Sunday, March 26, 2006

When strangers were welcome here

Today, I drove downtown to witness a piece of real history happening in my backyard. There may well have been a million immigrants marching downtown today. I couldn't drive anywhere near the area - the roads were backed up for a mile in all directions. So I parked across the freeway from downtown and hiked in.

The protestors were wearing plain white t-shirts to symbolize peace, a simple and brilliant idea. Most of the words and signs were in Spanish, but pictures of Bush and Cheney, the word "Sensenbrenner" and the bill number (HR 4437) were recognizable.

Now - you have to be an LA resident to appreciate this next part. We have a subway system here. It's lightly used outside of commute hours. On a Saturday, the most you would expect to see would be cars half full.

I love the subway here. Each station is an artistic experience, usually relevant to the area above the station. The one at Hollywood and Vine, for example, has a ceiling made of empty film reels. One near a local college has a wall full of aphorisms and quotes. All cool.
Today, I figured I'd drive downtown, watch a little of the march, head up to Hollywood via the "Red Line", catch a film, and then return via the subway to downtown and hike back to my car.

So there I was, getting on the subway,when the first train from the opposite direction arrived. I had no idea you could pack that many people into a subway car, and I've ridden around NYC. Seriously, it was packed so people could barely breathe. PACKED. As they got off, it was like a tsunami of white shirts had flooded the station. While I was waiting for my train, yet another train came in, just as full as the first. And it went on like that all day. When I finished my movie at Grauman's Chinese Theater, one of the last "big screen" theaters in America, and after I marveled over how small Jimmy Stewart's feet were, imprinted in the cement out front, I hopped back on the subway, intending to exit at the Pershing Square Station. But as the train pulled up, I saw a HUGE CROWD of people trying to get off the platform, and I realized the station was so packed on the upper levels that people couldn't even exit up from the lower level. So I stayed on the train and got off at the next stop. And just as before, packed cars of people came in - this time from people getting out to go home.

All those people. And they all bought tickets, or so it seemed. I marveled at the long lines in front of the ticket machines. I mean, no one was checking for tickets - it would have been an impossible task. But these lovely, law abiding people just wouldn't think of trying to rip off the city, and dutifully waited in long lines for their chance to pay $1.25 one-way or $3.00 for an all-day pass.

I loved that people were taking responsibility for their situation and voting with their feet, their bodies, their clothes. And as a longtime fan of public transportation, I was so thrilled to see our little subway being put to incredibly full use today.

As I drove home, an old song kept running through my head. If you've never heard it, find it. You'll thank me.
(Neil Sedaka / Phil Cody)
Neil Sedaka - 1975

Harbours opened their arms to the young searching foreigner
Come to live in the light of the beacon of liberty
Planes and open skies,
billboards would advertise
Was it anything like that when you arrived

Dreamboats carry the future to the heart of America
People were waiting in line for a place by the river

It was a time when strangers were welcome here
Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear
It was a sweeter tune
and there was so much room
that people could come from everywhere

Now he arrives with his hopes and his heart set on miracles
Come to marry his fortune with a hand full of promises
to find they've closed the door
they don't want him anymore
isn't anymore to go around

Turning away he remembers he once heard a legend
that spoke of a mystical magical land called America

There was a time when strangers were welcome here
Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear
It was a sweeter tune
and there was so much room
that people could come from everywhere

My mother once traced a branch of our ancestors back to the first Atlantic crossing. They arrived a few years after the Mayflower. They were immigrants. They happened to be from England. Other ancestors came from Germany and Ireland during the potato famine. My great great grandparents fell in love on the boat on the way over.

I was born here. But that was just chance. Nothing I should be greedy about. Nothing that should or would cause me to say hey, you, get off of my cloud.

We are all immigrants, or descendants of immigrants, unless you live on a reservation, in which case you may be a true "American" - i.e., a Native American.

What really galls me about Sensenbrenner's proposed bill is that it punishes victims. If someone is starving, and someone else says hey, come work here, I'll pay you cash, how can we possibly judge the starving person who takes the work? Make it a criminal act to tempt someone into doing this. Go after those who hire illegal workers, if you really want to stop illegal immigration.

Or better yet, take a longer view. How do you stop immigration? By improving conditions for the people where they already live. Happy, employed people don't immigrate. But the U.S. has made a habit out of installing and supporting right-wing dictatorships in Central and South America, creating situations of destitution that drive people to our borders. We have played a huge part in this mess.

I say open the borders, and work like the dickens to undo some of the damage we've created in our Southern neighbors. Help build up the neighboring economies. Seek debt forgiveness for them from the World Bank, as the World Bank's advisors sold them loans based on inflated projections of growth in the first place. They were robbed.

