Monday, February 19, 2007

What you can do to get Congressional Democrats off their butts.

A few entries ago I called for Democrats angry with their party's refusal to end the war in Iraq to get petitions started to hold recall elections for Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the heads of Congressional committees in both the House and Senate. This is where I go into a bit more detail.

Let's get straight to the point: Democrats in Congress will not take any action against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney because they think it'll somehow jeopardize their party's chances of winning the White House next year. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi publicly removed impeachment of Bush and Cheney from the table. Harry Reid has proven ineffectual in getting fellow Democrats in the Senate to really stand up to the regime occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Reid's position, however, is precarious; as long as there remains an even split in the Senate Joe LIEberman will continue to be in a position to jump ship completely and caucus with Republicans, throwing control of that body once again to Bush & Co. So the Senate being deadlocked, it is up to the House of Representatives to take action. But it won't, for the reasons I have stated.

Unless the voting public that elected Democrats back into power after twelve years to act as a check on the Bush regime does something to get the ball rolling, our elected officials will allow their chance to hold lawbreaking executives accountable to slip away. And, having allowed cowardice to govern their actions, Democrats will not only watch as Bush and Cheney start a war with Iran but see their majority disappear in next year's elections.

Those who lived through the Nixon era of executive abuses remember what happened to Gerald Ford when the president, in a selfish act of political pragmatism, pardoned his predecessor for high crimes that would have resulted in impeachment had Tricky Dick not resigned under pressure from his own party. In spite of the whitewash following Ford's death about those events, it is important to remember what happened in their immediate aftermath. Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy carter, largely because his pardon of Nixon stole the public's much-needed closure. Voters wanted Nixon to be held accountable for his crimes. Ford denied them that. So he was voted out of office. Democrats today would do well to remember this harsh lesson, lest they follow Ford down the path to political oblivion.

Listening to the callers on C-Span and on the radio shows, it isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. There is a rising tide of voter anger, and Republicans felt it last November. They found out the hard way what happens when a public that is fed up with the excesses of government exercises its power to change that government.

But let us look at the other side of the coin: when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton, they did not lose control of Congress in the next election cycle. Not only did they keep Congress, they managed to successfully steal the White House--no thanks to electoral fraud by the Bush/Cheney campaign and an illegal Supreme Court ruling. Since then they've gutted the Constitution, systematically dismantled the nation's institutions, allowed a major terrorist attack to be carried out on American soil, lied us into a pointless war in Iraq, interfered with a family's private conflict over what to do about their brain-dead loved one, illegally wiretapped our phones, authorized the illegal detention and torture of prisoners, sat on their asses while poor people in the Gulf States were killed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina--the list goes on and on. Do you think any of the bastards fretted over what impeaching Bill Clinton might have cost them? No, they set out to do something and they did it regardless of the risk. Their gamble paid off, big time.

When you really think about it, there is no excuse for Pelosi to forbid impeachment. If she just doesn't want the responsibility of being the first president to come into office having impeached a pair of dictatorial pretenders, she should just come right out and admit it. At least it would be honest. But when Pelosi took on the responsibilities of her office, she swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. The luxury of sitting on her keister and letting Bush and Cheney get away with their crimes, indeed starting yet another war we can't win, was never part of the package.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House passed a toothless resolution that doesn't do anything to end the war in Iraq, or prevent Bush and Cheney from starting another one with Iran. The time for such feel-good-but-empty actions passed by long ago. Now more than ever, they need to do something. And if they won't, We the People must.

So this is where we take matters once again into our own hands. Here are the websites for Nancy Pelosi, Jack Murtha and other Congressional Democrats in positions to end the war in Iraq and hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their multitude of crimes.

Pelosi, obviously, tops the list because she is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She gets to decide what legislation comes up for debate by the full chamber, and what languishes on the legislative table gathering dust. John Conyers is Chair of the Judiciary Committee (where the process of impeachment must begin). David Obey of Wisconsin heads up the Appropriations Committee, and Jack Murtha leads the subcommittee on appropriations for the Iraq war. Finally, Ike Skelton of Missouri heads the House Armed Services Committee. These five are the ones to keep on your list, who are in the House of Representatives.

Robert Byrd of Virginia runs the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ted Kennedy is chairman of the Armed Services committee, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont heads Judiciary. Byrd and Kennedy especially are in positions to block legislation from coming up that does not bring an end to the war in Iraq and which does not prevent a war with Iran. Leahy is in a position to block Bush's judicial nominees.

So there you have it, just eight members of Congress to hold accountable. This is what you can do to make sure they do their jobs: threaten to get a recall election if they refuse to end the war in Iraq, and refuse to allow Bush and Cheney to be impeached. Organize people who live in their states and districts who are pissed off at their failure to do their jobs. Obtain petitions for the task, and then write a POLITE letter and follow-up e-mail urging them to use their power to start the ball rolling. Here are some talking points to use.
  1. Democrats have control of the committees, and can use their power to prevent funding for the Iraq war and operations against Iran from getting through.
  2. Republicans had no problem abusing their power to shut Democrats out of the legislative process, and Democrats are under no obligation to play nice now that they are in charge.
  3. Democrats can take the high road by engaging in true compromise; if Republicans will lend their support to Democratic legislation and resolutions, then their legislation will at the very least get a debate. There is no need to promise that GOP legislation will pass, that would just be stupid. But if Democrats are smart, they will learn--quickly--to flex their newly strengthened muscles.
  4. If Democrats are serious about ending the war in Iraq and preventing war with Iran, they must pass binding resolutions. People are dying, and time is running out.
  5. Impeachment must be put back on the table, and the Articles of Impeachment introduced against both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
  6. Gerald Ford failed to hold Richard Nixon accountable for his crimes, and as a result lost his bid for election in his own right. Similarly, if Democrats fail to remove Bush and Cheney voters will remove them from power in 2008.
  7. When Republicans impeached Bill Clinton, not only did they retain control of Congress in the next election cycle they went on to successfully steal the presidency.
  8. Recall petitions are being prepared in the event Democrats in a position to end the war and hold Bush and Cheney accountable refuse to do so within ninety days.

You don't have to use all of the above talking points, and you should put them in your own words. Use one to three of these points, and make sure you get voters who live in these Democrats' states and districts to organize. Send written letters and e-mails, and make phone calls. It is especially important to get the people who live in the states and districts of the above-mentioned Democrats to do this, since it is their states and districts whose representatives and senators are the ones we need to apply pressure to. Do this, and do not let up. Above all, be firm but POLITE. Nothing causes someone to hold to his position out of pure, stubborn pride than having someone talk shit to him. Start drives to obtain these petitions and gather signatures, and then have them ready to file. You may have to raise money to pay a filing fee, and obviously candidates willing to impeach and tie the purse strings shut must be available.

Finally, be realistic in your thinking. Any effort to recall the representatives and senators mentioned above is probably not going to succeed. If such efforts do succeed, great. But do not expect that they will. What is important, at this stage, is not sucess but the media attention derived from large, organized efforts to recall politicians who refuse to carry out their Constitutional duties. If we can pull this off, we may be able to light the fire under Congressional Democrats. Lives are at stake, as is the future of our country. For what good is having a representative form of government, if that government does not obey the wishes of the public it is supposed to represent? And what good are the Democrats, if after being elected to power they fail to do what the public wants them to do?

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