Impeach them. Toss them out. Don't leave this for the Democrats, because they will gain support each day those men remain in the White House. They aren't going to Impeach - not if they can grow in strength and contributions by showing Bush and Cheney for what they are, and still leave them there to draw our ire.

You know this, you just lack the will to 'eat your own.'

But think about it... haven't they been eating you this entire time? Do they care about your re-election hopes? Do they really care about your party, any more than they care about the will and welfare of the American people? Have they ever consulted with you before starting wars or making sweeping policy changes? Do they share intelligence with you, converse honestly with you (or anybody else?)

Of course not. You are partisan pawns - nothing more.

Cut them loose, and you may... may yet float back up to the top.

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Requiem for baby harp seals

It appears we won't have to boycott Canadian seafood again this year to 'encourage' Canada to halt their brutal, annual seal hunt. Most of the baby seals have drowned.

"The conditions this year are disastrous. I've surveyed this region for six years and I haven't seen anything like this." said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. "There is wide open water and almost no seals. I only saw a handful of adult harp seals and even fewer pups, where normally we should be seeing thousands and thousands of seals."

You see, there is no ice. A mother seals give birth on ice, and apparently it is on that ice that the off-season fisherman come to club these newborn, baby seals to death. No ice... no mothers giving birth, no babies being nursed, no seal hunt.

This is a terribly sad, depressing story. I wish it were the only one. Depressing, horrific stories are popping up all over. Better get used to it.

And mail them all to Senator Inhofe.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Oil Scam

Oil Scam

I am Oil
I am Oil
Oil I am

That Oil-I-am!
That Oil-I-am!
I do not like
that Oil-I-am!

Do you like
our oil scam?

I do not like it,
I do not like
your oil scam.

Would you like it
here or there?

I would not like it
here or there.
I would not like it
I do not like
your oil scam.
I do not like it,

Would you like to
have no choice?
Would you like to
have no voice?

I would not like to
have no choice.
I would not like to
have no voice.
I do not want it
here or there.
I do not like it
I do not like your oil scam.
I do not like it, Oil-I-am.

Can we drill on
public land?
Can we drill in
stream and sand?

Not on our land.
Not in our sand.
Not without voice.
Not without choice.
I would not like it here or there.
I would not like it anywhere.
I would not like your oil scam.
I do not like it, Oil-I-am.

Don't you want that
guzzling car?
Buy it! Drive it!
Here we are.

I would not,
could not,
drive that car.

You may like it.
You will see.
When we're drilling
in the sea!

I do not want you in our sea.
Don't want your car! You let me be!

I do not want you on our land.
I do not want you in our sand.
I will not let you take my voice.
I will not let you take my choice.
I do not like you here or there.
I do not like you anywhere.
I do not like your oil scam.
I do not like it, Oil-I-am.

The ice! The ice!
The ice! The ice!
Will you let
us drill the ice?

Not in the ice! Not in the sea!
Don't want that car! Oil! Let me be!

I would not, could not, on our land.
I could not, would not, in our sand.
I will not let you take my voice.
I will not let you take my choice.
I will not like it here or there.
I will not like it anywhere.
I do not need your oil scam.
I do not like it, Oil-I-am.

In the park?
This national park!
Would you let us drill this park?

I would not, could not,
in the park.

Would you sell at any price?

I would not sell
at any price.
Don't drill the parks. Not in the ice.
Don't want that car. Out of our sea.
I do not like it, Oil, you see.
Not without choice. Not on our land.
Not without voice. Not in our sand.
You cannot drill it here or there.
You cannot drill it anywhere!

You do not like
our oil scam?

I do not
like it,

Can we drill Alaska still?

When last you drilled -
you left a spill!

Would you let us drill the slope?

I could not, would not, let you drill
Alaska till you splash or spill.
I will not let you drill in ice.
I won't give in - at any price.
Not in the park! Out of our sea!
Don't want your car! You let me be!
I will not let you drill our land.
I will not let you drill our sand.
I will not let you take my voice.
I will not let you take my choice.
I do not want it here or there.
I do not want it ANYWHERE.

I do not need your oil scam.
I do not like it, Oil-I-am.

You do not like it -
So you say.
And yet we will not go away.
Because you have no other way.

We do not need,
your crude today.
There is another,
cleaner way.

We plan to use the wind and sun
And geothermal, Oil-I-am!
We do not need you in our sea.
We want our parks and lakes oil-free!

So leave our streams and ice alone
Stay out of parks. Don't drill our stone.
Only electric cars for me!
They are so clean, and cheap, you see!

So take your drills out of our sand.
For here and now we make our stand.
We will not let you take our voice.
We've got another, better choice.
We will not use it here or there.
Say! We don't need it ANYWHERE!

We're tired of
your oil scam...
Your time is up now,

- Maire (with Dr. Seuss looking over my shoulder)

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Sir, you cannot stop us

Step It Up for Climate ChangeSenator Inhofe, you are a joke. Your small-minded petulance is sad at best, and useless now against this tide. Its far too late to stop the momentum, turn back the clock, or put back the genie.

The truth is out: you cannot make this truth into another lie.

Thousands of multi-national scientists attest to the warming of our planet, and the role we humans have played in this damage to our climate. Record breaking temperatures for the past 10 years have underlined this crisis - and this 'winter' was ridiculous.

A wave of anti-warming activity is sweeping across this nation - and you dare to call our Live Earth concert at the Capitol, a 'partisan event?' And you - of all people - a republican talking to us about partisan!

Entire communities across the length and breadth of this nation are planning Step It Up rallies for April 14th... I suppose every one of these communities is 'partisan' as well. If so, then we are partisan to life, sir. Not oil... life. Not greed and politics. We'd simply like to live. If you don't care - that is your choice. But you will never make that choice for us.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And of course, the first word is LIFE. It is pretty hard to have the rest, if you don't have the first.

Get over the Al Gore thing already - its pathetic. Why so threatened by Al? Is it that you just can't stand it... that he gracefully exited the political stage and did something meaningful with his life, rather than take a high-paying lobbyist job (as you no doubt mean to do when you retire, or finally get tossed out of office.) Al is that goody-two-shoes who makes the rest of you rats look bad... is that it? Or are you... pardon me for using your words... simply unable to let go of your 'partisan' antipathy towards him because he is a Democrat?

Sir - I hate to break this to you, but we do not care what you think. You may block the concert at our Capitol with your connections and your pull. But you cannot stop us.