I dare you to spend a year in an illegal immigrant's shoes and tell me you wouldn't do the same. These are good people. Hard-working people. They don't collect unemployment, or social security. They pay into the system and can't even take back out. These people do not deserve to be labeled felons. They deserve an even chance of obtaining legal citizenship. That or we should try to make their native home a place they feel no need to leave.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Washington Post turns Red...State?

I got this strange news from today:
Under pressure from right-wing zealots to "balance" journalists who finally holding the Bush Administration accountable, Washington Post editors gave a right-wing hack an online column called "Red America."
I couldn't let that go uncommented upon. I've never thought the Post was a great paper, but I've never doubted that it has enormous reach and influence.

So I took a moment to send this note to,, and
What is going on with one of the country’s major papers?

What’s with the Red State blog?

Where is your backbone?

If you stand up and tell the truth, it will sometimes harm Democrats, and sometimes harm Republicans, but it will always HELP the good people of this country. The truth NEVER needs balancing.

By adding a right-wing blog to your site, you are making either or both of the following bizarre admissions:

The truth hurts the right more than the left, and therefore you want to appease the right with a place for them to rant,


Screw America. All that matters is who pays for the ads, and the right is where it’s at.

If it’s the former, shame on you. Let the truth stand. Let the chips fall where they may.

If it’s the latter, screw you too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"On a treadmill to tragedy"

I couldn't go to sleep without pointing out this great article in Salon today, called The oil is going, the oil is going. The media is slowly waking up to the mother of all crises: the end of oil. We live on a planet in which nearly everything you see, hear, and touch was created and delivered thanks to oil. Most of our electricity is generated with it. Most of our food was grown with petroleum-based fertilizers. International commerce depends on it. Even the computer you are reading this on owes its creation, in part, to oil.

Whatever will we do without it? Salon talked to Alice Friedemann, "a systems analyst for a large transportation company" who's been "studying the history of agriculture in California and learning sustainable farming techniques." Her thoughts are, to say the least, provocative:
"How do you reengineer society to go backward? How do you carve up container ships and turn them into sailboats? We can't go back to steam engines burning wood because we burned all that wood when we were clearing the fields for farms," she says. And even going back to beasts of burden, using the muscle power of horses for transportation, isn't straightforward, not when horses and people are competing for local, arable land.

"On average, a horse needs six acres of pasture," she says. "So you can't use that for food if you're growing the food to feed the horses." At an upcoming meeting of the East Bay peak oil group, she'll be teaching a class on milling your own grain and cooking it. "These are skills that would be useful to have. I suspect that there'll be oil shocks and food shortages but grain is something that keeps for years and years and years. It's something that you can have at home as the grocery store shelves empty. It's going to be more Third World-like and people are going to need to cope."
Mike Ruppert, the former LAPD cop who took up this issue sooner and more passionately than most, recently moved his From the Wilderness operation to Oregon because he too feels the need to be closer to land that can bear food, open space, and a community small enough to make the pain of the fantastical oil prices yet to come more bearable.

CNN last weekend ran a CNN Presents special six different times, called "We were Warned," about the end of the age of oil. For the first time in history, we are faced with the end of an all-important resource while its replacement is not yet in sight. One group featured in the CNN story has been touring the country putting on Oil Shockwave events, where they bring together a bunch of current and former government officials to take part in a mock cabinet meeting over a series of events that set the price of gas rocketing into teh stratosphere. What's scary is that a couple of these events have since happened, and the price went up just as predicted. So we really do need to start not just paying attention, but moving towards legislative action.

There are, of course, the debunkers, or rather, the would-be debunkers, as the Salon article notes:
Plenty of social critics see the peak oilers as the latest horsemen of the environmental apocalypse. Take "J.D." (the only name he would give me), a 44-year-old American living in Japan who runs the blog Peak Oil Debunked. "Clearly, the radical environmentalists and primativists love peak oil," he writes in an e-mail. "It's like a dream come true for them." To the "doomers," peak oil is the "deus ex machina that will fulfill their long-cherished dream of bringing down 'growth' and modern, globalized, corporate, industrial society."

The fact is, though, the Cassandras of peak oil are not all wearing fleece and Birkenstocks, and using peak oil as a convenient reason to rekindle back-to-the-land fantasies. They are geologists and energy experts in governments, universities and think tanks. And many of them echo the core conviction of the activists: Oil-drunk America has to go on the wagon or it will soon be heading into a dauntingly thirsty future.

Experts point out that U.S. domestic oil production peaked in the early '70s. The world is expected to consume 85 million barrels of oil per day this year, with the U.S. guzzling some 21 million of that. Even Chevron admits that the era of oil that's easy to extract -- "the easy oil" -- is over. The question of when exactly global production will peak and then slide down the bell curve, with demand outstripping supply, is disputed by geologists, but some believe that it's already here and the world is already experiencing the fallout.
The title of this post comes from a comment in the Salon article from David Room, the director of municipal response for the Post Carbon Institute, a group dedicated to teaching the rest of us how to live in the world when oil is no longer available. I, for one, need to reevaluate a lot of my ways and dependencies. I don't take these warnings seriously enough. I hope enough of us wake up in time.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Don't Know What You Got 'til It's Gone

"La nature parle et le genre humain n'ecoute pas," wrote Victor Hugo. "Nature speaks but the human race does not listen." Those words were quoted today by Algerian Ambassador Ahmed Djoghlaf at the opening of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Curibata, Brazil today.

