Thursday, August 16, 2007

Impeachment, Arrest, and Trial of Bush and Cheney

Dear Blue Cheesers,


This is not an email about my time in the Bay Area in the spring, about my falling in love in and with San Francisco.

This is not about driving from Southern California to Jackson, Wyoming, where Jacquie Pratt, a fox, and the Big French Titties (known to some as Grand Teton National Park) were waiting lovingly for us.

This is not about Maya picking me up and us driving and Greyhounding across the country to Atlanta, Georgia, with a bottle of water from Guillermo's Modjeska canyon creek water in a bottle to take to the water ceremony at the first United States Social Forum. This is definitely not about the Forum, with its Healing Space, and Children's Social Forum, and volunteer security force (Shanti Sainya anybody?) that were some of the best parts of a stunningly incredible experience. This is not about the fortuitous carride from Atlanta to DC with a car full of kooks with sharing hearts and bounding dreams.

This is not about wearing a sari to Denali's brother Colin's wedding in New Hampshire and dancing the Macarena with all those Hampshireans.

This isn't about a awe-inspiring all-night storm on the beach in Corolla, North Carolina where at first you couldn't even count a second between lightning flashes.

This is not about running through the rain this morning, smelling and enjoying it, but not wanting to stop and savor it because I really had to pee.

This is not about all those things that you're probably thoroughly confused by. My dear blue cheesers, this isn't even a Blue Cheese.

This is an email about impeaching and arresting Bush and Cheney and trying them as war criminals.

Peace, love, and squishes on your noses,
Malavika/Ammu/Mali/Emu


*****


There is a widespread feeling, in the United States and throughout the world, that it's time for the world to stop calling George Walker Bush and Richard Cheney "president" and "vice-president" of the United States of America, and start calling them war criminals. I share this feeling. Impeachment, arrest, and trial are in order.

How do you feel?



If you feel that Bush and Cheney are good men and fine leaders of a righteous nation, or if you feel they might have made a few mistakes, but nothing that warrants impeachment, and certainly not arrest, then I invite you to read, at the very least, "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" by Elizabeth Holtzman and Cynthia L. Cooper (or shorter articles by these and various other authors which are linked at http://www.impeachbushbook.com/) and/or engage with me in a dialogue about this. I invite you to consider the possibility of an institutional inquiry into whether impeachment is in order.


If you feel that the Bush administration has wreaked global havoc and it would be nice to get them out of power, but we might as well wait for January 20th, 2009 (the date that is stated on a T-shirt, found in even mainstream stores near you, as "The End of an Error") when the imperial presidency comes to an end anyway, so that we can save our resources for more constructive efforts, then I invite you to read "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" (or shorter articles at http://www.impeachbushbook.com/) and/or engage with me in a dialogue about this. I invite you to consider the possibility that our other constructive efforts will be exponentially aided by mobilizing on this task first, not only to end this presidency, but to send a clear message to all presidents and leaders for the future.


If you don't really know how you feel or what impeachment even is, or you know but don't really feel like getting involved, then I invite you to read "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" by Elizabeth Holtzman and Cynthia L. Cooper (or shorter articles at http://www.impeachbushbook.com/) and/or contact me to allow me to convince you how vital your participation is to this situation, and how much more whole and vibrant your life will feel when you engage with it.


