Saturday, July 14, 2007

Some More Afterthoughts about Impeachment

As I was writing the previous entry, I looked up a good definition about impeachment. This comes from Alex Thompson's A Glossary of US Politics & Government(2007):

impeachment: The act of charging a public official with misconduct, and determining whether or not they should be removed from office. In the case of federal government employees, it is the US Congress that prosecutes the impeachment process. Proceedings are initiated in the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. This body holds hearings on the allegations and then reports to the floor of the House on whether an individual should answer to charges of 'treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours' (Article Three of the US constitution). The House, after debating this report, collectively determines whether impeachment is appropriate with a simple majority vote. If it is deemed that charges are warranted, Articles of Impeachment are drawn up, and passed over to the US Senate.

Senators collectively act as a court to judge the charges brought by the House. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides. A guilty verdict requires a two-thirds majority vote. Conviction will result in this official being removed from post, and the Senate may also bar them from future public office. Congress has no power to invoke criminal penalties on those found guilty, although additional legal charges may follow from law enforcement agencies.


Most famously, President Richard Nixon avoided being impeached by resigning from office in 1974, over the Watergate affair. In Nixon's case, the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary recommended to the floor of the House that Articles of Impeachment be drawn up, but Nixon vacated the White House before a floor vote could confirm impeachment. Congress may not impeach an individual after they have left office.

--Thompson, Alex. A Glossary of US Politics & Government. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2007: 89-90.

These are some things to think about when the notion of impeachment is brought up during this time. After all, these ideas must be seriously contemplated and continued to be debated as we go through these drastic changes in society.

One Important Power of the House

It is always good to do one's civic duty as an American citizen and sit down to read the Constitutionfrom time to time in order to get a grasp of what the Congress can and cannot do opposed to the Executive Branch. It teaches you the orgins of why the "supreme law of the land" was created. And of course, it humbles you when you read about how the rights were formed in order to give a semblance of freedom and liberty to the people. And, of course, it teaches you that contrary to the current Administration's opinion, that the "Constitution is not just a damn piece of paper." I did just that today. Just a small exercise out of curiousity and for good measure because when you discuss politics with others it helps to revisit the knowledge of all three branches of government and the systems of "checks and balances".

One concept that explicitly fascinated me was the powers of the House of Representatives. And what caused me to think was the power of impeachment. For a member of the House, it is an action not to be taken lightly. From some circles of political thought, it is mainly a political gesture--especially to let the person involved (not just the President) that their behavior was not to be tolerated. Not only that, the said person's behavior ran contrary to the tenets of the Constitutiion in that it jeopardized the stability of the country and the citizens within.

With that being said, it is quite understandable why Rep. Dennis Kucinich had the wherewithal that a lot of his colleagues didn't: to call for impeachment of Vice-President Dick Cheney. It is also understandable why a center was opened on the West Coast in order to examine the tenets of impeachment in terms of the current Administration. For those twenty- percent who "see" nothing wrong with how things are running in Washington, these two acts appear to be empty gestures. But for those of us who care, this begins the cathartic process in which these aspects that have been discussed since the beginning of the Iraq War are finally beginning to be heard by people who matter.

The reason why I have pointed out that Congress had the power not only to impeach the President and Vice-President, but all other members of government (except those within Congress--but that is also dealt with in the Constitution), is the fact that the standing power of the Representatives of the House has been there all along. Instead of the rest of us suffering through constitutional crisis after constitutional crisis, they had the power in their hands to put it to a vote. They don't have to listen to the pundits who say that the "votes aren't there". They don't have to listen to the partisan voices who proclaim that the "American people couldn't handle it." Clearly there are things that need to be investigated. And of course, the supeonas that have been issued of the Executive Branch have gone unanswered. In the midst of frustration, one has to ask, well, what would wake up the Executive Branch in order for them to recognize that the people are being subjected to an imperial rule in which the Constitution is left by the waste side?

The only recourse left is for the House of Representatives is to put it to a vote and make such an offense part of public record so that there is a hearing in the Senate presided over the Chief Justice.

But then again, you say, well with the Supreme Court stacked in the President's favor, well what would this act prove? That the questionable actions taken in the name of the Constitution were being checked out. Not only that, the people who were involved in such a constitutional crisis were to answer for their behavior--as a part of public record. No more dodging. No more ducking supeonas. No more double-speak in the press. Just a simple sit down from the Executive Branch so they could publicly relate before the Senate their interpretation of the Constitutionso the people of the country can hear for the first time how the Executive Branch views and treats the law of the land in the face of all their endeavors. It seems cut and dried, when you look at it.

