Sunday, July 15, 2007

IMPEACHMENT: Let's use the I-word. The time is now.

It's time to impeach Bush & Cheney.

It's past time, in fact.

Don't mistake the cure for the disease: Impeachment is NOT a "Constitutional Crisis." It is, in fact, the Constitutionally-prescribed CURE for the Constitutional Crisis of a President who Behaves Like A Monarch. We are today defining the future of the Presidency; that is why, even at this late moment, it is important to set a precedent by punishing the high crimes and misdemeanors of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The consensus of the People of the United States is that it is now time to impeach the President. According to a recent poll, more than four in ten Americans -- 45% -- favor impeachment hearings for President Bush, and more than half -- 54% -- favor impeachment for Vice President Cheney.

The Founding Fathers made six separate references to "Impeachment" in the Constitution. SIX. This was not just some thing they threw into the document at the last moment. It is integral to the functioning of our democracy. They wanted us to know this word, and to be familiar with the process.

Remember, when the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution, they had just finished fighting a war with a king named George. They wanted the People of the United States to be able to remove from the Executive Office anybody who displayed monarchical behavior -- that is, assuming an attitude of "I am king, and what I do is above the law, because the law only applies to all of the rest of you."

Does the behavior of King George sound familiar to you?

A recent Bill Moyers Special on PBS (which you can watch online here: discussed this very topic with Bruce Fein, the conservative constitutional scholar who wrote the articles of impeachment against President Clinton. Also on the program is Jonathon Nichols, Capitol correspondent for The Nation. Bruce Fein was in agreement with impeaching Clinton because he believed that Clinton committed perjury, and he thought that no President should be above any law of the country. Bruce now believes that both Bush and Cheney should undergo the impeachment process as well, not only because it is clear that they have committed impeachable offenses:

According to Fein, Cheney has:
* Asserted Presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes.
* Claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the President's say-so alone.
* Initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists.
* Championed a Presidential power to torture in contravention of federal statutes and treaties.
* Engineered the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
* Orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications.
* Summoned the privilege to refuse to disclose his consulting of business executives in conjunction with his Energy Task Force.
* Retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, through chief of staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq.

According to the Wikipedia entry on the Movement to Impeach George W Bush, he has:

* Ordered the wiretapping of certain international calls to and from the U.S. without a warrant. Furthermore, the Bush administration's justification of the program, using its interpretation of presidential power, overthrows the Constitutional system of checks and balances and ignores other provisions of the Constitution mandating that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" and vesting Congress with the sole authority "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces" and "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
* Planned and executed a first-strike invasion of Iraq, in violation of the War Powers Clause of the US Constitution
* Knowingly distorted intelligence reports (or ignored contrary information) in constructing a case for the war in Iraq.
* Violated the Supreme Law of the Land, as ratified by the U.S. Congress, by invading a country without provocation. By Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, Senate-ratified treaties such as the U.N. Charter are "the supreme Law of the Land." This was not a war in self-defense, but a war of aggression contrary to the U.N. Charter (a crime against peace) and therefore a war crime. Also, Kofi Annan (former head of the U.N.) called the war in Iraq a violation of the UN Charter and therefore "illegal." A war of aggression refers to any war not initiated out of self-defense or sanctioned by the UN. Such a violation of international law would constitute an impeachable offense.
* Extradited detainees to other countries where they were tortured. The CIA has "rendered" suspected terrorists, such as Maher Arar, to other countries. Critics accuse them of doing this in order to avoid U.S. laws prescribing due process and prohibiting torture, calling this "torture by proxy" and "torture flights". The U.N. Convention against Torture (again, ratified by the United States and therefore the supreme law of the land) states:

No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Under international law, rendition as practiced by the U.S. government is illegal.
* Leaked the name of a CIA operative to the media as political payback for an attempt to show that lies were told about the availability of uranium to Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. The litigation surrounding Lewis 'Scooter' Libby has yielded court papers showing that Libby was authorized and instructed to disseminate formerly classified information by his superiors.
* Declassified documents for political purposes, that is, to justify the invasion of Iraq.
* Politicized the offices of the United States Attorney, specifically to encourage actions that would promote Republicans candidates and stifle any action that would help Democratic candidates.
* Sought to combine the powers of all three branches of government in the single person of the President, which is the diametric opposite of the text and the Founding Fathers' intended meaning of the U.S. Constitution.
* Commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby, in defiance of the rule of law within the United States. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that: "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals... That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.' This unprcedented decision and obstruction of justice, to cover up prior or ongoing criminal activities, is an impeachable offense. Though the President is within his prerogative to commute a sentence, according to a Judiciary Committee report (drafted in response to Watergate) when commutation is used in matters in which he himself may be involved, impeachment is warranted:

"In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to 'pardon crimes which were advised by himself' or, before indictment or conviction, 'to stop inquiry and prevent detection.' James Madison responded:

"[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty. . . ."

"Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected."

If Bush and Cheney are allowed to remain in office, they will have created a toolbox of powers for the Office of the President of the United States that will be passed on to their successor, whether that turns out to be Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani or Barac Obama. The only way to curtail the powers that have been added to the Presidential toolbox is to punish this White House, and the Constitutionally-prescribed method of doing so is to Impeach. That is why the Constitution makes mention of it so often; that is the recommended solution.

If our Founding Fathers were alive today, they would be carrying torches in the streets of the capitol, SCREAMING for impeachment. They would say, "We wrote this power into the Constitution so that it could be used to curtail a tyrant. WHY ARE YOU NOT USING IT?"

