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The Democratic Majority: Enabling a Rogue Presidency and Stonewalling the American People

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To settle the crowd, Conyers offered to meet with activists afterwards. Leaders from the New Jersey Impeach Groups asked the congressman to initiate impeachment hearings. They were told to "work hard" and get one representative from New Jersey to sign onto Representative Kucinich’s resolution (H. Res. 333) to impeach Vice President Cheney. They explained that Congressman Donald Payne, who was on his way to the rally, had signed on a few weeks earlier.

The chair of the House Judiciary Committee grew solemn telling the group the risk of failing was too great. It was too risky to use powers granted by the Constitution to remove a few rogue leaders regardless of the consequences of not removing them. This type of exchange was becoming familiar to activists. A few weeks earlier at a meeting with progressive democrats in San Diego, Conyers told the group to get just three more members of Congress to back impeachment. At the time, there were 14 sponsors. Since the offer, 13 more members of Congress cosponsored H. Res. 333 with no movement within the House Judiciary Committee.

During the summer of 2007, Congressman Conyers crisscrossed the country. At every turn he was met with citizens who implored him to move on impeachment. In response, he coined a new phrase. At an August 28 town hall meeting in his home district in Michigan, constituents clamored for impeachment. Conyers announced, "Nancy Pelosi has impeachment 'off the table,' but that's off her table, it is not off John Conyers' table." The crowd erupted in applause.The same day in a telephone interview, the congressman discussed impeachment with journalist Amy Goodman. From the
Democracy Now website:

‘"I’ve got the constitution in one hand and a calculator in the other," House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D–MI) said today on Democracy Now! when asked about the possibility of impeachment. Conyers said hearings could "make the record clear that there has been a great deal of violation of the sworn oath of office, abuses of power…but there isn’t the time for it.’ He also said he doesn’t think there are enough votes in the House and Senate to support impeachment.’

Clearly, rogue administrations aren’t the only ones adept at stonewalling.

Failed Strategies

Members of Congress have inexplicably chosen not to harness their duly granted powers to take on a criminal administration. Instead, they cling to previously failed efforts.

The Letters

A very small sampling finds letters about
"fixed" intelligence, letters spanning two years from John Conyers to Fred Fielding requesting information and documents concerning warrantless wiretapping, and a letter from John Conyers to President Bush requesting the release of the Hadley memo related to claims of uranium from Africa and the "16 words."

There were several letters regarding the president’s signing statements including one from Senator Dick Durbin requesting confirmation from President Bush that he would indeed enforce legislation that was just enacted. Two years ago, Senator Leahy sent a letter to the president urging him to "cease and desist" from his unconstitutional use of presidential signing statements. GOP Senator Susan Collins sent President Bush a letter about opening letters.

The chair of the House Oversight Committee, Henry Waxman, sent letters to
Fred Fielding on the mystery of the missing White House e-mails. Recently, there was a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey from 46 House Democrats asking how he will ensure the President follows Congress’ ban on permanent bases in Iraq. Congress is now relegated to asking an uncooperative Attorney General to make sure the President takes care that the laws be faithfully executed.

The Subpoenas

When a few years of polite inquiries fail to produce results, Congress moves onto subpoenas. When used within the context of a healthy government, subpoenas prove to be quite effective. Why Democrats think that an overreaching, unaccountable administration would readily respond or cooperate fully is mind boggling.

Last April, House Democrats issued five subpoenas in a single morning related to the U.S. attorney firings, the use of RNC email accounts, and the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapons program. According to the
Washington Post, "The White House signaled that it will continue to resist efforts to secure testimony from Rice, Rove and other aides." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that she was "not inclined" to appear. To date, none of these issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of the House Democrats.


In February, eight months after issuing subpoenas to Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten, the House moved to initiate civil contempt proceedings. John Bresnahan of reported, "Pelosi noted that Conyers had sent nine different letters to current White House Counsel Fred Fielding seeking a compromise that would allow Bolten and Miers to appear, but Fielding refused to allow either aide, or former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, to testify in public or under oath."

Two weeks later, the Attorney General wrote a letter to Pelosi stating he would not refer congressional contempt citations to a grand jury or take any other action on the matter.