Of course, in my political discussions on other forums, I have been told that the Executive Branch doesn't have to answer for anything that they've done. It's old hat that the members of such a branch have to take care of things their own way because it is just a matter of course. And after reading such powers of the Congress, isn't it time to put this standard thought of some to a test--especially when it has to deal with the notion that no one man is above the law?

What is relevant to note is that there are issues that need to be explored: 1)the writ of habeas corpus when it comes to those detained at Guantanamo Bay; 2)whether executive signing statements are enough to circumvent basic Constitutional laws; 2)whether the Iraq War was started on Constitutional (whether Congress declared "war" or not); 3)whether certain governmental programs that involved wiretapping and datamining (especially delving into one's endeavors on-line) involved a violation of Fourth Amendment rights; 5) whether America is in a state of emergency due to the War on Terror. These issues, and plenty more need to be put under intense scrutiny by not only Congressional oversight committees; they also have to be examined in terms whether there is grounds for impeachment.

When these things have also been discussed with others on a variety of forums, the basic argument against this is that there was "no wrongdoing". If that is the case, why have there been questions of not only the Democratic side of government, but also from the Republican side? Why are there cases on these grounds that have been sent to the Supreme Court to be heard? Why has the policy speeches been centered on side-stepping these claims in terms of talking points? And most importantly, why has there been such an outcry over these issues in terms of questioning civil liberties opposed to the powers of the state?

These are serious issues that need to be not only debated by Congress, but acted upon for the best interest of the country. If we pretend not to "see" these issues and let our politicians slide in their endeavors with their refusal to cover them, it will set the precedent for future Presidents of the United States (as well as other members of the Executive Branch) to execute what they want as they will without listening to the dissenting voices of not only the citizens but of the Legislative Branch. And if we do just think that it is "all in a day's work", then how better off will we be when these powers are multiplied and used in more nefarious ways against the citizens who voted to put these future politicians in office.

The question here is whether we are truly a beacon of democracy as we say we are, or are we venturing into a more restrictive branch of government in which the needs of the people and our representatives in the Legislative Branch go unheard. One never thinks that things can never get that drastic. However, sometimes there are always small clues that are revealed in such policies that might point to future actions in which restrictions and unchecked governmental powers truly jeopardize our ability to have livelihoods and to receive justice where it is due. That is why impeachment must be considered to finally put these issues in a place where the people can see for themselves how they measure up against constitutional law.

Perhaps, then, in front of the Senate we will get the answers we have waited to hear.

However, these issues must not only be part of Congressional debate--especially in matters of impeachment. This is a national dialogue that must be introduced into the citizenry as well.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Save a Forum! Start to Post!

While I'm on the bandwagon of discussing forum life, it's time to state something else. Being a forum owner is rather fascinating. From being a longtime poster, when you begin to run your own boards it's like you've stepped over the line into different territory. Sometimes, it is fraught with drama. Other times, it is clear coasting. But it's been a thrill a moment since I've conceived of the idea of extending political talk to forum running. Although there have been other forums that I've known and loved, I think it is a natural evolution because you begin to have the freedom to formulate discussion areas that you have a particular enjoyment in talking about.

However, one of the hardest times in the life of a forum owner is when you have a silent board. Of course, you have many choices out there that one can go to in order to have community, fellowship and friends. There are places in which you hang out because there's always something new to add and a plethora of insights to discover. But then again, when there is a forum where there is a lot of topics that might generate interest and a lot of people "shopping" around, then it gets a little tedious. You ache for action, for at least someone to get the ball rolling in order for the forum to kick off in grand style.

Now, I've never said that running a forum was a bed of roses. For the most part, it is hard work-- and almost like another job if you're serious about it. Sometimes real life coincides with forum life and you have to make choices. You have to construct the content around your site with the capabilities of the host. And of course, you have to watch your forum like a hawk sometimes when there are tedious issues that causes some emotional exchanges. But from what I've learned, one cannot be "rule happy" and they have to learn how to network. Networking has been the single-most thing I've had to do in order to get more people to know about my forum. And I have met some great people along the way. I don't regret one minute of it.

The beautiful thing about the Internet is that it hosts millions of people around the world. There is the potential there for a mixture of drama, intellectual talk and a lot of knowledge-growth. And a good member who posts is worth one's weight in gold. I also understand that there are a lot of people who are very shy like myself who like to lurk and not post, except in key exchanges. I started out that way. And it is hard for the shy types to eventually find their way to a forum that they like where they can get over the anxiety of not being "beating down" by the jerks whose only pleasure is to sadistically excoriate other posters for saying what's on their mind.

