Saturday, December 29, 2007

I love Vermont: Reason number 1 million and one

Vermont town seeks Bush, Cheney arrests

President Bush may soon have a new reason to avoid left-leaning Vermont: In one town, activists want him subject to arrest for war crimes.

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

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

As president, Bush has visited every state except Vermont.

Read more at The Raw Story.

Sign on for Cheney's impeachment hearings

Florida Congressman Robert Wexler continues to work for impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney. You can help by showing your support at his online petition.
The case for impeachment is strong. In Wexler's words:
When Congress reconvenes in January, I plan to present a list to my Judiciary Committee colleagues of every single person that signed up at I will go to more of my colleagues and ask them to join a letter in support of hearings. We will build on the momentum you have given us.

I was serving in Congress and on the Judiciary Committee for the ridiculous and politically motivated impeachment hearings of President Clinton. During that witch hunt Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and Ken Starr wasted a year and a half on investigations and hearings about President Clinton's personal relations. However, this attempted coup d'etat by Republicans against President Clinton was not and should not be the standard of impeachment that was enshrined by the Founders in our Constitution.

First, impeachment hearings are only proper when significant allegations exist that the President or Vice-President, or others civil officers, committed actions – within their official duties – that constitute 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors.' The allegations against Clinton – involving a personal affair - never reached this threshold. The serious charges against Cheney involve alleged crimes that are central to his duties of Vice-President; namely war and peace, the widespread violations of civil liberties, and the security of the United States and our covert agents.

Unlike the show trial put on by Republicans against President Clinton, a proper impeachment hearing would involve a fair and objective presentation of the facts without hyperbole or political gamesmanship. The hard evidence that is presented at the hearings will be judged fully both by Congress and the American people. The evidence alone will determine the outcome, and if it is determined that Vice President Cheney committed "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" he should be properly impeached and put on trial before the Senate.

Let your voice be heard. Sign the petition calling for impeachment hearings of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Navy JAG Andrew Williams Resigns Over Torture

As reported by ThinkProgress, a JAG officer with the U.S. Naval Reserve has resigned his commission over the alleged use of torture by the United States and the destruction of video tapes said to contain instances of that torture.

Explaining his resignation in a letter to his Gig Harbor, WA, newspaper — the Peninsula Gateway — Williams said Hartmann’s testimony was “the final straw”:
The final straw for me was listening to General Hartmann, the highest-ranking military lawyer in charge of the military commissions, testify that he refused to say that waterboarding captured U.S. soldiers by Iranian operatives would be torture.

His testimony had just sold all the soldiers and sailors at risk of capture and subsequent torture down the river. Indeed, he would not rule out waterboarding as torture when done by the United States and indeed felt evidence obtained by such methods could be used in future trials.

Thank you, General Hartmann, for finally admitting the United States is now part of a long tradition of torturers going back to the Inquisition.
If we can't state categorically that waterboarding is torture, then you can be certain the practice will be used on any of our own military men or women unlucky enough to be captured by someone determined to show the world what a hypocrite the United States has become. Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto deserved better from the United States

With the assassination this week of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a crucial link between Islam and the west has been destroyed. Although no saint, Bhutto was the greatest hope for a moderate leader in a country which has struggled to find its way since it gained independence in 1947.  Since then, the country has endured extreme corruption and violence, and many years of military rule. Although it is a Muslim majority population, secular factions have always had a strong voice in Pakistani politics.

Does this all sound a little too familiar? Will the Bush Administration learn anything from the Pakistan experience in its dealings with Iraq? Doubtful. Our Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, is an expert -- at Cold War Soviet relations. In other words, she is obsolete. She has been ineffective at transferring her in-depth knowledge of Eastern Europe to the Mid East. Diplomacy in Iraq seems non-existent: her only efforts appear to be the photo opportunities she takes on her "surprise visits" inside the green zone.

Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistani people deserved more from the U.S. As a Harvard and Oxford educated Muslim woman who had the support of a large percentage of the population (though certainly not every Pakistani admired her), she was the best hope for a bridge between Islam and democracy. Yet the Bush Administration sat idly by while President/ Dictator Pervez Musharraf stripped the country of its most basic civil liberties, such as freedom of speech. It was only after outcry from around the world (not led by the U.S.), that Bhutto was allowed into the country to run for office.

With elections scheduled for next month, Bhutto was campaigning throughout Pakistan. Having received many death threats, she requested protection from the Pakistan government, and was given none. The aftermath of Bhutto's assassination consists of riots and turmoil in Pakistan. Will Musharraf go ahead with the elections, or will this be a convenient excuse for him to again call for emergency powers and remain in office?

From Bloomberg: An American friend of Bhutto's, Washington lawyer Mark Siegel, told CNN that Bhutto e-mailed him on Oct. 26, one week after the attack on her in Karachi, to complain that Musharraf's government wasn't protecting her adequately.

Bhutto said she had requested the government provide her with jamming devices to thwart electronically triggered roadside bombs, special vehicles with tinted windows and four police cars to surround her at all times in her travels, Siegel told CNN. Bhutto said all the requests were denied.

``She became increasingly concerned that her security was not getting better, it was getting worse as she toured the country in preparation for the January 8th election,'' Siegel told the network.

The Bush Administration has stood by Pervez Musharraf for many years because he is our supposed ally in the "war on terror." Yet he has allowed the greatest hope for democracy in the region to be killed -- on his watch. More proof that when it comes to foreign policy, the Bush Administration has either (a) no clue, or (b) no interest in peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto assasinated at political rally

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed at a political rally in Pakistan today. It is a sad continuation of politics that part of the world. Bhutto's father was also assasinated. Indira Ghandi was assasinated, as was her son when he followed in her footsteps.

Details are still emerging about who is responsible for the killings, which included Bhutto and at least 20 others. President Musharraf has been silent thus far, the US State Department has condemned the violence. But when it becomes clear that Musharraf is behind the assasination, what will the Bush Administration do?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday poetry break

The rain is pouring down outside, the sump pump is running furiously. Although I know it too has its drawbacks, at the moment I am dreaming of a New England winter ....

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

— Robert Frost

Media hits Hillary Clinton hardest

A recent report by the the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., examined almost 500 news stories on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX from October 1 through December 15, 2007.

TV election news has been hardest on Hillary Clinton this fall, while Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee have been the biggest media favorites, according to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University...

On-air evaluations of Hillary Clinton were nearly 3 to 2 negative (42% positive vs. 58% negative comments), while evaluations of her closest competitor Barack Obama was better than 3 to 2 positive (61% positive vs. 39% negative). John Edwards attracted much less coverage, but his evaluations were 2 to 1 positive (67% positive vs. 33% negative). Sen. Clinton was evaluated more often than all her Democratic opponents combined.

I love the title of their report:

Election Study Finds Media Hit Hillary Hardest , Obama, Huckabee Fare Best; FOX Is Most Balanced (not a typo)