When the history of the Bush Administration is finally written, the date of August 6, 2007, should stand out.

That was the day that a pair of identical resolutions were introduced in the Senate and in the House to censure George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales for a catalogue of sins, which could easily be turned into an impeachment bill of particulars.

One resolution deals with the Iraq War, the other with various assaults on the Constitution.

Together, the charges include:

Misleading the nation into the Iraq War.

Authorizing the NSA to illegally spy on Americans.

Allowing the torture of detainees, and denying them due process rights.

Misleading Congress and the American people about the firings of the U.S. attorneys, and obstructing investigations into this scandal.

And undermining acts of Congress by flagrant use of signing statements.

Senator Russ Feingold introduced the two measures in the Senate.

“Congress cannot stay silent when the American people are demanding that this Administration be held accountable for its blatant misconduct regarding Iraq and its attack on the rule of law,” Feingold said.

Representative Maurice Hinchey introduced the two censure motions in the House.

“The White House has continuously misled and deceived the American people while disregarding the rule of law that guides our democracy,” Hinchey said. Censure is necessary, he added, “to let the historical record show that an equal branch of government found the actions of this Administration undeniably reprehensible.”

Hinchey got 19 co-sponsors:

Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Danny Davis (D-IL), Sam Farr (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), John Hall (D-NY), Michael Honda (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James Moran (D-VA), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Carol Shea Porter (D-NH), and Diane Watson (D-CA).

But Feingold got only one-and-a-half sponsors. Tom Harkin signed on to both the resolution on Iraq and the one dealing with constitutional violations. Barbara Boxer signed the Iraq motion only.

Where are the other Democratic Senators?

Where is Biden?

Where is Byrd?

Where is Clinton?

Where is Dodd?

Where is Kennedy?

Where is Leahy?

Where is Obama?

Where is Reid?

Let’s face it: Censure is just a public spanking. It carries no penalty. Certainly not removal from office, which is what a conviction for impeachment—which is what Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales deserve—would require.

We’ve been hearing all these noises coming from the Democratic leadership that impeachment would be a distraction and would tie up the business of the Congress. I don’t buy that. What is more important than standing up for democracy? But censure wouldn’t tie up Congress. And still the Democratic honchos are sitting this one out. So what’s their excuse?

It can’t be that they don’t believe in censure. After all, 29 Democratic Senators were on record in favor of censuring the President—when his name was Bill Clinton.

Dianne Feinstein introduced the bill to censure Clinton back in 1999. I don’t see her signing on to Feingold’s bill, even though the Clinton’s besmirching of his office does not compare to the grievous soiling of the Constitution that Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales have been engaged in.

Here are the names of some of the Democratic co-sponsors of Feinstein’s bill who are still in the Senate:

Daniel Akaka

Byron Dorgan

Richard Durbin

Daniel Inouye

Joe Lieberman

Ted Kennedy

John Kerry

Herb Kohl

Mary Landrieu

Carl Levin

Barbara Mikulski

Jay Rockefeller

Charles Schumer

And yes, Harry Reid.

Where are they now?

They’re nowhere to be seen.

One footnote on the Clinton censure: even 9 Republicans were in favor, including Pete Domenici, Mitch McConnell, and Olympia Snowe.

So don’t let any of them—Democrat or Republican—say that censure is somehow unthinkable or unconstitutional.

Back in 1999, they not only thought about it; they did it.

But now, in 2007, when Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales are assaulting our very democracy, all of these Senators have gone into hiding.

They are letting Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales carry on, with impunity, like some Argentine junta.

And they are setting a terrible precedent for future reprehensible lawlessness at the highest end of the executive branch.


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A huge win, it's also just a hit on the pause button. Here's some context and ideas about paths forward.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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