Whitehouse: As We Look Forward We Must Also Look Back

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Millions in America were focused on the future.  Billions, worldwide, anxiously awaited change.  On January 20, 2009, the Presidential Inauguration was broadcast hither and yon.  Barely a television, radio, computer monitor, or big screen was turned off.  Most all tuned in to see Barack Obama take the Oath of Office.  Nary a one were as moved as they were on that occasion.  

Even several Republicans said they were excited.  For countless, it seemed a light was turned on.  Finally, the American people, our allies, and those who are often characterized as adversaries, had hope.  We, collectively, believe it was possible to walk through the din that had been our doom and envision an Earth united.

The world was wowed with thoughts of what would be, as were many Constitutional scholars, concerned citizens, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  Yet, there remained a persistent thought; our potential would not be fully realized.  Several understood, as Senator Whitehouse so solemnly expressed in a speech presented on the Senate floor, a day after the festivities,  As We Look Forward We Must Also Look Back.  Few had an opportunity to see or hear an oration that was perhaps as honest and historic as the Presidents.

Sheldon Whitehouse too saw the glimmer of light.  He spoke to, as Barack Obama did in his address the day before, a democratic republic, deeply scarred, cannot heal without a shared commitment to the principles that guide our country.  The Rhode Island representative, reflected on the notion, just as the Chief Executive had hours earlier, what was sanctioned in the past would not be wiped away by a more hopeful and ethical Administration.  He noted, no series of endeavors would expunge past misdeeds.  Nor could a solitary earthly being erase the clouds that now covered the Constitution.

The Rhode Island Legislator succinctly and eloquently expressed the concern others had hoped to communicate.  He said,  As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back, to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

For Senator Whitehouse, as for many legal scholars, Conservatives, such as Bruce Fein, and Journalist, Author, John Nichols, it seemed too clear; Americans, in Congress, and on the streets in every community have yet to learn from history.  Even the newly elected President, Barack Obama, did not wish to tread on traditions that obfuscate the thread, the United States Constitution, that for centuries has allowed America to prosper.  

The President, the Obama Administration, and most of America, has expressed a desire to bury the past.  Yet, there is reason to reflect if we are to see “that brighter day; forward to what Winston Churchill in Britain’s dark days called those “broad and sunlit uplands.”  To ponder the past does not mean to punish others for misdeeds.  A penalty cannot be the priority.  Reprimands will not realize a nation’s rebirth.

Indeed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse reflects, “Our new Attorney-General designate has said, we should not criminalize policy differences.  I agree.”  The Rhode Island representative continues, “I hope we can all agree that summoning young sacrificial lambs to prosecute, as we did after the Abu Ghraib disaster, would be reprehensible.”  Sheldon Whitehouse asks only that “We hold this unique gift in trust for the future and the world.”

Please peruse the prose that might move us to provide a little bright, healthy sunshine and fresh air, to citizens of the world.  The children of today, and those who will survive Seven Generations from now need us to strengthen our democracy.  If we are to be, an educated population, empathetic to those who inherit the Earth we must, as Sheldon Whitehouse avowed, “show where the tunnels were bored, when the truth was subordinated; what institutions were subverted; how our democracy was compromised; so this grim history is not condemned to repeat itself; so a knowing public in the clarity of day can say, “Never, never, never, again,”

I thank you Sheldon Whitehouse for the wisdom and the words that break through the silence, and secure a brighter day.


Whitehouse: As We Look Forward We Must Also Look Back


January 21, 2009

I rise as we celebrate a new President, a new administration, a new mode of governing, and a new future for America.

Even in the gloom of our present predicaments, Americans’ hearts are strong and confident because we see a brighter future ahead.

President Obama looks to that future. Given the depth and severity of those predicaments, we need all his energy to look forward to lead us to that brighter day; forward to what Winston Churchill in Britain’s dark days called those “broad and sunlit uplands.”

But, as we steer toward this broad and sunlit future, what about the past? As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back, to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

Our new President has said, “America needs to look forward.” I agree.

Our new Attorney General designate has said, we should not criminalize policy differences. I agree.

And I hope we can all agree that summoning young sacrificial lambs to prosecute, as we did after the Abu Ghraib disaster, would be reprehensible.

But consider the pervasive, deliberate, and systematic damage the Bush Administration did to America, to her finest traditions and institutions, to her reputation and integrity.

I evaluate that damage in history’s light. Although I’m no historian, here is what I believe:

The story of humankind on this Earth has been a long and halting march from the darkness of barbarism and the principle that to the victor go the spoils, to the light of organized civilization and freedom. During that long and halting march, this light of progress has burned, sometimes brightly and sometimes softly, in different places at different times around the world.

The light shone in Athens, when that first Senate made democracy a living experiment; and again in the softer but broader glow of the Roman Empire and Senate.

That light burned brightly, incandescently, in Jerusalem, when Jesus of Nazareth cast his lot with the weak and the powerless.

The light burned in Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Cordoba, when the Arab world kept science, mathematics, art, and logic alive, as Europe descended into Dark Ages of plague and violence.

The light flashed from the fields of Runnymede when English nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, and glowed steadily from that island kingdom as England developed Parliament and the common law, and was the first to stand against slavery.

It rekindled in Europe at the time of the Reformation, with a bright flash in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his edicts to the Wittenberg cathedral doors, and faced with excommunication, stated “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

Over the years across the globe, that light, and the darkness of tyranny and cruelty, have ebbed and flowed.

But for the duration of our Republic, even though our Republic is admittedly imperfect, that light has shone more brightly and more steadily here in this Republic than in any place on earth: as we adopted the Constitution, the greatest achievement yet in human freedom; as boys and men bled out of shattered bodies into sodden fields at Antietam and Chicamagua, Shiloh and Gettysburg to expiate the sin of slavery; as we rebuilt shattered enemies, now friends, overseas and came home after winning world wars; and as we threw off bit by bit ancient shackles of race and gender to make this a more perfect union for all of us.

What made this bright and steady glow possible? What made it possible is not that we are better people, I believe, but that our system of government is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Why else does our President take his oath to defend a Constitution of the United States of America? Our unique form of self-government is a blessing, and we hold it in trust; not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren down through history; not just for us, but as an example out through the world.

That is why our Statue of Liberty raises a lamp to other nations still engloomed in tyranny.

That is why we stand as a beacon in this world, beckoning to all who seek a kinder, freer, brighter future.

We hold this unique gift in trust for the future and the world. Each generation assumes responsibility for this Republic and its government, and each generation takes on a special obligation when they do. Our new President closed his Inaugural Address by setting forth the challenge against which future generations will test us: whether “with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generation.” There are no guarantees that we will – this is a continuing experiment we are embarked upon – and a lot is at stake; indeed, the most precious thing of man’s creation on the face of the Earth is at stake. That is what I believe.

So from that perspective, what about the past? No one can deny that in the last eight years America’s bright light has dimmed and flickered, darkening our country and darkening the world.

The price of that is incalculable. There are nearly 7 billion human souls on this world. Every morning, the sun rises anew over their villages and hamlets and barrios, and every day they can choose where to invest their hopes, their confidence, and their dreams.

I submit that when America’s light shines brightly, when honesty, freedom, justice and compassion glow from our institutions, it attracts those hopes, those dreams; and the force of those 7 billion hopes and dreams, the confidence of those 7 billion souls in our lively experiment, is, I believe, the strongest power in our national arsenal – stronger than atom bombs. We risk it at our peril.

