Monday, April 30, 2007

David Swanson Lays It Out on A28

Pelosi, Conyers, the People, and Impeachment
By David Swanson

Speech delivered in Portland, Maine, at rally organized by onApril 28th national day of impeachment events organized by

I want to thank Maine Impeach dot org for putting this event together. This is a wonderful crowd! The paper on grounds for impeachment drafted by Maine Lawyers for Democracy is incredibly well done:

I spoke earlier today at a rally in Boston, Massachusetts, where one of the other speakers was Dan DeWalt, whose leadership and determination after many months led to the Vermont State Senate passing a resolution demanding the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. We spoke at Faneuil Hall, where men like Wendell Phillips led a movement to abolish slavery, something the wise and knowing of that day said could not be done. Those abolitionists made their movement a fight for freedom of the press. And make no mistake: our struggle is the same.

The corporations that control our communications system do not report the grounds for impeachment, do not poll the public's support for it, and at least until today have not reported on our movement. There have been exceptions, and the most significant has been the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who recently received a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on our President's habit of violating laws and announcing his intention to do so with so-called signing statements. There can be no better grounds for impeachment than those public advertisements of criminality.

And there is hope that today may mark a breakthrough in compelling the media to cover impeachment. In fact, I just did a television interview in the foyer. Events are being held in 43 states and several foreign countries today. Some are holding rallies. Others are spelling out the word IMPEACH with their bodies on beaches, with boats on lakes, with pizzas on boardwalks. I just got a text message that said "Everyone is taking off their clothes and spelling IMPEACH on the beach at Coney Island." I just got a phone call from Seattle where they've stretched hug IMPEACH banners over the highways. A fleet of seven airplanes is taking the impeachment message to the skies and photographing the displays below. And Bush is giving a speech in Miami where a huge crowd is gathered, but they're not there to welcome him.

Part of what has given this movement energy is the action that a Congressman from Cleveland, Ohio, took last Tuesday. Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced House Resolution 333, which contains 3 articles of impeachment against Richard B. Cheney. The Congress Members from Maine need to cosponsor this bill or defend the actions of Dick Cheney. Kucinich is a hero now to millions of Americans and to people around the world, but he merely did his duty, it was a long time coming, and it is his duty to impeach Bush as well.

At stake is not just an offensive use of signing statements. At stake is accountability for (and I am neither exaggerating nor using metaphor) – at stake is accountability for mass murder. A war based on lies and launched by an unelected president and vice president has cost the lives of approximately a million Iraqis, caused millions more to flee their country, and displaced many more within Iraq. In the process, over 3,000 US troops have died, tens of thousands have been wounded, and been driven into debt and divorce and been left to struggle with post traumatic stress disorder.

If one man on the streets of Portland, Maine, or some small American town, murdered one person, would prosecution be optional? Would the local sheriff wait for years before asking the man's friends to come in and answer a few questions? Would police and prosecutors stake their future careers on keeping the murderer at large? But this is the 2008 election strategy of Sheriff Pelosi and her followers. They want the war makers left free precisely because the public is outraged. They want the war to keep going so that they can benefit by "opposing" it. But November 2008 is too far off, and Pelosi will not be able to hold back the public pressure.

At the start of 2007, which is now one-third wasted, the new Democratic committee chairmen tried to appease the citizenry with talk of investigations and oversight. Four months later, the House and Senate intelligence committees have not investigated the lies that took us to war. The judiciary committees and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have looked into some related matters. But officials who have testified have experienced extraordinary lapses of memory. The unitary executive branch has refused to produce subpoenaed documents. And now Condoleezza Rice says she's "not inclined" to obey a subpoena requiring her to appear and answer questions about forged documents that were used to mislead our nation into war. She's not claiming executive privilege. What sense would that make these years after the crime was committed? She's claiming unitary executive privilege – the privilege to violate the law.

Congress can't compel Rice to appear, and neither can our courts. Law enforcement is handled by the executive branch. But executives who fail to faithfully execute the laws of this land can be removed from office. That power lies solely with Congress and is called impeachment!

Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers celebrated the Democrats' beginning to use subpoenas. For 6 years, he said, they had been suffering from subpoena envy. I'm afraid they now may be experiencing premature congratulation, and self-congratulation. If subpoenas are ignored, the options for Congress Members, including Chairman Henry Waxman, are: backing impeachment, or retiring. And I don't want Congressman Waxman to retire.

I'm usually asked to speak about the evidence for impeachment, and frankly I'm a little tired of it. We've got enough smoking guns to fill an NRA convention. The evidence that Bush and Cheney intentionally lied to Congress (which is a felony) and to the public (which is an assault on democracy) about weapons of mass destruction and alleged Iraqi ties to al Qaeda and 9-11 is overwhelming. The Maine Lawyers have spelled it out, and it is collected at

Bush and Cheney are on video telling these lies. Cheney repeatedly visited the CIA headquarters to pressure them to get it wrong – a story we may hear about in George Tenet's forthcoming book. Cheney set up a phony intelligence operation in the Pentagon, distorted a National Intelligence Estimate, leaked misleading bits of classified information, and helped coordinate a marketing campaign to promote the war. Cheney led a campaign to punish Joe Wilson for exposing one of the lies – the same lie that Rice now refuses to talk about. The campaign involved exposing an undercover CIA agent, and act of TREASON. Cheney has directed contracts to Halliburton and profited there from, an act of BRIBERY. Cheney has allowed secret meetings of corporate executives to determine our national energy and military policies, a HIGH CRIME And MISDEMEANOR. A section of the US Constitution that was displayed last Thursday on a giant banner dropped in the courtyard of the Hart Senate Office Building (for which 14 people were arrested) says that officers of our government shall be removed from office upon impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. With Dick Cheney you get the whole package.

With George W. Bush it's worse. No investigation is needed to expose his war lies, or his spying in violation of the law. He's on video for years lying about warrantless spying and later brazenly confessing to it. He's on video being warned about Hurricane Katrina. He's on video claiming he wasn't warned. Both Bush and Cheney are on video threatening an aggressive attack on Iran. Such a threat – just the threat – violates the UN Charter and Article 6 of the US Constitution. As does the war on Iraq and all the war crimes that have been part of it. And Bush and Cheney are responsible for the actions of their subordinates, including Alberto Gonzales, especially those actions they do not investigate or hold anyone accountable for.

Bush has detained without charge, held people in secret prisons, and tortured. These facts are not in dispute. The crimes are simply so brazen, so radical, so far over the line of decency, such a retreat to the evils of monarchy that American revolutionaries thought they were leaving behind, that people are pretending not to see, and the media is not helping.

While no investigations are needed, hearings could help better inform the public. But the media only covers hearings with big-name witnesses, and they either forget everything they've done or refuse to appear. The problem, in any case, is not the public. It's Congress. How can we persuade Congress Members, other than Kucinich, maybe even a Congressman from Maine, to act?

The answer is not convincing them that impeachable offenses have been committed. They know it. Thirty-nine Congress Members in early 2006 signed onto House Resolution 635 to create an investigation into impeachment. At least one new freshman member was elected campaigning on impeachment, and many campaigning on accountability. They want impeachment. They know their duty. But Pelosi and the media are against it, with only the public for it. Who wins this struggle is a question of how active the public becomes and how smart we are.

We need to pressure Pelosi directly, but also indirectly. We need to raise hell until the media polls Americans on their support for impeaching Cheney and Bush. Or we need to raise funds to pay for state-level or national polls. We need to take those results to our Congress Members' offices and put them in their hands. There will be a majority for impeaching Bush and two-thirds for Cheney. I guarantee it.

We need to meet with editorial boards and persuade them to take a position for or against Dick Cheney. We need to demand that the media cover our events, or we need to hold our events in their lobbies and offices. Isn't there a newspaper near here? If they're not here with us, we should ALL go pay them a visit when we're done.

