Celebrating 5 Years of AVftR (plus a Top 10)!

This month marks the 5th anniversary of the maiden post for “A View from the Right”. I can hardly believe it has been that long! That first post was the beginning of a 9-part series called “What’s So Bad (or Great) about Obamacare?”, and it was my first attempt at writing anything of the sort. Sure, I had done a bit of creative writing in school, status reports and system documentation in the workplace, etc. But, up to that point, I had never tried to write any sort of “article” for an online (or offline) publication. Not even a guest post.

Calvin and Hobbes - concise writerIt took a little while, but I eventually found my “voice” — a tone and style that I was comfortable writing in. I might vary in the degree of levity, and some posts are slightly more didactic or authoritative in tone, I suppose. But, overall, I try to remain fairly informal, writing as a “fellow traveler”, sharing knowledge and encouraging thought on various important topics involving science, politics, and religion. I have even received a few compliments on my writing from regular readers, and I very much appreciate the encouragement!

Sometimes, milestones like this are a time to shake things up. But, while I will be looking at a few minor things I might do over the next couple months or so (e.g., maybe a new plug-in or something behind the scenes; possibly new links in the blogroll), I probably won’t be changing much. (However, if you think the blog could benefit from some functionality that it doesn’t have, let me know via the About page, and I’ll consider it.) I’m very happy with the blog theme, so no changes there, unless the creators update it for more color/design variations. The themes and schedule for my posts will remain as is, too. After all, it seems to work for my readers and me — which reminds me…

BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY READERS, ESPECIALLY THE REGULARS! Your taking the time to read my compositions — and, hopefully, leave a thoughtful comment — helps make the agony of the writing process more tolerable! Muchas gracias!

I’m not a political analyst, historian, theologian, scientist, or journalist, and I’ll never have the skills, insights, or depth of knowledge that (usually) come with those professions. But, I’ll do my best to continue providing valuable information and my (semi-)informed, mostly rational “view from the right”, as well as a fair dose of humor, on important matters of the day. (And, maybe a few not-that-important.) I hope you’ll
join me! Bring a few friends with you, okay?

Now, if you will allow me, I would like to suggest some posts that you may not have read, yet. Those of you who have been following the blog for a few years will probably recognize most of the titles. But, whether you never got around to reading them or you are relatively new and never saw them, I have selected a “Top 10″ list (unranked) for you to check out. (I confess, though, I cheated a little by linking to the first parts of multi-part posts, with hopes that you’ll continue reading the rest of the series.) It’s hard to pick one’s favorite “children”, but these are definitely among those that I am most pleased with. I hope you enjoy them, too!

“Top 10 Things Liberals Have Taught Me about Myself” (4 parts, written tongue-in-cheek)

“You know, sometimes you just need someone else’s perspective. Another viewpoint to explain reality to you and show you things about yourself that you never knew. Things that even your friends won’t tell you, or don’t know. Heck, they’re probably guilty of it, too, and don’t even realize it. Let me give a few examples of how my eyes have been opened….”

“The Right to Judge Others” (2 parts)

““Don’t judge me!” How many times have you heard that? When said seriously, the person’s tone is usually quite defensive. They don’t want someone else telling them that they are behaving in a bad, foolish, or ethically questionable way…. Should we never be allowed to form an opinion about other people and things, let alone pronounce them to be in some sense “bad” or “wrong”?”

“Rants and Reflections on the Election(s)” (2 parts)

““AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!” That was my response (posted on Facebook), give or take an “R” or two, to the 2012 Election results. Actually, that was my second FB post. My first was, “Crap on a stick! I’m so depressed.” But, that’s not quite right. I’m very disappointed, obviously. And a bit morose. But, really, I’m angry. So, here goes the rant…”

“Christian Mass Murder Through the Ages” (2 parts)

“Sometimes, I can’t help myself. I mean, people make spurious claims and ridiculous accusations against God, Christians, “the Church”, etc., all the time. Usually, I let it go. Can’t be constantly getting into long, drawn-out internet debates ALL the time, after all. But, sometimes, I just have to say something. And, so it went the other day, when a FB friend of a FB friend, amidst generally mocking comments, claimed that Christians were responsible for “lots of mass murders.””

Bible and DNA helix“Can You Accept “Revealed Wisdom” and Still Be “Scientific”?”

“Once upon a time, I had a brief but interesting discussion with a religiously-agnostic relative.  “Huh! You consider yourself ‘scientific’?”, he asked. I could hear the condescension in his tone. Suspecting where this was going, I asked, “Why don’t you think I am (or can be) ‘scientific’?” His response was very telling: “Because you believe in ‘revealed wisdom’.””

“Exposing the NAKED Truth”

“Earlier this week (er, I guess it was last week, now), a FB friend shared the following post: “Good morning american FB family, here’s something you should know about. You may be familiar with the Smoothy drinks from a company called NAKED that’s owned by Pepsi. Well, it seems that the contents of these drinks aren’t as all-natural or non-gmo after all. Naked has just agreed to settle a 9 million dollar class action lawsuit for false labeling….””

“No “Real” Christians?”

“A non-believer offered the following comment: “There’s no such thing as a real Christian these days. Christians I’ve come to find are the MOST judgemental and hypocritical people on the planet.. Hearing Christians talk has literally made me look into Muslim faith…. [T]he bible says you should act a certain way. 99.9% of Christians completely ignore what their holy book tells them. That book you’re supposed to live by, right?” This was sad, because far too many Christians are judgemental and/or hypocritical. It was also frustrating, because not all “Christians” are true followers of Jesus and because what constitutes “judgemental” and “hypocritical” is, you might say, up for debate. Also, skeptics often speak from (partial) ignorance….”

“The Pro-Life Position: Just One Question” (not numbered, but technically Part 1 of a series of 4 posts (as of this writing) beginning with “The Pro-Life Position”)

“The abortion controversy is not a debate between those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-choice. It’s not about privacy. It’s not about trusting women to decide. It’s not about forcing one’s morality. It’s about one question that trumps all others.”  — Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute

“The Matter of American Exceptionalism”

““American exceptionalism” is the notion that says the United States of America, as a nation, is “exceptional” both in the sense of being very unusual and in the sense of being special and, yes, better at some things or in some areas. I suppose one might say that it is the collective “Spirit of America” that makes it superior. Grounded in its founding ideals, this spirit has led to America’s economic success and ability to be a huge force for good in the world…. This exceptionalism is not dependent upon what others, here and abroad, think or feel about America, its history, or current events. It is not based upon popularity. It simply… is.”

“Living on a Razor’s Edge” (3 parts, despite the first one saying ‘(Part 1 of 2)’)

“Scientific discoveries over the past couple decades have been revealing just how amazingly, finely tuned the universe is; and, if things were just a minute bit different in any one of a multitude of conditions, we wouldn’t be here. Nor would any other living creature. The degree of precision needed for this balance is incredible! And this fine-tuning begins with the very fundamental forces and physical constants of the universe. For instance, …”

Honorable mention: The “Informal Logic 101″ series, which has a page of its own linked at the top of this one (and every other page).

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 4

“Congress must step up and hold him accountable. Impeachment would also pose a credible threat to any future president by sending a clear message that the American people simply will not stand for having a king. If we do nothing, that threat is lost.”  — CapitalismInstitute.org

King ObamaThe legal case for impeachment against President Obama is much stronger — both in terms of number of offenses and the severity of many of them — than it was against either President Johnson or President Clinton. It is even stronger than it was against President Nixon, who resigned before impeachment proceedings could begin, and most felt that he would surely be convicted. (And, as has been pointed out by others, no one died as a result of Nixon’s impeachable actions, unlike the consequences of some of Obama’s offensive acts.) Unfortunately, the decision of whether or not to impeach cannot be made simply on the existence of a legal case for it, even a strong one. That is, it isn’t merely about justice. There are practical considerations, as well. This is what I brought up in the second question from Part 1:

2) Assuming there is a [legal] case, from a pragmatic sense, would it be a good idea (i.e., in the country’s best interest) to proceed with impeachment, in regards to costs, competing issues & responsibilities of the parties that would be involved, and the consequences of potentially removing Obama from office?