What I had hoped is to create a place that can have a great community in which people can discuss the issues without feeling beating down by abrasiveness and rudeness. As a forum poster, it gets tiring to deal with such people on a give basis. Hence (with the little inspiration from a friend) that's where the "real talk without the drama" slogan comes from. I wanted "real talk" without the drama. I know that there are people who exist who mainly want to discuss the issues without being told that their insights are "idiotic" or "stupid" or "garbage". There are people out there who just want to exchange the brass tacks without it being a discursive nightmare. That's what "Ceci's News and Views" is all about. The forum is not for me to post my particular insights without response. It's not a self-centered place for me to have my own sounding board. I want my forum to be a collaborative effort.

For that to happen, my forum needs people. Hell. I cannot say it any other way. My forum needs good posters who like to just hang out and talk without any pressure to engage in the subjects leisurely, politely and kindly. That's the kind of community that I am shooting for. Sure, it's boring for the more aggressive types who spend their on-line time browbeating other people. But brow-beating individuals does not make spirited debate. And it gets debilitating to have to continue to address people like that.

So, if you want to be part of a great community filled with wonderful, creative, intelligent and kind people, you're invited. Pay attention to the title: save a forum! Start to post and make your voice heard!

And yes....forget about the partisanship. We're only trying to have conversations on the board. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Let me tell you. Sometimes, discussing politics can be a very dicey business. At times during my tenure of discussing such issues on various boards, I've been called a "liberal boy", a "Kerry-loving" individual, a "liberal", a "leftist touting garbage to clueless users", a "malcontent" and a "disruptive person". And then, you have to deal with the posters who feel they have to tell you about how to "debate properly" as well as "how to frame one's questions".

It takes a lot of fortitude to face posters who feel they have to chide you at every turn of the way.

And then, there are the days in which you feel (after being confronted and bombarded by such insensitive people) that everything you know and have thought about pertaining to these issues are wrong. It is as if all the learning and the reading that you've have done do not mean a damn thing. It even goes down to the point that they seem to make their point across generating fear from others not to cross them while you end up being the "bad guy" for finally saying a thing or two about what you think about a given situation.

I'm sure I'm not the first person who has felt this way even after contentous debates. I'm certainly not the last. But, there are sometimes that you wish that these certain posters would just go to charm school instead of being nasty. But of course, they don't need any lessons in manner. They're abrasive and rude. That's exactly who they are and how they are without any change.

Hell. I may be terse in my writing, but mama didn't raise a wolf. Sometimes, politeness is a cultivated art instead of something that is at least a general wish that everyone has. When you deal with a slew of rude people who feel they need to bully others, it makes you think that everyone is like that--especially in the realm of politics.

It's like what I related in my communications special. There are people who feel they need to announce their credentials in every step of the way. They seem to forget that in politics as well as other subject areas, that a learning curve exists in which people exchange information to develop new insights. And then, I think that sometimes the posters who fall into this realm are just poor listeners with bad people skills. I wonder if this is something that just a part of the Internet because you discuss things with virtual strangers on a given basis. Or, do the people who treat others rudely any given day in a forum do this actually in real life. In fact, it is a scary thought if they do.

However, there is a basic explaination where this behavior comes from. Blame it on how political discourse is framed not only by politicians but the MSM. The politics that is practices in the public eye is one that is confrontational, and often mistaken for true debate. Name-calling and mud-slinging are more the name of the game while true discussion is evaded. From the talk show pundits to the anchors in the media, the only way one can make their points is to shout them. The sad thing about this style of discussing such subject matter is for the public to mimick their abrasive habits whenever they carry these discussions with other people. It is as if to say that no one listens to the points of the other. Instead, one has to be shouted down in order to "win" the argument and the day. And because there is a lack of people in the media who can calmly discuss these issues, there aren't any good examples out there of people who are gracious and polite while exchanging intellectual insights.

It's not to say that there aren't any smart people out there. There are. But unfortunately, they're probably scared off by people who practice this style of discussing politics. And unfortunately, the people who do discuss politics in this way have such an inflated view of themselves that they often think that they determine where the line is drawn.

The main point here is that the subject matter of discussing politics has to be redefined. It's not enough to disguise passionate debate for deliberate abuse while exchanging insights. However, there needs to be a sense of gentility brought back into such discussions in order to make sure that everyone's voice is heard and that these points reach a wider audience without it being silenced.

Now, I know that I am not immune from being part of the "shouting style" of debate. After all, when I started out discussing politics, the first times someone did this to me, I wilted and retreated back. But after a while, one grows jaded and hard after being called names and derided on a general basis. It shouldn't have to be this way. But when you do fight back against the rude posters who don't give a damn, it's usually you that gets into trouble with the moderators while they skate off, smelling like roses.