If you're one of the above, or anything else, and don't have the time or inclination to read the whole book, or any other writing on this issue, allow me to lay it out for you in the section between the asterisks, with my commentary added and blended to the summary for no extra charge. (If you feel sufficiently informed feel free to skip this section, though I welcome comments and additions if you choose to read it, since I would like to be still more informed than I am now.)
***
One of the authors, Elizabeth Holtzman, is "the youngest woman ever elected to the US congress and won national attention for her role on the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate." (from the back of the book) The authors use this experience to explain why impeachment is necessary "to preserve the constitution", and how to do it. They describe the Nixon impeachment process. They draw the parallels between the impeachable actions of Nixon and Bush (though Nixon was impeached on the basis of far less than what Bush and Co. have done). They explain how impeachment works (Basically, the House of Representatives investigates through the Judiciary Committee and decides to impeach, sends it up to the Senate, and Senate decide whether to remove the official from office) and outline the 5 things that can be used to impeach Bush:
1. He subverted democracy by lying about, among other things, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, (yes, AQ is now very much in Iraq, but as various agencies and experts advised the Bush administration beforehand, they entered and took hold only afterwards, as a direct result of the invasion and occupation) in order to take the country to war. (Nixon deja-vu?)
2. He authorized illegal domestic wiretapping and surveillance of Americans, and when discovered, supplied false justifications. (Nixon deja-vu?)
3. He authorized torture, flouting international law by stating that the Geneva Conventions did not apply. Furthermore, upon receiving an anti-torture statute, he signed it with a statement that said, as president, he disagreed with the law and thus need not abide by it.
4. He showed "reckless indifference to human life" in the lead-up and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and by sending troops into Iraq lacking basic equipment, with no post-invasion plan (there was, of course, lots of lying and "dissembling" here too, as with everything else).
5. He authorized the leaking of classified information about Iraq's supposed purchase of yellowcake uranium in Niger, rearranged and edited to be misleading (more lying, more distortion), causing the ousting of a CIA agent (as retaliation against her husband, an outspoken Bush critic, who disproved the story of Iraq's supposed uranium purchasing), which was a breach of national security. (Nixon deja-vu?)
The next 5 chapters are for the details and arguments for each of the 5 points.
They devote a chapter to impeachment of Cheney. They are for it, but argue against the idea that Cheney should be impeached/arrested first (which many are pressing for, so that he does not become president after Bush is impeached), because a) Bush needs to be impeached, among other things, in order to show future presidents that they cannot repeat this behavior, and b) that there isn't as much information (though there is plenty!) on Cheney's impeachable offenses. The idea is that the investigation of the Bush Impeachment will yield the information needed to impeach Cheney. (I'm not inclined to argue with the tactics, but my commitment is to impeaching and arresting them both.)
They then tell you "What you can do", and end with a chapter that emphasizes "Why impeachment is necessary", followed by Appendices with excerpts of various relevant Constitutional and legal documents, and a overwhelming list of sources.
***
Back to you, and how you feel.
If you're an engaged and informed radical committed to disrupting and dissolving the system that Bush, Cheney, et al, are merely erupting symptoms of, and the whole impeachment process is just too institutional for you, and even if it works it just brings things back to status quo, I sympathize, but I invite you to engage with me on this and allow me to convince you that for once in our free spirit lives we actually have to devote our fire to making the system work the way it is supposed to. Once we get that wheel turning, we can keep going with our Sharpies and our compost, and you know what, along the way we might even unplug some new brains that will join us. But until we get this situation cleared up, the war will rage on and the US military will establish a long-term presence in Iraq and in our hearts and our everyday journey towards a free and loving world will be that much harder.
If you feel that you're with me in spirit without even reading the book, but you think impeachment is an impossible task, read on and allow me to convince you otherwise, while showing you what you can do to get involved in this snowball of an essential and entirely feasible movement to impeach Bush and Cheney.
(Sidenote 1: As mentioned previously, I'm for both impeaching and arresting them as war criminals, but I'm focusing on the first for the time being, in the hope that the second can afford more time and research even after the regime change in the next elections.
