PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

February 28, 2007

Civil Unions & the Democratic Process

Filed under: HI Politics — rachel @ 5:19 pm

I spent all evening yesterday listening to testimony for and against HB908 — the Civil Unions Bill. There seemed to be way more testimony in favor than against, both in person and written. You wouldn’t have known that from the Honolulu Advertiser article about it today though, which presented both sides equally (fair and balanced, right?). Virtually all the testimony against was made by fundamentalist Christians (Catholics mostly) who described homosexual unions as depraved and against nature. Their arguments were so archaic and bigoted that i don’t see how any legislator with an open mind could take them seriously. The story of Sodom & Gomorrah was brought up several times. Why a religious argument is even relevant in a secular government, is beyond me. On the other side, there were arguments from several different perspectives – gay, straight, civil rights, children’s rights, economic, etc. Most were quite logical and many were very moving. I think it would be very interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of the arguments made for and against this bill, perhaps one of the people who was taking notes on the testimony would be able to produce one. In my mind, this should be a straight forward issue. Now that the “marriage” word is removed and no one is seeking to get same gendered couples wed in a church, the religious arguments should hold no ground. The HA article mentions:

Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey recognize civil unions, while Massachusetts is the only state to allow same-sex marriage. But Hawai’i does allow couples to register with the state as reciprocal beneficiaries and receive many of the rights and benefits of married couples.

Yeah, they can register as reciprocal beneficiaries (RB)… but what does that really do? It provides piecemeal access to certain rights, each of which has to be fought for separately. So far, most of the rights granted by RB have to do with sickness and dying, which are important ones, but as was pointed out multiple times in testimony last night RB provides zero provisions regarding children’s rights. A lesbian couple told their story about their four children. Two of the children were the from a previous heterosexual relationship of one partner and the other two were from a previous homosexual relationship of the other partner. Two were eligible to receive child support and the other two weren’t. You guess which one is which. This type of mixed families happen all the time in “normal” marriage between a man and a woman, yet there are no provisions in the law to provide for children with two mommies or two daddies. Yet they exist. We cannot just pretend they don’t and hope they go away.

I was there for the duration, which cannot be said for the majority of the committee members. There was over 5 hours of testimony. With testimony finally over, the members of the committee came trickling back into the room. The chair (Waters) called for a short recess before the vote. They talked amongst themselves. I was anxious to hear the vote as were several other people still in the room after all that time. When the chair called the meeting back to order he announced that they would be deferring the bill, essentially killing it for the session. No vote was taken. The story we were told was that the bill would have been voted down anyway.

I serve on my local neighborhood board, so watching these proceedings made me think about how they compare to our public meetings. According to the sunshine law, we are not allowed to do anything unless we have a quorum of 50% of the members. We can’t even listen to the reports from the fire and police departments. Members of the public, who took time to show up, cannot present their concerns to the board and the elected officials who often also take time to show up. Yet, in the House of Representatives, testimony can be presented to a small percentage of the committee sometimes only the Chair or Vice-Chair running the meeting. What are the rest of them doing in the meantime? Are we supposed to believe that they are really listening in from their offices? Or are they wheeling and dealing behind the scenes? How is the public supposed to know? Isn’t that what the sunshine law is all about? Or is it just to cripple the volunteer neighborhood boards?

February 26, 2007

Impeachment By Spring: an update

Filed under: HI Politics,Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:03 pm

A lot is happening. The Peace/Anti-War movements are coalescing with the Impeachment movements on a national basis because the Peace group sees that the ONLY way Bush’s war-making is going to be stopped is to remove him and the President of Vice Cheney from office. Nothing else will work. An alliance among groups is building. What follows is an edited summary of what is being planned on a national basis by a number of alliances.

Impeachment Spring 2007

  • April 28 is now being billed as National Impeachment Day
  • Massive anti-war actions throughout the country on March 17-19 will loudly raise the impeachment demand
  • The objective of this national alliance of groups is to begin an impeachment investigation via John Conyers’ Judiciary Committee by May or June

Ted Glick, in Future Hope column, Feb. 25, 2007, wrote that

Impeachment is a perfect example of a good offense being the best defense. We saw how this worked in 1973 and 1974 when Richard Nixon’s Watergate troubles and the investigations into White House-directed criminality made it impossible for Tricky Dick and his national security advisor Henry Kissinger to do anything of substance to prevent the on-going withdrawal of U.S. troops from the southern part of Vietnam and the eventual collapse of the U.S.-created government in Saigon. Key to this was the existence of a loosely-connected, national grassroots movement, the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon, which came together in the fall of 1973. Through demonstrations, lobbying and various kinds of street heat, it kept up the pressure and helped keep the impeachment issue in the news until, on August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned. In hindsight people may think that this result was not surprising given the 1972-74 revelations of White House illegality and solid Democratic control of both houses of Congress. But there were liberal Democrats like Washington Post columnist Nicholas Von Hoffman who were taking the position during this time that it would be good for the Democrats if a weakened Nixon remained in office. This view was shared by many other Democrats.