I believe the answer to this one is also “Yes.” I understand the concerns some people would have (or, at least, claim to have) about impeachment proceedings costing a lot of Congress’s time and taxpayer money. But, contrary to some issues that our leaders in Washington deal with, the matter of the rampant lawlessness that characterizes the Obama administration is incredibly serious and, I believe, well worth the effort. Plus, a lot of the investigation has already been and is being done on those issues that are likely to be included in articles of impeachment. (As I understand it, articles have already been submitted by one or more Representatives to the House Judiciary Committee, but they have not been formally accepted and could probably be replaced.) I also have no doubt that Congress could handle the additional item on their plate, so to speak. Other Congresses have managed. Besides, maybe it will force them to better prioritize their corporate schedule and work agenda.

What might some of those consequences be for giving Obama the boot? The big one that people tend to bring up, usually with a chuckle, is something along the lines of, “Do we really want a ‘President Joe Biden’?” They do have a point, especially with his recurring, big-mouthed gaffes. (See this past week, for example.) But, I’m not sure Biden would be quite as bad as we think. I’m not saying he would be great, but I don’t think he would be any worse than Obama. Biden is a cagey, political animal, who has survived in Washington for over four decades. Plus, he is not nearly the radical ideologue that Obama is. I think he would rule as much more of a centrist, like Bill Clinton. Hopefully, once he had the weight of the Oval Office on his shoulders, he would be a bit more circumspect and cautious about his public utterances, too. (Still, his “handlers” better be on their toes!) From a strategic standpoint, Biden would also be wise to do his best to distance himself from Obama, including avoiding doing the sorts of things that got his then-predecessor in so much trouble — especially if he has any plans of running for President in 2016 or 2020.

“The need for impeachment has little to do with Obama (other than he has, up to now, been the worst offender). It is all about protecting what remains of the Rule of Law and The Constitution. Not impeaching Obama just provides a green light for future presidents to further corrupt the laws of the country and the office of the presidency…. A line in the sand must be drawn that says to successors where they dare not go.”  — “Monty Pelerin”, blogger at economicnoise.com

The main, positive outcome of kicking Obama out of office — other than the obvious — is that “We the People” and the legislative branch will have a) finally put a stop to Obama’s lawless, imperialistic reign, and b) we will have done so constitutionally, without violence or military coup. We will have drawn that line in the sand, as the above quote put it. It never should have gotten this far, but at least we will have reminded this generation and those to come that America ultimately will not countenance the sort of tyranny that Obama has been exercising, nor the lies and deception that have accompanied it. We must retain the Rule of Law.

This actually leads into the 3rd question I posed in Part 1:

3) Assuming there is a [legal] case, but consensus opinion beforehand — i.e., among the expert legal minds, political scientists and strategists — is that Obama nevertheless might not be found guilty and removed from office, would the exercise of initiating impeachment proceedings against the President still be worth it on principle, for morale, and for history’s sake?

I absolutely believe that it is valuable to construct and discuss the legal case for impeachment, even if proceedings are never carried out. It is worthwhile, because it highlights the lawlessness of the Obama administration, raising the public consciousness about the damage that it has done and continues to perpetrate on this nation. This is precisely why McCarthy wrote Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

“[The purpose] is to persuade the public that when a president betrays his basic constitutional obligations, when the laws are not executed faithfully, all of us are threatened.”

Faithless Execution coverHowever, the question is really about whether or not Congress should still go through the motions, if/when the odds are not strongly in favor of conviction. In the weeks that I have been researching this series and mulling it all over, I have been somewhat ambivalent on this one. But, when it comes down to it, I’m going to have to say “No.” Simply moving forward with impeachment “on principle”, especially if conviction is deemed nigh-impossible, would seem to be at best a pointless distraction and at worst a counterproductive mess that could backfire in our faces. That is, an acquittal might very well be interpreted (however inaccurately) as congressional approval of Obama’s actions. This would be exactly the wrong message to send to the American public, the Obama administration, or the international community.

Question #4

“Republicans should drop the talk of impeachment. For the GOP would gain nothing and risk everything if the people began to take seriously their threats to do to Barack Obama what Newt Gingrich’s House did to Bill Clinton…. Any Republican attempt at impeachment would go up against a stacked deck. And the GOP would be throwing away a winning hand for a losing one.”  — Pat Buchanan, conservative commentator and columnist at WND

So, it comes down to this final question, which is what everyone wants to know:

4) Should Congress impeach President Obama?

Several reasons have been given — by those on the political right, as well as others presumably attempting to be as objective as possible — for why impeaching Obama would be a bad idea for the GOP and conservatives, even if conviction was likely. Heck, some (like Buchanan above) don’t think we should even be talking about it. These are the reasons I came across:

o  It would be seen as racist

o  It would send the wrong message to our children

o  It would rile up the Dems and could motivate their base to come out and vote

o  It would turn off some of the independents who are right now leaning our way

o  There are much more important things for Congress and the nation to be concerned about

o  Nothing to truly gain from it

o  There are better ways to rein Obama in

o  Failure would be “incredibly damaging and embarrassing to the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Here are my brief responses: The racism charge is constant and a given, regardless of what we do or don’t do. The “message to our children” concern works both ways. The riling up of the Democrats has already happened, and they are indeed using the idea of possible impeachment in fundraising efforts — and quite successfully. The one about offending right-leaning Independents might be true… not sure. (Are the numbers significant enough to be a concern?) I have already addressed the one about Congress. I’m not so sure there would truly be “nothing” to gain even from a doomed-to-failure attempt, since we would at least have made a valiant effort in standing up for our principles and against tyranny. (Obviously, a conviction would be much more beneficial.) There surely are other ways to rein Obama in, or at least slow him down (e.g., refusing to support his policies with funding; lawsuits; legislation), though “better” is a judgement call. I’ll say more about that later.

The last one is the most worrisome on the list, which I discussed when answering Question #3. As one Congressman said, “What message do we send to America if we impeach Obama and he gets away with what he’s impeached for and he is found innocent? What then do we say is OK?” It could be seen as a major blow against small government, separation of powers with checks and balances, Rule of Law (beginning with the U.S. Constitution), and everything else that Obama has attacked. But, we still haven’t addressed the biggest reason not to impeach, which is that we’ll never get a conviction. Not now. If we tried, it would indeed be doomed to failure.

Don’t get me wrong. As you know by now, I really want to see Obama brought to account for everything he has done to this nation and its people, beginning (but not ending) with formal impeachment and removal from office. But, I reluctantly must agree with Sen. McCain, Andrew McCarthy, et al., that to attempt to do so now would be a counterproductive waste of time. In other words (and with apologies to George H.W. Bush), “Wouldn’t be prudent. Not at this juncture.”

But, you say, how can that be? Look at all of the scandals and other offenses you listed out in Part 2 and the case you just made for impeachment in Part 3! Even some liberal law professors and mainstream journalists are admitting Obama’s failures and abuses! Plus, his popularity poll numbers are plummeting, and many Democrats up for (re-)election in November are distancing themselves from him. So, why not move forward to impeach? While all of that is true, we have yet to address the two biggest (and closely related) impediments to a successful impeachment: 1) Senate votes and 2) the will of the American People.

