Friday, July 20, 2007

Tough Talk on Impeachment, and Christ-Hauntings

"BILL MOYERS JOURNAL explores the talk of impeachment with Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and THE NATION's John Nichols, author of THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT."
Part 1 and Part 2 of the above interview.

My Comments: Folks, we've been living in an over-centralized system of government for 140 years, in which Washington can dictate what will or will not happen, and dissenting states can do little or nothing about it -- they certainly can't leave the Union, that's for sure -- but here we have, within this system which would already horrify our founding fathers, a president who is further abusing said already-abusive system in ways that take the horror to new lows. Our President is clueless -- and what is more, the Democratic-controlled Congress is afraid to stand up to a clueless man -- so no one's bringing up the "I" word with any regularity. That someone -- and a conservative someone, at that! -- who helped lead the charge against Clinton should be calling Bush and Cheney on the carpet (as well as the current "invertebrate" Congress -- his words) is refreshing to me. We've lost our sense of statesmanship, so secession, for all intents and purposes, has lain murdered for decades. Let us not similarly lose our sense of obligation to impeach as the final check and balance to executive power gone insane.

Excellent interview.

And...to provide something else Southern Orthodox might relate to -- y'all read this by Fr. Stephen.

11 comments:

Gary said...

PREACH IT, BROTHER!!! Also thanks for posting Fr. Stephen's words. Good stuff.

Robert said...

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. - - ARTICLE II, SECTION 4 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

There have been people calling for President Bush to be impeached since before he was ever even sworn in. There was a seeming upsurge around the start of the Iraq invasion. Of course, the minor foolishness of Scooter Libby has started another round of wishful thinking that way.

Such interest being at a high point, let's take a little look at the ImpeachBush.org website, and have a quick review. The idea seems ludicrous, but perhaps I've missed something.

Conveniently, they've actually drawn up "Articles of Impeachment" against George W Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Alberto Gonzalez. CLICK HERE for their "Articles of Impeachment."

They list a total of 18 items, which seem to pretty much broadly include all major disagreements with administration policy. Let's look at a few of the particulars. Note that there are two article 4s, which dumb error speaks volumes on the real thoughtfulness and rigor of the content of their arguments.

Impeachment article 1: Seizing power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the rule of law; carrying out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of tens of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of U.S. G.I.s.


This is the main enchilada- and it's total nonsense in about half a dozen directions. Seizing power to wage war in defiance of the US Constitution? In fact, they had a vote in the Congress in October 2002 authorizing the war. You may reasonably argue that it was not a good idea, but they did have a legitimate public vote. Further legitimizing it, Bush pushed for that vote right before the midterm election, maximizing the accountability of Congress critters voting either way.

It's particularly telling - and damning of them- that these impeachment advocates cite (supposed) defiance of the UN as grounds for the impeachment of a US president. He does not work for the UN. They didn't hire him. We did. Anyone not real clear on this point should not be taken very seriously in the court of public opinion.

All the rest of this article is just nonsense. It's questionable how much threat Iraq was or wasn't, but it's not a constitutional issue nor grounds for impeachment either way. There's nothing in the US Constitution that would make invasion of another country without "good" reason a "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." This applies to their articles 3, 4A, 6, and 17.

2) Lying to the people of the U.S., to Congress, and to the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war.


All presidents tend to bend the truth, to spin, to not tell the whole truth. That's not a crime nor grounds for impeachment, it's merely politics. That would probably have to get to the point of commiting actual felonies to rise to such a level. That would likely involve outright deliberate factually false statements under oath. Most likely, lots of these same people were not impressed with the impeachment of Bill Clinton for absolutely factually lying under oath in front of a grand jury and witness tampering.

Bush simply hasn't done anything like that. Indeed, I've not seen a significant direct factual lie from him ever. He didn't want to volunteer his little DUI, and he wanted to act like he didn't really know Ken Lay. Those just are not legal offenses.

But in truth, Bush seems to be about the most honest president in my lifetime. That's setting the bar a bit low, granted. But it's just NONSENSE to call Bush a "liar" over WMDs in Iraq.

Now, there are some of these articles that I'm sympathetic to on policy grounds, stuff about violations of domestic civil liberties. Articles 7, 8, 9, and 11 - 14 all express legitimate concerns about Patriot Act and "enemy combatant" issues and so forth. The Bush administration do sometimes seem to be significantly pushing their proper constitutional boundaries.