And of course, when our own faith is diminished at home, this vital light only dims further, again at incalculable cost.

So when an administration rigs the intelligence process and produces false evidence to send our country to war;

When an administration descends to interrogation techniques of the Inquisition, of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge – descends to techniques that we have prosecuted as crimes in military tribunals and federal courts;

When institutions as noble as the Department of Justice and as vital as the Environmental Protection Agency are systematically and deliberately twisted from their missions by odious means of institutional sabotage;

When the integrity of our markets and the fiscal security of our budget are opened wide to the frenzied greed of corporations, speculators and contractors;

When the integrity of public officials; the warnings of science; the honesty of government procedures; and the careful historic balance of our separated powers of government, are all seen as obstacles to be overcome and not attributes to be celebrated;

When taxpayers are cheated, and the forces of government ride to the rescue of the cheaters and punish the whistleblowers;

When a government turns the guns of official secrecy against its own people to mislead, confuse and propagandize them;

When government ceases to even try to understand the complex topography of the difficult problems it is our very purpose and duty to solve, and instead cares only for these points where it intersects with the party ideology, so that the purpose of government becomes no longer to solve problems, but only to work them for political advantage;

In short, when you have pervasive infiltration into all the halls of government – judicial, legislative, and executive – of the most ignoble forms of influence; when you see systematic dismantling of historic processes and traditions of government that are the safeguards of our democracy; and when you have a bodyguard of lies, jargon, and propaganda emitted to fool and beguile the American people…

Well, something very serious in the history of our republic has gone wrong, something that dims the light of progress for all humanity.

As we look forward, as we begin the task of rebuilding this nation, we have an abiding duty to determine how great the damage is. I say this in no spirit of vindictiveness or revenge. I say it because the thing that was sullied is so, so precious; and I say it because the past bears upon the future. If people have been planted in government in violation of our civil service laws to serve their party and their ideology instead of serving the public, the past will bear upon the future. If procedures and institutions of government have been corrupted and are not put right, that past will assuredly bear on the future. In an ongoing enterprise like government, the door cannot be so conveniently closed on the closets of the past. The past always bears on the future.

Moreover, a democracy is not just a static institution, it is a living education – an ongoing education in freedom of a people. As Harry Truman said addressing a joint session of Congress back in 1947, “One of the chief virtues of a democracy is that its defects are always visible, and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.”

Entirely apart from tentacles of the past that may reach into the future, are the lessons we as a people have to learn from this past carnival of folly, greed, lies, and sabotage, so that it can, under democratic processes, be pointed out and corrected.

If we blind ourselves to this history, if we pull an invisibility cloak over it, we will deny ourselves its lessons. Those lessons came at too painful a cost to ignore. Those lessons merit discovery, disclosure and discussion. Indeed, disclosure and discussion is the difference between a valuable lesson for the bright upward forces of our democracy, and a blueprint for darker forces to return and do it all over again.

A little bright, healthy sunshine and fresh air, so that an educated population knows what was done and how, can show where the tunnels were bored, when the truth was subordinated; what institutions were subverted; how our democracy was compromised; so this grim history is not condemned to repeat itself; so a knowing public in the clarity of day can say, “Never, never, never, again;” so we can keep that light – that light that is at once America’s greatest gift and greatest strength – brightly shining. To do this, I submit, we must look back.

I yield the floor.

Farewell To Privacy. Hello To Arms

Fr

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

The Courts and Congress have come to believe there is reason for fear.  Enemies are everywhere.  Those who wish to do us harm are in our homes.  They talk to us on our telephones.  Some sashay in through our computers.  “Evil doers” are ubiquitous in the United States.  Our open society places the public at risk.  We, the people, must defend ourselves.  Thus, the Supreme Court and Congress have given the government and us the means.  The highest judicial body in the nation has made it possible for the common man to protect himself with a pistol; Legislators provided the President ethereal firearms.  Indeed, individuals and the Commander-In-Chief were bequeathed more than either had asked for.  In 2008, we have entered the Summer of Separation.  In the United States we say, “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to arms.”

Absorbed in fear, Americans have detached themselves from the original intent of the United States Constitution.  We the people have embraced weaponry and rejected our right to privacy.  The populace, with assistance from Congress willingly chose to forfeit the Fourth Amendment.  authentic freedoms were  disemboweled.  If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act  (FISA) stands, and there is no reason to think a Bill signed into law by the President of the United States and each House of Congress would not be fully implemented, the press and the people will no longer have unfettered access to information.  Nor can they disseminate data without intense scrutiny.  Chris Hedges, a twenty year veteran Foreign Correspondent for The New York Times, speaks to a truth that he lived and now fears will die.

The new FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance.  It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants.  The court will not be told specifics about who will be wiretapped, which means the law provides woefully inadequate safeguards to protect innocent people whose communications are caught up in the government’s dragnet surveillance program.

The law, passed under the guise of national security, ostensibly targets people outside the country.  There is no question, however, that it will ensnare many communications between Americans and those overseas.  Those communications can be stored indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to other governments.

This law will cripple the work of those of us who as reporters communicate regularly with people overseas, especially those in the Middle East.  It will intimidate dissidents, human rights activists, and courageous officials who seek to expose the lies of our government or governments allied with ours.  It will hang like the sword of Damocles over all who dare to defy the official versions of events.  It leaves open the possibility of retribution and invites the potential for abuse by those whose concern is not with national security but with the consolidation of their own power.

Trepidation has long been a tool for intimidation.  A frightened fellow or female will happily adopt a policy or a pistol to relieve apprehension.  Perhaps, that it why after the events of September 11, 2001, Americans, panicked and the power elite prospered.  As the Twin Towers fell, the people cried out for protection.  Congress gleefully approved the Patriot Act; and as a nation, we pursued a course of action that was and is contrary to Constitutional principles.  Even early on, Americans said,  “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to arms.”

As the war thundered on, the public worked to avoid greater anxiety.  People purchased more guns for personal safety sake.  They feared the government might not be able to shield them from all potential harms.  Indeed, this attitude has been ubiquitous in American history.  The Wild West outlook often overrides logic or Constitutional law.  In America, there have been many Summers of Separation.

When humans think weaponry is the solution, as they do in a country where there are ninety guns per every one hundred U.S. residents, they will grab a pistol when faced with any problem.  The availability of petroleum has become a paradox.  Prices for fuel and food are high.  The cost for shelter is higher.  Homes are in foreclosure.  Job security is but a myth.  Employer provided benefits are elusive.  The cost for Health Care coverage is out of reach; yet, the gun that could end it all is close.

Immigration is also an issue that irks many in America.  When migrants flee to the States in search of financial freedom, the native-born feel further threatened.  The divide between the races causes much resentment.  Income inequity offers reason for rage.  Economic slavery causes tempers to rise.  In 2008, the effect of all these predicaments troubles the populace.   The American public is aggravated.  Currently, people feel less safe, less strong, and more scared.  Millions ponder.  Force can seem the great equalizer.  Hence, gun ownership is great.  The Small Arms Survey, released in August 2007 reveals Americans have a ready arsenal.

With fewer than five per cent of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35-50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.

The report went on to state that the common folk are better equipped with weaponry than law enforcement or the military might be.  Civilians who reside in cities, suburbs, and those who dwell in the countryside possess the vast majority of total firearms owned in the United States.  Citizens in a country built on might will use firepower to retain what they believe is their right. If they are refused the privilege to pack heat, Americans will seek recourse by any means.