We need to lobby the progressive Democrats to join Kucinich, especially those on the House Judiciary Committee and especially Chairman John Conyers. And we need to talk to these politicians in terms they understand: election gains and losses. Impeachment, for many of us, is not about elections or parties or individuals. It is about restoring limitations to the offices of the presidency and the vice presidency. But that won't move Pelosi or persuade many Democrats to defy her. It is, however, what they should talk about when they do step forward. And they should ask Republicans to join them. At least one Republican, Ron Paul, has said he favors impeachment. Many rank and file Republicans cannot possibly want a Democrat to hold the powers Bush has assumed. I certainly don't.

What Democrats in Congress need to feel is immediate public pressure painting them as defenders of Dick Cheney. And what they need to be told is that impeachment is good for elections. It is. The Democrats held Nixon to account and won, and let Reagan off easy and lost. The Republicans went after Truman and won. They went after Clinton despite public opposition and still held onto power and began expanding it. If the Democrats do not act, the public will see Iraq as their war and Bush as their president long before November 2008, and when election day comes, voters will stay home.

Democrats in Congress also have to be told that impeachment is not a distraction from ending the war or anything else worthwhile, but rather the way to achieve those goals. Four months of avoiding impeachment has accomplished virtually nothing. Anything that is accomplished will be vetoed or signing statemented. In contrast, during Nixon's impeachment, Congress raised the minimum wage, created the Endangered Species Act, and ended a war. And it was the pressure of impeachment that made those things possible. And, as my friend and fellow agitator John Nichols points out, in 1973 the Speaker of the House Carl Albert said impeachment was off the table. The Speaker clearly does not get the final word, because the table belongs to us.

Of course, it's worse when the Speaker is taking her talking points from the White House. That's what Pelosi did a year ago when the Republican National Committee announced with no evidence the absurd fantasy that talk of impeachment would be good for Republicans in the 2006 elections. Pelosi immediately made the same announcement. This bit of recent history needs to be made known, because what popular support the Democrats have comes from their opposing, not obeying, Bush.

In at least 16 states, the state Democratic Party has passed a resolution asking for impeachment. The California Democratic Party is expected to pass such a resolution tomorrow, and when Pelosi hosts the dinner tonight, delegates plan to dramatically put impeachment on the table. I got a phone call from San Diego, where they say they've spelled IMPEACH on the beach, and no one can get into the Democratic Convention without being greeted by impeachment advocates. The right-wing San Diego Union Tribune has even run a story about it, featuring a photo of impeachment advocates Marcy Winograd and Cindy Asner, the wife of impeachment advocate and actor Ed Asner.

Ultimately, all we want from Pelosi is neutrality. If she won't lead or follow, she should step out of the way. The minute she does, John Conyers will lead.

"I have a choice," Conyers said last year. "I can either stand by and lead my constituents to believe I do not care that the president apparently no longer believes he is bound by any law or code of decency. Or I can act."

We need to remind John Conyers of this choice every day until he does act. If he acts, he will be remembered as a hero. If he does not act, some future Emerson will write of him words like those Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of Webster:

Why did all manly gifts in Webster fail?

He wrote on Nature's grandest brow For Sale.

John Conyers' legacy deserves better than that. For his own sake, we must pressure him to do what he knows is right. I'm convinced that he wants us to pressure him. I'm confident we will do so. And I'm certain that Bush and Cheney will be impeached and removed from office before the end of their terms.

But if someone asks you whether impeachment is likely of unlikely, guaranteed or impossible, tell them that you are not a spectator, you're a citizen, and impeachment will happen because you're going to make it happen. In two days it will be four years since Mission Accomplished was declared, and two years since the Downing Street Minutes were published. We have our own mission to accomplish. With no fear, no hesitation, and no sleep till impeachment.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Make Hip Hop, Not War: The Tour

by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford

‘It's time for the streets to rise up," says Rev. Lennox Yearwood, head of the Hip Hop Caucus, whose "Make Hip Hop, Not War" tour is traversing the country. The tour showcases the best political elements of Black youth culture - the "conscious" rap that huge media corporations have tried to eliminate from the airwaves, record stores and public discourse. The real "gangstas" are the U.S. government, and the poets of the people continue to tell the story. Contrary to the corporate media line, hip hop is not just about "nappy-headed hoes" - but the liberation of a people, and the unification of the world through the strongest cultural and political message that America has yet produced.