Your oil lobbyists cannot stop us. Exxon cannot stop us. Shell cannot stop us. The coal companies cannot stop us. The White House cannot stop us.

We will rally in the streets, we will rally in town squares, we will replace light bulbs, we will hold concerts, we will plant trees, we will sing, we will write letters, we will cut emissions and our carbon footprints, we will make our cities Kyoto cities, we will eat locally grown food, we will install solar panels, we will carpool, bicycle, and walk -- we will do whatever it takes to save our planet and ourselves... and you sir, and your army of oil men... you cannot stop us anymore.

You are irrelevant. Your damage here is done.

Mr Gore, please move the concert to the Lincoln Memorial. I think Mr. Lincoln would enjoy the show. That Capitol no longer belongs to the people of this nation; men like Mr Inhofe have locked the doors against us. But Mr. Lincoln's temple stands open to the air, the wind and to all citizens. Mr Lincoln will always be ours... and 'We the People' will always be his.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Daily GOP Follies

I read the news today - good grief

Today is a milestone day, in our democracy's headlong plunge from grace. It appears there are now only 666 days until our national nightmare is over. Make of that what you will.

Bill Maher (see video I posted yesterday) was right in his assessment of our struggle - our confusion as we even attempt to keep track of the rash of scandals coming out of the White House. If you expand to include the entire GOP, its unbelievable. Well almost unbelievable... although this time, they've really gone over the edge.

Remember not so long ago... Newt Gingrich (the same guy who was having an affair while pointing an accusing finger at Bill Clinton - that Newt Gingrich;) was riding high, on a white horse, talking about how he and his 'family values' were going to save America? I believe he called it the 'Contract with America.' More like a contract on America.

Truly... these are your family values in action, Newt? Really? If these are family values, we'd like a few less helpings, thank you. In fact, we'd like to leave the table now. And if you have the audacity to even consider running for president, we will happily ignore you when we aren't too busy laughing.

What are these crooks doing when they aren't lying under oath, cheating somebody, hiring unqualified cronies, robbing the treasury - or robbing little old ladies as they cross the street? I don't mean to indict all of Republicans of course - Senator Lugar, Senator Specter and Senator Hagel, you are excluded; but damn few others.

While conservatives are crying - and obsessing - over what they perceive to be that lost, 'Reagan greatness,' it is really a shame that they won't or cannot realize that this is exactly when their fall from decency (and fiscal reality) began in earnest.

Their 'face of Reaganomics,' John Stockton was just indicted for defrauding investors. Like Newt, it turns out he was just another political shyster picking our pockets, finding ever better ways to steal from the people - and our treasury - in the interest of his powerful, wealthy friends.

Same ol stuff, different year.

By the way, two quotes (about Stockton) that ran side by side in the Washington Post, when put together, say everything we need to know about Reaganomics:

"It's a shame that a guy who made such a great contribution as a member of Congress and the Reagan administration has this happening to him," said M.B. Oglesby, a former deputy chief of staff to Reagan. "He was the driver in the whole budget process in the beginning of the administration that set the tone for the tax cuts and the budget cuts."

"I have vivid memories of his misusing and misstating data and using obviously phony economic forecasts," said veteran budget analyst Stanley E. Collender. "You wonder if those were habits that stuck with him when he became a Wall Street dealmaker."

Yes, it was those pesky 'bad habits' again. Those bad habits that set the tone for years of GOP rule in America.

By the way - remember the Iran Contra scandal? Seriously - does anyone still remember Iran/Contra? It apparently doesn't exist; it seems to have fallen right out of history, because no one ever paid a price. No one linked it to the top, to the beloved 'Gipper' himself.

It is up to us - the people - to make sure that no more presidential scandals fall through the cracks, or we'll be doomed to an endless stream of this 'garbage rule' we see today.

Face it neocons - the looting party is over. If you really want to rejoin the American populace (and be allowed to continue in American politics,) your party must look back even further, to a clean and decent time... say Eisenhower.

Ike was a great American and a great president. You could do a lot worse. In fact... you have done so very much worse, during your plunge into the depths of depravity and corruption. We tried to believe that Nixon was an aberration, but now you give us Bush and Cheney. Always trying to up the ante! I ask you in all honesty, why would we trust you again, EVER, with our highest office?

Maybe it would be a nice chance of pace for you, if you took a new tack... consider it, give it some thought.

I know the American Enterprise Institute will be up in arms at the very idea of a 'reasonable' and 'non partisan cooperation' between parties, not to mention giving up their imperial and dictatorial ambitions. Heaven forbid that any of us should ever get along, when they are so right and everyone else is so wrong. *Cough.* But really at this point - what have you got to lose that you haven't already lost?

If I were you, I'd tell AEI to take a hike, and toss the religious right wingnuts, Ann Coulter and Karl Rove from a fast moving train. Dig yourselves out this morass, and look inside for some vestige of that long buried sense of patriotism and decency.

Ike is your ticket. Ike is a fabulous place to start. The man was an honest statesman and a national hero. He was honorable. He was honest. He even warned the nation about the rise of the military industrial complex. So, have you got one of those - anywhere - within your ranks?

How about Chuck Hagel? I hear Ike was one of his political heroes. That seems like a hopeful sign, don't you think?

Again... what have you got to lose?
Because really, can it get much worse... and when it does (with a few more news days like today) will there be anything left to salvage?

I read the news today, oh wow:

  1. The White House was using outside email accounts to correspond about White House business, which violates the Presidential Records Act. Of course, they were using Republican National Committee email accounts... of course...

  2. A Gonzales aide is already invoking the 5th amendment (amazing how quickly they have come back to the Constitution, like hapless prodigal children. Damn handy slip of paper, isn't it?) It appears she can't answer any questions at an upcoming Senate hearings concerning the fired prosecutors, because literally anything she says will incriminate her. Hmmm.

  3. Although we're probably not terribly shocked to hear this, it now appears Alberto Gonzales lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he said he wasn't involved in the firing of the procescutors. Emails say otherwise.

    Stopping short of demanding Gonzales' resignation, Sen. Arlen Specter cited a Nov. 27 calendar entry placing the attorney general at a Justice Department meeting to discuss the dismissals. Those documents "appear to contradict" Gonzales' earlier statements that he never participated in such conversations, said Specter, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees the Justice Department.

    "We have to have an attorney general who is candid, truthful. And if we find out he has not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reason for him not to stay on," said Specter, R-Pa.

  4. This one came from right field... but it appears federal prosecutors announced conspiracy and securities and bank fraud charges against Reagan-era budget director David A. Stockman. They are accusing him of misleading investors about the finances of a troubled Michigan auto parts company.