But it is ridiculous to call most of that stuff anything LIKE an impeachable offense. The courts will trim their claws on some of this stuff- though not enough to suit me. Bush needs this Patriot Act stuck up directly in the center of his ass as far as I'm concerned. Personally, I'm much more bothered by the ridiculous campaign finance law he signed- though that truly and blatantly unconstitutional law does not ire these pro-impeachment folks.

Mostly, though, these "Articles of Impeachment" are better evidence of the fascism underlying Bush's more radical opponents than they are of crimes by the Bush administration. At least 90% of their complaints are policy issues pure and simple, and not any kind of criminal activity. Their people have been beaten soundly and repeatedly at the ballot box, so they wish to concoct bogus legal charges to get their way no matter what the democratic process says. I'm sure the ends justify the means, though.

Addressing the most basic point of these charges, President Bush made a case for war. The Congress and the public agreed- rightly or wrongly. That's democracy in action.

David Bryan said...

Robert,

Yours is a very well-thought-out response. The demands of being a father to a newborn and a toddler prevent me from replying right now (not to mention posting, for that matter), but I do plan on responding. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and please check back in a day or so.

Gary said...

Without going into excruciating detail as I don't have time, I believe taking the nation into war with trumped up, slanted, false intelligence qualifies as 'high crimes and misdemeanors'. He is responsible for the 3600+ deaths of American soldiers, thousands more wounded and maimed, countless numbers of innocent Iraqi dead and injured. He should be held accountable. Personally, I believe, he should be removed from office, be publically flogged, and removed to exile somewhere where there are a lot of malaria mosquitoes and chiggars. To allow this ,without holding him accountable, will only permit this to happen again in the future.

I have truly reached the point of disgust and loathing with this man and his regime that I am embarassed for my country and am ashamed that he is from my state of Texas.

Robert said...

Gary,

Firstly, you need to get past the rhetoric, its severs no purpose and only demonstrates the weakness of your position. (IOW the weaker the argument, the stronger the words)

Second, Bush did not go to war on "trumped up, slanted, false intelligence"

Was Gore pushing, in your own words; "trumped up, slanted, false intelligence" when he gave the following speech as he was campaigning for VP in 2002?

http://tinyurl.com/2cgklb

What I have quickly discovered is that those who oppose this war apply a complete and total double standard. Was Gore lying? How about president Clinton?

http://tinyurl.com/2ojjcq

You sate:

"He is responsible for the 3600+ deaths of American soldiers, thousands more wounded and maimed, countless numbers of innocent Iraqi dead and injured."

Can you give me a body count on the enemy? How man AQ terrorists have we killed? How many people in Iraq have been killed by AQ? I am sure you can't for the simple reason that ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, CNNHN, AP, PBS are all in lock step trying everything to demoralize this country. How do you think the war would have gone in WW2 if all we heard was how many of our troops had been killed, but nothing regarding how many of the enemy we have killed?

Isn't it funny how all these media outlets have no problem showing us videos of our troops being shot in Iraq, but they will not show the videos of our troops rescuing civilians from AQ torture chambers?

I also finding it funny that these same media outlets also show us videos of the number 2 AQ leader telling his people that they have control of Iraq, that they are killing Americans, they they have us on the run etc. Why don't they show us videos of US generals walking down streets that just 4 months ago were hot beds of AQ terror and how the people who were once fighting us have now joined with us to defeat AQ. You will never see a video like that for the simple reason it doesn't fit the template of defeat.

How do the troops view this war? Record numbers are reenlisting to go back to Iraq and finish the fight. You may say it is for psychological reasons, but it may also be because they see what your media denies you.

I used to be against this war, but then it dawned on me, if we lose, who wins? AQ does, and in their videos they have made it clear what they intend to do with Iraq.

People have said that Osama attacked us, it was AQ, not Saddam. Yes, that is true, I was against going into Iraq in the first place, but a truth that cannot be denied is that AQ has decided to make Iraq the battle front in this war. Yes, we need to take out Osama, but if you cannot reach the heard of the snake to cut it off, then you start hacking at the tail and work your way up.

Its amazing how many people suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome, they all say we need to fight and kill AQ, just not in Iraq. Yes, kill em where we find em, just not in Iraq.

Again, if we lose, who wins?

Gary said...

Robert, all I can say is: you've been drinking the kool-aid.

Robert said...

Gary,

I see that you really are incapable of engaging in civil discourse.