"Genuine hip hop culture is not gangsta rap, but reflects the core progressive character of Black America."

"Our president is addicted to war," said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, head of the Hip Hop Caucus, on the first leg of a national "Make Hip Hop, Not War" tour. "We knew that, but we held out hope that this congress would have done an intervention. But our congress is co-dependent. They act just like the person who is addicted, as well."

The young minister spoke at Manhattan's West Park Presbyterian Church, a magnificent edifice that has been condemned to death by gentrification, just as minority communities have been condemned to a slow death by the onrushing forces of hyper-capital. And as Black New Orleans was sentenced to death. "Instead of building levees, Bush built bombs," said Yearwood, who was raised in Louisiana.

The massive redistribution of America's wealth to the rapacious "defense" sector and the most wealthy segment of the population, if allowed to continue, will doom any hope of revitalization of the nation's inner cities, which are rapidly being dispersed by the same forces that that will soon raise million-dollar condominiums on the site of the West Park Presbyterian Church in New York City. We are all facing social death.

"'Instead of building levees, Bush built bombs,' said Yearwood."

Hip hop's massive international appeal has the potential to create rivers of communication among the sufferers. At the heart of the culture - the real one, not the industry-manufactured variety - is the essential internationalism and human compassion of the African American population-at-large, a culture that has been hijacked by huge corporations that put forward a caricature of Black life. An array of hip hop artists have joined with Rev. Yearwood to present the other face of Black culture and politics.

The national tour is designed to demonstrate that genuine hip hop culture is not gangsta rap, but reflects the core progressive character of Black America. "It's time for the streets to rise up, for us to rise up, to say that we are not caught up in that mess," said Rev. Yearwood.

Alternative media is key, since corporate media is the enemy - the purveyor of lies. "The revolution may not be televised, but it will be uploaded," Yearwood told the 200 or so folks who inaugurated the tour. "Humanity is counting on us."

There is much work to be done. In the United States, populations are methodically segmented by the corporate media, and white supremacy still rules even in leftist circles. "We noticed that during the immigration rallies, they were all brown, and during the Katrina rallies, they were mostly Black, and during the anti-war rallies, they were mostly white."

The hope is that a common language created by the Black culture of hip hop will bridge this gap in politically effective ways, rather than cosmetic ones. There are many performers willing to serve in this struggle. "Articulate," a rapper, educator, Howard University alumnus and activist from Washington, D.C. told the Manhattan crowd, "I think of myself as an artist for the people."

"The diversions of Black culture so effectively created by corporate America have allowed the marginalization of our best and brightest."

These "artists for the people" exist in every community, but must be supported by those who claim to represent Black America. The diversions of Black culture so effectively created by corporate America have allowed the marginalization of our best and brightest - the true cultural warriors and heroines.

The "Make Hip Hop, Not War" movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war "movement," which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people. Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, "This is why the anti-war movement is not working. How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?"

Probably 80 percent of African Americans would support the ejection of George Bush from the White House. That's part of the agenda of the tour. "On April 28, when this tour is over, let it be impeachment day," said Rev. Yearwood.

If it were up to Black people, it would be so.

BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yeah, and that's the problem.

As Newsweek's Fineman put it (Imus in the Morning, 4/9/07): "You know, all of us who do your show, you know, we're part of the gang. And we rely on you the way you rely on us."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

UFPJ Statement on Impeachment

United for Peace and Justice

George Bush, Dick Cheney and other top administration officials have committed impeachable offenses.

These include leading the country into war under false pretenses, ordering violations of the Geneva Conventions, the U.N Charter and International law; violating the civil liberties of U.S. people in an unconstitutional manner; lying to the people of the U.S. and the world; and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

There is growing awareness of these facts among the U.S. people. From across the country there are demands that the Congress act on the principle that this is a government of laws, not of individuals. There is a grassroots movement demanding that Bush and Cheney and others be impeached.

Since its formation, UFPJ’s central mission has been working to end the war in Iraq and other wars of which George Bush is Commander in Chief. We welcome the growing movement to impeach him and others in his administration who have aided and abetted his crimes.