  5. One of the eight former U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration stated yesterday that White House officials questioned his performance in 'highly partisan political terms' only three months before he was dismissed from his job.

    John McKay of Washington state, who had decided two years earlier not to bring voter fraud charges that could have undermined a Democratic victory in a closely fought gubernatorial race, said White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley, "asked me why Republicans in the state of Washington would be angry with me."

  6. Have you ever heard of the 'Hatch Act?' No? Apparently Lurita Alexis Doan hasn't heard of it either. Doan is the Chief of the General Services Administration and - shocker - a deputy in Karl Rove's political affairs office at the White House. Rove is everywhere! Apparently, Doan joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, and discussed ways in which "targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country" could be used to help Republican candidates.

    The Hatch Act, as it turns out, is a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes... although when you think about it, this law could easily be used to clean out the entire working populace in the White House

    (save perhaps the chef and a few of the waiting staff.) Oh - Doan is also accused to trying to give a no-bid job to a friend and professional associate last summer, and the committee plans to investigate Waxman's charge that she "intervened" in a troubled technology contract with Sun Microsystems that could cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Shocking.

  7. Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico is now under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee after a watchdog group accused him of trying to pressure David Iglesias, (one of the now fired prosecutors, then the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, N.M.,) to rush a corruption probe against Democrats in an effort to sway the 2006 elections. Domenici has now hired Duke Cunningham's lawyer Lee Blalack to defend him. Er, good luck with that. I'm sure 'Cryin Duke' will save ya a spot at his table in the prison mess hall.

  8. The President seems truly attached to Guantanamo and to torture in general. He defends it with a self-righteous vengence that is truly inexplicable. Or is he once again deferring to that Cheney on his shoulder? When his own Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - with the backing of Condi Rice - suggested that perhaps, just maybe, it is time to close down this abomination and bring these guys to America, Cheney and Gonzales quashed all further discussion. And so once again we have to ask... who is running this country? Sir George, or Sir Dick? My bet is on Sir Dick.

    Kangaroo courts, secret prisons and torture are for banana republics sir - not for this American democracy. Everyone seems to 'get that' except for you. But then - you still don't seem to grasp that you aren't a King, and that America is not your little GOP fiefdom. And so far, no one in our Congress has given you much reason to believe otherwise. But the people sir... the people are growing restless. Its no wonder that you hate us so, and spy on us at every turn. We are the real wildcard in your imperial plans, aren't we? A restless populace is not a good thing (as I recall, Southern slave owners lived in constant fear of their own slaves.) Eventually the people will grow so outraged - fed up - that they will actually succeed in pressuring their reluctant, foot-dragging, corporate-owned representatives into action. And Congress will again begin to worry about the votes. And maybe, just maybe, you will finally pay the price for your royal assumptions, and your blatent disregard for America's guiding principles of freedom, justice and the rule of law.

  9. Aides to President Bush are being warned today, not to destroy any emails (like they haven't already... please.) Waxman, who is proving quite adept at ferreting out GOP sneakiness, has already made the same warning to the Republican National Committee. It appears there is a history in this White House of using RNC email accounts for correspondance that is 'off the public record.' Translation: illegal, immoral and corrupt in nature (and we can't let anyone find out about this.) Apparently this use of RNC email accounts was discovered during the Abramoff investigation.

    In one instance, Mr Abramoff, who is serving a 70-month sentence on corruption charges, sent an e-mail to Susan Ralston, executive assistant to Karl Rove, the president’s chief political strategist, on her RNC account about a gaming-related decision by the department of the interior.

    When the e-mail was forwarded to another official in the White House e-mail system, Mr Abramoff was warned by an associate who said the official “said it is better not to put this stuff in writing in their e-mail system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us”.

    Mr Abramoff responded: “Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her RNC pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system.”

    ”We are reviewing it and taking appropriate action,” the RNC said yesterday.


  10. Former Army Sgt. Sam Provance was the only uniformed military intelligence officer at the Iraqi prison to testify about Abu Ghraib abuses during the internal Army investigation - and it didn't take him long to realize that the Pentagon was scapegoating low-level personnel, sacrificing them to save the chain of command.

    For refusing to shut up and play along with an obvious cover-up, Provance was tossed out of the US military.

    The Pentagon went forward with its plan to pin the blame for the sadistic treatment of Iraqi detainees on a handful of poorly trained MPs, not on the higher-ups who brought the lessons of "alternative interrogation techniques" from the Guatanamo Bay prison to Abu Ghraib.
    To hear Sam Provance's own story, in his own words, is to realize just how bad things really are. And they are very, very, very bad.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Ann Wright: Why a Congressman Paid the Fine for My Arrest in Congress

Earlier this month I posted a few choice words about the arrest of Retired Colonial Ann Wright, as she was peacefully leaving the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on the 'FBI's Use of National Security Letters.'

Apparently Wright spoke out during the proceedings, and Judiciary Chair, John Conyers asked her politely to either cease her comments, or to leave (her choice, but she opted to leave of her own accord.)

Conyers made a point of asking that Wright not be arrested - apparently you can't make that clear enough these days in the 'People's House.' However, as soon as Wright was outside the hearing room, she was immediately arrested anyway by Capitol police, and escorted out in handcuffs.

It turns out she was later released on bail - bail that was paid by none other than John Conyers himself.

But I'll let her tell the story - as contributed to truthout.org - because its really quite amazing...

Why a Congressman Paid the Fine for My Arrest in Congress
By Ann Wright
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Monday 26 March 2007

What irony! I was arrested last week in a Capitol Police abuse of power upon leaving a Congressional hearing on FBI abuses of our civil liberties.

I was arrested on March 20, 2007 in a hallway outside the Judiciary Committee hearing of the US House of Representatives. As I stood to walk out of the hearing on the FBI's abuse of National Security letters, I vocally agreed with a committee member that the public does not trust the FBI because of those abuses, and I thanked the committee for holding oversight hearings on them. The Justice Department Inspector General had reported to the Congress that FBI officials have illegally obtained access to bank records, telephone bills and Social Security numbers without tying the need for access to specific investigations.

When I stood and publicly agreed with the committee's actions, House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers said that I could either stop speaking and sit down or I could leave the hearing room. Since I was walking out of the committee hearing to drive to the airport to fly to a speaking engagement at Brown University later that day, I acknowledged the chairman's admonition and continued out the door. I was escorted the last couple of steps by the police officer assigned to the hearing room.

