Senator George Allen
Central Virginia Office
507 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear Senator Allen,
I am writing you this afternoon after having witnessed your campaign staffers manhandle former Marine W. Michael Stark at your campaign event in Charlottesville. I have never in my life witnessed such an outrage from a Virginia political campaign before. If you didn't wish to answer Mr. Stark's questions, you could have simply remained silent. Instead, you stood by and gave consent for your campaign 'goons' to wrestle Mr Stark to the ground. I have seen the video, and at no point were you in any physical danger. At no point did Mr Stark threaten or shove you or any one of your staffers, yet you saw fit to extricate yourself from a tough line of questioning by having one of your constituents physically assaulted.
If this is your idea of civil discourse in a free society, God forgive the citizens of Virginia who have enabled you to reach this position of leadership. Do you honestly think that tough questions should be answered with brute force? Is that what you believe? We have troops overseas supposedly fighting for our freedom. I ask you, is this the kind of freedom you imagine, where inconvenient questions about a Senator's criminal record are dealt with by simply having the questioner removed?
The sad thing is, you know in your heart of hearts that such behavior is not just, and you did nothing about it. The actions of your staffers this afternoon and your personal inaction in the face of such an injustice speak volumes about your fitness to lead.
Today you have embarrassed the State of Virginia, and you owe your constituents, chiefly Mr Stark, an apology.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Wednesday night will be pretty emotional for me. I'm a longtime Celtic fan and I can't remember when Red Auerbach wasn't around.The Celtics begin a new era tomorrow, and hopefully they can get a win for the patriarch of a franchise that for so long was much, much more than a basketball team-- it was, in Red's words, "A way of life."
My grandparents bought me a great book in 1989 called The Bird Era, where Auerbach said, in a quote from his own Autobiography: "Our pride was never rooted in statistics. Our pride was in our identity as the Boston Celtics. Being a Celtic meant you were someone special. The Celtics represent a philosophy which, in it's simplest form, maintains that the victory belongs to the team."
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It seems to me that the republicans have no one to blame but themselves for the sorry state of affairs in which the country finds itself. The GOP has been in control of all three branches of government for the last five years, during which time they have done absolutely nothing to inspire confidence in their ability to lead. Anyone who belives otherwise is delusional at best. This gang of crooks, liars, cronies and incompetents needs to be shown the door on November 7th.
Don't believe me? Let's look at the track record, shall we? Five years after 9-11, we find our ports and nuclear power plants still unsecured. Hurricane Katrina ripped the mask of illusion off of the administration's ability to manage a national crisis with even a modicum of the 'compassionate conservativism' they so love to espouse. Scandal has followed every member of the GOP leadership, from Tom Delay's antics to the Abramoff affair to the treasonous outing of a CIA agent; Not to mention Mark Foley's inability to keep his attentions off of the very children he swore to protect, and Dennis Hastert's resultant world-class 'buck passing'.
Their Iraq strategy is nonexistent, their rationales for the war itself ever-changing outright lies. Their medicare drug benefit plan is a sham. 'No Child Left Behind' is a toothless and underfunded scheme designed to fill the Bush family coffers. The PNAC-launched Iraq adventure has left us with little diplomatic leverage against Iran and North Korea, and Mr Bush's 'Axis of Evil' rhetoric has launched a new arms race for a new century.
All that the GOP really has to offer this country, in the absence of any semblance of leadership, is a steady diet of greed, hypocrisy, finger-pointing and fear. They promise to protect the American people in a way that the democrats can't, yet Vice President Cheney can't even go on a hunting trip without shooting someone in the face.
And these are the guys we're supposed to look to to ensure our safety?? Yikes. Say it ain't so.
Everywhere one looks these days, the republicans can't do a darn thing right. Quite the contrary-- they're seemingly not even interested in do the right thing.
Last week President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, stripping the writ of Habeas Corpus for all, citizen and non-citizen alike, detained in the War on Terror-- making it impossible for the accused to even see the evidence against them, while giving sole juducial authority in such cases to the commander-in-chief. Mr. Bush was aided in this shameful, Stalin-esque enterprise by Virginia Senators John Warner and George Allen, who are apparently more interested in looking tough than looking smart. Their zombie-like, lockstep support of this President has helped to both undermine our free democratic institutions and endanger our troops in the field, while at the same time stripping us of a fundamental right that dates back to the Magna Carta.
Face it, Virginia voters, the GOP has left this country fiscally and morally bankrupt, and each day under their leadership this country looks less and less like america. It's time for some real leadership in Washington. I'm casting my vote for Jim Webb and the Democratic party.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Kevin Tillman Honors Late Brother's Birthday with Plea to Speak up for Democracy
Published on Friday, October 20, 2006 by Truthdig
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.
Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin was discharged in 2005.
Copyright 2006 TruthDig.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
So, if you haven't been paying attention, forget it and go back to sleep... but while we freak out over Mark Foley's emails, the basic foundation of social justice in a civilized society has been ripped out from under us by a despotic regime. Of course, there's no outrage, because we're living in a plastic dreamworld of paranoia and social retardation. Bush just turned the US into a Despotic Police State.
As Sherman Edwards asks through his plaintive lyrics in the musical "1776":
"IS ANYBODY THERE?? DOES ANYBODY CARE??"
