As a film studies major I've been trained to sit through any cinematic experience -- from Andy Warhol's 8-hour long Empire (yes, 8 consecutive hours of the Empire State Building in real time) to Derek Jarman's Blue (an hour plus of an unchanging blue screen dramatizing Jarman's AIDS-related blindness) -- and never abandon ship (incidentally I loved both films). It took all this training and more to endure this year's Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Crash, which I saw this summer in, alas, its entirety. I've already written about how I'm not a huge fan of Brokeback Mountain, the other Oscar contender, but it's definitely a better film than Crash, which I would have walked out on had it not been for my stalwart companions.
White critics like Roger Ebert, who proclaimed it the best film of the year, and David Denby of the New Yorker loved it. Denby wrote that it "makes previous movie treatments of prejudice seem like easy and self-congratulatory liberalizing."
I couldn't disagree more; easy and self-congratulatory liberalizing is the epitome of the film. To my mind, Crash's central message is: There's a lot of racism in the world, but it's all rendered meaningless by a magical force. This force is called sheer coincidence. I'll happily spoil the denouement for anyone who hasn't seen it. The racist white cop (Matt Dillon) sexually molests a black women (Thandie Newton), but is really a good guy because he saves her from a car crash (oh, and because he loves his ailing poppy). His partner's (Ryan Phillipe) anti-racist protests are really irrelevant because he ends up killing an innocent black teenager (Larenz Tate). Meanwhile, a rich, racist white woman (Sandra Bullock) unfairly suspects a Latino locksmith (Michael Pena) of being a crook, but it's okay because her Latino maid (and best friend) takes care of her when she injures herself. And on and on and on through a "compassionate conservative" rainbow of cast members each with their own neatly moralistic (but totally individualized) racial melodramas. As with the well-awarded musical Avenue Q, the moral of Crash is: Don't worry, everyone's a little bit racist.
Anyway, my amateur film criticism aside, you'll find a good dissection of Crash by sometime Nation writer Jeff Chang and Sylvia Chan over at Alternet. LA Weekly critic Scott Foundas called it the worst film of the year. I agree.
There is much one could say about Mikhail Gorbachev. He is the man who changed the world. He ended the Cold War. He tried to abolish nuclear weapons--believing fervently that if we didn't attempt to do the impossible, we would face the unthinkable. He liberated Eastern Europe to find its own political path. And, at home, he was that rare political leader who used his power to launch unprecedented reforms--what came to be known as perestroika and glasnost. It is tragic that twenty one years later, little, if anything, is left of the historic opportunities and alternatives Gorbachev opened up for his country and the world. Those of us who know him have heard him speak of this loss with great sadness.
But last Thursday night, Gorbachev wasn't waiting around for history's judgment. At the Napoleon banquet hall in southwest Moscow, 250 family members, college and elementary schoolmates, former and current political and journalistic colleagues, friends from East and West, and current officials gathered to celebrate Gorbachev's 75th birthday. Having come to know Gorbachev quite well in these last twenty years, my husband Stephen Cohen and I were two of the partygoers.
Toasts and vodka flowed freely. Gorbachev and his daughter Irina opened the evening. Standing on the stage set up for the evening, the former Soviet President welcomed everyone by name--literally, everyone--to what he called his last big party "before old age begins". The party favor was handed out--a family album prepared by his daughter and grandchildren. The Governor of Stavropol, the province which Gorbachev led as a Communist party boss in the 1970s, opened the evening. Chancellor Helmut Kohl uttered some dignified words. An opera singer from the Bolshoi sang an aria. Former Presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky chastised the crowd-"Mikhail Sergeevich gave us a chance and we did not take it." Video tributes from former President George Bush, Bill Moyers, Leonardo di Caprio, former President Bill Clinton, and a rambunctious Ted Turner ( who belted out "happy birthday, my good friend Mikhaiiiil") and California Senator Barbara Boxer were broadcast on the banquet hall's walls. President Putin even sent a telegram of congratulation. (It's the least the Russian President could do considering that he threw Boris Yeltsin a lavish, state-funded 75th birthday bash in the Kremlin just a month earlier.)