Some of our member groups and friends are already active in Impeach07, an umbrella forum in the impeachment movement. Others may see ways to incorporate impeachment efforts into their antiwar agendas, and we encourage them to do so.

Issued by the UFPJ National Steering Committee, April 11, 2007

Friday, April 6, 2007


Commentary: What would Jesus really do?

By Roland Martin
CNN Contributor

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a CNN contributor and talk-show host on WVON-AM in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith."

NEW YORK (CNN) -- When did it come to the point that being a Christian meant only caring about two issues, abortion and homosexuality?

Ask the nonreligious what being a Christian today means, and based on what we see and read, it's a good bet they will say that followers of Jesus Christ are preoccupied with those two points.

Poverty? Whatever. Homelessness? An afterthought. A widening gap between the have and have-nots? Immaterial. Divorce? The divorce rate of Christians mirrors the national average, so that's no big deal.

The point is that being a Christian should be about more than abortion and homosexuality, and it's high time that those not considered a part of the religious right expose the hypocrisy of our brothers and sisters in Christianity and take back the faith. And those on the left who believe they have a "get out of sin free" card must not be allowed to justify their actions.

Many people believe we are engaged in a holy war. And we are. But it's not with Muslims. The real war -- the silent war -- is being engaged among Christians, and that's what we must set our sights on.

As we celebrate Holy Week, our focus is on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But aren't we also to recommit ourselves to live more like Jesus? Did Jesus spend his time focusing on all that he didn't like, or did Jesus raise the consciousness of the people to understand love, compassion and teach them about following the will of God?

As a layman studying to receive a master's in Christian communications, and the husband of an ordained minister, it's troubling to listen to "Christian radio" and hear the kind of hate spewing out of the mouths of my brothers and sisters in the faith.

In fact, I've grown tired of people who pimp God. That's right; we have a litany of individuals today who are holy, holy, holy, sing hallelujah, talk about how they love the Lord, but when it's time to walk the walk, somehow the spirit evaporates.

A couple of years ago I took exception to an e-mail blast from the Concerned Women for America. The group was angry that Democrats were blocking certain judges put up for the federal bench by President Bush. It called on Americans to fight Democrats who wanted to keep Christians off the bench.

So I called and sent an e-mail asking, "So, where were you when President Clinton appointed Christian judges to the bench? Were they truly behind Christian judges, or Republican Christian judges?

Surprise, surprise. There was never a response.

An African-American pastor I know in the Midwest was asked by a group of mostly white clergy to march in an anti-abortion rally. He was fine with that, but then asked the clergy if they would work with him to fight crack houses in predominantly black neighborhoods.

"That's really your problem," he was told.

They saw abortion as a moral imperative, but not a community ravaged by crack.

If abortion and gay marriage are part of the Christian agenda, I have no issue with that. Those are moral issues that should be of importance to people of the faith, but the agenda should be much, much broader.

I'm looking for the day when Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Joyce Meyer, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, James Kennedy, Rod Parsley, " Patriot Pastors" and Rick Warren will sit at the same table as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Cynthia Hale, Eddie L. Long, James Meek, Fred Price, Emmanuel Cleaver and Floyd Flake to establish a call to arms on racism, AIDS, police brutality, a national health care policy, our sorry education system.

If they all say they love and worship one God, one Jesus, let's see them rally their members behind one agenda.

I stand here today not as a Republican or a liberal. And don't bother calling me a Democrat or a conservative. I am a man, an African-American man who has professed that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that's to whom I bow down.

If you concur, it's time to stop allowing a chosen few to speak for the masses. Quit letting them define the agenda.

So put on the full armor of God because we have work to do.

What is your take on this commentary?E-mail us

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the writer. This is part of an occasional series of commentaries on offering a broad range of perspectives, thoughts and points of view.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Announcing the Show It Off! Campaign April 23-27, 2007

Go to Show It Off! (

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

9/11: What They Knew, When They Knew It and What They Did and Didn't Do

From ITP, pp. 268-270: Highlights of what's in the public record.

