State Sen. Jim Ferlo is calling for the censure and impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He's hoping to spark the ire of Pittsburghers honked off over the continued war in Iraq and administration-authorized domestic snooping with a petition.
"The toll taken on life, limb, and precious resources is shocking and shameful," the petition says of the war. "The Bush Administration in Washington has shattered the reputation of the United States of America in its arrogant pursuit of power and domination."
Criticizing the domestic spying, the petition concludes: "Legal scholars agree that President Bush and Vice President Cheney, who endorsed the warrantless spying, have committed a serious felony."
"Is someone going to rein in King George or what?" asks Ferlo.
The petition, circulating online at www.pittsburghimpeachbush.org, calls for support of House Resolutions 636 and 637, sponsored by U.S. Rep John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). The resolutions call for censure of Bush and Cheney for misleading the American people and Congress into the Iraq war, manipulating intelligence and the cruel treatment of prisoners in Iraq. The resolutions, introduced on the last day before Congress broke for recess, haven't moved anywhere yet.
Approximately 600 people signed the petition in the first six days it was up. (Ferlo says he plans to print the petition in a paid City Paper ad, which he plans to pay for personally, before the president's State of the Union address on Jan. 31.)
The idea is not without its critics, and even supporters realize that the effects of the petition may be more symbolic than actual.
"I don't think it's going to have any direct effect on the administration, but it's starting a dialogue," says Aaron Cockroft of Dormont, who signed the petition soon after hearing about it on liberal radio host Lynn Cullen's talk show. "It gives people a chance to publicly and formally voice their opposition."
"A symbolic demonstration is counter-productive," counters Dave Majernik, vice chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County. "You're not stimulating the other side. It's a smear and a publicity stunt because nothing's going to come of it." He says the petition won't accomplish anything chiefly because the administration hasn't done anything impeachable. "I can't think of a better word to say than it's disloyal."
"I'm not naïve," says Ferlo. "It's not like I'm saying this is going to happen tomorrow. Ideally, if you have a groundswell nationally of this kind of concern, you'll see action on the part of Congress."
He notes that Pennsylvanians were energized by the recent legislative pay-raise scandal, where public outcry reversed the raise state legislators gave themselves. "There were many people who thought that was a lost cause, but people got organized, they spoke up. There is power and persuasion in people's voices."