Friday, September 29, 2006

RIP Habeus Corpus

So Verizon is the devil. Really. I cannot deal with those NSA Wiretapping Bill-Mongers anymore, so I dropped them like a rock. This means I have no internet access for the time being, so if you've emailed me and haven't heard back, I'll get right on that tomorrow as soon as the Comcast installation dude shows up to set up my new rig.

Meantime, 'Wife' is generating heat & the audiences and critics are really enjoying the experience. I love doing the show-- BTW, there will be a benefit performance for the Richmond Performing arts fund on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10TH at 8PM. That's at the Firehouse Theatre, 1601 West Broad st.

Meantime, I wanted to acknowledge what a sad day this is for lovers of peace & justice everywhere. I'm not kidding. Everything this country was once proud to stand for has been dashed with the swift stroke of a pen.

We're getting so much closer to the world portayed in V FOR VENDETTA every day. Here's another HUGE leap backward, as we ripped the heart out of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and hell, even the MAGNA CARTA. (For those of you unfamilar with that term, it's not an Italian Autobot.)

Read it and weep. I did.

This Time, Congress Has No Excuse
By Andrew Cohen
The Washington Post

Thursday 28 September 2006

Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake. At least when Congress voted to authorize the Iraq War legislators can point to the fact that they were deceived by Administration officials. But what's Congress' excuse now for agreeing to sign off on a law that would give the executive branch even more unfettered power over the rest of us than it already has?

It just keeps getting worse. This morning, esteemed Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman published this fine essay in the Los Angeles Times. His lead? "Buried in the complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

"This dangerous compromise," Professor Ackerman continued, "not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops 'during an armed conflict,' it also allows him to seize anybody who has 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison."

Scary enough for you? But wait, there is more. The legislation also appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence- from overseas or right here at home - to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program). And wait, there is this: the Administration's horrible track record when it comes to identifying "enemy combatants" and then detaining them here in the States. Two of the most famous ones, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both ended up having the highest courts in our land back up their legal claims, which is why the government had to release Hamdi outright and then turn Padilla over to the regular civilian courts (where he is a defendant in a weak case against him).

Do you believe the Administration has over the past five years earned the colossal expanse of trust the Congress is about to give it in the name of fighting terrorism? Do you believe that Administration officials will be able to accurately and adequately identify so-called "enemy combatants" here at home so as to separate out the truly bad guys from the guys who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you want your legislative branch to abdicate so completely its responsibility to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances upon executive power even in a time of terror? You might have answered "no" to all three questions. But your answer doesn't matter. And neither does mine. To Congress, the answer is "yes, sir." Our Congress is about to make yet another needless mistake in the war on terror and this time the folks making it won't be able to say that the White House tricked them into it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Letter to Senator Edward Kennedy, D-MA

Dear Senator Kennedy,

Thank you for your staunch opposition to the war in Iraq. I am a longtime admirer of you and your brothers, and I wish to see the Kennedy-style leadership of big ideas and progressive vision guide this country back to the right path.

The war in Iraq is deeply, deeply troubling to me, because it is emblematic of what I see as a dark and destructive force arising from within the halls of power-- the force of misguided american corporate imperialism.

I am a thirty-three year old Massachusetts native who sees the promise of his country fading before his eyes, obscured by the cloudy chaos of national fear and confusion.

We have allowed this administration to strip our liberties in the name of security, and we have waited for someone in the Democratic party to tell the nation "The Emperor has no clothes."

I ask you to be that person, and to raise your voice loud enough for everyone to hear you.

One step at a time, we must undo the damage done by this administration; The first step is to get out of Iraq.

Please continue to build bipartisan support for drafting legislation which would set clear-cut goals for getting our brave men and women out of the bloody civil war which the Bush Administration so recklessly and thoughtlessly set the stage for when they Invaded in 2003.

Mr. Bush and his Junta of PNAC-backed policymakers quite simply "Pulled the pin on a grenade" when they illegally and pre-emptively invaded Iraq, and as a result, more and more people are being killed by blasts waves of endless violence. The death toll rises daily, while Mr Bush loudly proclaims that he has somehow made the world 'safer' and 'More Peaceful.'

Unbelieveable. This HAS GOT TO STOP.

So I urge you, senator Kennedy-- Keep fighting the good fight against the Administration-- Don't let them turn this country into a place where pre-emptive war is an option, where torture, suspicion and suspension of civil liberties replace the rule of law.

Please know that you have my full support, and, --even though I live in Virginia now-- as far as I'm concerned, you'll always be my Senator.

Peace & Justice,

Scott Wichmann

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A 'WIFE' review from the Richmond Times-Dispatch!!

