On Wednesday, in article posted on the TomPaine website, Dave Lindorff earnestly sounded the tocsin against efforts by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA 1st) to derail freshman Washington State Senator Eric Oemig's bill in the Washington State legislature calling on the Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush. -- Lindorff based his piece on a Mar. 2 Seattle Times article that reported on the Murray-Inslee effort. -- The paper's chief political reporter, David Postman, said that at a hearing of the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee, "[d]ozens of speakers told state lawmakers [on Mar. 1, 2007,] that the Washington Legislature needs to do what Congress won't — push for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Witnesses at a state Senate committee hearing called Bush and Cheney war criminals, decried the 'Bush junta,' and warned of American dictatorships to come." -- Postman noted that "Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a rising voice in the anti-war movement," came for the hearing, and he quoted Geov Parrish, who said that if there is no impeachment, it will allow Bush's actions to stand as precedent, setting the stage for a possible "legal dictatorship in the United States of America." -- Unfortunately, Lindorff's hope for impeachment of the president would appear to be exaggerated: even one of the bill's co-sponsors, committee chair Darlene Fairley (D-Lake Forest Park), "said there was zero chance the impeachment measure would get a vote by the full Senate." -- On the other hand, Lindorff is right to find it remarkable that the impeachment effort has succeeded in drawing hundreds of supporters to Olympia, despite "almost no money and no press coverage." -- NOTE: UFPPC supports the impeachment, trial, and, upon conviction, removal from office of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney; see statements of Apr. 21, 2005, and May 19, 2005....
TRAMPLING ON THE GRASSROOTS
By Dave Lindorff
March 7, 2007
In the state of Washington, it is the people versus Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership.
At issue is a bill, S8016, submitted in the state’s senate by freshman state Senator Eric Oemig, which would call on the U.S. Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors against the Constitution and the people of the United States and of the State of Washington.
The measure, which would take the form of a joint resolution by the two houses of the Washington state legislature, accords with the instructions laid out by Founder Thomas Jefferson, who, in his Manual of the Rules of the House of Representatives, laid out state joint resolutions as an alternative route for initiating presidential impeachment proceedings in the House, in addition to the more usual route of a member submitting a bill of impeachment.
Jefferson’s prescient thinking was that if Congress, by reason of political cowardice or inattention, ever proved unwilling or unable to initiate impeachment when it was called for, state legislators, far from Capitol Hill and closer to the people, could do it for them.
But two unprincipled and devious Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation, Sen. Pat Murray and Rep. Jay Inslee, are undermining Jefferson’s carefully designed fail-safe system by pressuring Democratic state legislators to kill Sen. Oemig’s bill. The *Seattle Times* reports in a March 2 article that Murray and Inslee are telling Democrats in the state senate to kill the impeachment bill on the grounds that it would lead to “divisiveness” in Washington, and that it would impede the “Democratic agenda” in Congress.
Forget grave spinning! This wholly inappropriate interference in state affairs by the state's two leading national political figures must have Jefferson soiling his breeches!
Clearly, Murray and Inslee have decided to abandon their constituents in the state of Washington, a majority of whom want this criminal president impeached, and are instead doing the bidding of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have completely lost touch with the nation’s voters and with their own sense of principle.
But this battle is not over. The grassroots movement in Washington, which has led to Sen. Oemig’s bill getting as far as a hearing in the Senate’s Government Operations and Elections Committee, is growing rapidly. The Citizens Committee for Impeachment in Olympia, with almost no money and no press coverage, brought 900 people to a rally a week before the committee hearing, and hundreds more to the capitol building on the day of the hearing. A massive phone and letter-writing campaign to committee members and state senators is now underway to insure that the bill goes to a vote in the full Senate.
If Democratic state legislators know what is good for them, they will send Murray and Inslee packing back to Washington and will vote to defend the Constitution and their constituents by approving Sen. Oemig’s bill in both houses and sending his resolution to the House, forcing Pelosi to put impeachment back on the House agenda where it belongs.