Sidenote 2: If you're receiving this directly from me, there's a high likelihood you don't have a U.S. passport, and maybe you're resigned to watching from the sidelines as American people, the only ones with power, allow this disaster to drive us to extinction. This does not have to be. This is a matter of earth, not nation, and every earthling is connected. Apologies, much of what I'm writing about here seems relevant only for those with a U.S. passport, or at least living in the United States, but if you're interested, let's start a brainstorm on what folks all over the world can do.)
* What you can do *
First of all, note that "a Zogby poll taken in November [2005] --before the wiretap scandal--showed more than 50 percent of those questioned favored impeachment of President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq." (Elizabeth Holtzman, The Nation, http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060130/holtzman/6).
Next, gear up with information and inspiration by....
... reading the book. It's out in bookstores near you, or by now, perhaps even homes and libraries near you. There's also a lot of information on the website for the book, http://www.impeachbushbook.com/. Holtzman and Cooper aren't hippies, peace-niks, wackos from the fringe. They are informed, engaged, successful professionals, one a former Congresswoman, fully integrated into and representative of the mainstream. If they're saying it, then so are others, in overwhelmingly large numbers, and so can you. If you can't read the whole book, at least read the Holtzman article I mentioned in the paragraph above, and/or any one of the many articles by these and other authors. If you are sick of reading alone like I am, get together with folks and read it out loud, or at least side by side, with discussions like a Book Club. (That's right, shake off that mistaken sense of isolation. You're going to need to get together and work with folks anyway for later steps so you might as well start now.)
... getting ahold of the song "Let's Impeach the President", the 7th track on Neil Young's 2006 album, Living With War. You can hear the song with a video on the Living With War part of his website, http://www.neilyoung.com/, and I'm sure you can download it for free from somewhere or other, or for 99cts on iTunes. Some may say the lyrics are vanilla and the chords are wooden, but you know what, vanilla is scrumptious, and you see how far you can live without wood. The song is out there. Play it, blast it, learn it, teach it, sing it, often, and with as many people as you can (and don't forget the little people, otherwise known as "'children").
Now you're ready to get Political. If you have a U.S. passport and live in the country, you can start by contacting your Representative and Senator of your district by email, phone, letter (hand-written), and even better, in person. If you can't do that because of passport or location, you can encourage others who can. And you know what, you don't even have to stop there. Hit up every single Congress member. Start by sending a message of support to those already active in the impeachment movement (many of whose names appear in the Impeachment book.) Then send messages to those who have already voiced opposition to the Bush administration's policies, to help convince them that impeachment is a worthwhile pursuit. And finally, send another kind of message to the other kind, those complicit or involved in the impeachable offenses. Let them know the world is watching. (Side Note: this is a step I have yet to take. It's just not part of my MO. But I'm in DC, and one of these days I'm gonna find myself dressed decently, sitting across the table meeting with the secretary of every member of Congress I can get an appointment with. And hell will still be hot and pigs will still be landed.)
Meanwhile, add to the extensive signage and bumper stickerage with even more signs and stickers, but this time, with a cohesive simple striking message:
"Arrest Bush"
"Arrest Cheney First"
Maybe you're not usually one for sloganizing, but this situation isn't usual. This calls for mass collective extra-usual behavior. Imagine people, cars, sidewalks, beaches, all saying one thing, together, clearly, loudly, joyfully, telling Congress to do their job, put an end to an imperial presidency, and get the world back on track. Well, heck, don't even imagine it, just take a walk and look around. The party's already happening, and you're invited.
A coalition of artist/activists in New York has put out T-shirts with these messages on the front, and the article for impeachment in the Constitution on the back, in simple dignified black and white. Email Laurie Arbeiter at arrestbush@gmail.com to order T-shirts, or to ask for the artwork to do a printing and distribute on your own. (They ask for a $15 donation to help keep the group going, but the main thing isn't the money, it's the message, and the action.) Wearing a shirt like this means getting the word out there, and more importantly, engaging people on the streets in conversation. Denali and I met Laurie because she was wearing the T-shirt, we gave her a thumbs-up, and she stopped to talk.
But if we were going to just sit on our heels and beg for Congress to do what is glaringly obvious, then yeah, maybe I wouldn't be so convinced this was possible either. But if this all comes out of what is necessary to preserve democracy (Radicals, bear with me, we're addressing a multi-dimensional spectrum of belief systems here), then it must be done democratically, which means that the decisions are taken by those with the information. If you are part of a community that decides it is sufficiently informed to decide that Bush and Cheney are no longer your president and vice-president, then put out a local resolution that says so. That community can be as big as a state (Vermont did it. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are trying to do it.) or as small as a neighborhood (I'm currently staying near Takoma Park, MD, which most recently celebrated the passing of a city council resolution.), and even small political groups or non-residential communities. See the list on http://impeachpac.org/resolutions to keep track of local resolutions.
