Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Plausible and Patriotic Case for Impeachment

Evidently, according to Dennis Kucinich's web site, he was to give a news conference today on a plan to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. ("Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 5 p.m. on the Cannon Terrace, intersection of Independence and New Jersey Avenue".) I'm not finding the coverage at the moment...

It got me to thinking about a program I heard on public radio last month. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson was on Tom Ashbrook's program On Point Monday, March 26, 2007. I found it riveting. I decided to transcribe portions of it because I thought it important and worth sharing. (Naturally, I recommend that you listen to the whole program.) Excerpts:

Host Tom Ashbrook: Why are you calling for the impeachment of President Bush?

Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson (pictured): I think this president has so badly abused his power, breached his trust in remarkable ways with our Congress, with the American people, has violated so many of our international treaty obligations, our Constitution, our domestic statutory laws, and has been responsible for ordering and condoning heinous human rights violations. We need to draw the line.

The impeachment clause in the United States Constitution is actually there to help preserve our balance of power among the three branches of government. It is there to help preserve our democracy against those who would go so far beyond our executive power. If there is ever a time when impeachment would be appropriate, this is certainly the time.

TA: How do you understand your role in these big global issues?

RA: Well, I think anybody has a huge responsibility, especially anyone in any leadership position, to stand up and speak out against the kinds of abuses of power, the Constitutional and treaty violations we have seen, the human rights abuses that have been perpetrated in our nation’s name. What are we becoming?

I think that impeachment is absolutely crucial to send a message to the world, and to the future of our country, that this is not representative of America, this is not representative of our values, and we are not this kind of a nation, and we won’t stand for it any more, and I think that it’s also a very important message to the future, that the President cannot declare for himself a unitary executive power─that’s what President Bush and Vice President Cheney call it─meaning, that in times of War, they get to be a dictator; they are above the law, above the Constitution, and beyond the reach of the court. It’s a frightening time. I used to think impeachment was a fairly radical idea. I think that it would be a huge endorsement of our separation of powers, our constitutional and democratic system of government.

[The program then featured a sound clip of Mayor Anderson’s speech the previous week in Salt Lake City on the 4th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion: ] “I do not state this lightly, but the record demonstrates, President Bush is a War Criminal. He has blatantly violated relevant treaties and constitutional provisions in leading the United States to a so-called preemptive war against Iraq, without any justification in law or in fact. He must be held accountable. In our democracy, under our constitutional system of government, he must be held accountable through impeachment, and removal from office, for the many violated treaties and constitutional provisions, and if we don’t, those treaties and provisions are nothing more than paper and pretense.”

T.A.: How did you end up on this spot?

R.A.: I hold very dearly the underlying values, not only constitutional values of our country, but also the moral values, the kinds of values that have, for our nation’s history, set us apart from totalitarian governments, and we are becoming like them under this president, who claims for himself a power beyond the Constitution, beyond the courts, and beyond the legislature. This is a president who misled our country in very fundamental ways in taking us to a war of aggression that is absolutely violative of our solemn treaty obligations, under the United Nations charter, under many other treaties, that absolutely prohibit the invasion, the attack by one country against another country, unless it’s in self-defense.

The misleading of Congress, the misleading of the American people, toward a war of aggression in violation of our solemn treaty obligation is clearly an impeachable offense. The carrying out, the ordering, during a two year secret program of warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, in violation of both the United States Constitution, 4th Amendment, and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, an act specifically passed by Congress to prevent warrantless wiretaps and to set up a very easy procedure to obtain a wiretap under those circumstances, he just blew it all off and said, “I’m President of the United States, I’m above it all, nobody gets to tell me what to do,” and he blatantly violated our Constitution, listening in, ordering the listening in on American citizens’ conversations.

With people in authority, there is a real predilection by many people in this country to forget about our fundamental American values and what’s happening to our country, and rather it’s this cult of personality, it’s the sense that you’ve got to follow our President, and if you don’t, you’re not patriotic.