The Lawsuits

When all else fails, take ‘em to court. In 2006, John Conyers announced he was
"Taking the President to Court." After a battle over a Republican budget bill, the president despite being warned by Democrats, signed a Senate version that Democrats claimed had not been passed by the House. The purpose of the lawsuit? To seek confirmation from the court that a bill not passed by the House and Senate is not a law. The lawsuit never made it to court. Perhaps he never sung along with School House Rock.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last May that she would sue the President if he attached a signing statement to Congress’s Iraq funding bill. Of course, a simple and effective solution would be for the House Speaker to turn to Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution then quickly drop down to Section 4. [Note: There is no clause about the 2008 elections, time left or predetermining votes.]

This month after Mukasey refused to enforce Congressional subpoenas, House Democrats filed a
lawsuit against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers. And thus, the cycle continues.

New Legislation

In response to the Bush administration’s assertion that it did not require congressional approval for establishing any long-term security agreement with Iraq, the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced they were introducing new legislation to combat the situation. The legislation seeks to "reassert the constitutional powers of Congress in the shaping and conduct of U.S. foreign policy."

A move like this is not without inherent risk. If the legislation fails to pass, it can serve to bolster the administration’s arguments. If it does pass, we’re right back to the signing statement which is what brought this whole issue out in the open in the first place. If Congress starts making a habit of creating new legislation to reinforce already established laws the country is headed down another dangerous path.

With a Heavy Heart

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Cheryl Biren is a Philadelphia-based researcher, writer, editor and photographer with a focus on social justice. From 2007-2011, she served on the editorial board of

Cheryl has also consulted for the Rob Kall Radio Show with (more...)

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For regular updates on Friday's hearing and to... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:31:18 PM
Conyers now has 39 pending "prvileged" A... by Lance Ciepiela on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:48:52 PM
poll... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 3:06:23 PM
Unions organize slaves.  Corporations organiz... by John Hanks on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:55:48 PM
I wrote about this too:Hey America! Pelosi Handed ... by Cheryl Abraham on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 3:01:45 PM
to keep impeachment "off the table"....t... by Susan Nelsen on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 3:25:09 PM
I was in a family for more than 26 years who joine... by Marty Didier on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 3:53:16 PM
Prevented by the specified "rules" from ... by Aurora on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 3:57:05 PM
This is all so ridiculous - I read that they can&#... by Cheryl Abraham on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 4:22:11 PM
Medieval laws apply in this "civilised&q... by Aurora on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 4:28:04 PM
 ITMFA was the cry. For years. Impeachment no... by Mark E. Smith on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 4:26:28 PM
All they have to do is get out of the way and ALLO... by Aurora on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 4:53:54 PM's a little "fable" I wrote ... by Mark E. Smith on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 4:32:53 PM
From my limited experience I found a great deal of... by kwalsh on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 5:48:24 PM
Until Americans have the balls (ladies as well) to... by Michael Morris on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 6:09:21 PM
Well said, Michael.   But it's ... by Aurora on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 6:33:43 PM
Our Congress people are complicit.  They are ... by August Adams on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 6:33:45 PM
Panel One (Congressional Reps)Dennis Kucinich,&nbs... by Aurora on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 7:22:33 PM
After all the contempt citations (and false hopes)... by Nancy Davies on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 7:52:07 PM
A brick to fall on you? There are but a handful of... by Mr M on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 8:26:51 PM
But I have a deep dark feeling we are not. We... by Cheryl Abraham on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 8:37:45 PM
Did you read the article? Did you notice the title... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 8:51:00 PM
would I say don't try to do it peacefully, I c... by Mr M on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 9:17:49 PM
  You put words to feelings and thoughts... by richard on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:10:33 PM
I agree with you, for the most part. But I think I... by scott creighton on Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 8:59:30 PM
However, this sentence should be explored in more ... by pft on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 9:41:10 PM
Not only is it nauseating that the Dems will not c... by Maxwell on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 9:41:13 PM
"they perceive it will jeapordize their victo... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 9:49:48 PM
Mr. M Dude,I think you're actually being under... by boomerang on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 9:52:38 PM
Not sure what you mean by Ms. B-Wright wants the p... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 10:11:04 PM
Forgive me for being so condescending and rude&nbs... by Mr M on Saturday, Jul 26, 2008 at 12:55:30 PM
this is the most comprehensive and eloquent piece ... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:35:14 PM
"..or they are now so filled with right winge... by Aurora on Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 12:07:43 AM
From closing lines of Cheryl's article:The 45-... by Aurora on Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:50:17 PM
actually he received a fax directly from me with h... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 12:16:04 AM
Here's a good question for C.B. Wright: what p... by Sam Adams on Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 3:36:02 AM
Yes. ... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 5:48:01 AM
Because if there is no impeachment, if there are n... by Cheryl Abraham on Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 8:44:37 AM


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