Afghanistan, Argentina, Britain, Cayman Islands, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Russia, and from within the US intelligence community all warned the US of imminent terrorist attacks. Some of the 9/11 pre-warnings include:

1996–2001: Federal authorities knew that suspected terrorists with ties to bin Laden received flight training at schools in the US and abroad. An Oklahoma City FBI agent sent a memo warning that “large numbers of Middle Eastern males” were getting flight training and could have been planning terrorist attacks. [CBS, 5/30/02] One convicted terrorist confessed that his planned role in a terror attack was to crash a plane into CIA headquarters. [Washington Post, 9/23/01]

June of 2001: German intelligence warned the CIA, Britain’s intelligence agency, and Israel’s Mossad that Middle Eastern terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as weapons to attack “American and Israeli symbols which stand out.” [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9/11/01; Washington Post, 9/14/01; Fox News, 5/17/02]

June 28, 2001: George Tenet wrote an intelligence summary to Condoleezza Rice stating, “It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.” [Washington Post, 2/17/02]

June-July 2001: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and national security aides were given briefs with headlines such as “Bin Laden Threats Are Real” and “Bin Laden Planning High Profile Attacks.” The exact contents of these briefings remain classified, but according to the 9/11 Commission, they consistently predicted upcoming attacks that would occur “on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil, consisting of possible multiple—but not necessarily simultaneous—attacks.” [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)]

July 26, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment. [CBS, 7/26/01] The report of this warning was omitted from the 9/11 Commission Report [Griffin 5/22/05]

Aug 6, 2001: President Bush received a classified intelligence briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch, warning that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners, entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States.” The entire memo focused on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US and specifically mentioned the World Trade Center. [Newsweek, 5/27/02; New York Times, 5/15/02, Washington Post, 4/11/04, White House, 4/11/04, Intelligence Briefing, 8/6/01]

August, 2001: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US that suicide pilots were training for attacks on US targets. [Fox News, 5/17/02] The head of Russian intelligence also later stated, “We had clearly warned them” on several occasions, but they “did not pay the necessary attention.” [Agence France-Presse, 9/16/01]

September 10, 2001: a group of top Pentagon officials received an urgent warning that prompted them to cancel their flight plans for the following morning. [Newsweek, 9/17/01] The 9/11 Commission Report omitted this report. [Griffin, 5/22/05]


And these are the people in charge of protecting us from human and natural disasters?

These are the people with more power and impact on the planet than anyone in the history of this planet?

These are the people who tell us that they need more tools in this "war on terror" when they had all of these warnings using old-fashioned intelligence gathering techniques like using your eyes and ears and they still did nothing?!

And that's giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they really did want to stop a terrorist attack on the U.S.

Bush calls himself the "decider."

What did you decide to do or not do, Mr. Decider?

As for the rest of us, what we will decide? Will we decide to look the other way and be complicit?

We can't decide now that we didn't know and we weren't aware.

Or will we decide that we - and the world - have had enough of these criminals?

Even Worse Than Bush and Cheney

What's even worse than what Bush/Cheney have done is the fact that they have been allowed to get away with it. People need to pay close attention to this, analyze it and stop acting as if things are basically alright and that the rules of the game are the way they’ve always been. This government (and I speak here of the entire governing group, not just the criminals in the White House and the criminals at Fox News) is remaking and restructuring what it means to be an American and how America acts in the world. What was unthinkable a year ago or six months ago is now an accomplished fact.

While America has from the start been a country that wasn’t above torturing people (consider what was done to the Native Americans and to slaves and to Vietnamese in Operation Phoenix) – making it legal and official policy is a startling, ominous, momentous step.

Stripping people of habeas corpus rights is a startling, ominous, momentous step.

Spying on all Americans and being allowed to do so without any consequences is a startling, ominous, momentous step.

The Democrats have yet to challenge these policies. The Democratic Party leadership has yet to scarcely even mention these matters as important and urgent. The DLC continues to treat impeachment as unthinkable and the mass media continue to ignore the growing, majority cries for impeachment and/or treat impeachment talk as some kind of partisan vindictiveness.

