Thursday, January 27, 2005
Monday, January 24, 2005
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
From Sharon, a Canadian colleague of mine who likes and supports Americans but is stunned by the lack of outrage from disenfranchised voters:
Many of us who live in places where legitimate elections are fought and won are astounded by the acceptance by Americans of a stolen election. It seems to me that nobody cares or can do anything about the alleged occurrence of 70,000 people voting for Bush on touch screens in polling booths where only 1,700 people were entitled to vote, or about machines that changed electors' votes for Kerry to votes for Bush before their very eyes. Multiply that by all the touch screens in the U.S., and you are looking at a massive crime, are you not? I am shocked that there seems to be no recourse for those affected by such illegal activity. Your out-of-control president is a huge danger to the rest of the world (and perhaps even yourselves) and seems to be above the law. If you think the rest of the world respects your country any longer for its democratic leadership, you are dreaming. Is anybody out there actually conscious? Or am I having a bad dream?
Monday, January 17, 2005
With U.S. troops’ tours of duties in Iraq being extended again and again and Bush’s de facto No Reservist Left Behind policy, you know there’s a draft coming, despite Bush administration protestations to the contrary. If you or your children are conscientious objectors (COs) to all wars, not just the one in Iraq, you must be prepared to prove it.
Helen James, in "Help Your Peace-Loving Child Avoid the Draft" in Mothering magazine (ISSN 0733-3013; January–February 2005 issue), gives plenty of good tips on items to keep in a CO file:
- You’ve participated in war protests and peace marches, so document that. Get the people with you to photograph you and your signs at these events. If you have children and you’re raising them to be COs, take them along and make sure they’re photographed taking part, too.
- Save copies of flyers from all protests, marches, and peace rallies.
- Whenever you or your children write to protest military actions or to advocate for peace—letters to the president, to other elected officials, blog entries, classroom essays, poems, songs, letters to other relatives—save a copy for the CO file.
- If someone should write you or your children and express knowledge of your or your children’s strong commitment to peace, save that e-mail or letter. These missives are especially helpful if they explain how you or your children show that commitment.
- As a parent, keep a diary that records your children's life patterns and attitudes toward peace and war. Keep a similar diary about yourself, too.
- Save documents about your religious beliefs and practices, if any: certificates or records of membership in a religious organization, records of religious activities and awards, materials that outline your religion’s views about war.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 6, 2005, on his nomination to become U.S. Attorney General. Senator after senator asked him about his role in drafting the legal memos that condoned abusive treatment of detainees. They asked him about whether he agrees with the memos today, whether torture is legal under U.S. statute. Far from repudiating the memos and the administration's torture policies, Gonzales responded with evasions, with claims of cloudy memory, and with inconsistent answers. He stated that he would be guided by the rule of law
and that he recognized the difference between the role of Attorney General and that of White House Counsel. But, in contradiction, when asked whether the President could ignore the torture statute and legally immunize people who then commit torture under the President's power as commander in chief, Gonzales sidestepped without answering the question. His testimony throughout the day-long hearing consisted of glossy overviews and sound bites but failure to answer particulars.
Action: Please call, e-mail, or fax your senators today. Urge your senators to vote "no" on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General. Gonzales failed to commit to the rule of law when pressed for details and failed to repudiate administration policies that have led to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In his confirmation hearing, Gonzales showed himself to be unfit to lead the Department of Justice, unfit to serve as the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. Every "no" vote in the Senate will be a vote against torture, a vote against U.S. abuse of detainees, and a vote against breach of U.S. treaty and statutory obligations.
It is especially important to contact those senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. See FCNL's web site for a list of members. However, because the Judiciary Committee will ultimately refer the nomination to the entire Senate, contact with your senators is important even if they are not on the Judiciary Committee. Use FCNL's web site to send your letter: To view the sample letter, click on the sample letter link, then enter your ZIP code and click in the box.
Background: FCNL rarely opposes a president's choice to be nominee for an administrative position. The last time FCNL opposed a high-level nominee was during the Reagan administration. However, the particulars of Alberto Gonzales' record as White House Counsel compel FCNL to break from our usual practice.
As counsel to the President during the post–Sept. 11, 2001, period, Gonzales participated in drafting legal memos that served to narrow the definition of "torture," attempting to legally justify the brutal treatment of people detained under U.S. control. He was the architect of the President's use of the designation "enemy combatant" and approved of the President's application of that designation, even for U.S. citizens arrested in the United States, without court or congressional oversight. He advised the President that the Geneva Conventions are not applicable to Taliban or al Qaeda combatants, and he was key to development of military tribunals without due process protections for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. He has been a dutiful supporter of administration policy that violated both the letter and the spirit of U.S. statute and treaty obligations, on human rights, torture, the conduct of war, and our constitutional system of mutual oversight among the branches of government.
