Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My DEMOCRATIC Congresswoman Claims Gonzales Cannot Be Impeached!

Representatives Ellen Tauscher (CA 10th) and Jerry McNerney (CA 11th (with some guy inbetween). From Tauscher's website.

(NOTE: This post was originally written for my DailyKos diary. It received over 300 comments, a first for me after writing there for more than 3 years. I've added "NEW" information that came in from those many amazing comments so you can track how the story developed. I've also rearranged it from the original format, and added a few more images, so it will make more sense.)

Sometimes I think I am the only person in my district writing or phoning my Representative. I live in a very long skinny district, badly patched together, and a few years ago I got moved into former DLC Vice President Ellen Tauscher's district. Previously I was in George Miller's district and he's much more liberal. But I've come to believe it's a good thing for more liberals from the Western edge of San Francisco's East Bay to be all up in Ms. Tauscher's political face.

I thought I'd let her know I wanted some action on Gonzales. I'd been reading the Constitution regarding impeachment and it appeared to me (lay-person that I am) that Gonzales could be removed in this way and Bush would be unable to pardon him. Here's what I was looking at:

* The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

* Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Here's where I figured we'd just push him out of office now and then charge him with crimes after Bush is no longer president (so he couldn't pardon him.)

* The President...shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

* The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
So I was assuming that Gonzales, being the Attorney General was a "civil officer" which would allow Congress to indeed impeach him and or cause him to resign under threat of impeachment.

Photo Source

Congresswoman Tauscher responded thusly:

Thank you for contacting me about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. I have reviewed your comments and welcome this opportunity to share my views.

I have long been concerned about Attorney General Gonzales' role in crafting the Bush Administration's policies that deny prisoners captured in the War on Terror protections afforded to belligerents under the Geneva Convention, including the right to protection from torture. Recent allegations regarding his role in the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for seemingly political purposes and an audit of FBI use of national security tools which revealed multiple breaches of FBI and Justice Department regulations are further cause for grave concern.

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the nation, and it is his responsibility to uphold the rule of law and respect for civil rights that are granted by the U.S. Constitution. As a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Human Rights Caucus, I am deeply concerned about abuse and violations of the rights of detainees in U.S. custody. These allegations have undermined our nation's credibility and have raised concerns in the international community that the United States no longer holds human rights as a guiding principle in its military and foreign policy.

Furthermore, the politicalization of the Department of Justice through the firing of U.S. Attorneys thought to be unsympathetic to Administration priorities and slow and incomplete responses to Congress by the Justice Department regarding this matter display a flagrant disregard for the Constitutionally-mandated neutrality of the legal system. The condoning of the abuse of national security powers by the FBI is further evidence of this disturbing trend. Accountability must begin at the top, and I expect the President to uphold openness and honesty in his Administration. As investigations into these matters continue, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that those who acted unethically - or even illegally - are held responsible.
Good, good, I'm liking the sound of this...but then she says this:

The Attorney General serves at the pleasure of the president in a non-impeachable office. Unless convicted of an illegal act, the Attorney General cannot be removed from office without the president asking for or accepting his resignation. However, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind as I review the circumstances surrounding recent allegations of impropriety within the Justice Department.


Ellen O. Tauscher
Member of Congress

Whatdayaknow...it turns out SHE'S QUITE WRONG! After reading the information shared by DailyKos readers, and doing more research, I'm convinced that my Democratic Congresswoman doesn't fully understand the very same Constitution she took an oath to uphold! So I wrote her again, and sent along with my letter, a big pile of PROOF that not only is Mr. Gonzales impeachable, it's her duty as my Representative to help remove him.

A Lady Writing Johannes Vermeer c. 1665-1666

Here is what I wrote in my 2nd letter to her:

Dear Representative Tauscher,

I received the enclosed email from you (or one of your staffers) in response to my message about impeaching Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (also enclosed). I was quite startled to read your claim that Gonzales is "not impeachable". According to the U.S. Constitution he is (please read enclosed documentation). I'm hoping that your staff simply got confused about this very serious situation and sent the wrong information to me, your constituent. A good read-through of the materials I've been studying myself will correct that error for my neighbors and others who write to you about this.

If you yourself responded to my letter then I respectfully request that you immediately study the enclosed documents regarding Congressional impeachment of "civil officers". It seems very clear to me (and to the American Bar Association, and to Professor Frank Bowman, all enclosed) that Mr. Gonzales is indeed impeachable.

I therefore again request that you begin impeachment proceedings against this man. He's either lying to Congress (a triple felony) or he's incompetent. Either way Mr. Gonzales is endangering our democracy every day he stays in office.

Please act as my representative in this urgent matter.


Emily Duffy

Here is the list of documents (PROOF) that I included with my letter:

1) A copy of the American Bar Association's "Impeachment: A Look at the Process. (Hat tip to DailyKos writer MLDB)

2) A copy of Professor Frank Bowman's NYT Op-Ed piece "He's Impeachable, You Know". (Hat tip to DailyKos writer 8ackgr0und N015e)

3) A copy of the Constitution (because she obviously needs it).

4) A copy of my original letter requesting she start impeachment proceedings against Gonzales.

5) A copy of Tauscher's response to my original letter.

And as advised by DailyKos writer mmacdDE, all pertinent excerpts are HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW!

I'll report back if I hear back from Tauscher's office. If I don't hear back from her, she'll hear back from me!

The "Quaint" United States Constitution (Remember when Alberto Gonzales called the Geneva Conventions quaint?

NOTE: Here's the text of the email I originally sent Tauscher. Please feel free to borrow any or all of it to send to your own Rep.
Dear Representative ...,

I have been watching Senate hearings at which Attorney General Gonzales is testifying about many, MANY irregularities and conflicting statements on several issues of national security etc. This man is not fit to continue in his position. He either seems confused, can't recall, or doesn't know the answer to most questions posed by the bipartisan Senate Committee. He's either lying about his involvement with various illegal activities, or he's incompetent! Either way, he needs to be removed.

The Constitution says:

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. "


The President..."shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."