The party that some people still think is our one and only hope doesn’t think that unjust, immoral wars that violate international law, that are based on blatant lies, and that are killing hundreds of thousands, probably a million at this point, should be defunded! No, according to Hillary Clinton, the only problem with the Iraq war is that it isn’t being handled competently! The only problem with Bush/Cheney’s threats against Iran, according to Barack Obama and John Edwards, including their plans to possibly use nukes, is … nothing!

People who oppose impeachment (and even some who support impeachment up to a point) think that some things have gone wrong and some things are bad, but they don’t realize the magnitude and the direction of events. They don’t see that the rumblings and small tremors under the ground on Mt. St. Helens are harbingers of an explosive eruption. They think that these tremblors are just tremblors and that they WON’T get any more severe BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T YET gotten more severe than what has already happened. If you treat every new outrage as an episode by itself and don't grasp the whole direction and trajectory of this process, you fail to understand what is actually going on and the deadly seriousness of it all. This is the kind of shortsightedness that led German Jews to keep telling themselves that the Nazis couldn’t be serious about their threats to Jews – after all, many of them thought, we’re as German as anyone else - and that the Nazis wouldn’t go any further. Every time the Nazis went another step further, these Jews in denial said to themselves, well, it can’t go any further than this and it can’t get any worse. Except that it did.

We start out ITP with the following list. It’s a good thing to review:

12 Reasons Why Bush and Cheney Must Be Impeached

1. Stealing the White House in 2000 and 2004 through outright voter fraud.

2. Lying to the American people and deliberately misleading Congress in order to invade Iraq.

3. Authorizing and directing the torture of thousands of captives, leading to death, extreme pain, disfigurements, and psychological trauma. Hiding prisoners from the International Committee of the Red Cross by deliberately not recording them as detainees and conducting rendition of hundreds of prisoners to “black sites” known for their routine torture of prisoners. Indefinitely detaining people and suspending habeas corpus rights.

4. Ordering free fire zones and authorizing the use of anti-personnel weapons in dense urban settings in Iraq leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians – war crimes under international law.

5. Usurping the American people’s right to know the truth about governmental actions through the systematic use of propaganda and overt disinformation.

6. Building an imperial presidency by issuing signing statements to laws passed by Congress that negate Congressional intent. Hiding government decisions from public and Congressional view through subverting the Freedom of Information Act. Illegally spying on millions of Americans without court authorization and lying about it for years.

7. Undermining New Orleans’ capacity to withstand a hurricane prior to Hurricane Katrina; allowing New Orleans’ destruction by Katrina; and failing to come to people’s aid in a timely fashion, leading to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans.

8. Denying global warming, disregarding peak oil, and placing oil industry profits over the long-term survival of the human race and the viability of the planet.

9. Violating the constitutional principle of separation of church and state through the interlinking of theocratic ideologies in the decision making process of the US government.

10. Failing to attempt to prevent the 9/11 attacks, despite a wealth of very specific evidence of a pending terrorist attack upon New York, and the World Trade Center in particular. Using this failure as a rationale for pre-emptive attacks on other countries and for the suspension of Americans’ fundamental civil liberties and our right to privacy.

11. Promotion of US global dominance of the world and the building and use of illegal weapons of mass destruction.

12. Overthrowing Haiti’s democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and installing a highly repressive regime.

Ask yourself: can a government such as this be allowed to stay in office one day longer?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

"I Agree with You 98%, but..."

To those people who say that impeachment is wrong because it will detract from the “real” business of health care and minimum wage (mirroring the stance of the Democratic Party leadership) I want to ask: how does ignoring torture and mass murder constitute being realistic? Anyone who says things like this should re-examine their ethnocentrism and frankly national chauvinist views.

How can you ignore the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed - who had nothing to do with 9/11 - in the name, for god's sake, of health care for Americans?! WHAT THE HELL'S WRONG WITH YOU? Why are Americans’ lives more precious than Iraqis? When an innocent Iraqi son is picked up at random by American forces and tortured and killed, do not his parents and his siblings cry? Do they not grieve? Are their tears less real, less genuine, less heartfelt and less important than Americans’ tears? Do they not feel the horror and tragedy of losing their son or brother? Are their lives not just as precious as our own?

