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Ignored by Congressional Representatives, Cities Take Up Call for Impeachment

Arcata, CA holds town hall meeting to discuss an impeachment resolution for pResident Bush. The resolution bases its call for impeachment on the grounds that Bush and Cheney lied to Congress and the American people about Iraq's WMD's, nuclear program and ties to al Qaeda in order to promote a war that was illegal under the United Nations Charter and therefore, also under the United States Constitution. Such lies and prosecution of an illegal war meet the constitutional requirement for impeachment as "high crimes and misdemeanors," and in light of the continuing slaughter of both Iraqis and Americans, seem far more serious than Clinton's lies concerning his sexual exploits in the Oval Office.
On Tuesday, September 2, from 7 to 9 p.m., there will be a Town Hall meeting at the senior dining room in the new Arcata Community Center, to discuss a proposed City Council Resolution calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.

The resolution bases its call for impeachment on the grounds that Bush and Cheney lied to Congress and the American people about Iraq's WMD's, nuclear program and ties to al Qaeda in order to promote a war that was illegal under the United Nations Charter and therefore, also under the United States Constitution. Such lies and prosecution of an illegal war meet the constitutional requirement for impeachment as "high crimes and misdemeanors," and in light of the continuing slaughter of both Iraqis and Americans, seem far more serious than Clinton's lies concerning his sexual exploits in the Oval Office.

Of those who have spoken against passing the resolution so far, few challenge the accusation that Bush and Cheney lied, or that the war was illegal under the UN charter. Some say that lying and lawbreaking by leaders is acceptable, when the greater cause of strengthening freedom by eliminating a cruel dictator is served. Most opponents of the resolution with whom I have talked say that they have no love for Bush or his war, but that they do not think it is within the City's purview to address issues like presidential impeachment.

Others comment that this will cost the City money and that we ought to be paying attention to potholes, while another point of view is that impeachment won't really happen anyway, and we should be focused on the 2004 election, if we want to oust Bush. Another view is that there is no way to accurately assess the opinions of citizens, because many of those who oppose the resolution feel too disheartened with City politics to even bother making their views known.

In response, I would say that lying about this war has not furthered freedom or safety, either for us or the Iraqis. If the American people would not accept the unilateral invasion of a sovereign nation in order to secure oil supplies for Bush and Cheney cronies, or to establish hegemony over a strategically vital geopolitical area, then they should not be lied to and told that the invasion would save us from the imminent threat of Iraq's WMDs.

To those who believe that the city should not waste time and money on issues of national and international policy, I would first point out that our council discussions, and the Town Hall meeting have minimal financial impact on the City. Aside from the costs of keeping the lights on and of the hourly wages of a few employees involved with duties during council meetings, there is negligible monetary cost to extending a City Council meeting for an hour. The City is providing the space for the Town Hall meeting, but all other staffing needs are being met by volunteers and any actual expenses are zbeing paid by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 56.

Why should the Arcata City Council, with its focus on local concerns, take a stand for impeachment? Because the attack on Iraq was morally wrong, legally indefensible and financially irresponsible. We were among the 165 cities, nationwide, that passed resolutions opposing the war, during the months before the attack, when our president and vice president were repeatedly lying to inflate the threat posed by Iraq. We need to follow up on our earlier opposition to this war, and that of millions of people around the world, that was ignored by this administration.

Why is it our business, as a City, to call for disempowering those who waged this war? The absolute minimum taxpayer-paid price tag of the Iraq war will be over 100 billion dollars (and could climb to five times this number), and this represents a theft from programs across the nation that would actually help us here in Arcata. The minimum cost of the war, on a nationwide per-capita, per-city basis, is equal to the entire annual General Fund budget of the City of Arcata and that of every other city in America. Assuming that we recognize the trickle-down nature of budget deficits, from federal to state to local levels, this is an unacceptable cost for an unnecessary war.

Why else should people support the impeachment resolution? Look back at the history of the American Revolution (check out A People's History of the American Revolution by Ray Raphael) and notice that by 1774, people across rural Massachusetts were meeting weekly in their town councils and had effectively and democratically seized all power from the monarchy, two years before the Declaration of Independence.

At a time like this, when our executive branch is running amok, it is up to us all to take a stand for our principles. The costs of speaking out are dwarfed by the consequences of allowing this madness to continue.

If you have an opinion about the City Council resolution calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, please come to the Town Hall meeting tonight. No matter what your point of view, it will be an opportunity to speak out, to listen to each other and to explore the possibilities for consensus.

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