Saturday, November 10, 2007

You Broke My Heart Again, John Hall

My Congressman, John Hall (NY-19), has done it again. He has failed to support the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney when brought to a vote by Rep Dennis Kucinich. I cannot understand why, nor do I accept his previous explanations. I met Mr. Hall a couple of times while he was running for the Democratic nomination. I even contributed to his campaign (it's a matter of public record). When I met him, I even mentioned that he and I were involved in the same event though with completely different roles. I was a Peacekeeper at the No Nukes Rally in Battery Park, and he was one of the many talented musicians who organized it and performed there. (And a fantastic job they did, too. It was one of the proudest days of my life to have played a small part in it.) I remember specifically telling him that I was concerned with the many abuses of power by both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He seemed to indicate to me that he was concerned also, but I guess he wasn't concerned enough to do something about it. Earlier this week, he had his chance, and he failed his constituents again.

Don't misunderstand me. I am quite happy with virtually everything else my congressman has done not only for the people of the NY-19, but for all Americans, including veterans. And he continues to oppose the use of nuclear power, especially while no safe method exists for the disposal of its deadly radioactive byproducts, and particularly when the lives and security of nearby residents are threatened by an unsafe plant. And I was pleased that he recently returned from a trip to Iraq more determined to end our involvement in the war there. And while all those were the right things to do, they did nothing to address the ever-growing threat to our constitutional and democratic way of life posed by the president and the vice president. I have even written to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about this.

It was when I spoke to him personally, and it remains to this day my number one concern. That is not to say I don't wish to see the war in Iraq ended, for that is why I and thirteen other people from our community participated in our monthly Peace March (to which, I am told, Mr. Hall was invited but could not attend. Perhaps next month, Mr. Hall? Second Saturday each month, 11:00 AM, Lakeside Park parking lot.) But the current war in Iraq and the danger of another military conflict in and with Iran, would not be a concern if Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were no longer in power. And nothing that anyone can say, especially those two men, would ever convince me that they don't want a war with Iran. Were you paying attention to the rhetoric in the run up to the war with Iraq, Mr. Hall? Does anything they've been saying lately about Iran sound eerily like any of that to you? (It does to a lot of us, in case you weren't aware.) Now, here's the most important thing to consider: Was any of what they said about Iraq that justified going to war true? Any of it? Of course not, and we all know that. Nothing they said that was true justified going to war with Iraq, and nothing they said that justified going to war with Iraq was true.

So why, I ask you, would you even consider giving them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they won't ignore the will of Congress and attack Iran anyway, whether they actually pose a danger to us or not? Has the threat of consequences stopped them before? I don't see how since, to date, there have been none! Has the fact that they are operating outside the law stopped them before? Considering how often they've blatantly (and even proudly) done it, it's hard to argue that it might. Remember all those signing statements where the president said he would ignore the law if it infringed on his "inherent authority as Commander-in-Chief"? Would you care to point out to me where in the constitution it says that the Executive Branch decides what "authority" is "inherent" in the role of "Commander-in-Chief". You can't, because it isn't in there. That authority is found in Article I, Section 8. The Congress decides how the military, including its Commander-in-Chief, will behave and what constitutes lawful and unlawful conduct. A president who abuses that authority and ignores the law, as this one has done so many times in the past, has committed an impeachable offense. Go talk to a law professor at George Washington University. Go talk to John W. Dean. They'll tell you that there are numerous impeachable offenses to charge the president with. And there are also impeachable offenses for which the vice president can be removed from office. Impeachment is the only constitutional remedy for removing men like these before their terms expire. There are no recall elections nor votes of confidence during their terms. We have to depend on our Representatives and Senators to recognize when a president and vice president have overstepped their authority and violated the sacred trust placed in them by their fellow citizens. (And I don't just mean the five who put them there in 2000.)

I will end this as I did before, Mr. Hall, for it still remains true. I cannot support a candidate for Congress who does not believe in the oath of office every public servant in Washington is required to take, including you, sir. By not supporting the impeachment of either President Bush or Vice President Cheney, two men who have frequently subverted the constitution in an effort to have their own way despite the will of Congress, one of whom has accelerated a thirty-year personal vendetta to restore power to the White House, and one of whom once told an aide to "stop throwing the Constitution in [his] face." (You remember, that document he swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend?) He then continued, "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" Are you are going to tell me, Mr. Hall, that these two men should not be removed from office through impeachment immediately, if not sooner? Do you honestly believe that if they remain in office, that on January 20, 2009, we won't already be in a hot war with Iran (and possibly Russia)? Do you think any president should be trusted with the kind of power these two men have amassed? I believe that most of your constituents would say, "No." It's up to you, Congressman John Hall. Remember your own oath of office and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Wayne A. Schneider

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