Now that you've informed and have activized yourself, what next? If you feel you have more income than time and energy, you could always shoot off a few donations to the groups and individuals who are eating, breathing, sleeping, pooping the impeachment movement. But maybe you also want to start eating a little of that same food for thought, breathing that same air of Possibility, dreaming the Unrealized, shitting the pre-compost for Transformation...
You've been reading this for a while now. Take a moment to breathe, stretch your neck, back, hands. Shut your eyes. (You might have to finish reading this paragraph first, of course.) Look for the center of what makes you You. Find the boundaries of your comfort zone. Take a finger and press gently on that fuzziness of safety. See how far you can stretch. Take a deep breath in and blow. Let your breath do the stretching, expanding. Stay there for as long as it takes to feel, in your center, slightly imprisoned by your security, enough to feel the urge to do what you need to do, even if that means entering into unfamiliar, uncertain territory, enough to feel the thrill of what might happen in that new land. Open your eyes.
No one's asking you to be a hero. Definitely not a martyr. But the reality is, the reason I'm here writing this to you is because, while I believe our task is possible, I also know how mind-bogglingly difficult it is. I know that what it needs is for overwhelming masses of people, each one strong enough in their core to act as individuals, yet connected enough to act in concert, to disrupt their normal lives even just a little bit. To collectively detach from one gear and hook onto another, to send us hurtling down a different path than the one it seems like we're on right now.
So yes, I'm asking you to get uncomfortable. I'm asking you to evaluate your individual needs, your community, your income, your job security, your freetime, your lifestyle, your passport and/or other documentation, your geographical location, and whatever else you need to take into account before making that decision to put some or all of those slightly at risk.
If you live in DC, that might mean simply appearing at the A.N.S.W.E.R. peace march on September 15th, or the TroopsOutNow peace march on September 29th, or the United For Peace and Justice march on September 24th (I think). It might mean joining the New York based coalition of artists/activists at the Rayburn Building (House of Representatives) for a day/night of mourning on September 11th, followed by a day of outrage on September 12th, where you could read one of many statements to Nancy Pelosi calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney and whatever else you want to express. It could mean joining the coalition in New York on September 25th to support or participate in a mass citizen's arrest of George W. Bush as he goes in to speak to the United Nations. It might mean finding an action closer to wherever you are. It might mean getting together with the folks you've been reading, discussing, and singing with to organize your own event. Remember, every one of these actions is planned with safety, community, and non-violence in mind, making sure that everyone can participate at their level of comfort (or just beyond).
If you are a teacher or a parent, you could read the Impeachment book and other materials with your students/children to co-learn with them about everything from the Constitution (and other aspects of the legal/political system), to radioactivity (yellowcake/depleted uranium, radioactivity, steel pipes, nuclear energy and weapons) to art (puppets/songs/theatre/graffiti/screen printing as resistance...). Use your classroom to talk about the importance of civic engagement and its relationship to civil disobedience, non-cooperation with a system you don't believe in, and simultaneous cooperation with community-based living that you do believe in. Bring the kids out and have class on the streets as part of the protests.
If you live near a major port and are amenable to the idea of disrupting the machine of war profiteering, take part in the shutdown of the port (as has been done previously in places like Oakland (California), Tacoma and Seattle (Washington)). Support the workers as they strike, and the protesters who practice civil disobedience. BE the workers and the protesters, or be their media, legal support, their nutrition, their energy...
...And the list goes on. But I think you've read enough, and I've certainly typed enough. If you want help with more ideas, write me back with details of your situation. (If you absolutely don't want me to engage you on this in any way shape or form, let me know.) Before I sign off, here's one last possible thing you can do. If you got something out of this email, forward it (or your own version of it), by email or hardmail if needs be, to every single person who would also appreciate it, learn from it, and/or be able and willing to contribute their efforts to the movement.
Peace out and back in again,
Malavika

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