President Roosevelt said, Theodore Roosevelt, I think, said it so well when he said, “When your President’s doing wrong, you have a patriotic duty to stand up and take him on, not just blindly fall in line with him, and if you don't, that’s not only being morally off the mark, but it’s being unpatriotic, because patriotism is not love for the person in that office, it’s love for your country.”
Colorado Republican state chairman Dick Wadhams joins the conversation.
R.A. This is not about political party partisanship. This needs to be about who we are as Americans. If Dick Wadhams and Republicans and even Democrats…there are plenty of Democrats who have been absolutely pathetic in the United States Congress these last several years, sitting by, when you talk about a culture of obedience, a complacency that, I think, we’ll look back on with real shame, historically.

T.A.: You hear Dick Wadhams saying to you, Mayor Anderson, he wants your face to be the face of the Democratic Party because he believes it’s a political loser.

R.A.: Well, I think, he hasn’t looked at the polls in this country. This president’s ratings are completely in the toilet. According to some polls, the majority of people have said that if the President misled us into this war, he should be impeached, if the President ordered the unconstitutional warrantless wiretappings of American citizens, he should be impeached.

T.A.: What do you think, Dick Wadhams, when you hear Rocky Anderson call for impeachment, call the President a war criminal

Dick Wadhams: I think it’s sad. I think he’s way out of the mainstream [laughing] of frankly even the Democratic Party. Even the Democratic Party is not going to go down that road because they know that would be overreaching and the American people would reject that.

R.A.: All I would say is, for someone to support this president and oppose impeachment, I would have to ask Dick Wadhams, do you believe that human beings should be kidnapped, by order of our President─is that what we’ve become?─that we actually kidnap, hold people without charges, send them off to other countries to be tortured, or, for the detainees that we incarcerate, engage in torture without accountability?

T.A. Dick Wadhams, is that okay by you, Mr. Wadhams?

D.W.: I think you ought to approach your own people and get this impeachment resolution moving with your party. I think that’s what you ought to do.

T.A.: What do you mean? And what about Rocky Anderson’s question? What about kidnapping and torture, as he would have it?

D.W.: Oh, I’m not going to go down that road. I’m not going to play on his turf. [Anderson chuckles].

T.A.: Do you say it has not happened? Or it’s happened, but we had to do it because of extraordinary circumstances?

D.W.: [stammering] We’re talking about the Rocky Mountain West and the political situation in the Rocky Mountain West, what else do you want to talk about on that?

T.A.: [awkward pause] Uh, well, I guess it’s a national issue…I guess all Americans have some stake in that, but we see where you’re drawing the line there.

R.A.: You see what I’m talking about in terms of this culture of obedience? That you’re not even willing to talk about the fact that our country is responsible for torturing human beings, kidnapping them, holding them in communicado without charges…

T.A. [Talking over Anderson] We’ve got to take a break here…I want to thank Dick Wadhams, Colorado Republican State Chairman, for joining us. Salt Lake City, Utah Mayor Rocky Anderson is with us.
After the break, Wadhams was gone, but the fun continued when a caller defended the Iraq invasion by implying that Saddam Hussein was Public Enemy #1 in the war on terror. Anderson was very polite in setting her straight.

I used up all my spare time today transcribing this, so I'll have to leave my brilliant eloquence on the subject to your imagination, except to say that I fully support this approach to impeaching George W. Bush.

Do listen to the program. Rocky has a very pleasant voice.

    From Today's Soundtrack:

  • Smoke Rings─Laurie Anderson─Home of the Brave
  • For What It’s Worth─Buffalo Springfield
  • Where Have the Actors Gone─Sunny Wilkinson, vocal; Shelly Berg, piano─Morten Lauridsen: Northwest Journey
  • Moe ’Uhane (Dream Slack Key)─Sonny Chillingworth─Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters
  • Try a Little Tenderness─Otis Redding
  • Casacabeles Azules (nana)─Pepe Marchena─Flamenco
  • Opening Parade, Bali Arts Festival─Recorded by David Lewiston─Global Celebration 4: Gatherings, Joyous Festivals
  • Gregorio Allegri: Miserere mei, deus─Stephen Cleobury; Choir Of King’s College Cambridge─Allegri Miserere, Etc.
  • Mockingbird─Carly Simon w/James Taylor─Hot Cakes (with a shoutout to Xtinpore)
  • Pete─Dinah Washington─Stairway to the Stars

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