It’s past time to make yet another plea to the Democrats in Congress. I don’t care that Bush has less than a year left in his term; this is no longer about getting rid of Bush and Cheney; it’s about preserving our republic in its current form, and demonstrating to the rest of the world that we really do believe in the rule of law. How is it even possible that we can expect to be taken seriously by the rest of the world, when we allow the current regime to just do whatever they want, as we sit by and watch them. The Constitution gives Congress the power to make a case before the American people as to why the current administration should not be there, and it’s high time they did so.
It’s not enough to defeat the Republicans in November, and to allow Bush and Cheney to leave office quietly, so that they can pardon everyone in the administration as they walk out. We have to demonstrate who’s actually in charge of this country, and it’s not large corporations, it’s not government contractors, and it’s not even the people in Washington. It’s the people who live here.
It’s time for someone in Congress to put forth serious articles of impeachment against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and bring them to a vote. What’s the worst that could happen? There’s a good chance they will not be convicted. But so what? The Articles of Impeachment should be read every day for weeks, on every news program and on every talk radio program in the country, and they should be put into every newspaper and newsmagazine in the country, as well. They should be read as one would read off a list of the charges contained in an indictment. Just as the entire world is watching our election, to see what we will do going forward, we must show the world that the United States is not a rogue nation, and that we take care of our own house. We as Americans have been embarrassed for most of the last eight years — or should have been, anyway — and it’s time we stopped the bleeding. An interim government featuring President Pelosi would go a long way toward stopping the bleeding, as it were, and beginning the long healing process that we must go through. And I have a feeling that, once the impeachment train is rolling, nothing will stop it. Once people have the charges laid out in front of them, the pressure to convict will be too great for even Republican Senators to resist.
Under normal circumstances, I could understand Congress’ reticence, in part because impeachment trials reduce the effectiveness of the Senate for the time of the trial. But at this point, does it matter? Senate Republicans continue to refuse to allow anything important through to the floor for a vote, anyway; if the Senate is going to be relatively ineffective for a while, why not put the time to good use? Let’s use the opportunity to demonstrate just WHY the Founding Fathers put impeachment into the Constitution six times.
And for those of you who think we don’t have the time, think about this; while the impeachment of Bill Clinton seemed to take forever, the reality is that the articles of impeachment were passed on December 19, 1998, and he was acquitted on February 12, 1999. That’s less than two months from the impeachment vote to the end of the trial. It’s quite possible that the trials of Bush and Cheney might take a bit longer, given that the laundry list is far longer than one blowjob, but not necessarily. It seems to me that an Independence Day vote on conviction would be a wonderful birthday present for the country; a reminder that this country was created to be a beacon of democracy for the world, and not the despotic pseudo-kingdom it’s become under the Bush regime. And even if the final vote doesn’t go the right way, not all is lost, because if Bush and Cheney are acquitted, it will be because the Republicans and Joe Lieberman have decided that the rule of law no longer matters, and the Republican Party will be even deader meat come November. Of course, if Bush and Cheney are convicted, we can hold the Pelosi Inauguration under the Independence Day fireworks out on the South Lawn. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Although the right wing wants you to think this kind of talk is about ideology, this is not about right and left, or conservative and liberal; it’s about right and wrong. The purpose for articles of impeachment and a subsequent trial, whether or not they’re ultimately successful, would serve to lay bare the Bush Administration’s sins to the entire country and the world, and to demonstrate exactly how a truly great country gets rid of scoundrels when they occupy the most powerful positions in the government. The news channels would have little or no choice but to report all of the details, and it would be very difficult to spin any of it, when presented to people in black and white. Corruption cannot and should not be tolerated in the government, and the Founders knew and understood this. But this regime isn’t just about corruption. Just as important to the people who created the Constitution was the ability to get rid of people who were incompetent, and incapable of acting in a way beneficial to the nation as a whole, and if you can’t say that about this particular administration, then you’re far too forgiving.
Let’s face it, folks; with the Bushies, we’ve hit the jackpot with regard to impeachable offenses. I mean, it’s like the world’s largest dartboard; two blind people could make it a game with everything the Keystone Kops in the White House have been up to.
I’ll show you just how bad it is; I’m going to remove the obvious complaints from the mix. This group is so bad, I don’t even have to mention starting a war based on lies. I don’t have to mention the fact that they outed a covert CIA agent to exact political revenge on her husband. And I don’t even have to mention the fact that they have been spying on us illegally for seven years. Those are easy targets for prosecutors. These people are actually much worse than all of that.
You want corruption? How about their collusion with the oil companies to keep energy supplies low and prices high? How about their conflicts of interest with Enron?