Djoghlaf spoke of the riches hidden in nature that indigenous cultures understand even as modern cultures are still "discovering" them. For example, spirulina, an algae consumed by natives at the shores of in Lake Chad, is so rich in protein that the region is one of the few malnutrition-free zones in Africa. But man's efforts to modernize our planet have dramatically reduced the number of species that used to share this planet. What riches are we plundering through our impatience, our greed, our ignorance?

"UN warns of worst mass extinctions for 65m years" screamed the Guardian today:
Humans have provoked the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65m years ago, according to a UN report that calls for unprecedented worldwide efforts to address the slide.

The report paints a grim picture of life on earth, with declining numbers of plants, animals, insects and birds across the globe, and warns that the current extinction rate is up to 1,000 times faster than in the past. Some 844 animals and plants are known to have disappeared in the last 500 years.
I'm reminded of Joni Mitchell's son "Big Yellow Taxi," that describes a bleak future if we do not change course:

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum.
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to seem 'em.

Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

Predictably, it is those cultures in which money is not the foremost goal in life who live best in harmony with their environment. Nobel Prizewinner Rigoberta Menchu explains that we need to learn from the past, from indigenous populations who live in harmony with their environment:
“It may seem accidental, but is not accidental, that where indigenous peoples live is where the greatest biological diversity, the diversity of nature, exists too. The values on which indigenous peoples have built our complex systems are founded in the ethical, spiritual and sacred nature that links our peoples with the whole work of creation.”
Are hurricane Katrina and the cyclone that hit Cairns yesterday products of global warming? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the US government, says they are. But articles in the Guardian and elsewhere say we're already past the "tipping point" beyond which our future actions cannot correct for the mistakes of our past.

That seems to be the motto of business these days. If you can squeeze an ounce of revenue out of it, destroy that wilderness. Dam that river. Turn that mountain into a mining pit, and destroy the ecosystem in the process.

How will our children judge us? When they are paying to see that tree in the museum, will they be happy that they can download music into the chips in their brains, or will they wish for something that cannot be downloaded, that can never be recovered, the incredible diversity on this planet paved over to make way for short-sighted commerce?

As another song from Joni Mitchell's time warned us:
There's something happening here
What it is aint' exactly clear...
It's time we stop, hey,
what's that sound,
everybody look
what's going down...
Stop. Hey. What's that sound? Everybody look what's going down.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Impeachment Watch

While most Democrats don't want to call for impeachment because they feel they can't win, I refuse to believe that my fellow citizens of the Republican persuasion would put the interests of their party about the interests of their country. I say, call for impeachment. Call their bluff. Find out if we are a republic guided by laws, or a covert dictatorship.

Meanwhile, the cries for impeachment become increasingly more mainstream every day:

From today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

So far, 11 town councils have taken up resolutions supporting impeachment; eight have passed, the largest being in San Francisco. State Democratic parties have adopted similar resolutions in California, Nevada and Wisconsin. ImpeachPAC, a political-action committee devoted to supporting pro-impeachment candidates, lists 14 Democratic candidates mounting congressional campaigns centering on impeachment. One of them, Carl Sheeler, who is running for the Senate in Rhode Island, recently paid for a billboard along Interstate 95 that reads: "Be Patriotic, Impeach Bush." He says he has received an overwhelmingly positive response.

...Impeachment is still in the distance, but make no mistake: Eventually the circus is coming to town.

Global Research in Canada has this to say:

The Articles of Impeachment make clear that this is no longer just about President Bush. Rather, it is about preventing the executive branch from obtaining carte blanche to disregard the two other branches of government. This is a paradigm shift that has already gained substantial footing through this administration's steady erosion of legal precedent.

There is no shortage of diligent documentation of this president's violation of laws and misleading of the public -- from the 1,284-page Torture Papers to congressman John Conyers' 273-page compilation [PDF] of the lies leading to the Iraq war. But behind this incredible ongoing compendium of evidence against President Bush lurks the realization that publicly pointing to criminal behavior is not synonymous with bringing it to an end:

It is the ultimate case of missing the forest for the trees. Behind this massive body of evidence, behind each new report of this president’s transgressions of the law, is the threat of the one and only story that Americans will read for the rest of this presidency, and presidencies to come: The abuse of power, and the destruction of our Constitution.

Just last week, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan, gave us this warning:

"It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."

