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Vermont Leads America on Impeachment

Inside Track


Published April 25, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.

As this week's edition of Seven Days hits the streets and the Internet on Wednesday, Montpelier's golden dome will be the center of the national debate on impeaching the most crooked, dangerous, dishonest and damaging administration in American history - that of George "WMD" Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington announced at Tuesday's Democratic House caucus that she will do what she said she would never do: allow the Bush-Cheney Impeachment Resolution to come up for floor debate and a vote on Wednesday.

Miracles never cease!

A week ago, Symington and Senate Democratic leader Peter Shumlin stood shoulder to shoulder in the Cedar Creek Room and told more than 100 pro-impeachment Vermonters from every corner of the state they simply did not "have time to deal with it." More important matters at hand!

Three days later, Sen. Shumlin abruptly tossed his Democratic House Leader over the side and slid an impeachment resolution through the state senate as the day's first order of business. Took less than 10 minutes.

With Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie out of state, Shummy was presiding officer, running the session. The resolution, as you know, passed 16-9, with all six Republicans and three Democrats voting "no."

What few realize is that any one of those "no" voters could have killed the impeachment resolution by making a motion to send it to committee. Under Senate rules, Shumlin would have been required to do so automatically, without debate.

Instead, the "no" voters bit their tongues.

Very interesting.

None apparently wanted their name on the record as the one Vermonter who saved George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from national embarrassment.

It's also worth noting that, in their press remarks the next day, neither Lite-Gov Dubie nor any of the Republican senators personally criticized Sen. Shumlin for pushing the resolution through. Dubie issued a very brief statement that recalled the loss of a friend on September 11 and stated he supports the president.

"I met President Bush when he came to Ground Zero to thank me and the thousands of other workers," said Doobie-Doo in his release. "The President earned my respect and support that day."

Not a mention about the days since, however.

The fact of the matter is, the impeachment movement has been the first grassroots movement we've witnessed in Vermont in years. Many Vermonters, including our state's entire congressional delegation, smelled a rat here from the get-go.

Let's not forget that Vermont was the only state in the nation whose entire congressional delegation voted "no" back in 2002 on the original resolution giving George "WMD" Bush the green light to invade Iraq.

Imagine how it'll read in the history books, eh?

And now, the Vermont State Senate is the first legislative body in America with the patriotism and courage to pass a resolution that would hold those responsible for this bloodbath accountable.

You know, the most remarkable thing about Vermont's impeachment movement is just how truly grassroots it is. Not the usual suspects. Most of these folks are new faces we don't recognize from prior Vermont political protests.

In fact, Liza Earle, the 28-year-old baker/nanny from Richmond who has been one of the movement's key organizers, told us she has "never before in her life been politically active."

Why now?

Ms. Earle revealed that it's the result of her 2007 New Year's resolution.

"I started getting so down in December," she told "Inside Track," "trying to celebrate the holidays when I knew this war was going on."

She said she resolved "to stop just sitting around and complaining." She added it's "the best resolution I've ever made, and I've stuck with it."

Thanks, Liza.

Obviously, she's not alone.


Personal Matters - It was Friday the 13th. Really. I was parked on the couch outside the Statehouse cafeteria around the noon hour. Lots of people passing. Hustle-bustle time. Tons of chat.

Out of the blue, a Rutland County House member appeared and handed me a package. A gift to me, he said, from his wife.

I thanked him and smiled. And after he departed I made the wise-acre crack, "If I get one more frickin' book or CD about cancer I'm going to blow my brains out!"

Everyone laughed. But then the lawmaker popped back around the corner.

"Give it back, then," someone uttered.

I blushed. Awkward moment. I knew the intentions expressed by the gift giver were rock-solid. You see, the representative's wife had contacted me a couple months ago when the news got out about my cancer: fast-growing, large B-cell, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She, like other new folks I've met this year, have been down this road before me and, happily, are here to let me know: "You can make it." In fact, the rep's wife has the same type of lymphoma I have, and has been down the chemotherapy route twice.

"No," said the House member who had given me the present. He wouldn't think of taking the cancer book back. "One day," he said, "it may come in handy."

Words of wisdom.

Since going public with my cancer both here and on the Seven Days "Freyne Land" blog (which has turned into a daily column), this writer has received an outpouring of good wishes and prayers from a couple hundred friends, acquaintances, readers, rivals and "Vermont This Week" watchers I never knew existed. The good vibes blew me away and quickly lifted my spirits.

I also received special fruit juices, herbal teas, blender food, alfalfa pills, books on everything from cancer to Buddhism and CD tunes, chants, philosophical lectures and spiritual journeys, and on and on.

Overwhelming. The good intentions of so many felt better than any medicine I've ever taken.

However, I wasn't ready to change my "normal" life in some kind of last-minute quest for enlightenment and wisdom. Death, after all, has been a certainty since birth. I was not about to automatically stop being the person I am and start acting like a cancer patient is "supposed" to act.

In fact, one impression I quickly picked up from cancer "survivors" has been their appreciation of the preciousness of each day and the people in it, as well as their determination to be themselves and live life to the fullest.