- Analysis of Alberto Gonzales' appearance at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 6, 2005
- FCNL's letter of concern about this nomination sent to the Senate prior to the Gonzales confirmation hearing
- Transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing (free registration required)
- The administration's memos referenced in the hearing, including those concerning torture, application of the Geneva Convention, and the President's powers (registration required)
- Talking points about the President's choice of Alberto Gonzales to serve as Attorney General of the United States
- Contact Congress and the Administration
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
There are plenty of inauguration-day plans out there for telling George Bush that he's bad for the nation:
- United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is asking everyone to converge on Washington, DC on Thursday, January 20, to participate in the protest activities of the DC Anti-War Network and of Turn Your Back on Bush. You can get info on housing and rides, resources, and meetings at Counter-inaugural.org.
And you can also take part in the United WE Stand Rally and Cultural Festival at Plymouth Congregational Church on Friday, January 21. The event will feature comedian-actor Rosie O'Donnell; the Rev. Graylan Hagler, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church and member of the UFPJ Steering Committee; Damu Smith, founder of Black Voices for Peace; and UFPJ National Coordinator Leslie Cagan.
UFPJ says that dozens of local protest events around the U.S. are scheduled for January 20, including the Jazz Funeral for Democracy in New Orleans and the Northland Anti-War Coalition's Counter-Inaugural March in Duluth, MN. See the UFPJ site for a complete list.
- VoteToImpeach.org, which is sponsoring a mass rally, has secured official permission to be in bleachers along the parade route, at 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, a point that Bush's motorcade must pass. Those taking part in the rally are asked to carry signs that read “Bush Lied: Thousands Died,” “Impeach Bush,” or “Save the Bill of Rights,” among other slogans.
- VoteNoWar.org is a cosponsor of that same rally. The organization is asking people to bring or pick up signs at the rally that read "U.S. Out of Iraq Now," "End the Occupation—Bring the Troops Home Now," "End Colonial Domination from Palestine to Haiti—and Everywhere," or "Health Care, Education, Housing, and a Job at a Living Wage Must Be a Right!" You can find maps of the planned rally area, along with info about bus rides from all over the country, at the VoteNoWar site.
The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.The president took us to war while saying repeatedly and publicly that Iraq had WMD. Why wasn't the end of the fruitless WMD search reported with as much fanfare, Georgie? Hmmm?
In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.
Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.
Asked if the ISG had stopped actively searching for WMD, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today: "That's my understanding." He added, "A lot of their mission is focused elsewhere now." . . .
Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the weapons hunt, and there has been no public accounting of the money. A spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said the entire budget and the expenditures would remain classified.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Dear President Bush,
I just wanted to tell you my opinion about the war in Iraq. I think it's wrong to go to war. I don't like this war because it kills infants, children, men, and women. Please stop the war.
Neil O'Moore-Klopf, age 10
Go here to see a photograph of Neil's letter. Good kid, big heart. I love him. And now I'm going to put that letter in an envelope to the White House.
Update: Letter from the President
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Wake up out there!
The ACLU reported yesterday that "documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union show that an FBI investigation into the use of 'aggressive' interrogation techniques at Guantanamo was sharply scaled back, and that records related to the FBI’s investigation are still being withheld. 'Shameful as it is, the full story of our government’s sanctioned torture and abuse of detainees must see the light of day if we are to ever restore our reputation as a nation dedicated to the rule of law,' said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. These latest documents were released on the eve of the confirmation hearings of Attorney General–nominee Alberto Gonzales, author of the infamous memorandum that provided legal justifications for the use of torture and described the Geneva Conventions as 'quaint' and 'obsolete.' 'Mr. Gonzales bears much of the responsibility for creating the legal framework and permissive atmosphere that led to the torture and abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere,' Romero said."
And, reports the New York Times, "an article in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine says that military medical personnel violated the Geneva Conventions by helping design coercive interrogation techniques based on detainee medical information. Some doctors told the journal that the military had instructed them not to discuss the deaths that occurred in detention."
Get the heck on your phone now and demand that your senators not confirm the appointment of Gonzalez, architect of torture, as attorney general! Don't know what the phone numbers are? Look here.
If we don't stop the torture of Iraqis, the torture of Americans just may be next.
Please join me. Copy and paste the petition into a letter and send it to Bush yourself.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
My first professional job, back in the early '80s, was as a reporter for a midsize Texas newspaper (though my surname was different then). I had to write on every subject imaginable, and on deadline. It was so good then, but life got in the way. . . . I had my first baby, and the night hours of a reporter weren't really compatible with having a child. Then my first husband and I moved to a different state and I started down the publishing track. And then I divorced and then remarried and had two more babies, and I continued to enjoy publishing, though I eventually left the corporate side to go solo.
