February 2008

The impeachment debate in San Miguel County

By Art Goodtimes

THINK GLOBAL ACT LOCAL … I know some folks are concerned about San Miguel County stepping into the impeachment debate, after the ski backlash against the town of Telluride for the town board’s recent stand in support of impeachment (although, as I followed the controversy, as many or more folks applauded that decision). Even one of my colleagues in Telluride wrote a column critical of the county’s decision to pursue local hearings on impeachment, accusing me (somewhat incomprehensibly) of “flip-flopping” because I seemed to care about the world but the title of my recent book of poetry is “As If the World Really Mattered” (an ironic title underscoring how different this society would be if we really cared about the world, which I do, deeply, which obviously is why I’m involved in politics) … Nevertheless, stirring up the pot over impeachment may seem to some like useless meddling in affairs far beyond our jurisdiction. And in some sense that’s a fair criticism, if you hold the narrow view of what it means to be an American citizen. But, last I checked, this is still a democratic nation, and it’s the people who make the final call on the direction of its government. Along with the right to vote goes the responsibility to speak out, and let our elected representatives know what what we want to see happen, or not happen … So, as a Green, I see speaking out at the local level as the responsibility of American citizens, not just an option or a luxury. We need to let people in D.C. know what folks in Telluride and San Miguel County think … And in spite of the wimpiness of the Democratic leadership in Congress, impeachment is on the table. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced HR 333 calling for the impeachment of Cheney. Although mainstream Republicrats are afraid of it, some 24 House members have signed on as co-sponsors … But what really got me going was the National Lawyers Guild, which as an organization has called unanimously for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, and drawn up articles cataloguing their attacks on constitutional civil liberties and international law. NLG specifically calls on local governments to join in this action … And what further has me concerned has been this administration’s beating the war drums for an unprovoked attack on Iran. After they lied the nation into war in Iraq, I will not stand by and see us led into another disastrous foreign intervention that will kill more innocent citizens as well as soldiers and bankrupt our treasury in the process. The calls for impeachment are a counter-balance to the jingoistic war-mongering at work in the White House. If this president tries to take us into another war (which only Congress is authorized under the Constitution to declare), then I want to seek impeachment against him and his advisors … But it isn’t my call alone on how the county responds to this call for impeachment. It’s the job of the people to let the commissioners know where they stand. And to that end, I think holding public hearings in both ends of the county is the way to proceed. We need to see what the people say.



The Grace of Going
— for caroline stoufer

december snow settling in
crunching & collapsing
crystalline underfoot
on the walk to my studio
out back of Cloud Acre
icicles elegant as buckskin
drip their silver sparkles
from the eaves

in my dream
you are surrounded
by books rare ores
walls begin to burn
rock turns molten
cools to crystal

backlit by sunlight
like these San Juans of ours
you taught us
the grace of going
flesh to ash heart to stone

JIM HIGHTOWER … While Bush’s approval rating is only 24 percent, Congress fares even worse with a mere 11 percent. So, what could the Dems do with real leadership, since they have (nominal) control of both houses? … Hightower has the answer: “There should be a barrage of investigative hearings, a proliferation of exposés on war profiteering, a surge of subpoenas, a hailstorm of contempt citations, a thousand specific cuts (none harming the troops) in Bush’s war budget, and unleashing of Congress’s inherent contempt power — in other words, a strategic, unrelenting antiwar offensive of the legislative branch to march right in the face of BushCheney executive arrogance, reframe the debate, and rally the people.”

DEBTOR NATION … There is now an average of five active credit cards for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. Of 145 million cardholders of record, 55 million pay off their accounts each month. The other 90 million pay high interest rates on their balances … Most of you are too young to remember a time when we only bought things we saved up for. And yet that day may come again … Particularly as gold prices continue to soar to their highest level in decades – a sure-fire indicator of looming financial chaos … If the nation were serious about curbing the excesses of the sub-prime lending fiasco, the leadership might employ the recommendations of Mortimer Zuckerman (U.S. News editorial, Nov. 12, 2007) … (1) Require loan originators to hold a percentage of mortgages, giving them a motive for greater diligence because they have a stake in the long-run performance of the loans. … (2) Have Federal Reserve act against the practices that exacerbated the mortgage meltdown, including excessive penalties for repayment, lack of escrow accounts, low-documentation lending, and inadequate borrower repayment standards … (3) Investment institutions must find a way to be more transparent in terms of their holdings. A system that disperses risk in such a way that nobody knows who has lost, or how much, is as random in its victims as musical chairs — and a menace to the credit system that lubricates the real economy.

WEEKLY QUOTA … “Despise riches, give alms to every one who asks.” – Walt Whitman, from the preface to the first edition, Leaves of Grass. (Thanks to George Sibley & Maryo Ewell).

BUSH WATCH … Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in Iraq is fast becoming the “coalition of the defeated” (in elections). Supporters Jose Maria Aznar lost power in Spain, Silvio Berlusconi was defeated in Italy, and Tony Blair lost the Prime Ministry in England. All defeats prominently featured the issue of support for the nation’s troops in Iraq, with all victorious candidates or parties running on a platform of withdrawal of troops from our ill-fated Gulf War II … Now Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his Liberal party have lost in the worst election defeat in 63 years of Australian history. Not only did the Liberals lose the majority in Parliament, but Howard was defeated for re-election in his own district, marking the first time since 1929 that a sitting Prime Minister not only lost control of government but also re-election as a member of Parliament. George W. Bush traveled to Australia in September to campaign for Howard, calling him a “man of steel” and declaring, “We’re kicking [butt] in Iraq.”

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT … That was a revered dictum in my house when I was growing up. We were a poor family. My parents had lived through the Depression. And eating what was on our plates was strictly enforced … As father of my own young family, I modified that tableside rigor a bit. One was required to eat any helping you took yourself. So, if your eyes were bigger than your stomach, it was your stomach that suffered. It taught my first batch of kids to help themselves only to what they were willing to ingest. … As head of the household for a second family now, and living with a partner who sees no wisdom in stuffing oneself with food, I’ve given up trying to prevent food waste at the dinner table. So I c o m p o s t . Whatever we eat or don’t eat, none of the comestibles get tossed out. Instead, at worst, they are recycled and go to feed my hungry potato fields … According to a University of Arizona study, American households throw away 14 percent of the food they purchase (25 percent of the produce). … My friend Lance Christie of Moab explained in a recent email that he had a problem as a single person with food spoiling because these days it took so long to “finish eating a single pot of the gelatinous schlog du jour I prepared. . . I buy fresh foods for the next one or two meals I plan to cook, and do not keep any staples. I will buy four bananas, one pear, and one apple, for example, which will give me at least four days’ fruit salads.”

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.