by Mark Silva
The cards and letters -- emails actually -- are pouring in at the Bratttleboro Chamber of Commerce. That's the chamber of the small Vermont town whose voters voted this week for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and ordered the town police to arrest them on sight.
This is a different sort of fare for a small town's Chamber of Commerce to be advertising, but then this is a different sort of town -- as evidenced by the recent editorial in the Brattleboro Reformer accusing Bush of throwing "a temper tantrum'' over terrorist surveillance.
"This vote has to do with the president not being honest in his administrations quest for WAR,'' Daniel wrote to the Chamber. "When a president misleads our country and pushes for war against the better judgement of the CIA and the Pentagon, and against the wishes of the rest of the world; invading a country where the US installed a dictatorship, simply to control the oil in that part of the world while claiming that we need to fight terrorism (which was not an issue at the time), that president whomever he is, deserves to be called to the mat, and held accountable. ''
"I am so proud of the wise residents of Brattleboro for voting to arrest Bush and Cheney for their crimes against the Constitution,'' RB wrote to the Chamber. "You are patriots in the best sense of the word.''
John Long, of Normal, Ill., wasn't so flattering: "I know you will not have the courage to add this letter to your proudly displayed letters of support for your treasonous act of symbolically indicting the President and Vice President of the United States,'' he wrote to the Chamber -- which of course did pos tit.
"I would like to say that I believe in free speech and debate but your actions have put more Americans and soldiers lives at risk with your ridiculous charade. Why the need for attention? Why doe's your town need to put its selfish ideology ahead of the lives of our brave soldiers?''
All this national attention on a small town that long attracted tourists to springs discovered along the Whetstone Brook, home to a gristmill and sawmill. The Brattleboro Hydropathic Establishment, more commonly known as the "water cure", opened in 1846. The water cure, which included "plunges in the cold, pure springs, long walks in the woods, healthful food, and no alcohol or tobacco,'' operated until 1871.
The Estey Organ Company founded soon after that employed more than 500 and sold reed organs around the world -- "Brattleboro truly became the organ capital of America,'' the Chamber boasts. But today, it is the controversy capital -- generating some controversy a couple of years ago when the town Selectboard attempted to ban nudity.
For more on the new debate there, see the Brattleboro Chamber Web-site.
And for the Reformer's take on Bush see this recent editorial:
"It's a hopeful sign that most Americans are no longer moved by the Bush administration's constant exploitation of terrorism to achieve its political goals,'' the Reformer editorialized on Feb. 21
"Aside from the people some have dubbed "the keyboard commandos" -- the pundits, bloggers and professional scaremongers who steadfastly believe they are fighting a war to preserve Western Civilization from "Islamofascists" -- few Americans take anything that President Bush says seriously.
Last week, President Bush threw a temper tantrum after the House refused to pass the Senate's version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a bill that allows his warrantless wiretapping program to stay in place and gives telecommunications companies legal immunity from prosecution for helping the government spy on its citizens.
President Bush tried to convince Americans that they were in danger because the bill wasn't passed. Most Americans just shrugged. There isn't a great deal of support for warrantless wiretapping and for protecting Verizon and AT&T from having to go to court to defend themselves. And, despite the spin put out by the White House and its supporters, the government can still conduct surveillance as it has before, even without the version of the law Bush wants.
The keyboard commandos, always ready to attack those who question their mission but who aren't ready to enlist in the Army and actually join the fight, would be a laughable group -- except that they have been the driving force behind the creation of an out-of-control national surveillance state.
Warrantless wiretapping, the monitoring of e-mails and Web site visits, the ever-growing list of "terror suspects," the various legislation that has given the federal government the power to declare martial law, arrest dissidents and detain people indefinitely without legal recourse is what the fevered fantasies of the keyboard commandos have given us.
We have gotten so accustomed to watching the Democrats cave in to the Bush administration's demands that we were surprised that the House Democrats finally refused to play along.
Quite simply, the White House maneuvered the FISA vote so it would be dropped into the laps of the House just a few days before an arbitrary deadline. Bush then said they had to pass it as is, and immediately, or else America would be in danger.
Thankfully, the House rejected this bogus reasoning. And, as expected, the White House, the Republicans in Congress and the keyboard commandos went ballistic. They claimed al-Qaida members were jumping up and down with glee over this vote and that Democrats don't care about keeping America safe.
There are many things we are looking forward to when the Bush administration finally leaves power. One of them is the end of the constant fear-mongering -- fear-mongering that has led to a weakened Constitution and eroded civil liberties.
There is absolutely no reason why telecommunication companies should not be subject to legal action for helping the Bush administration break the law. There is absolutely no reason to flout the laws against illegal surveillance. And, there is absolutely no reason why the Democrats can't finally stand up to the constant bullying of an administration that cries "wolf!" at every turn.''
Print Email Return to Top