“[I]f the Republican Party doesn’t have the gonads, and if the American people are not desirous of it, then it’s just whistling into the wind.”  — Rush Limbaugh, radio show host & political commentator

House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY), along with the rest of establishment Republicans in Congress, have been excoriated in the conservative press and social media for not doing “the right thing”, i.e., fulfilling their oaths to protect the Constitution (including their own legislative power) by initiating impeachment proceedings against the President. As I have mentioned, articles of impeachment have been submitted, but Boehner refuses to even consider them. To be fair, the Republicans can’t move toward impeachment. Not on their own.

“It’s not going to happen. Republicans are scared that an impeachment would actually help the President. They wouldn’t actually be able to get a conviction because the Democrats control the Senate, and so they worry that the entire exercise would look political and hurt their chances in the next couple of elections.”  — Onan Coca, columnist

U.S. Congress in session

U.S. Congress in session

We might assume that the GOP-led House would have a majority in favor of impeachment, which would push the articles through the Judiciary Committee and likely the full House vote. But, there really needs to be more bipartisan support — ideally, even in the House — else any impeachment attempt will look to many on the political left and center like a purely partisan (and desperate) witch-hunt or stunt by Republicans. Of course, it is even more necessary in the Senate, because without significant support from the Democrat side of the aisle, the Senate will never convict. The GOP just don’t have the votes.

Let’s look at the numbers….

Keep in mind, each charge in the impeachment articles would be voted on separately. It only takes a two-thirds majority of the Senate (i.e., 67) on one of them to secure a conviction. The difficulty would be getting that majority vote from a Senate composed of 54 Democrats and 1 Left-leaning Independent (leaving 45 Republicans).

While I didn’t have time to delve into it much, the sense I get is that Republicans are expected to “win back” the Senate this November. That’s great! But, it is extremely doubtful that they will end up with the 67 needed to virtually guarantee an impeachment conviction. According to one estimate I read (by FiveThirtyEight.com), the GOP is estimated to finish with “54 or more Senate seats”. On the other hand, CBS News’ Battleground Tracker model recently predicted “a 51-49 GOP majority if the election were held today”. Regardless, even if a “Republican wave” comes closer to FiveThirtyEight’s estimate, a two-thirds GOP Senate majority does not seem probable for this cycle.

Even in the above speculation, I am assuming for sake of argument that Republican Senators would all go ahead and vote for conviction at that point, but there would be no guarantee. If one or two did not, then maybe… just maybe Dennis Kucinich and some other brave Democrat soul(s) would stand in the gap. Unfortunately, as it stands now, political fallout against any Democrats who vote in favor of conviction would be considered too high a price. Some of them may be whining and complaining and acting all indignant about this or that abuse by the Obama administration. But, it is still assumed that most, if not all, would still vote to acquit — if not to save their own skins, then for reasons of party solidarity and/or keeping the “progressive” momentum, even with a falling Obamessiah.

This brings us to that second major impediment I mentioned….

“[R]eal impeachment requires the public will to remove the president from office. You can have a thousand impeachable offenses, but without that political consensus, impeachment is not an appropriate remedy.”  — Andrew C. McCarthy, attorney and author

Proponents and opponents alike agree that impeaching a president takes “political will”. (McCarthy stresses this point a lot in his book!) What do they mean by that? It’s a rather abstract concept, but my sense of it is twofold. First, it can mean the willingness of the citizenry to support a decision/action made by their representatives in political office. If they perceive it as having negative ramifications for themselves and/or their community/nation, whether serious or merely inconvenient, the people’s “political will” — some refer to this as the “public will” — will not be very high or strong. Second, “political will” may refer to a willingness by officeholders to take risks (or even to commit political suicide) to support unpopular measures, because they are convinced the result will be mostly positive and/or necessary  (e.g., “it’s the right thing to do”). Obviously, if the former is strong, then there is less risk involved in the latter.

As we have already seen, the “political will” to impeach amongst politicians, particularly on the Left, is mostly absent — or, in a few cases, iffy at best. But, what about the American public?

Roughly a year ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) acknowledged that impeachment is “disruptive and harmful to the nation and it’s to be used sparingly,” as well as that it would not pass the Senate. But, she argued that it may still be necessary. She referred to the administration’s continued “thuggery” and the growing frustration and unrest among the nation’s populace possibly leading to massive levels of civil disobedience. But, that frustration level just isn’t that high, yet.

In July of this year a CNN/ORC poll revealed that only 33 percent of Americans overall (57% of Republicans, 35% of Independents, 13% of Democrats) supported impeaching Obama, while 41 percent supported a House GOP lawsuit against him. I read of another poll that had 35 percent pro-impeachment. Still, that ain’t great. As conservative political commentator Guy Benson put it, there is “no groundswell of support, or any semblance of a serious campaign, to remove the President of the United States from office.” As far as the “political will” of the people goes, it’s just not there, either. The vocal few aren’t enough.

Conclusion

“If [elected representatives] act, or refuse to act, based solely on whether by doing so they advance their personal or factional agenda, they show their contempt for the well-being of the nation as a whole. They thereby prove themselves unfit for the offices (duties) they hold, whether or not they are ever called to account for their dereliction.”  — Ambassador Alan Keyes

In this series of posts, we have reviewed the who, what, where, when, why, and how of impeachment. We have listed out the various charges that various politicians, pundits, scholars, and average joes/janes have suggested President Obama be indicted with. We have determined that an excellent case can be made in favor of impeachment and answered questions regarding the wisdom and practicality of Congress preparing official articles of impeachment and initiating proceedings thereof. In the end, though, we were forced to reluctantly conclude that it would not be wise to move forward with impeachment at this time.

So,… what can be done?

School_House_Rock_Bill_Blue_Shirt_POPThe Framers armed Congress with two weapons they could use in response to presidential abuse of power: the power of the purse and, as a last resort, the power of impeachment. If Congress cannot or will not use the latter, then they damn well better do a better job using the former to defund and undermine the president’s agenda! So far, they have had rather limited success with that, and one has to wonder if the GOP establishment’s heart just isn’t in it. In addition to defunding, Congress can and should pass legislation like Rep. Tom Rice’s “Stop This Overreaching Presidency” (S.T.O.P.) Resolution (H.R. 442), which directs the House to institute legal action that requires the President to comply with the law. (Not sure how effective it would be, but if he ignores it, that’s one more impeachable offense to add to the list.) They can, individually or as a body, file suit against the President, as Speaker Boehner has (with the House’s approval, 225-201) over Obamacare. I don’t know if such lawsuits are the wisest course right now, but I certainly hope Obama gets hit with them as soon as he is out of office

Next, I have to agree with Sen. McCain. (See quote at top of Part 3.) We need to focus on winning elections and regaining control of the Senate. Even with only 51 Republican seats, it would make the GOP the “majority party”. That means that Harry Reid would no longer be in charge and would have a lot less power & influence to squelch conservative bills, support/push Obama’s agenda, and stay silent (or give the nod) when Obama usurped congressional authority. In fact, it would turn the tables, so that the GOP is much more effective in stonewalling Obama’s harmful, “progressive” agenda and (hopefully) preventing him from getting away with more unconstitutional power grabs. Furthermore, it would also allow them to pass good legislation, including the 350+ bipartisan bills that have already passed the House –- legislation for American energy independence, fostering job growth, strengthening our national security, and many other priorities — but have languished on Harry Reid’s desk.

