Thursday, January 04, 2007

Taking Chances

With the Democrats in power after American citizens voted for meaningful change, there’s at least a slim chance that Bush and Cheney will finally be held accountable for their crimes against the people and the Constitutional rule of law in the U.S.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is clearly stating she has no intention of pushing for impeachment, and also no intention of acceding to the American and Iraqi peoples’ strong demand for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from the bloody mess in Iraq. Pelosi is sharply curtailing the plans of new Congressional committee chairs like John Conyers, Henry Waxman and Charles Rangel to launch investigations and public hearings that would likely lead to impeachment.

Pelosi’s reasoning is apparently pragmatic – impeachment would occur, at the earliest, a year from now, when Bush and Cheney had only a year left in office anyway. Pursuing impeachment in the run-up to 2008 might be spun, by opponents, as “political” retribution, or a sign that Pelosi is simply gunning for the President’s job, since she would be next in line after Cheney.

Those concerns are irrelevant, because they’re short-sighted, looking only two years down the road. Bush and Cheney must be impeached, because if they are not removed from office for their documented, admitted crimes – lying about the reasons for the preemptive invasion of Iraq, ordering and condoning torture, extraordinary renditions, warrantless wiretapping, and a host of other violations of U.S. and international law – then the American public, through Congress, is sending a clear message to every President who will take office in the future:

“We just don’t care about the rule of law. We’re fine living with neither checks nor balances, with no inherent and inalienable rights, with each of us subject to the unquestioned dictates of whoever occupies the White House at any given time.”

Maybe it’s true. I think our public cynicism is deep and well-founded, 30 years out from Watergate, with more historical evidence every year of how often, how blatantly and how cruelly our governments have lied to us and broken laws throughout this great 230-year experiment in democracy.

But I’ve also spent a lot of time over the past few years watching local citizens’ movements grow all over the world. The problems facing human beings – global warming, fossil fuel depletion, nuclear weapons, infectious disease pandemics, widening gaps between rich and poor – are huge and frightening. Some people have responded by burying their heads in delusional thinking, and I can’t blame them for hiding from the reality of what confronts us all.

More people have responded by quietly considering whether the human species is worth trying to save. Most have decided that, warts and all, we are, and have moved on to ponder the odds of success. However low or high you estimated those odds, any chance is better than not trying.

So the vast majority of the world’s people are carefully making transformational plans for life without oil and gas, without extreme poverty and war, life with larger natural disasters and fewer long car and truck trips. We’re working to build smaller communities of people who really know each other and are really prepared to trust and help each other out. We’re working to build strong local oversight of local governments, to support and inform elected representatives as they decide how and when to spend public wealth. We’re working to create clean energy for home heating and gardens producing local food on every city block. It will take all this, and more. But it’s definitely worth the effort. Please join in, in whatever way you most enjoy, wherever you happen to be.


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