Letters to Officials

December 01, 2010

Letter sent to OR Sen. Jeff Merkley re: Filibuster reform

To Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR):

Thank-you for taking leadership -- effective leadership -- in crafting a reform to the filibuster.  While the principle of ensuring debate and ensuring a voice for a minority was sound, the implementation has rotted the Senate for years.  And this has gidlocked our entire system, emasculating the other two branches of government and the House.

I remember driving you between events when you were making a campaign swing through Yamhill County during your election.  The filibuster was the primary thing I thought needed work if America was to move forward again, so I'm very glad to see you pursuing it so vigorously.

Thanks for your hard work finding a solution that, if implemented, would help restore representational govermnet to the Senate.

- Will

December 04, 2007

Vote no on criminalizing speech

[To my Senators]

S. 1959, The Homegrown Terrorism Act of 2007 appears to be an excellent opportunity to throw Rush Limbagh and Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter in jail as terrorists.  Think about that.  I consider their speech vile and reprehensible, but I don't think they really are terrorists ... yet.  Do you?

We have laws on our books that allow law enforcement to prosecute violent crimes and conspiracies. We don’t need a law that criminalizes thought.

Please, vote NO on S. 1959.

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November 06, 2007

Support the American Freedom Agenda Act

[From American Freedom Campaign letter to my Congressman]

Dear Congressman David Wu:

Thinking about the on-going destruction of our constitutional form of government and the rule of law over the last few years makes me cry some days.

I can't believe that We The People have to read and talk and blog about how and when and to whom our government tortures people, detains them without due process, and the litany of acts by the administration outside our Constitution and yet with impunity from Congress.

I sincerely hope that you will be true to our American Constitution and will co-sponsor the American Freedom Agenda Act.

If you are interested in co-sponsoring this legislation, please contact Rep. Paul’s office at 225-2831.

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Reject Mukasey's nomination

[From American Freedom Campaign letter to my Senators]

Dear Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Gordon Smith:

I am writing to strongly urge you to vote against the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next attorney general of the United States.

Even if he would “depoliticize” the Justice Department with respect to partisanship, Mukasey demonstrated the same reverence for kingly prerogatives of power for the president to operate outside our Constitution, treaties and laws that Alberto Gonzales did not so very long ago.  His bizarre notions of executive power trumping the rights of the people and subordinate relationship to the Congress and Courts in many areas are unacceptable, regardless of his “integrity” or other characteristics attributed to him by others.

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Mukasey made numerous comments that demonstrate his lack of respect for domestic law and international treaties.  He went so far as to say that the president could ignore federal law whenever he determined -- on his own -- that national security interests trumped the laws of the land.

Here is just a sampling of the outrageous assertions made by Mukasey before the Judiciary Committee:

Mukasey refused to acknowledge that “waterboarding,” a technique used to simulate drowning during interrogations, constitutes torture.  Despite the fact that waterboarding is an infamous torture technique barred under both international and domestic law, Mukasey said that he was not familiar with the practice.  He could only meekly say, “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.”

Mukasey shockingly claimed that the president should not be bound by federal law.  When asked specifically whether the president is required to obey federal statutes, he said, “That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.”  It is that kind of attitude that led to the use of torture, the abuse of signing statements, and widespread and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping.  We are -- and we can only hope we will always be -- a government of laws, not of man (or woman).  It is not up to the president or other members of the administration to determine whether federal laws apply in a given situation.

Mukasey indicated that his Department of Justice would likely turn a blind eye to the Bush Administration practice of ignoring congressional subpoenas.  He was asked whether he would, as attorney general, direct the U.S. attorney in D.C. to refer contempt charges against Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to a federal grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires should the House or Senate pass a contempt resolution.  Despite the fact that executive privilege is traditionally asserted to protect certain documents or conversations -- not to defy completely a subpoena to appear before Congress -- Mukasey said that the U.S. attorney would have to determine whether the assertion of privilege was “unreasonable.”  I hope you -- as a sitting senator -- agree that there is no way this kind of executive branch defiance could be considered reasonable.

After the disastrous tenure of Alberto Gonazales, our next attorney general must be committed to upholding the rule of law.  Unfortunately, Michael Mukasey has demonstrated that he will place the whims and desires of the executive branch above both domestic and international law.  This is simply unacceptable.

I hope and expect that you will oppose the nomination of Michael Mukasey.

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April 19, 2007

Confirmations have consequences

[Cross-posted from Attorney General Hearings 4/19/2007]

Confirmations have consequences. This was predictable when Gonzales was confirmed in 2007 by the Republican-controlled Senate.