I asked you very pointed questions, questions that get right to the heart of the matter. I provided you with links and videos that demonstrate that Bush wasn't lying any more than Gore and Clinton were when they said the exact same things. Why do you not engage them? I fear that the simple reason is not so much that you will not as it is that you cannot.

I used to be in your camp, Bush lied, people died etc etc. But I soon began to discover that bumper stickers really don't encourage honest and open discussion. I found that for all those who where so against the war that when they were faced with tough questions, they either began vilifying those asking the questions, or simply ignored them all together. From your response I see that not much has changed.

Why do I even engage you when it is clear that you have no real interest in honest and frank discussion? For the benefit of those sitting on the side who are not really sure what to think. You have clearly demonstrated how your kind operate. Make blovating, blowhard charges, vilify those with whom you disagree, and when challenged to defend you accusations, either insult the person questioning you or just ignore them all together. What you have done is provided a perfect example of what Proverbs 18:17 speaks about.

The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.

But that is the thing with your camp, and it really is sad, you will not dare stand to be examined. Yet, you expect those with whom you disagree to answer every question put to them. Again, double standards.

I wish you the best Gary, but I fear that until you are ready to stop name calling (kool-aid drinker) and answer question put to you then they is no hope for any discourse.

David Bryan said...

“There have been people calling for President Bush to be impeached since before he was ever even sworn in. There was a seeming upsurge around the start of the Iraq invasion. Of course, the minor foolishness of Scooter Libby has started another round of wishful thinking that way.”

Well, what you call “minor foolishness” I call executive overreaching and obstruction of justice, which is a reason for impeachment.

”Such interest being at a high point, let's take a little look at the ImpeachBush.org website, and have a quick review.”

Well, I’m not all that interested in that particular website, but OK…

“Note that there are two article 4s [in the articles of impeachment], which dumb error speaks volumes on the real thoughtfulness and rigor of the content of their arguments.”

Actually, I see 20 articles, with no repeat on #4 -- see here for what I’m talking about -- so I’m not sure if there was an update or what, but apparently they’re not complete morons…

“Impeachment article 1…”

I completely agree with your assessment of this; Bush got perfectly legal approval for this war (unfortunately), so this article needs to go. Bush was riding a reactionary wave that got a vote through that was largely emotional and hardly rational. Still, it was legal. He did indeed get congressional ratification for his actions. So no problem there with the legality, though I disagree with the vote.

(My problem, btw, with our being in Iraq is not that we’re there at all -- your videos made it very clear that Democrats in years past have seen the threat for what it was and have called it such, so Bush is not a fool for saying that good could and would come from toppling Saddam -- but rather that we’re there when we should be focused elsewhere for reasons directly related to those who attacked us. Saddam may have been a threat, but there were other fish to fry in Afghanistan w/the Taliban, yet Cheney (even in his VP debate in 2000!) mentioned Iraq more than anything else…and he’s certainly made his ambition to go there a reality, in spite of higher priorities at the time…)

“Impeachment article 2…”

You said, “All presidents tend to bend the truth, to spin, to not tell the whole truth. That's not a crime nor grounds for impeachment, it's merely politics.” Actually…obstruction of justice, or the refusal to be completely transparent with the legislative branch when inquiries are made regarding executive action is grounds for impeachment…like, oh, say, pardoning members of your party and/or administration who’ve been convicted of wrongdoing or refusing to submit subpoenaed emails…James Madison would be screaming for Congress to impeach as soon as those actions were made known; he certainly screamed as much when he wrote that part of the Federalist Papers. The fact that we’ve lost our sense of statesmanship to the degree that Nancy Pelosi, repulsive jellyfish of a politician that she is, has stated that “impeachment is off the table” when these things are going on tells you just how far away from our founding moorings we’ve gone.

“Most likely, lots of these same people were not impressed with the impeachment of Bill Clinton for absolutely factually lying under oath in front of a grand jury and witness tampering.”

Oh, I was. And I think Bush and Cheney should be impeached for similar obstruction of justice and lack of transparency with Congress. I was all for Clinton’s impeachment -- though it was led by DeLay in his quest for political cleansing rather than statesmanship -- and I would be all for an impeachment of this administration for reasons of said statesmanship.

“But in truth, Bush seems to be about the most honest president in my lifetime. That's setting the bar a bit low, granted. But it's just NONSENSE to call Bush a "liar" over WMDs in Iraq.”