Special-forces policeman Heller, a resident of Washington District of Columbia certainly did.  The lawman, aware that anyone on the street might be armed sought solace in a piece of hardware.  Mister Heller applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home; the District denied his request since, at the time, the District of Columbia forbade civilian handgun ownership.  Disgruntled, and prepared for battle, as Americans often are, Officer Heller filed a legal suit.  He stated his Second Amendment Rights were violated.  The Supreme Court agreed.

A review of the actual Second Amendment which states Americans have the Right to “bear arms in times when a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State,” or research might have led the Justices to decide otherwise.  Nonetheless, in a summer steeped with separation from acumen, the Supreme Court ruled civilian gun ownership is a right.

The Administration, policymakers, and pundits think the decision wise.  After all, it is a dangerous world.  Americans need to be prepared to fight the ominous foe  Fifteen years ago,   near half of American households understood this.  People built arsenals.  Thirty-one percent of adult Americans owned a firearm in 1993.  Still, that armory was not enough to protect the citizenry from attack.  Years later, the munitions stored,  while likely larger, were no better protection.

Crimes occurred outside the home, on the streets of any given community and , just as predicted, some transgressions traumatized those within four walls. Few Americans ponder the weightier aspects of artillery in the American home.

Earlier this year (1997), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a mind-boggling report showing that the U.S. firearm-related homicide rate for children was 16 times higher than the combined rate for children in 25 other industrialized countries.  Meanwhile, the U.S. child rate of firearm related suicide was 11 times higher. . .

Last year, Congress nearly slashed the budget for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), which collects and monitors firearm injury data and funds related research as part of its mission.  As a result of new funding mandates, CDC this year has been forced to dramatically reduce its firearm-related injury research, and CDC-funded gunshot injury surveillance programs will come to an end in several states.

All this comes at a time when gunshot injuries are expected to soon outstrip automobile accidents as the number one cause of injury death in the U.S., costing an estimated $20 billion yearly in medical costs and lost productivity.  Surprisingly little medical research monitors the kinds of firearm injuries that occur or the types of guns used.  While the CDC samples unshot injury data from 91 hospitals around the country, there is no comprehensive national surveillance system to accurately track how many people are wounded by guns each year..

Surveillance is the sham used to explain what Federal officials think a greater priority.  Those who have more power than a weapon might wield understand the statistics on civilian gun wounds would not please or appease Americans.  Information on gun injury might shift the fear factor.  If the people are to remain focused on foreign forces, then FISA, the Bill that keeps on giving to the politically powerful, will remain safe, and after all, is that not the truer issue.  As foreign correspondent Christopher Hedges reminds us . . .

It (the law) is about using terrorism (at home or abroad) as a pretext to permit wholesale spying and to silence voices that will allow us to maintain an open society.

Thankfully, when prized pistols are in question, it is easy to silence voices of dissent.  Physicians were not asked to speak before the Supreme Court shot down a ban on gun sales.  Had they had the opportunity Americans and the Justices might have heard  . . .

Doctors worried by Supreme Court gun ruling

By Maggie Fox

Reuters

Wed Jul 9, 2008 7:44pm EDT

Washington (Reuters) – Last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a strict gun control law in the U.S. capital will lead to more deaths and accidental injuries, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine said on Wednesday.

They joined a growing clamor from medical doctors, especially emergency room physicians, who fear a surge of accidental deaths, murders, and suicides if handguns become more easily available than they already are.

The ruling struck down a law in Washington that forbade personal ownership of handguns.  The court made explicit, for the first time, that Americans had rights as individuals to own guns.

It won praise from President George W. Bush, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and guns rights advocates (and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama)

Justice Antonin Scalia, who voted with the 5-4 majority on the decision, said citizens may prefer handguns for home defense because they “can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police.”

Perchance, Justice Scalia would be comforted to know, that with thanks to his cohorts  in the Legislative Branch, when a city dweller or a rural resident telephones for assistance, he or she can be comforted by the thought the authorities are very close by.  Indeed, public officials may be plugged into the individual’s phone, and computer.  In the Summer of Separation, as powerbrokers in one part of Washington said , “Hello To Arms,” those on the other side of the Hill proclaimed, “Farewell To Privacy.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established thirty years ago was all but rescinded.  The court system created to help public officials in a crisis is no longer needed to swiftly serve warrants when an investigation is requested.  The Constitution has been compromised.

Lawmakers are already justifying their votes for making major changes to that proven regime by saying that the bill is a reasonable compromise that updates FISA technologically and will make it somewhat harder to spy on Americans abroad. But none of that mitigates the bill’s much larger damage. It would make it much easier to spy on Americans at home, reduce the courts’ powers, and grant immunity to the companies that turned over Americans’ private communications without a warrant.

It would allow the government to bypass the FISA court and collect large amounts of Americans’ communications without a warrant simply by declaring that it is doing so for reasons of national security. It cuts the vital “foreign power” provision from FISA, never mentions counterterrorism and defines national security so broadly that experts think the term could mean almost anything a president wants it to mean.

The President is abundantly pleased.  The present Commander-In-Chief is now assured ultimate power.  Future potential Chief Executives, one of whom voted to support this conciliatory commitment to telecommunication companies, will forever retain the “right” to be spy on the citizenry.   In the Summer of Separation, cognitive and Constitutional dissonance is secure.  Congress and the courts assured us of this.

Congress cast aside the Fourth Amendment,  The Supreme Court rescinded the essence of the Second Amendment.  Our countrymen are now be free to carry a gun, and chat on an open line with the trigger cocked.  Former President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt  told us “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”  Perhaps, the prominent predecessor could not have predicted a day when citizens would be convinced to embrace fretfulness, to forego freedom, and to sing, “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to Arms.”

References and Rights . . .

The Strength of the Nation

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

These are troubled times in this United States and around the globe.  Our citizens face economic distress.  The administration admits to the use of torture in questioning detainees.  News of hidden prisons and unidentified prisoners (detainees or enemy combatants our government calls them) continue to surface on a near daily basis.  The Congress is twisted in knots over an intelligence bill that may allow further erosion of privacy in our nation.  The writ of habeus corpus is for all intents and purposes lost to the so-called Patriot Act.  What ever is a person to do to survive?

In the past, and still today, the citizens of our great nation have risen to the fight and accomplished what many may have failed.  We survived the Great Depression of the late 1920’s.  We as a nation fought two World Wars without losing sight of our basic foundations.  We survived the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War bloodied but unbowed.  We will survive once again.  

Others have observed the basic substance of the United States.  Paul Tillich

The typical American, after he has lost the foundations of his existence, works for new foundations.  This is true of the individual and it is true of the nation.

Victor Vinde

The greatest asset of the Americans, so often ridiculed by Europeans, is his belief in progress and his profession of democracy.

Today we find our nation on a downhill slope.  For the time being all we are managing is to slow the fall.  We need more.  We need to find ways to reach deep inside ourselves and to reach to touch others to move the nation to new heights.  Our history is replete with instances of great leaders finding ways to stir the populous to action.  Today we need one more such person to inspire and to show us the way.

