Today's Note from a Madman
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:
In your address (Saturday) you said, as you have many times before, "The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties, and that is exactly what I will continue to do." I for one am part of the American people. I do not expect you to do everything in your power, which seems to me to include just about anything your whim demands, to protect me and my civil liberties.
The frivolous focus of spying and the information obtained and saved by the government, especially that against well-educated Americans planning and communicating about protests against your policies, opinions, appearances and speeches is appalling. Your government has suppressed democratic initiatives for peace by snooping and snitching on people organizing rallies and writing campaigns to Congress to protest the war in Iraq. Your defense of spying mongers fear, like your whole administration does, pandering to the non-reading public's willingness to assume that authorities like you know better than ordinary citizens. The use of the word “terrorist” to describe anti-Bush communications between American citizens or citizens of the free world is absurd. To allow use of the word to color dissent as an un-American activity is wholly reprehensible.
"Protecting America" should not justify curtailing citizens’ free speech, should not restrict citizens’ participating in democratic decision making, nor allow air marshals to shoot an agitated airline passenger in cold blood because someone thinks he heard the word "bomb."
The greatest threat we face is hysterical groupthink fanned into firestorms by fear mongering. Your belligerent, cowboy-style brinkmanship is a mere mask for craven fearfulness.
Mr. Bush, you are not the man to trust with data obtained through snooping, espionage, nor torture. Witness what you did with Mr. Wilson’s report on yellow cake, what you did to suppress news about torture and secret prisons, what you did to mount preemptive war in the face of opposition by millions of citizens. Neither police nor soldiers are the people to make snap judgments about a person’s guilt and peremptorily perform the actions properly reserved for judges, juries, jailers, and executioners. Just because a person graduates from Yale, or works for the government, or wears a uniform is no reason to trust him or her to be reasonable, nor brave, nor well informed, nor moral.
The executive branch of our federal government has run rampant for far too long. A few box cutters and a bit of anthrax powder have been allowed to destroy democracy and its delicate balance of power in a mere five years.
I exhort you to stand up to your personal fears. As the President of the United States, you are an employee of the people, the citizens of this country. You have violated the trust we citizens place in our primary leader to act in accordance with the will of the people and the dogmas of the Constitution. You are in reckless violation of fundamental principles of the democratic social tradition. In a most secretive and reprehensible way, you have ignored the voice of the people and engineered, over our objections, the deaths of many human beings and the destruction of property and human values. Our nation's following your West Point Doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes is wholly condemned by every principle of thousands of years of moral theology.
You have endangered the population of the world under the demonic guise of protecting Americans. Your ignorance from lack of education and reading is no sufficient excuse to ameliorate your responsibility for committing this most grave evil.
No WMDs; no connection with 9/11 attacks; no liberation of grateful Iraqis; no democracy; no Osama; no protections for civilization's artifacts or library documents; no consistent electricity; no pure water or sewer; no adequate hospitals, no gasoline. Consider the murdered, the mangled, the maimed, the tortured. Consider the minds of their loved ones. Consider the costs of the war in battered U.S. honor and commitments, a broken Western alliance, a shredded United Nations and a scarred Bill of Rights. Think of the acid now seething in the souls of America's warniks. Think of the attacks against our freedoms wrought by Patriot I & II. Think of the government's control of our formerly free press. Think of how Saddam told the truth: there never were any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
You could have saved us $700 billion by accepting Saddam's 2003 challenge to meet him somewhere for a duel.
-John P. Dwyer
Thoughts on the Death Penalty
The recent discourse over Tookie Williams' execution has not addressed the singular issue involved in the death penalty: It can't be undone.
Consider what happened in Texas to Ruben Cantu.
Texas executed its fifth teenage offender at 22 minutes after midnight on Aug. 24, 1993, after his last request for bubble gum had been refused and his final claim of innocence had been forever silenced.
Ruben Cantu, 17 at the time of his crime, had no previous convictions, but a San Antonio prosecutor had branded him a violent thief, gang member and murderer who ruthlessly shot one victim nine times with a rifle before emptying at least nine more rounds into the only eyewitness -- a man who barely survived to testify.