I understand that to mean, if Congress impeaches Attorney General (or any other Bush appointee, cabinet member, civil employee etc.) Bush cannot pardon them and they will be held accountable.

I respectfully request that you begin impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General immediately. That will begin the unveiling of crimes and corruption that this administration has committed, and continues to commit.

Thank You.

If you made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you for taking the time to read this strange tale. You might want to check and see if your own Congressperson knows that Alberto Gonzales is impeachable by writing to them HERE!

You can also sign John Edwards' petition calling for Gonzales to resign HERE!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Does the Idea of Impeachment Make You Squirm? Let Me Help Dispell...


I know you're angry, and frustrated, and sick of everything the Bush Administration has done since it first darkened the door of the White House. I am too! I also know that you're not sure what to do about it, not clear on the best approach, don't know where to put your energy, your hopes, your anger. Well, the word "Impeachment" may make you flinch but that's probably because you've been programmed to be repelled by it. You can thank the bogus "impeachment" against President Clinton, by a radical right-wing controlled Republican Congress in 1998...ALMOST 10 YEARS AGO! Why are we so afraid to consider impeachment...the Founders' reasonable remedy to stop a king-like President?
For better or worse, impeachment is out there. The Democratic consultants and leadership can't "un-ring" this bell. Impeachment / accountability was a major issue in the 2006 election. As for the base, we've clearly made the decision: Pushing for investigations, exposure, censure and - yes, even impeachment - of this extremely partisan Republican Administration will help Democrats win elections. It's also simply the only moral, ethical, patriotic course.

This isn't partisan politics. Fundamentally, this is Constitutional Law and Criminal Law. This administration assails our basic values and notoriously attacks the Constitution. They run roughshod over the Separation of Powers. They sneeringly dismiss the Bill of Rights and the Congress....Power in the hands of one person or faction would threaten our freedom. [The Founders] took steps to divide power between three branches to avoid this, but the radical Republicans overrode the founders by creating a rubber stamp Congress and by packing the Supreme Court. This allows horrendous policies - many of which violate the rule of law - without checks or balances to curtail abuses. That's not the American system. - Mike Hersh

This idea isn't as radical as some might like you to believe. Here's a recent Bill Moyers program about it.

So, if you'll put aside your discomfort (or fear) of the word Impeachment, here is a handy FAQ that might help you sort this crucial issue out (Please consider bookmarking this page so you can use it as a resource for this topic. There are certain to be many discussions about impeachment in the coming days and weeks):

Let's start with some basics from the U.S. Constitution itself:

Constitutional Crazy Quilt Detail © 2007 Emily Duffy

* All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

* The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

* The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

* The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

* The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachment. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

* Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

* Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

* The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment..

* The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Definition of High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Photo © 2007 Maarja Vigorito


From the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice:

Why would we want a President Cheney? Or why would we want a new Republican who could run as an incumbent? Or why would we want a President Pelosi?

We propose impeaching Cheney first or together with Bush. The first Articles of Impeachment to be introduced (H Res 333) are addressed only to Cheney. Impeaching Cheney first ought to put the fear of a President Cheney to rest. But there remains the possibility of fearing his replacement or even of not wanting Nancy Pelosi to be president or not wanting her to become president in this way. She won't. We will never succeed in removing Bush and Cheney from office simultaneously and by surprise. We will remove them, but they will be replaced by a new President Ford, who will operate within the rule of law and lose the next election.

But this whole discussion misses the point. The question of who holds which office for the next year or six months, as well as the question of who wins the next election, is of very minor importance in comparison with the question of whether future administrations will be compelled to operate within the limitations of the law. If we do not impeach Cheney and Bush, we will establish that it is permitted for future presidents and vice presidents to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements. Those powers in the wrong hands could do far more serious damage than Bush and Cheney have done.

So, if we keep this in perspective, the fear of Cheney appears trivial. It appears even more so when we consider that impeachment and removal from office are two separate steps and that we're only working on the first one so far, and when we recognize the extent to which Cheney has been running the country already for years. Were Cheney officially president, most policies would remain unchanged, but the public face of the White House and of the Republican party would be that of a man whose approval rating has been unable to top 20 percent. The Republicans will never allow this, so it would be rather foolish for the Democrats to retreat out of fear of it.

Whoever is president next will have to operate under fear of being impeached next. That is the point of impeachment. In the case of Cheney, he would be operating under the high probability of being impeached. No serious discussion of the evidence can incriminate Bush or Cheney but not the other. And, in any event, we will be impeaching Cheney first.

Cartoon by Mr. Fish

Don't be afraid of Dick Cheney, hold him accountable!

Why not just wait for the next election?

The authors of our Constitution established the schedule for elections, but devoted a lot more attention to the mechanism of impeachment as a check on elected despotism in between elections. They had recently thrown off a king and had no interest in electing temporary kings every four years. Neither should we.

Bush and Cheney can still do a great deal of damage before the end of their term. People are dying every day as a result of their policies. There is an urgent need to remove them from office in order to end the brutal occupation of Iraq and prevent an attack on Iran.

But we would need to impeach them were this January 2009 or had they already left office. The purpose of impeachment, again, is to set standards for future administrations. We cannot give the powers assumed by this administration (to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements) to future presidents and vice presidents without expecting similar or worse abuses.

Video from ozzybinoswaldo

Won't impeachment take up too much time and distract from other goals?

Nixon's impeachment took three months. Clinton's impeachment and trial combined took four months. The current Congress has wasted more than that amount of time already in avoiding impeachment, and has almost nothing to show for it (a minimal partial and gradual correction to the plummeting minimum wage). Congress has taken no serious steps toward ending the occupation of Iraq, and has in fact provided major new funding for it. During Nixon's impeachment and the lead up to it, in contrast, the threat of impeachment allowed Congress to raise the minimum wage, create the Endangered Species Act, and end a war.

