Saturday, August 09, 2008

24th ADDRESS TO CITY COUNCIL (Re: A Resolution To Impeach)

August 5th

Mayor, Council members, good evening. I am appearing again in behalf of a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the United States.

Well, last week I was surprised to learn that speaking up in defense of the Constitution is a partisan enterprise. This contradicts what I learned in my high school civics class as well as the political science course I took as a freshman in college.

As we have said many times, this impeachment resolution is not partisan. The next president, who could easily be a Democrat, will inherit all the expanded powers of the current regime: the right to invade other countries at his whim; the right to arrest anyone—citizen or non-citizen—merely by calling them “enemy combatants”; the right to hold them indefinitely without trial and the right to torture them; the right to listen in on our phone conversations and read our emails.

He will also inherit something even more profound and dangerous: the knowledge that he can tell any lie or commit virtually any act without fear of accountability to Congress, to the law, or the Constitution.

Again, Barack Obama would inherit these broad new powers, as would John McCain. The Constitution and the rule of law, are not partisan principles. Speaking up in their defense is not a partisan act.

It is merely an act of conscience, an act of principle, an act of patriotism, pure and simple.

I would be the first to agree that City Councils should be non-partisan. Again, I see nothing partisan in your oath of office, which obligates you to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.

But you continue to insist that our assessment of the current crisis is strictly a matter of opinion, therefore, no call for action. Well, what can I say? At this point, arguing that the overwhelming body of evidence of wrong doing by the Bush Administration is little more than someone's opinion is right up there with attempts by magical thinkers to discredit the science of evolution along with the almost universally accepted belief that the grass is green and the sky is blue.

But if you really do think that there have been no lies told, no breaches of law or the Constitution by the Bush Administration, if you really think detaining people for years without trials has a place in a free democracy, if you really believe torture is consistent with the Geneva Conventions and with the flag of our fathers, then these truly are your beliefs, and I won't try to refute them.

But I do think some people know what is true. The real problem, as I see it, is finding the courage to speak out and risk being out of step with the crowd. It's a risk that must have been well understood by Voltaire, who said, “Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”

Thank you.


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