Four days after a Bexar County jury delivered its verdict, Cantu wrote this letter to the residents of San Antonio: "My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years old. I got to the 9th grade and I have been framed in a capital murder case."
A dozen years after his execution, a Houston Chronicle investigation suggests that Cantu, a former special-ed student who grew up in a tough neighborhood on the south side of San Antonio, was likely telling the truth.
The story chronicles what appears to be a criminal-justice tragedy. For supporters of the death penalty who insist that there are no documented incidents of an innocent person being executed, the Cantu example should, at a minimum, give them pause.
In this case, Cantu's co-defendant, David Garza, who'd been reluctant to talk about the murder-robbery since his trial, has now signed a sworn affidavit saying he allowed Cantu to be falsely accused. What's more, the man who survived the shooting -- the only eyewitness -- has recanted and told the Chronicle that he felt pressured by police to finger Cantu as the killer.
It gets worse.
[K]ey players in Cantu's death -- including the judge, prosecutor, head juror and defense attorney -- now acknowledge that his conviction seems to have been built on omissions and lies.
"We did the best we could with the information we had, but with a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information," said Miriam Ward, forewoman of the jury that convicted Cantu. "The bottom line is, an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that."
Sam Millsap Jr., the former Bexar County district attorney who made the decision to charge Cantu with capital murder, says he never should have sought the death penalty in a case based on the testimony of an eyewitness who identified Cantu only after police officers showed him Cantu's photo three separate times. [...]
The Chronicle found other problems with Cantu's case as well. Police reports have unexplained omissions and irregularities. Witnesses who could have provided an alibi for Cantu that night were never interviewed. And no physical evidence -- not even a fingerprint or a bullet -- tied Cantu to the crime.
Worse, some think Cantu's arrest was instigated by police officers because Cantu shot and wounded an off-duty officer during an unrelated bar fight. That case against Cantu was dropped in part because officers overreacted and apparently tainted the evidence, according to records and interviews.
Before anyone jumps to accuse Bush of shirking his gubernatorial duties, his penchant for executions in Texas doesn't apply in this case -- Cantu's death sentence was carried out a year before Bush became governor.
Politics aside, the Cantu execution offers a tragic example of a system gone terribly awry. Any discussion of capital-punishment moratoriums should start here--and they MUST start.
-Forwarded and Commented by Victoria Brownworth
H.Res.636 and H.Res.637
"H.Res.635 would create a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, and retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment."
"H.Res.636 and H.Res.637 would censure, respectively, Bush and Cheney for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that they and others in the Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of the Administration, for failing to adequately account for certain misstatements they made regarding the war, and – in the case of President Bush – for failing to comply with Executive Order 12958."
This is the letter that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has for US all to sign and deliver to President Bush on his website http://www.johnconyers.com:
Letter Advising President of Censure and Steps to Begin Special Committee Investigation
Dear Mr. President:
We are brave, proud, patriotic citizens of the United States. We love our country and are writing to express our profound disappointment with you and your administration for your conduct surrounding the Iraq War, the collection and use of intelligence, and your disrespect for the laws of this great nation.
We are calling upon Congress to form a Special Committee to investigate your administration's abuses of power and report any offenses which rise to the level of impeachment.
We are also calling upon Congress to immediately censure you and Vice-President Cheney immediately.
We have great love for our country and faith in the government institutions provided for in our constitution. We believe that the integrity of our nation is at stake and have supported these steps only after your administration has refused to come clean with the American people at every opportunity.
A censure is congress' version of a wrist slap. It will simply be laughed off by Bush, Cheney and the rest of "King George's Court." The question is, however, will it be laughed off the same way that President Nixon laughed off the Watergate break-in some 30 plus years ago?