If I had time, and I don't right now, I'd draw parallels between the backroom deals that brought the less-than-popular Adolph Hitler to power. One need only think of how Bush got into office in 2000 and 2004 to see a connection. Once there, they turned their minority position into the majority one:

Hitler's deal did not even give him a majority in the Reichstag. His coalition of Nazis and Nationalists had only 247 out of 583 seats in the Reichstag, still not a majority. But Hitler wasted no time using his newfound powers to start eliminating his competition. New elections were scheduled for March 5, 1933. Goebbels was completely confident now of success. "Now it will be easy to carry on the fight, for we can call on all the resources of the State. Radio and press are at our disposal. We shall stage a masterpiece of propaganda. And this time, naturally, there is no lack of money."

This President wants to be a dictator. He's made that abundantly clear. What remains to be seen is whether the people will roll over and play dead, or fight, with eloquence and passion, to ensure we remain a government of the people, plural.

Is the circus coming to town, or will Rove's minions win the battle against our Constitution? I'm praying for the former even as I'm on the watch for the latter.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Was Milosevic Poisoned?

Would you believe that looking into Milosevic's death led me to a strong link between the US government and al Qaeda, sharing common goals in Kosovo? That's why history is always relevant, and the truth always matters.

Here's where I started.

ABC News is reporting the "swirl of suspicion" regarding the death of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevich:

Among the scenarios being floated: Drugs smuggled into prison, a poisoning plot and the possibility Milosevic was undermining his own treatment in hopes of being sent to Moscow, where his wife and son live in exile.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow did not fully trust the autopsy report and would send its own pathologists to examine the body. The U.N. war crimes tribunal had said a heart attack killed Milosevic, according to preliminary findings from Dutch pathologists who conducted a nearly eight-hour autopsy.

... Milosevic was found dead in his prison cell in The Hague on Saturday, just hours after writing Russian officials a letter alleging that an "extremely strong drug" was found in his bloodstream. Zdenko Tomanovic, his family lawyer, said Milosevic was "seriously concerned" he was being poisoned.

I almost blogged about this when I first heard he had died. I was immediately suspicious because a former associate of Milosevich's, who had later testified against him, was found dead in the same facility just six days earlier. The sentiments expressed by Marija Darijevic in this Chicago Tribune piece echo my own:

Six days before Milosevic's death, Milan Babic, 50, leader of Serb rebels in Croatia and a convicted war criminal, committed suicide in the same prison. Babic had provided key testimony against Milosevic and was back in The Hague testifying in another case.

"First Babic, now Milosevic. This is not an accident," said Marija Darijevic, 34, a Belgrade lawyer. "I suffered under Milosevic and I don't feel any regret at his death, but I think that even the worst criminal has the right to proper medical treatment."
The suspicious death, labeled officially "heart failure," took place in a city that bills itself as the "City of Peace and Justice." Saddam Hussein had just last year asked that his own trial be moved there, believing he would get a fairer deal. I imagine he's having serious second thoughts on that front now.

I'm surprised how people just accept at face value that Milosevich was, as the press called him, the "Butcher of the Balkans." As is often the case in historical matters, the victor's account of history is only one side of the story. Ramsey Clark, a former Attorney General of the United States, wrote a letter to Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, in which he stated:
The Prosecution of the former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is scheduled to end its presentation of evidence to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on February 19, 2004, more than two years after its first witness testified.

Over 500,000 pages of documents and 5000 videocassettes have been placed in evidence. There have been some 300 trial days. More than 200 witnesses have testified. The trial transcript is near 33,000 pages.

The Prosecution has failed to present significant or compelling evidence of any criminal act or intention of President Milosevic. In the absence of incriminating evidence, the Prosecution apparently hoped to create a record so massive that it would be years, if the effort was ever made, before scholars could examine and analyze the evidence to determine whether it supported a conviction.
Is it possible Milosevic was not the monster the press told us about? Is it possible it was necessary to paint him as such as an excuse to go to war, much as the WMD lie had to be invented?

After some searching tonight, I found this interesting article from Jurist. Author Marjorie Cohn, an associate professor of law, a Court TV commentator, and a news consultant for CBS, presented facts that make me think my suspicions are justified:

The most significant international war crimes trial since Hitler’s henchmen were tried at Nuremberg is scheduled to begin on February 12. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will appear in the dock at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague to answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

But Milosevic, often referred to in Western circles as the “Butcher of the Balkans,” maintains it is really the leaders of NATO who should be tried for their crimes against the people of Yugoslavia. In 1999, thousands of Yugoslavs were killed or wounded by NATO’s bombs, allegedly to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Albanians in Kosovo.

As The New York Times said on February 9: “When Mr. Milosevic sneers at the tribunal here as ‘victor’s justice,’ he is not entirely wrong.” Former President William Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and U.S. military leaders orchestrated the use of laser-guided and cluster bombs and depleted uranium that devastated the people and the land of Yugoslavia. They will never face charges at The Hague.

