Jul 14 2007
07:59 pm
By: Mark Harmon

I hope Knoxviews readers and many others heard the fascinating discussion of impeachment last night on Bill Moyers' Journal. The discussion was preceded by the results of a public opinion poll from the American Research Group; 45 percent of Americans favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half -54 percent — favor putting Vice President Cheney in the dock.

The interviewees were Constitutional Scholar Bruce Fein and associate editor of Capitol Times John Nichols.

Fein certainly will avoid the labels and personal attacks often heaped on liberals by the radical right. He served in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration and as general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission. Bruce Fein has been affiliated with conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation and now writes a weekly column for THE WASHINGTON TIMES and

John Nichols is Washington correspondent for THE NATION. His latest book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: THE FOUNDERS' CURE FOR ROYALISM.

Transcript here

I'll put a couple quotes after the break.

FEIN (Bush actions) …More worrisome than Clinton's-- because he is seeking more institutionally to cripple checks and balances and the authority of Congress and the judiciary to superintend his assertions of power. He has claimed the authority to tell Congress they don't have any right to know what he's doing with relation to spying on American citizens, using that information in any way that he wants in contradiction to a federal statute called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He's claimed authority to say he can kidnap people, throw them into dungeons abroad, dump them out into Siberia without any political or legal accountability. These are standards that are totally anathema to a democratic society devoted to the rule of law.

NICHOLS (re: Libby commutation): If you look at the discussions in the Federalist Papers but also at the Constitutional Convention, when they spoke about impeachment, one of the things that Madison and George Mason spoke about was the notion that you needed the power to impeach particularly as regards to pardons and commutations because a president might try to take the burden of the law off members of his administration to prevent them from cooperating with Congress in order to expose wrongdoings by the president himself. And so Madison said that is why we must have the power to impeach. Because otherwise a president might be able to use his authority and pardons and such to prevent an investigation from getting to him.

Mark Harmon's picture

Mark Harmon

I believe the video is available, too.

Mark Harmon

lovable liberal's picture

Right on, but...

The future of democracy demands that we impeach these authoritarians, and it's always good to have allies in that fight, even those from the propaganda machine that propelled them to power. However, what we really need is for Democrats and liberals to understand and accept that they are going to be attacked for doing what is right - and for them to do it anyway. That's the only way to restore America to Constitutional democracy.

By the way, the interview can be seen at Crooks and Liars.

Liberty and justice for all.

talidapali's picture


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. (Signing Statements ring any bells here?)

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.(Might that also read United States Attorneys who "serve at the pleasure of the President"? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.(Hoo boy...Homeland Security? TSA body searches...Mothers who work for the government forced to leave behind their toddler's favorite sippy cup...still not ringing any bells???)

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.(Is it any better to keep FROM us national guard units and equipment that are needed during natural disasters?)

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. (According to Bush Congress has "no business trying to manage the war". Oh really???)

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; (renditions anyone????) giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: (Abu Ghraib...Can we talk??? Who was really responsible for Abu Ghraib? A few misfit soldiers and one woman general? Do you really expect us to believe that???)

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:(Guantanamo..."There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away"...

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: (Again with the renditions!!! Sheesh!!!)

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.(Or a President?)

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown (or a President who would be King), and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.(And I do believe that Congress is the Representative body for the States...) — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The emphasis is mine.

But the idea is the same, it is time to declare our independence from tyranny and nepotism and despotism.

Our ancestors went to WAR over some of the SAME abuses that have been perpetrated upon the American people by this Administration, over the same kinds of usurpation of basic rights such as free speech (free speech zones ring a bell?), The right to face our accusers and see the evidence against us when accused of a crime (Look up Guantanamo Bay and evidence in Google and see what comes up {I'm too tired to do homework for the republican partisans that are going to howl about this anyway}). Lots of right-wingers say that liberals are moonbats and loony, but WE haven't forgotten why this country was founded and by whom and how. Re-read the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

We follow in the footsteps of giants and we are letting them down if we do NOT stand up to this administration and say "Enough!"


"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"

"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

Nelle's picture

Duncan's agin' it

A few weeks ago I wrote to Rep. Duncan in support of the House Resolution to impeach Cheney (warning: link is to a PDF).

I've transcribed his response below. By my reading, he seems to suggest I'm a bit of a dingbat. Which is rich, given the source. Yes, I appreciate his opposition to the war, but I've also read the rants in his newsletters about how the environmentalists and U.N. want to take away our land and create a One World Government.

Anywho, here are Duncan's thoughts on impeachment of Cheney:

Dear [omitted]:

Thank you for contacting me about impeaching Vice President Cheney. I always appreciate hearing from the people whom I represent in Congress.

I have heard from several constituents recently who support the impeachment of some Bush Administration officials, ranging from the President himself to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

However, I do not support impeachment of President Bush or anyone in his Administration. I have disagreed with the President on some things, but I do not believe he or anyone else has committed any impeachable offense.

Even Nancy Pelosi, the very liberal Speaker of the House, has said she does not support impeachment of President Bush or Vice President Cheney or anyone else.

Even though the House is now controlled by liberal Democrats, there is almost no support for impeachment at this point.

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. If I can ever be of service to you and your family, please do not hesitate to let me know.

With kindest regards, I am

Yours truly,

John J. Duncan Jr.

A few thoughts:

First, I wonder how "recently" he's heard from constituents who want to see Rumsfeld impeached (his letter is dated June 29). These must be some spectacularly uninformed constituents, given that Rumsfeld got canned 8 months ago.

Second, what exactly makes Nancy Pelosi "very liberal"? Is it that she's from [shudder] San Francisco, where Teh Gays rule? That's super scary for some, I realize. But if it's just that she favors protecting the environment, helping the poor and allowing everyone to have access to health care, that's not "very liberal," that puts her squarely with the majority of Americans.

And is it true that "there is almost no support for impeachment at this point"? Maybe he's talking about within the House, the wording's vague, but the American public is certainly behind it.

Now, I realize that, war opposition notwithstanding, Duncan's a faithful R, so I didn't expect him to say he was jumping on the impeachment bandwagon. But I'd hoped to get a more thoughtful response.

Of course Corker and Lamar! didn't even bother to write back, so I suppose I should feel lucky.

Factchecker's picture

Why I'm no Duncan fan

Nelle, I had the same reaction to your letter from Jimmy as you did. You stated it well. "Mega-dittos" and all.

I would emphatically agree that the divisive and incendiary tone of Duncan's response is consistent with virtually every letter I have received from him and with his push poll "surveys" he occasionally sends out.

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