Read on if you're so inclined.
Bush Betrays Democracy and Truth in Signing Military Commissions Act
by Matthew Rothschild
George Bush just signed the 'Military Commissions Act,' the bookend to the Patriot Act on the shelf marked “Assault on Democracy.”
It allows the President himself to decide what is covered by Geneva Conventions, and what is not.
In short, it gives the President a green light to torture.
Bush, with his usual flare for falsehood, said it “will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders.”
But this isn’t about questioning them. It’s about torturing them. It’s about subjecting them to such things as waterboarding, a medieval instrument of sadism.
Bush repeated that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”
But he knows full well that the CIA used waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he even cited Mohammed by name to justify the continued use of the CIA “program.”
Bush also asserted, falsely, that the Military Commissions Act will enable the United States to prosecute captured terrorists “through a full and fair trial.”
It will permit secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and even coerced testimony.
With this new law, Bush can have the CIA torture someone into a confession, and then use that confession against the person at trial.
In fact, the person can be executed on the basis of testimony that was beaten out of him.
In his statement, Bush also completely avoiding mentioning one of the most egregious aspects of the Military Commissions Act: the stripping of habeas corpus protection that has been enshrined since the days of the Magna Carta and codified in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. “What this bill will do is take our civilization back 900 years,” warned Senator Arlen Specter, when he tried to amend the bill by restoring habeas corpus. (When it failed, 51-48, Specter inexplicably turned around and voted for the bill.)
The Military Commissions Act authorizes the President of the United States to designate anyone—foreigner or citizen alike—as an “enemy combatant.” He can then detain this enemy combatant indefinitely, and if that person is not a U.S. citizen, that person has no recourse whatsoever.
“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination,” the new law states.
This gives the President “the privilege of kings,” as Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has noted. But Bush doesn’t want you to care about such little things.
“Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex,” he said, just before signing it. “Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”
Note that Bush does not believe that history will be concerned with the question: Did we uphold our Constitution?
Bush said the law sends a “clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”
But there is nothing “decent and fair” about it, and it only increases the threats to our freedoms.
For it shows us to be hypocrites, and it makes barbarism the rule.
Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983. His McCarthyism Watch web column has chronicled more than 150 incidents of repression since 9/11.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Wow. I am exhausted. Today is the first real day off I have had in a looong time. I watched the Patriots dispatch the Dolphins this afternoon and ate Pizza from 'Bottom's Up' in Shockhoe Bottom. Then I updated my computer's virus protection software. I also listened to my new Aaron Copland CD.
Good times. And great oldies.
Jen & I have been going full bore for more than a month. We're in the process of looking for an apartment in the Fan District, as our landlords will be moving back in in January. (They bought a house in Rockville 2 years ago & the commute into Richomd is quite a chore-- plus they have a new baby, making things even more hectic) we've loved living in this great old house in Northside for almost 2 years, but it's time to move back into the Fan.
Jennie is in THE CONSTANT WIFE at Barksdale as well as teaching enrichment classes for SPARC and holding down the fort at the dentist's office 3 days a week, and I am performing in I AM MY OWN WIFE at Firehouse and getting ready to start rehearsals this week for the FTP production of THE SECRET OF MME BONNARD'S BATH while trying to research and write a touring show for Theatre IV. I also applied for part-time work at the Carytown Starbucks, and we recently bought a used Saturn which we will pick up on thursday.
It's crazy being an actor sometimes-- you don't keep normal hours, your income comes from various and disparate sources, everything you own is used (for example, my TV, my Playstation 2, our Car, and even the computer I'm using to type this-- all pre-owned and given to us by really cool people!!)But worst of all, you never 'switch off' or stop thinking about work, because in order to feed yourself, you've gotta keep hunting for that next gig or side job or audition or what have you.
I have a hard time convincing myself to RELAX. Of course, looking for a car & an apartment while juggling a one-man show can make you crazy. Sometimes I'm amazed by how we get by doing what we love, but that is the really wonderful thing about this community of like-minded artists-- It is really Possible to do great work here and have the kind of artistic life that can can be really rewarding.
For instance, Friday's performance of I AM MY OWN WIFE was a priceless evening for me. My Mom came and saw the show, and the Folks at Firehouse presented her with flowers and a gift certificate to Cabo's Bistro on Broad st. She loved the show and she cried, but probably because her son was wearing a dress.
I also had a great experience last sunday night, performing in Leftover stories to Tell, an evening of reading of works by the late, great 'Monologist' Spalding Gray. I got to read my favorite account of his, about a performance of OUR TOWN he was in in the late '80s (Playing 'the Stage Manager') in which the kid playing Wally Webb projectile vomits all over the place in the act III 'Graveyard' scene. Hilarious. I also got to meet Spalding's wife, Kathy Russo, and his 10-year old son, Theo. Theo and I got along really well, since he's also a big Red Sox fan. I told him about the time I got David Ortiz's autograph, and his eyes got as big as pumpkins.
I have to get crackin' on writing tomorrow, but I'm gonna take it easy. I hope to see everyone at the Firehouse Theatre on Tuesday night at 8pm for the benefit performance of I AM MY OWN WIFE. The performance will benefit the Richmond Performing Arts Fund.
Oh, and before I forget, condolences to the New York Yankees... HAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAAAA!!