Important as stem cell research and immigration policy may be, when did the Bill of Rights become a distraction? What is more important than restoring the right to not be spied on, to not be picked up without charge and locked away to be tortured with no access to a lawyer, a trial, or your family, not to be sent into an aggressive war for greed and power? Of course, there are many pressing areas in which we need to pass legislation. But the outgoing Republican Congress passed some important bills, including those banning torture and illegal spying. But Bush used signing statements to announce his intention to disobey those laws. Under the new Democratic Congress, Bush has made clear that he will either veto or signing statement any bill he disapproves of.

Isn't it more important to end the war?

Ending the war is a task that could best be accomplished by inaction, by Congress refusing to provide any more funding. Or it could be accomplished by a bill created by one committee. It is not a fulltime task for the entire Congress.

However, this Congress has already demonstrated that it has no intention of ending the war. Pelosi has sworn that cutting off the funding is "off the table."

What could help move Congress would be the same thing that helped a previous Congress find the nerve to end the Vietnam War and convinced Nixon not to veto the cut-off in funding: impeachment. In this case, even more so than Nixon's, impeachment would drive the war debate in the right direction, because impeachment would be for offenses either directly connected to the war or offenses that have been justified by "war on terror" propaganda.

In addition, should Congress actually cut off the funding and end the war, it is very likely that Bush and Cheney would misappropriate funds from the Pentagon to keep the occupation going. They did so in order to secretly begin the war, and they have never been held accountable for it. So, removing them from office is not only needed in order to give Congress the nerve to end the war, but is also needed if the war is ever to actually end.

Please don't end my war!

Isn't it more important to win the next election/s?

No. It isn't. But if it were, we would be wise to recognize that impeachment is the best guarantee of electoral success for Democrats and Republicans alike. Voters appreciate efforts to push for a cause. Cowardice and restraint are not very popular.

When the Democrats held back from impeachment during Iran Contra, they lost the next elections. When the Democrats led the effort to investigate and impeach Nixon, they won big in the next election, even though Ford was running as an incumbent. When the Republicans tried to impeach Truman, they got what they wanted out of the Supreme Court and then won the next elections. Articles of Impeachment have been filed against 10 presidents, usually by Republicans, and usually with electoral success following. When the Republicans impeached Clinton, impeachment was actually unpopular with the public. Even so, the Republicans lost far fewer seats than is the norm for a majority party at that point in its tenure. Two years later, they lost seats in the Senate, which had acquitted, but maintained their strength in the House, with representatives who had led the impeachment charge winning big.

Parties that seek to impeach are not punished at the next election. In fact, they frequently improve their position -- as evidenced by Dems in 1974, Republicans in 1952, and all the way back to the Whigs of last century. In every election back to 1842 where House members of an opposition party to a sitting president have -- as a whole or a significant caucus within the party -- proposed impeachment of the president, that opposition party retained or improved its position in the House at the following election. There is no instance of voters responding to a significant impeachment effort by sweeping its advocates out of office. In fact, history points in a different direction -- suggesting that voters frequently reward parties for taking the Constitution and the rule of law seriously.

Wouldn't impeachment split the Democrats?

It is splitting them now, but wouldn't if they united behind it. At least 80 percent of Democrats want impeachment. If 80 percent of Democratic elected representatives were pushing for impeachment, the Bush presidency would be over quite quickly. The Democrats in Congress tried to avoid the topic of the war, for fear it would split them. Iraq went unmentioned in Pelosi's plan for her first 100 hours. But the majority of the country wants to see the issues it cares about dealt with, and there are some Democrats who will stand with the people. The Democratic Party could unite by supporting peace and impeachment.

Why not do investigations and see where they lead?

They have led to the Bush administration refusing to comply with a growing list of subpoenas. The House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon. Article 3 was for refusal to comply with subpoenas.

Impeachment is an investigation, leading to an indictment. A preliminary investigation is not possible when subpoenas are ignored, and is not needed when indisputable evidence is already public knowledge.

Has Bush announced his intention to violate numerous laws? The signing statements are on the White House website. The Supreme Court has begun citing them in rulings, as if they have the force of law.

Has Bush authorized spying programs knowing they violated the law and the Bill of Rights? He's on videotape lying about it for years. He's on videotape confessing to it. A federal court has already ruled what he's done a felony, finding in NSA vs. ACLU that the NSA program of broad data-mining and warrantless wire-tapping of U.S. citizens is illegal and unconstitutional, violating the Fourth Amendment.

Have Bush and Cheney threatened an aggressive war on Iran? They're both on videotape doing so.

Was Bush criminally negligent during Hurricane Katrina? He's on videotape being warned of the danger. He's on videotape claiming he was never warned.

Have Bush and Cheney used unlawful detentions and torture? The Supreme Court in Rosul v. George W. Bush ruled detainees were being wrongfully imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba. The Bush Administration’s detainment policies and actions were ruled unconstitutional and illegal - in violation of Amendments V, VI &VII. The use of torture, legally justified by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and thus condoned by President Bush and Vice President Cheney is an additional violation to the 8th Amendment. The Supreme Court again in Hamdan v. Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, et al. ruled that the Military Commissions instituted by the Bush Administration violate the Universal Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions to which we are bound by American law. Again, the Bush Administration’s actions were found by the highest court of the land to be illegal and unconstitutional - violating Amendments V, VI, VII . Bush and Cheney and their staffs have defended these policies on video and in writing. The practice of detaining without charge and the numerous victims of it are undisputed public knowledge. Evidence of torture is voluminous and indisputable and includes public photographs.

Did Bush and Cheney intentionally mislead the Congress and the public into the invasion and occupation of Iraq? They are on videotape doing so, and the evidence that they knew exactly what they were doing is overwhelming and has been collected here

Artist Art Hazelwood is offering the below print in several formats for free distribution around the country. Please visit his website to download it, then circulate it in your area:

Impeach the Beast © 2007 Art Hazelwood

Isn't impeachment an extreme remedy? Doesn't there have to be an actual crime committed? Doesn't there have to be perjury?

There's nothing extreme about it. The authors of the Constitution expected it to be used frequently. The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached 16 people, two of them presidents.

One of the better lists of the specific criminal violations is found in Congressman John Conyers' report

Impeachment is the penalty for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution says nothing about perjury as a ground for impeachment. And it is a crime to mislead or to defraud Congress, whether or not you do so under oath.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied:
"What's the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."