Does this sound familiar? It should. Sounds like today’s news.

Also, state legislatures in Washington, New Mexico, and Vermont have moved forward with joint legislative resolutions, based on Rules of the House penned by Thomas Jefferson, calling on the US. House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney, (other states, including Rhode Island, New Jersey, and California, may also see bills submitted). Under Thomas Jefferson’s Rules of the House, any one of those resolutions, if passed and forwarded to the House of Representatives, could start the process of impeachment.

On top of all this, if any additional evidence was needed, the trial of Scooter Libby has provided much additional evidence of the illegal and nefarious activities of President of Vice Cheney that seem rife with possibilities for impeachment. Many who are following that trial see the trail of cookie crumbs leading directly to the Office of the President of Vice, and are hopeful that some kind of new indictment will swiftly follow the announcement of the verdict on the Libby trial.

Bob Schacht

February 20, 2007

“Indicting Dick”

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 4:40 pm

If you haven’t been following FireDogLake today, you’ve missed a lot, so let me try to bring you up to speed.

Today was the day for summation at Scooter Libby’s trial: First the prosecution, then the defense, then rebuttal by Fitzgerald. During his rebuttal, shortly after 4:31, Fitzgerald said something like this (remember, this is live blogging, not a transcript):

There is a cloud over the VP. He wrote those columns, he had those meetings, He sent Libby off to the meeting with Judy. Where Plame was discussed. That cloud remains because the denfendant obstructed justice. That cloud was there. That cloud is something that we just can’t pretend isn’t there.

Then, as if to provide all the footnotes you’ll need, blogger “emptywheel” wrote a post entitled

Indicting Dick

(Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 at 4:35 pm)

As “emptywheel” has stated before,

Tricky Fitzgerald!! He’s been hiding Dick right in the middle of his Libby indictment.

We’ll need a few more days to hear the jury’s verdict, but the firepups are all yapping witih excitement today! And I’m trying to supress the urge to do a Snoopy dance.

Blogger “emptywheel” is the author of the formidable Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the War and Smear a Critic.

I don’t mean “formidable” in the sense of a dull, ponderous read, but rather in the sense of a gripping, fact-filled narrative. Its hot off the presses, but printed before the Libby trial. And the author’s assessment of the evidence is holding up rather well. Her book is highly recommended! She is a.k.a. Marcy Wheeler.

Bob Schacht

National Day of Health Care Action

Filed under: 2Healthcare,HI Politics,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:13 am

Upcoming action for Universal Health Care. Who is onto this locally?

For more information from the national desk, see the weblink below.

Bob Schacht

This Saturday, February 24th, is our National Day of Health Care Action. Local chapters of John Edwards One Corps have already planned events nationwide to spread the word, build support, and help out those in need. And, if you’d like to organize your own action, we’ve got all the materials you need to make it a success.

Just click below to learn more and join in:

http://johnedwards.com/r/6163/308786

February 19, 2007

Conyers and the Impeachment Table

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:57 pm

Conyers is hard to figure. He was the main driving force behind the After Downing Street hearings, and a book on impeachment last year. And just last week, in an anti-war rally, he give a fiery speech saying that the President “can’t fire us, but we can fire him.”

He said in an interview last Friday with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now that what he meant was that next year we can elect a new President. This seems to me disingenuous, because that does not amount to firing, because Bush can’t serve another term.
He also commented in this interview that we don’t have the “luxury” of impeachment when there are so many other important things to deal with. This seemed to me to be strange logic, because what can be more basic than defending our Constitution??? But later in the interview, explained himself this way: After ticking off half a dozen important issues, including the war, he said that we “can’t afford” to tie up Congress with impeachment proceedings.
This puts us in an awkward position: every time we petition him about something other than impeachment, it fortifies his resolve not to impeach. We have to be clear and careful about how we prioritize our petitions to our representatives.

Meanwhile, David Swanson has published a resource-filled blog on this subject that makes good reading.

Conyers can be reached at (202) 225-5126 or John.Conyers@mail.house.gov

The bottom line for me is that this is not about bashing Bush. If that’s all, then Conyers and Pelosi are right. But what it really is about is defending the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law. Yes, to me, these things are even more important than the War. But I don’t think we have to choose between these issues. Congress can handle both!