What? You mean you can’t prove they did that? Well, of course, you can’t, because they’ve kept everything about it secret, even when it’s illegal for them to do so. You see? There’s another impeachable offense. While it can be said that a president does have quite a bit of latitude with regard to secrecy when it has to do with national security, domestic energy policy rarely falls under the “national security” umbrella.
And how about those signing statements? Can Congressional Democrats sit there on their corpulent asses and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a president who signs the bills that come across his desk, but adds signing statements to almost all of them, many of which indicate his intention to carve out an exception for himself under the law he’s signing?
Here are a few examples of Bush signing statements, courtesy of the Boston Globe:
March 9, 2006: Justice Department officials must give reports to Congress by certain dates on how the FBI is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers.
Bush’s signing statement: The president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations.
Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.
Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific information ”prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay.”
Bush’s signing statement: The president can tell
researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.
Aug. 8: The Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its contractors may not fire or otherwise punish an employee whistle-blower who tells Congress about possible wrongdoing.
Bush’s signing statement: The president or his appointees will determine whether employees of the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can give information to Congress.
Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.
Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ”as advisory in nature.”
Dec. 17: The new national intelligence director shall recruit and train women and minorities to be spies, analysts, and translators in order to ensure diversity in the intelligence community.
Bush’s signing statement: The executive branch shall construe the law in a manner consistent with a constitutional clause guaranteeing ”equal protection” for all. (In 2003, the Bush administration argued against race-conscious affirmative-action programs in a Supreme Court case. The court rejected Bush’s view.)
Oct. 29: Defense Department personnel are prohibited from interfering with the ability of military lawyers to give independent legal advice to their commanders.
Bush’s signing statement: All military attorneys are bound to follow legal conclusions reached by the administration’s lawyers in the Justice Department and the Pentagon when giving advice to their commanders.
Aug. 5: The military cannot add to its files any illegally gathered intelligence, including information obtained about Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.
Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can tell the military whether or not it can use any specific piece of intelligence.
Nov. 6, 2003: US officials in Iraq cannot prevent an inspector general for the Coalition Provisional Authority from carrying out any investigation. The inspector general must tell Congress if officials refuse to cooperate with his inquiries.
Bush’s signing statement: The inspector general ”shall refrain” from investigating anything involving sensitive plans, intelligence, national security, or anything already being investigated by the Pentagon. The inspector cannot tell Congress anything if the president decides that disclosing the information would impair foreign relations, national security, or executive branch operations.
Nov. 5, 2002: Creates an Institute of Education Sciences whose director may conduct and publish research ”without the approval of the secretary [of education] or any other office of the department.”
Bush’s signing statement: The president has the power to control the actions of all executive branch officials, so ”the director of the Institute of Education Sciences shall [be] subject to the supervision and direction of the secretary of education.”
Every single one of the signing statements above demonstrates a functional misunderstanding of the role of the president in the federal government. In our government, the Legislative Branch makes laws, or “legislates,” and the Executive Branch (wait for it…) executes those laws.
Now, I know a lot of wingnuts will see the word “executes” and get all excited, but it does not mean “kills” in this case. It means that the purpose of the Executive Branch is to put laws into action.
The Bush Administration thinks it’s a dictatorship, and Democrats in Congress, by not holding them to account, is actually contributing to the perpetuation of that myth. Presidents are under obligation to follow any law the Supreme Court doesn’t find to be unconstitutional; the concept that a president can simply carve out an exception that a deliberative body has debated and worked on for months or even years, is just wrong.
Think about the corrupt, and possibly even criminal, practices that we can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, during an impeachment trial. We can prove, for example, that our president — the President of the United States; our country, our “land of the free and the home of the brave,” actually gathered people from rural Afghanistan, put them into secret prisons and had them tortured for information. He has given himself the power to declare anyone he wishes an “enemy combatant,” despite the fact that we are not at war with any nation at the moment. He continues to assert his claimed power to hold anyone he wishes, for as long as he wishes, without benefit of counsel or trial, despite court orders demanding that he stop.
Seriously, where do these people get the idea that the President has so much power? They sure as hell didn’t get it from the Constitution. Here’s a little quiz for you; can you guess who has the following powers, according to the Constitution?
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
If you said the Executive Branch, then you need to go back to school. Congressional Democrats, pay attention; YOU have the above powers, NOT George W. Bush. This is all the Constitution says about the president’s powers with regard to the military and/or defense:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
Hmm… I don’t see anything in there about carving out exceptions for himself because he’s some sort of arbiter of all things “national security.” That duty falls on CONGRESS, not the president. The president does have some special powers during national emergencies, but only those granted to him by Congress. And those powers can also be taken away by Congress at any time.
You see, signing statements have been used before, but never like this. Traditionally, they have been used for clarification, not exception. In the past, presidents have used sig
ning statements to instruct Cabinet departments on how to implement a law they have signed, not to tell Congress what they think the law should be.