What's the difference? The difference is that had the President merely said that Saddam Hussein could conceivably acquire weapons someday, many people would have opposed his war who supported it. They supported it because Bush said that Saddam had nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and was behind the attacks of 9-11. He and his subordinates (for whom he is legally responsible) made these claims in the clearest language. In every such case, fraud was committed. And instances of implying and omitting are legally fraud as much as lying is.

When Bush lies, he is well aware of what he is doing. The day after the 2004 elections, he told reporters that he had lied to them about keeping Rumsfeld on as Secretary of Defense so that they wouldn't write anything about it.

It is illegal to spy in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is illegal to detain without charge and to torture. It is illegal to take funds from other projects to begin a war before it has been authorized. It is illegal to target civilians and hospitals and journalists, and to use white phosphorous and napalm as weapons. It is a fundamental violation of the U.S. Constitution to alter laws with signing statements. Congressman John Conyers' report lists numerous other laws violated by Bush.

So what purpose does impeachment serve?

It denies future presidents and vice presidents the power to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements. Again, those powers in the wrong hands could do far more serious damage than Bush and Cheney have done.

If we do not impeach when the case is as compelling as it is now, we are effectively removing impeachment from the Constitution. Secretly, almost everyone agrees that the Bush/Cheney Administration has committed impeachable offenses. That’s why even the pundits and Republicans are not arguing the case on its merits, but trying to scare the Democrats off based on politics. Given that, how can we not pursue accountability?

Brave New Films presents evidence to impeach Dick Cheney

Isn't impeachment divisive and unpleasant and traumatic and catastrophic and unsettling and partisan?

No. Impeachment is a remedy for trauma, and one that the majority of Americans long for. Here are the polls:

Our President belongs to a political party, it's true. But that does not make him any less of a threat to our system of government. Voters in 2006 rejected his party overwhelmingly. Not a single new Republican was elected, and enough new Democrats won to achieve a substantial majority in the House and a slim one in the Senate. Voters opposed the party of Bush and Cheney, who are incredibly unpopular. Even some Republicans who spoke against the war lost, primarily because they were Republicans. But Republican Ron Paul of Texas, who had spoken in support of impeaching Bush, won.

If Paul and other Republicans manage to put their country ahead of their party's president, as Republicans did during Nixon's presidency, impeachment will not look so partisan. But if Republicans fail to stand for impeachment, then Democrats must do it alone, and doing so will be partisan in the best sense. It will build the Democratic Party into a powerful force for years to come, and it will be divisive primarily on Capitol Hill and in the world of media pundits.

Around the country it will bring us together. Hearings that expose Bush and Cheney's abuses of power will serve to educate many of those who still support them, including those who believe there really were WMDs, there really was a tie to 9-11, Bush was honestly mistaken but meant well, illegal spying is saving us from terrorists, nobody has been tortured, and a signing statement is just something a deaf person tells you with his hands.

Wouldn't impeachment be depicted as revenge?

Probably. But would you believe that depiction? Do you think everyone else is dumber than you are and would fall for it? The coverage thus far of the initial push for impeachment in Congress does not depict it as revenge.

What Articles of Impeachment have been introduced thus far?

Only three against Cheney, contained in H. 333.

How many towns, cities, states, state political parties, labor unions, and other groups have passed resolutions calling for impeachment?

The list grows every day.

Why should a small town or large city or county or state pass a resolution for impeachment?

Impeachment was placed in the House of Representatives as the part of our government closest to the people. Closer still are states and cities and towns and counties. The people can speak through their local governments. This is how impeachment is supposed to happen. There are precedents: state legislatures have petitioned Congress successfully to impeach. This tradition is laid out in the Jefferson Manual, a rule book for the House of Representatives originally written by Thomas Jefferson. The actions of local governments and state governments are heard by Congress Members.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale
But isn't impeachment a national issue?

As pointed out at www.impeachbush.tv, most city council members take an oath of office promising to "protect and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic." They don't take an oath to fix potholes. If the Constitution is in danger, then their primary duty is to defend it. If it is safe, and they have time on their hands, then they can fix potholes.

Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America.

If a federal action has a significant negative impact on a city, then it is appropriate for the city to defend itself. Citizens from this city may be sent, or have been sent, to Iraq to fight in an illegal and unjustified war. Tax funds from this city that could have been spent locally have been spent in Iraq for war. Tax money from this city has been wasted in no-bid contracts with companies like Halliburton with deep ties to the Bush administration. Yet this city can barely afford the emergency services, libraries, and schools that we need. For the specific cost, see The Cost of War.
The state National Guard should be available to protect this city from floods, hurricanes, earthquakes or other disasters. But instead they have been sent to Iraq by President Bush.


After Downing Street

Impeach Cheney

Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush

Citizen's Guide

NY Times on the Founders

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

India Elects First Woman President

Photo by Agence France-Presse
India got its first female president on Saturday as lawmakers elected Pratibha Patil in what was billed as a historic step forward for women.

The 72-year-old lawyer cruised to a landslide win over incumbent 84-year-old Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for the largely ceremonial post of head of state of the world's largest democracy.

"I am grateful to the voters... I am grateful to the people of India, the men and women of India," Patil said outside her New Delhi residence, as supporters danced in the streets and burst firecrackers in celebration.

"This is the victory of the principles which our Indian people uphold," she told reporters.

Sonia Gandhi, president of the ruling Congress party, smiled warmly on hearing that the candidate she plucked from relative political obscurity had been elected by an electoral college of federal and state lawmakers.

"In the 60th year of our independence, for the first time, we have a woman president and I want to thank our alliance partners and all those who voted for her," said Gandhi.

She had said Patil's election would be a historic moment and boost the cause of women in a country where many face sexual discrimination. Source

Friday, July 20, 2007

Message to Congress from U.S. Soldiers in Iraq


Get the REAL news from outside America's repressed media bubble.