It was one thing for President Bush to nominate Alberto Gonzales, a man who advocated torture, isn't sure about the constitutionality of the filibuster and doesn't think there is a constitutional right to Habeas Corpus in the Constitution.  But it was another for the Republican-controlled Senate to approve his nomination two years ago in the face of clear knowledge of his constitutional incompetence and Bush loyalty-first approach to life.

I wrote at that time to Wyden and Smith that Gonzales should have been rejected on grounds of an incompetent understanding of our Constitution, an evident unwillingness to uphold his oath to the Constitution over personal loyalties and of lying and evasion to Senators while under oath.

And here we are. This is not just a Bush administration fault, but a fault of Republicanism.

[Update -- this is a link to a couple articles on impeachment of Gonzales]

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March 07, 2007

Advance renewable energy in Oregon

The following is an email exchange with my State Senator regarding SB373 to create a Renewable Energy Portfolio standard for Oregon electric utilities.

Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 10:52 AM

Dear Senator George,

I am writing to urge you to vote for SB 373, creating a Renewable Energy Standard for Oregon. Dependence on fossil fuels threatens our economy, while climate change threatens our environment. Oregon possesses abundant renewable resources to tackle these serious energy problems.  It's time to start doing just that. SB 373 is a practical, solution-oriented achievable law with multiple economic and environmental benefits.

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September 28, 2006

America's moment of truth

[To Senators, Smith, Wyden 9/28/2006]

Limiting access to the courts; indefinite detention (ending a centries old foundational element of democracy); allowing warrantless wiretapping without judicial or congressional oversight; Geneva convention treaty violations, torturing prisoners in secret prisons.

Enough is enough.

It is time to stop doing what is easy and do what is right. 

Terrorism does not present an existenital threat to America of the scale of tens of thousands of nuclear tipped Russian missles.  Now is the time to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the freedoms it gives us.  To erode them now is to let terrorism win.

Vote “no” to letting a President re-interpret the Geneva Conventions to suit his desires.  “No” to retroactive immunity to those who ordered or condoned constitutional, treaty and law violations.  “No” to torture.  “No” to suspending Habeas corpus.  “No” to kidnapping, secret prisons and “rendtions” to countries that torture.  “No” to “state secrets” to cover up all of the above.

President Bush has let us down a false path under false pretences.  Now our American soul hangs in the balance.  Your vote for or against torture, for or against the rule of law, for or against upholding the Constitution, its freedoms and principles are your moment of truth.

Stand for America’s best ideals and do not let fear destroy them.

This is our moment of truth.  As my Senator, this is your moment of truth.

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July 11, 2006

To Senator Smith : Re: William Haynes II

William J. Haynes II represents the most reprehensible of the administration tactics of creating obfuscating legalisms in which to circumvent duly passed laws, in this case, at the least, the circumventing of “common article” three of the Genva Conventions.  Treaties, as you will recall, having the full force of the US Constitution per Article VI:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;

“Supreme Law of the Land.”  What a phrase!  What force!  What utter clarity.  No nuance.  And yet, Haynes was complicit in trying to find legalisms in which  to hide torture so that, in violation of this treaty, this “supreme law of the land”, the administration could torture people.

He has demonstrated supreme lack of judgment and limited moral character.

This is not the sort of person who could ever hold the public’s trust and must not be confirmed.  He has already shown that he unwilling to be “bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution,” but rather to support illegal policies as proposed by his bosses.

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June 01, 2006

Protect our rights, not our customs

[To my senators and representative]

I'm happily married and expect  to stay that way and marriage doesn't need “protecting” in our constitution. 

Our constitution is about how we constitute our government and ensure our rights against incursion by the government or by people and groups that acquire great power in society and want to impose their views on the rest of us.

It should stay that way.

I strongly oppose the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution that would require discrimination against any specific group of Americans. The so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” is a betrayal of the American principles of equality and fairness and would enshrine discrimination into our Constitution for the first time.  Please oppose this misguided effort to amend our Constitution.

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March 14, 2006

To Senator Feingold

Senator Feingold

Thank-you for standing up, with John Conyers in the House and a few others, for the constitution and the rule of law in these difficult times. 

Egregious, flagrant, repeated flaunting of the constitution and the rule of law by the president with the collusion of the entire Republican party rises to the level of a matter of principle that must be defended, and not just be another mere political calculation.  I'm sorry so many Democratic colleagues equivocate and get out their “triangulators” searching for some political center instead.

There is no doubt in my mind who the patriots are and you are among them, not the fear-mongers sowing disord.

The Republican and Democratic representatives that are going along with the NSA wiretapping “compromise” are violating their own oaths of office to uphold the Constitution by agreeing to terms that don’t address the fundamental, illegal, unconstitutional overreach by the administration.


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