Finally, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate the American people (but particularly certain groups that usually vote Democrat by default), not only about the scandals and other offenses but about why no administration should be allowed to get away with this stuff and why it is bad — dangerous, even — for everyone. Sadly, as we have already seen, the anger and disillusionment and disgust with Obama is not yet strong enough among the American population as a whole. But, once more people of all persuasions are better informed, hopefully that groundswell can gain some momentum. An organized, grass-roots campaign would let all three branches of government know that “We the people” are sufficiently incensed to get off our collective butt and make it known that, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take this anymore!” In other words, we need to build the public’s “political will” to, at the very least, hold Obama accountable and remove him from office. Once there is a serious campaign to do so, even among Democrats, then Congress should be able to revisit the feasibility of impeachment with much less fear of political reprisal.

Part of this education effort involves reading and sharing books and articles (and the information & ideas within) by people like Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Klein, Edward Klein, Dinesh D’Souza, David Limbaugh, and others, who investigate President Obama and his administration, shining a light on the arrogant lawlessness, dangerous policies, shameful scandals, violations of the Constitution, and the overall “progressive” agenda.

If we don’t put a stop to the lies, corruption, weakening of our nation (in various ways), and generally audacious abuses of power (and soon!), we really will be living under a dictatorship (however “benevolent”). Even that probably won’t last long, given the foreign powers angling for world domination. We are already scarily vulnerable to economic (oil, trade, debt, dollar devaluation), military (conventional or nuclear), and terrorist (from bombs to biological weapons) attack. Either way, the “grand experiment” that is America will be over, and the world will suffer enormously for it.

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 3

“I want Obama to go through the [impeachment] process because he has it coming…. Obama should be forced to defend his contemptible lies and actions. If for no other reason than his unbearable arrogance, the schmuck should have to pay a penalty.”  — columnist Burt Prelutsky

On the other hand,…

“[W]e should focus our attention on winning elections. We win this election and we regain control of the United States Senate, we can be far more effective than an effort to impeach the president, which has no chance of succeeding.”  — Sen. John McCain

Pres. Obama sworn in (Jan. 2009)

Pres. Obama sworn in (Jan. 2009)

As much as I agree with Prelutsky (and many others), a president (or any other high public official) cannot be impeached merely for being a contemptible, lying, arrogant schmuck. Nor can he be impeached for being timid, petty, obnoxious, stubborn, apathetic, imperious, or otherwise difficult to work with, though those and other unfortunate traits may play a part in his/her committing impeachable offenses. On the other end of the scale, a public official may commit any number of crimes (e.g., drug use, larceny, fraud, murder, rape, etc.) which in themselves are not necessarily impeachable offenses. (Criminal prosecution may be conducted later or separately, however.) Remember, impeachability hinges on whether or not the offenses constitute Treason, Bribery, or “other High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. This may be summed up as a betrayal of the political trust placed by the people in the official to uphold the law and fulfill his/her oath with integrity. In short, such offenses may fall under abuse of official power, dereliction of duty, or action outside the Constitution.

The first question I asked in Part 1 was:

1) Is there a legal, Constitutional case to be made for impeaching Obama?

I think the clear answer to that is “Yes”. Andrew C. McCarthy, Judge Andrew Napolitano, the three legal scholars I quoted in Part 2 (Fein, Fisher, & Titus), and many others agree. They may not agree on the particular strengths of various offenses or on the best approach to take (if any) regarding impeachment proceedings, but everyone seems to agree that at least 2 or 3 of the major charges clearly qualify as “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. I didn’t see any of the legal minds pushing for charges of Treason, but, I think there is evidence of “adhering to [the U.S.'s] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” on the part of Obama and this administration.

I haven’t read McCarthy’s book (Faithless Execution), yet. But, from what I understand and the more I think about it, the more I like McCarthy’s approach of having indictments for types or categories of behaviors (e.g., “Willful refusal to execute the laws faithfully”, “Usurpation of Congress’s legislative authority and other constitutional powers”, “Willful undermining of our constitutional rights”), each of which references several examples of offenses. This makes sense, since it helps to demonstrate patterns of offensive (and impeachable) behavior as part of Obama’s overall plan to “transform America”, and because many individual (in)actions and incidents violate multiple areas of the public trust.

However, if the House moves forward, it might be decided to only select a few individual (in)actions or incidents for inclusion in the official impeachment articles. One might think that we may as well throw everything at him and “see what sticks”. But, some have uttered concerns about the message it sends to the American public regarding any offenses for which Obama might be found innocent. In that case, we should concentrate on those offenses most likely to “stick”.

To be clear, all responsibility for the executive branch is placed by the Constitution in the president, so s/he is ultimately accountable for all activities performed by his appointees and other subordinates in the various executive agencies (e.g., IRS, ATF, NSA, DoJ) while he and they are in office. That said, I think the emphasis should be on those offenses that are most clearly the result of President Obama’s knowledge and intent and which exhibit(ed) the clearest examples of gross negligence and/or abuse, rather than on things about which he was arguably ignorant/misinformed or which can be attributed to mere incompetence — which is technically impeachable, mind you — and/or a misguided understanding of the way things are and work (e.g., re economics, labor, military strategy). This is not to say, however, that I am excusing him for being ignorant on relevant subjects, intel, or for ignoring advice and evidence (e.g., historical, observational, scientific) that his “progressive” policies and methods are detrimental to the well-being of the nation.

Furthermore, for reasons that should be apparent but which I’ll get into later, it is important to have as much bipartisan support as possible.

“This is not about borders or lawsuits. It’s about one man, one President who believes he is above the law. Any public official, including the President, who’s told by the highest court in the land to cease and desist and blatantly says no, I’ll do what I want, should never be sued. He should be immediately impeached regardless of Party or philosophy.”  — columnist Bill Tatro

At a minimum, I would begin with the two offenses rated “Severe (impeachable high crime)” by the WND analysis: “Illegally conducting war against Libya” and “Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’.” Then I would add the audacious and ill-advised “Bergdahl prisoner exchange”. These offenses involve clear violations of congressional authority and of U.S. citizens’ rights and the irresponsible and unnecessary placement of citizens in increased danger. Not only do most legal scholars and pundits agree that these three are impeachable, but they also seem to be the ones that Democrats — including Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and the powerful and influential Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — are most upset about for one reason or another.

checklist cartoonNext, although the WND analysis only ranked it “Elevated (dubious action)”, I would include “Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order”, because the damage is and will be so far-reaching, plus it is such a hot topic on everyone’s mind. Perhaps combining it with other immigration-centric offenses (e.g., Refusing to enforce immigration laws, Release of illegal alien criminals from prison) would make it strong enough for serious consideration. I would also like to see a solid and comprehensive case made that connects the dots between all of Obama’s connections with and deference to Muslim groups and rulers, funding of Islamic radicals (i.e., Hamas), inclusion of Muslim Brotherhood activists in his administration, continuing to weaken our military in the face of growing (Islamist and Communist) threats, etc., so that a charge of Treason can be included in the articles.

I am tempted to include a few more. For example, “Cap & Trade” (for using the EPA to regulate gases without congressional approval) and “Obamacare” (for ‘taxation without representation’ and betraying the people’s trust via consumer fraud), since they are also so incredibly far-reaching in the damage they are doing and will do (though the former seems less of an issue at the moment). But, I’m not sure that impeachment proceedings are the best place to address them. Similarly, I would like to add the “IRS Scandal”, which is clearly an abuse of power, but unless the current congressional investigation can firmly establish that this was done in response to a presidential directive, I am not convinced that it’s impeachable. Finally, “Fast & Furious” (the DoJ’s refusal to share information with Congress = obstruction) is another high-profile scandal, but I have a feeling we would be better off leaving this one out of presidential impeachment articles. (Otoh, if the Attorney General hadn’t just announced his resignation, I’d say F&F would be at the top of the list for impeaching him. It might still be used in a lawsuit against Holder.)

