Vermont Activists Want Bush Arrested

 Constitution, Crime, Places, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Vermont Activists Want Bush Arrested
Dec 292007
 

I just may have to move to Vermont. This is what needs to happen in this country. According to a report on CNN:

A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.

“This petition is as radical as the Declaration of Independence, and it draws on that tradition in claiming a universal jurisdiction when governments fail to do what they’re supposed to do,” said Kurt Daims, 54, a retired machinist leading the drive.

Not surprisingly, the Vermont Attorney General thinks it would be “uphill sledding” for such an indictment to be enforceable, but I say why not. An indictment is an indictment. The Republicans themselves claimed that to be the case during the Clinton impeachment, and made all the ruckus about no one being above the law.

Sep 112007
 

I suppose no blogger can let 9/11 pass without a post reflecting on what it all means. Unfortunately, the Bu$hCo Administration has done everything they can to tie the events of this day to Iraq. They have gone so far as to ensure that the Petraeus report is delivered to Congress so as to coincide with the observance of this anniversary.

The attacks of 9/11 were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and ever since, Bu$h has been using the mantra to strike fear into the hearts of Americans and ensure continued support of his war. He and Dick have incessantly linked the words “al-Qaida” and “Iraq.” In a  recent speech about Iraq, Bush mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that the insurgents in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S.

We all knew what Petraeus was going to say before he said it. He was going to spend most of his time talking about how great things are in Anbar…again, never mind things were getting better there long before the “surge” started. We need also to remember that progress has been made there only by striking another “deal with the devil,” Saddam’s Fedayeen. Bush arrogantly attempts to play the alpha dog Commander and Chief with his, “we’re kicking ass,” comment.

 Everyone in America who gets any outside input beyond Faux News knows the real situation on the ground in Iraq. Read some of the blogs of the soldiers that are there. So just forget the absurd debate about progress. The questions to be asked are much more basic–Why can’t we bring ourselves to end the debacle, and why did we invade Iraq in the first place?

Congress cannot bring themselves to end the Iraq war because they haven’t yet grown the backbone to question the basic assumptions on which Bu$h’s “War On Terror” is based. To this Administration, 9/11 justifies everything and ends all arguments. As Gary Kamiya wrote at Salon.com:

Bush’s reaction to 9/11 was to declare a “war on terror,” of which the Iraq adventure was said to be the “front line.” The American establishment signed off on this war because of 9/11. To oppose Bush’s “war on terror” was to risk another terror attack and dishonor our dead. The establishment has now turned against the Iraq front, but it has not questioned the “war on terror” itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.

We chose this go-it-alone vigilantism over reason and justice. We responded from our biological instincts –“fight or flight” – we were hit, so we had to hit back. We responded like a drunk in a bar fight, and combined with our preconceived notions about the Arab/Muslim world, we ran up against our prejudices. The problem is we allowed Bu$hCo to convince us that instead of taking vengeance on the people that attacked us, we should attack the guy standing on the corner watching. It’s a male thing. On the school yard its called “bullying,” and for conservatives it appears to be a necessary reaction. Hence their bully-ish name calling of war critics as “wimps, girly-men and appeasers.”          Continue reading »

Apr 212007
 

An excerpt from Iacocca’s new book – read the entire excerpt:

Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have….

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them-or at least some of us did. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy….        Continue reading »

Vermont: Leading the World in Sanity

 Constitution, Legislature, Politics, The Courts, War  Comments Off on Vermont: Leading the World in Sanity
Apr 212007
 

Yes, it would seem that the good people of Vermont probably have the most intelligence. They’ve seen through the bull shit and their state senate voted 16-9 without debate to impeach Bush and Cheney.

The resolution says Bush and Cheney’s actions in the U.S. and abroad, including in Iraq, “raise serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality, and abuse of the public trust.” Vermont lawmakers earlier voted to demand an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq in another non-binding resolution.

There is at least one weenie in Vermont state government. Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington has kept a similar resolution from reaching the floor in her chamber. She argued that an impeachment resolution would be partisan and divisive and that it would distract Washington from efforts to get the United States out of Iraq, which she says is more important.

