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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Elizabeth de la Vega: The Case Against Bush

Category: US Politics
Posted: 02/01/07 15:53, Edited: 02/01/07 15:58

The following is an excerpt from a BuzzFlash interview with Elizabeth de la Vega, the author of United States v George W. Bush, et al.

In United States v. Bush et al., de la Vega lays out an actual indictment of the Bush Administration for crimes committed based on violation of U.S. law. She then proceeds to take the reader through a simulated presentation of the indictment to a grand jury.

In short, she brings Bush and his cohorts to the court of justice and makes them subject to the rule of law.

United States v. Bush et al. is not about impeachment, per se, because it is about a criminal indictment presented in a grand jury. The actual grand jury proceedings in the book are simulated, of course, but the facts that the indictment is based on are real.

Compelling reading for those who want to hold the Bush Administration accountable in a court of law.

* * *

BuzzFlash: As an analogy for our readers, looking back at the O.J. Simpson case, he was acquitted in a criminal court of law but found guilty in the civil case. A lot of people found this confusing. In our justice system, we really have quite a varied field in terms of seeking accountability. Given that context, what area of the law are you talking about in your book United States v. Bush et al. and in the excerpts that have been posted at TomDispatch.com?

Elizabeth de la Vega: I?m talking about criminal law, and a specific federal criminal law.

BuzzFlash: Many people do believe that Bush and others in this Administration have violated laws. Many people are advocating impeachment. Let?s clarify that this is not a book about impeachment.

Elizabeth de la Vega: That?s correct.

BuzzFlash: If it?s not about impeachment, what is it? As a former U.S. prosecutor, what perpective do you take?

Elizabeth de la Vega: Let me just step back a little bit about what I did here. It?s a hypothetical grand jury presentation that sets forth the evidence that relates to one crime -- one specific crime -- which is conspiracy to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C., section 371. I drafted a hypothetical indictment. It?s not a real document.

I gathered all the evidence that I could find in the public record, which is considerable, about statements that these individuals made publicly, versus the information they had there behind the scenes. Then I set all that out. All of the facts that are alleged in this testimony are absolutely true. The reader is left to decide whatever decision the reader wants to make.

BuzzFlash: I have a few questions about that statement.

Elizabeth de la Vega: Okay.

BuzzFlash: We?ll start with this. There are many different crimes that people have alleged the Bush Administration is responsible for. Of course, the Bush Administration and their supporters say that?s poppycock. There are no crimes. Nonetheless, they?ve been alleged.
You?re really just talking about one specific statute -- the United States Code, Title 18, section 371. There could be other crimes they?re responsible for.

Elizabeth de la Vega: Right. I am not talking about the signing statements, or torture, or the wire tapping, all of which are important, but that?s not what I?m talking about.

BuzzFlash: What is it that your indictment accuses Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. of violating?

Elizabeth de la Vega: There?s a provision which says that it?s against the law to conspire to defraud the United States. The statute itself doesn?t define what that means, but over the years -- actually more than a hundred years now -- we have what?s called case law that does elaborate on what that means, and does set forth the legal standard that would be given to the jury if they were trying to consider the case. What it means is using deceit of any kind to interfere with or obstruct a branch or agency of government. That?s what the subject is.

BuzzFlash: Is it fair to say that much of what you include in the indictment has to do with the deceptions that are on the record that the Bush Administration employed to lead America into the war with Iraq?

Elizabeth de la Vega: Precisely

See her in person at the February 3rd mnpACT! meeting at Open Circle Church in Burnsville.... details are on the right side of our home page. Get the facts on this criminal administration; from the investigation of a former federal prosecutor.
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Just More Legislative CO2 Emissions?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/31/07 13:37, Edited: 02/03/07 18:50

by Dave Mindeman

Global warming got a lot of hearings yesterday. The Minnesota legislature had a joint committee "informational" session on the issue. The US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Barbara Boxer, also had a broad discussion on the topic.

Lots going on, but in the end, isn't it just a lot of extra hot CO2 emmissions?

The World War II generation has been dubbed the "Greatest Generation" by a Tom Brokaw book. Unfortunately, the baby boom generation may go down as the "Worst Generation" and their great-grandkids may be classified as the "Last Generation"..... unless we have less talk and more action on Global Warming.