Bob Schacht

Clean Elections bill hijacked!

Filed under: 4Public Financing,HI Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:39 pm

The following blog was posted on DailyKos, and gives us discouraging news. As it is now, both the House bill and the Senate bill have been changed. PDH is contacting the VOE team to figure out how to proceed.

Bob Schacht

Hawaii state Senate breaks its own rules to kill Clean Elections bill

by LarryHI [Subscribe]

Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 04:29:02 PM PST

Proponents of clean elections have been working hard in Hawaii, as elsewhere across the country, to get bills through the state legislature. This year looked very promising. Both House and Senate bills advanced nicely.That is, until this morning. By apparently breaking the Senate’s own rules, a committee chair has gutted the bill and replaced it with unrelated text.Can this be the end? No. The movement is too strong to die now.

If this deed is allowed to stand, hundreds of people who have been working to bring clean elections to Hawaii for so many years will be cheated out of their hard work.The way this hijack is carried out in Hawaii is the committee chair, in this case Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee performs radical surgery on the bill. It’s called a “gut and replace” operation. This completely removes its contents and replaces it with text taken from an unrelated bill.”Gut and replace” is one of the abuses that reformers are trying to drive out of the Hawaii legislature. It is a technique that can be used by a chair to discard a bill the chair doesn’t like, even if the public is 100% behind the bill. “Gut and replace” is by its nature antidemocratic. The bill that was passed was not the bill that was heard by the committee.

Chairs get away with it because the public generally doesn’t know what has happened. But times have changed. Starting last session, this sort of activity is not likely to go unreported.

Perhaps Sen. Hee overlooked Senate Rule 54. Bills: Amendments:

Rule 54, line 2:
(2) The fundamental purpose of any amendment to a bill shall be germane to the
fundamental purpose of the bill.

That’s right, there seems to be a rule that this can’t be done.

The sordid details

SB1068 is the Clean Elections bill. Here is the description as of yesterday:

Description:
Creates comprehensive public funding for elections to the state house of representatives; establishes qualifications, limitations on funding and use of funds, reporting requirements, amends chapter 11, part XII to reflect changes

SB1549 is unrelated. The description of this bill is:

Description: Revises various campaign spending reporting deadlines. Amends definitions of “contribution” and “expenditure”. Increases amount that may be spent per voter for state and county elections and adds prosecuting attorney as an election subject to spending limitation per voter.

As you see, there is no relationship between the two bills. SB1549 was never heard. That’s right. Not enough interest in the legislature to earn it a hearing. It still hasn’t been heard, because the text was snuck in at decisionmaking time, after all public testimony is complete.

There has been quite a bit of testimony on the original Clean Elections bill. It has been one of the hottest topics so far this session, with hopes high that this could be the year that Hawaii might join other states that already have passed similar bills. Candidates and incumbents in those states can choose to give up corporate funding and demonstrate to voters that they are independent of special interests. And those who choose to run “clean” are winning their contests.

Whether Hawaii joins the other “clean election” states should be decided by vote in the legislature (Hawaii doesn’t have an initiative process). Hijacking the bill is not something that will be easily tolerated by the voters.

Supporters and opponents alike should get a straight up or down vote by committee members on the bill that was heard. That would be democracy. It’s the norm, the usual, and what we expect from our state legislators.

“Gut and replace” must stop. If the public doesn’t stop it, other bills will suffer the same fate. Senate president Colleen Hanabusa can be reached at senhanabusa@Capitol.hawaii.gov.

Oh, I forgot to mention… the replacement text is from a bill she introduced that didn’t receive enough interest to be heard. Will she intervene to correct the rules violation? Ask her.

February 15, 2007

Isn’t it time to re-set Speaker Pelosi’s table?

Filed under: HI Politics,Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 8:27 pm

Speaker Pelosi famously told us that impeachment was off the table. Well, she’s had her 100 hours, and has passed a bunch of bills. They’re good bills, but all of them pale beside the issue of impeachment.

We do not need to take Pelosi’s word as final. She is no more the Queen of America than George is the King. We, the people, define what is on the table and what is not. So I am largely in agreement with “frosty’s” post below. Except that Progressive Democrats of America has another world in view, when it comes to action. Matthew Gerbasi, the Impeachment Working Group National Coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America, wrote as follows on Wed, 14 Feb 2007 23:09:14 -0800:

PDA Impeachment Conference Call
Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Time: 9:00 PM Eastern Time

Call-In #: 1 605 772 3800
Code: 693278#

Agenda
1
. Scheduling meetings at your local Congressional office. We are looking to have all of these meetings take place within the Feb 16-26 recess, but due to time restraints do the best you can. If your meeting is scheduled prior to Feb. 21 please contact me and I will assist you one on one. Please schedule your meetings ASAP. If you secure a meeting please fwd me details like time, date, your name and the name of your representative.
Online Assistance Available Here
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/investigations

2. We will be joined by Mike Zmolek, former Legislative Aide to Rep. Cynthia McKinney. He will be advising us on discussing Impeachment with local aides.