Outside the hearing room, the police officer was joined by a Capitol Police captain who ordered his fellow officer to arrest me. I protested, saying that Congressman Conyers had not "gaveled" my arrest but had merely told me to either sit down or leave the room. The normal Congressional protocol is that if a committee chair gavels once, the visitor is removed from the hearing room. If the committee chair gavels twice, the visitor is arrested.

I know the protocol well, as in the past 18 months I have stood and respectfully and quickly aired my views in many committee hearings, and then have sat down following my comments. In other committee hearings, I have been removed after my comments, but not arrested. Prior to March 22, I had been arrested only once at a committee hearing. In July 2006, wearing a "Gitmo orange" jumpsuit during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on the nomination of William Haynes, the Department of Defense general counsel who was one of the architects of the Department of Defense torture policies, I loudly and strongly told the committee that Haynes should not be confirmed to the lifelong appointment as a US Circuit Court of Appeals judge, as his actions in formulating the torture policy of the Bush administration had compromised the integrity and professionalism of the US military. As I spoke, committee chair Arlen Specter gaveled about twenty times and I was arrested.

But this time, after I was detained in the hallway, Congressman Conyers' chief of staff joined us and told the police captain that the Congressman did not want me arrested. The captain ignored the pleas of the chief of staff and told the officer to handcuff me and take me to the station. The committee chair's chief of staff protested my arrest, I protested and others in the hallway protested, but to no avail.

Handcuffed, I was driven to the Capitol Police station. As the two hours of processing at that station ended, a member of Congressman Conyers' staff came to the station and paid the $35 fine for my "disorderly conduct." The police officer who received the money from the congressman's staff member said that was the first time in her memory that a member of Congress had paid the fine of an activist.

Later I found out that other activists (Medea Benjamin and other members of Codepink Women for Peace) had been in the Judiciary Committee room earlier in the morning before the meeting began, introduced themselves to the witnesses and sat down. They were told by the hearing room staffer not to sit in particular chairs and later were told to leave the room. The police removed the activists from the room. As they were forced into the hallway, Congressman John Murtha walked by. The activists appealed to Murtha for help to let them stay in the hearing. Murtha said, "This is not a police state, and you should be in the hearing room." He called the House of Representatives' sergeant-at-arms and told him to let the activists back into the hearing room.

Less than one hour later, I went into the committee room, eventually made my comments as I walked out of the hearing room, and was ordered arrested by the Capitol Police captain against the wishes of the committee chair. No amount of explanation by me, the committee staffers or the police officers who observed my actions could prevent the arbitrary actions of the police captain, who apparently was irritated from the earlier rebuke from Congressman Murtha via the sergeant-of-arms.

So my question is: Who runs the US Congress? The Congress or the Capitol Police? If it is the Congress, then the head of the committee holding hearings should be the individual who decides if an individual should be removed from the hearing room or arrested for particular behavior in the hearing room. If removal or arrest is left to the discretion of police officers, I believe the officer's individual political views and her views on the role of activists and protests could very easily be the basis for a decision on whether to arrest someone.

In peaceful, nonviolent actions in Congressional committee rooms, the Congressional committee chairperson should decide when a person should be arrested, not the police.


Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army veteran who retired as a colonel. She also spent 16 years in the US diplomatic corps in Grenada, Nicaragua, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. She was on the first team into Kabul, Afghanistan, to reopen the US Embassy there in December 2001. She was one of three US diplomats who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq.

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Bill Maher: New Rules for Bush & Cheney

This is not America

Albert Einstein speculated that "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."

"This is not America

Blowback from Ohio's 2004 Stolen Election is Escalating

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action
Explosive New Vote Fraud Developments Continue To Rock Ohio and Florida
NYC City Police Spied Broadly Before GOP Convention

A little piece of you
A little peace in me... will die

The crushing fear that stalks America
Bombs kill 5 U.S. soldiers in Iraq
Congressman Trades Iraq Vote for Spinach

(This is not the miracle)

New U.S. Attorneys Seem to Have Partisan Records
Sunni Baghdad Becomes Land of Silent Ruins
Cheney: Early Iraq Pullout Won’t Be Allowed
Iran & Iraq: US and UK Fail to Find Smoking Gun

For this is not America.

Blossom fails to bloom this season

Mystery Bee Disappearances Sweeping U.S.
Are GM Crops Killing Bees?
Strong Suspicions of Toxicity in One GMO Corn

Monsanto Merger Sows Fears Over Skewed Seed Market

Promise not to stare too long

Why the Right Goes Nuclear Over Global Warming
This Was World's Warmest Recorded Winter, US Government Says
Feeding Nine Billion Earthlings

World's Most Important Crops Hit by Global Warming Effects

(This is not America)
For this is not the miracle

There was a time
A storm that blew so pure

Climate Change Impact More Extensive than Thought
Warm winter signals climate change
Hurricane Katrina

For this could be the biggest sky

Utilities behind pollution increase

And I could have the faintest idea

Material Shows Weakening of Climate Reports

Broad White House Efforts to Stifle Climate Research
Bush Administration Rule Would Increase Air Pollution
Memos Tell Officials How to Discuss Climate

For this is not America


This is not America

RFK Jr. rips President Bush for environmental policy
White House Seeks to Cut Geothermal Research Funds

BP's Texas Refinery "Largest Emitter of Carcinogenic Toxins in US"

This is not...

Showman melting from the inside

Warm winter wreaks havoc
Great Andean Glacier "Will Melt to Nothing by 2012"Antarctic Melting May be Speeding Up
Collapse of Arctic Sea Ice "Has Reached Tipping Point"

Falcon spirals to the ground

Global warming could wipe out most birds: WWF

(This could be the biggest sky)
So bloody red tomorrows' clouds

U.S. Nukes Plan Viewed as Provocative
Bush's Nuclear Hypocrisy Encourages Proliferation
Bush's Nuclear Lunacy

A little piece of you
A little peace in me... will die

Iraqi Medical Crisis as Doctors Flee
Ludicrous Dolphin Plan Shows We Are Scared Silly
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

(This could be a miracle)
For this is not America

There was a time
A wind that blew so pure

Pipeline Companies are Fighting Release of Specifics of Equipment
"Now or Never" for Climate Action
Cheap Coal Threat to Global Climate
RFK Jr. : Exposing ExxonMobil

For this could be the biggest sky
And I could have the faintest idea

Evangelical's Focus on Climate Draws Fire of Christian Right
Climate-Change Victims Chip Away US Procrastination

For this is not America


This is not America

Gonzales, Cheney blocked appeals to close Guantanamo

Ex-Guantanamo Detainees Joining Lawsuit Against Rumsfeld

This is not...
This is not America

US Urged to Abandon Trials by Military Tribunals

Anger at US "Rendition" of Refugees Who Fled Somalia
US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo; in Iraq, Afghanistan - UN

This is not...
This is not America

Think the Nation's Debt Doesn't Affect You? Think Again
The American Worker Is Doomed

This is not...