If the Bushies don't take this seriously, and we all know that they won't, this could become something more dangerous for them. I'm sure that they look at the media much differently than Nixon looked at the media. Bush and Company are looking at a Right-Wing friendly media with a multitude of outlets and endless talking heads to push their agenda. The likes of Fox News and Fox-Light MSNBC, and the addition of Brian Williams as the anchor of the NBC Nightly News have strengthened the neo-con hold on the broadcast media. And although newspapers like The Washington Post and The New York Times (the "paper of record") have traditionally been reliable investigative sources that let no one get away with anything, they have joined the multitude of other newspapers that just take the Bushies word for it. Remember, it was the NY Times that allowed Judith Miller to merely reprint Dick Cheney's memos while the Washington Post let Bob Woodward get away with trivializing the release of an undercover CIA agent's identity. And just this week the NY Times released the information that GW was breaking the law and spying on his "felloe Americans" (I wrote that with Richard Nixon's voice in my head) ONE YEAR AFTER THEY HAD THE STORY! Just how would have it affected the 2004 presidential Election?
But if the newspapers run with it, as they should, the censure will be the first straw, not the last. As of now, the Bushies probably feel that the Valerie Plame outing will end with a Scooter Libby promise of "I'll never do it again." They might be right. The good news and the bad news are one in the same in the Plame affair: No information seems to be getting out of Patrick Fitzgerald's office in regard to the investigation and possible indictment of more Bushco traitors. That is the good news as well as the bad news. As good news, the Bushies have no way to turn on anyone or anything that might embarrass or implicate them. The bad news is that there is no way to report a lack of information.
President Bush this past week has admitted to breaking the law. He has since been restating his misstatements as misspeaking and misinterpreting his earlier statements (that ought to make your heads spin).
In short, the censure could be the first step towards an impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney (if it happens, Cheney will go first). That is, unless the main stream media either screws it up or is bought off.
Fox' War on Religion Gets an Ally
Just a thought: Isn't it funny ("funny" as in ironic, not "funny" as in ha-ha) how the war on Christmas' first shot was fired by Fox News? And while most of US on the left defended everyone's right to have a Christmas tree or Chanukah menorah or Kwanzaa's seven candles or (add your religious article here), people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have fanned the flames of hatred and intolerance.
Today Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) introduced a resolution on the floor of the House that would be the most recent attempt at making Christianity the official religion of America. It starts out like this:
"Christmas has been declared politically incorrect. Any sign or even mention of Christmas in public can lead to complaints, litigation, protests and threats. America's favorite holiday is being twisted beyond recognition."
Ah... Fox' War on Christmas, sponsored by the Religious Right. It's funny ("funny" as in ironic, not "funny" as in ha-ha) how I missed on TV "The Story of the Chanukah" or "The Seven Candles of Kwanzaa." I guess between the bombardment of Christmas shows, ads and movies, not to mention the never-ending versions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carroll" (A Very Kermit Christmas" is my favorite, but I kind of like "Scrooged" with Bill Murray as well) have left no time for them.
I haven't heard one... not one main stream liberal or progressive say a single negative word about the Holiday Santa stole from Jesus (I know... it isn't politically correct for a Jew to "dis" Santa Claus). There is a good reason for it... We like Christmas. We like the tree in Rockerfeller Center and the street scenes in the windows of Lord and Taylor. We enjoy the Volunteer firemen as they dress up as Santa and his elves as well as the eggnog that is way too strong. Every year, my family and I drive around to look at the various homes lit up to display Christmas as the national holiday it has become (and has always been).
But Rep. Davis' agenda has nothing to do with her words. Her intentions are that of someone wanting to create a theocracy... exclusionary to a majority but excluding all others. It is the thing crusades are made of.
"It was just something that was burning inside me,"
Just when did Rep. Davis stop representing her constituents and start representing what "burns inside her"? Is this what her congressional district truly wants as her top priority? Has unemployment suddenly dropped to zero in Gloucester, VA? Is every sick child in Virginia's first US congressional district able to see a doctor without their parents choosing between heat, food or medical bills? if the answer to these three previous questions are "YES", then go right ahead and waste the rest of congress' time, Ms. Davis. If not, get back to work.
"I'm offended by this. You've drawn me out. Why not protect my symbols?"
-Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) (Ackerman is a JEWISH name, by the way)
Indeed... as another Jewish New York Congressman (and former NYC mayoral candidate) Rep. Anthony Weiner noted, why not "amend the resolution to include symbols of other holidays, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa." Davis' response was both self-serving and ripe with historical amnesia:
"The attack has not been on the menorah or any symbols of the other religions,"
Does Rep. Davis mean to state that no one as ever persecuted Jews? I wonder if Rep. Davis takes the skin-head philosophy that the Holocaust never happened, also known as the Hunter Gibson Theory (Mel's dad)?
"I didn't realize there would be some opposition, but apparently, there is,"
I think this is just another "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party Red herring designed to distract the nation from the troubles your party faces Ms. Davis.
"You can always tell when the right wing is in trouble. They invariably cook up some kind of culture war."
-Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) (Presbyterian)
It's a sad day when we have to follow our representatives names with their state, party affiliation AND religion.
"What really needs to be protected is not the symbols of Christmas but the spirit of Christmas,"
-Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA)
Maybe Rep. Davis will have a visit from some Christmas Spirits tonight. Maybe she needs a visit from just one spirit... the spirit of the American Revolution.
"There is a war against Christmas. Our children can't sing Christmas carols. They can only sing holiday tunes."
-Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) (Catholic)
Do they even sing Christmas Carols during Midnight Mass?
If your children have lost their religion, the fault is with you and in your house Rep. Brown, not with the people of the United States. My son can read Hebrew, both he and his sister know of his Jewish ancestry and the Jewish Bible. I feel safe in my belief that they will live a life with God in their minds and hearts. That comes from our house, first and our shul, second.
"This is possibly the silliest bill ever presented to the United States Congress. If they honestly think there's some kind of war against Santa Claus or the baby Jesus, they are just not getting out enough."
-Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Silly? More like dangerous.
In response to “I have never felt less safe than under the administration of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush while living here in Metropolis. (Superman, where are you when we need you?) It wasn't Diane Feinstein (D-CA) or Harry Reid (D-NV) or Hillary Clinton (D-NY) who make me feel less safe. In fact it is their opposition to the "corporations first" philosophy and the "hail to the buck" attitude that the Bushies value and prioritize that gives me hope. I thank those California, Nevada and New York senators that Bush noted, along with the Republicans in the Senate who sided with them, to make a bad law a better law,” Robert Chapman writes:
Respectfully Noah, it isn't about feeling safe. It is about being safe.
The sad fact of domestic terrorism is that the wholesale surveillance that the Bush Administration advocates is not an effective approach to combating terrorism.
The American people need to realize that to be safe we must trust the very same things that have made us free and prosperous, an open society, respect for the individual, freedom to pursue opportunity without governmental supervision or interference and the right to hold the leaders of business as well as government accountable.
Bush has weakened each and every one of those essential rights.
In the age of globalization, how can American business prosper when foreigners fear their international conversations with us may be monitored by the NSA?
Bush has pushed us down the slope that will quickly lead to poverty and isolation.
Put that in your blog
In response to "I have resisted the inclination to be one of the early voices for impeachment. But I will certainly join in as an early member of the chorus. The President of the United States broke the law, by his own admission. He's got to go." Anonymous writes:
I have only three words to say in response:
President Dick Cheney.
I believe that Dick Cheney, if he would become president after the impeachment of George W. Bush, would be the most impotent of any president to ever take the reins of the nation. In fact , I also believe that his inability to get anything done would lead to a number of similar "secret orders" that would inevitably lead to back-to-back impeachments in the White House. But feel free to be afraid of President Hastert. -NG
In response to "The president's job is to do what he thinks is right" -GW obviously forgetting about the house and the senate's jobs. What about "advise and consent", GW? You don't want any of the "advice" and you don't bother with "consent". This isn't a dictatorship," Pat Thompson writes:
CONGRESS is also supposed to "declare war". Do you remember all of the "I" talk around March of 2003, when Bush repeatedly said "I will decide when we invade Iraq", I will make the decision on when time is up for Saddam Hussein, etc. CONGRESS also is supposed to appropriate funds. Bush has no money to spend. And after Congress does appropriate funds, for the troops, where is their body armor and armor for the vehicles, and where is the money appropriated for rebuilding and restoration of basic services for Iraq? And where has the money gone to rebuild New Orleans which Congress appropriated at the time when attention was being paid to Katrina victims?
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