Milosevic contends he acted in defense of the Serbs against Muslim extremists. He claims he was fighting the same type of terrorism the United States is now battling in Afghanistan and elsewhere. At that time, the United States gave active support to the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Muslim terrorist group financed by the Third World Relief Agency, through which Osama bin Laden and others funneled $350 million. Milosevic insists that his pleas to Clinton to get bin Laden out of Kosovo were ignored; instead, Clinton allied with the Albanian Muslims against the Serbs.
That the Clinton administration allied themselves with the Kosovo Liberation Army is well-documented. In fact, the more I read, the more the KLA sounds like the Contras in Nicaragua, a group that was primarily made by US funding. The rhetoric was even similar:

"[The] United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles ... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values." (Sen. Lieberman quoted in the 'Washington Post,' April 28, 1999)
This gets even more interesting when you find out that al Qaeda was also helping the KLA. Peter Dale Scott, for an upcoming book on 9/11, makes a compelling case that the US-KLA-al Qaeda collaboration was about protecting oil interests:
Though the origins of the Kosovo tragedy were rooted in local enmities, oil became a prominent aspect of the outcome. There the al Qaeda-backed UCK or “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) was directly supported and politically empowered by NATO, beginning in 1998.[49] But according to a source of Tim Judah, KLA
representatives had already met with American, British, and Swiss intelligence agencies in 1996, and possibly “several years earlier.”[50] ...

Mainstream accounts of the Kosovo War are silent about the role of al Qaeda in training and financing the UCK/KLA, yet this fact has been recognized by experts and to my knowledge never contested by them.[52] For example, James Bissett, former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, said “Many members of the Kosovo Liberation Army were sent for training in terrorist camps in Afghanistan…. Milosevic is right. There is no question of their [al Qaeda’s] participation in conflicts in the Balkans. It is very well documented."[53] In March 2002, Michael Steiner, the United Nations administrator in Kosovo, warned of "importing the Afghan danger to Europe" because several cells trained and financed by al-Qaeda remained in the region.[54] ...

At the time critics charged that US oil interests were interested in building a trans-Balkan pipeline with US Army protection; although initially ridiculed, these critics were eventually proven correct.[59] BBC News announced in December 2004 that a $1.2 billion pipeline, south of a huge new U.S. army base in Kosovo, has been given a go-ahead by the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia.[60]
And Peter Dale Scott is not the only one putting this all together. This article also speaks of the links between the CIA, German Intelligence, al Qaeda, and the KLA. If I had many more hours I might find many more articles. But I'm already starting to see the pattern.

I'm not crying over Milosevic's death. I didn't know him. I didn't live under him. I don't support any kind of genocide. But as an American citizen, I am especially upset when people who are supposed to represent me, i.e., American officials, engage in genocidal behavior. (Or fail to prevent it, as we're failing to do in Darfur.)

I'm also trying to say that the powers that be use our emotions against us. Most people get upset at the name "Milosevic" and can't go any further than that. just as many get upset at the thought of 9/11 and can't imagine the truth could be other than what they heard in the midst of their terror and grief. The media riles us up with partial facts, but doesn't usually present the other side of the story. That's why it's important to question everything.

Ramsey Clark's letter to Annan regarding the the International War Crimes tribunal's case against Milosevic truly startled me. I had no idea when I started searching tonight that I would find this information:
The initial indictment made no allegations of any crimes in Croatia, or Bosnia. It dealt exclusively with alleged acts by Serb forces in Kosovo in 1999. All of Serbia, including Kosovo, remained under heavy U.S./NATO bombardment at the time of the indictment. There were no U.S., or NATO forces, or ICTY investigators in Kosovo. Investigation was impossible. The indictment was purely a political act to demonize President Milosevic and Serbia and justify U.S. and NATO bombing of Serbia which was itself criminal and in violation of the U.N. and NATO Charters.

And why does that seem so believable? Perhaps because the pattern of deception leading to war was repeated just recently in Iraq. And because we appear to be seeing something similar now re Iran.

If Milosevic was killed, shouldn't we find out why? Was it possible he was killed because his trial might not have produced the "desired" result? I don't know the answer. But the question was definitely worth asking. I had no idea that opening the Milosevic door would give me new reasons to question the official story of 9/11.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Calls to Impeach Bush Growing

Calls for impeachment are becoming more and more prevalent across the Internet. People are no longer waiting for their elected officials to do the right thing, but are making their own stand. Here's a sampling of what's going on around the 'net these days.

The Owners of the Grand Theater in Oakland, California, use their theater marquee to exercise their right to free speech in tremendous ways. (Check out the recent Grand Marquee sign lambasting California of State Bruce McPherson for allowing Diebold back in here.)

