Friday, December 30, 2005

High Crimes & Misdemeanors

The I-Word is Gaining Ground
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
Published on Tuesday, December 27, 2005 by The Nation

…For those interested in some of the most compelling charges against the president, I offer a brief summary:

Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean argued in his aptly-named book Worse than Watergate that Bush's false statements about WMDs in Iraq--used to drum up support for an invasion--deceived the American people and Congress. This constituted "an impeachable offense," Dean told PBS' Bill Moyers in 2004. "I think the case is overwhelming that these people presented false information to the Congress and to the American people." Bush's actions were actually far worse than Watergate, Dean contends, because "no one died for Nixon's so-called Watergate abuses."

Lending credence to Dean's arguments, the Downing Street Memo revealed that Britain's MI-6 Director Richard Dearlove had told Tony Blair that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush Administration. John Bonifaz, a Boston-based attorney and constitutional law expert, said that Bush seemingly "concealed important intelligence which he ought to have communicated," and "must certainly be punished for giving false information to the Senate." Bush deceived "the American people as to the basis for taking the nation into war against Iraq," Bonifaz argued--an impeachable offense.

Rep. John Conyers argued as well that the president committed impeachable offenses" because he and senior administration officials "countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq" at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, including Guantanamo Bay and the now-notorious "black sites" around the world.

The most compelling evidence of Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors is the revelation that he repeatedly authorized NSA spying on US citizens without obtaining the required warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. Constitutional experts, politicians and ex-intelligence experts agree that Bush "committed a federal crime by wiretapping Americans." Rep. John Lewis--"the first major House figure to suggest impeaching Bush," said the AP--argued that the president "deliberately, systematically violated the law" in authorizing the wiretapping. Lewis added: "He is not King, he is president."

Meanwhile, Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of Law--a specialist in surveillance law--told Knight Ridder that Bush's actions "violated federal law" and raised "serious constitutional questions of high crimes and misdemeanors." It is worth remembering that an abuse of power similar to Bush's NSA wiretapping decision was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974. [This comparison was brought home in the ACLU's powerful full page ad in the NYT of December 22nd.]

There are many reasons why it is crucial that the Democrats regain control of Congress in '06, but consider this one: If they do, there may be articles of impeachment introduced and the estimable John Conyers, who has led the fight to defend our constitution, would become Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Wouldn't that be a truly just response to the real high crimes and misdemeanors that this lawbreaking president has so clearly committed?

Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editor of The Nation. © 2005 The Nation

Friday, December 23, 2005

Little Red Hen Meets a Really Stupid Cock

The following is a 'story' that was emailed to me. My heart hurt to think that people could be so judgmental and mean-spirited. They paint with an awfully broad brush. So, here is the story and below it, I have re-written it to reflect my particular judgmental and mean-spirited attitude. Here goes...

The Little Red Hen

Once upon a time, on a farm in Texas, there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered quite a few grains of wheat. She called all of her neighbors together and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?"
"Not I," said the cow.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen. And so she did. The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the pig.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did unitl at last it came time to bake the bread.

"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen. She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat all five loaves."

"Excess profits!" cried the cow.
"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck.
"I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose.
The pig just grunted in disdain.
And they all painted "Unfair!" picket signs and marched shouting obscenities around the little red hen.

Then Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and other liberal government agents came, and they said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy." "But I earned the bread," said the little red hen. "Exactly," said the agents. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle."

And they all lived happily ever after including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, for now I truly understand," But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the "party" and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled.

'Fairness' had been established. Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; and no one long as there was free bread that "the rich" were paying for.

And so Bill Clinton got $12 million for his memoirs. Hillary got $8 million for hers. That's $20 million for the memories of two people who for eight years repeatedly testified under oath that they couldn't remember anything.


Next! The rewrite!

The Really Stupid Cock

Once upon a time, on a farm in Texas, there was a Really Stupid Cock who crowed about the barnyard until his pals found a way to use him.

He called all of his neighbors together and said, "If we invade Iraq, we shall be doing the Iraqis a big favor because they’re too stupid to figure out what they want on their own. Who will help me kill the sons-a-bitches?"

"I will," said the rich.
"I will," said the oil corporations.
"I will," said the religious bigots.
"I will," said the fascists in training.
"Then we will do it together," said the Really Stupid Cock. And so they did. The war on terror grew very deadly, all personal rights were vanquished and our constitution ripened into a piece of paper with no point.

"Who will help me reap more power?" asked the Really Stupid Cock.
"I will," smiled the rich.
"I must impose correct beliefs." said the religious bigots.
"I could make more profits," thought the oil corporations.
"I’d know who didn’t like me and I could kill the sons-a-bitches," said the fascists in training.
"Then we will do it together," said the Really Stupid Cock, and so at last it came time to rewrite the Bill of Rights.

