Tag: Politics


Bush Signed Memo Authorizing Torture

Daily Kos has a very in-depth article containing a memo signed by President Bush that set policy exempting detainees from the Geneva conventions, an international law that affords basic human rights to prisoners. Not a law giving them nice, cushy amenities they don’t deserve – just protections from torture, and allowances for noncombatant organizations like the Red Cross to care for their basic health needs.

The Bush administration spin machine has been doing its best to prevent any blame from falling on current officials or anyone central to the administration. But here it is: a memo signed by the President breaking our commitment to international law and thus authorizing torture and other inhumane acts (page 1) (page 2).

I really thought we were above tactics from the middle ages. Everyone knows that torture doesn’t produce usable intelligence. We have failed the demands of being a world leader. We have failed our own standard of “justice for all.” We have endangered our own future by treating our enemies unjustly and inhumanely, inviting them to treat us with the same gross lack of humanity.

This is not a political issue. Every remaining presidential candidate will not continue this madness, but the damage to our reputation in the world and in history is done.


Hillary, Release Your Returns!

Hillary Clinton hasn’t released her tax returns since she left the White House. Since then, she has amassed a large amount of wealth – enough to personally loan her campaign $5 million – and the American people have no idea of where she got that money.

Barack Obama – like many members of government – release their taxes to the public regularly. Mrs. Clinton says she will release her returns, but she is “too busy” to do so now.

Mrs. Clinton, you are most certainly busy. Much more so than I. But alas: I am releasing my 2007 tax return to the public, right now. It took me all of five minutes. All it takes is a Sharpie and a quick scan or fax.

Why should we wait until after many more primaries to hear where you got your money? We deserve to know this now, before we cast our votes for or against you. Release your 2000-2007 tax returns to the public. It was easy for me, it will be easy for you.

Tomorrow I will fax my return to the Clinton campaign office. I encourage anyone reading this blog to do so as well:  215.625.0379


9/11 Commentary, in Context

There has been a lot of fuss recently over various presidential candidates’ pastors’ comments. Barack Obama has had some, and John McCain’s pastor is now facing scrutiny as well.

I believe that, except for Governor Huckabee, who is himself a clergyman who chose to run for office, these issues have no relevance to any political campaign, and can only be used as personal proxy attacks with limited factual significance.

However, as this issue currently dominates national news, and it touches on two very important issues – my faith and my politics – I think it deserves to be addressed.

Rev. Wright’s comments post-9/11 were taken out of context by the media – he was quoting a US Ambassador as part of a larger sermon with a different message. Consider his comments in context, compared to those of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on 9/13/2001:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOdlnzkeoyQ&hl=en]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-CAcdta_8I&hl=en]

I do not share viewpoints with either of the above videos. I disagree with parts of both. I agree with other parts of both. But the issue deserves better attention than the sensationalism being encouraged by the media and by desperate campaigns right now.


Why We Fight

This is a compelling documentary. You should go here and watch the whole thing for free online.

My quick summary is that this documentary looks at the history of the growth of the military-industrial complex since World War II. Central to the documentary is President Eisenhower’s farewell address, which warned of the looming internal threat of our military industry and what could happen if citizens were not vigilant in monitoring its actions. It presents our foreign policy as one that is not political or partisan – it is supported by Democrats and Republicans equally – but one that mirrors the Roman Empire in its superiority over many peoples that must be enforced and maintained by large standing armies. The film likens America’s influence in the world today to colonialism, except that instead of direct political control, we force free markets upon everyone so that our companies can reap huge profits.

It isn’t about liberating oppressed peoples, or spreading democracies; on both counts, we have supported or engaged in actions that have achieved the direct opposite. Those items are far less important in our military doctrine than enforcing our superiority in the world through creating – and controlling – the global capitalist economy.

The most surprising thing about this documentary for me? There’s no commentary or narration. The only voices heard are those of primary sources (including a lot of input from John McCain, who seems to have a refreshingly clear view of what is actually going on, despite his willingness to protract our current military engagements.)

Here’s the trailer, go here to watch the whole thing for free:


Wiretapping and Writing Washington

In an unfortunate move today, the US Senate voted against an amendment to the FISA Bill that would revoke immunity for companies that independently eavesdropped on domestic communications between US citizens, without a warrant or any kind of government oversight to protect citizens’ privacy.

My senator, Ken Salazar, was one of the 18 Democratic senators to join with the Republican party to defeat the amendment. I was profoundly disappointed.

Also interesting is that while she co-sponsored the amendment, Hillary Clinton did not think it important enough to come to the Senate to actually vote for it. Barack Obama, on the other hand, took time off the campaign trail to support it.

Barack Obama is the last presidential candidate left who will take a stand for citizens’ rights to privacy, as well as comprehensive national security. I don’t think that most Americans realize the significance of this fact.

So what can I do? Be ultra-cheesy and write letters!

Dear Senator Obama:

Thank you for taking time off the campaign trail to do your Senatorial duties and support Dodd Amendment No. 3907 to S.Amdt. 3911 to S.2248, the FISA Amendments Act of 2007, which would have denied retroactive wiretapping immunity to telecoms. Unfortunately, I cannot say that my Democratic Senator, Mr. Salazar, did the same, as he voted with the Republicans to ultimately defeat the amendment. I believe that it is imperative to all citizens that you make this issue a prominent issue at the forefront of your campaign.

I am an independent voter from Colorado. As far as I can tell, you are the only candidate for the presidency who took a stand to protect my rights to privacy. You are the only one left who recognizes the importance of government oversight in matters of surveillance and national security. Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, did not bother to participate in the vote where 18 Democrats joined with Republicans in effectively denying our right to justice and protection in matters of domestic wiretapping.

I urge you to make this issue a central part of your campaign in the future, and a key component of your intelligence policy when (hopefully) you are President. This issue, while of little significance to the American public today, sets a bleak precedent for our future rights and liberties. You are the only remaining hope for our right to privacy and freedom from “big brother” surveillance, and I hope you will convey the full weight of the issue and your unique stance on it to the public in both the primary and general elections. John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Hillary Clinton all fail the test in this area, and that is why we need you.

Consider the words of Benjamin Franklin,

“Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

Thank you for your consideration in this matter, and thank you for being the first candidate in my 19 years to give me optimism and excitement for my country’s future.

Ezekiel Weeks

Dear Senator Salazar:

As a Colorado resident, I feel it important to express my opinion that your vote today against Dodd Amendment No. 3907 to S.Amdt. 3911 to S.2248, the FISA Amendments Act of 2007, severely harmed your constituents’ rights to privacy. Because of your vote, we now live in a country where companies are free to spy on domestic citizens without judicial oversight in the name of “security.” Your vote suggests that you support a national security policy lacks that integrity or protective oversight on behalf of U.S. citizens.

I urge you to change your tune in the future and serve your constituents by protecting their rights to privacy and ensuring proper justice in oversight for true threats to national security. As an independent Coloradoan, I will throw my weight behind any candidate who will work to protect my privacy, be they Democratic, Republican, or paranoid schizophrenic with a tin foil hat. I hope that you will raise yourself and Colorado above such invasive policies by changing your stance and taking action to protect your constituents from both terrorist threats and abusive, invasive telecommunications companies.

Consider the words of Benjamin Franklin:

“Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Ezekiel Weeks

Yeah, I know, I am a sucker for that Ben Franklin quote. And I feel a bit weird writing cheesy love letters to Obama, no matter how much I support him. Oh, well, the deed is done!