(Lyrics by David Bowie, "This is Not America")

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Moving on...

Today I unsubscribed from Moveon.org.

I've been a member from way, way back... years even. I've watched the organization grow from a grass roots organization to a 'National Lobby.' Apparently once you become a 'National Lobby,' you forget who you represent. Some of that K Street muck must rub off on you as soon as you set foot in the street -- perhaps it bubbles out of the sewers there.

I was one of the long time members who received the famous, duplicitous email asking me to vote for 'my choice' - pro or con, concerning the Iraq Supplemental war funding bill. I immediately noticed that none of the choices represented choice: the inclusion of Rep. Lee's amendment, which would remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2007.

I also noticed that Moveon was claiming that members of the progressive Out of Iraq Caucus were planning to support Pelosi's rejection of this amendment. I found this highly unlikely... and sure enough, I soon received a warning email from True Majority noting that the MoveOn poll was deliberately misleading in its wording.

True Majority suggested that those MoveOn members who were in favor of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq (thus, in favor of the Lee Amendment,) vote against the funding bill, and then post comments as to why (or express outrage about the sleazy wording of the poll -- and I did.)

After seeing the political fallout from this Moveon ploy (and the confusion it caused in the ranks of many trusting Moveon members,) I subjected Moveon to my Lincoln Litmus test "Stand with them when they are right, part with them when they are wrong". Moveon came up short.

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is time for me to 'move on' from MoveOn.

I encourage any other MoveOn members who support a complete withdrawal from this illegal 'oil grab' war to join True Majority or The Backbone Campaign instead. Both organizations are working very hard to end the war - and they won't lie to you or let you down.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Al Gore: Global warming testimony before Congress

Added March 21, 2007 to YouTube By Politicstv

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My hard drive died last night. In all the years I've worked on PCs - somehow this has never happened to me before. Perhaps because I always - always - made backups of backups, stashed absolutely everywhere a backed up file would stash.

I always acted on the subconscious fear that you could never really have enough backups. I was a consistent perpetrator of redundancy. I backed files onto disks, onto CDs, and stashed them into folders on our business server. I stashed our files on other PCs throughout our office; on my husband's PC, on zip disks, and on Macs.

You can never be too sure... right? I mean, who hasn't had the excruciating experience (anyone who has ever worked with these heartless, fickle machines,) of working on a project all day long, only to lose everything you've done - everything - in one earth shattering, electrical blip.

Sometimes it takes days to get 'it' back - or perhaps you never get it back. Sometimes it gets lost forever to the binary graveyard, or perhaps evaporates into the digital ether.

In recent months I finally let the backup vigilance slide. I don't know why, exactly. Maybe it was just time to ease up - or perhaps I was simply distracted, and too busy. Or perhaps I still shy away from anything that pertains to our old business.

Actually - the strangest part is that I never even noticed our increasing vulnerability, as we gradually lightened our load of aging electronic equipment from a bygone business life. We recently moved, and I guess I was just tired of lugging old, unused computers around from place to place. They are gone... and now, apparently, so are all the files.

Poof. Blood curdling scream.

I was pretty sure the world had ended. Years of data, graphics, code and templates from a former life. Snatches of writing - paragraphs I'd written and then stuck away for another day. Poetry - even a manuscript. All of it gone in a heartbeat.

Oh, I suppose its not a total loss just yet. Somewhere out there, a PC guru is working hard to retrieve the sum total of our computer lives, now buried in some digital graveyard on my frozen hard drive. I keep hoping he can work a modern data miracle.

But it wasn't long before I realized that if he doesn't - if he can't... I will live. My life will continue moving forward, somehow, without those files.

Perhaps in recent months, I've gained a bit of perspective.

Or perhaps the true lesson in loss came after I fled our home office in disgust, and settled down to watch Rory Kennedy's HBO documentary 'The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib."

I am still reeling... still recovering. Not from the computer crash. From what I saw last night.

The horror is still fresh today. What I have learned about my country, and the policies of those who run the show... inexpressible. The word 'evil' does apply here. By their works you will know them. And their works are now everywhere.

How many scandals - how much horror will it take, America?

Who are these people into whose hands we commended our national soul? They are a rot in the heart of our democracy.

I'm not talking about the soldiers - kids, really - caught up in the war machine and following the orders of superiors. They are trained to follow orders without out judging, without feeling. This is one of the virtues of boot camp, or so I've been sold.

No, I'm talking about those at the top; the masterminds who called the shots, designed the torture and abuse - then pointed judging fingers at the hapless foot soldiers below. Yes - the sociopathic cowards who shrugged off Geneva conventions on a whim; blinked off all responsibility for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians by shameful, brutal, and truly un-American means. And in a heartbeat... our integrity, our honor - gone, never to be regained.

Didn't we hang Saddam for just such abuse of power? Abuses that took place in that very complex? And whose idea was it that we surpass Saddam's hideous standards of torture, and carve out our very own dark reputation of cruelty and infamy?

Such hypocrisy is truly staggering.

The loss of mere data pales in comparison, in magnitude with the scenes I saw last night. I am ashamed, I am horrified, and I am deeply angered.

And I wonder.... when will come the justice, folks? When will come the justice.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stephen Colbert strikes again!

Impeach Bush

Saw this on the Colbert report last night and couldn't believe it. Stephen - exactly what are you trying to say?


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Righteous talk

Kucinich. I've often thought this guy would make an excellent president, if only he didn't look so unelectable.

Oh I'm not saying that I wouldn't vote for him. He's righteous on the real issues. But I'm not a very good example of the general populace.

I spend my time actually reading - about the issues - and almost never watch the television pundits who crown the 'acceptable' candidates for popular consumption. I've never watched 'Survivor,' 'American Idol,' or even 'Seinfeld.' Its true! And I never, ever, for any reason - other than my daily baseball fix - ever watch Fox.