That's why there are two things I go by whenever I go about my posting duties: 1)Don't mistake kindness for weakness; 2)Be assertive even in the face of being bombarded by these jerks. Their character will eventually affect others.

But then again, it goes back to the statement I've made in one of my first entries here: kindness is a bitch to some people.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It's All in His Gut

There was the "twinkie defense". And then, there was the "I'm not a role model" defense. And of course, who could forget the "let them eat yellow cake" hubris which marked the "I'm not of the Executive Branch" defense? What seems like the latest in a long line of sayings that defy any logic of the imagination came frome the mouth of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. It's been discussed in the MSM and we might as well put it here for everyone to read: he feels it in his gut that there will be a summertime attack in the United States by al Qaeda.

Now, if there was certain information and evidence that an attack is coming, why would someone--let alone a public official in a high branch of government--say that it "comes from their gut"? Would the public, let alone the politicians allow anyone to present such news as being developed from someone's "gut instinct"? What is very troublesome about this report is that it comes from the wings of the thwarted attacks in the United Kingdom as well as the flaming terminal in Glasgow, Scotland. Knowing that these findings were very unsettling to not only the citizens of that region of the world, but of the general public, a claim using the "gut defense" only seems to be a way to bring back a sense of fear into the American public--especially when the Republicans are defecting from President Bush's proposal to "stay the course" in Iraq.

And it seems that whenever something happens, there are two key indicators from the current Administration that would give a clue: 1) President Bush takes a vacation to Crawford, Texas; 2) there is a major scandal of mass proportions happening on the wings of plummetting approval ratings and hieghtened discontent among the general populace.

I wonder if anyone has asked this yet, but heck. I'll take a stab at it. Does anyone in the Bush White House ever perceive that the public is tired of the emotional blackmail of the past six years? I mean, September eleventh has been milked to the hilt in terms of bonding the country together through loss and grief to the point of voting in conservative candidates who vow that they are the ones to keep the country safe. You'd think that with the corruption and the scandals that have come out of the current Administration, that this is little more than the little boy "crying wolf" (a phrase that I have hated for the longest time, but it seems applicable here). Doesn't the government think that Americans--outside of the twenty percent of blind followers of the "Bush Doctrine"--are tired of this and would like to see the troops come home?

The argument has been made that ever since Mr. Bush has been at the helm of the government that no other terrorist attacks have happened within the United States mainland. This has been a favorite of conservatives who like to think that Mr. Bush was the right choice at the right time to steer the country through the "War on Terror". With even this assertion, would it be fair to also say that the handiwork by the terrorists have caused enough reprocussions on American soil that they really don't need to strike us anymore? After all, our system has been shaken up economically, politically and socially as a result of the "War on Terror". Furthermore, just the mere hint of "fear" and "terrorism" in the same breath by Bush officials has caused the American people to be cowed under and compliant to accept wiretapping, datamining, invasive searches and even purchases of plastic and duct tape in order to keep the "terrorists" out.

After seeing the residue from using Terror Threat Management theory to keep American society in line, the latest polls show that United States citizens as well as the politicians are not having it any more. Surely, it is a serious problem, but what is worth living in the so-called "greatest democracy on earth" if there is no freedom or democracy left under an Imperial Presidency? The sad thing about the legacy of September eleventh is that we still act like Pavlovian dogs every time the terror threat level chart comes on the news. All that needs to be done is to sound the warning bell alarm and then, the American people get played in terms of being receptive of the draconian measures that not only shade our thinking in terms of how we perceive ourselves and our neighbors, but accepting authority without questioning their motives.

Now that more Americans waking up about the past Iraq policy and speaking up about it through their votes, civic participation and dissent, the "feeling in the gut" comes as a way to quell the outcry that has been erupting during the latest events in the Bush White House and Congress. Just think about it. There are still the supeonas that have to be answered. Sara Taylor (via the U.S. District Attorney scandal) is purported to testify. Scooter Libby's sentence was being commuted. Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe has changed her affiliation from Republican to Democrat. Debates about setting a deadline to bring the troops home has formulated the discussion today. There was an Impeachment Center set up on the West Coast to investigate the feasibility of launching impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. So, is it any wonder that Secretary Chertoff would come out and say something that "comes from his gut"?