This story at Booman Tribune caught my eye: Impeach him - for $3.00 a person. For a few bucks, the post's author bought a few t-shirts and some iron-on transfers, and made t-shirts for himself and his family bearing a copy of this recent Harper's Magazine cover:

Author Suskind writes:
I wore my shirt to the gas station shop, and the Indian fella behind the counter said "Impeach him, huh?" And I said, "Yeah, he's bad. Get rid of him." "He's so bad I want to break my TV," said the man. "For what he's done to this planet, he and Saddam... they are the worst." Said the guy. "Yeah, get rid of him," I said and left the shop.

Hmmm... I thought to myself, this shirt seems to be having an effect. I remember the Town Hall Forum where Liz Holtzmann and Congressman Conyers and others said that until we take it to the streets impeachment is not going to happen. But who knew it could be this simple?

I proceeded walking home from the shop, and one guy SALUTED THE SHIRT !! Wherever I went someone had something to say... basically "My sentiments exactly."

Over on Daily Kos, Stradavus posted a list of the thirty Representatives who have stepped up to the plate already to sign H. Res. 635, calling for the creation of a select committee to explore grounds for impeaching Bush. The list:
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA)
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN)
Rep. John Olver (D-MA)
Rep. Major Owens (D-NY)
Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN)
Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA)
Rep. John Tierney (D-MA)
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

One site puts it quite bluntly: Impeach the Motherfucker Already.

Now sure, there are many on the left who fear the "i" word because of the damage done to Bill Clinton. But how can you compare lying about consensual sex, however extramarital, between adults, with illegally invading a country to forcibly shove Democracy down their throats, ready or not? How can anyone compare a blow job to allowing a major U.S. city to drown while the President played guitar? And now that we know from this AP video that Bush knew the levees could be breached, how can one excuse his behavior?

Inspired by the actions of others around the next, I set up a very simple petition anyone can sign, anonymously if they're scared. Click the image in the upper right to get there. And if you are far more scared by what Bush is doing than putting your name and address down in support of this, check out the site. They're collecting not only names but money to run full-page ads in the New York Times calling for impeachment.

This Impeach Bush site has articles surrounding the constitutional and legal issues as well as arguments for impeachment.

Even the media is slowly getting into the act:

Five towns in Vermont have called on their lone Congressional Representative, Bernie Saunders, Independent, to press for the impeachment. San Francisco City Supervisors want to impeach Cheney as well as Bush.

Harold Meyerson of the LA Weekly, in an article written instead for the Washington Post, warns it's not yet time to call for impeachment, that as bad as things are, can anything be done anyway without a Democratic congress?

He's right on the last part. The Republicans appear more interested in protecting their party than in doing the right thing for this country. The president's spying on Americans, even Meyerson concedes, appears to be a clear violation of law. If we let the president get away with breaking the law, then anything goes. Anything. Rigging of elections. Illegal wars. Allowing cities to drown without remorse. Anything. I refuse to give up on the law, and I know there are a lot of Republican citizens who feel the same way.

But we must call for impeachment, even as we work to secure our vote, which is in grave danger, and as we work on all the other issues that face us. Dark times require of us extraordinary bravery and diligence. Our American ethic, as espoused by our founding fathers, is under severe attack. I am grateful to those who have stepped up to take responsibility for our nation in positive ways, even as I am angry at those whose complacency makes life worse for all.

What are you doing to help?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Our Nation at the Crossroads of History

I've never known a time in my life when so much was at stake and the outcome was so uncertain. This country is truly at a crossroads. We can continue down a horrific path, becoming the kind of country most of us would go to war to oppose, or we can try to get this juggernaut to jump the track, decry our actions in Iraq, plan for our withdrawal, and move to impeach the worst president in the history of this nation.

Which way will we go? I'm not placing any bets yet. There are good signs and bad signs all over the news today.

I was so moved when I read this letter over at Truthout, from a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the Navy. The officer sent his wings and bars back in protest over Bush's policies:

Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a US Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.

As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists' largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones", out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.

Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.

Good news:

Bad news:

Unknown outcomes:

Ether Zone notes that "the Patrick Fitzgerald grand jury has been meeting every Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9:30 AM - ostensibly to do "read-ins" of prior grand jury testimony. The target? Karl Rove - for lying and perjury. Rove knows this and must be worried sick over it." Meanwhile, Cheney's office turned over 250 pages of emails from the VP's office, emails that had not been turned over the first time they were requested. But will anyone be held accountable?

As Ether Zone notes, if the Democrats regain control of the House or the Senate in 2006, the game changes dramatically and impeachment proceedings are sure to begin.