The idea of 'Fox' and 'news' in the same sentence makes me giggle. I'd sooner get my news from the cartoon channel; I believe I'd have a statistically better chance of finding accurate news on the cartoon channel. Besides... would Bugs Bunny ever lie to me? I think not.

So admittedly, I'm not the best person to ask. But I've heard it said that 'Dennis Kucinich cannot get elected' - because he doesn't look presidential.

I am still waiting for a good definition of the truly 'presidential look.' I'm guessing that John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton had it - whatever 'it' is.

I also hear that - ultimately - Giuliani will be on the ropes because he's often been seen wearing dresses (but then, so has Hillary, so perhaps this is OK.) I have seen it written that Chuck Hagel 'doesn't have a happy face.'

Apparently, and despite much better reasons for questioning his merit (such as waffling,) McCain is now 'too old.' Meanwhile, Obama-the-rock-star may look too young - but hey, in this business, that rock star aura can only help. I'm sure its driving Hillary buggy, if nothing else.

Oh yes, and then there is Hillary. Hillary has Bill (the keeper of the 'presidential look,') the name Clinton... and has raised more money than the Vatican. I doubt anyone in the media is going to question her right to non-stop, continual coverage, in spite of her waffling on major issues, a lack of any honest platform, charisma, charm or plan to end the war.

I suspect the best way to gauge the 'presidential look' mystique is to track which candidates get national media coverage - and which do not. If your candidate isn't drawing any national coverage at all, take a closer look. He or she may not look the part.

And so again, I have returned to that same, odd thought: if Dennis Kucinich is unelectable... imagine how unelectable Abraham Lincoln would be today. Are you kidding? Take a good, hard look at a photo of Abe Lincoln and tell me - would this man last 10 minutes on a television screen?

Even in his own time, the cartoonists had a field day. Lincoln once said: "If I were two faced, would I be wearing this one?" Touche. What Lincoln brought to the people of his time were ideas. Issues.

If we can't somehow find our way back to 'issue platforms' in our time, we're doomed to suffer through an endless stream of stylish, designer, and morally bankrupt politicians in our White House. We need leadership, not hairstyles. If you ever doubt my words, notice how often the television pundits comment on the fact that 'Gore is now too overweight to run for president.'

Yes, the same old 'we've completely missed the boat' media has struck again. Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000; retired from politics and taught college (rather than become a lobbyist or 'cash in' with business ventures;) spent years traveling around the world with a modest slide show, preaching the approaching peril of climate change; helped to turn that slide show message into a world-changing documentary, won an Oscar - and was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize. Talk about spending your time on something that really matters, instead of 'politics as usual.' The media - as always - remains unimpressed. You gotta wonder what the guy has gotta do to earn a little respect from these clowns. Then again, respect from snakes...? Perhaps a waste of time (no disrespect to snakes intended.)

Yes - its sad to say, that in the end, the only thing our corporate media pundits had to say... was that Al Gore, the man, is overweight.

And we wonder why we don't have a viable health care system, why we're mired in an illegal war, are losing Constitutional rights by the day, are hated globally and our jobs are going overseas...

We like our presidents to look like movie stars (which begs the question: how George W. Bush.... oh never mind.)

Truly, both parties are stuffed to the rafters with chiseled, blow-dried politicians -while real leaders are few and far between. That said, there are still a few courageous leaders in Washington (they can be found in both parties.) But they may not look the part.

Then again, neither did that unusually tall, thin man with the high, reedy voice and the stovepipe hat.

Kucinich may not look like Clint Eastwood in 'Pale Rider,' or John Wayne riding in on a white horse - but his words ring of truth. He isn't afraid to tell it like it is. He apparently not only sees, but seems willing to actually address the rampaging elephant in the middle of the room.

"Hey guys... I hate to bring this up... but do you see that elephant over there, snacking on the Bill of Rights? Um... do you think we should maybe do something about that?"

Kucinich may not seem the most likely of lawmakers to finally broach the 'I word' on the House floor... but thank heavens he did. I hope he managed to slip around Pelosi and set it 'on the table' before he sat himself back down.

Words that shook the House:

"This House cannot avoid its Constitutionally authorized responsibility to restrain the abuse of Executive power.

"The Administration has been preparing for an aggressive war against Iran. There is no solid, direct evidence that Iran has the intention of attacking the United States or its allies.

"The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, a constituent treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the UN Charter states, "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. . ." Even the threat of a war of aggression is illegal.

"Article VI of the US Constitution makes such treaties the Supreme Law of the Land. This Administration, has openly threatened aggression against Iran in violation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter.

"This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran.

"Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran."

Thanks Dennis. We'd have done this ourselves, but frankly, we're not allowed to talk in the House anymore (we can't even send a retired, highly decorated colonial in there without watching her leave in handcuffs.) We needed someone - like you - to finally stand up and speak our minds.

Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 by The Nation
Kucinich: “I'm Talking About Impeachment”
by John Nichols

Nancy Pelosi's attempt to keep impeachment off the table has already been upset outside the District of Columbia, as grassroots campaigns in states across the country have begun raising the prospect of Constitutionally sanctioning President Bush, Vice President Cheney and members of their administration. More than three dozen Vermont town meetings endorsed impeachment resolutions in early March, and legislators in Vermont, Washington state and New Mexico have mustered efforts to dispatch articles of impeachment from state Capitols to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Now, Pelosi's moves to silence this discussion in the Congress are being upset by a fellow Democrat, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Last week, after meeting with pro-impeachment activists, Kucinich delivered a speech on the House floor in which he said:

This House cannot avoid its Constitutionally authorized responsibility to restrain the abuse of Executive power.

The Administration has been preparing for an aggressive war against Iran. There is no solid, direct evidence that Iran has the intention of attacking the United States or its allies.

The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, a constituent treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the UN Charter states, "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. . ." Even the threat of a war of aggression is illegal.

Article VI of the US Constitution makes such treaties the Supreme Law of the Land. This Administration, has openly threatened aggression against Iran in violation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter.

This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran.

Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.

Now, Kucinich, a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nod, has begun contacting supporters to ask if he should embrace impeachment as a candidate and an active member of Congress.

"For four years I have been working to end this war, including leading the effort to cut off continued funding for the war. There is enough money to bring our troops home and we should do that. But the Bush administration, with the help of some in Congress, wants to pour more money into this war. Worse than that, the Bush administration now is signaling its intention to wage war with Iran. We cannot allow that to happen," writes Kucinich.

"So I'm asking you: Do you think it's time?" he adds. "I'm talking about time for impeachment."