There you have it re the legal case for impeachment. I will conclude this series with Part 4 later this week. Hang in there….

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Suicide of a Nation

cover to "America" by D'SouzaIt happened again. I realized early this week that I was not going to be able to finish “To Impeach or Not to Impeach” in time to publish on Sunday as planned. This time, I am travelling out of state to spend several days with my brother and his family. (I think that’s a pretty good excuse.) Of course, that meant coming up with something to fill in that was more than just empty “filler”. Also, it had to be something I could get mostly done before leaving, then complete while in Baltimore this weekend. As it happens, this week I started reading Dinesh D’Souza’s controversial new book, America: Imagine a World without Her. Keeping my eye open for a memorable passage to cite, I came up with the following from the first chapter. It helps lay the foundation for his arguments in the rest of the book.

“The survival instinct of nations is the collective survival instinct of the people in those nations. Why, then, would a nation attempt to destroy itself or commit suicide? Nations sometimes are conquered by other nations, or they collapse from within, but they never seek self-destruction. Yet Abraham Lincoln observed, a century and a half ago, that if America were ever to fall, it would not be by external means or even by internal collapse. Rather, it would be by the actions of Americans themselves. In his Lyceum Address, Lincoln said:

Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth, our own excepted, in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Surely Lincoln is not suggesting that America — or Americans — might voluntarily seek destruction. Undoubtedly Lincoln believed that such an outcome would be the unfreseen consequence of calamitous misjudgment and folly. Yet I intend to show in this book that the American era is ending in part because a powerful group of Americans wants it to end. The American dream is shrinking because some of our leaders want it to shrink. Decline, in other words, has become a policy objective. And if this decline continues at the current pace, America as we know it will cease to exist. In effect, we will have committed national suicide.

America’s suicide, it turns out, is the result of a plan. The plan is not simply one of destruction but also one of reconstruction — it seeks the rebuilding of a different type of country, what President Obama terms “the work of remaking America.” While Obama acknowledges the existence of the plan, he is not responsible for the plan; it would be more accurate to say that it is responsible for him. The plan preceded Obama, and it will outlast him. Obama is simply part of a fifty-year scheme for the undoing and remaking of America, and when he is gone there are others who are ready to continue the job. What makes the plan especially chilling is that most Americans are simply unaware of what’s going on. Their ignorance, as we shall see, is part of the plan.”

I think it is a “conspiracy” of sorts, in that various individuals no doubt have made secret plans together to push this “progressive”, transformative agenda over the years. But, I am skeptical about there being an overall, master plan being orchestrated by some Illuminati-like cabal. Still, when like-minded people of influence find each other and determine that they can help a common agenda along with key, strategic actions (e.g., infiltrating and, eventually, dominating academia), they can do a lot of damage. And, as he states above, the majority of the populace has no clue they are being manipulated. I am curious to see what else D’Souza has to say along these lines, and I look forward to the rest of the book. You might want to check it out, too!

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There Should Be No U.S. Citizens Fighting as Jihadists

The title above makes what seems like an obvious statement. Yet, they exist, and they travel using U.S. passports. A recent email from Michele Bachmann reminded me,

Tsarnaev bothers diptych

Tsarnaev brothers, naturalized U.S. citizens, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013

“Currently, Americans fighting with terrorists abroad are allowed free access to re-enter the United States, as some already have! They are likely put on a terror watch list and have to go through SOME screening, but that’s it! …

The bill I introduced states that if someone has joined with a radical Islamic terrorist Jihadist state, then they will lose their passport, begin the process of losing their United States citizenship, and will not be allowed to re-enter the United States.

…[W]e have to do this to protect ourselves. This is common sense. We cannot allow these American Islamic terrorist fighters to come back into our country and have the opportunity of creating a terrorist attack right here.”

Absolutely! This should be a bipartisan no-brainer! (Yes, yes, there are a myriad of jokes to be made about Congress there.) In fact, IMHO, if there is reasonable proof that any American (other than an undercover intelligence operative, of course) is training/fighting, or has done so, with Muslim extremists from ISIS or any other group, not only their passport but their U.S. citizenship should be revoked ASAP!

By adopting that twisted worldview — which is antithetical to the principles laid out and implied in America’s founding documents — and adopting its brutal practices, any such person has, I believe, implicitly committed treason. America was founded on a set of ideas and ideals, which they have rejected by becoming Islamic jihadists. They are traitors to America and all it represents, as they themselves often state so clearly. As such, they no longer deserve the protections and other benefits that U.S. citizens enjoy. No further trial or due process is necessary.

It’s really that simple!

Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill called the “Expatriate Terrorists Act”, which would revoke U.S. citizenship from anyone fighting for or supporting ISIS. Because he tried to fast-track it for a vote, it only needed one objection to stop it. Freshman Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) was that objection, explaining, “legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter raising significant constitutional issues.” (She also cited letters of objection from the Constitution Project and the ACLU.) Normally, I would agree. And, I’m pretty sure most of my Libertarian and Constitutionalist friends would, too. But, as indicated by my reasoning above, I stand with Cruz when he said,

“ISIS is a study in oppression and brutality. We should take common-sense steps to make fighting for ISIS a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship.”

The fight for this isn’t over. If you agree with me and Sen. Cruz, or at least with what Bachmann’s bill proposes, please sign the petition here: “Lose Your United States Passport”

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 2

“[S]ome provision should be made for defending the community against the incapacity, negligence, or perfidy of the chief magistrate. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation [i.e., embezzlement] or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.”  — James Madison, during the debates of the Constitutional Convention (1787)

In Part 1 of “To Impeach or Not to Impeach”, we looked at the constitutional requirements for impeachment — i.e., the types of offenses, as well as the congressional procedure. We reviewed definitions and listed examples of past offenses that were considered impeachable in English and American history. And, we examined the three instances in which articles of impeachment have been drawn up and lodged against a U.S. president. The next step before assessing whether or not there is, in my layman’s opinion, a legal case for impeaching President Obama is to consider the complaints and arguments made for it in the press (as found on the web) over the past 20+ months.

In early 2013, World News Daily assembled a bipartisan panel of top legal scholars and constitutional experts — Bruce Fein, Herbert Titus, and Louis Fisher — to evaluate 12 popular arguments at the time for impeaching Obama. They were…

Operation Fast and Furious cartoonOperation Fast & Furious: Launched by the DoJ, this was part of a cross-agency effort to identify and eliminate arms trafficking networks. “Between 2009 and 2011, ATF agents allowed more than 2,000 firearms to ‘walk’ across the border. As many as 1,700 of those weapons have since been lost, and more than 100 have been found at bloody crime scenes on both sides of the border, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent [Brian Terry] in Arizona.” Insider whistle-blowing led to a House GOP investigation. There has been continued stonewalling and obstruction by A.G. Eric Holder and the Justice Dept., who refuse to relinquish relevant documents requested by the House and by Judicial Watch (via FoIA).

Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’: Obama ordered the 2010 assassination via drone strike of Anwar al-Awlaki, the infamous terrorist leader and avowed member of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and Samir Khan, a propagandist for al-Qaeda. However, Awlaki was a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico and Khan was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Awlaki’s Denver-born son, Abdulrahman (16), was killed in a similar strike two weeks earlier. The two older men certainly had plenty of evidence linking them to terrorist activities. But, as American citizens, they retained the right to due process before the law, which the federal government did not provide. (As far as I can tell, the teenage Awlaki was not involved in any terror-related activities.) Who else will President Obama put on his unconstitutional hit list?