From MoveOn.org's recent Counter Filibuster:

Peter G., New York:

Well I would have felt much better if I was deployed to Afghanistan. Realistically it was an Al Qaeda group in Afghanistan that attacked my home town and killed a lot of American citizens. They try to make people believe that Iraq was in some way connected to Afghanistan and a lot of us troops when we were first deployed there honestly believed it.

I wasn’t opposed to it at the time. I didn’t really know very much about the Middle East. I was a little bit naïve in that sense. When you got there you started to realize that the theologies of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were totally incompatible with each other, so there was really no link per see between the situation over there in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda and I started to see that and a lot of people who worked directly inside of Iraq with the people of Iraq started to realize that the two didn’t mix and they were not the same situation.

The American people, the Iraqi people, the troops – I mean we’ve all given so much and we’ve given this administration a number of opportunities to come up with a viable plan. They’ve pushed everything aside; they have their own short-sided ideology and that’s how they’re going to do it. And frankly they can no longer be trusted with the lives of our service members.

We have to do what we can to pressure our law makers to oppose their surge plan. While there are no great options to end this thing – we have to find a way to bring it to a responsible redeployment and if that includes diplomacy and other options then we have to do that. I mean this is the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. If there was ever a manual written on how not to fight a war, it would be this administration’s playbook.

Photo Source

Andrea J., North Carolina

On 19 March 2003, the day Operation Iraqi Freedom began, I was stationed on a destroyer in the Persian Gulf. My deployment should have ended 6 weeks before, but because of the war the entire battle group's deployment was extended.
I was part of the Tomahawk launch team, and over the first four weeks of the war we emptied our launchers. The hours were brutal. We could and did launch missiles at all hours of the day and night. It became so commonplace to see them fly that CNN even stopped covering it.

I finally came home on from the war on March 19th, the same day President Bush stood on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared major combat operations over in Iraq, in front of a banner that read "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." Since then, my personal year has revolved towards and away from the 19th of March. It is my own Ash Wednesday, a Yom Kippur that I mark with no one but myself.

In military circles, you don’t speak of regretting your part in a war, and it feels disloyal besides. I know, I'm brainwashed. It happens. I am not overwhelmingly depressed this year, thanks be to God for small mercies that I probably don't deserve. I am mournful, I am contemplative. I wish for forgiveness from myself, I wish I could feel right with God again, but these things may take a while and for the most part, I am at peace.

Less than a year from now I will finally take off my uniform for the last time, and be out of it all for good. Next year on the 19th of March, I can go to one of the protests marking the anniversary of the start of the war, and not feel like a damned hypocrite or a spy. Next year when I renew my membership in Iraq Veterans Against the War, I will check the box that says "I am willing to speak publicly" and if they ask me to speak, I will go, and I will tell the audience about how all members of the military carry wounds and scars and scabs on the soul, not just the ground forces. I will speak of the choices you make, the things you do to stay out of prison and earn that honorable discharge and the benefits that come with it. I will speak of the nights I have woken up in a cold sweat, clutching a worried dog like a lifeline, with nightmares of the people I have killed arriving, one by one, at my front door in a line that stretches longer than I like to admit.

Photo Source

I wonder, sometimes, why I ended up like this and other people on my Tomahawk team did not. Firing Tomahawks is a triumph of military engineering, designed to kill a maximum number of the enemy while causing the least amount of potential trauma to the firing team. It includes any number of factors that will make it easier for a person to kill, including the extremely long range of the weapon, the shared responsibility (an average Tomahawk team includes at least seven people), and lack of decision-making (targets are selected for you). All of these factors should have buffered all of us, kept us safe from accepting personal responsibility for our choices.

Why did my brainwashing, so firm in other matters, fail me when I most needed it? I mean, I compulsively check to make sure the buttons on my shirt, the buckle of my belt, and the overlap of the zipper on my pants are neatly lined up throughout the day. My military bearing is rather impeccable when I'm in uniform, if I do say so myself. Bark at me in an authoritative voice and I am liable to follow the order first and think about it later. All the basics are there, but somehow the higher functions didn't install. DOS works, but the Windows-level brainwashing just failed to take, and while on the one hand I'm proud of my ability to retain some level of independent thought, on the other hand entirely I wish like hell I could just buy into the party line and not ... not think, not wonder, not accept that I made the choice to kill rather than to go to prison, even though I thought in 2003 that our reasons for going to war were complete rampaging bullshit dressed up like truth and sent out to walk the halls of the UN.

It's different this year, at least, and for that I am grateful. This afternoon I played in the sunshine with my dogs, and came in and snuggled the kitties in a sunbeam in the library. I must pause, periodically, in my typing to massage the ears of a grey dog who keeps shoving her head in my lap. I have explained to her that I am a mass murderer in the service of the government. She doesn't much care and wants to know if more ear rubbing will be forthcoming. She doesn't understand why her doomed attempt to be a lap dog made me cry a little today. But maybe this is where being ok starts: with the one creature in this world who will forgive me any human failing at all. I'm not right with myself and I'm not right with God, yet, but I am right with Dog and that's a start, isn't it?

Please respect the work of the artists you see here and be sure to credit them when you share their artwork with others.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rodent Dictators by Kelly Lyles

Rodent Dictators © 2007 Kelly Lyles (details of each panel below)

Mouseollini © 2007 Kelly Lyles
In the troubled postwar [world war I]period Mussolini organized his followers, mostly war veterans, in the Fasci di combattimento, which advocated aggressive nationalism, violently opposed the Communists and Socialists, and dressed in black shirts.... Amid strikes, social unrest, and parliamentary breakdown, Mussolini preached forcible restoration of order and practiced terrorism with armed groups. Source

Mouse Tse Tung © 2007 Kelly Lyles
Mao's record is dominated by two disastrous initiatives: the "Great Leap Forward," a broad campaign to organize peasants into communes during the late 1950s that resulted in mass starvation and repression; and the "Cultural Revolution," a youth- and army-driven nationwide campaign for ideological purity, again resulting in widespread repression and death. Source

Bush Rat © 2007 Kelly Lyles

No doubt you know plenty about the George W. Bush's anti-democracy presidency but here is a bit of biographical information about him. In Kelly's triptych Mr. Bush is in very compatible company.

