Homer, Alaska Citizens for Impeachment Stage Rally
Conspicuous signs reflected the frustrations of the dozen-or-so activists lining WKFL Park on Pioneer Avenue Saturday. Those driving by showed their support for voicing those concerns with the presidency by honking and waving in return.
Amy Bollenbach, chair of the Homer Citizens for Impeachment group that has grown to 30 members since its inception four weeks ago, said the movement is partly fueled by the shame she carries about the state of the country - that, and the accusations about botched CIA reports, an empty connection between Iraq and Sept. 11, spying and tapping citizens' phones and the lack of cooperation on congressional inquiries.
"I guess the motivation is that I'm very worried about our country and our reputation throughout the world," Bollenbach said. "This administration has done some things that are very bad and have harmed the rest of the U.S. It's sad our reputation is as bad as it is.
Bollenbach said she feels that, as a country, we're losing the good name we've had since after World War II.
"Not only are we losing that reputation, but the democracy that includes rights for everyone," she said. "Lots of people were honking, but there were a few unpleasant hand signals that used the middle finger - but it wasn't bad."
Shari Robinson stood on the corner holding two signs for a better part of the day. She's from San Francisco, and has protested alongside Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas.
"Somebody's got to stop him - we just can't wait it out anymore," Robinson said. "It's a tragic mess - and it's criminal."
Edith Hawkey, of Homer, held a sign that read, "Save Our Constitution." She said she chose that message because she feels the constitution has been so badly violated, and if an investigation were to begin, there might be a great deal more found than people are prepared to deal with.
So what can we do about it?
"What can you do? - do what I'm doing about it," Bollenbach said.
Some critics may ask why the group is toying with the notion of impeachment, as the administration nears its final year.
"Our answer is that we want to tell the president that taking powers that aren't his is unacceptable," Bollenbach said. "Bush and Cheney have done illegal wiretapping of citizens of the U.S., and misled us into war. I'm so ashamed of our country."
The vengeance and deceit from the administration, she said, is embarrassing to the country.
"It almost sounds like a fascism. It's frightening," she said.
The group said democracy is successful, if the power of the three coequal authorities remains intact. They believe Bush and Cheney have seized those powers.
The grassroots group collected 60 signatures on Saturday - that, on top of the 30 or 40 it had prior. Their next step, according to Bollenbach, could involve appealing to the Homer City Council for support. A Democrat herself, Bollenbach said she's disappointed that the House Judiciary Committee has not been called upon to conduct an investigation into the practices of the presidency.
"We're not saying there is absolute proof, but the committee's job is to investigate. I hope they do that," Bollenbach said.
If the group can drum up enough interest, they hope their wave will carry to the Capitol. Bollenbach said she is hopeful discussions of impeachment cause a tipping point.
In a statement the group sent the Tribune prior to the gathering, it spelled out its intent.
"Homer Citizens for Impeachment does not seek revenge for the wrongs Bush and Cheney have done. Instead, we want to remove Bush and Cheney from their jobs as a lesson to future presidents: We citizens of this country will not tolerate an executive branch that acts like royalty."
The group meets every Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Homer Council on the Arts.
"It's a powerful statement -- you don't do it unless the president has taken powers that don't belong to him -- and it could serve as a warning to future presidents," Bollenbach said.
She also wanted to make it clear that the group is not an anti-war group exclusively, as it has several conservative members as well. The focus is on the pilfering of powers.
The U.S. Constitution allows impeachment, the first stage of ousting an official, based on charges against that official. Conviction is the second phase.
The grounds for impeachment include treason, bribery, or other high crimes. Since 1789, according to the U.S. Senate, only 17 federal officers have been impeached by the House, 14 of which were tried by the Senate. Three were dismissed before trial because the individual had left office, seven ended in acquittal and seven in conviction. All of those convicted were federal judges.
As impeachment applies to presidents, discussions often turn to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. Two counts were brought against President Bill Clinton in 1998, which claimed he had "willfully corrupted and manipulated the judicial process." The charges failed to get the two-thirds majority.
David Mass, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at University of Alaska Anchorage, said the movement could do some good only if the group puts enough pressure on the right Legislators to bring a bill of indictment. However, the problem is that the Democrats have only a slight majority over the Republicans.
"They fear they would run into the same problems the Republicans had when they impeached President Clinton," Mass said. The Republicans failed to obtain the super majority vote to oust Clinton.
"The problem has been that key people in the House of Representatives feel this argument would divert time from other arguments, and there just aren't the votes to do it," Mass said. "Nancy Pelosi, (House Speaker) said it's off the table."
© 2007 The Homer Tribune