‘Recess’ appointments – when Senate was in session: “The Constitution allows the president to nominate judges and executive branch officials, but the Senate must confirm his nominees. Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution authorizes the president to ‘fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.’ But while the Senate was in session in January 2012, Obama made recess appointments of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members of the National Labor Relations Board.”

Appointment of ‘czars’ without Senate approval: Article II, Section 2, allows the president to appoint ambassadors, judges, and other officers “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” But, Obama appointed more than 30 unelected “czars” to positions in federal agencies without vetting them through Congress.

Suing Arizona for enforcing federal law: Realizing that the Obama administration was not very concerned with its duties to police our borders, in April 2010 Arizona adopted an immigration law (S.B. 1070) designed to discourage illegal aliens from entering the state. It authorized state police officers to verify a person’s immigration status with federal authorities and detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. “When the state senate passed the bill, President Obama’s administration immediately sued and enjoined the state from enforcing portions of the state’s legislation.”

Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order: “In June 2012, Obama issued an executive order declaring that illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and who are younger than 30 would not be deported. They are eligible for a two-year work permit that can be renewed indefinitely under the program called Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals…. Obama’s executive order mimics some of the provisions in the DREAM Act, which has failed to pass in Congress.” In essence, Obama engineered the “humanitarian crisis” we are now experiencing with the newest flood of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and all of the added expenses for the American taxpayer. Plus, he is threatening to declare amnesty — again, by executive fiat — for roughly half of the 11-12 million illegal immigrants already here.

Cap & Trade: When in doubt, bypass Congress: “In April 2010, the U.S. Senate rejected the ‘cap-and-trade’ bill, which created a carbon-tax system and amplified federal power over the energy industry. Nonetheless, Obama’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, declared carbon dioxide a pollutant. Before Congress had voted on the matter, on Dec. 7, 2009, Jackson signed an ‘endangerment finding’ labeling CO2 and five other gases – methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6 ) – threats to human health. That step provided the EPA with the authority to regulate the gases in the absence of congressional approval, and the federal agency rolled out new rules.”

Obama Lied, Americans Died

Re: Benghazi-gate

Refusal to prosecute New Black Panthers: “After Obama took office, the Department of Justice dismissed voter intimidation charges against two leaders of the New Black Panther Party, or NBPP, related to the 2008 presidential election…. [T]wo NBPP members were filmed standing in front of the entrance to a Philadelphia polling station in black uniforms, with one member wielding a billy club. According to complaints, both men standing in front of the polling station pointed at voters and shouted racial slurs, using such phrases as “white devil” and, “You’re about to be ruled by the black man, Cracker!” Attorney General Eric Holder’s office was accused by Justice Department insiders of racial favoritism in dropping the charges against the NBPP.” A former DoJ attorney testified, “I was told by voting section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants on [behalf] of white victims.”

Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act: “President Obama announced in 2011 that his administration believed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, to be unconstitutional and instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend it in court…. After the Obama administration refused to defend the law, House leaders instructed the House general counsel to take up the case. Because the Justice Department won’t be doing it, taxpayers have already paid as much as $1.7 million for the legal work.”

Illegally conducting war against Libya: “Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. The U.S. launched combat operations in Libya on March 19, 2011. For several weeks before the U.S. combat operation in Libya, CIA operatives had been deployed to the area to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and support Libyan rebels in the overthrow of Gaddafi. The New York Times reported in March 2011 that Obama had “signed a secret finding authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.” It has been argued that Obama’s use of offensive military force without prior consent from Congress is a violation of Section 8 “and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor”.

Benghazi-gate: On Sept. 11, 2012, a U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were brutally murdered at a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The Obama administration immediately and repeatedly lied to the public about the circumstances, blaming it on a spontaneous riot in response to an anti-Islam video. (These claims were later proven false.) Subsequent investigations have revealed delinquency regarding previous security concerns at the consulate, hesitation by the President and a “stand down” order for CIA operatives in the area to not attempt a rescue, various efforts by the administration to keep relevant (and potentially damning) information from being revealed (via intel communications and/or the survivors), and apathy by the President over the whole matter. In short, American lives lost for no good reason and possibly the biggest cover-up (with a complicit MSM) in the history of American politics.

Gun-control executive actions: Following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Obama used it as justification for signing 23 gun-control “executive actions.” (Contrary to MSM reporting, these “actions” are merely recommendations without the authority of “executive orders.”) “He also issued three ‘presidential memoranda,’ which carry the weight of executive orders, directing 1) federal law enforcement to trace firearms taken into federal custody during a criminal investigation, 2) the Department of Justice to coordinate federal agencies to share information for background checks and 3) the Department of Health to ‘conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.’ Obama also called on Congress to pass a package of legislative proposals. He promised to throw his weight behind the package, demanding new laws to institute universal background checks and impose new bans on high-capacity magazines and so-called ‘assault weapons.’”

Based on these experts’ assessments of these twelve charges, WND’s “Impeachable Crimes Advisory System” rated only two of them as “High (constitutional violation)” (i.e., essentially, a 4 on a 5-point scale): 1) Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act, and 2) Benghazi-gate. That was a little surprising to me, as I would have thought more would rise to at least that level. Plus, only two of the remaining offenses were rated as “Severe (impeachable high crime)” (i.e., 5/5). They were…

Regarding “Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’”:

Fein argued that the killings were “tantamount to murder…. If you don’t have a trial, that’s the definition of tyranny.” Fein and Fisher agreed on the highly suspicious nature of the administration’s initially keeping its legal rationale secret. Fein continued: “There’s a huge, strong legal case here, absolutely,” he said. “I worked in the Office of Legal Counsel. I worked on impeachment of Nixon. The idea that I would write a secret memo on something that’s an impeachable offense would be insane.” Titus said, “Basically, Obama is claiming the right to be the prosecutor on the grounds that the whole world is a war zone. I think it’s an impeachable offense because he’s neither using the civilian courts nor is he bringing them before our military courts. What the president has done is simply defined the whole world as a battleground.” He went on to say that the administration’s legal reasoning (as eventually explained in an unofficial “white paper”) is “deeply flawed – based on a perverse view of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Additionally, [it] completely ignores the  procedural protections expressly provided in the Constitution’s Third Article that were specifically designed to prohibit the president from taking the law into his own hands, serving as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.”

Drones aim at ConstitutionRegarding “Illegally conducting war against Libya”:

According to Fein, “President Obama just totally flouted the whole thing and basically said through his various memos, ‘I don’t need congressional authority to go to war.’ That was clearly an impeachable offense. It’s clearly gross usurpation of the war power.  Both the Republicans and Democrats have acquiesced in that.” Fisher agreed: “I think it’s completely unconstitutional. It’s extremely offensive for a president to claim he can use military force against another country, like Libya, that didn’t threaten us. I find that appalling.” Titus’ rebuke was equally strong: “I think Libya is the strongest argument for impeachment. That’s the one that stands out. It’s unprecedented. It doesn’t even fit within any of the precedents that have been set since Korea.” He added that, strategically speaking, “If you’re going to talk impeachment, you have to find something that Obama has done that is so distinctly different than what other presidents have done before him that people can resonate with it. The difficulty, of course, is that people have forgotten about Libya.”