But forget Putin's telegram, or Kohl's words or Bush's video tribute. The high point of the evening came when Gorbachev's twenty-something granddaughter, Oksana, took charge. Oksana is a kind of musical impresario, a booker of bands, who looks like a cross between Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. I missed the name of her new girl band, but they might as well call themselves "The Slavic Chicks." Three young women, a brunette, a blond and a redhead, in very short and tight black dresses, came out on stage and began to belt out three Russian pop songs. The disco ball seemed to go round even faster, as the crowd dizzy from the pumped up music boogied on the dance floor. And at the back of the room, Gorbachev seemed mesmerized by the scene--ignoring his table partner Kohl for the moment--as he swayed to the music, clapping his hands over his head.
For a brief moment, whatever sadness Gorbachev may have felt as he surveyed the lost opportunities in Russia and the world seemed to melt away into the dark Moscow night as The Slavic Chicks sashayed and sang. Long live The Slavic Chicks.
The branding experts did a good job with Yahoo!. Everything about the Internet giant evokes a groovy vibe--from the name itself to the company's bright purple colors, wacky font and fabled Silicon Valley work culture. Creativity, innovation and freedom are the catch-words Yahoo! wants people to associate with its brand. The problem now is that the company is actively colluding with the Chinese government to help identify Internet dissidents to be thrown in jail. Not cool.
"Yahoo! has a Chinese-language portal hosted inside China, with a search engine that filters out all websites and keywords deemed unacceptable by Chinese authorities," writes former CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon in a recent Nation online exclusive. "It does not inform users that the content is being censored in any way. Yahoo! also offers a Chinese-language e-mail service hosted on computer servers inside the People's Republic. Because the user data is under Chinese legal jurisdiction, Yahoo! is obligated to comply with Chinese police requests to hand over information. Such compliance over the past several years has led to the jailing of at least three dissidents."
An Amnesty International report adds that, "investigatiions reveal that of four American Internet technology companies operating in China – Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, and Cisco -- Yahoo! has most actively aided repressive forces in China, by helping to jail political dissidents."
Prominent Chinese blogger Zhao Jing singles out Yahoo! for even greater scorn than Microsoft, the company that complied with the Chinese government's request to shut down his blog. "A company such as Yahoo! which gives up information [about dissidents] is unforgivable," he said in an interview with Fortune. "It would be for the good of the Chinese netizens if such a company could be shut down or get out of China forever." (Zhao continues to post in Chinese at http://anti.blog-city.com, which is available overseas but blocked in China. Some of his recent posts can be read in English at rconversation, which is maintained by MacKinnon, now a research fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.)
As a publicly traded company, Yahoo! can be very sensitive to public outcry. And this issue should have a relatively easy time gaining traction. Most people of all political stripes--other than extremist wackos (both left and right) and those with lots of Yahoo stock--can get behind a campaign calling on one of America's most well-known companies to stop aiding Communist China's repressive tactics.
So take Amnesty's suggestion and click here to tell Yahoo! that if it wants your business then it better stop helping authoritarian governments repress their citizens in the countries in which it operates. Media attention can also really help. So click here to find contact info for your local newspapers and talk radio stations.
Cheaters never win, my mom said. And it looks like she was right.
This week the fur flew when senior associate editor Nick Sylvester was suspended from his gig at the Village Voice. Turns out the boy wonder/music critic had fabricated reporting for his cover story "Do You Wanna Kiss Me?" on the pick-up artist's guide The Game by Neil Strauss. (You might remember Strauss from other literary merits such as ghost-writing porn star Jenna Jameson's memoir.)
