Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Did You Ever Get The Feeling You Were Being Treated Like A Mushroom; Kept In The Dark And Fed Bullshit?

Did You Ever Get The Feeling You Were Being Treated Like A Mushroom; Kept In The Dark And Fed Bullshit?

Personally I Think The Time For Talking Was Over A Long Time Ago. (Ed.)

From Last Night


No Republicans???  I have to wonder how hard Leahy really tried.

 If everyone on this list called Walter B. Jones and Ron Paul, there might be a different story here.  Toothless as a Truth Commission is, it is a start and will levy more pressure toward prosecution.

 It's easy.  Just do it: (202) 224-3121 ask for Rep. Jones and Rep. Paul and ask them to support Leahy's Truth Commission AND a Special Prosecutor for war crimes.

 Leahy’s Truth Commission Hits the Skids

 Those of you following the prosecution trail will be interested to know that Patrick Leahy’s Truth Commission is a no-go.   I was in a meeting with Leahy and 4 other Vermonters on Monday when he broke the news to us.  We had asked for the meeting to learn why he supported a Truth Commission over the appointment of a special prosecutor. Halfway through the allotted 30 minute meeting (with him taking up much of the time  explaining why he was not generally opposed to prosecution, since he had been a DA for 8 years and had the highest conviction rate in Vermont) he told us that his Truth Commission had failed to get the broad support it needed in Congress , and since he couldn’t get one Republican to come behind the plan, “it’s not going to happen.”     

It was a sobering exchange. The meeting had begun with our expressing serious concerns about ongoing dangers to our democracy, with the trend going to executive power while damaging our constitution. “We are a nation of laws,” said Dan DeWalt, who had helped organize 36 Vermont towns to vote for Impeachment of Bush on town meeting day. “ If we have a system of justice, why not let it take its course? It seems to many Americans that the rich and powerful don’t have the same system of justice, and they’re getting away with torture, murder, fraud, and Ponzi schemes.”  

By the end of the meeting, we were beginning to wonder whether anything at all was going to done  – by Congress, by Attorney General Holder, by President Obama --  to hold the Bush team accountable for its crimes. 

Leahy’s own aversion to appointing a special prosecutor appeared to be more practical than philosophical. 

”We don’t want another Abu Ghraib,” he said. “You know, ‘Boy did we get those privates and corporals. So many up on high will never get touched. Its like the war on drugs – lets get those black kids on cocaine.”  So its not that he had a problem with prosecutions per se. “I just worry that the prosecutions will be done only on middle-level people.” 

Well then,  what would happen to the higher ups?  Leahy had said, on previous occasions, that the purpose of his Truth Commission was to grant immunity to those willing to testify – presumably middle level people – and we could infer from that that they, in turn, would spill the beans on their superiors. If any of the witnesses lied under oath or were less than thorough in their answers, he had told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow a month ago, they could be prosecuted for perjury. But that still left the destiny of high government officials uncertain. 

Leahy had hinted to Maddow that if officials refused to honor subpoenas, they, too could be prosecuted. But in the real world, as Monday’s news suggests, the people most responsible for the crimes will continue to get off free. 

We should at least be content, Leahy said, with his success in forcing former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez’s resignation. 

After Leahy left the meeting, his aide, Chuck Ross, assured our group that there was no one more devoted to protecting the Constitution than Leahy.  “He has been persistent in the face of obfuscation. He got rid of Gonzalez. I would challenge you to find someone who has done more to defend the Constitution.” 

Then Ross let out a memorable one-liner. “He’s all you’ve got.”

What? Leahy’s all we’ve got to protect the Constitution? And we have to accept Gonzalez’s resignation as the only punishment for years of gutting the rule of law? It took about five minutes for all this to sink in. Then fellow Vermonter John Nirenberg spoke, I think, for all of us. “If he’s the only guy, this is not a healthy situation.” 