The signing statements are just the gargantuan tip of the iceberg, however. This administration has continually, throughout its reign, seen the law not as a path to be followed, but an obstacle to be jumped over or sidestepped.
Last year, Bush issued an Executive Order which declared that we are apparently in a state of emergency of some sort, “due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people…”
Were you aware of an extraordinary threat here due to anything that’s going on in Iraq? I mean, I have seen no color coded threat level changes, no extra police on the streets, and they’ve even loosened the rules and allowed cigarette lighters on domestic flights, even though you can’t smoke on any. And since when does a president have the power to just declare an emergency out of thin air? But that’s not the most amazing thing about this Executive Order. The most remarkable thing is that he has ordered that, upon order of his Administration, without judge, jury or due process, all assets of anyone he doesn’t like, and who he decides is “threatening the peace and stability of Iraq.” No kidding. Can we at least have a definition? On second thought, no; the president has no power to declare anything like that, without Congress’ express permission. And there’s a new sheriff in town, so that’s not likely.
Coincidentally, when Senator Clinton dared to submit a letter to the Administration, and asked whether they had some sort of inkling as to when they might be thinking of withdrawing troops, a snotty undersecretary at the Department of Defense, Eric Edelman, sent her a return missive suggesting that her “propaganda” was “boosting” the enemy somehow. Was this a preliminary step by the Bush Administration to attempt to seize everything Senator Clinton has, to keep her from winning election next year?
Who knows if it is or not? And that’s the point, folks. We live in an open, democratic society, and everyone is expected to play by the same rules. The biggest boy in the yard doesn’t get to remake all of the rules just because he’s the biggest; everyone gets to pitch in, and we make the rules together.
And that is especially true when said “big boy” is just flat incompetent. Forget the obvious deer-in-the-headlights look on Bush’s face every time he’s asked a pointed question. Forget the obvious sense one gets just by looking at the man that he really doesn’t know why he’s there, and that he wouldn’t even be there if ventriloquist Cheney’s hand wasn’t all of the way up his ass. Forget the fact that he’s quite obviously the most ignorant boob in the history of the American presidency. Look at the record. We’re not talking about a 20-minute lapse in judgment in which the president allowed a female White House employee to get a little too close. We’re talking about gross incompetence at pretty much every turn. Seriously; has this administration done anything right in 7 years? Let’s list a few of the biggest screw-ups in Bush Administration history, shall we?
He hadn’t been in office six months when he took a two-month vacation, and despite the repeated warnings about terrorist plots which were contained in his Presidential Daily Briefing, which were read to him as he finished his Lucky Charms each morning, he stayed on vacation, and passed on none of these warnings to airport security authorities. No one in his administration “could ever have imagined” that anyone could possibly attack the United States, despite the fact that the president received at least one briefing, entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack US” weeks before he did just that, and at least one other describing a plot to fly planes into buildings.
When the country was attacked on 9/11, rather than scramble fighters to bring down the remaining hijacked airliners, Bush stayed in a kindergarten classroom and tried with all of his might to NOT pee his pants. Then, when he finally left the school, he flew away from Washington, to hide from the bad men, and to relieve his full bladder. He subsequently promised first responders on 9/11 all sorts of things, and has yet to fulfill any promise made.
After the terrorist attacks, Bush promised to bring in Osama bin Laden, and rout al Qaeda, to prevent another attack from happening again, sent troops into Afghanistan, and then turned around and sent them to Iraq. He then outsourced the job of catching bin Laden to people who were actually more sympathetic to bin Laden than the United States.
Then there’s Iraq. Forget the faked pre-war intelligence; that’s obvious. And forget the conduct of the actual war itself, which was over in less than two months. President and Vice President Chickenhawk ignored — and I mean absolutely, positively ignored — the recommendations of every military expert with regard to troop levels and strategy. They failed in the most essential responsibility a Commander in Chief has when planning to go to war, and that is to plan for what to do when you win. The only plan for this war, obviously, was to bomb the hell out of the country until the government just ran off, screaming, into the desert. They didn’t have enough troops to secure the oil fields and the border, so Bush secured the oil fields. They dismissed the Iraqi army — the only people in the country actually trained to secure the country, outlawed the Baath Party, and, um, forgot to secure a major weapons depot in Southern Iraq, which means the explosives that killed many of our soldiers during the first couple of years came from us. This occupation (it’s not a war) has been all about money — hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts to Bush supporters and the oil industry. Iraq used to have a competent infrastructure — plenty of competent engineers and professionals capable of running the country, and the facilities to do so — but that has gone by the wayside, in favor of private contractors hand-picked by the Administration, and sanctioned by the now-defunct Republican-led Congress.