We must continue to believe in our nation and in our founding principles.  Our nation was born in ideals of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  The foundations remain in place to this day.  We need not search for a new scenario upon which to build.  We need only return to our roots and continue the idealism our Founding Fathers held.  Those men may not have been perfect by any means but their ideas have held this nation together for more than 200 years.  The last thing we should consider today is any great modification of our Constitution or any of those great ideas of so long ago.

We must regain our thoughts of progress and of true democracy.  Too much has been sacrificed to the fear card.  We have lost privacy and individual rights.  Too often those who sacrifice privacy for security end with neither.  We must take back our government.  We must insist upon our rights as they were set in the Constitution.  We have a fine basis for our existence if we are able to regain our hold on those ideals.

Action is required.  Every person in the nation today must reach out to every person in their corner of the world.  We are all first and foremost human beings.  We are a population of men, women, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, children, and adults.  If we see our humanness as the most important part of life all the other characteristics lend strength to the collection.  Our differences must not be allowed to be used as divisive pieces.  Our nation is like a fine salad in which the collection of individual pieces makes a whole so much better and yet each piece retains its own individuality.  As an entire nation of people we stand together or we fall apart.

We must not lose faith in the basic strengths of our nation.  We can hold on to our founding principles as an anchor or a life preserver.  If we keep our belief in the nation intact and work hard enough to bring about the renewal necessary, we will leave a heritage for future generations of which we may be proud.  

The work will not always be easy.  The way will be blocked at times by those who wish to disagree or to impede progress.  Yet we must prevail.  We will win by moving off our sofas and out of our safe and warm onto the streets.  Outside we meet people and we tell them what must be done.  We can demonstrate.  We can hold the vigils that keep the flame of protest alive.  Whatever each of is able to do is a contribution to the overall effort.  The only unacceptable action is no action at all.

How Low We Have Fallen

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

In a recent report from the AP, we learn America is now listed with many other countries including

Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.

Administration spokespersons were quick to deny any allegations that the US engages in torture and to protest the inclusion of the US on the list.

At the same time other reports tell the tale of Tom Ridge, first administrator of the Department of Homeland Security as he characterizes waterboarding as torture saying

And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is – and will always be – torture. That’s a simple statement.

 

From that same Ridge article comes the following quote.

Waterboarding is a harsh interrogation tactic that was used by CIA officers in 2002 and 2003 on three alleged al-Qaida terrorists. The tactic gives the subject the sensation of drowning.

The evidence of CIA use of strong interrogation measures that amount to torture by most reasonable definitions is clear.  A series of memos demonstrate the government position on treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.  The Geneva Conventions were ruled not to apply.  Prisoners are held in places like Guantanamo Bay where legal rules of the Constitution are not enforced.

ManilaRyce, Flickr, Creative Commons

How much longer will Americans tolerate this standard to which we have fallen?  Can America survive as a nation let alone a world leader so long as we continue to allow the mistreatment of persons under our control?

The time has come to end this fall from grace.  We, the American people must stand up and speak out and return our country to the Constitutional government of our Founders.  We each and every one deserve to live in a nation bounded by liberty and justice for all.  Nothing less will do.

Peace.

Pondering Patriotism

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Patriotism is defined as

love for or devotion to one’s country.

 If that be the case then I count myself a true patriot.  I love our nation or at least the nation we once were and the nation we may be once again.  I am devoted to the cause of restoring our nation to the benefit of all the people once and for all.

On the other hand, Julius Caesar was right when he said:

Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor. For patriotism is indeed a double- edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and patriotism, will offer up all of their rights to the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Julius Caesar.

Any spirit of patriotism may be misused as we in America have seen in the aftermath of 9/11.

And in Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell found a different idea of where patriotism may lead in time:

The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering – a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons – a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting – three hundred million people all with the same face.

Real danger lurks in the wrong that blind patriotism may bring upon the people.

We need a return to basic ideas of right and wrong in this nation today.  We who love the country stand for its principles of liberty and justice for all.  We stand for ALL the people, not just the privileged and powerful few.  America is a nation filled with promise and built on a long history of both right and wrong.  It behooves us today to review our past and learn the lessons contained within.  Together we can build a nation which deserves patriotic fervor and which responds to that feeling with the reward of living in the greatest country in the world.

To bring about the changes we need today we must all stand together for what is right and good in life.  Law and government should be held to standards of right and for a level playing field in which any person may find real success based upon hard work.  The people of this great nation, no matter their skin color or sexual preference, no matter their religious leanings, no matter their  physical accumulations, all deserve a nation of which they can be proud.  We all need a country about which we can say we love that nation as only a true patriot can love.

Can we find that nation in America?  I believe the foundation was laid in the Constitution.  There are no more powerful words to my mind than the opening of the preamble:

We the People…

 We who live in America today hold the reins of government by right of law.  The question is, can we take back that right and move our nation in the ways needed for the good of ALL the people?

Impeachment; Not Impossible. Bush Cheney Censure Begins with You

Rollins on impeachment

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”
~ George W. Bush, June 18, 2002
“War is Peace”
~ Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984

Many believe impeachment is not likely.  Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi will not consider it.  Presidential candidate John Edwards thinks the process is a distraction.  Many Americans forget that until impeachment was proposed and investigations began, there was no evidence to convict Richard M. Nixon.  When asked to assess the past people only recall the spectacular.  Sex scandals are dicey! 

Talk of intimate physical intercourse could stimulate a climatic end to the George W. Bush, Dick Cheney supremacy.  However, we do not see love scenes in the making of this President.  Under this Bush, it is dark, damp, and dank.  This Bush is all about war!  George W. Bush has raped the land and ripped the cloth known as the Constitution.  Many acknowledge his crimes and the corruption he and his mate Cheney propagate.  Yet, since these are not sexual in nature they evoke no censure. 

Americans have resigned themselves to the notion Bush and Cheney will continue to reign.

However, it need not be.  There is still reason for hope.  Don Quixote, otherwise known as Dennis Kucinich, is prepared to propose what others dare not do.  This Presidential aspirant tilts at windmills and moves us to act.  The Congressman from Ohio will do the absurd and create the impossible.  Dennis Kucinich understands, “Strength is peace!”

“Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.
~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

Our future President Dennis Kucinich will exhibit courage and call for censure.  Some may say Dennis did this before; Conyers did too.  However, neither thought to recruit you.  As Dennis Kucinich and Impeach for Peace sought solace in the constitution, found buried in the ashes of a Bush, they realized there is a way to impeach.  They were reminded of a principle lost; government is of, by, and for the people.  W, the people are the power.  The Administration can seek peace through military strength however . . .

“We can bomb the world to pieces, but we cannot bomb the world to peace.”
~ Michael Franti [Songwriter, Poet]

Perhaps world harmony will come.  Tranquility begins with you.  With your assistance . . .

Kucinich to Force Impeachment Vote on the House Floor
Source: Impeach for Peace
By Jodin Morey
September 27, 2007

This bombshell [words that shake the world towards peace] just dropped by Rep. Dennis Kucinich on the Ed Schultz show.  Kucinich is considering forcing an impeachment vote on a “privileged resolution” on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Time to call your representative and let him/her know that you will not support any candidate who doesn’t support accountability and the rule of law.

You can reach the Capitol switchboard toll-free at 1-800-426-8073.
More details to follow on this post as this news develops?

As a result of this article, Impeach for Peace has been asked this question: What is a “privileged resolution?”

The following was found on InetResults.com:?1 High Constitutional Privilege.