It's not surprising at all when you think about it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore Has a Point

Although he's been dragged through the mud by the right wing talk radio hosts and pundits, his latest foray with the press on CNN did produce some validating points on the way the media has covered current events. The usual staid "Situation Room" program (hosted by Wolf Blitzer) got some octane earlier this week when the director of Fahrenheit 911and Sicko came on for the first time in three years. In a passionate discourse worthy of any forum, Mr. Moore didn't mince words when he described the MSM being lax on their job in terms of reporting the truth of what went on in Iraq. Similar to complaints in the past (mostly from Bill Moyers and Walter Cronkite, for starters), he opined that the media spent more time skirting around the issues related to the conflict in the Middle East rather than challenging the current Administration with hard and penetrating questions. With the exception of stalwart and gritty reporter Helen Thomas, the Washington Press corps had appeared during the Bush era of politics to be cowed over by the connections that they have made opposed to doing their job being objective.

And the problem that resulted contributed to the press being more like cheerleaders instead of doing their job. For the highly touted and well-paid anchors who had changed their style from being advocates in the mold of Edward R. Murrow, they in turn have transformed into shills for propaganda--pretty much in the same style as the talk show hosts who are more like entertainers instead of producing more insights into current events.

Say what you want about Mr. Moore (and on the boards I've heard plenty from both sides about him). He has related a very important truth about the lackidasial job of the press. It has been asked elsewhere whether there are any journalists left cut from the cloth of the gonzo reporters and of the Woodward/Bernstein era. The short answer is no. The sad thing is that like the celebrities we follow on the result of who they are dating and how well they look, journalists have spent more time being under the plastic surgery knife than really bringing the news that counts to the people. And if we continue in the trend of reporters going for what is easy instead of more informational things that might exact social change in society, we're going to get nothing but (to put it bluntly) crap with little else.

What the director did in his comments to Mr. Blitzer was a service. Although the host of CNN's "Situation Room" was rather perturbed and flabbergasted by Mr. Moore's bluntness, at least it was put out there for the viewing audience to think about. After all, when has anyone ever had the courage to simply speak their mind without caring whether they become fodder in the next's day reportage? It seems that whenever someone speaks their mind in the MSM, they become instantly reviled for revealing the ugly side of current news. And sometimes, those who are "whistleblowers" (if you think about Ambassador Wilson's editorial piece concerning Iraq policy) end up being punished and automatically labeled as an transgressor to the system if they don't play ball with the system.

That is one thing Mr. Moore is not afraid of. He has always gone by his own rules in terms of telling it like it is. It is a shame that we don't have more people like him that will simply speak instead of being afraid of running counter to the talking points that are automatically formulated into breaking headlines.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Another Day in the Empire

Despite going about the Fourth of July festivities on Wednesday, I could not help but notice a deep irony when it came to thinking about this holiday: the events within America has caused a deep chasm of mistrust between the people and their leaders. The most glaring example of late is the commuted sentence of "Scooter" Libby, Vice-President Cheney's top aide. In a court of law, he was found guilty of obstructing justice. He was about to don his prison stripes to start his sentence while his lawyers began to appeal the case.

And lo and behold, before Mr. Libby was able to cross into the cold confines of prison, a statement was sent from the Bush family home in Maine: the sentence given in light of the charges was "too harsh" and that although it wouldn't erase the charges, the prison time would be wiped away.

Now, you might understand why I wrote at the beginning why there might be a little bit of irony going on here. The big deal is the message it sends to us, the American people. By commuting Mr. Libby's sentence, it sets a definite precedent that anyone with means and money can get off without any form of guilt or remorse for the crime. Now, you never heard a public statement of apology to Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. You never heard a sense of regret for ruining Mrs. Plame Wilson's life in the Central Intelligence Agency. You'd think that the Vice-President and President were so privvy to the most covert of secrets that they might understand why outing her name in the press could jeopardize her life--especially when there has not been an open denial that her position within the agency was secretive in the first place. What is worse, is that an act of revealing the identity of an agent doing the nation's business reflects the worst sort of sedition out there. After all, it is understood that Mrs. Plame Wilson was working for the government. And the act that revealed her name reflected sheer pettiness that would only point to the later drama of the failed search of WMD's and other alleged falsities that spurred on a war with Iraq.

For everyday people, such events might be a slight on our radar. We have to continue to put food on our tables. And of course, we toil on our jobs for gas money and health care--especially under this administration. But Plamegate gave the public an unwitting glance at the ruthlessness and callousness that has taken root in our national leaders. It is rather unsettling to know that dissent is not welcomed--not even by those who have strived to maintain their integrity and truthfulness when trying to point out discrepancies in what would turn out to be a colossal blunder overseas.

Although the story isn't done yet, there are things to ponder upon when trying to make sense of what happened this week. On its most basic point, such an act calls into question on who really does get punished in this country. As I had heard in other circles, there are people in prison for the same charges as Mr. Libby. One has to wonder what happens to those very same people who have done similar crimes and had to go off to jail without such a reprieve. The other thing to think about is the notion that it is just another day in the empire.