Let's go there for a second. Let's imagine, and frankly, this is no stretch, that the President's dismal 37% approval rating reflects the will of the voters. Will that be enough to change the scene? Not if Diebold, Hart Intercivic, Sequoia and ES&S are counting our votes:

Americans aren't the only ones concerned about our vote. In my document "America's Vote at Risk," which I prepared well in advance of the 2004 election after a distressing conversation with a dramatically underinformed individual working for the Elections Assistance Commission, I quoted The Independent in the UK from October 14, 2003:

"A quiet revolution is taking place in US politics. By the time it's over, the integrity of elections will be in the unchallenged, unscrutinised control of a few large -- and pro-Republican -- corporations. [We wonder] if democracy in America can survive."
The 2006 elections are more important than the 2008 presidential election, because whoever controls Congress has more power than the President. The fate of America and the near-term future of the world lies in the hands not of the voters, but of the voting machine manufacturers. But that's not the end of the potential story. Activists in counties all over America are working to educate their County Registrars and their Secretaries of State to the dangers of these various systems.

Will it be enough? Or will the takeover of America by right-wing forces, begun, I believe, on November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, be complete?

While I'm doubtful about the near-term future of our country, something fascinating is happening in Latin America, something which the global corporate oligarchy is already moving to oppose. Leftist leaders are being elected all over South America:

What will the 22nd Century say about 21st Century America? Will we have succeeded in turning the Titanic around, or will we have sunk after striking an iceberg of our own making?

All our hands are on that pen, writing that story. Let's make it a good one.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Pantry Preserved?

Hmm. According to this article, the pantry where Robert Kennedy was killed has been preserved somewhere. I find that a bit hard to believe, as the schoolboard showed no interest in preserving the hotel at all, much less anything having to do directly with the assassination. I wonder if my statement to them had some effect?

When the Los Angeles Unified School District Board held public hearings last year, I, Jim DiEugenio, Larry Teeter, and a bunch of community activists went before the Board to attempt to convince them of the historical significance of the hotel and to urge its preservation. One of my favorite speakers wrote a little scene between father and son. The son said there's no point in studying history. When the father asked why, the son gave a litany of all the cool people who had visited the hotel, but said the school board was tearing it down, and therefore the school board was telling students history didn't matter. It was so much better than that awful summary I just gave! Clever, funny, and very much to the point.

I was neither clever nor funny, but I hope I got my point across when I spoke. Here's what I said. I just barely got it all in during the three minutes allotted.

I am speaking today not just for myself, but on behalf of 39 other people who have given me their names and comments for additional support. I will present their responses at the end of my comments.

As a product of the public school system in this state, I am deeply committed to seeing the LAUSD receive the support and resources it needs to bring quality education to people in the communities where they live.

As a community member, I have a deep concern that a genuine piece of history from this city is about to be demolished.

Others can tell of Barbra Streisand's appearances here and other events that make this a magical place. I am here to speak on behalf of a tragedy. As a published author on the Robert Kennedy assassination, I am compelled to inform you of new evidence that mandates the preservation of a significant portion of the hotel.

An audio tape has surfaced that was made by a newsman in the hotel the night Robert Kennedy was killed. On the tape, audible shots can be heard. There has long been controversy in this case as to whether there was a single gunman or multiple shooters in the pantry. This tape, combined with the other existing audio evidence, has the potential to settle that debate once and for all.

Even without new evidence, this site is worth preserving. The city of Dallas has preserved the site of the assassination of Bobby's brother, President John Kennedy. The city of Memphis has preserved the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot. That Robert Kennedy was assassinated here alone makes it of significant interest to the public.

But with this new evidence, we are reminded that this is not simply a historic spot. This is a crime scene.

And it is a crime scene that one agency of the city has already partially destroyed.

After FBI agents photographed additional bullet holes in a door frame in the pantry, holes that could prove there were more bullets than could have been fired from a single gun, the LAPD took out the door frame and burned it. When multiple bullet holes were found in the ceiling tiles, the LAPD removed the tiles and ultimately the entire ceiling up to the plastered portion still visible. The LAPD destroyed thousands of photographs and many other pieces of evidence in this case. Their behavior towards this crime was a serious black mark for our city.

To this day, appeals are still proceeding in this case because of the mishandling of the evidence. Does the LAUSD wish to join the LAPD in further destroying the crime scene even as the case is not yet closed on that assassination? Do we want Los Angeles to further stain its reputation in that regard? How can a school system which teaches the importance of history be engaged in destroying such an important piece of it?

Analyzing the latest audio in an acoustically unchanged Ambassador Hotel is critical to finding the truth about this important event, one that took the life of a potential president, a potential world leader.

The LAUSD desperately needs more space. But is the current plan the best we can do? The lot is huge. There is plenty of room to build high-capacity buildings without destroying the core portion of the hotel. Please reconsider the drastic proposal currently under consideration and preserve this important landmark which encapsulates such a special, remarkable part of our history. And preserve especially the crime scene and surrounding areas so that the truth can ultimately prevail. Justice has not been fully served, and there's no statute of limitations on murder.