In order to qualify as a resolution or memorial of high constitutional privilege, the House member must contain a “direct” or “positive” proposal to impeach. A mere proposition to investigate conduct of a civil officer does not qualify as a high constitutional privilege even though impeachment may be contemplated as a possibility or even if the resolution or memorial is presented with “a view to impeachment.” See Impeachment: Selected Materials pp. 66-71 (Sections 2045-2052) and pp. 767-69 (Sections 468-69).

A direct or positive proposal to impeach retains its high constitutional privilege even though the resolution or memorial proposing impeachment also contains a resolution that the impeachment matter be referred to an appropriate House Committee for inquiry or investigation.

See Impeachment: Selected Materials pp. 67-69 (Sections 2046-48). At the same time, the resolution calling for an investigation or inquiry cannot also request an appropriation for funds to support the investigation or inquiry. Id. at pp. 767-68 (Section 468).

A direct or positive proposal to impeach takes precedence over everything,” even over pending business before the House under a unanimous consent agreement. Id. at p. 770 (Section 469). Indeed, impeachment is a question of constitutional privilege which may be presented at any time irrespective of previous action of the House. Id. at 71 (Section 2053).

Please help.  In truth we do nothing ourselves.  United we stand.  As Aesop expressed, “Union gives strength.  Together we can Do-It-Ourselves and Impeach for Peace.

Please review the links below.  Print out the petitions.  Fill in the forms.  Sign the papers.  Send the pages and show your support.

Download, fill in your relevant information in the blanks (name, State, notary is optional), and send in a letter today. We’re sending this wave in to House Rep. Dennis Kucinich who has recently spoken in favor of impeachment. There’s also extra credit for sending a DIY Impeachment to your own representative as well as representatives recommended by Keith Ellison of the House Judiciary.

One of the copies will come to Impeach for Peace’s home office and we’ll hand deliver them to a House Rep. with cameras rolling.

That’s right – to make a big impact, when we get enough, we’ll deliver them all on the same date (In previous waves, we’ve had over 500,000 download of the document representing over 1.7 million mailings). We hope to flood the congress with sacks of mail and cause a newsworthy event to further pressure them to act on the memorials. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that in the 1830 precedent, impeachment resulted as a result of a single memorial. Yours might be the one.

You are the one.  Please do not forget, government is you.  The Constitution hoped to ensure authority would be of, by, and for the people.  Without your awareness and action, there is no democracy, no representation.  Please speak.  If we remain silent, we cannot be heard.

Do It Yourself Impeachment.

Impeachment is Not Impossible . . .

  • Kucinich to Force Impeachment Vote on the House Floor. Source: Impeach for Peace. By Jodin Morey. September 27, 2007
  • Do–It-Yourself Impeachment.
  • pdf Do–It-Yourself Impeachment.
  • Do It Yourself Impeachment.  Impeach For Peace.org
  • Help Kucinich Impeach Cheney!
  • pdf Help Kucinich Impeach Cheney!
  • Bomb the World, By Michael Franti
  • Impeachment; Bush and Cheney Convict of Constitutional Crimes

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The question is often posed.  Each day a few Progressives ponder the possibility and offer their plea.  Conservatives on the “Right” and “Left’ languish when they discuss what may be apt.  They state there is no time.  Some posit, impeachment will distract a nation at war.  Ah, how the White House welcomes that theory.  Many dismiss the notion.  They question the feasibility.  Others are ready, willing, and waiting to start the impeachment proceedings.  Rants, rage, reasons fill the air; they flood the airwaves.  Cyberspace is clogged with conversations.  Congress declares the topic is “off the table.”  Yet, here it is.  Few have stated the rational so concisely.  I present the position for impeachment as detailed by the Voice of the Environment.  I invite a discussion.

    Voice of the Environment’s August 9, 2007 advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Santa Monica Mirror and New York Times.

    America Betrayed (#23 in a series of 30)
    Let’s put Bush & Cheney where they belong . . .


    Step One: Impeachment
    We the people have the legal right and the moral obligation to enforce the Constitution and the rule of law.  If we allow George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to subvert and break the law, we ourselves become complicit in the illegality.

    The Case for Impeachment

  • George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied to Congress and to the American people in fabricating a case for an illegal, “preemptive” war against Iraq.  They lied about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction and they tricked the American people into believing that Saddam was responsible for the tragedies of 9/11.
  • Bush and Cheney have subverted the Constitution through illegal surveillance of American citizens and the suspension of habeas corpus, a legal right dating back to the Magna Carta (1215).
  • The president and vice-president have caused the illegal detention and torture of foreign nationals they call “illegal combatants” (a new category created to circumvent the Geneva Conventions).  They have also caused citizens to be kidnapped and taken away for torture.
  • Bush has issued more than 800 “signing statements,” whereby he alone decides which laws or sections of law he will enforce. One such signing statement allowed the continuation of torture, even after a congressionally-mandated ban. Last December, Bush asserted the authority to open US mail without judicial warrants in a signing statement attached to a postal reform bill.
  • On September 30, 2003, George W. Bush said “if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.  And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of.”  The same George W. Bush recently took care of Cheney aide I. “Scooter” Libby, commuting his 30-month prison sentence. Libby was convicted by a jury of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in the case of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The constitutional provision allowing the president to pardon convicted criminals was never intended to facilitate the cover-up of crimes committed by the White House.

    Step Two: Indictment
    The president is protected from criminal prosecution while in office. The vice-president is not. In fact, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy are currently challenging the administration’s expansive claims of executive privilege by issuing a subpoena for Karl Rove and initiating contempt proceedings against other executive branch officials including Harriet Miers. 

    Once Bush and Cheney are impeached (or termed out of office), both are liable in criminal proceedings. Justice can and should be done through an indictment brought by a federal grand jury for treason in conspiring to defraud and deceive the American people into an illegal war.

    World opinion of the United States is at an all-time low.
    Bringing President Bush and Vice-President Cheney to justice will begin the process of restoring respect for the United States and restoring our own self-respect as a democratic people.

    Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and the House Judiciary Committee must address this crisis by taking the Constitutional steps necessary to bring about impeachment proceedings in the House and a trial in the Senate. To delay or avoid such remedy is to place our democratic republic and the separation of powers in grave danger now and for the foreseeable future.


    Paid for by Voice of the Environment
    www.voiceoftheenvironment.org (a 501(c)3)


  • Ultimately, we the people are responsible for the actions of our government.  We are responsible for the thousands of American soldiers killed and maimed and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – including civilians, women and children – killed, maimed and displaced.

    We are ashamed at what is being done in our names!  After six years of imperial adventurism, Bush and Cheney have set the stage to attack Iran.

    Such an attack could mark the beginning of World War III, an unthinkable conflict pitting the west against much of the Muslim world.

    In 1933, as Hitler rose to power, the German people still had a chance to rise up and change history. They failed to act and tens of millions paid with their lives.

    Today, the American people face a similar challenge.  If we don’t change history, we may be doomed to repeat it.