Forty towns voted in favor of similar nonbinding impeachment resolutions at their annual town meetings in March. State lawmakers in Wisconsin and Washington have pushed for similar resolutions. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of grassroots movement.

News Roundup-Week Ending April 15, 2007

 Corruption, General, Politics, Presidency, Science, Technology, Travel  Comments Off on News Roundup-Week Ending April 15, 2007
Apr 202007
 

Johnny Hart Died Saturday

So who was Johnny Hart? He was the creator of two of my long-time favorite comic strips, B.C. and The Wizard of Id. I especially loved the Wizard of Id for the occasional appearance of their local undertaker. Hart died Saturday at age 76 while working at his home in Nineveh, NY. “He had a stroke,” his wife, Bobby, said Sunday. “He died at his storyboard.”

Hart’s “B.C.” strip was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate Inc., which distributes it.

Former Microsoft chief architect Charles Simonyi spent $20 million to become the fifth space tourist

The man given much of the credit for overseeing the development of Microsoft’s Word software blasted into space over the weekend as the fifth space tourist.

Charles Simonyi, who was once chief architect at Microsoft and now runs his own development company called Intentional Software, began his journey into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at just after 11:30pm Saturday local time. Simonyi traveled with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin inside the Soyuz TMA10 spacecraft.

Disney to Host Gay Nuptials

The Walt Disney Co. has changed its policy and will allow same-sex couples to take part in its Fairy Tale Wedding program at its California and Orlando, Fla., resorts and cruises, a Disney spokesman confirmed Friday.

“We want everyone who comes to Disney to recognize their special occasion to feel welcomed and respected,” Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker told Gay.com on Friday.

Would that everyone had that attitude.

Voter Fraud, A Big Non-Starter
“Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.” Just 120 people have been charged with voter fraud crimes, and 86 convicted as of last year, and Ann Coulter isn’t one of them.

Impeachment Now?

 Congress, Constitution, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Impeachment Now?
Apr 042007
 

I really have not been clamoring for the impeachment of Dick and George Cheney-Bush. I had held out hope that an opposition party in power in Congress might be able to offset the abuses of power wrought by the current administration. Unfortunately, the total disregard by this administration for the Constitution and systems of shared power and checks and balances has become egregious.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has told the Congress, under oath, that the Constitution does not guarantee the protection of habeas corpus to the citizens of the United States. If he believes this and acts accordingly, Gonzales has violated his oath of office. So too the President and Vice President if they endorse Gonzales’ opinion. Congress must demand that Bush, Cheney and Gonzales repudiate the Attorney General’s pronouncement and reaffirm their oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. If they refuse, then they must be removed from office.

In addition, both Bush and Cheney have added more troops to the Iraqi occupation force, despite the opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an accumulating roster of the military, both active and retired, the Iraq Study Group, the American Public, and the Congress. By announcing that nothing, not even an act of Congress, will deter them, the Bush/Cheney team have, in effect, proclaimed themselves dictators (they couch it in terms of a “unitary executive, to which none of the founding documents of this country make reference). If this proclamation is to fall short of an implementation of rule by decree, the Congress must promptly and decisively reinstate its co-equal status with the Bush Administration, and it must send back that message to the White House with an explicit threat of impeachment.

Finally, over the past months it has become apparent that Bush and Cheney might launch an attack on Iran. Most informed observers agree that this would be an act of insanity, that would unite the world against the United States, probably sharply curtail the production and shipment of oil from the Persian Gulf throwing the US and the world into a depression, and just possibly igniting a third World War. This attack might be prevented by an act of Congress refusing to fund such an attack and proclaiming explicitly that the Congress, in accordance with its Constitutional authority, forbids the President to launch an attack against Iran. That act of Congress should state that failure of the President to obey this act would result in impeachment.

There is no need for the Congress to “build a case” against Bush and Cheney. I believed that if Bush and Cheney were to be impeached and convicted by the Senate, investigations would have to take place, with the amassing of evidence, testimony under oath, and extended debate in Congress. Such was the case with Nixon and with Clinton.