3. Finding leaders willing to assist those with less experience get their local efforts up and running.

We hope you can join us for the call Wednesday evening!
____________________

So the call to action now goes out: The impeachment action group for CD01 will arrange a meeting with Rep. Abercrombie, if possible, or with one of his staff, if necessary. If you want to join our delegation, please let me know, at bobschacht@earthlink.net, and I’ll include you in the loop.
A few members of the impeachment action group are actually residents of CD02, and I will be speaking with them about arranging a meeting with Rep. Hirono.

Meanwhile, other events are in the works on this front:

Emergency Summit to Impeach Bush for War Crimes
http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3827&Itemid=223

Saturday, Feb. 17 9 am – 10 pm:
Registration begins at 9 am
Opening plenary with presentations by co-sponsors, 10 am

West Park Presbyterian Church
165 West 86th at Amsterdam, New York City
(#1 Train to 86th)

There will be a full list of workshops available on the day of the event.

So look for news of this event on the Internet. The list of workshops is very action -oriented, and I do believe that they take the mantra “Impeachment by Spring” seriously, and not just as some rhetorical steam-venting.

More along the lines of what we can do:

Contact the Media About Impeachment Coverage
http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/issues/alert/?alertid=9196431&type=ME

Email your Congress Member and Senators Now
http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/issues/alert/?alertid=9209911&type=CO
This campaign is not an idle matter. The future of our Democracy is at stake.

Bob Schacht

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

February 13, 2007

Impeachment: A Popular Movement

Filed under: Impeach,SHAPES platform — frosty @ 10:12 pm

Impeachment has been on the minds of Progressives since before the 2006 midterm elections, when the Democrats regained control of both the Senate and House.  This power shift gave Bush supporters pause and gave Democrats new hope for their party that had seemed to be floundering for so many years.  For Progressives, it inflated their hopes for Impeachment of both the President and Vice President.  Those hopes were immediately dashed when the new Speaker of the House proclaimed a new era of bipartisanship and cooperation with the new Republican minority.
I’ll admit that I was thrilled by the prospect of a new Democratic majority in Congress, though I was skeptical that they would do much real, substantive good.  I doubted little would change.  It is still early in this legislative session, but I’ve already seen signs that little will improve in the next two years; even with majority control of Congress, it seems Democrats have yet to relocate the spines they lost oh so many years ago.  So it seems there is no reason to hope the Impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney will begin in the halls of Congress.

Instead, we, the people, must take it upon ourselves to force the issue upon our elected representatives who refuse to follow our will.

In this month’s issue of The Progressive magazine, there is an article by Howard Zinn which deals specifically with the issue of Impeachment.  Howard Zinn, just in case you’re unaware, is the author of one of the best books I’ve ever read (though it admittedly took me months), The People’s History of the United States.  Professor Zinn is a Progressive through and through and while I’m not surprised by his position, I was surprised to see his name attached to a magazine article: Impeachment by the People.
Right off the bat, Zinn holds no punches:

The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos….

But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.

It has become plain, or so it seems to me, that these Democrats who control Congress cannot be counted on to do what is right, and instead we’re told we should be realistic and we’re lectured on what is politically possible.  In this Zinn is right.  The Impeachment movement must begin with us:

The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government.”

So the next logical step, according to Zinn, is “the convening of ‘people’s impeachment hearings’.”  Now, he falls a bit short, in my opinion, of describing these “hearings,” but does equate them to the meetings which prefaced the American Revolution against the British Crown.  In this way, as is his apparent style, he places the work and responsibility of setting things right with the people.
In the months since the election, I’ve had countless conversations with friends and family regarding this issue of impeachment.  While everyone I’ve talked to believes he should indeed be impeached, they’ve all accepted this idea that there are better things our Congress can be doing for us: increasing the minimum wage, fixing healthcare, improving prescription benefits, the list goes on.  I certainly don’t disagree that all these things are important, I do believe that no real positive steps will be made while these to (excuse me) bastards are allowed to remain in office.
What about the rule of law?  What about doing what’s right?  What about taking steps to correct some of the wrongs this administration has committed against us and against the world?  It seems to me blatantly obvious that this administration enjoys flying in the face of public opinion.  Have Bush and Cheney taken up as a hobby violating US and international law?  While this may seem like an absurd question, it certainly appears that these two absolutely believe they are above the law; they make the law.