After all, what is this supposed concern about “divisiveness”? The nation is mired in a criminal war that has killed 3,200 American troops and injured another 52,000, many of them from Washington State. The president has trashed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and is bankrupting the nation, wasting money that could be helping Washington residents and other Americans. Washington, D.C., today is not too divisive; it is not divisive enough!
As for that Democratic agenda, just how do Murray and Inslee expect anything passed by the current Congress to make its way into law if the president is free to continue, in direct violation of Article I and II of the Constitution, to invalidate the laws passed by the Congress through his use of what he calls “signing statements”?
--Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based investigative journalist. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net and at www.counterpunch.org. His latest book, co-authored with Barbara Olshansky, is The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office.
IMPEACHMENT RESOLUTION GETS ONE-SIDED HEARING
By David Postman
March 2, 2007
[PHOTO CAPTION: Elizabeth Walter of Seattle was one of hundreds at a rally Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol in Olympia in support of impeaching President Bush. (Walter is shown holding a sign reading: "THE REPUBLIC IS THREATENED -- IMPEACH.")]
OLYMPIA -- Dozens of speakers told state lawmakers Thursday that the Washington Legislature needs to do what Congress won't -- push for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Witnesses at a state Senate committee hearing called Bush and Cheney war criminals, decried the "Bush junta," and warned of American dictatorships to come.
"The people have come here today to say to our state Legislature: 'You have the opportunity and you have the duty to do the right thing,'" Democratic activist Susan Harmon said.
The hearing was on two measures: one by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, that asks Congress to block the troop increase in Iraq, and another by Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, that calls for Congress to investigate and consider impeachment.
No one spoke against the impeachment proposal.
Republicans boycotted the hearing of the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee. Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, issued a statement calling the hearing and an earlier impeachment rally "partisan, political displays."
Democrats here and in Washington, D.C. -- including state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee -- also have criticized the move.
Murray and Inslee had urged Senate leaders to drop the impeachment proposal, calling it a diversion for Democrats that could cause bitter political divides in the nation's capital.
The hearing provided a seamless blend of accusations of illegal activity by Bush and Cheney and of political cowardice by congressional Democrats. It all was met with near silence by Senate committee members. There was no cross-examination and not even a polite question of a witness.
The only lawmaker who spoke at length was Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, a co-sponsor of the impeachment measure. He defended congressional Democrats.
"Restraint sometimes is not just a political calculation, but a real reflection of the national interest," he said. "We are interested in governing a country and a state."
At the rally and at the hearing, speakers congratulated Oemig for taking on the administration and applauded Washington for being one of a few states considering similar measures.
Committee Chairwoman Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, said there was zero chance the impeachment measure would get a vote by the full Senate.
Oemig said he will try to get a vote before the Legislature adjourns April 22.
Fairley is a co-sponsor of Oemig's proposal and said she was glad people were given a chance to have their say. They did it calmly and followed Fairley's admonition that no clapping or hissing would be allowed.
About 50 people packed the committee room. An additional 230 or so spilled into other rooms where they watched on TV.
Oemig said his bill was not "directly about impeachment" but about a serious investigation of Bush and Cheney. But most speakers were clear that they saw it as a direct call for impeachment.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a rising voice in the anti-war movement, was invited to Olympia by Oemig to testify. He said there's never been "such a compelling case for impeachment."
Many speakers said congressional Democrats are too timid in their approach to Bush.
"Even if it was true, which it's not, that starting impeachment hearings would disturb the agenda that Democrats have, so what? This is more important," said Elaine Phelps, of Shoreline.
Activist journalist Geov Parrish said that "inaction in this case is a form of action." If there is no impeachment, he said, it would set Bush's action as precedent and possibly lead to a "legal dictatorship in the United States of America."
Joe Colgan, whose son Benjamin was killed in Iraq in 2003, testified for the resolution opposing the troop increase.
"I have come to the conclusion that our troops were abused and have been abused and are being abused," Colgan said.
"It was hard to come to this conclusion because then you have to ask yourself, when you lose a son, what did he die for? I really believe my son died as a hero," he said. "But as far as protecting our country or our freedom, not at all."