Of the people who I've spoken to over the last couple years about impeachment, I've had a handful of people tell me "It will never happen." In exactly those words. I find it striking that every single one of the people who have said this to me have one thing in common: they're all white upper-middle class American males - part of the most privileged group in the country, the world and in history. I'm not saying this to bash white males. There are lots - tens of millions - of white males who oppose Bush and Cheney and who despise them. Many of the people in the movement against Bush and Cheney are white males. But there is a reason why the ONLY people who have ruled impeachment out of hand this way at the drop of the hat all have this demographic in common - even the left liberal ones who've said this to me.

"Living in the House of Tony Soprano"

(from "Bringing Forward Another Way" by Bob Avakian)

Here I want to bring up a formulation that I love, because it captures so much that is essential. Soon after September 11 someone said, or wrote somewhere, that living in the U.S. is a little bit like living in the house of Tony Soprano. You know, or you have a sense, that all the goodies that you've gotten have something to do with what the master of the house is doing out there in the world. Yet you don't want to look too deeply or too far at what that might be, because it might upset everything—not only what you have, all your possessions, but all the assumptions on which you base your life.

This is really capturing something very powerful, not only in a general sense but also more specifically in terms of what is pulling on a lot of people who should be in motion very vigorously and with real determination against the outrages that are being perpetrated in their name and by their government—by this ruling class, and by the core that's at the center of power now in the U.S.

When this analogy, or metaphor, of "living in the house of Tony Soprano" was first brought forward (or when I first heard of it, at least), in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, it was very timely and relevant. But September 11th was a rude announcement that there's a price to be paid for living in Tony Soprano's house, for continuing to go along with these profoundly unequal relations in the world and the way that your government, and this system fundamentally, bludgeons people in the world into conditions of almost unspeakable suffering in order to keep this whole thing going and in order, yes, for some "goodies" to be handed out to sections of the population in the "house"—not only "goodies" in an economic sense but also in the form of a certain amount of stability, and a certain functioning of democracy (bourgeois democracy) within the U.S. itself. All that is being shaken up now. Now, you don't just get the goodies for "living in Tony Soprano's house"—you get the "strangers" out in the backyard at night. "They're out there somewhere." It's a different world. It isn't the same equation as it was, even a decade or so ago—it's not the same now "living in Tony Soprano's house."

It is not that everything was all smooth and nice for everybody in this house—for many people in the U.S. that has been far from the case—and it is not that nobody was aware of things going on in the world, of what "Tony Soprano" was doing to people out there all over the world. In fact, one of the ironies is that a lot of people have been somewhat aware of this, but when the terms get sharpened up, some people want to pull back from what they themselves know. And so we have to get into real and sometimes sharp struggle with people.

This is a point I believe I made in one of those recent 7 Talks—and, in any case, it is a very important point to emphasize: There is a place where epistemology and morality meet.

There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable.And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.Ultimately, especially in today's world, to do that is a form of complicity, and we should struggle with people about that.

And it also won't work to apply that kind of approach. You'll just end up in a very bad place, reinforcing both of the "historically outmodeds" and being on the wrong side of what needs to happen in the world, if you follow that approach out to its logical conclusion.

We need a different world than one where there are a few houses of Tony Soprano, surrounded by a seemingly endless sea of suffering and oppressed humanity, living in terrible squalor and under undisguised tyranny; where the power, wealth and privilege of the relative few depends on, and is grounded in, the exploitation and misery of the many (and where, even within "Tony Soprano's house" itself, there are many who are treated as little better than second-class members of the family, or as despised servants). This is a world that cannot, and should not, go on as it is.

Even before people are won to the communist standpoint and program, to fully deal with this, there is a struggle to be waged and they can be won to the broad position that we need a different world. We can struggle about what that world should be, and how it should be brought into being; but this dynamic we're on is going to lead to a disaster for humanity, including all of those who are trying to hide from it, in one form or another, or are thinking that if they remain passive, somehow it will pass them by.