The story's been pulled from the site, but it's not really worth reading, anyway. It's a pretty thin piece of trend-reporting that doesn't hold much water. Basically, Sylvester interviews a few women who have read The Game and can use it against the would-be players who try to pick them up. He then attempts to extrapolate that into something--it's not clear what--about the state of dating in New York. He interviews Strauss and uncritically swallows a lot of his garbage about picking up women--for one, he fails to be very critical of the whole "art" of picking up women at all, let alone Strauss's basic assumption that social success is measured by belt notches.
Given how flimsy the journalism is, one can't help but wonder why the whole piece wasn't cast as a short diary from a woman's perspective--but wait, guess what? Dolly, a New Yorker who writes a blog about her love life, and had recognized men running The Game on her, did pitch the Voice, in January, and never heard back. Then Sylvester was assigned the story.
Golden boy Sylvester has nothing to worry about. "I just adore that kid," acting Voice Editor Doug Simmons told Gawker . "The thought of firing him is a painful one for me. I hope this review can bring an understanding to the paper -- and to Nick -- about the boundaries of journalism."
Yes, cause the boundaries of journalism were so unclear before. Thank goodness Simmons cleared that one up!
What happened here doesn't quite add up. First, Sylvester's lie was painfully obvious, violating the cardinal rule of fake journalism: Don't quote real people who you've never met. (Make them up!) And stranger still is why he bothered with lying at all. He claims to have met one especially colorful pick-up artist at Bar 151 in New York, but in fact the scene he related was a "composite" of anecdotes told to him by others. So why lie? Why not just quote the people you interviewed in real-life?
Usually Sylvester writes pretentious, garbled, mumbo-jumbo name-dropping music reviews, and some have speculated that the poor kid just got in over his head. It was a Jayson Blair-esque case of too much, too soon. But even that doesn't make sense. It doesn't take genius to know that you don't make up facts in a reported story. Sylvester, who was yanked from the stage at this year's Plug Awards for reading Malcom Gladwell's New Yorker essay on profiling in lieu of presenting the award he was there to give, seems to have a problem with taking anything seriously. Maybe he thought the Voice piece was supposed to be a prank. For now, the joke's on him. He's not only been suspended from the Voice, but yesterday he was fired from his gig as an editor at indie rock go-to site Pitchfork .
But the really outrage-inducing part of all this is that Sylvester won't be up at night sweating out the difference between "fact" and "fiction" in our topsy-turvy, no-holds-barred post-modern world where right is left and up is down. He's more famous than he was before, and in the long-run, his career will be just fine. He has Simmons. He's young. He'll still get a book deal.
Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen.
The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour for over eight and a half years. If Congress fails to pass an increase by December of this year, it will be the longest stretch of stinginess in American history.
The states are sick of waiting.
In February, Rhode Island became the eleventh state in the past sixteen months to raise its minimum wage. HB6718 passed 36-2 in the Rhode Island Senate and 60-11 in the House, hiking the state's minimum to $7.40 by the start of 2007. Gov. Donald Carcieri had threatened to veto the bill, but facing overwhelming opposition, dropped his effort and signed it into law.
"Rhode Island is the latest in what's shaping up to be a minimum wage revolution in the states," says Jen Kern, director of ACORN's Living Wage Resource Center. "I can only count four states that don't already have a higher minimum wage and haven't introduced legislation in the last year."
Thanks to grassroots efforts of organizations like ACORN, the National Council of Churches, and hundreds of community groups, wage hikes in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and North Carolina also seem likely in the near future.
Meanwhile, ballot initiatives for minimum wage increases in 2006 could emerge in as many as eleven states. An initiative is already on the ballot in Nevada, and states such as Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, and Montana are in the midst of collecting signatures. For more information on how to get involved in your state, click here.
Sam Graham-Felsen, a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker, contributes to The Nation's new blog, The Notion, and co-writes Sweet Victories with Katrina vanden Heuvel.
After Robert Casey, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to challenge vulnerable Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, joined Santorum in backing the Supreme Court nomination of conservative judicial activist Samuel Alito, Kate Michelman was not happy.