Noting that "we are now have a condition in this country where we are told to take impeachment off the table, and keep on the table a U.S. military attack against Iran," Kucinich concludes: "This situation calls for us to reconsider very deeply the moment that we're in –- where our Constitution is being trashed, where international law is being violated, where our hopes and dreams for the education of our children, for the health of our people, for housing, for our veterans, are being set aside as we go deeper and deeper into war."

Kucinich's analysis is right. Impeachment is an appropriate tool, not only for sanctioning Bush for past wrongs, but also as a threat to prevent the president from engaging in new wrongs.

There will be those who suggest that, as a long-shot presidential contender, the former mayor of Cleveland and veteran peace activist is the wrong messenger. But the initial champions of impeachment are often political outsiders: like the abolitionist Whigs – including a young Abraham Lincoln and an old John Quincy Adams -- who sought to sanction pro-slavery Presidents John Tyler and James K. Polk in the 1840s.

"Radical" foes of the Vietnam War, such as New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug and Father Robert Drinan, a congressman from Massachusetts, were among the first to call for impeaching Richard Nixon. They were eventually joined by a Republican, California Congressman Pete McCloskey, who had mounted an quixotic anti-war primary challenge to Nixon in 1972.

The first members of Congress who dare raise the subject of impeaching any errant executive are invariably dismissed as premature and intemperate. But history tends to view them kindly, just as it tends to view poorly the subjects of their proposed sanctions.

The bottom line is that Kucinich is right when he says: "This House cannot avoid its Constitutionally authorized responsibility to restrain the abuse of Executive power." The congressman deserves credit for recognizing that "impeachment may well be the only remedy" for the Constitutional crisis Bush has created, and for the crises he now schemes to create. And if his fellow anti-war Democrats in Congress are honest with themselves, they will recognize that it is time for the House to start talking about impeachment.

John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

© 2007 The Nation

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Gonzogate, Iraqnam, rivers, and erased... emails?


Pardon me in advance, if I am wrong... if my memory is bad, because I was really quite young at the time of the last major, presidential scandal in Washington. I'm referring to the 'real' one,' not that sex charade. I'm referring to the one that included a war, broken laws, refused subpoenas, whistle-blowers, leaks and missing evidence. I believe it was called Watergate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A 16-day gap in e-mail records between the Justice Department and the White House concerning the firing of U.S. attorneys last year has attracted the attention of congressional investigators.

Does this '16-day gap in e-mail records' business look familiar? As in perhaps, the '18-minute gap in the Nixon tapes? History is so unoriginal.


I recently heard that Jeremy Scahill's new book: 'Blackwater,' is taking the country (OK; the handful of actual book readers remaining on the planet) by storm. It is about the 'Blackwater army', or Blackwater USA, a small, North Carolina-based private security company now operating under the government's protection within Iraq:

"What we have right now is something worse than the wild, wild west going on in Iraq," Callahan says. "Blackwater is able to operate over there in Iraq free from any oversight that would typically exist in a civilized society. As we expose Blackwater in this case, it will also expose the inefficient and corrupt system that exists over there."

It appears Blackwater is currently in a little legal trouble here at home:

Blackwater is facing a potentially devastating battle--this time not in Iraq but in court. The company has been slapped with a lawsuit that, if successful, will send shock waves through the world of private security firms, a world that has expanded significantly since Bush took office. Blackwater is being sued for the wrongful deaths of Stephen "Scott" Helvenston, Mike Teague, Jerko Zovko and Wesley Batalona by the families of the men slain in Falluja.

A river runs through... everything

Once again, I can't help but get flashbacks, but this time I don't have to go back nearly as far - and its really just... the names.

What is it with rivers lately?

Has anyone else noted the rampaging ironies here? Especially where water, or more specifically rivers are concerned. While Clinton was in office, we had a 'Whitewater' controversy (now, mere water under the bridge.) Fast forward, Bush is in office, and we have a 'Blackwater' controversy. At first glance, this is a bit surreal.

Has someone been dumping oil in the Potomac? Have the 'Whitewater' rapids suddenly turned black with leaching crude?

(Probably a Texan. Those dirty Republicans...)

For those of us who didn't believe all issues were either 'black or white;' this proves we were mistaken. Or maybe this only applies to 'river' controversies, as they apply to presidential administrations (or flowing in the background of presidential administrations. You will notice that no one actually gets their feet wet in these controversies.)

And now we are treated to the resurrections of both Kenneth Starr (Blackwater's legal counsel,) and Newt Gingrich - who now admits he was committing adultery the entire time he was pointing fingers at Bill Clinton. OK, Newt isn't a river, I just wanted to throw that in here. Newt never found his Whitewater justice, but he sure managed to pull off the hypocritical feat of the political century.

Is this tabloid material - or am I dreaming?

Why on earth did the media spend weeks droning on and on about Anna Nichole Smith, when there was a veritable river of sensationalism flowing out of Washington?

"Oh Blackwater, keep on roll'n..."

I'll bet this Blackwater river turns out to be just as inscrutable as the Mighty Mississippi - or Alberto Gonzales, for that matter.

"...he must know somethin, but don't say nothin..."

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

So... what is 'Unity08?'

There is a 'Proud to be a Unity08 Delegate' button on the side of this blog.

So what, exactly, does that mean? What is a Unity08 Delegate?

As I mentioned before, I have finally left the Democratic party and become an Independent. I have felt, for some time now, that the party has strayed from its roots and has been swallowed up by special interests -- and these special interests do not represent my interests. Some members of the party do seem to be on 'my page.' But the same can be said for some Republicans.

Both parties - in my opinion - are now completely compromised by special interests and their campaign contributions. And we are paying the price.

As Lou Dobbs has said - and I completely agree with him:

"I don't know about you, but I can't take seriously anyone who takes either the Republican Party or Democratic Party seriously -- in part because neither party takes you and me seriously; in part because both are bought and paid for by corporate America and special interests. And neither party gives a damn about the middle class."


Lou goes on to say:

"But as I discuss in my new book, "War on the Middle Class," what if we all resolved that we would not permit either the Republicans or Democrats to waste their time and ours with wedge issues? Both parties love to excite their bases by focusing on wedge issues like gay marriage, the pledge of allegiance, school prayer, judicial appointments, gun control, stem cell research and welfare reform.

Each of these wedge issues is important in varying degrees to large numbers of us, but none of them rises to the level of urgency or the requirement of immediate change in public policy.