    If you agree with the ideas expressed in this ad, support Voice of the Environment with a tax-deductible contribution.  Please mail your check to:
    Voice of the Environment
    1330 Boonville Road
    Ukiah CA 95482




    Voice of the Environment’s mission is to . . .
      educate the public regarding the illegal seizure of our natural resources
    and the unconstitutional usurpation of our inalienable right by a corporate-driven government.
  • Let’s put Bush & Cheney where they belong . . . America Betrayed.  Voice of the Environment
  • Voice of the Environment
  • pdf Let’s put Bush & Cheney where they belong . . . America Betrayed.  Voice of the Environment
  • Duplicity Among Democrats. Constitution Gives Congress The Power



    Democrats’ Innocent Bystander Fable

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The Democratic Debates held early in June 2007 reminds me of many recent rants.  Again, I recall the depth of my disdain for the lackluster lunacy that passes for Presidential material.  Senator Hillary Clinton hails she made the correct decision when she chose to ‘support the President’ and send our soldiers off to slaughter.  Senator Joseph Biden declares “We have worked hard to try and end this war.”  Barack Obama states it is not easy to do what needs to be done.  Yet, experts state these claims are reason for concern.

    Six months earlier, the Washington Post reported . . .

    Congress can halt Iraq war, experts tell lawmakers
    By Susan Cornwell
    Reuters
    Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 8:17 PM

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress has the power to end the war in Iraq, a former Bush administration attorney and other high-powered legal experts told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

    Facing mounting opposition over his Iraq troop increase plan, President George W. Bush insisted it would be “too extreme” if lawmakers pass a resolution condemning his Iraq policy.

    Four out of five experts called before the Senate Judiciary Committee said Congress could go even further and restrict or stop U.S. involvement in Iraq if it chose.

    “I think the constitutional scheme does give Congress broad authority to terminate a war,” said Bradford Berenson, a Washington lawyer who was a White House associate counsel under Bush from 2001 to 2003.

    “It is ultimately Congress that decides the size, scope and duration of the use of military force,” said Walter Dellinger, former acting solicitor general, the government’s chief advocate before the Supreme Court, in 1996-97.

    ‘Tis true Congress decides.  They determined more than four long years ago, to give this President the power he needs to do dastardly deeds.

    We witnessed during these “debates” what Senator Clinton spoke of aloud.  Those on the platform that evening share similar views.  Only if elected to the highest office in the land will they exert any power.  We must wonder what sorts of decisions they will make once labeled the “decider.”

    As campaigners, we see they too manufacture myths then emphatically present these as though they are facts.  The people of America accept these as truths, just as they entrusted their faith in the rhetoric of George W. Bush years ago. 

    When assessing such duplicity over the years, decades, scores, and perchance centuries, many profess; it is the nature of politics.  Candidates say and do what they must to get elected.  Dishonesty exists even among the Democrats.  It has always been that way and will forever be.  However, I think not.

    I believe, we, as citizens have a responsibility to be informed, to look beyond the information an aspiring campaigner offers.  We must measure the data delivered, consider what is occurring, and then ask why.  Experts have evaluated the current situation and their answers are astounding.  I invite you to more thoroughly review what Constitutional scholars offer. 

    Deceit need not be part of the democratic process.  That theory “politics is a dirty business” is only true if we accept it.

    We need not accept war as an inevitability.  Certainly, people posit, “There has always been war.  That is just the way it is.’  However, as long as we give credence to such a concept we are powerless to change what was and continues to be.  We are not without clout; nor is Congress. We have authority, strength, and wisdom needed.  The question is will we use it.

    Let us take heed and create the country our forefathers envisioned.  We can and historians remind us of this.

    Social Science scholars tell us the President does not have the right to wage such a wily war.  He was not given supreme authority.  Perhaps, the present is a pretense.  I invite you dear reader to look, listen, and probe more deeply with me.  Let us [and Congress] take the power back.

    As you know, currently, Senators, Congressmen, and Women continually deny their power to end the war.  Our Representatives rage against the political machine while rejecting the fact that that they are the mechanism that drives this nation.  Democrats argue, George W. Bush is not the “decider”; yet, they continually give him the power to determine when, how, or why we send our soldiers to war.

    We may muse, “What does Congress know of their powers, and when did they know it?”  Perhaps in the past members of the House and Senate chose to be unaware of their rights and duties.  I cannot know with certainty.  Nonetheless, I do trust that in February 2007 Senator Russell Feingold inquired, “Does the Congress have the power to stop the war?”  A panel of legal scholars offered their measured responses.

    The first witness was Professor David J. Barron of Harvard Law School who argued that the Congress has a ?substantial zone of authority? when it comes to war policy.  He said the framers realized that if a war goes on for years, with tens of thousands of troops, that appropriations would be needed.  So, by giving Congress the power of the purse they were giving the Congress significant power over the continuation of military actions.  Congress has used its powers to cut off or put conditions on funding for many wars including Vietnam as well as conflicts in Cambodia, Somalia, and Bosnia.

    This was consistent with the view of the next witness, Robert Turner of the University of Virginia Law School, who said Congress has very specific powers: to declare war, to raise armies and to appropriate funds for wars.  But, this is balanced with the powers of the president who has responsibility over the general management of the relationship between the United States and the external world.  Therefore, the Congressional power to declare war should be construed strictly . . .

    Lewis Fisher, who is a specialist in Constitutional Law for the Law Library of the Library of Congress, describing Congressional power by saying ?Congress has the authority, duty and responsibility to decide national policy ? that is why you are elected.?

    [Fisher] He went on to say, ?The people give you their sovereign power temporarily.  The power is with the people and you are a temporary custodian.?  He said Congress has the responsibility to make sure the public?s will was carried out or they may not find themselves in office in the future.  Further, the framers rejected models of government where the executive was given all power over foreign power and instead put their faith in the deliberative process of a legislature.  He described the rational of checks and balances put in place by the framers of the Constitution as recognition that human nature is not trustworthy.

    Therefore, ?when you passed the use of force resolution you did not cede authority, in fact, you have a duty to revisit this.?  Fisher argued that Congress has the responsibility to consider ?whether continued use of military force is in the national interest.  That is the core question.?

    Also testifying was Bradford A. Berenson, who served as Associate Counsel to the President from January 2001 to January 2003.  He noted at the outset that the country is best off when the two branches of government are consulting with each other and working together.  He saw three spheres of influence over war (1) legislative power; (2) executive power; and (3) shared power.

    The power exclusive to the legislature is to declare war, raise arms, and regulate warfare so long as it does not interfere in the power of the executive who has sole power as commander in chief.  The power as commander in chief gives exclusive power over tactics, strategy, and selecting sub-commanders.

    Congressional power is over broad national policy, e.g. where we fight, who the enemy is, and how many troops can be used.  If the Congress wanted to say ?end hostility within six months,? doing so would be in its constitutional power but the president would still have emergency powers to protect the troops in that process.  He concluded ?the constitutional scheme does give Congress broad authority to terminate a war.?

    The final speaker was Walter Dellinger, a former Solicitor General of the United States who is a professor at Duke University.  He said the president had ?authority to command the troops and a great deal of authority to protect national security, when Congress is silent.  But when Congress has acted to decide the size, scope and duration of military force, it limits the president.?  He said the Congressional power is not ?all or nothing, but they can limit the president? after they grant authority to go to war.  Dellinger did not believe that Congress was limited to the power of the purse but rather could limit presidential actions under the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution as well.

    The clamor continues.  Months after this forum Hillary Clinton decidedly declares, “This is George Bush’s War!”  she denies any responsibility for bringing battle about or for continuing the combat.  She does admit to not reading the full Intelligence Reports before voting “aye”; however, she states she was well briefed.  Was she aware of the fact that she did not need to follow the President’s lead or pretend to protect the country against illusive Weapons of Mass Destruction?

