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Vote my congressman (and others) out of office — and power

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My New York state District 29 congressman, Rep. John R. “Randy” Kuhl, voted this week for H.R. 6166, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a.k.a the “terrorist tribunal” bill. The Senate approved the bill too, giving the president a political victory weeks before the mid-term elections.

That’s the last straw. His vote cost him my vote for re-election on Nov. 7.

Rep. Kuhl explained his vote in a press release:

“I voted to guarantee that terrorists who attack our citizens, homeland and other interests around the world will be brought to justice swiftly,” said Rep. Kuhl. “The Military Commissions Act establishes the legal framework required for the new battle environment created by the ongoing war on terrorism. We must protect our troops and intelligence officers and abide by all international laws and treaty obligations.

“Under this bill, detainees will be granted some of the basic rights afforded to citizens in our court system such as right to counsel, right to an appeal, right to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right against self-incrimination,” said Rep. Kuhl. “However, the bill will protect our clandestine operatives from having their identities revealed to possible members of terrorist groups.”

The New York Times took a different view of the bill in an editorial:

… Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In fact, The Times picked the bill apart point by point, dissecting its impact on enemy combatants, the Geneva Conventions, habeus corpus, judicial review, coerced evidence, secret evidence and torture.

He lost my vote, but not because he is a Republican. I just don’t want to vote for a politician who speaks to me in language that sounds … like a press release.

Rep. Kuhl spoke vaguely. The Times spoke precisely. I do not see Rep. Kuhl speaking his mind. I see him reading a script from the White House playbook. I want a congressman unafraid to be blunt, candid and independent. Rep. Kuhl has not shown that to me in his year and a half in office.

I’m sure that my Republican friends can point out Democratic representatives and senators who are “reading a script from the Democratic leaders’ playbook” and not speaking their minds. Democrats exist, as do Republicans, who are more interested in staying in office than being blunt, candid and independent.

We should want better. We should demand better. We should not accept slime tossed around by Democrats and Republicans alike in attack ads in lieu of forthright talk. We should compare what they say with what they do.

We, collectively, should take back our country from politicians of any stripe who have placed us in an America many no longer recognize as respected abroad and credible at home.

I support The Times‘ argument on the terrorist tribunals bill. That does not make me an appeaser, although my president and representative in Congress would no doubt consider me one. My friends, students and colleagues who agree with me are no less patriotic for their dissent against the president’s and Congress’ positions and actions.

We should want better than what our executive and legislative leaders have given us.

For those who say I’m dreaming, I answer: “No, it’s a nightmare.”


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

September 29, 2006 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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