These issues are raised by both political parties to distract and divert public attention from the profound issues -- like educating our youth, economic inequality and the war against radical Islamic terrorists -- that affect our daily lives and the American way of life. Imagine the consternation in Washington if both parties had to contend with a national electorate whose political affiliation had dramatically changed within a matter of weeks or months."

When I first heard about Unity08, I was a bit skeptical (I usually am - I grew up during the Nixon Administration, and one of my first memories of 'government in action' was Watergate.)

The more I read about their 'platform,' the more I realized that it is in sync with my own ideas about bipartisanship and the need to address real issues affecting this country - issues like healthcare - not just the usual, highly emotional wedge issues that appeal to the extremes on either side.

Imagine for a minute... a truly bipartisan ticket. Now wouldn't that shake up the establishment.

Now imagine that this bipartisan, 'Unity' ticket is:

"funded solely by small-dollar donations from everyday Americans. As a result the Unity08 President and Vice President will enter office not with favors owed to lobbyists and special interests but with a clear mandate from the American people to cooperate and provide courageous leadership on the most crucial, complex issues facing our country."
Sound interesting? I believe it is worth a try. Our political system, in its current state, is broken.

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Bring out the Subpoenas

Speaking justice to power

Dear Mr President:

I have to ask, although I'm sure you won't tell... why the continued secrecy if you haven't broken any laws? You say - and warn that this is the best deal you will make - that you will allow your minions to speak only in a secret, un-taped meeting, and only before the Judiciary Committee, and only if they don't have to take an oath. The American people be damned... right sir?

“We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants,” the president told reporters in a brief and hastily convened appearance in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

We have no reason to love Alberto Gonzales - he has systematically attacked our rule of law and has been dismantling our Bill of Rights ever since you took office. I'm sure you know this, sir.

You accuse the Senate Judiciary Committee of conducting a partisan witch hunt as they attempt to investigate the obviously partisan firings of well reviewed prosecutors in the middle of their terms - on the basis of their loyalty to you, and only you. At least one prosecutor was in the middle of a high profile case of Republican corruption. I can see why this was distasteful to you.

This is an issue of law sir - not of partisanship. I know that this may be an alien concept to you. Law... not partisanship. As an Independent - not a Democrat - I must protest your obsession with all things partisan. I, for one, would like to know what is going on. What about country, sir? What about America? What about truth, law and justice? This is not the United States of Republican... not yet.

Scott Lilly, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote:

It is clear that of the four administrations that controlled the executive branch of government during the past quarter-century, only the current administration has held the view that U.S. Attorney can or should be removed absent serious cause. In no instance is there any indication of a removal because a U.S. attorney failed to meet certain political criteria, such as prosecuting cases that were considered too sensitive to partisan issues or failing to prosecute cases that would be helpful from a partisan perspective.

The innovative philosophy of the current Bush administration with respect to the service of U.S. Attorneys is worthy of the attention it is now receiving. Those eight forced resignations threaten the very basis of our justice system-to quote the words written above the pillars on the west front of the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law."

Really sir - do you expect anyone to believe any testimony not given under oath? Do you expect us to believe, that this time - out of the blue - no one will lie to us, and justice will be served?

When was the last time anyone in your administration actually told the truth? You lied about the war, you lied about domestic spying... you lied about the levees, about torture, and the Patriot act. And you lied about these prosecutor firings when you said they were not 'politically motivated' (the emails have already shown that they indeed were.) No wonder you don't want Rove and Miers to be sworn in. As long as they are never under oath, they can lie their way right out of everything. Business as usual - right Mr President?

But what am I saying... if you have your way, we'll never hear a word of this 'oath-free' testimony anyway. You'd like to cut the American people completely out of this process, keep the entire thing a secret from us. 'For the Senate Judiciary ears only'. Mr President... where's the love?

As I recall, you loved us once... but that was when you courted our votes. As soon as you assumed the throne, you systematically undermined our Constitutional protections, hacked away at our Federal programs by cutting education (all children left behind) and Medicare, slashed all manner of other Federal programs for the poor and middle class while giving tax breaks to the richest of the rich, and putting corporate cronies in charge of all our watchdog agencies. You kicked us in the teeth.

It really is all about loyalty with you, isn't it sir? By the time you were sworn in, in 2001, we had already broken your holiest of cardinal rules. The majority of the American people did not vote for you. As we had already proven our disloyalty, you saw no need to serve and protect our rights as citizens or obey our rule of law. And thus, your vendetta against the American people began in earnest.

You are right, of course - we were disloyal. To you. But never to our Constitution. Never to our country. So why are you spying on us without any court orders? Is it any wonder we now believe that 'we' have been your real enemy all along? The proof is in the pudding, sir.

Absolutely - by your standards - we should be sacked, not your loyal sidekick Alberto Gonzales. And yet... it is not so easy to sack the citizens of the United States of America. In reality sir, you report to us. As Mr Lincoln so eloquently put it, "The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." Did no one mention that to you when you were sworn in?

Congress represents the people, as stated in the Constitution (no wonder you've been trying to dismantle it.) The Senate Judiciary is working on our behalf when they investigate these partisan firings - they aren't doing this for their own, Democratic revenge or entertainment. And as their employers, we demand our own oversight in this process. We demand a public record. We have the right to know that no one in your administration is lying this time. This means they must testify under oath, and on the record. I'm sorry sir - I am afraid we must insist on this. Because you see, fool us once... shame on you...

Democracies are a real drag, aren't they sir? Its a wonder you keep trying to install one in Iraq - what you really want (both here and there) is a dictatorship. You have told us, time and time again, that you don't care what we think about your war, your decisions, your ethics or your choices of minions. You also don't care what we think about our rule of law. You forget one very important point, Mr. President: our democracy is built upon this rule of law. We will fight to keep it, sir.

By the way - this strange new activity you are seeing in the Senate? This sir is called oversight. I know it has been so long since any of us have seen it, that we're all shocked and awed. In your formerly, Republican-controlled Senate, everything you wanted was handed to you on a platter - when you bothered to consult with them at all. I'm sure that is how you think the Senate should operate - at the (what is that phrase? At the 'pleasure of the President?')

We respectfully insist that this time, sir, everyone will be serving at our pleasure. Oversight belongs to the people, sir. Yes - the great unwashed... the 95% to whom you didn't give tax breaks, the 95% you have been watching with distrust, spying on and lying to.

This gig is up. We're fed up with the lies, the corruption and your administration's blatant distain for the law. We want the truth. No president is above the law. Just ask Richard Nixon.

Respectfully yours,

Citizen Maire

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