    John Edwards, another Democratic Senator that voted to approve funding before the first bomb fell, also confesses he never read the Intelligence reports.  Yet, he too said “aye.”  Clinton and Edwards willingly sent American troops to war with limited information.  The difference is Edwards is willing to acknowledge he was wrong.  Hillary remains stalwart, and blames the President for the endless battles. 

    Joe Biden states Congress does not have the votes to cut the cash flow.  Hmmm?  This seems a childish excuse, ‘We would if we could but we can’t.’  The Constitution does in fact give Congress more power than they are willing to use.  The House and Senate are not meant to merely control the purse strings.  Our Representatives are not pawns for the President.  They do not serve at his pleasure.  Nor are they serving at mine.

    The document is clear in its language: “The Congress shall have the power… To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; To provide and maintain a navy; To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…”

    If that makes it sound as if control over matters military was placed squarely in the hands of the House and Senate, then the founders succeeded in communicating their intent. James Madison and the other authors of the Constitution were exceptionally blunt about their hope that the president would serve as a mere commander-in-chief, implementing the directions of the Congress with regard to the targets or military actions, the characters of those actions and their durations.

    The founders bluntly stated their fears about executive excess in a time of military conflict.  “War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement,” warned Madison, who explained that, “In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand, which is to dispense them. In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.”

    The Constitution was written “to chain the dogs of war” by founders who believed it essential that the endeavor be “run by committee” – with the legislative branch fully empowered to check and balance the ambition, the avarice and the vanity of the executive.

    Ahhh, “to chain the dogs of war.”  Perhaps our history is all wrong.  We have not followed the path our fore fathers place before us.  It seems the signers of the Constitution were not as jaded as we.  Madison expressed my thoughts eloquently and exactly.  “Executive aggrandizement” is the definition of armed combat.  When the President and his Vice exaggerate their legal capacity to make decisions we all lose.  Lives are lost.  Limbs destroyed, as are families, hearts, minds, and souls.  Please let us end the madness.

    Congress, cut the funds without delay.  Our boys and girls are being buried alive.  Your tall tales are killing innocents, soldiers, and civilians.  The Constitution gives you the right to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.  This document entrusts you with the power to promote peace.  Pretend no more; defend our union and free our servicemen and women from harm.  Bring the troops home now!

    Pondering the Power of Congress . . .

  • Contenders clash on Iraq, immigration, health care. Cable News Network.  June 4, 2007
  • Congress can halt Iraq war, experts tell lawmakers, By Susan Cornwell.  Reuters.  Washington Post.
    Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 8:17 PM

  • pdf Congress can halt Iraq war, experts tell lawmakers, By Susan Cornwell.  Reuters.  Washington Post.
    Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 8:17 PM

  • Feingold Asks the Basic Question: What is Congressional Power to Stop the War? By Kevin Zeese.  The American Chronicle.  February 2007
  • “Exercising Congress?s Constitutional Power to End a War.” By John Nichols.  The Nation.  January 29, 2007
  • U.S. Constitution: Preamble. FindLaw.
  • The Price of Addiction. Bush and War  By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org.
  • Congress; “Support our troops. Bring them home!” By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org.
  • Bush Cuts Funds For Troops. Is Veto Victory? By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org.
    For another perspective . . .

  • Let’s Watch TV. MaxSpeak.
  • The Law. Bush Versus Attorney General Gonzales ©

    This issue confuses me, entertains me, scares me, and fascinates me.  I am thankful that the “letter of the law” was followed, a warrant was granted and that is good, particularly in light of recent revelations.  I do think the principles that guide society are important.  I prefer to believe that politicians are altruistic; when bribes are buying influence, I shutter.  Nevertheless, I am conflicted.  Having experienced an administration that routinely violates the law [thus far, 750 of them in fact], alters the Constitution, and hides behind privilege, I fear for what might be.

    Representative William Jefferson, a Louisiana Congressman is under investigation.  The charge is bribery.  Apparently, serious allegations have been made.  It is said that this prominent political leader was videotaped accepting $100,000 from an informant.

    The case against Mr. Jefferson has been building for months.  This week the court awarded a search-and-seizure warrant.  Federal Bureau of Investigation examiners were sent out.  Ninety thousand dollars in cold, hard, and ice-covered cash was found in the Congressman’s home freezer.  The suspect’s computer was taken from his office.  The money, while fascinating, has caused little clamor.  The legality and constitutionality of a Congressional office search has brought much comment.

    Rummaging through the workplace went on for eighteen long hours.  Others in Congress, also under investigation; however, on different charges, feared for themselves.  These persons were decidedly nervous.  They questioned privately, might these unprecedented exercises affect them?  I wonder how it might affect us all.  When there is no separation of power, no checks, or balances, what is there?  Oh yes, totalitarianism, exactly what this administration claims we are fighting against.

    Publicly, some Congresspersons rancor was raised.  They asked what of our system of checks and balances.  They pondered and proposed legal scholars to do the same.  Does a practice such as this suggest that we, as a nation, endorse policies that negate the separation of power?  These rabble-rousers, normally calm and contrite were criticized.  It was said they are more worried about themselves than the law of this land.  However, orators such as House Speaker Dennis Hastert declared, “Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years.”

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, proclaimed, Justice Department investigations must follow “constitutional protections and historical precedent.”  House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, chimed in stating he has “grave concerns” about this search and seizure.

    Democratic Representative William Jefferson, who has not yet been charged, felt justified in stating an FBI search of his Capitol office “an outrageous intrusion.”  The Congressman said, “There are two sides to every story.  There are certainly two sides to this story.”  He was empathic; though asked by leader Pelosi, Jefferson said, no, he will not resign.  Interestingly, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might.

    Attorney General Gonzales conceded, “I will admit that, these were unusual steps that were taken in response to an unusual set of circumstances.”  Nevertheless, he thinks these actions were necessary and just.  You might recall, dear reader, this same man thought it wise to discount standards set by Geneva Convention.  He stated they were obsolete.  Principles of compassion, and humanitarian gestures are archaic.

    George W. Bush did as well; however, now, with the weight of polls looming large on his shoulders, he is more repentant or reluctant to cause himself greater grief.  The President is seeking solace and therefore, wants to end the wrangling.  King George II wishes to give each side time to think, a novel concept coming from this White House.

    Mr. Bush explained everyone needs time to cool down.  Possibly, they might meet in William Jefferson’s freezer.  In an attempt to achieve greater calm, President Bush has asked the Justice Department to seal all the documents and keep them for 45 days.  Mr. Bush is expectant that in the interim more facts will emerge, tempers will cool, and all persons involved might have a cleared perspective.

    The Attorney General is clear.  Gonzales has offered to tender his resignation if the President enforces his command.  Cool, as cash is in a well-insulated freezer.

