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Pelosi, Cheney, and the Fertilized Eggs

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Remarks at Denver, Col., impeachment forum November 17, 2007, organized by "Be the Change."

    For the past year or so, every month the moon gets full, and I suddenly get a couple of hundred emails telling me that Nancy Pelosi has announced that she will allow impeachment hearings if she gets enough emails or phone calls or handwritten letters.

     And a lot of the emails I get are along the lines of:   “Is it true?  Because if it’s true my group can send 5,000 letters.”  

    And I usually reply along the lines of:  “Of course it’s not true, but since when do you need an invitation to act like a citizen of a democracy?  Send her 10,000 letters immediately, and do so precisely because it’s not true!”  

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    But the fact remains that every time this Pelosi rumor comes around there’s an uptick in Pelosi lobbying.  Clearly one of the major motivators of activism is hope.  Two-and-a-half years ago when Congressman John Conyers held unofficial hearings on the Downing Street Minutes and began at least acting as though he would try to impeach Bush and Cheney, we saw a burst of activism that has not been matched since.  Precisely when it seemed least needed, people took to the streets and the phones and computers and airwaves.  So the question arises, how can we generate the most activism when we most need it, rather than when we least need it?  I’m fond of the saying, “Let’s save our pessimism for better times,” but how can we ingrain that attitude in our behavior?

    Well, hope is clearly not the only thing generating impeachment activism.  Another major motivation is necessity or desperation.  Many of us believed a year ago that if impeachment wasn’t underway by this past spring, the looming 2008 election would stifle the movement.  Yet, in November we see the push for impeachment on the rise, in the polls, in the media, in Congress, and in activism.  Why?  I don’t think it’s because more people think Bush and Cheney should be impeached, so much as it is because more people have finally recognized that, given the President’s Constitutional veto power and unconstitutional signing statements, impeachment is the only thing Congress can do.  So impeachment is a distraction from nothing!

    There’s one other thing Congress can accomplish, but it involves refusing to do something.  Congress can refuse to pass any more bills to fund the illegal occupation of Iraq.  Of course, if he does so, Bush will misappropriate funds to keep the occupation going, just as he did to begin it, and we’ll be right up against impeachment.  So why not cut to the chase, bypass for now the high hurdle of the Senate, and demand that the House Judiciary Committee begin hearings on impeaching Mr. 11% popularity before he shoots us all in the face with a catastrophic attack on the nation of Iran?  

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    Congressman Dennis Kucinich is at the School of the Americas this week-end for protests at which brave Americans will probably risk arrest to end torture.  Activist Ted Glick is on the 77th day of a fast to end global warming and global warring.  Eve Tetaz, age 76, just spent a week in jail for speaking against war.  Next week a man will begin walking from Faneuil Hall in Boston to Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, DC.  Dozens of American service men and women have concluded that obeying illegal orders only serves Halliburton and Blackwater, and they have refused.  Many more have concluded that George W. Bush did one right thing in his life, and they’ve gone AWOL.  Our friend, activist Lori Perdue, is facing a possible year in jail for attending a congressional hearing.  The planned construction of a massive new US military base in Italy has run up against Italian families willing to lie in front of bulldozers.  Activism is alive, even if not televised.  We must take our inspiration from it and build on it, waiting for an invitation from no one  We must indeed be the change we want to see in the world.  


    I recently heard what I hope you will tell me is another false rumor as untrue as Pelosi’s request for activism.  I heard that next year the people of Colorado will have the opportunity to vote for the institution of constitutional rights for fertilized eggs.  What bothers me about this is the discrimination against those of us who are no longer fertilized eggs.  When do we get our constitutional rights?  Unless we’re going to surgically install intrauterine free speech zones, I take it that unlike sentient humans, fertilized eggs will have complete freedom to speak, assemble, and print teeny newspapers.  Perhaps women will be able to attend congressional hearings and hold up peace signs if they are from Colorado and carrying fertilized eggs.  Presumably the Protect America Act will no longer apply to fertilized Coloradan eggs, and the Fourth Amendment will be restored in some small measure.  But what I’m not clear on is how the police will obtain a warrant based on probable cause to spy on a fertilized egg without having first spied on the egg long enough to know it was fertilized.  Is it just me, or does this all seem like a plot to permit spying on the act of fertilization?  

    Let’s look at the sane and courageous side of Colorado for a moment.  It can be summed up in the word Telluride.  In July, Telluride became the first city in Colorado to pass a resolution in support of impeachment.  Some billionaires for Bush and other ski tourists threatened to boycott the town if it refused to boycott the Constitution.  Others promised to come to Telluride if it voted for the rule of law.  In the end, the city council members decided that they would break with Washington, DC, and not allow money to determine every action.  Of approximately 100 cities that have done the same around the country, I think the two most interesting are San Francisco, where an impeachment initiative was passed by the voters – the same voters who next year get a chance to choose between Nancy Pelosi and Cindy Sheehan.  And the other most interesting city is Detroit where the resolution passed in the city council unanimously after being introduced by the wife of Congressman John Conyers.

    So here’s your assignment.  Go online to a bookstore and put in the delivery address Monica Conyers, c/o Detroit City Council.  Buy her two books:  The Constitution in Crisis by John Conyers and an old Greek play called Lysistrata.  Your other assignment is to not leave Telluride hanging out there on its own in Colorado, but make sure every town and city and church and labor union and veteran’s group and bridge club passes a resolution for impeachment.  

    After all, this is a democracy and we are a majority.

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    In July the American Research Group found that 54% of Americans said Yes and 40% No to the question of whether Cheney should be impeached.  Among Democrats, 76% said Yes.  Among Independents, 51%.  For Bush, the numbers were a little lower:  46% Yes, 44% No.  These are huge numbers for a topic that’s shut out of the media.  In Vermont, where it’s gotten more attention, the numbers are significantly higher:  64% want Cheney impeached.  This is where Democrats always fall apart.  They look at the 40% who are not yet for impeachment and ask, How can we avoid offending these people?  They never ask, how can we educate these people?

    Last week, the American Research Group did another poll.  This time, they changed the question from impeaching Cheney to impeaching him and removing him from office.  That change has tended over the past two years of sporadic polling on Bush to lower the positive response by 10 percentage points.  But American Research Group went further and offered people the choice of saying that Cheney had committed impeachable offenses but should not be impeached.  That option would drain away those people who agreed with the various excuses that Pelosi and gang have used to keep impeachment off the table.  And this poll went further still, offering the option of saying Cheney had abused his power without committing impeachable offenses.  This option would catch those unwilling to say impeachable offenses shouldn’t be impeached as well as those unclear on what an impeachable offense is, including that such an offense can be committed with your pants on.  Then there was a fourth option for Fox viewers:  Cheney ain’t done nothing wrong.  

    Now to opt for impeachment people had to bypass three other choices and go for the fourth extreme.  Those who would do so would be only the hardcore advocates concerned for the future of the Constitution and not scared off by the fear of a President Giuliani or the trauma of a lengthy investigation.  Guess how many hardcore impeachment nuts we have in this country?  43% of us.  Even among Republicans, 21% want Cheney removed from office.  Among all Americans, 52% think he’s committed impeachable offenses and 70% think he’s abused power.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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