However, I have come to realize that the situation today is substantially different. The evidence is public, indisputable, and even, in some cases, freely admitted by Bush and Cheney. As John Dean has pointed out, when Bush announced that he had authorized secret wiretaps in direct violation of the FISA law, he had, in effect, confessed to an impeachable offense. In addition, the use of torture violates the Geneva Conventions, and the launching of an aggressive war against a nation, Iraq, that did not attack or threaten to attack us, constitutes a war crime in violation of the Nuremberg Accords. Both of these treaties have the force of law, and thus their violation merits impeachment. Bush’s “signing statements,” many of which state explicitly a Presidential prerogative to ignore acts of Congress at will, contradict the Constitutional requirement that the President “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Through the FBI, this government, under direction from the White House, has ignored the rule of low in obtaining National Security Letters.

There are many additional “high crimes and misdemeanors” that justify impeachment and conviction, but some of these require investigation and debate. However, those listed above are both indisputable and sufficient. All that remains, then, is the will of Congress to do its duty. While extended debate on all these issues might be desirable under ordinary circumstances, these are not ordinary circumstances. The Bush/Cheney administration has caused enormous damage to the American economy, to its international reputation, and to its Constitutional order.

Why not “impeachment now”? In a carefully articulated essay in The Nation, Professor Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas Law School argues against impeachment, not withstanding his belief that Bush is “quite possibly the worst President in our history.” He raises three essential points:

  • The Constitution provides us with a language to get rid of a criminal President, but it provides us no language, or process, for terminating the tenure of an incompetent one.”
  • There is simply no possibility that Bush will actually be removed from office in the twenty-four months that unfortunately remain to him.”
  • There is a “highly legalistic” question as to “what exactly constitutes ?high crimes and misdemeanors,'” which the Constitution stipulates as grounds for impeachment.

I believe that all three objections can be successfully rebutted. If so, then given the gravity of the crimes and misdemeanors, only partially listed above, the impeachment of Bush and Cheney becomes both feasible and urgent. Continue reading »

Mar 112007
 

NY Times says fire “the Failed Attorney General”:

We opposed Mr. Gonzales’s nomination as attorney general. His résumé was weak, centered around producing legal briefs for Mr. Bush that assured him that the law said what he wanted it to say. More than anyone in the administration, except perhaps Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Gonzales symbolizes Mr. Bush’s disdain for the separation of powers, civil liberties and the rule of law.

On Thursday, Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, hinted very obliquely that perhaps Mr. Gonzales’s time was up. We’re not going to be oblique. Mr. Bush should dismiss Mr. Gonzales and finally appoint an attorney general who will use the job to enforce the law and defend the Constitution.

Think about that last line. Everyone, every President and every American, should want and expect an A.G. who will enforce the law and defend the Constitution — everyone, that is, except George Bush.

Bush Admin Caught Screwing Cold War Veterans

 Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Bush Admin Caught Screwing Cold War Veterans
Mar 112007
 

Anyone surprised? From the Rocky Mountain Daily News:

Federal officials secretly schemed to limit payouts for sick and dying nuclear weapons workers, including thousands from the Rocky Flats plant outside Denver, newly released documents show….

The U.S. Department of Labor oversees the program to compensate workers whose illnesses can be tied to working with radioactive and other toxic materials at nuclear weapons plants, such as the now-defunct Rocky Flats.

More than 60,000 ill atomic bomb makers, including thousands from Rocky Flats, have sought help. About 16,000 workers nationwide have received a total of $2.6 billion. Far more have been denied or still are waiting for help….

Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said, “Clearly, the administration put dollars above honoring the nation’s promise to the Cold War veterans.”

He added this is “almost worse” than the bad conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. That was negligence, Udall said, where “this seems to be a pretty callous plan that the administration knew could harm sick veterans.”