Of course, other charges were also being talked about that were not considered by this panel. And, since the WND analysis was conducted, additional scandals have erupted and more offenses added to the long list of potential charges for acts of impeachment. Briefly, here are the ones I have encountered:

  • Obamacare = ‘taxation without representation’, consumer fraud
  • Gitmo (various)
  • Claims that Obama has tried to “change” the Constitution
  • IRS scandal (i.e., targeting of conservative and Christian groups for harrassment)
  • Threatening military readiness
  • Continually limiting the First Amendment; spying on and harassment of journalists and the AP
  • Sequestration tactics over budgetary issues (by intentionally “inflicting pain” on the American people)
  • NSA illegally spying on Americans
  • Perpetual debt
  • Syria (i.e., cherry-picking intel to reveal and lying to American people to incite support for war)
  • Release of illegal alien criminals from prison
  • Rank corruption, cronyism, and impeachable offenses related to Obama’s ‘green’ funding adventures
  • Bergdahl prisoner exchange (i.e., known Army deserter swapped for 5 terrorist leaders; failure to notify Congress beforehand)
  • Foreign policy that weakens America and endangers Americans both domestically and abroad (e.g., emboldening enemies, tacitly supporting a Muslim Brotherhood revolution, spurning allies, rhetorically minimizing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism)
  • Ignoring a statutory deadline and refusing to consider an application related to nuclear waste storage
  • Implementing Common Core national standards through strings-attached waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act
  • Refusing to enforce federal drug laws
  • General contempt for Congress and the American people

That’s a minimum of thirty individual offenses! Some of these charges can be lumped together, though. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has a book out in which he lays out the case, as he see it. He focuses on 7 proposed articles of impeachment,

“beginning with “The President’s Willful Refusal to Execute the Laws Faithfully and Usurpation of the Legislative Authority of Congress.” Within that article, McCarthy cites Obama’s illegal and unilateral changing of federal statutes, from several components within Obamacare to scrapping codified welfare work requirements to amending immigration laws and enacting policies Congress did not approve. He also alleges Obama failed to execute laws ranging from layoff notifications to the Clean Air Act to nuclear waste and Medicare.”

Immigration appears in two other articles — one regarding the unilateral conferring of amnesty on certain groups, and one regarding the defrauding of the American people about the Obama administration’s border enforcement record. I think this is a very good way to summarize and categorize the various offenses, citing specific examples for each major area.

Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates Obama AdministrationNow, what about the charge of Treason, specifically? Remember, the House of Representatives has never, as yet, included charges of treason when drawing up official articles of impeachment. Is there a basis for them being included against President Obama? Some people certainly seem to think so. Here is a sample list, as put forth by economist/columnist Allan Erickson last year:

“Certainly it can be shown he has given aid and comfort to our enemies: unilateral disarmament, bungling the entire war on terror purposefully, sending $500 million recently to Hamas, fomenting rebellion and destabilization in Egypt to the benefit of radical Islam, illegally and covertly arming Jihadists in Syria, promising the Russians more flexibility in the post 2012 election period on matters pertaining to unilateral disarmament, cutting our military to the bone against the recommendation of his own advisors, giving sanctuary to our enemies, refusing to confront the terrorists among us, even inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to hold positions of responsibility in government.”

A couple of those, it could be argued, might be chalked up to simple incompetence and mistakes made, as everyone is apt to do — even the President. But, there are plenty of obviously intentional actions that are quite in line with the administration’s progressive agenda and a misguided belief that the President can simply be nice and use reason to get our enemies — if he even recognizes them as such — to be peaceful. (More on this in Part 3.)

That pretty much covers the breadth of the irresponsible, reprehensible, criminal, and/or unconstitutional offenses that President Obama has committed while in the Oval Office, either directly or indirectly. I admit that most of the wording assumes guilt, but there does seem to be quite a bit of evidence supporting the charges. The question is whether or not they are sufficient to justify impeachment. In the third and final part of this series of posts, I will attempt to answer — with input from various others — the three questions I asked in Part 1.

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Of Rattlesnakes and Unity

I had originally intended this post to be a continuation of “To Impeach or Not to Impeach”. But, unfortunately, I did not get as much done on it this week as I had hoped. (I blame Facebook.) As I worked on Part 2 — which may expand into a Part 3 — tonight, I realized that I was not going to make my normally scheduled publication time. So, thinking fast, I came up with a bit of historical American trivia to share with you.

"Join, or Die" woodcutHave you ever wondered about the origins of the (in)famous Gadsden flag, with its image of a coiled rattlesnake and “Dont Tread On Me” warning? It was designed by and named for Gen. Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805) during the American Revolution. But, Gadsden was inspired by Benjamin Franklin. Ever since Franklin referred to the rattlesnake in a satirical 1751 commentary published in his Pennsylvania Gazette, the rattlesnake had been showing up in colonial symbolism. In 1754, Franklin published his famous “Join, or Die” woodcut cartoon, with a chopped up rattlesnake representing the colonies.

But, why the rattlesnake? What was Franklin’s fascination with the reptile? It becomes clearer in an essay Franklin wrote in the final days of 1775 in the Pennsylvania Journal. Under the pseudonym “An American Guesser”, Franklin used an allegory about the rattlesnake to encourage the colonies regarding the necessity of coming together in common purpose against a grave external threat (i.e., tyranny by the British).

“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her. Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?

‘Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.

Gadsden flagThe Rattle-Snake is solitary, and associates with her kind only when it is necessary for their preservation. In winter, the warmth of a number together will preserve their lives, while singly, they would probably perish. The power of fascination attributed to her, by a generous construction, may be understood to mean, that those who consider the liberty and blessings which America affords, and once come over to her, never afterwards leave her, but spend their lives with her.”

What is the Gadsden flag’s significance today? It has become a symbol for the Libertarian party and is more generally used by the American Tea Party movement. Variations of it and other rattlesnake flags have been used by militia groups, anarcho-capitalists, and by the U.S. Navy. It has also been used — sometimes seriously and sometimes humorously — in everything from clothing lines to animated TV series to heavy metal and country music. Freedom. Strength in community. Vigilance. Ready to strike in defense. Clearly, the symbolism sounds a chord within many Americans. And, now, you know why.

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 1

“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.”  — U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 4

Should President Barack Obama be impeached?

A lot of people seem to think so. There have been internet memes, tee-shirts, bumper stickers, billboards, and highway overpass demonstrations demanding it. Even some hard-Left liberals, like Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, have called for Obama’s impeachment. Yet, opinions on the matter differ even among his most ardent ideological opponents — e.g., Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) are against it, while former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) are in favor.

As I write this, talk of impeaching the President appears to have died down somewhat — at least, in the press. Between foreign affairs (e.g., the ISIS threat; Hamas vs. Israel; Russia in Ukraine) and domestic crises (e.g., protests and rioting in Ferguson, MO; floods of illegal immigrants; potential Ebola outbreak), the nation and its leaders have had plenty of other concerns to take up our and their time and energy. But, the idea of impeaching President Obama definitely hasn’t gone away, nor should it.

"Impeach Obama" billboardTo be honest, up until lately, I hadn’t been keeping up with the arguments for and against impeachment. It was just one of those issues/ideas that intrigued me but never made it to the top of my list to check into and mull over. But, when I decided to investigate it for this article, I found and read over 50 articles of varying length and depth, from average-guy/gal bloggers (like me) to regular political columnists, politicians, and think-tank fellows, reaching back to November 2012. (Of course, talk of impeachment started way before then. In fact, a petition for it on the White House’s “We the People” petition Web page gathered almost 29,000 digital signatures in only 5 days just that month.) So, hopefully, I have a fair handle on the issue and the arguments anti and pro.

It seemed to me that the best approach would be to answer, if possible, the following three questions, in order:

1) Is there a legal, Constitutional case to be made for impeaching Obama?

2) Assuming there is a case, from a pragmatic sense, would it be a good idea (i.e., in the country’s best interest) to proceed with impeachment, in regards to costs, competing issues & responsibilities of the parties that would be involved, and the consequences of potentially removing Obama from office?

3) Assuming there is a case, but consensus opinion beforehand — i.e., among the expert legal minds, political scientists and strategists — is that Obama nevertheless might not be found guilty and removed from office, would the exercise of initiating impeachment proceedings against the President still be worth it on principle, for morale, and for history’s sake?

