Eight senior citizens and one adorable little girl stormed the Eureka offices of Congressman Mike Thompson last Wednesday at noon, lending their voices to a nationwide day of protest aimed at fomenting impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush.
It was a cold, wet, blustery day. After several hours of silent protest outside the office the media showed up, and the eight elderly folks - including SoHum organizer Paul Encimer, publisher of the Greenfuse newspaper, activist Jack Nounnan and a stripped-down version of the Raging Grannies - moved inside the hall and prepared to make entry. Inside, they were received by Thompson's local aide, Liz Murguia. When asked if this were keeping her from anything, Murguia assured the protesters that they were fine - she usually eats lunch in the office, she said.
Then the show began. Only three members of the Granny troupe made the scene, but fortunately they included Carol Pridgeon of Blue Lake, the Granny with the most powerful voice. Her interjectory harmonies - "Heck, no!" - are a large part of the Granny appeal, such as it is. The three presented a 10-minute peace-themed set of filk songs based on "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "Give Peace a Chance" and "Down by the Riverside." Afterward, there was a moment of awkward silence when everyone tried to figure out what to do next. Murguia graciously thought to ask for copies of the Granny's lyrics.
Like similar actions across the country, the protest seemed to have little effect. On the surface of it, nothing has changed since Thompson exhaustively addressed the impeachment in an hour-long appearance on KMUD radio a few months ago. Caller after caller plumped for impeachment; the congressmen, increasingly exasperated, argued each time that there were more important fights to fight. And no one else in Washington seems to have taken up the banner.
But a written statement that Murguia handed out to protesters that Wednesday contained some language that may give impeachment fans reason to hope - or, possibly, reasons to believe that they're being strung along. It said, in part and with italics in the original: "While I strongly disagree with the policies and actions of the Bush Administration, I agree with all of my colleagues that efforts to pursue impeachment at this time would be a distraction from getting our troops home and reversing the many failed policies of the administration and the former Republican majority in Congress." Is it just us, or is that a strategically deployed use of the "control-I" keystroke?
The next day, over on The Hill, Thompson introduced five bills on the first day of the 2007 session of the House of Representatives, the first session in which he has served as a member of the majority. Three of the bills were targeted specifically at his North Coast constituency - bills to fund the Del Norte County Airport, to provide relief to a Mendocino County water district and, most notably, to provide some $60 million in assistance to fishermen and others harmed by the collapse of the Klamath River salmon fishery.