Fifteen years is a long time. But it's never too late to do the right thing.

I understand the Kennedy family's wish to have a school on the site and not some morbid reminder of their beloved Bobby's death. But Bobby's death marked the end of much more than one man. It maked the end of liberalism and the goal of peaceful co-existence with other nations. After John and Bobby were gone, the right-wing in this country took every opportunity to turn America into an Empire. We're watching that endgame now.

After I spoke to the Board, I gave them the copies of the thirty-nine statements from people in five different countries. One person doesn't make much difference. But maybe because forty of us stood up and spoke in unison, TOGETHER, we had an effect.

I'd rather have Kennedy back than the pantry. But if the pantry has been preserved, then I hope it is erected somewhere so new generations will come to learn of this remarkable, courageous, and compassionate soul who, as Ted Kennedy said so movingly in his eulogy, "saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

God bless you, Robert Kennedy. Oh, how we continue to love, miss, and need you.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In Republican Hands

Why is Bush still in power? Why are the Republicans letting this guy rip our system of government to shreds with impunity? Everything he does is taking the country further and further off course, with no correction in sight.

And that’s where the parallels to Watergate break down. Sure, we have secret, illegal spying. The enemies list. An administration hell-bent on plugging leaks. A President who believes the law doesn’t apply to him. So why can’t we expect a similar outcome? Because in the past, conservatives and liberals both respected that our system of government only works when there’s a true balance of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The court was a balanced one, not a partisan one. And the legislature was dominated by Democrats who were not afraid to hold the President’s feet to the fire.

Now, we have a partisan court, and a Republican-controlled congress. In other words, we don’t have a two-party system in this country anymore. We’re down to a one-party system, and that party is running their cards. Destroy Social Security. Open up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to private drilling interests. Sell off our ports to private enterprises, even if they’re controlled by states that sponsor terrorism. Sell out our soldiers by putting them in an impossible situation. And of course, sell out all our allies in the United Nations. Why do you think they sent John Bolton into the UN except to destroy it?

Honey, if it looks like it, talks like it, and smells like it, you gotta call it what it is. Fascism. A one-party dictatorship, bent on serving the corporations over the people. That is the very definition of fascism.

Do the Republicans really want to go down in history as the party that brought fascism to the highest levels of government?

The same people who tell you burning the flag is horrible think nothing of burning the Constitution, our rights, our environment.

It’s hard – no, it’s impossible – for me to imagine that people can be so selfish, so small-minded, and so short-sighted that they would destroy the planet to promote their own profit, but the pattern now is undeniable. The religious right has a new leader, and it’s not Christ, or Abraham, or Allah: it’s the Almighty Dollah. The history of the past century is written in money. Wherever oil could be found, wars have been waged. Wherever people started to form a democratic system of government, including here in America, the leader of that government was overthrown or killed.

In the name of profit, we are killing our seas. We are losing our fisheries. We have deforested our lands. We have ripped a hole in the ozone layer. We are losing our planets’ lungs, the rainforest. We are melting the Antarctic ice shelf. We are polluting our soils. If we keep this up, in a few hundred years, we may not be able to inhabit this planet.

The only people who can stop this ship now are the mighty rich, the business class, the Republican Party.

Will they be patriots, or rapists?

Will they bow to science, or to personal greed?

Will they do the right thing and move to impeach the worst president in this nation’s history? Or will they count their tax cut dollars even as they poison themselves? Pollution cannot be kept out of gated communities, not even with all the bottled water in the world.

At The Crisis Papers, Bernard Weiner makes the following observations:
I'm more and more convinced that it will be Republicans, many of them of the true conservative and realist kind, who effectively will do in the Bush Administration.

In this, I am reminded of the behavior of Richard Nixon when he realized that he was fast losing his middle-class, bourgeois base: He called it quits on the Vietnam War, and likewise on his presidency after his crimes were exposed.

But unlike Nixon's crew, Bush&Co. seem willing to take the country down with them, so desperate are they to hold onto power, deplete the treasury, pay off their corporate friends, carry out their ideological revolution -- and keep themselves out of the federal slammer. The crimes of the Bush Administration are so many and varied that none of us should be surprised by anything that might happen in the coming weeks and months: Bin Laden captured or reported killed, a U.S.-Israeli air assault on Iran's nuclear facilities, a major terrorist attack inside the U.S. to be followed by martial law, the announcement of a bird-flu outbreak with the military placed in charge.

I'm pretty level-headed and don't usually think in these dire terms, but these guys have backed themselves into a tight political corner and are desperate -- and dangerous.
Please. I’m begging my fellow citizens, my fellow Republican citizens. Wake up. Smell the planet you’re killing. Do something about it. You are the only ones who can.

You have the power. We don't. You can save us all, or kill us all. I’d say the choice is a no-brainer, but then, you're the guys who elected Bush.

May God help us all.