Each piece of Kelly's triptych is approximately 12" x 10".
They're acrylic on Illustration board (paper). $900 for entire piece.

See it live until July 23, 2007 in the current exhibit: CITIZENS IN HELL, ArtCore studios, 5501 Airport Way South (Georgetown) Seattle, WA.

I've known Kelly Lyles for over a decade and we liked each other immediately upon meeting at the first San Francisco ArtCar Fest. We're both ArtCar artists as well as trained fine artists. We also both love to dress up in outrageous costumes whenever possible.

ArtCar Artists (left to right) Emily Duffy, Kelly Lyles, and Jan Elftmann at Houston's Orange Show Photo: Ken Duffy © 2005.

Kelly has somehow been able to do what so many artists haven't been, carve out a living as a full-time artist and avoid "working for the man". That freedom, coupled with economic necessity, has allowed Kelly to branch out into many media and take risks other artists fear. She'll try most anything and she works intensely on her multitude of projects. The few times I've stayed with Kelly she ran me ragged with her schedule. Kelly is one of Seattle's favorite Art Mavens. She's at all the splashy parties, she knows who's who, she's done many commissions and she is either making art, thinking about it, or trying to sell it. It's a full time, non-stop vocation for her and the world is definitely better for it.

Hooray for the Market © 2007 Kelly Lyles This is one of five pigs Kelly decorated for the city of Seattle. Go see the pigs!

While Kelly can definitely hold her own with classically trained figure painters I think her rodent paintings are probably my favorite of her works. These cute, pun-traits of squirrels, rabbits, and hedgehogs poke fun at modern human life, religion, sexuality, and food. She draws out chuckles while forcing us to face our sinful habits.

Benson & Hedgehogs © 2007 Kelly Lyles

Fridas © 2007 Kelly Lyles

Panty Doors (Commission) © 2007 Kelly Lyles
(Click on image for a larger view).

Kelly also does pet portraits. Commission her to immortalize your furry or feathered companion.

Shatzie © 2007 Kelly Lyles

Kelly's house and art studio were recently featured on HGTV's "What's With That House". Watch the video!

I hope Kelly will do more overtly political art. Her wit, and facility with paint, makes for a perfect satirical combination. I featured one of her earlier pieces, here on the blog, President's Cabinet last year.

Isn't she a hoot? I hope you've enjoyed this tiny peek at one of America's hard-working professional artists. If you like her work please consider purchasing something from her website, or at least drop her an email with your compliments. We artists spend so much time in isolation (creating our work) that we never get enough feedback from the public. That is one reason Kelly and I have created artcars. More than any art form, the kinetic display of one's art on a vehicle brings creativity into daily living. If ArtCars intrigue you, check out ArtCar artist Tim Klein's National Festival Schedule. (Make sure to check out his amazing Yarn Car too.

AND.... Several of us are featured with our ArtCars on Yahoo News Video!

Please respect the work of the artists you see here and be sure to credit them when you share their artwork with others.

To share your opinion on this or any other post, please click the word "COMMENTS" below.

Republican Chickenhawks A Short Film by Max Blumenthal

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


American Citizens Petition to Congress 2007
photo by David Fox

Today is a crucial one in the efforts to end the Iraq war and to wrestle power from the Bush Administration. Here are three things you can easily do to help change the course:

1) RIGHT NOW: Sign Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's PETITION demanding that Republicans stop blocking bills to end the war. Reid has promised to keep the Senate in session all night to force the Republicans into filibuster (public exposure) on this bill. Let him know you support his new-found spine!

2) TONIGHT: MoveOn is organizing "Counter Filibusters" all over the country. All you have to do is show up and hold a sign for 30-60 minutes. I'm going to one in my town, you can too. Find it HERE!

3) TODAY: Call you senators! If they're Republicans (threatening filibuster), demand that they stop blocking the end to this horrible war. If they're Democrats or Independents (working to end the war) thank them for their work and tell them to keep the pressure on. Phone calls are best (time is short). Here's how to REACH them.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mission AConJob!

Photo Source

The following quoted text is from the excellent progressive think tank, Think Progress: I've added the images and links of rebuttal to Mr. Bush's lies. Though this is not an exhaustive exposure of his many proudly, publicly proclaimed lies, it's still shocking how many we've had heaped on us in the past 6 years.

"The Ever Changing Definition of ‘Mission’ In Iraq

In June 2005, ThinkProgress noted the Bush was constantly revising the definition of our “mission” in Iraq.

Reporting on his escalation strategy this week, President Bush claimed “satisfactory” progress in many areas of the “new mission” in Iraq. Bush has changed the definition of our “mission” in Iraq so many times, he has made it impossible for the American public, U.S. forces, and the Iraqi population to have any confidence that the mission will be ever completed.


Bush: “Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.” [3/6/03]

Photo Source

Iraq Study Group, "As of July 2004...No WMDs Found".


Bush: “Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” [3/22/03]

Bush: “Our forces have been given a clear mission: to end a regime that threatened its neighbors and the world with weapons of mass destruction and to free a people that had suffered far too long.” [4/14/03]


Bush: “On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: Their mission is complete, and major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” [5/3/03]

Photo Source

96.6% of U.S. Troop casualties have occurred AFTER Bush declared "major operations over"


Bush: “The United States and our allies will complete our mission in Iraq.” [7/30/03]


Bush: “That has been our mission all along, to develop the conditions such that a free Iraq will emerge, run by the Iraqi citizens.” [11/4/03]

Bush: “We will see that Iraq is free and self-governing and democratic. We will accomplish our mission.” [5/4/04]


Bush: “And our mission is clear there, as well, and that is to train the Iraqis so they can do the fighting; make sure they can stand up to defend their freedoms, which they want to do.” [6/2/05]

Bush: “We’re making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq, and on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves. And we will — we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace.” [6/20/05]


Bush: “We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. … Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation — and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans.” [11/30/05]


Photo Source

The 9/11 Commission found no "credible connections" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda

"Bush: “In the coming days, there will be considerable reflection on the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and our remaining mission in Iraq…By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America.” [3/11/06]

Bush: “We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.” [3/18/06]


Bush: “In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.” [1/13/07]

Bush: “[I]t’s the combination of providing security in neighborhoods through these joint security stations, and training that is the current mission we’re going through, with a heavy emphasis on security in Baghdad.” [4/10/07]


Bush: “It’s a new mission. And David Petraeus is in Iraq carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Iraqis make progress toward reconciliation — to build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the extremists in this war.” [6/28/07] - Jordan Grossman

And the latest on this frightening new plot by our insane puppet-master Vice President:
Cheney pushing Bush to attack Iran!