After saying she was "sorely disappointed by the lack of commitment to women and fundamental rights by the United State Senate," the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America ripped into Casey and local and national party leaders who back the socially-conservative Pennsylvania Democrat who is an ardent critic of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed women the right to choose.
"As a Pennsylvanian, I am particularly appalled that local and national Democrats would hand our Senate nomination to someone who openly supports giving Roe an Alito-induced death," said Michelman. "Those whose political successes have depended on the ballots and contributions of pro-choice voters but now facilitate the career of someone who would repeal those rights deserve special enmity."
How angry was Michelman?
The veteran activist who has lived for almost three decades in Pennsylvania might just jump into the Senate race herself.
"After Casey announced his support for Alito, I got calls from around the country," says Michelman in a Legal Times article on the fallout from the Alito fight. She tells Legal Times that she has been urged by Democratic donors and feminist groups to run this fall as a pro-choice independent challenger to anti-choice Republican Santorum and anti-choice Democrat Casey.
If she does, it will be a blow not just to Casey but to liberal college professor Chuck Pennacchio, who has had worked hard -- in the face of opposition from most prominent Democrats in Pennsylvania and Washington -- to mount a Democratic primary challenge to Casey.
The filing deadline to enter the May 16 Democratic primary passes on Tuesday. But the filing deadline to run as a third party or independent candidate remains open until August 1. Theoretically, Michelman could wait until Democrats make their choice and then run if Casey is nominated. In reality, however, the prospect of a Michelman run will divert energy -- and potentially resources -- from Pennacchio's already uphill campaign.
Says Pennacchio, "A third party pro-choice candidacy would also divide Pennsylvania Democrats. Since 2000, Al Gore, Ed Rendell, John Kerry, and Arlen Specter have proven that Pennsylvania is a pro-choice state. The best way to defeat Rick Santorum in 2006 is for Democrats to nominate a pro-choice candidate who can and will unite Pennsylvania?s pro-choice majority and make a third party pro-choice candidacy unnecessary. My campaign has established county organizations around the state, and is already uniting Pennsylvanians by fighting for what they want: choice, universal health care, an end to the Iraq War, and other widely held majoritarian views."
But, with expectations high that Casey will be the nominee, the argument for getting started now on an independent candidacy cannot be disregarded altogether. Nor can the prospect that, with sufficient funding and the right breaks, Michelman could be a serious contender.
The classic case of a three-way race for a Senate seat was seen in 1970 in New York State. Both the Republican incumbent, Charles Goodell, and the Democratic challenger, Richard Ottinger, were strong critics of the Vietnam War who embraced generally liberal positions on domestic matters. William F. Buckley's brother, Jim, running on the Conservative Party line, backed the war and steered to the right on social issues. Buckley, whose campaign drew substantial financial support from conservatives around the country and support from many renegade Republicans at the state and national levels, did not win a majority of the vote. But with the major party candidates dividing up the liberal base -- Goodell got 24 percent of the vote, Ottinger 37 percent and Buckley 39 percent -- the outsider who wasn't supposed to stand a chance won the seat.
When Senator Russ Feingold opposed the original version of the Patriot Act in 2001, the Wisconsin Democrat was alone in his defense of the Constitution.
This year, as Feingold led the frustrating fight to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act in a form that continues to threaten basic liberties, he left no doubt that he was entirely willing to stand alone once more. To colleagues who suggested that it was appropriate to trade a little liberty for the White House's promise of more security in the war on terror, the senator declared: "Without freedom, we are not America. If we don't preserve our liberties, we cannot win this war, no matter how many terrorists we capture or kill."
When the key vote came Thursday, Feingold found he was not entirely alone. Along with Vermont Independent Jim Jeffords, eight Democrats joined Feingold in voting "no" to reauthorization. The eight were:
Hawaii's Daniel Akaka
New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman
West Virginia's Robert Byrd
Iowa's Tom Harkin
Vermont's Patrick Leahy
Michigan's Carl Levin
Washington's Patty Murray
Oregon's Ron Wyden.