"Who will help me give the world to big oil?" asked the Really Stupid Cock.
"That would mean a big raise for me," said the rich.
"I'd give lots of contracts to all my pals," said the oil corporations.
"I could impose my beliefs on everyone!" said the religious bigots.
"I’d be able to kill all the sons-a-bitches," said the fascists in training.
"Then we will do it together," said the Really Stupid Cock. He made our civil liberties a mockery and held them up for all of his cronies to ridicule in the name of national security. They clamored for more corporate control and, in fact, demanded that citizens believe they were right! And the Really Stupid Cock said, "Yes, we shall eat from the table of the little guy and kill the sons-a-bitches."

"More profits!" cried the rich.

"Bleeding hearts!" screamed the fascists in training.
"I demand that people follow my beliefs!" yelled the religious bigots.
The oil corporations just grunted and burped insider trading tips.
And they all painted "We love fascism!" picket signs and marched shouting, “Conservative values or kill the sons-a-bitches!” with the Really Stupid Cock.

Then Dick Cheney, Tom Delay and the other Real Americans came to the barnyard and said to the Really Stupid Cock, "You must be careful to instill more fear." "But I already got them to agree to give up their rights," said the Really Stupid Cock. "But we need more," said the agents. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can get �cocked’ as much as he wants. And under our current American Dream, all those productive workers give up their unique intelligence to the corporate good and, of course, to those who control the Really Stupid Cock. And we can do whatever we want."

And they all lived happily ever after including the Really Stupid Cock, who smiled and crowed, "I am really special, for I truly am king," And his corporate cronies became quite gleeful. He crowed his corporate party line and because he supported the party he got to make war anywhere he wanted. And all the Republicans smiled. 'Family values' had been established. Individual expression and thought had died, and nobody noticed, and no one long as there were profits the oil corporations could harvest and everybody said exactly the same prayer to exactly the same god.


And so, Dick Cheney fulfilled all of Halliburton’s dreams. Tom Delay and Bill Frist made freedom of religious belief against the law. That's 2,000 plus American dead (and countless Iraqis) for Real Americans who decided they could do anything and get away with it.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Comparing our nation’s birth with Iraq’s doesn’t compute

President Bush's speech December 12 in Philadelphia: Comparing our nation’s birth with Iraq’s doesn’t compute, says Founding Father expert Willard Sterne Randall, historical scholar in residence at Champlain College.

As Iraq’s people prepare for upcoming elections, President Bush will give a speech today in Philadelphia comparing the situation in Iraq with America’s early attempts at democracy. Willard Sterne Randall, historical scholar in residence at Champlain College and the author of half a dozen separate biographies on the Founding Fathers, says that the two aren’t comparable: “We won the Revolution and weren't occupied by an invading imperial army when we held our first national elections.”

Additionally, January 17, 2006 will mark the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth. With President Bush’s approval rating at an all-time low, scholars and media alike have been left to wonder what our Founding Fathers would think of how America has fared in both domestic and foreign affairs in the past several years. Will this anniversary drive home the point that America has become increasingly alienated from the principles on which it was founded?

Randall says that “Benjamin Franklin was, first and foremost, a revolutionary. He would surely take issue with what the Bush Administration is doing, especially in foreign affairs but also day-to-day domestically. He would strenuously oppose faith-based initiatives, as he strongly believed in the separation of church and state. Most of all, he would oppose Bush’s spare-the-rich-and-soak-the-middle-classes agenda of tax cuts. In turn, the Administration would be threatened by him and probably have him trailed, wiretapped, and maybe even jailed under the Patriot Act.”

SOURCE: Willard Sterne Randall, six-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, historical scholar in residence at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., and author of A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin and His Son.

TV Free

* Research shows that most Australians [read: Americans] spend many, many hours a week watching television. Television erodes the following: consciousness (particularly the imagination); interpersonal interaction; connection between social groups; connection to Nature; reading and self-education; awareness of corporate manipulation; and self-esteem (by the constant presentation of unattainable ideals of humanity). Until the TV problem is tackled head-on, little or no headway will be made in combatting Australia's [the USA's] urban and rural malaise. Very few social commentators are themselves free of the TV virus, and the virulence of the illness is scarcely known in this country. Television is watching other people have lives. Turn off your TVs and live! *

Wilson's Blogmanac -

I know how narrow minded I must sound, but I wonder whether, at some future point, we won't have AA for TV watching. I think it's as addicting as any other drug because it blunts conscious awareness.