I've long edited to live, but now that I've started this blog and committed to it, I'm remembering that I must also write to live. Now that my kids are getting older, it'll continue to become easier to find the time to write.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Most of the talking heads don’t work as hard at checking out news stories as the reporters of the ’60s, ’70s, and even the ’80s did. The local ones generally base nonpolice stories on the press releases they get, adding a few self-serving quotes from the organizations who wrote the releases. They’re more concerned about looking good and getting airtime. The network reporters do a little better, except when it comes to reporting on anything related to George Bush. Most of them seem to believe anything that man says. Disgusts me. People who realize that this is the case have turned to alternative news sources in droves.
Then there’s the selling and the sex. Why would any sane person believe that having the newest car will get you an attractive romantic partner? But that’s what the car ads imply. Apparently, chewing certain kinds of gum and shopping at some stores will get you an attractive person as well. I can get a romantic partner on my own, thank you very much. And I don’t need to buy, buy, buy to be happy with my life.
But most egregious of all is the nonstop violence. Cop shows, detective shows, docudramas about kidnappings, movies about murder, wrestling, boxing, football, and hockey (I know I’ve just made enemies with the sports references) drown viewers in physical violence and pain. There are guns everywhere you look. Even sitcoms throw in a little physical violence, with kids threatening to beat up other kids and approving mentions of spanking children. Then there’s the emotional violence that sitcoms promote: canned laughter at parents who put down their children, coworkers who insult each other, and spouses and domestic partners who dole out more rudeness than love to each other. And people wonder why Americans are violence-prone.
I want TV that doesn’t pitch toys, soft drinks, candy, sex, and violence to my children. I want shows that don’t use guns or sex or car crashes to boost their ratings. I want real news, including footage of all the deaths on both sides in the war in Iraq, so that Bush’s blind followers might have their eyes opened.
But then again, I’ve sometimes been accused of tilting at windmills.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
On January 20, George Bush will spend an obscene $40 million from private donors on the most expensive inaugural celebration in history. Please help me stop him—or at least make people think a little—by signing my petition to him before the petition closing date of Thursday, January 13. I must close the petition by that date in order to have enough time to get it to Bush. Please tell absolutely everyone you can think of to sign the petition.
I've submitted the petition to ThePetitionSite.com and am waiting for the organization's reviewers to vet it and assign it an URL. As soon as one is available, I'll post it here.
Here's the text of the petition:
We urge you to replace your elaborate inaugural celebration plans with arrangements for spare, dignified proceedings because:
- Over 123,000 people were killed by the December 26 tsunamis caused by the massive earthquake in Southeast Asia. The death toll rises by the day. If there were multiple deaths in your hometown, would you host a showy party shortly thereafter? You—and all Americans—are citizens of the world and thus must show respect for the tragic losses of our fellow world citizens.
- You have pledged $350 million in aid to the nations hit by tsunamis, but your planned inauguration, with nine balls, a youth concert, a parade, a fireworks display, and the official swearing-in ceremony, is expected to be the most expensive in history, costing about $40 million—in addition to security costs. That $40 million could help provide water and sanitation systems, lessening the effects of disastrous diseases that now loom. Surely you, as a supporter of the right to life, have a moral obligation to save lives. You would be a humanitarian if you told your corporate donors that you have decided to use their money to help the survivors of one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history—donors including ChevronTexaco of Concord, California; Ameriquest Capital Corp. of Orange, California; Corporate Capital LLC of New Orleans; Argent Mortgage Co. of Orange; Long Beach Acceptance Corp. of Paramus, New Jersey; Town and Country Credit of Irvine, California; and Golden Eagle Industries of Charlotte, North Carolina. Gold-plated celebrations in the face of such suffering do not become a world leader; a little humility does.
- The United States is currently spending $177 million a day in Iraq, yet American soldiers lack the life-saving equipment they need to do the job you sent them to do.
- You are considering asking Congress to freeze domestic spending in 2005 in light of massive federal deficits that have set records, peaking at $413 billion in 2003. It is obscene to flaunt your corporate donations and to wallow in lavish celebrations amid international agony, and then ask Americans to tighten their belts.
President Bush, please do the right thing: Have an inauguration befitting a world leader rather than the ostentatious festivities one might expect of a king out of touch with his subjects.
Here are some news stories that back up the points made in the petition:
A dear friend of mine, when told about the petition, wrote me to say: "Good for you for drafting the petition. The phrase 'pissing up a rope' occurs to me." All of us who sign it may indeed be pissing up a rope, but speaking out is all we have left . . . and if we don't do it, we won't even have that.