Sunday, February 25, 2007

If he exceeds his reach, you must impeach

Two Saturdays ago, RadioNation with Laura Flanders addressed the issue of impeachment with Laura Flanders noting, "New Mexico approved it, Washington state is pushing a similar message and it's going town by town in Vermont." In fact, it's alive everywhere except in the US Congress.

Flanders guests were David Swanson and Elizabeth de la Vega. Flanders noted US House Rep John Conyers' statements at the rally in DC January 27th about how "we can fire him" meaning the Bully Boy. Flanders contrasted that with a February 16th Democracy Now! appearance where Conyers backed off that call by stating the the 2008 election being won by Democrats would be "firing" the Bully Boy. (Since the Bully Boy can not run for the White House in the 2008 election, even "laying off" would be too strong a word to describe what might happen in 2008.) A version of the points Flanders was making can be found online at Common Dreams.

Responding to the compare and contrast Flanders provided, de la Vega responded, "I do think that politics are getting in the way of what the substance of the debate should be and it is certainly disappointing that John Conyers would take this postion."

Swanson saw it differently and suggested that Conyers is providing "reasons to hope" while walking the line regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's edict that impeachment was "off the table." Swanson feels that is the case because "the two issues that could most easily go to impeachment, the signing statements and illegal spying" are things that Conyers is already investigating.

Is Conyers backing off or attempting to acknowledge the citizens' call while at the same time obeying Pelosi? We don't know.

We agree with Elizabeth de la Vega, who has been touring in promotion of her book United States v. George W. Bush et al., that the grassroots across the country are calling for impeachement as well as people who are not normally political. de la Vega: "To be honest with you, I've been going to a lot of book talks and such with people who are not activists in the least and they are asking me how do we get impechement proceedings started."

de la Vega explained that her book examines "the conspiracy to defraud the United States in the runup" to the illegal war and rests on "the sort of fraud that's prosecuted throughout the country" already.

Swanson believes that there should be a hard push during the next few months , noted the people's impeachment heartings that will be taking place around the country, and the April 28th nationwide protests as well as the "Bush Is Over" campaign (an update of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "War Is Over If You Want It" campaign).

Flanders noted that the issues are impunity and accountability, that "really, it's not about Bush or Cheney to me." de la Vega agreed, noting, "It's about our system of government. It's about holding people accountable. . . . No person is above the law and if we fail to hold people accountable simply because they are powerful then we are going to have a very difficult time holding other people accountable [later on] . . . It's not about being vindictive."

In addition to de la Vega's book, there are a number of other books out that explore the issue of impeachment. We recommend the following books.

The Center for Constitutional Rights' Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush was the first book out in the most recent wave (post 2004 election) on the subject and it provides legal reasoning for impeachment in easy to understand (for the lay person -- non-legal). At 141 pages of text (that's counting the appendix), this is a brief book and a great starter.

Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky's The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office builds on many of the reasons cited in CCR's book (Olshansky is the CCR's deputy director) and offers additional reasoning that includes domestic issues not related to spying (failures and criminal negligence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) as well as taking an in depth look at the Bully Boy's actions prior to occupying the Oval Office. This is a passionate call to action that will leave surprised by how quickly you read through the nearly 300 pages of text.

John Nichols' The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism argues impeachment as a people's remedy and demonstrates its past usage and roots in both the United States and England. This may be the more historical argument and, let's note, history doesn't have to equate "boring." (It doesn't in this book.)

Former Congress Rep Elizabeth Holtzman teams up with Cynthia L. Cooper for The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens. In January of 2006, Holtzman was among those who helped restart the discussion of impeachment by penning a cover story for The Nation. Here she and Cooper build on Holtzman's own work as part of the House Judiciary Committee exploring the impeachment of Richard Nixon and make a solid case for similarities between the two administrations. The first hand experience during the Nixon debacle give the book an added attraction to students of history and those interested in the earlier Bully Boy.

We give the last word to de la Vega who noted to Flanders, "What we come down to here is really the most serious abuses of power you could ever imagine." For those who missed the broadcast, an archived version is available here.
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