Wednesday, January 30, 2008

FIFTH ADDRESS TO FORT WORTH CITY COUNCIL: Regarding A Resolution To Impeach, January 29, 2008

This was a morning meeting. Ten a.m. My pal, Ben, was there, and Nell, a retired nurse. The place was packed when I first got there, hardly an open seat in the house. They were there to usher out the retiring City Manager and welcome in the new one. By the time the Citizen Presentations rolled around, the hall had pretty well cleared out.

Up to this point, the Mayor had seemed pretty jolly, perhaps because the agenda, as usual, was filled with numerous applications for gas drilling throughout the city. I get the feeling the Mayor really loves gas drilling. As he called my name, the blood seemed to drain from his face, replaced with the old sour expression I've come to know and love, a look that suggests a case of severe indigestion from eating too much red meat. Again, he gave me his little "pep" talk, almost the exact same one he handed me the last time I spoke, vis, "You've been here several times, now. I'm not sensing any enthusiasm on this council to do what you're asking. I can't keep you from speaking, but I ask you to keep your remarks brief." I gave him a polite reply. Then I spoke:

Mayor, Council members, last time I was here, you told me you had no interest in passing a resolution to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States. No interest.

As you pointed out, I've come in several times to speak to this issue. Today marks my fifth. Each time I've tried to present the facts as clearly as I could. I've not exaggerated anything. There was no need--it seemed clear to me that the facts would speak for themselves.

We have a president and vice-president who have committed egregious blunders and breaches of the law. That's a fact. They have lied to Congress, the U.N., and the American people, in order to launch a vicious attack against a sovereign country, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Those are facts.

Through a long list of abuses of human rights, they have soiled the high regard others held for us, and shamed our country before the world.

I have shown how this unnecessary war has caused a drain on the coffers of every city, including this one. And how the skewed priorities of this administration threatens the very infrastructure of our nation.

I don't believe this is an unreasonable request.

A simple resolution calling for impeachment is not impeachment itself. It is simply a principled stand. It is a voice from one city. . .saying that we don't like it when presidents lie to us. We don't think it's right or moral to attack countries that have not attacked us, and never planned to.

We don't want a government that spies on our citizens. Or one that runs Soviet style gulags where people are put away for years without the most basic right to a lawyer and a fair trial. And we don't believe in torturing people.

But the Mayor insists you have no interest in pursuing this resolution. Can that be true?

According to Plato, reason and justice cannot be a matter of personal conduct alone; they must become attributes of society at large. So we all have an interest in this, do we not?

The city cannot wrap itself in a protective cocoon that insulates it from the affairs of the nation. The crimes our national leaders commit, they do so in our name.

So long as we are silent, so long as we remain "disinterested," I believe they will take our silence and our disinterest for acquiescence and complicity. And they will commit more and greater offenses.

This is not about Republicans and Democrats. Surely, you can't think that you owe these men your allegiance. The only allegiance, the only love you owe, is to the Constitution (here, I held up a copy of it, showing it to them), which you have sworn to defend.

Yet, you say you're not interested.

Dante said, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."

That last bit was suggested by Ben. But before I could unload it on them, the timer beep sounded and the Mayor abruptly cut me off--the first time he's done so, though I've gone over the time limit very slightly in previous talks. I guess he's trying to tell me something.

Well, I'll try to get Dante's quote into the next speech.

Before I left the podium, I held up my dog-eared copy of the Constitution again and said, "I'll just leave this with you. Maybe you can read it if you find the time."

Then I handed it to the City Secretary.


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