    References For Review . . .
    Bush challenges hundreds of laws By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe. April 30, 2006 for PDF Bush challenges hundreds of laws
    Congressman in bribery inquiry won’t resign Associated Press. MSNBC. May 22, 2006
    Angry lawmakers demand FBI return seized documents CNN News May 26, 2006
    GOP, Dems blast FBI for searching congressional office. CNN News May 25, 2006
    Alberto Gonzales: A Record of Injustice Center for American Progress
    Memorandum on the Geneva Conventions Center for American Progress
    Hastert Irate at ABC Story; Bush Freezes Files, by Luke Burbank. All Things Considered. National Public Radio. May 25, 2006
    Gonzales was ready to quit over evidence, By David Johnston, Carl Hulse, New York Times. San Francisco Chronicle. Saturday, May 27, 2006
    Hastert, Pelosi issue rare joint statement Joint Statement from Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Pelosi. By Lynn Sweet. Chicago Sun Times. May 24, 2006
    Bush Orders Jefferson Documents Sealed CBS News. May 25, 2006
    Finally, a search warrant is used–and Republicans in Congress don’t like it By Mitchell J. Freedman. MF Blog. May 25, 2006

    Hail Hayden. Long Live The Chief Of Lies. ©

    This morning, during the Bush Bend-The-Truth radio address, our Commander in Chief sang the praises of General Michael V. Hayden.  Mr. Hayden is the Emperor’s choice for Director of Central Intelligence. Michael Hayden is known to have constructed and implemented the nation’s now infamous surveillance program.

    This plan or is it this man, is responsible for gathering information on tens of millions of us.  Thanks to General Hayden, trillions of telephone numbers have been collected.  These digit combinations belong to innocent Americans.  They are ours; yet, they are being held as potential weapons against us.  While we are told, this library is only a compilation of digits and nothing more, intellectually we know, that in this techno-savvy society, listening to these calls is possible.

    Initially, claims were made that this sweep would only affect those suspected of terrorism, people with links to al Queda.  Progressively we learned, Bush and his bandwagon think we are all associated with insurgents.  None of us can be trusted.  However, we are commanded to have blind-faith in those that have none in us.

    Repeatedly and regularly, this administration has released erroneous details as they pertain to this “trolling.”  They ask us to understand as the particulars unfold.  They tell us the illegal is legal.  They swear their mission is to protect and defend the people of this nation.  They affirm that they have.  As proof they offer, America has not been attacked.  However, the logic of this escapes me.

    Are Bush and the boys equipped to predict.  They were not in the past and judging from the present, as I witness the war in Iraq, or watch Osama go free, I see no evidence that their crystal ball has cleared.  Still, Bush babbles on, “I want Congress to confirm this nomination.”  He asks the American people for their support.

    The principle he applies to terrorism is applicable to Hayden as well.  Bush wants us to believe what he says of the General, even if evidence tells us otherwise.  As we learn more of this man, more of his doings [surveillance] and dealings [possibly paying off the telephone companies], we are expected to believe, to proceed with blind faith.  We are expected to follow our leader.

    Trust the untrustworthy, and surprisingly, I do.  I trust that Baby Bush is correct; the General knows how to spy, spin, and spew.  He has done it with the best of them and he will do it to the rest of us.  Actually, that is why I do not want this man as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    I do not feel safe or secure knowing that at the National Press Club in January 2006, General Michael Hayden, when asked of this surveillance initiative, he stated humbly,  “I’ve taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and still he violated the same.

    I am not comforted when a person defends the Bush Constitution, which differs from the original text written for the United Sates of America.  Hayden, with his words and allegiance fortified what the Bush administration calls the Terrorist Surveillance Program.  He withheld the fact that this plan has been in force for the last four years, or that this scheme involved more than radical insurgents.  General Hayden did not reveal that this system was scrutinizing the innocent, average Americans.

    Hayden proudly continued, “I would never violate that Constitution, nor would I abuse the rights of the American people.”  “Never?”  Is that a synonym for “always?”  General Hayden I think lies, just as his president does.  He twists and turns the truth and that frightens me.  The language of our leader is a lexicon of convolution.  Judging from what we know today, five months after the Hayden speech, it is clear that Michael Hayden is also a master of manipulation.

    Today, Saturday, May 13, 2006, Bush proclaimed this manipulator is “supremely qualified” and in the kingdom of Bush, he is.  Hayden was and is “central” in gathering “intelligence.”  However, sadly, in this country, the meaning of the word “central” converts to radical and reactionary.  Intelligence signifies idiocy and inanity.  Typically, in the world of Bush, these closely correlate to immoral, unethical, and corrupt.

    The General is all of these.  While he is considered amiable, jovial, personable, and pleasant, just as his Commandant is, he is sly.  He shares this quality with our likable lackey.  According to King George II . . .

    In Mike Hayden, the men and women of the CIA will have a strong leader who will support them as they work to disrupt terrorist attacks, penetrate closed societies, and gain information that is vital to protecting our Nation.

    General Hayden is supremely qualified to lead the CIA.  For the last year, he’s been our Nation’s first Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and has played a critical role in our efforts to reform America’s intelligence capabilities to meet the threats of a new century.  He has more than 20 years of experience in the intelligence field.

    [Please remember what the world “intelligence means in the Bush universe.]

    He served for six years as Director of the National Security Agency and has a track record of success in leading and transforming that large intelligence agency.  He also has held senior positions at the Pentagon and the National Security Council, and he served behind the Iron Curtain in our embassy in Bulgaria during the Cold War.

    Mike knows our intelligence community from the ground up.

    [The General works underground, in the subversive, secretive, cagey quarters of the Bush/Cheney Kingdom.]

    He’s been both a producer and a consumer of intelligence and has overseen both human and technical intelligence activities, as well as the all-source analysis derived from those activities.  The Senate unanimously confirmed Mike last year for his current post, and this week members of both parties have praised his nomination.

    [That is, until they realized the breath and scope of the surveillance program he constructed.]

    I urge the Senate to confirm him promptly as the next Director of the CIA.

    During General Hayden’s tenure at the NSA, he helped establish and run one of our most vital intelligence efforts in the War on Terror — the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

    . . . and that, my friends, is his greatest accomplishment.

    Michael V. Hayden is a man that endeavors to establish a government that dishonors its people.  His actions are deceptive and divisive.  Hayden is, as is our chief; he is a man that lies with a smile.  He makes his own rules and rates them permissible.  He upholds the principles of the Constitution; however, these are not those presented in the document.  General Michael V. Hayden is not the man I want to lead an organization with power and money.  He is not the man for my America.  Is he the man for yours?

    For Your Pleasure . . .
    Bush defends surveillance, backs Hayden in radio address CNN News. Saturday, May 13, 2006
    CIA nominee is right fit for job, Bush says By John Diamond, USA Today May 9, 2006
    Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation Yahoo News. Saturday May 13, 2005
    Questions and answers about the NSA phone record collection program CNN News May 11, 2006
    Remarks By General Michael V. Hayden National Press Club Monday, January 23, 2006
    Top C.I.A. Pick Has Credentials And Skeptics, By Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti. New York Times. May 6, 2006
    C.I.A. Pick Named as Bush Takes on Doubts in Party, By Elisabeth Bumiller and Carl Hulse. New York Times. May 9, 2006
    A look at the telephone surveillance issue The Baltimore Sun. May 12, 2006
    Report of NSA Phone Database Ignites Furor, By Michael Muskal. Los Angeles Times May 11, 2006
    NSA encryption systems
    • UPDATE: Bush defends scope of domestic spying May 14, 2006
    Gathering data may not violate privacy rights, but it could be illegal By Joan Biskupic, USA Today. May 12, 2006
    Bush challenges hundreds of laws By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe. April 30, 2006
    • [offered in PDF as well] Bush challenges hundreds of laws
    Blog Discussions
    Free Advice to the NSA: How To Pursue Terrorists And Protect Civil Liberties By Dr. Strangelove. TMP Cafe
    Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records Think Progress