Firehouse stages a must-see
In I Am My Own Wife, masterful acting meets the demands of challenging story

Sep 16, 2006


This is just the kind of play that Firehouse Theatre Project does best: a recent off-Broadway and Broadway award winner with a tricky subject.And it's the kind of play that local treasure Scott Wichmann does better than anyone: an incredibly demanding real-life drama in which he morphs seamlessly among 35 roles and multiple accents.

I Am My Own Wife won its playwright, Doug Wright, an Obie, a Tony and the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for drama.It was in the early 1990s, soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, that an American journalist friend of Wright's told him about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a homosexual and transvestite who had somehow survived the Nazis and the East Germans.

Fascinated by the decorative arts and by machines of a century earlier, Charlotte was running her house in Mahlsdorf, Germany, as a museum, especially proud of her gramophones and clocks.

Wright, who is a character in his own play, became fascinated with Charlotte. A gay man himself, Wright was especially riveted by Charlotte's incredible ability to be herself - not closeted at all - under two regimes that routinely persecuted and executed homosexuals.

As Charlotte unfolds her story to Wright, he begins to find evidence that she may have endured partly by informing on others to the brutal Stasi secret police. But the case is far from airtight, and the moral ground becomes slippery.

As intriguing as Charlotte's story is the showcase it provides for an actor with Wichmann's gifts. The precision of his voice is impressive as he becomes a German news anchor, a talk-show host, an SS officer.Even more arresting is his physical fluidity.

As Charlotte he moves deliberately, slowly, thin arms projecting from the sack of a dress designed by Lisa Lippman. He acts even with his wrists, flowing as he creates the illusion of Charlotte's lesbian aunt handing a book on sexual deviance to young Lothar Berfelde, the boy Charlotte once was. Especially affecting is Wichmann's portrayal of Alfred Kirchner, a gay man and a longtime friend of Charlotte's, a fellow collector of clocks and Edison phonographs.

Morrie Piersol directs Wichmann expertly, shaping and delineating each character. A simple set is provided by Edwin Slipek Jr., with careful lighting by Michael Mauren and excellent sound design by Ryan Corbett and Trey Pollard.

Ultimately, Wright challenges the audience to consider who Charlotte is and what part of her story is true.This, with Wichmann's masterful performance, is what raises I Am My Own Wife above the level of a curiosity to must-see theater.

Firehouse Theatre Project at 1609 W. Broad St. Thru Oct. 7
$20 (discounts for students and seniors)
(804) 355-2001

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


A speech by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich
Delivered in Los Angeles, California
On February 17, 2002

(to be sung as an overture for America)

"My country 'tis of thee. Sweet land of liberty of thee I sing. . . .
From every mountain side, let freedom ring. . . .
Long may our land be bright. With freedom's holy light. . . ."

" Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave.
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

"America, America, God shed grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. . . . "

I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, with love of democracy, as a celebration of our country. With love for our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time.

With the understanding that there is a deeper truth expressed in the unity of the United States. That implicate in the union of our country is the union of all people. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation, but innerconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse and yearning to be and to breathe free. I offer this prayer for America.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it. We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant. We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups. We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and financial records.

We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance. We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy. The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself at this time, before this administration.

Let us pray that our nation's leaders will not be overcome with fear. Because today there is great fear in our great Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in the current environment. The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then the Administration brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden tapes at the same time the President was announcing the withdrawal from the ABM treaty. It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote. The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his unelected Vice President.

Let us pray that our country will stop this war. "To promote the common defense" is one of the formational principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September the Eleventh. We licensed a response to those who helped bring the terror of September the Eleventh. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.
We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.
We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.
We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.
We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.
We did not authorize assassination squads.
We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.
We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.
We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.
We did not authorize national identity cards.
We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.
We did not authorize an eye for an eye.
Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.
We did not authorize war without end.
We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion. Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit. Consider that the Inspector General has notified Congress that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent years the Dept. of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased, wrote off, as lost, billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

Yet the defense budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of our nation, and not appropriate for the survival of the world.

Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people and as a nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September the Eleventh our democratic traditions. Let us declare our love for democracy. Let us declare our intent for peace. Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society. Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war as being inevitable. Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.
That is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of congress are now cosponsoring the legislation. Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. That is why we must begin by insisting on the commitments of the ABM treaty. That is why we must be steadfast for nonproliferation.

Let us work for a world where America can lead the way in banning weapons of mass destruction not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. That is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God's creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities, not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September the Eleventh, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year's Eve, the Superbowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to people, helping our own citizens here at home, lifting the plight of the poor everywhere. That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world. That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself at the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom.

America, America. God shed grace on thee. Crown thy good, America. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a unipolar world. Crown thy good America.

America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and sisterhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout the world.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

Thank you.