I had first heard that term on-line when it was used not only to describe a web site I came across, but on other blogs across the blogosphere when talking about the long list of events that happened under the watch of the Bush White House. In a way, it sort of makes sense. Knowing that now the Executive Branch has prided itself on saying what it "will or won't do" in the terms of Executive signing statements, it truly supercedes in control over the other two branches (as I mentioned previously in yesterday's entry). It is rather interesting that because the Executive Branch has practiced such hubris and arrogance over the determination of who holds the cards in the present government, it seems that the scales of justice are only tipped toward a small number of people leaving the rest of us out of the cold.

One of the things I did yesterday between Independence Day events was listen and read political commentary. Fascinatingly enough, there was one conversation between a commentator and a caller that discussed whether we could truly celebrate Independence day knowing what has been done in our country's name. That is a rather difficult question, because it is a day that all Americans commemorate in terms of recognizing the sacrifices that the Founding Fathers made in terms of giving birth to the nation.

But, in light of that, one has to ask did the system that the Founding Fathers developed really worked? Did they fight for independence so they could get the wealth for themselves instead of the common "sacred myth" of true independence for all men (you see, there were groups of people who still were not free at the end of the Revolutionary War. And for non-white people, this freedom would not come to pass until the Civil Rights Era)? Are the system of checks and balances being re-written in the light of the War on Terror? Do we even believe in the Bill of Rights anymore since there were acts by the government that flirted with undermining our civil liberties?

These questions are rather provocative and thought-provoking because it allows one to reexamine constantly what the country's ideals are for. Let's just say it now. The "Scooter" Libby case makes it very hard for one to even see what ideals we even have left. And when dissent is punished in such a public and graphic way, one also has to wonder what exactly the current Administration is doing in order to present to us, the American people, the values we hold dear. Do they truly care about the basic tenets of the country at all?

It's gotten to the point that we are now at the crossroads in terms of trying to make sense of all these things. And, a blatant repudiation of the law and what it stands for by issuing a commuted sentence doesn't help.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

America Needs Your Help

In the last incarnation of Ceci's News and Views, I made it a point (that since I always talk about politics anyway) that I would write something on July the 4th. For the older readers of my blog, they probably have read the first piece that I had written for this holiday. However, for the newer readers (and the Blogger ones, of course), this would be the first official piece of this blog for this day. And I thought about what I might say in order to not only pay homage to this day, but to offer something to think about as we go to barbecues, attend fireworks shows and of course be with our friends and family.

So here goes: America needs your help.

Right now, we're deep within a crisis in terms of leadership and issues in this country. We have members of the Executive branch who have lied to us, cajoled us and used fear as a way to keep us docile. We have witnessed scandal after scandal in which double-speak serves as an explaination and propaganda reflects the truth. The worst of it is that we are in the midst of an overseas conflict in which the UN had called off one of the only reasons why it was started. What is even more mind-boggling is that we have a problematic situation in which there are some citizens who are more loyal to their party than to the basic values that which make the United States great.

Let this holiday be a turning point. Like the momentum that was generated from the November 2006 elections, we need to find within our hearts the righteous indignation to continue to perservere in fighting for what is right in today's America. It's not only up to our politicians to make the current Administration accountable for their endeavors; it is our responsibility as citizens to do this too. For the Constitution does not only serve the "have-mores" as their way of pushing an agenda. We must go back to these hallowed pages and revisit them in order to give inspiration towards wanting to make our nation better in the face of some contentious issues that our put on the plate next to the potato salad, cole slaw and barbecue shish-ka-bobs.

The beautiful thing about being a citizen of America is the fact that when she needs us, we as a collective body of people pitch in to help her. Her tears motivate us to do the best in our character in order to make her great again especially when she is hurting over the slights to her character as well as the machinations that have dampened her luster in the name of justice, accountability and integrity.

And we must, as we celebrate today with our loved ones, remember what justice, accountability and integrity is like. In the memory of these three ideas, we must find the inspiration to voice our discontent when there are things that tarnish our country. Furthermore, we must also find the courage to speak to our representatives and various other dignitaries when there are matters that cripple the country's reputation overseas as well as within the borders. There are times in which the moment is of the essence. Our hand is tipped. We must do something in order to restore a sense of decorum back within the highest offices in the land.

How do we do that?

By not giving into the threat of fear. After September eleventh, it seems that every policy made in the current Administration has been made on these terms via the media. As citizens, we cannot allow our politicians to use emotional blackmail in order to subdue our right to speak. What is more, it is high time to chagrin such things as the terror threat level. That should not stop us from writing our representatives, talking with our friends, family and neighbors about the issues as well as staying abreast of policy changes that have been bandied about in terms of curbing our civil liberties and instigating a sense of repression. We must not let the words of politicians cow us into believing that our lives are solely theirs to play with in terms of making changes to the American system in order to keep us at bay--especially when they seem to threaten the very Bill of Rights that we hold dear.

