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

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Tomorrow, Rep. Conyers will hold a hearing entitled, "Executive Power and its Constitutional Limitations." This article is a reprint from March 2008. It illustrates Conyers' impeachment rhetoric since '06 and details the failed attempts at accountability by the Democratic majority of the Bush/Cheney crimes. Let them know our country deserves better.

Lawless. Imperial. Rogue.

These labels have been attached to the Bush administration for the last three Take Back America (TBA) conferences. The annual conference hosted by the Campaign for America’s Future, does a bang up job each year highlighting the dark deeds of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. And, what better man for the job than House Judiciary Chair John Conyers. Turns out, the better man for the job may be the pre-House Judiciary Chair John Conyers.

TBA 2006: Challenging Lawlessness

In June 2006, Congressman Conyers was on fire at the TBA session "Challenging a Lawless President." Still in the House minority, the great congressman from Michigan was hot on the trail of a lawless President Bush and his unbridled sidekick, Vice President Cheney.

Six months earlier, the congressman issued a report declaring, "We have found that there is substantial evidence the president, the vice-president and other high ranking members of the Bush administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their administration."

Just before the conference, Representative Nancy Pelosi fearful of emboldening the Republicans during a critical election season, declared impeachment to be "off the table." But when Representative Conyers approached the podium, he brought the TBA participants to their feet as he announced his next course of action. In brief, he introduced a resolution (H. Res. 635) that would create a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush administration with regard to the Iraq war and report on possible impeachable offenses.

Inspired and hopeful, progressives hit the streets to help the Democrats take back the House and restore order in the government.

By August, Mr. Conyers had released the final version of the "
Constitution in Crisis." He described the report as "some 350 pages in length and is supported by more than 1,400 footnotes, compiles the accumulated evidence that the Bush administration has thumbed its nose at our nation’s laws, and the Constitution itself. Approximately 26 laws and regulations may have been violated by this administration’s conduct." Certainly enough to begin impeachment hearings when one considers President Nixon’s were prompted by a simple burglary.

Mr. Conyers went on to say that "The administration also appears to have used the war on terror as an excuse to eviscerate the basic protections afforded to us in the Constitution. There have been warrantless wiretaps of law-abiding Americans, in clear contravention of federal law, not to mention the creation of a huge unchecked database on the phone records of innocent Americans."

He lamented that "All the while, the Republican Congress sits idly by. Rather than performing its constitutional duty as a coequal branch. It has chosen to stymie any and all efforts at oversight. After six long years of deception, attacks and yes, outright lies, I am convinced the American people have had enough."

Indeed the American people had had enough and three months later they handed the Democrats both the House and the Senate.

TBA 2007: Curbing Imperialism

Fast forward to June 2007, when the Take Back America crowd descended once again on the Washington Hilton. This time Congressman Conyers was to discuss
"Curbing an Imperial Presidency." Senior staff member to John Conyers, Burt Wides, delivered a prepared speech while the congressman tended to business on the Hill.

"Since the last election we have begun to shrink Bush’s imperial presidency," Wides read. In what manner the "imperial presidency" was shrinking remained unclear. "President Bush has subverted the checks and balances that are the cornerstone of our freedoms. In most instances, the Republican Congress just went along with those abuses. The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves, not merely at Bush’s blatant erosion of their system, but also and perhaps more at Congress’ supine failure to protect the Constitution. Now that Democrats control Congress, we have a very clear and heavy responsibility to take back the Constitution."

It wasn’t enough that the American people elected a Democratic majority that promised to rein in Bush and Cheney and hold them accountable. They were now charged with a new task. These efforts, according to Conyers, would only succeed with support of citizen groups committed to the Constitution. These groups had already been popping up across the country for years. Many were part of a broad coalition that makes up the organization AfterDowningStreet.org.  

AfterDowningStreet, led by activist David Swanson, sprang to life in May 2005 to pressure both Congress and the media to investigate whether President Bush had committed impeachable offenses. The coalition borrowed its name from the incriminating Downing Street Memos that emerged in May and June of 2005.

Despite the subject matter, impeachment was never offered as a viable solution to "curbing the imperial presidency" by the TBA panelists. It was, however, on the minds of the audience and questions on impeachment dominated the Q&A session.

After all questions on impeachment were shot down by the panelists, Bob Fertik of Democrats.com addressed the panel. To a cheering audience, Fertik asserted "I think you’re completely misreading the politics in the country. All of the polls report that the majority of Americans support impeachment hearings, a solid majority of Americans and it’s not even being discussed. The American people were way ahead of Congress on Iraq and the American people are way ahead of Congress on impeachment. It’s just time to stop with the ridiculous excuses. The American people know the only way to hold Bush accountable is through impeachment."

Grassroots Action

Determined to restore the Constitution and rule of law, groups made up of ordinary citizens, veterans, and constitutional experts forged ahead on their own. John Conyers had called for this and the people responded. Five weeks later, on July 23, an impeachment petition containing more than one million signatures was delivered directly to the congressman. When he told the participants that there were "not enough votes for" impeachment, a peaceful sit-in was held in his office. The group was promptly arrested and hauled off to be processed.

The following month, Congressman Conyers traveled to Newark, New Jersey to promote his national health care bill, H.R. 676 at the People’s March for Peace, Equality, Jobs and Justice. He found himself facing a diverse crowd of a few thousand calling for impeachment. The article, Dancing With Conyers, describes what happened next.

"In what has become routine now, Conyers fed into the momentum asking ‘What should we do?’ ‘Impeach!’ cried the crowd. ‘What should we do?’ ‘Impeach’ and so it was repeated. The congressman went on to declare that we needed to bring back Rumsfeld and put him on trial and the big question was to decide who ought to go first.‘Cheney!’ shouted the crowd enthusiastically."

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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 Opednews.com.

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
....here'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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