Thursday, January 31
It may be a purely symbolic gesture, but the upcoming Town Meeting vote on whether Brattleboro should indict President Bush and Vice President Cheney certainly raised the ire of conservatives all over the country.

The Municipal Center was swamped this week with nasty phone calls and e-mails, many containing language unprintable in this newspaper.

The level of rage from those who still believe that President Bush can do no wrong is astounding to behold. But while we're surprised there are still that many people in America who support Bush, we understand their rage.

Put yourself in the shoes of a diehard Bush supporter. You believed President Bush would avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but Osama bin Laden has never been captured and Afghanistan remains a safe haven for al-Qaida.

You believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq posed a grave threat to America, but the WMDs turned out to have never existed and all the rationales for war turned out to be lies (see www. publicintegrity.org/WarCard for a fully searchable database of hundreds of false statements issued by the Bush administration in the two years after 9/11.

You believed him when President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," and proclaimed that major combat operations in Iraq were over. Now, nearly 4,000 Americans and about 1 million Iraqis have died in a conflict that was only supposed to last a few weeks and now is about to enter its sixth year.

You believed that President Bush would create a leaner, more efficient government, yet the size of the federal government has expanded and the federal budget surplus he inherited in 2001 is now a $9 trillion deficit.

You believed America would remain the unquestioned No. 1 superpower in the world. Now we're the No. 1 debtor nation, the dollar is weaker than it has been in decades and our influence on world affairs shrinks by the day.

In the face of all this, some little pipsqueak town in Vermont dares to call your president a war criminal and calls for his indictment and arrest.

We feel your pain. The man you believed was destined for greatness is now headed for the dustbin of history. Future historians will rate George W. Bush as the worst president ever. And the last remnants of the conservative majority you thought would last for decades will likely be swept away in November's election.

We fully realize that there is absolutely no chance that Brattleboro will indict and arrest Bush and Cheney. But three years ago, impeachment seemed like a crazy idea, too.

Conservatives laughed at Vermont in 2005 when Town Meeting voters around the state approved resolutions calling for Bush's impeachment. Now, the intransigence of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress is all that's preventing impeachment from taking place.

Nobody likes to be on the wrong side of history. That's why we have a certain amount of sympathy for the people who are attacking this town from the safety of their computer keyboards. Everything they believed in has been betrayed by an administration that exploited their trust.

Watching these people reminds us of the late psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' famous "Five Stages of Grief." They haven't really dealt with the first stage, denial and isolation ("Is Bush really that bad? It can't be.") Judging from the e-mails we've seen, they're very deep into the second stage, anger. They're entering the third stage, bargaining ("Maybe if we can find a real conservative like Ronald Reagan, everything will be better.") Stage four, depression, may be starting to sink in as they see that their presidential choices for 2008 are John McCain or Mitt Romney.

We're not sure if they will get to the final stage, acceptance ("Maybe John McCain isn't really that bad, after all.") We hope they do, eventually. If we as a nation are to eventually recover from the long nightmare that has been the Bush presidency, we'll need the support of those angry letter writers.

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Vt. town hammered over petition to arrest, prosecute Bush and Cheney

4e6e1a61cbfa42068ed4f692bc6ce479 Officials in Brattleboro, Vt., have been inundated with e-mails and phone calls since outsiders learned about a petition that calls for local police to arrest President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the Associated Press says.

The town's Selectboard approved the measure last Friday, meaning that voters in Brattleboro will be asked to vote on the following resolution in early March:

Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?

The Rutland Herald reports that town officials stopped answering the phone on Monday because of the "nastiness" of the calls they were receiving from websurfers across the country. "We're getting e-mails and phone calls, nasty, nasty e-mails, I've only a gotten a few," Town Clerk Annette Cappy tells the paper. "You couldn't repeat most of those calls, they are nasty and nasty."

A518330964224f1cb5235aaa558bb71c The whole thing appears to be a waste of time. AP says none of the officials named in the resolution has the authority to arrest, detain or otherwise prosecute to the president and vice president. "It is largely symbolic," Kurt Daims, the petition's author, tells the Herald.

The Vermont Cynic, a student newspaper at the University of Vermont, notes in a story about the controversy that "The White House did not comment on the issue."

Here's the statement that town officials posted on their website amid all the hullabaloo about the petition:

On January 25 the Town Clerk’s office received a petition from Brattleboro resident Kurt Daims. Per Town Charter, a petition containing signatures from 5% of Brattleboro voters can be placed on the ballot for a Town-wide vote. Mr. Daims’ petition did contain the required number of signatures. At a meeting on January 25, the Brattleboro Selectboard voted 3-2 to place the petition on the ballot. Reasons given by Board members voting in the affirmative centered on the belief that if a petition contained the required signatures, the voters should have the opportunity to vote on the matter. Reasons given by Board members voting on the dissent centered on the belief that articles outside the scope and authority of the Town should not go before the voters of the Town. The Brattleboro Town Attorney has stated that the petition has no legal standing, as the Town Attorney has no authority to write an indictment and the Town Police Department has no authority to attempt an arrest of the President of the United States.

The Town will vote on the article on March 4.

How would you vote if you lived in Brattleboro? Vote here.

(Photo of Selectboard meeting, top, and Daims taken by Zachary P. Stephens,
Brattleboro Reformer via AP.)

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2008/01/vt-town-hammere.html