DirectorRobert Greenwald explains how in his latest short film, please circulate far and wide:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Neil Young - "Let's Impeach the President"

(Note: The above video is a bit slow to load but well worth the wait.)
Neil Young

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Barbara Boxer A Senator Working for Us!

Photo Source Unknown

The House of Representatives today passed a bill (223 to 201) to start redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days. Here's a message from Senator Barbara Boxer regarding the Senate version of this urgent bill:
The Senate has just begun consideration of the Defense Authorization bill and what will be an unprecedented, two-week debate on the Iraq war. To open this debate, I spoke out on the Senate floor and challenged those who have made statements against the war to follow it up by voting for real, binding measures to bring our troops home.

I am happy to share with you excerpts from my comments, which you will find below. You can also find a video of my full speech at http://boxer.senate.gov


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

“We are in a debate in this United States Senate between talk and action. It’s very easy to talk… and call press conferences and say ‘we need a change. It’s time for a change.’ But let’s see how people vote. Will they vote for a Sense of the Senate that has absolutely no force of law—that says it is the Sense of the Senate that we should change course? Or will they vote to start redeploying our troops out of the middle of a civil war, out of chaos?

“It’s one thing to have an argument with someone and have pride and say you know, I’m not going to admit I made a mistake. It’s another thing when people are dying because of your mistake every day.

“Now in November 2006, the American people voted against the Iraq war. They elected Democrats. They want this war to end… they don’t want our troops in the middle of a civil war.

“How many more explosive devices are going to blow up in the faces of our troops before we start bringing them home? How many more Iraqis are going to die, women and children? How many more faces are we going to look at on the front page before we get the guts to do the right thing?

“The President doesn’t listen. He didn’t listen after the election…he said he had a new strategy. What was it? The surge. The surge is not a new strategy; it’s a military tactic, and it isn’t working.

Photo Source Unknown
“Today the Associated Press reports ‘Iraq fails to meet all reform goals.’ Not even one goal was met. Our people are dying, and they can’t meet one goal. The violence continues unabated. Since the President made his speech on January 10, after the election, when he said there was going to be a new strategy, 590 U.S. servicemen and women have been killed, 107 of whom did not live to see their 21st birthday. What kind of change is it that this President brought?

“The Administration is failing on the security front, they’re failing on the political front. They don’t listen to Senator Biden, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; they don’t listen to Senator Lugar, the Ranking Member, who are all saying you have to have a political solution. And the Administration is failing on the reconstruction front. Iraqis living in Baghdad still receive an average of 5.6 hours of electricity a day. The President can’t even keep the lights on, let alone succeed in this surge.

“I would say to the President: tell the truth to the American people. Lay out what you expected and then lay out the reality and start getting the troops home. We have not seen these improvements, and now our military’s at the breaking point.”

Please contact both of your Senators immediately and tell them to support the Senate's version of this bill. Tell them you want our troops OUT OF IRAQ! This is a crucial moment so please do call your two Senators' offices. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Iraqi-Born Artist Wafaa Bilal Let People Shoot At Him on Purpose

Still from Domestic Tension © 2007 Wafaa Bilal
Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal sits in his bedroom/office in Chicago' FlatFile Galleries, waiting to be shot. Photo and article by Kari Lydersen (In These Times)

Iraqi Artist Wafaa Bilal was asking for it, literally. Some may call it a publicity stunt rather than artwork but if you allow your definition of art to expand beyond Rembrandt and Picasso to include anything creative that causes viewers to question societal rules, conventions and traditions, and what it means to be human, then Bilal is indeed an artist of his time and place. Bilal says,
“Art doesn’t have to change life, it just has to start something,” Bilal says. “It’s a success if that simple encounter gives birth to conversation. No matter what people think, they will come out of this encounter changed.” Source

From Bilal's Blog (posted just after he started the "Domestic Tension" project. The comments on the blog are fascinating:
Iraqi born Wafaa Bilal has become known for provocative interactive video installations. Many of Bilal’s projects over the past few years have addressed the dichotomy of the virtual vs. the real. He attempts to keep in mind the relationship of the viewer to the artwork, with one of his main objectives transforming the normally passive experience of viewing art into an active participation. In Domestic Tension, viewers can log onto the internet to contact, or shoot, Bilal with paintball guns.

Bilal’s objective is to raise awareness of virtual war and privacy, or lack thereof, in the digital age. During the course of the exhibition, Bilal will confine himself to the gallery space. During the installation, people will have 24-hour virtual access to the space via the Internet. They will have the ability to watch Bilal and interact with him through a live web-cam and chat room. Should they choose to do so, viewers will also have the option to shoot Bilal with a paintball gun, transforming the virtual experience into a very physical one. Bilal’s self imposed confinement is designed to raise awareness about the life of the Iraqi people and the home confinement they face due to the both the violent and the virtual war they face on a daily basis. This sensational approach to the war is meant to engage people who may not be willing to engage in political dialogue through conventional means. Domestic Tension will depict the suffering of war not through human displays of dramatic emotion, but through engaging people in the sort of playful interactive-video game with which they are familiar.

From FLATFILE Gallery
Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal, who has been living in self-imposed exile within the confines of FLATFILE galleries, Chicago, will leave the gallery for the first time in 30 days on Monday, June 4, at 5pm.