While Feingold was not on his own this time, the vote was still lopsided -- 89-10 to renew and extend expiring portions of the Patriot Act, with Hawaii Democrat Dan Inouye not voting. Despite earlier talk by many members of both parties about the need to stand firm in defense of basic Constitutional protections, all Republicans and the vast majority of Senate Democrats sided with the Bush White House in favor of legislation that still, among other things, permits an administration with a penchant for warrantless wireatpping to obtain secret orders allowing it to search private records held by libraries, medical clinics, businesses and financial institutions.
The Patriot Act reauthorization also allows government agencies to issue national-security letters, which are for all practical purposes subpoenas, without the approval of the courts.
The increasingly lamentable Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, chirped that, "Our support for the Patriot Act does not mean a blank check for the president."
Reid was, of course, wrong.
One senator who got it right was the dean of the chamber, West Virginia's Byrd, who not only voted against resuthorization but also apologized for failing to join Feingold in 2001 to oppose the Patriot Act in its original form
"There is no doubt that constitutional freedoms will never be abolished in one fell swoop, for the American people cherish their freedoms, and would not tolerate such a loss if they could perceive it," explained Byrd. "But the erosion of freedom rarely comes as an all-out frontal assault but rather as a gradual, noxious creeping, cloaked in secrecy, and glossed over by reassurances of greater security."
The latest issue of Harper's Magazine contains a stunning 15-page article by well-known AIDS denialist Celia Farber (formerly of Spin magazine) that extensively repeats UC Berkeley virologist Peter Duesberg's discredited theory that HIV does not cause AIDS. Among the claims that Duesberg makes (and Farber recounts approvingly) are:
AIDS is actually a "chemical syndrome, caused by accumulated toxins from heavy drug use."
"Many cases of AIDS are the consequence of heavy drug use, both recreational (poppers, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.) and medical (AZT, etc.)"
"HIV is a harmless passenger virus that infects a small percentage of the population and is spread primarily from mother to child, though at a relatively low rate."
"75 percent of AIDS cases in the West can be attributed to drug toxicity. If toxic AIDS therapies were discontinued...thousands of lives could be saved virtually overnight."
"AIDS in Africa is best understood as an umbrella term for a number of old diseases, formerly known by other names, that currently do not command high rates of international aid. The money spent on anti-retroviral drugs would be better spent on sanitation and improving access to safe drinking water."
The best rebuttals to Duesberg's hypothesis are here, here and here. Over at Slate science writer Jon Cohen has a piece examining the wave of "pharmanoia" afflicting mass media. As Cohen and others point out, conspiracy theories like Duesberg's warp and exploit some of the best political interventions made by AIDS activists: that patients should be engaged with their medical diagnosis and treatment, that clinical drug trials should be grounded in sound ethical practices, that the emphasis on virology has circumvented immunological approaches to AIDS and that attention to the effects of poverty, malnutrition and other diseases is vital to preventing and treating AIDS.
It's a shame that a magazine as well respected as Harper's has shirked its duty to report on these issues and instead published Farber's article. South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign has put together a comprehensive rebuttal of Farber's article documenting over 50 errors. I also post here a statement from HealthGAP and a letter to Harper's from Gregg Gonsalves of GMHC.
HealthGAP:"Harper's Magazine has stooped to new lows in publishing a lengthy article that rehashes old distortions by a writer who does not believe that HIV causes AIDS. Harper's should immediately publicly retract this article, and devote the same space to an accurate piece of news about the global AIDS crisis. We are very concerned that this inaccurate article will be used to fuel government inaction outside the US, where some heads of state, such as the South African President and the Minister of Health, have invoked AIDS denialist rhetoric rather than prioritizing antiretoviral treatment access for the 800 South Africans with HIV who are dying unnecessarily each day."