Not only have the Baby Boomers spent their kids inheritance but it looks like they may very well carbon footprint them out of existence. This situation requires some real leadership. But that is another commodity upon which we are sorely lacking.

The debates on Global Warming will go on as surely as the temperatures will rise. During yesterday's legislative joint session, Sen. Mike Jungbauer-R, East Bethel issued a press release criticizing the exercise because it did not include speakers who would question the growing consensus about global warming. There are certainly some desperate doubters -- two new books have been released recently that "theorize" global warming as a natural solar phenomenon. One of these books, "Unstoppable Global Warming", tries to convince us that we are in the midst of a natural cycle that occurs about every 1500 years.... the book was written by a physicist and an economist. Another book is called "The Chilling Stars" which relates the earth's temperature to the creation of,( more or fewer), low, wet clouds that cool the earth. They say that global climate models can't accurately register cloud effects.

So, you will probably see these books quoted as an answer to the "hysterical" calls for action on Global Warming......even though they don't account for the recent unprecedented spike in temperatures that corresponds to human industrial activity. I don't know all the details of these books, but I am sure the proponents of the status quo will be filling us in.

Still, the time for discussions should be over. We have to do something to reduce the carbon emissions.... if for no other reason then a purely selfish one.... to rid ourselves of dependence on foreign oil. And even more selfishly, Minnesota can be a leader in alternative fuels and energy and that can generate a new economic cycle that can create jobs and a healthier life for all our residents. Action is needed...bold, decisive action that takes some risks and invests in the future.

Speaker Kelliher described the joint legislative information session as "potentially historic". Well, I don't think a lot of lawmakers jawboning about potential actions in the future as much more than an historic footnote..... unless, incredibly, actions do follow the words.
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Senate DFLers: Boldly Pursue 'Lofty Ideal'

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/30/07 15:14

By Christopher Truscott

In his inaugural address nearly 102 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt paraphrased an adage handed down through the ages in the Book of Luke when he told his audience: "Much has been given to us and much will rightfully be expected of us."

More than a century later, Minnesotans gave the DFL Party a strong mandate by handing it overwhelming majorities in both houses of the Legislature. After four years of gridlock, the November election results were a call to bold action, not a nudge toward another session of weak-kneed incrementalism.

Voters responded to DFL promises to lower property taxes, properly fund education, improve the transportation system and, yes, provide health care coverage for the 70,000 uninsured children in this state.

Barely a month after the Legislature started work, however, it's the kids living in poverty getting tossed out with the dirty bathwater of past legislative sessions.

That Tim Pawlenty abandoned his interest in insuring all children is no surprise. The governor has proven time and again he's given to big promises and little action. But the Senate DFL's leading plan is both stunning and shameful.

Under the plan the governor unveiled earlier this month, just 13,000 uninsured children would get coverage. The Senate DFL's top proposal, which would grant coverage to another 20,000 children, is better than Pawlenty's, but being the best amongst the terribly mediocre is hardly a badge of honor.

The House DFL leadership, to its immense credit, is sticking by its goal to "cover all kids." Decried by its opponents as too expensive, the $250 million House plan amounts to just three-quarters of 1 percent of the total $34.4 billion state budget Pawlenty proposed last week. That's a small price to pay when it comes to providing affordable health care to children from the poorest Minnesota families.

Near the end of his 1905 inaugural, Roosevelt called on the nation to demonstrate "the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal." He demanded of himself and those around him the very virtue in such short supply in modern politics: guts.

It's true that voters respond to grandiose promises, but in the long-run they demand action and results. Past leaders in this state had great dreams and the courage to follow through on them, making Minnesota a quality-of-life leader across the board in the last quarter of the 20th century.

As we near the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Minnesota faces daunting challenges. Some, like overhauling a broken health care system and reforming education, will take several years to resolve, but $250 million to insure 70,000 children is a quick and easy fix to a problem that's perplexed us for too long.

There's just one question that defines at the most basic level who we are as a society: How do we care for our children?

Best intentions don't matter to parents who work hard but can't provide insurance for their children. It's what gets done that counts. Legislators in both chambers have bold visions, but history won't judge them by their dreams, only their actions.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at chris.truscott@gmail.com. At this point he'd make a joke about DFL senators neutering themselves, but at least the procedure would probably be paid for by their state-provided health insurance. There's nothing funny about kids going without coverage.
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