August 2007


On July 19, 2007 the Board unanimously voted to support and call for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Chapter Vice President Bob Mayhew explains why:

Impeachment is an indispensable part of a system of checks and balances that sustains our democracy. When strong evidence exists of the most serious crimes, we must use impeachment or lose the ability of the legislative branch to compel the executive to obey the law. This is not a question of supporting one party over another, but of upholding the rule of law over both of them. It is not about partisan politics but about power.

The assaults we are witnessing on our Constitution by George Bush and Dick Cheney are unprecedented. They include lying to Congress and the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq, violating the Geneva Convention by torturing prisoners of war, conducting illegal wiretaps of American citizens, obstructing an investigation into and covering up knowledge of the deliberate exposing of the identity of a U.S CIA undercover operative and violating the Constitution by using signing statements to defy hundreds of laws passed by Congress.

Impeachment is the tool, the cure that protects us from over-reaching power. It is a gift from the Founding Fathers who envisioned the possibility of executive abuses of power. Without the checks and balances granted the three branches in the Constitution we lose our ability to hold our elected officials accountable.

The Presidency of the United States is not a kingship. It is an office the holder is elected to by a majority of the citizens of this country. In that capacity the President and Vice President have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the land and to protect and defend the Constitution. George Bush and Dick Cheney have consistently demonstrated contempt for the law and are systematically dismantling our constitutional checks and balances. It is the citizens’ duty to call for their impeachment and hold them accountable.

To do this at this time, with only 18 months of their administration remaining is even more important. It is not a question of removing them from office it is about checking power. Once power is ceded to the Presidency it will not be easily given back. The power of this Presidency will be transferred to the successors.

John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, stated on Bill Moyer’s Journal, July 13, 2007, “When the Founders spoke about impeachment, one of the things that Madison and George Mason spoke about was the notion that you needed the power to impeach, particularly in regards to pardons and commutations because a president might try to take the burden of the law off members of his administration to prevent them from cooperating with Congress in order to expose wrongdoings by the president himself”, as George Bush may have done in the case of Scooter Libby.

It takes vigilance on the part of citizens to sustain democracy. The nation’s founders expected ordinary people to take up the patriot’s task. Let us hope we are able to fulfill their trust and will take the time to learn more about the reasons and need to impeach. Using those often cited lyrics, “you don’t know what you got ’til its gone”, we need to recognize we are about to lose our ability to hold our government accountable. Regret is a poor substitute for action today. It is time to check the power of the executive and restore legislative and judicial balance.

Please call or write your congress person and tell them to join in the fight to curtail executive power and reestablish the constitutional checks and balances by impeaching President George Bush and Vice-President Richard Cheney.

–Julie and Bob Mayhew

President’s Message

I recently returned from the 66th Annual Conference of the American Humanist Assoication. Attending a conference for four full days is quite an experience. It is exhilarating, interesting, informative, and when it was over, I was quite exhausted. One thing that happened to me was that I wanted to attend so many of the sessions (and did) that I wore myself out. On two of the days, sessions started at 8 or 9 in the morning with a banquet ending at 10 in the evening.

In addition to all the good stuff that the AHA presents, there is the added bonus of being around and having discussions with the many like-minded conference attendees from all around the country.

I have come back with some ideas I hope we can use with our chapter and some reassurances from other chapter leaders that they face the same challenges we face here at Humanists of Utah, namely, growing the chapter and promoting humanism.

I collected a small mountain of handouts and notes on the many sessions I attended. I will have more to say about these sessions when I have had more time to digest all the information and have discussed it with other board members.

A piece of good news I received at the conference is that our chapter was given a thousand dollar check from Ron Renard of the AHA Chapter Assembly for our grant application to assist in our efforts to attract young people, and people in general, to the cause. We will likely use it to sponsor more debates and forums like the “Is God Necessary for Ethics” debate we co-hosted at the University of Utah.

Back here in Utah, we had an enjoyable evening on June 21, the Summer Solstice, watching The Gods Must be Crazy. Although we are having a summer recess, some of us find it hard not to have some kind of humanist activity. Movie night helps fill that need. We will be having movie nights every so often; and I enjoy them as a way to get together, relax and watch a classic movie. Suggestions for what to watch are always welcome. I was amused when an individual who attended said he would join our chapter if we showed The Hospital with George C. Scott. If we do show it, I plan to hold him to his word.

I want to remind you to mark your calendar and attend our Picnic/BBQ on August 9, when we kick off our new season of events. I hope to see you then.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

A Metaphor for President Bush?

In the current issue of Religious Humanism, Paul Woodruff, Professor of Ethics at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote this about the hubris of ancient Athens.

“At a certain stage, at the height of its success, Athens decided to take on Syracuse, the biggest and richest city that Athens did not control. They obviously weren’t driven mad by the gods; they were crazed with their own success. They were so successful that they just didn’t believe that this could go wrong. Besides, they had noble (as well as mercenary) motives; by expanding their empire they were adding to the area that could participate in trade under their umbrella. It was good for the economy to be part of their empire; they fostered democracy in the states that belonged to their empire. But this war turned out to be a disaster, and they were terribly defeated. To make matters worse, the Greek states outside the empire became very angry at the tyrannical way in which Athens was carrying on in the empire, and the result was, eventually, the total defeat of Athens. Human nature affected the result two ways: it led to disaster because hubris made the city blind, but also because hubris antagonized other people so much that they mobilized to put down the imperial state.”

The neocons and theocons controlling the current Bush administration may want to ponder this as a possible metaphor of their Middle East entanglements.

–Flo Wineriter

In Memoriam

Rabbi Sherwin Wine

1928 ~ 2007

Rabbi Sherwin Wine, the leader of a worldwide Jewish movement that viewed the religion as a culture rather than a faith died in an automobile accident in Morocco.

Wine was born in Detroit in 1928 and raised by conservative Jewish parents. He earned a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of Michigan.

He authored several books including Humanistic Judaism, Judaism Beyond God, and Staying Sane in a Crazy World.

He founded the Birmingham Michigan Temple in 1963 and helped establish the Society for Humanistic Judaism in 1969. He retired in 2003. He built a movement that began with eight Detroit area families into a worldwide one with an estimated 40,000 members. He was the AHA Humanist of the Year in 2003.

Humanists of Utah expresses condolences to his family and loved ones.

American Civil Liberties Union

Member Recommended Websites

The American Civil Liberties Union was If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled. Liberties are respected, even in times of national emergency.

“If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.”

American Civil Liberties Union

Summer Party

Humanists of Utah Annual Summer Picnic was a smashing success. About 40 people turned out to share some good food and even better conversation. Here are some pictures from the affair:

Richard Layton, Heather Dorrell, & Flo Wineriter

Cindy King Cooking
Rolf Kay
Sarah Smith and partner
Bob Mayhew & John Young
Martha Stewart