Gregg Gonsalves:"Dear Editors,I have been a long-time Harper's Magazine reader. I am sorry that the March 2006 issue is the very last that I will read.
With Celia Farber's article "Out of Control, AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science," your magazine has managed to destroy its 156 year-old reputation in 15 pages.
Farber is a well-known AIDS denialist and publishing her work is akin to giving the folks at the Discovery Institute a place to expound upon the "science" of intelligent design, Charles Davenport a venue to educate us about the racial inferiority of the Negro or Lyndon LaRouche a platform to warn us about aliens, bio-duplication, and nudity.
If Harpers was some fringe publication or supermarket tabloid then we could all laugh at Farber's weird conspiracy theories and pseudo-science. The sad thing is that unlike the hoaxes perpetuated on the New Republic by Stephen Glass several years ago, Ms. Farber's reputation as a crank is widespread. Thus, it seems that your editors, after careful research and despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, decided that Ms. Farber was a serious journalist with a real story to be told.
If you choose to report falsehoods as truths when it comes to HIV/AIDS, how can I trust the veracity of the rest of what appears in your pages?
As the U.S. Senate moved Thursday to reauthorize the Patriot Act in a form that fails to address essential concerns about the protection of civil liberties, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the chamber's most ardent critic of reauthorization along the lines demanded by the Bush administration, admitted temporary defeat. But, in final remarks to his colleagues on the eve of the vote, Feingold declared, "This fight is not over Mr. President. The vote today will not assuage the deep and legitimate concerns that the public has about the Patriot Act. I am convinced that in the end, the government will respond to the people, as it should. We will defeat the terrorists, and we will preserve the freedom and liberty that make this the greatest country on the face of the earth."
Here is the text of the speech Feingold -- the only senator to oppose the initial version of the Patriot Act in 2001 and one of the few to consistently oppose it throughout the reauthorization process -- prepared for delivery to the Senate:
Mr. President, in a few minutes, the Senate will conclude a process that began over a year ago by reauthorizing the Patriot Act. I will have a few closing remarks but first I want to take this opportunity to thank the extraordinary staff who have worked on this bill for so long. These men and women, on both sides of the aisle, have worked extremely hard and they deserve to be recognized. I ask unanimous consent that a list of their names be printed in the Record after my remarks.
Mr. President, beginning in November when we first saw a draft of the conference report, I have spoken at length about the substance of this bill. I hoped that when we started the task of reauthorizing the Patriot Act at the beginning of last year, the end product would be something that the whole Senate could support. We had a real chance to pass a bill that would both reauthorize the tools to prevent terrorism and fix the provisions that threaten the rights and freedoms of innocent Americans. This conference report, even as amended by the bill incorporating the White House deal that we passed yesterday, falls well short of that goal. I will vote no.
Protecting the country from terrorism while also protecting our rights is a challenge for every one of us, particularly in the current political climate, and it is a challenge we all take seriously. I know that many Senators who will vote for this reauthorization bill in a few minutes would have preferred to enact the bill we passed without a single objection in July of last year. I appreciate that so many of my colleagues came to recognize the need to take the opportunity presented by the sunset provisions included in the original Patriot Act to make changes that would better protect civil liberties than did the law we enacted in haste in October 2001.
Nevertheless, I am deeply disappointed that we have largely wasted this opportunity to fix the obvious problems with the Patriot Act.
The reason I spent so much time in the past few days talking about how the public views the Patriot Act was to make it clear that this fight was not about one Senator arguing the details of the law. This fight was about trying to restore the public's trust in our government. That trust has been severely shaken as the public learned more about the Patriot Act, which was passed with so little debate in 2001, and as the administration resisted congressional oversight efforts and repeatedly politicized the reauthorization process. The revelations about secret warrantless surveillance late last year only confirmed the suspicions of many in our country that the government is willing to trample the rule of law and constitutional guarantees in the fight against terrorism.