363 Tons of Cold Hard Cash Shipped to Iraq – No Kidding

 Congress, Corruption, Politics, Presidency, War  Comments Off on 363 Tons of Cold Hard Cash Shipped to Iraq – No Kidding
Feb 072007
 

This is why oversight matters. This is why having Henry Waxman as the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform matters. We know that the Bush administration has been out of control in Iraq. We just haven’t known all the details because the Hill Republicans never bothered to find out. We just know the Bush team never had a plan. And, the things we’re learning now are shocking — like the one about how we sent 363 tons of cash to Iraq without any real idea what it was for:

“Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that’s exactly what our government did,” the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.

On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially “the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history,” according to an e-mail cited by committee members.

It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28.

Paul Bremer, who as the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority ran Iraq after initial combat operations ended, said the enormous shipments were done at the request of the Iraqi minister of finance.

Bremer really had no idea how the money was allocated. The Iraqis just needed it. How much of that money ended up in the hands of insurgents or other people killing American soldiers? Bremer didn’t think that happened, but managed to say that he “would certainly be concerned” if any money was diverted to the insurgents. Thanks, Paul, for the concern.

Wow.

Nov 092006
 

Of course I can’t pass by the 2006 mid-term elections without comment. It was clearly a stunning victory for Democrats, and I can only hope the new Democratic majority will roll back some of the powers granted to the executive branch. Unfortunately, that normally comes very slowly.

A lot of pundits are saying the outcome is more a vote against Republicans than for Democrats. I will concede that observation to a point. However, I think there was also a very strong vote against the war and against the Bush Administration. Given that he has two years left, the voters can’t vote him out of office, so they did the next best thing, and voted against all the Republicans.

But it was also very much a “throw the bums out” election, and the bums all had an “R” next to their names. Democrats made huge gains in governorships and in control of state legislatures. I do think it became clear that the ultra-conservative theocratic evangelical voting bloc did not come through for the Republicans this time, despite having the marriage amendments on the ballots in several states. In South Dakota, voters reversed a new law completely outlawing abortions, and in Arizona, a marriage amendment was defeated. In the states where it passed, it generally passed by very narrow margins, but Republicans were still turned out of office in many of those states.

The evangelical voters are all whining about how they will need to “take back the party.” I think that bodes well for Democrats. It will be the most extreme wing of that party pulling it as far to the right as possible. I think a big part of this election includes a fatigue with the amtaliban trying to legislate the morality of everyone else. Hence the narrowing of margins in these moral issues ballot initiatives.

Here in Florida, I think the conservatives actually shot themselves in the foot. Florida approved a Constitutional Amendment requiring a 60% affirmative vote to amend the state Constitution. This will make it extremely difficult to get an anti-marriage amendment passed here.

Arch homo-bigoted County Commissioner Rhonda Storms won a seat in the state legislature. I expect her to make the usual fool of herself in Tallahasee, but at least her influence and vote will be severly diluted relative to her ability to influence life here in Hillsborough County. Interestingly, she was running a strong Republican district where Repubs usually win with a margin of two to three to one. Storms beat an unknown Democrat with only 58%.

And of course we can’t get through a complete election cycle here in Florida without some Republican chicanery. Watch the FL13 race closely…there was an 18,000 UNDERVOTE in Sarasota. The local and state election officials are blaming it not on their defective electronic voting machines, but on voters choosing not to vote in a “nasty” race!! Democrat Christine Jennings was ahead in every poll right up to election weekend. Election-Law blog thinks the court might order another election…but there’s even a juicier possibility: Congress deciding.

I’m sure a Democratic Congress would be interested in investigating the nonsense that occured in Katherine Harris’ old district (and hometown) with the assistance of Jeb’s pals at the Secretary of State’s office…I think this will develop into a major story as the month wears on.

Whatever the reasons, Democrats are the majority, and now have an opportunity to make something of it. If we do, we’ll stay in the majority, if we try to play it safe, the Republicans will rise again.

I remember the Republicans always threatening the “nuclear option” in the Senate. This was their threat to eliminate the filibuster. They railed against how it resulted in a minority thwarting the will of the majority. I think they given up the right to use the filibuster in the next Congress.