The popular movement has indeed begun, but I fear it isn’t moving forward fast enough.  Of course, I am counting the days until they are voted out of office, but I would so much rather kick them out and send them to jail.  If they are allowed to leave with no repercussions, no punishment, I think it will send a sad signal to the rest of the world and send a message to future administrations that the people of this nation have lost any and all will to defend the ideals and laws that could make this country great.

February 8, 2007

Treasonous, Impeachable Offenses by POTUS AND VPOTUS?

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 9:06 pm

The FireDogLake team is getting pretty good at this live reporting thing. Take a look, for example, of today’s summary of the Libby trial by Jane Hamsher & “Swopa”
on Politics.tv, better than anything you might hope to find on CNN.

The success of the FDL team has at least three components:

  1. Live blogging of the trial,
  2. insightful commentaries by the bloggers, and
  3. free-for-all comments by FDL “pups” and bloodhounds.

Consider, for example, this comment by “cinnamonape” on Christy Hardin Smith‘s blog today under the title, The Trouble With Mary. The comment is #184 on the thread, on February 8th, 2007 at 1:23 pm. S/he starts out by quoting BobbyG @77 :

TREASONOUS, IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES BY POTUS AND VPOTUS:
____

a snippet of Libby’s grand jury testimony…

Libby, looking at his notes: … this is Steve Hadley saying, no question, it’s better if we leak the [National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq].

Fitzgerald: What does that mean?

Libby: Steve Hadley is saying that it would be better if we got the NIE out, and “leak” means telling it to ­ giving it to a reporter to say, you know, here’s something you can write about. It’s like an exclusive or something like that.

Fitzgerald: And had the NIE been declassified at that point?

Libby: It had in the sense that the president had told me to go out and use it with Judith Miller. I don’t, I don’t know that Mr. Hadley knew that at that point.

Fitzgerald: OK. And did anyone decide to leak the NIE that week?

Libby: Well, the president had told me to use it and declassified it for me to use with Judith Miller. I don’t think Mr. Hadley was told to go out and talk about it. I think Ms. [Condoleezza] Rice had talked about the NIE in general earlier in the week on television.
Fitzgerald: So, prior to July 10th, you had talked to Judith Miller about the NIE?

Libby: Correct, sir.

Fitzgerald: And your understanding is that even though it was a classified document, the president had authorized you to talk to her about it?

Libby: Definitely, sir.

“…the president had told me to use it and declassified it for me to use with Judith Miller.”

Mr Bush, can we see the documentation regarding such “declassification”?

Didn’t think so. I’m sure such is “classified.”

(putting aside the loudly begged question of why they simply didn’t go massively public)

If this crap doesn’t rise to impeachment level, then we oughta just strike that section from the Constitution.
_

______

Brilliant! Great observation…and one that clearly implies that Fitz is looking at BIGGER ISSUES than merely the leaking of Plame’s identity. Note that Fitz has always used the term “the leaking of classified information”…a far more general statement. And he is clearly looking at those that might be involved in a broader conspiracy…including Hadley, Rice and even the President…who may have acted to post-hoc…protect someone who intentionally leaked National Security information.
Also note that the DEFENSE has not subpoenaed to get the dates of the declassification order for the NIE released. Fitz hasn’t since he doesn’t need them to establish his points in this trial…but it’s clear that the WH has refused to release this information or other documentation on dates and orders of declassification that Cheney or Bush have undertaken either.

Bush’s own executive order doesn’t allow such concealment “to protect from embarassment or criminal activity”…but of course that text is a carry-over from the Clinton Executive Order that they probably didn’t realise might need to be deleted!

At the very least, this shows that Bush & Cheney are (mis-)handling classified information with careless disregard for national security. The FDL team has nicknamed this “insta-declassification,” and in this example, proper procedures (such as notification of the head of the CIA, etc.) are not being followed, thereby possibly endangering sensitive and critical missions in the field. If this is not an impeachable offense, then what is?????

It is time for our representatives to get up some backbone and start investigating whether this testimony is accurate, and if so, whether this casual use of classified material is, or is not, a high crime and misdemeanor. Please let them know what you think about this.
Bob Schacht

Silence is complicity.

February 6, 2007

Dept of Peace

Filed under: National Politics — rachel @ 1:00 pm

Thanks to Dave Raatz for bringing to my attention the introduction of HR808… both Abercrombie and Hirono signed on as co-sponsors! Kudos to them.

I know… another one of those loony ideas brought up by Dennis Kucinich!

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