OK…he’s not a liar outright, but I would say he's incompetent as a war planner, blind to the real priorities this country has to face in the wake of 9/11, and above all, he’s not answering to Congress (nor does he feel he needs to) in how he's conducting this controversial and scarily and tragically wayward war.

“Now, there are some of these articles that I'm sympathetic to on policy grounds, stuff about violations of domestic civil liberties. Articles 7, 8, 9, and 11 -- 14 all express legitimate concerns about Patriot Act and "enemy combatant" issues and so forth. The Bush administration do sometimes seem to be significantly pushing their proper constitutional boundaries.”

That’s big of you to admit, though I really like #6, too. And I’ll say this: if impeachment proceedings began and Bush, Cheney, et al repented of doing these things, then I would say stop the proceedings and let the amended administration proceed as amended, for the proceedings would have done their job. I’m not out for blood because “they’re Bush and Cheney”; I’m out for justice because they’re not being held accountable and absolutely should be as the chief executive officers.

My basic idea (summed up very well in the videos) is this:

This administration is seeking to cripple checks and balances against the executive branch. Spying on Americans, kidnapping people, detaining and questioning them w/out trial, use of a Patriot Act which is not needed to fight terror, outing Valerie Plame, obstructing a congressional inquiry into what Harriet Miers knew re: info collecting and when, intercepting emails, invading homes, kidnapping folks and deporting them to countries where they know they’ll be tortured, torturing POWs…all under the reasoning that Congress or the Supreme Court can’t stop them because the whole country is supposedly a military battlefield, so they’ve got the license to do so “so we don’t have another nine--eleven.” THESE ARE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT, and proof of this comes from none other than the de facto foreign policy prez (Cheney), who during the Iran Contra scandal said in Congress that the Executive Branch shouldn’t be censured in any way (!!!), which is what we’re seeing now -- this “toolbox” of unchecked, unrepentant executive power is not going to go away, but it could get handed off to a Hillary or a Barack next year, and I don’t think you’d want that.

Bottom line is this: when there’s an incursion on our rights a la Patriot Act/Intelligence Gathering, we have the right to demand a reason why this is being done. Bush refuses to give us this; he refuses to give any reason beyond “it’s necessary in our fight against terror -- trust us!” and therefore is acting as an unchecked tyrant…and therefore--according to the founding fathers of this country--deserves impeachment. Impeachment is, more than anything else, a tool used to remind the exec branch that it is not the boss; the people are. The people can and must demand transparency and compliance with the law from the executive branch so that it won’t be passed on to future presidents. As you can see, this is not about Republican or Democrat; this is about country over party. When the people are children of daddy government instead of citizens and statesmen that demand account from those they elect, empires fall. It’s time to say that the emperor has no clothes, and make him get dressed.

Gary said...

Robert, I did not call you any names. Please do not twist my words. As I said in the beginning I don't have time to go into excruciating detail (I have limited time to spend on the internet). I have expressed my opinions, formed by reading from a wide range of sources. You have posted your 'proof texts' and if I were to spend the time to post my 'proof texts'they wouldn't change your mind any more than your's have changed mine. You are a 'true believer'while my cynicism toward the present regime knows no bounds. Now then, please don't talk down to me, and by the way I am not a member of any camp.

I have stated my belief and I really don't see anything in my post that states that I wished to engage you in discourse. I stated my opinions as I still have liberty to do so and that is all I ever desired to do.

Robert said...

Gary,,

Calling someone a Kool-Aid drinker isn't name calling? Are you comparing me to the followers of Jim Jones? Do you even understand what the term Kool-Aid drinker means? If comparing me to a follower of Jim Jones isn't name calling, than I have no idea what would qualify as such.

I think those reading these posts can decide for themselves.

David Bryan said...

Oooookay...

Gentlemen! Seems as though we've gotten WAY off topic. Robert, it seems as though you jumped the gun in assuming that Gary had no reason for responding as he did (he's got his hands full, being a family man, so he can't go into detail -- I know this, as we attend church together). And, OK, so the kool-aid comment doesn't put you in very good company (Jim Jones et al), so what say we just cut off this part of the "conversation" and deal with the subject at hand.

I've basically put forth my opinion -- I'll be honest, Robert, there's not a whole lot more that I think needs to be said -- and you may respond if you like. I may respond to your response if you choose to leave one, but I may not do so for a while (or, honestly, at all), seeing as how things are crazy w/us being a young family and all.

Regardless, let's keep things respectful. Thicker skins might be helpful, too....