The negative reaction to the Patriot Act has been overwhelming. Over 400 state and local government bodies passed resolutions pleading with Congress to change the law. Citizens have signed petitions, library associations and campus groups have organized to petition the Congress to act, numerous editorials have been written urging Congress not to reauthorize the law without adequate protections for civil liberties. These things occurred because Americans across the country recognize that the Patriot Act includes provisions that pose a threat to their privacy and liberty -- values that are at the very core of what this country represents, of who we are as a people.
In 2001, we were viciously attacked by terrorists who care nothing for American freedoms and American values. And we as a people came together to fight back, and we are prepared to make great sacrifices to defeat those who would destroy us. But what we will not do, what we cannot do, is destroy our own freedoms in the process.
Without freedom, we are not America. If we don't preserve our liberties, we cannot win this war, no matter how many terrorists we capture or kill.
That is why the several Senators who have said at one time or another during this debate things like, "Civil liberties do not mean much when you are dead" are wrong about America at the most basic level. They do not understand what this country is all about. Theirs is a vision that the founders of this nation, who risked everything for freedom, would categorically reject. And so do the American people.
Americans want to defeat terrorism, and they want the basic character of this country to survive and prosper. They want to empower the government to protect the nation from terrorists, and they want protections against government overreaching and overreacting. They know it might not be easy, but they expect the Congress to figure out how to do it. They don't want defeatism on either score. They want both security and liberty, and unless we give them both – and we can, if we try – we have failed.
This fight is not over Mr. President. The vote today will not assuage the deep and legitimate concerns that the public has about the Patriot Act. I am convinced that in the end, the government will respond to the people, as it should. We will defeat the terrorists, and we will preserve the freedom and liberty that make this the greatest country on the face of the earth.
I yield the floor.
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is not the first local government body to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, nor will it be the last.
But because San Francisco is one of America's best-known and best-loved cities --unless you're Fox News bloviator Bill O'Reilly, who last fall went on air to suggest landmarks there that terrorists might want to strike -- the news has drawn wider attention to the burgeoning movement for impeachment. It has also exposed another embarrassing rift between top Democrats and grassroots party activists and elected officials around the country.
Tuesday's 7-3 vote by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors for Democratic Supervisor Chris Daly's resolution urging California's Congressional representatives to pursue impeachment pushed no new limits. The bill of particulars discussed by Daly and other supervisors echoed concerns raised by U.S. Representative John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and the 26 House members currently cosponsoring Conyers' call for creation of a select committee to investigate administration preparations for war with Iraq before obtaining congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouragement and countenancing of torture, and retaliation against critics. That committee would be charged with, among other things, making recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.
While a number of Bay Area representatives are among the cosponsors of the Conyers resolution -- including Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey -- the most powerful member of the House from region, and the primary representative of the city of San Francisco, is not on board. Indeed, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seems to be almost as frightened by the word "impeachment" as the right-wing talk radio hosts who doth protest too much whenever it is mentioned.
Pelosi was confronted at a January town hall meeting in San Francisco by constituents who detailed administration misdeeds and chanted: "Impeach! Impeach!" Her response, according to a San Francisco Bay Guardian report, was initially a political one: "For those of you concerned about these issues, I urge you to channel your energies into the 2006 elections," she told the crowd.
Pressed on whether she would join senior Democrats in the California delegation -- such as Pete Stark and Maxine Waters -- in backing the House resolution to investigate matters related to impeachment, Pelosi answered that, "I do not intend to support Mr. Conyers's resolution."
Seeking to quiet the ensuing chorus of boos, Pelosi said, "We have a responsibility to try to bring this country together." According to Guardian report, one of the San Franciscans in the audience shouted back, "You have a responsibility to uphold the Constitution!"
That response is no longer just a shout from the crowd. It has been endorsed by the board of supervisors of the city Pelosi supposedly represents.