It is, perhaps, no coincidence, that the same time Leahy downplayed the Truth Commission, Congressional aides were quoted by reporter Jason Leopold of Consortium News that “the focus has shifted to the economy and that pressure for a special prosecutor to bring criminal charges over the Bush administration’s past actions could become a distraction to that focus.” Leahy’s aide Ross had said the same thing. Everyone was focusing on the economy. 

So now, it seems, the wrecked economy – complements of the Bush Administration -- is becoming the excuse for Congressional inaction after eight years of unremitting malfeasance. This is serious, folks. Appointing a Special Prosecutor had been the top issue on President Obama’s website when he took office. Either he’s not listening any more, or his supporters are “moving forward, not backward,” just as he prefers – and his right flank (the CIA, the neocons, and everyone else who has something to hide) desperately want.. It remains to be seen if his huge base can get through to him on this issue, now that he occupies the White House. If they cannot, then the failure to hold even a Truth Commission, let alone prosecutions, signals a return to the same old way of doing things. Deterrence be damned. 

Charlotte Dennett is a lawyer and investigative journalist. She ran for Attorney General in Vermont on a pledge to prosecute George W. Bush using state criminal statutes. 

 Susan C. Serpa









"We the People" to "King of the World": "YOU'RE FIRED!"


Nothing like it has ever happened. The President of the United States, the elected representative of the people, has just told the head of General Motors -- a company that's spent more years at #1 on the Fortune 500 list than anyone else -- "You're fired!"

I simply can't believe it. This stunning, unprecedented action has left me speechless for the past two days. I keep saying, "Did Obama really fire the chairman of General Motors? The wealthiest and most powerful corporation of the 20th century? Can he do that? Really? Well, damn! What else can he do?!"

This bold move has sent the heads of corporate America spinning and spewing pea soup. Obama has issued this edict: The government of, by, and for the people is in charge here, not big business. John McCain got it. On the floor of the Senate he asked, "What does this signal send to other corporations and financial institutions about whether the federal government will fire them as well?" Senator Bob Corker said it "should send a chill through all Americans who believe in free enterprise." The stock market plunged as the masters of the universe asked themselves, "Am I next?" And they whispered to each other, "What are we going to do about this Obama?"

Not much, fellows. He has the massive will of the American people behind him -- and he has been granted permission by us to do what he sees fit. If you liked this week's all-net 3-pointer, stay tuned.

I write this letter to you in memory of the hundreds of thousands of workers over the past 25+ years who have been tossed into the trash heap by General Motors. Many saw their lives ruined for good. They turned to alcohol or drugs, their marriages fell apart, some took their own lives. Most moved on, moved out, moved over, moved away. They ended up working two jobs for half the pay they were getting at GM. And they cursed the CEO of GM for bringing ruin to their lives.

Not one of them ever thought that one day they would witness the CEO receive the same treatment. Of course Chairman Wagoner will not have to sign up for food stamps or be evicted from his home or tell his kids they'll be going to the community college, not the university. Instead, he will get a $23 million golden parachute. But the slip in his hands is still pink, just like the hundreds of thousands that others received -- except his was issued by us, via the Obama-man. Here's the door, buster. See ya. Don't wanna be ya.

I began my day today in Washington, D.C. I went to the U.S. Senate and got into their Finance Committee's hearing on the Wall Street bailout. The overseers wanted to know how the banks spent the money. And many of these banks won't tell them. They've taken trillions and nobody knows where the money went. It certainly didn't go to create jobs, relieve mortgage holders, or free up loans that people need. It was so shocking to listen to this, I had to leave before it was over. But it gave me an idea for the movie I was shooting.