Let's face it. Fear is a great motivator. It had motivated us to stick together after the fall of the Twin Towers. It had also brought out the worst in all citizens when we were easily persuaded by the current Administration and the media to ostracize those who contributed dissenting opinons about the state of the country. In this vein, we must cast off those shackles and take matters into our own hands in order to establish new path that America must follow so that our credibility as a country is raised on the world stage. Most of all, we must be skeptical and critical of what is handed us by the government. We must use our civil liberties to question and challenge what has been presented to us. For if we don't, it is as good as having a tyranny in office instead of believing that our tax dollars and votes putting our leaders in Washington to work for our benefit.

It's easy to wave a flag and sing, "God Bless America". It is much harder to work with those principles and constantly strive to make social change in order for our lives to be better. After all, it should be an easy choice when someone asks whether one stands up for their party above their membership. On this day, let it be a rededication of being Americans first above all else. As simply being Americans, we give the vow that we care about our nation above all else instead of letting partisan bickering taint our view of how the system works and doesn't.

So, do little things everyday to prove that you're an American first, and not a slave to your political party. Read the paper. Talk with friends. Write letters to your politicians. Help each other. Don't believe the double speak that has been handed to us as an easy answer. Read the Constitution. Know your history. And work with others in causes that contribute something worthwhile to the health of not only the people of the country, but as the nation as a whole.

When it comes down to it, politicians can say whatever it takes to easily sway us because there is a tradition that we look up to them to help us govern the country. However, in the end, when the politicians can or will not serve the people and look out for their own best interests, it is high time to start gearing toward a new direction in which our needs will be catered to instead of being ignored by the establishment.

So yes, America needs your help badly. This is not a time to rest on the laurels of the past. Nor, is it time to helplessly watch as the politicians decide our future for us. It is high time, we take the fate of the country into our own hands in order to make meaningful and life-affirming changes that will aid us in the future.

Just a little thought on this July 4th. :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Missy, You Write Like a Man

I love blogging and forums. And from time to time, I like to write about my experiences on them both because they reveal insights about the human condition. One of the most curious things to happen to me in all my years of writing on-line is one of the general comments that I get on "writing like a man". This is not a rant. Nor, is it bitching about how we treat each other as we discuss daily issues in society in these formats. But, it fascinates me that for women who take issues seriously and discuss them with little or no fanfare, the first thought from some other posters is that we're guys.

I suppose it could be complement. But it reveals a deeper way how intellectual thought and gender conicide. Why is it that women can't be serious in their writing? Why can't they discuss military issues, politics, government and society just like men? Why is there still the feeling on line that most posters are men?

What does it mean to "write like a man"?

Politics is a serious subject. It's been something that I've been raised on since I was little. I've been surrounded by the influences of reading the paper, watching news and discussing it with friends, co-workers and family. And still, from time to time, I get a complement that it is "rare" that a woman speaks about politics and even rarer that women could engage in talks of such depth. When thinking about this, I think that more women should discuss politics and even try their hand in engaging in these conversations because I've learned that not all issues (social, racial or political) are not in the realm of men.

One important issue that needs women badly is abortion. This is an issue that not only affects our reproductive rights, but our sexual freedoms as individuals. And if we sit back and let eight men (five of whom are highly conservative) decide what we do with our bodies, then we're worse off. Another issue that needs women's voices are the politics of jobs and economics. There are not only stay-at home moms who have to grapple with the bills every month; but there are a lot of us that are in the work force. And still wages for women are a fraction of what men earn. Here, if we let men discuss for us how much we earn and how we are treated in the work place, then all women suffer in terms of opportunities and access.

What we must acknowledge the most in the realm of politics are two clear issues that women must speak their minds about: the fact that there is a woman running for President that *might* have a clear shot at winning. Now, I know that there are people who have their opinions about Hillary (and the latest Mason-Dixon poll produces some interesting results), but the marvel of having a woman once again (after all, we must think of Geraldine Ferraro and Shirley Chisholm who paved the way) run for the highest spot in the land produces some intersting talk about how women view themselves politically as members of the society.

The second issue is that we have a Madam Speaker of the House instead of a Mister. It would be an intersting discussion among women if we were to evaluate how having a woman in such an important position in the government changes the fabric of leadership in the future. Furthermore, it also revists the struggles politically women have had to go through in order to be in that position as well as similar situations. It is even more thought-provoking to discuss how Ms. Pelosi is able to manage dealing with the usual "old Boys club" as well as other issues that come up to the plate in the present. After all, if there is still a present belief that "politics" is not a thing that many women speak about, then, more power to her. Just her being there contributes the notion that young girls and women can strive to not only care about our country, but also have the intellectual acumen to work on issues that are still in the realm of men.

