Senate Joint Resolution 5, the legislation urging impeachment of Bush and Cheney, was passed this morning in the NM Senate Rules Committee with only Democrats present, all of whom voted for the resolution! The meeting room was packed to the gills, with a huge crowd winding down the hallways outside the hearing. Several hours were spent listening to citizens speak on behalf of the bill, until Committee members were forced to move on to other business.
I find it appalling that every Republican member of the Committee refused to attend and listen to what our citizens have to say about what may well be the most important issues of our era -- the Iraq occupation and the refusal of the President and Vice President to obey the law. I guess they couldn't bear to hear ordinary people speaking truth to power. I guess they believe they only represent the Republicans in their districts, not all the citizens.
Now's the time to THANK THESE DEM SENATORS FOR VOTING FOR THE IMPEACHMENT RESOLUTION:
Senator Linda M. Lopez, Chair:
Senator John T.L. Grubesic, Vice Chair:
Senator Ben D. Altamirano:
Senator Dede Feldman:
Senator Cisco McSorley:
And don't forget the resolution's ORIGINAL SPONSOR, Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino:
Job well done also goes out to Leland Lehrman of Mother Media and ALL the citizen lobbyists, callers and emailers! We have much more to do, but this is a very hopeful start. The resolution has to pass through the Senate Public Affairs and Senate Judiciary Committees before it can be debated on the Senate Floor, but I think even getting this far in Bush's America is a real accomplishment and an act of courage by the legislators involved.
The first person to testify at the hearing was progressive activist and retired District Judge Anne Kass of Albuquerque. She had this to say in her eloquent prepared statement, representing what so many of us are feeling these days:
One of the sources of America's moral authority in the world is its professed commitment to an ideal known as the Rule of Law.
The Rule of Law includes the principle that no man is above the law.
The Rule of Law also includes the principle that crimes must be prosecuted.
If the Rule of Law is to be anything more than an empty slogan, then all American citizens, but especially legislative bodies such as this, where both laws and the consequences for breaking laws are established, must demand, when there is compelling evidence that criminal acts have been committed, that there be a formal, official investigation and prosecution.
Confidence that crimes will be prosecuted is essential to the existence of civilized society. If the New Mexico Legislature hopes to retain its moral authority to continue to write laws and set consequences when the laws are broken -- if, for example, the New Mexico Legislature wishes to be able to speak with moral authority when it declares that anyone who drives while intoxicated must be held accountable and experience severe consequences, then the New Mexico Legislature must insist that there be a formal and official investigation and prosecution to test the compelling evidence that exists that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have committed grave crimes ... crimes which have resulted in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people.
That there is compelling evidence of crimes having been committed is unquestionable. The evidence that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to take our nation to war is overwhelming. What greater crime could there be than initiating an unjustified, unnecessary war? AND, there is compelling evidence of still other serious crimes.
The United States House of Representatives has to date failed to meet its duty to enforce the principle that crimes must be prosecuted. Its failure is a source of shame, and if it persists, it will lose its moral authority to call for, or even speak to, law and order, let alone accountability, regarding it's responsibilities as a part of the governing body of this nation. It is our hope that a nudge from the New Mexico Legislature, making the statement that it takes its duties to honor and uphold the Rule of Law seriously, and leading by example, will remind the United States House of Representatives that it is responsible, first and foremost, to the people of the United States of America.
That said, let me add that we-the-people are becoming more and more frantic about Congress's failure to stop George W. Bush from doing still more harm to our country. Mr. Bush appears to have no understanding of the concept of checks and balances, of the meaning of the word democracy, or of the principle that in America the government governs only with the consent of the governed. He has made it clear that he intends to ignore both we-the-people and Congress with respect to escalating the occupation of Iraq. It sounds more and more that he also intends to attack Iran, never mind that a clear majority of the citizens of this country oppose it.
Congress must act, but it looks to be almost paralyzed. The New Mexico Legislature must show that it is not paralyzed and in so doing help the United States House of Representatives regain its own understanding of the concept of checks and balances, of the meaning of the word democracy, and of the principle of consent of the governed.
--statement of Anne Kass, Albuquerque, NM, testifying at February 16, 2007 NM Senate Rules Committee hearing at the Santa Fe Roundhouse on impeachment resolution