Bilal, who created the virtual paintball piece to illustrate the continual danger facing citizens in Iraq, has not left the gallery since May 4th. The installation, titled DOMESTIC TENSION, is being hailed as one of the strongest anti-Iraq-war statements to date, and is being followed in over 130 countries around the globe. Its site has received 80,000,000 hits, and 60,000 paintballs have been shot. It has polarized the community, bringing together protective groups like the VIRTUAL human shield, who take turns aiming the gun away from Bilal around the clock.

After Bilal leaves the space, the web-cam will remain on the tattered remnants of the empty room until the 16th of June. Although the installation will remain after Bilal.' departure, the gun will be silent as a memorial to all those who have lost their lives in the War in Iraq.

View Images of Domestic Tension

More Images of Domestic Tension

Video of Each Day of Domestic Tension

Chicago Tribune slide show of Bilal under seige.

Some of Bilal's other art

Photo of Wafaa Bilal by C. Taylor © 2007 Source
When Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal decided to sequester himself in a Chicago art gallery for 42 days with a paintball gun that people could aim and fire at him over the Internet, he thought he might get a few shots per day. He never guessed that by day 20, more than 40,000 shots would be fired and that hackers would program the gun to fire automatically.

His exhibit, “Domestic Tension,” shows the constant stress and fear under which his family and others in Iraq live. And it highlights the detached, remote way both the American public and soldiers experience modern warfare.
“To the Western media it’s a virtual war going on in Iraq—we’re far removed in the comfort zone,” he says. “We’re allowed to disengage from the consequences of war. We don’t see mutilated bodies, we don’t see the toll on human beings.”

It is unclear how well he has conveyed his first point.

It is chilling how well he has conveyed the second.

To judge from the blog and chatroom posts on various websites that have linked to his website (http://www.wafaabilal.com), the majority of people who took shots at Bilal as they watched him over a live Webcam seemed either oblivious or hostile to his antiwar message. The bulk of the more than 62,000 people from at least 128 countries who took aim were apparently video-game and paintball junkies, intrigued by the possibility of shooting someone hundreds of miles away with a click of their mouse. Source

Ajrass © 2000 Wafaa Bilal "The Human Condition)

Bilal fled Iraq in 1991 and spent two years in a Saudi refugee camp. There, he scrapped together supplies to paint and teach children art in a studio he built out of adobe with a plastic-sheeting window.


In late 1992, Bilal came to the United States and studied art at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he lived until moving to Chicago. In 2005, his 21-year-old brother, whom Bilal describes as “apolitical,” was killed by shrapnel as he stepped outside the family’s home in Najaf. Soon after, Bilal’s father died. It was then the idea for “Domestic Tension,” which he originally considered calling “Shoot an Iraqi,” began to brew. (He later decided that name would be too incendiary.) A news story about a U.S. soldier sitting in Colorado firing missiles in Iraq cemented his desire to showcase the technological, remote aspect of modern war. He said his family thinks he’s “crazy.”

“I tell them, ‘Desperate times require desperate measures,’ and this is a desperate time for Iraqis, and Americans too.”

The number of shots skyrocketed after his story was reported on the sarcastic, vaguely political website Digg.com. The majority of comments posted were hostile and aggressive. Some complained bitterly when Bilal left the space for a few minutes or when the server went down. “Dude get a decent server so we can play some Waffa [sic] Ball!” wrote one. And another, “Too bad we can’t waterboard him.”

People who posted comments with a political message or just pleading for more sympathy for Bilal were attacked and called “jihadist sympathizers.”

“I learned all these new things about myself. I learned I was a nigger, and a sand nigger. That I was gay. Part of it is demonization, then you can justify trying to shoot me.”


Many participants were obsessed with trying to shoot out his one light—”this symbol of hope,” Bilal calls it. When he brought a small potted tree into the room, it became an immediate target.

“People do go after the tree, so I stand in front of it and let them hit me.” Source

Midwest Olympia © 2007 Wafaa Bilal

Bilal’s previous work has taken a similarly unconventional, dynamic and interactive approach to challenging viewers to think about war and repression. His installation “Sorrow of Baghdad” includes footage of a well-dressed boar sitting in an easy chair with desert sand and oil wells at his feet, laughing at videos of destruction in Iraq. Bilal’s website explains: “The boar represents big business literally running wild for ever-larger profits, while these corporate leaders do not care who is hurt.”


His coming works will highlight the human effects of the Iraq war. In August in San Francisco, he will recreate rooms from real destroyed Iraqi houses, covered in a layer of ash, including that from human remains. He also hopes to hold an exhibit wherein a Middle Eastern family stands in a room for the viewing public to scrutinize like animals in a zoo.

While Bilal considers himself a political artist, he abhors the dogmatic approach. “Someone once said art was a hammer, but we get so alienated when it’s used like a hammer that it’s not effective,” he says. “You have to understand the culture and use it to reach them. People use the Internet and people are looking for something to bring them together and occupy their time, so this [installation] pulls them in and later you engage them.”

Matt Schmid, a former Marine, dropped by the gallery to bring Bilal a new lamp after his was shot to shards. “I know a lot of service members who aren’t interested in art galleries, but if I tell them to go online and shoot this paintball gun, they’ll look it up,” he says. “When you’re in the Marines you’re supposed to support the cause. If you’re fighting in combat, you can’t think about who that person is or if they have a family. This gives you a different view of the war.” Source

Chicago Art Institute interview of Bilal

Please respect the work of the artists you see here and be sure to credit them when you share their artwork with others.

To share your opinion on this or any other post, please click the word "COMMENTS" below.

On This July 4th Remember Our Democracy

Monday, July 02, 2007

Attend A Planet Party 7/7/07

Photo taken by the Galileo spacecraft on its way to Jupiter. Source

From MoveOn:


Saturday, July 7 may be the most significant moment for the climate since the discovery of oil. On seven continents, millions of people are gathering for Live Earth, a historic music-filled event to raise awareness and demand real solutions to the climate crisis.

MoveOn members are joining the party. In thousands of living rooms, coffee houses, bars and back yards, we'll tune into the global broadcast. We'll watch a special preview of presidential candidates answering MoveOn members' questions on the climate. And we'll share a barbecue or potluck meal together. It's the biggest party the planet has ever needed.

Sign up to attend one of these special parties in your AREA