Because if this Congress is not allowed to vote to impeach; if the Judiciary Committee does not take up articles of impeachment; then the next President will feel free to wiretap Americans without a warrant, to read the mail of Americans without a warrant, to kidnap and hold without cause indefinitely without a warrant or charges, to use torture and secret prisons on those held without charges with no fear of reprisals or consequences. The next President will feel free to lie to Congress, to lie to the American People, and to generally act like a monarch who serves a four year term.

And then what? Will we all need to return to Britain to experience true democracy?

I don't think that's what any American wants.

That's why even conservatives like Bruce Fein, red-blooded Americans who would not agree with a "liberal" on many other issues, are coming to agree on this one:

Bush and Cheney must be IMPEACHED.

Say it loud.


Say it often.


Call your elected representatives.


Write your elected representatives.


Hell, go down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. carrying torches, and scream it at the top of your lungs:


Because we have allowed this Congress to be quiet and complacent for too long. Far too long.

It's time to use the I-word, and use it often.

Friday, July 13, 2007

10 Commandments for Road Users

In a previous post, I mentioned that the Vatican had issued 10 Commandments for Motorists, and that I thought they were a step in the right direction.

As a commenter and a buddy of mine pointed out, however, the Vatican could perhaps have been a bit more specific with some of their Commandments, and otherwise kind of missed the mark.

In the spirit of collaboration, then, I present a more definitive set of Commandments for Road Users:

1. Thou shall not kill, maim or damage anything with thine car.

2. Thou shall protect the more vulnerable party on the road: Motorists must always yield to bicyclists who must always yield to pedestrians. Vulnerable parties should, however, refrain thyselves from darting needlessly and with no warning in front of less-vulnerable traffic in a way that invites danger and irritation. As a user of the public space, thou shalt have respect for and patience with thine neighbor.

3. Thou shall not drive while under the influence of a substance, mental or physical condition that might impede thine ability to drive safely and prudently. Same goes for thine drunken friends and relatives.

4. Thou shall always use turn-signals, even for lane-changes, and hazard lights when slowed or stopped.

5. Thou shall either hang up or pull over, for thou sucketh at driving while talking. Typing on small keyboards while driving lies beyond the skill set of even the gods themselves, much less mere mortals such as thyself.

6. Thou shall not install a sound system that rattles the windows, doors and frame of thine vehicle, or otherwise pimp thine ride obnoxiously.

7. Thou shall not leave the scene of an accident without first being charitable and attending to your neighbour in need. Further, thou shalt support the families of accident victims. Thou shall also make steps to bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

8. Thou shall not tailgate the vehicle in front of you. Though shall always make efforts to leave at least a 2-second following distance in good weather, and a 4-second distance when conditions are wet, frozen or otherwise a hindrance to the traction of thine vehicle.

9. Thou shall keep a calm mind when behind the wheel: live and let live, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help thou to deal with unforeseen events; extending body parts or mouthing obscenities at other drivers will do nothing to gain karma points for thine soul. Also, lead not thine fellow drivers into road rage by straddling lanes, blocking the passing lane, merging poorly, running red lights, stopping for no apparent reason, weaving, etc.

10. When possible, thou shall choose to take transit, walk or ride a bicycle rather than drive, for these courses of action will bring peace to thine mind, assist thine neighbor in breathing less toxic air and find greater favor with thine creator.

Perhaps the Pope, seeing as he generally has the Popemobile or another chauffeured ride to roll in, was just a bit out of touch with the everyday realities of life on the modern road. Whatever the cause, I believe that these Commandments shall be more useful for thine road-using ways.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Our country is sick.

Forgive me if the title of this post seems offensive to you, and allow me to explain in a little more detail.

You see, I've just viewed Michael Moore's new movie, Sicko (click to download a lo-res version of the avi for free here, no tricks, no gimmicks).

And his movie makes me sick.

Sick of our country.

Because our country is sick.

Some of you may be saying "well, tell me something I don't know."

But at this point in time, after having this movie drive home its point so eloquently, so undisputedly, so clearly... I really only have two options:

1) Overthrow our government
2) More to Europe, or Canada, or Cuba, or some other country with free health care for all.

Nothing else really seems like a good option right now.

Because, health care affects all of us.

And as Mike points out so well in his movie, the American health care system is broken. It has been broken by money-grubbing corporate thieves, carrying out a plan hatched by Richard M Nixon and his cronies back in the early 1970s.

In short, the American health care system, like so much else in our country, was devised by men who represent pure evil.

By men who want nothing more than more money for themselves, and the worst possible for everybody else.

Think I'm spouting hyperbole? Think I'm making this up?

Watch the movie. Go ahead. Then, tell me how I'm wrong.


I want to be wrong. I do.

I'm afraid I'm not.

And while you're telling me what to do, help me choose between overthrow of the government and leaving the country, because there's got to be a better solution than a coin toss.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tell the Nation: The Simpsons are from Oregon

So, there's a contest as to which Springfield should play host to the movie premiere for the Simpsons movie:

As we all know, the host should of course be Springfield, Oregon. As reported in this Tribune article, Matt Groening is, after all, an Oregonian who has been temporarily been living in L.A. for the past two decades -- and more importantly, much of the inspiration for The Simpsons comes from his childhood growing up in Portland.

But, we need to vote to make sure that happens. This is a part of a larger effort to tell the nation that the Simpsons are from Oregon, as documented here.

Make sure your vote counts, and help get the word out!!


The Mayor of Springfield, OR, Mayor Leiken, is completely behind this effort, going so far as to paint a statue of a horse at an entrance to the town in "Simpsons Yellow," wearing a Mayor Quimby-style sash for all public appearances (and sporting a Secret Service-looking bodyguard), appearing in the video on the website above, and otherwise doing as much as possible to support making Springfield, OR the Simpsons' Springfield.

Which, to any Oregonian who has ever actually visited Springfield, should be rather amusing...