Later, I stopped by the National Archives to stand in line to see the original copy of our Constitution. I thought about how twenty years ago this month I was just down the street finishing my first film, a personal plea to warn the nation about GM and the deadly economy it ruled. On that March day in 1989 I was broke, having collected the last of my unemployment checks, relying on help from my friends (Bob and Siri would take me out to dinner and always pick up the check, the assistant manager at the movie theater would sneak me in so I could watch an occasional movie, Laurie and Jack bought an old Steenbeck (editing) machine for me, John Richard would slip me an unused plane ticket so I could go home for Christmas, Rod would do anything for me and drive to Flint whenever I needed something for the film). My late mother (she would've turned 88 tomorrow if she were still with us) and my GM autoworker dad told me in the kitchen they wanted to help and handed me a check for an astounding thousand dollars. I didn't know they even had a thousand dollars. I refused it, they insisted I take it -- "No!" -- and then, in that parental voice, told me I was to cash it so I could finish my movie. I did. And I did.

So on that March day in 1989, as I was driving down Pennsylvania Avenue, my 9-year-old car just died. I coasted over to the curb, put my head down on the steering wheel and started to cry. I had no money to take it in to be repaired, and I certainly had nothing to pay the tow truck driver. So I got out, screwed the license plates off so I wouldn't be fined, turned my back and just left it there for good. I looked over at the building next to me. It said "National Archives." What better place to donate my dead car, I thought, as I walked the rest of the way home.

Though it wasn't easy for me, I still never had to suffer what so many of my friends and neighbors went through, thanks to General Motors and an economic system rigged against them. I wonder what they must have all thought when they woke up this Monday morning to read in the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press the headlines that Obama had fired the CEO of GM. Oh -- wait a minute. They couldn't read that. There was no Free Press or News. Monday was the day that both papers ended home delivery. It was cancelled (as it will be for four days every week) because the daily newspapers, like General Motors, like Detroit, are broke.

I await the President's next superhero move.

Michael Moore

P.S. Please know that it has not been lost on any of us from the Rust Belt how our corporate bigwigs were treated (remember, the auto companies wanted a loan, not a handout) compared to how the titans of Wall Street got trillions of free cash, lunch at the White House and a photo op with the Prez. Trust me, we get it. And, if there is a God in heaven, the thieves of Wall Street will soon pay. Also... the sight of our president having to promise that he would back every GM warranty and give consumers a bonus if they trade in their old Grand Am for a hybrid, was alternately sad, hilarious, and just plain weird. This is what it's come to: the Commander in Chief of the Free World is now Mr. Goodwrench. Jeesh. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
(19 comments) This bold move has sent the heads of corporate America spinning and spewing pea soup. Obama has issued this edict: The government of, by, and for the people is in charge here, not big business. John McCain got it. On the floor of the Senate he asked, "What does this signal send to other corporations and financial institutions about whether the federal government will fire them as well? ...Am I next?"

Friday, March 6, 2009
(15 comments) What I have believed in, and what I have stood for in these past eight years -- an end to the war, establishing universal health care, closing Guantanamo and banning torture, making the rich pay more taxes and aggressively going after the corporate chiefs on Wall Street -- these are all things which the majority of Americans believe in too.

Friday, December 12, 2008
(10 comments) These Senate vampires wanted blood. Blue collar blood. You see, they weren't opposed to the bailout because they believed in the free market or capitalism. No, they were opposed to the bailout because they're opposed to workers making a decent wage. In their rage, they were driven to destroy the backbone of this country, not because the UAW hadn't given back enough, but because the UAW hadn't given up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
(21 comments) Every single dollar Congress gives these three companies will be flushed right down the toilet. There is nothing the management teams of the Big 3 are going to do to convince people to go out during a recession and buy their big, gas-guzzling, inferior products. Just forget it. Buy the company and get it started building cars that are not oil dependent, plus trains, buses, subways and light rail.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
(5 comments) I would like to propose my own bailout plan. My suggestions, listed below, are predicated on the singular & simple belief that the rich must pull themselves up by their own platinum bootstraps. Sorry, fellows, but you drilled it into our heads one too many times: There... is... no... free... lunch. And thank you for encouraging us to hate people on welfare! So, there will be no handouts from us to you. Stop the senate tonight


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