And we would be remiss in our duties as citizens if we did not mention the most galling incompetence in the history of this Administration, which is Hurricane Katrina. The entire Administration was on vacation that week, as Katrina approached the Gulf Coast, and they stayed on vacation, despite the multitude of warnings that serious devastation might occur in New Orleans and parts of Alabama and Mississippi. Now, when they created the Department of Homeland Security, the Bushies got the states to agree that, in natural emergencies such as hurricanes, the federal government would take the lead. As soon as the president signed the order, state officials were to step aside. So they did. And the Bush Administration did nothing. Well, okay, that’s not fair; they didn’t do nothing. Bush stayed on vacation, for a couple of extra days. Then, he went to Arizona to play air guitar and have cake with John McCain. Then, he held a fundraiser in California, in which the tragedy that people were watching live on television was mentioned briefly, once. For FIVE DAYS, Bush puttered around and did nothing, Cheney was nowhere to be seen, Condi was seeing Spamalot and buying really nice shoes, and Michaels Brown and Chertoff were screwing up the disaster, and making things worse. I could continue recounting this, but let’s be serious here — if the fact that the President of the United States did NOTHING for FIVE DAYS, while thousands of citizens of the United States were drowning, and being forced to live in a football stadium with no water isn’t grounds for impeachment in and of itself, then we have given up on standards in this country.
I know Nancy Pelosi says
she took impeachment “off the table” when the Democrats were trying to take back the majority in 2006, but she really doesn’t have the power to do that, and it’s time for Congress to put it back on the table. What I’ve mentioned here is little more than the tip of an iceberg that threatens to sink the ship of state.
The purpose of the presidency is to provide leadership in putting into action those laws which Congress passes. It’s not his choice as to which ones he wants to put into action, and which he wants to put out to pasture. There is no leadership in this government right now. Though everyone in the current administration took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, they have repeatedly and continually attempted to undermine the Constitution, by unilaterally declaring extraordinary powers not outlined in the Constitution.
But worse than this, they have treated the government as their own personal honey pot. They have populated the government with cronies carrying personal agendas not in line with the needs of the American people, putting them in key positions. And they have also hired an incredible number of people who are unqualified for the positions they hold. No, I’m not just talking about Condoleezza Rice. In the White House alone, there are at least 150 lawyers, all under the age of 35, with little or no legal experience, let alone government experience, whose sole qualifications seem to be their graduation from Pat Robertson’s Regent University law school (The un-Harvard), and their declared loyalty to George W. Bush. Not the country, or the Constitution, mind you; but Bush himself.
In one of the most notorious examples, Monica Goodling made her way through the ranks at the Justice Department based on her willingness to fire anyone who showed less than stellar loyalty to Bush. Those she couldn’t fire, she simply drove out of the job, including many career Justice Department lawyers. Think about this; not only is the Attorney General of the United States; essentially our country’s lawyer, a demonstrated liar and moron, but his second-in-command is a arrogant little turd, who graduated from a third-rate law school in 1999, and who achieved her lofty status through her willingness to fire career Justice Department lawyers who upheld the rule of law, rather than Dubya’s view of it.
She’s just one example, folks; recently, Sara Taylor, Bush’s Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs until a couple of months ago, testified that she swore an oath to George W. Bush, and had to be reminded by Congress that the oath was actually to the Constitution. To the cronies populating the Bush Administration, loyalty to Bush is far more prevalent than loyalty to the country or the American people.
Right now, we have a government full of Federalist Society types whose image of government is that it’s incompetent at everything it does, and they are doing their best to prove their own point. And if Democrats aren’t willing to do anything about it, then who is, exactly? Who the hell is speaking for the people of this country, when the body charged with getting rid of incompetent and/or dangerous boobs like Bush and Cheney won’t do its Constitutional duty. And make no mistake, Democrats; this is a duty. When something is wrong with our government, it is your duty to fix the problem.
This is not about “getting” Bush and Cheney. It’s not about revenge on the Republicans for what they did to Bill Clinton. This is about simple right and wrong, and making sure our government serves its people, and not the other way around. This is about establishing the rule of law once again, and returning standards to our government; standards that force the government to again serve the people, and not the other way around. Standards that preserve the democracy that we so often take for granted, but which is both precious and fragile, for future generations.
George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney must be impeached, and the process must start now. There are no excuses left. It doesn’t matter if the process gets dragged out until we’re into the next election cycle; it doesn’t matter if Bush and Cheney are thrown out on their asses on January 19, 2009, and Nancy Pelosi only has one day as a caretaker president. This is no longer about process, and it’s no longer about political expediency. This is about our Founding Fathers’ most precious gift to us; it’s about the rule of law, and justice for all.