Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review: "The People v. Bush: One Lawyer's Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way"

It takes a certain amount of guts to advocate the criminal prosecution of a president, even one so seemingly universally despised as George W. Bush.  And as far as making it a major part of a campaign for state attorney general . . . well, the only thing behind that idea is insanity, right?  Wrong.

Charlotte Dennett, a lawyer, writer, and Progressive party member in Vermont, did exactly that during the 2008 elections, turning conventional wisdom on its head and flabbergasting the mainstream media.  Her book, "The People v. Bush: One Lawyer's Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way" is a chronicle of her campaign and the lessons she learned from it.  At the same time, she draws on the work of former federal prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in order to provide the legal framework behind the idea of prosecuting George Bush for murder.

Yes, murder.  The murder of thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed in a war that was started under false pretenses and only "justified" by tortured legal reasoning.  But Dennett doesn't stop with the former president.  She also accuses top Bush administration officials: Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, and most of all, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, authors of the now infamous torture memos and the justifiers extraordinaire of the Iraq war.  Most people, if they think Bush & co. committed any crimes except stupidity, they want to prosecute them for war crimes.  Unfortunately, since the U.S. refuses to recognize the ICC in The Hague, that is unlikely (there are, however, justices in Spain and Great Britain pursuing indictments against him).  But as Dennett points out, there are 50 attorneys general of states, one federal attorney general, and multiple district attorneys, all of whom could prosecute Bush for murder under universal jurisdiction and the effects doctrine.  For more information on the legal aspects of the case, I refer you to Dennett's website,

No one is too powerful to be touched in this book.  In addition to the Bush administration officials, Dennett takes to task her own Senator Patrick Leahy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama, and the media.  This is an expose of the political maneuvering that went on before the Iraq war, as well as after.  Dennett brings the fresh insight typical of third-party candidates, not afraid to take to task those who have been found (in her mind) in violation of morality, ethics, and the constitution.

It doesn't matter if you agree with the prosecution of Bush or not, this is a valuable book to read.  It is a call for the accountability that has been absent from Washington for too long.  Dennett combines a fun, relatable style with sober legal reasoning and pages of valuable information on how to get involved with grassroots political movements all across the country.  It's an inspiring story, and one that should be relevant to seasoned politicians and young activists alike.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Barbara Boxer: Profile of a Senator

Elections are coming up, and in California, we have one Senatorial election coming up in November. Barbara Boxer, the state's junior senator, is up for re-election for her fourth term. As a Democrat, a woman, and a Californian, I support Ms. Boxer's re-election efforts, and I hope I can convince you to as well.

First, her background. Barbara Boxer was elected to public office in 1976 when she ran for a position of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. She served there for six years and was the first woman to be the president of the board. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and served for five terms. She won the open seat (vacated by Democrat Alan Cranston) in the 1992 elections for US Senate. Before going into politics, she worked as a stockbroker (her degree is in Economics) and a journalist.

Currently, Senator Boxer is the chairwoman of the Select Committee on Ethics and the Committee on Environment and Public Works, as well as a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Committee on Foreign Relations. She is also a member of numerous subcommittees as well as the Democratic Chief Deputy Whip.

I will not repeat every single one of Boxer's accomplishments in the Senate, because that would take forever and a day (and my AP Calculus homework is reminding me none too gently that that is time I just don't quite have!). Instead, I will focus on her broad legislative record and a few of her most important initiatives. For more detailed information, I refer you to her re-election website,

Economy: Senator Boxer supports California's high-tech, entertainment, and biotech industries. She is also dedicated to preventing military base closures (thereby keeping jobs and increasing the stability of communities) and to convincing the Pentagon to allow disused bases to be refurbished into a community asset. She also recognizes that a good economy today means little if there is no future; to that end, she has fought for an increased use of technology in the classroom, wrote legislation that provided for tax deductions for companies who donated new or almost-new computers to schools, and supported an increased tax deduction to offset the cost of college. These initiatives are especially important to us young voters and almost-future-voters. Finally, and most importantly, she voted for President Obama's stimulus bill, which preserved or created hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Environment: Senator Boxer has fought for legislation that would keep all of the Arctic and many parts of California protected wilderness areas. She is also a leader in the fight against damaging offshore drilling on the California coast. She has worked on many bills to improve the quality of drinking water and set safe standards at levels that would make the water safe for children and the elderly, not just healthy adult men. She also supports California's laws on reducing tailpipe emissions, and has stopped the EPA from testing pesticides on women and children.

Healthcare: Senator Boxer is determined to expand healthcare coverage and reduce costs. She introduced legislation to create a tax deduction to help pay for the cost of insurance premiums and supports giving all Americans access to the same type of healthcare that members of Congress receive. She has consistently supported and authored legislation to promote research into many life-threatening diseases, as well as legislation to crack down on insurance company abuses. She also voted for the healthcare bill that passed Congress earlier this year.

Women's/Children's Rights: Senator Boxer has worked to expand children's access to healthcare and education. She has been involved in legislation to improve school safety and increase prosecution for people who commit crimes against children. She has also continuously fought to protect a woman's right to choose and right to reproductive healthcare. In her role as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, she is in a position to fight for women's rights all over the world.

Senator Boxer has been a consistent voice for equality and progressive issues. Her policies are not just good for Democrats. They are good for Californians, and for Americans. While she faces no serious primary challenger, she has three potential Republican challengers (the Republican primary has yet to be held). When deciding who to vote for this November, I hope you will support Barbara Boxer.

Logo by me.  I am, unfortunately, in no way affiliated with the Barbara Boxer Senate campaign, I just think she's awesome & you should vote for her :)