The only thing now for women to do is to keep on speaking and sharing their thoughts on society, politics and the world as they see it. If we read the same political books as men and talk about these subjects with our friends, then we do have a voice and can intellectualize our take on how these issues affect us in terms of gender as well as Americans. After all, the present events that are happening in the country, if not the world affect us too. And most of us read the paper, watch the news and go on-line just as men do. It is time for us to speak out more and often to the point that a woman wouldn't have to be called, "Dude, or Sir, or Mate" when they are being referred to after a long, in-depth conversation.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Alas, A Constitutional Crisis

You might have been living under a rock if you haven't heard of Vice-President Cheney's latest defense against answering to the supeonas sent from Congress in order to answer for the firing of the U.S. District Attorneys. But, in case you didn't know, Mr. Cheney's latest statement defies the logic of any American who knows about the Constitution and the state of checks and balances in the United States Government: he is not of the "Executive Branch".

The funny thing about his statement is that it not only defies his position within the government, but also undermines the entire system of leadership in American government. So, if Mr. Cheney is not "part of the Executive Branch", well then, what is his role? Butcher? Baker? Chimney Sweep?

All kidding aside, his reply as well as the rest of the current Administration's refusal to comply with the supeonas from Congress on this stance has placed our system of government into a test for its life. The United States government is built upon a system of checks of balances, developed by the Founding Fathers to ensure that one branch would not supercede the other. However, in the Bush White House, the tenets of the system has been toyed with, especially with the endless Executive signing statements that continue to fill the hopper to deflect any attempts for accountability. And as a result, not only the current Administration has the reputation of being the most secretive; it has also harkened back to what Senator Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) commented as being "Nixonian".

Mr. Leahy, in his "Meet the Press" interview with Tim Russert, had spoken about even considering taking the Bush White House to court if they don't give up the documents supoenaed by Congress:

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday he was ready to go to court if the White House resisted congressional subpoenas for information on the firing of federal prosecutors.

"If they don't cooperate, yes, I'd go that far," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. He was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether he would seek a congressional vote on contempt citations if President Bush did not comply. That move would push the matter to court.

"They've chosen confrontation rather than compromise or cooperation," Leahy said. "The bottom line on this U.S. attorneys investigation is that we have people manipulating law enforcement. Law enforcement can't be partisan."

One would not wish for this to happen, but if there are no comprises about following the law and giving up the goods, then we might as well see our latest Constitutional crisis afoot in the present day.

There is a problem when the President and the Vice-President on Inauguration Day swear to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that they would uphold the Constitution in their duties as members of the highest offices of the land and do exactly the opposite through their manner, action and deed throughout their tenure in office. It becomes even more troublesome when there are alleged attempts against trying to uphold the laws written in the Constitution in order to preserve partisan reasons while ignoring that in the governance of the United States, that these laws are for everyone, not just for one set of people. Instead, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney convey the sense that they are allegedly above the law with their actions and that the very same laws that govern the rest of us as Americans are not for them. And it brings forth a very good question that needs to be considered in all circles in United States public life: should our leaders be held accountable? Do they get "blanket immunity" for their actions while others do not?

The tragic thing about the current Administration is that the wrongdoing and corruption that has happened over the past six years has been long and nebulous, it is hard to know where to begin to straighten out the problems that have been generated because of these past actions. What is more, is that the only thing that seems to be demonstrated from the refusal to comply with the law is the fact that it dictates that there are three different types of justice for people in the country: one for the haves, one for the "have-mores" and of course, one for the "have-nots". And it seems, for the "have-mores", they can use the law and work with it in order to get out of issues of accountability and responsibility. Equally as frustrating, the "have-mores", through their actions, deplete the seriousness and gravity of the law and mock it by simply telling the rest of us (in my old and most repeated phrase from time to time) to "let them eat yellow cake".

Maybe, it will take Mr. Leahy's action of taking the government to court in order to shed light on the reasoning why these prosecutors were fired and who was behind such a measure. Furthermore, it might demonstrate that the law is still taken with integrity even when trying to discern what is right and wrong. After all, the actions of Mr. Bush and his cronies set up a dangerous precedent: heck, if they can thumb their nose at the law, then of course maybe the countless hours and Constitutional conventions spent at the infancy of the American country were done in vain.

Especially, when there are the two leaders in the highest position of the land treating them as if they were not worth the paper it was printed on.


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