What's been maddening about getting cancer is that not a single one of the medical experts in the white coats have been able to tell me what the hell caused it.

What doctors do is diagnose and treat. Solving the mystery is not part of their job description. That's for police detectives and journalists. And, believe me, to a journalist that's just not acceptable.

Which is why it was my good fortune to pick up the book, two days later, that the state rep's wife had given me. It's called Cancer as a Turning Point by Lawrence LeShan, Ph.D.

LeShan has done 35 years of research on cancer patients, starting in the 1950s. I was a toddler back then, and when grownups mentioned the "C" word, it was in hushed tones. Quite simply, cancer was the kiss of death. No ifs, ands or buts.

In those days, cancer treatment was primarily surgery and radiation, followed quickly by funeral services. Cancer was treated as a local, isolated problem. Cut it out or shoot it full of X-rays.

As we all know, such treatment wasn't very effective.

What LeShan learned was that the medical approach to treating cancer had changed dramatically around 1900, when surgery came into vogue. Previously, the best medical minds viewed cancer holistically - and linked it to a person's emotional life. But with the rise of surgery in the 20th century, the psychosomatic view of cancer quickly faded away.

In extensive interviews with thousands of cancer victims, Dr. LeShan found something that simply could not be ignored.

The single thing that emerged most clearly during my work was the context in which the cancer developed. In a large majority of the people I saw, there had been, previous to the first noted signs of the cancer, a loss of hope in ever achieving a way of life that would give real and deep satisfaction, that would provide a solid raison d'être, the kind of meaning that makes us glad to get out of bed in the morning . . . the kind of life that makes us look forward zestfully to each day and to the future.

LeShan didn't just do interviews. He also looked at the statistics. Widows and widowers, for example, regardless of age, have a higher likelihood of getting cancer. And in men, the highest peak in cancer came after retirement, again regardless of age.

As I was reading this, the bells and whistles were going off in my head. The answer the doctors on Hospital Hill couldn't come up with was right before my eyes.

Why did I get cancer? In fact, mine's a particularly fast-growing type of lymphoma that, without modern chemotherapy "wonder-drug" treatment, normally results in a quick exit from the human stage.

Why me? Why now? Truth be told, I got cancer because I wanted to! I was at a point where I did want to leave the human stage. It had been a good life - wouldn't trade it for anyone else's - but something was suddenly sorely missing: hope.

It was about one year ago, back in the spring of 2006, that I realized it.

Global warming, or rather the cause of global warming, continued to be ignored by the leaders of the strongest, most powerful nation on Earth - mine.

And those same leaders remained in control of the White House and of Congress, despite dragging America into its worst military/political disaster in history.

Last May, this lifelong news junkie (grew up on Huntley-Brinkley), stopped watching the network news. Couldn't take the scenes of senseless slaughter in Iraq night after night anymore.

In August, I started attending local church services for the first time in decades. Eternity was elbowing its way into my consciousness.

In November I began going to a local friend's men's group. Wonderful people, got my feelings out, but I still saw no light at the end of the tunnel.

Then, in December, I went to see my older and only sister in New Mexico, whom I haven't seen in almost 20 years. Why?

Something inside me just knew I was going to be checking out soon, and I wanted to say good-bye to her before departure.

It was New Year's night, out there in Sante Fe, New Mexico, when I first felt the lump in my abdomen that turned out to be a fast-growing tumor. Back in Burlington a few days later, I visited the doctor up at the Mary Fanny, excuse me, Fletcher Allen Health Care. Diagnosis was swift and treatment started within weeks. Right now, I'm just past the halfway point, and so far, so good. The tumor has shrunk dramatically and the tests indicate the chemo is doing what it's supposed to do - killing the cancerous cells. Unfortunately, it kills a lot more, too. No one said it would be easy.

But what has really changed in my life is that, everywhere I turn these days, I see Vermonters who have refused to give up hope. Determined, thoughtful, caring people of all ages who simply will not quietly stand by, like the "good Germans" of the 1930s, and watch the illegal murder, mayhem and torture that's been "legally" unleashed in Iraq and elsewhere by the Bush administration.

Vermonters, as "Doones- bury" has shown millions of readers, were not afraid to express that view at almost 40 town meetings last month. And they're not so busy that they haven't had time to let their elected state representatives know how they feel.

Vermonters also know the global-warming crisis is for real. They want to make the changes needed, both politically and personally, as well as technologically, to reduce its negative impact on Mother Earth for the generations to come after us.

I know it sounds crazy, but, for me, getting cancer has been a wonderful thing. It's forced me to take a very close and clear look at what caused the cancer in the first place. The body and the mind, folks, are one. Never forget that.

What's different about 2007 from 2006 is that the little light at the end of my tunnel is back! And it's only going to get brighter. The traitorous Bush-Cheney administration is on the run. The times are changing and they're changing for the better, because individuals in Vermont and across America are taking responsibility.


And hope, I've learned in the last few months, is the best drug of all.