What Does the Constitution Have to Say?

Before proceeding, we need to review the Constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment and any relevant past examples. Here are the basics, as per the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s (CRF) website:

“The U.S. Constitution provides impeachment as the method for removing the president, vice president, federal judges, and other federal officials from office. The impeachment process begins in the House of Representatives and follows these steps:

1) The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and, if necessary, prepares articles of impeachment. These are the charges against the official.
2) If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates and votes on them.
3) If a majority of the House votes to impeach the official on any article, then the official must then stand trial in the Senate.
4) For the official to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict the official. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office and, if the Senate so decides, may be forbidden from holding governmental office again.

The impeachment process is political in nature, not criminal. Congress has no power to impose criminal penalties on impeached officials. But criminal courts may try and punish officials if they have committed crimes.

The Constitution sets specific grounds for impeachment. They are “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To be impeached and removed from office, the House and Senate must find that the official committed one of these acts.

The Constitution defines treason in Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Constitution does not define bribery. It is a crime that has long existed in English and American common law. It takes place when a person gives an official money or gifts to influence the official’s behavior in office. For example, if defendant Smith pays federal Judge Jones $10,000 to find Smith not guilty, the crime of bribery has occurred.

Prior to the Clinton investigation, the House had begun impeachment proceedings against only 17 officials. [None were ever convicted.] …

In all the articles of impeachment that the House has drawn, no official has been charged with treason…. Two officials have been charged with bribery. The remaining charges against all the other officials fall under the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” “

Most people understand what treason and bribery are; it’s this “high crimes and misdemeanors” that gives most of us pause. The Framers were concerned about sufficiently covering all the types of abuse that a president might commit but didn’t want to threaten the separation of powers by giving the Legislative branch too much power (e.g., via vague wording) over the Executive. After rejecting “corruption” and “maladministration”, they settled on “high crimes and misdemeanors”. It was a term well familiar to them as a part of English law since 1386. According to the CRF, it covered a wide range of offenses, including (but not limited to):

“misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” granting warrants without cause, and bribery.”

Some were criminal acts and others not, but they all involved an official abusing his power of office and, therefore, his fitness to continue said service put into question.

Alexander Hamilton portrait

Alexander Hamilton

“In Federalist No. 65, [Alexander] Hamilton explained impeachment. He defined impeachable offenses as “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

For the more than 200 years since the Constitution was adopted, Congress has seriously considered impeachment only 18 times. Thirteen of these cases involved federal judges. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the House charged against these judges included being habitually drunk, showing favoritism on the bench, using judicial power unlawfully, using the office for financial gain, unlawfully punishing people for contempt of court, submitting false expense accounts, getting special deals from parties appearing before the court, bullying people in open court, filing false income tax returns, making false statements while under oath, and disclosing confidential information.

Only three of the 18 impeachment cases have involved a president — Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998.”

Prime Examples

So, what were the circumstances, charges, and outcome(s) of each case involving a U.S. president?

Johnson, a Democrat, constantly clashed with the Radical Republicans over Reconstruction legislation. In particular, the Tenure of Office Act was one of several passed despite Johnson’s veto. It required the President to get congressional permission before firing anyone in the executive branch whom Congress had approved. Johnson, believing the Act was unconstitutional, proceeded to fire Edwin Stanton (Rad. Rep.), the Secretary of War.

“The House passed 11 articles of impeachment. Eight involved Johnson’s violations of the Tenure of Office Act. One charged him with sending orders through improper channels. Another accused him of conspiring against Congress, citing a statement he made about Congress not representing all the states. The last summarized the other 10 charges and charged him with failing to enforce the Reconstruction Acts. At the end of the Senate trial, only three charges were brought to a vote. Johnson was saved from conviction on each by one vote.”

The charges against Johnson, generally seen as politically motivated, are not viewed as “high crimes and misdemeanors” worthy of removing a president from office.

Nixon, as we all know, was involved in the “Watergate Scandal”. Prior to the 1972 election (in which Nixon would be re-elected by a landslide), an attempted burglary/wire-tapping occurred at the Democratic HQ at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The operatives were caught in the act, and it turned out they had ties to the White House. It was never proven how much the President knew beforehand, but it is suspected that he was afraid of what other unethical practices by his administration might be discovered. Nixon is known to have talked of raising hush money for the Watergate burglars and used the FBI and CIA to impede the investigation.

“In 1974, the House Judiciary committee voted three articles of impeachment. One accused Nixon of obstruction of justice. Another accused him of abuse of power. The third charged him with contempt of Congress for defying the committee’s requests to produce documents. Nixon resigned the presidency before the whole House voted on the articles.”

It had been proposed earlier that the President also be brought up on tax evasion. (VP Spiro Agnew had already been forced to resign in 1973, pleading “no contest” to charges of income tax evasion.) But, based on a previously-ordered staff report, the committee concluded it was not an impeachable offense and declined to vote an article of impeachment for that charge.

Bill Clinton "Liar, Liar" headline - Daily NewsClinton’s impeachment woes are known — at least, in part — to most people over 35. What started out as an investigation into a 20-year-old land investment deal expanded to include “scandals surrounding the firing of White House staff in its travel office, the misuse of FBI files, and an illicit affair that the president had with a White House intern.” That last one was the biggest embarrassment. In his 1998 report, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr identified 11 potentially impeachable offenses, all related to the affair.

“Based on the independent counsel’s investigation, the House Judiciary Committee voted four articles of impeachment. The first article accused the president of committing perjury before a grand jury convened by the independent counsel. The second charged him with providing “perjurious, false and misleading testimony” in a civil case related to the scandal. The third accused him of obstructing justice to “delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence” of evidence related to the scandal. The fourth charged that he misused and abused his office by deceiving the American public, misleading his cabinet and other employees so that they would mislead the public, asserting executive privilege to hinder the investigation, and refusing to respond to the committee and misleading the committee about the scandal.”

During the committee’s hearing, experts called by the Democrats testified that none of the charges constituted “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Experts called by the Republicans countered that there was precedent of impeachment and removal from office for perjury. They also argued that Clinton had violated his oath and duties as “chief law enforcement officer” to uphold all the nation’s laws.

Now that we have a foundational understanding of impeachment, in Part 2 we’ll look at the current circumstances and attempt to answer the three questions I posed above.

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5 Noteworthy Quotes from the Week Ending 8/30/2014

The title says it all. These aren’t necessarily the “Top 5″ topics, based on any particular rating scale. But, they are (I thought) notable commentary on some important issues, foreign and domestic. I’ve added a few comments of my own, as usual.

David Cameron raises threat level re ISIS1) UK Prime Minister David Cameron re Islamic State: “We are in the middle of a generational struggle between a poisonous and extremist ideology that I believe that we’ll be fighting for years, and probably decades. We cannot appease this ideology. We have to confront it at home and abroad. To do this we need a tough, intelligent, patient, comprehensive approach to defeat the terrorist threat at its source.”

Whether or not you agree with everything Cameron said or even all of the steps he listed in his solution, you have to admit that he has a much better grasp of who & what the enemy is and the all-inclusive sort of strategy that needs to be taken to defeat them. It’s a whole lot more reassuring than Obama’s “We don’t have a strategy, yet.” And, despite what the President seems to think, containment of the Islamic State within Syria and Iraq is simply not a sufficient, or even realistic, plan.

2) Dr. Ben Carson re the Ferguson situation: “Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.”

I totally agree. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for people (on all sides) to divorce themselves from those emotionally-driven (and sometimes misinformed) judgements we’ve already made in order to make a reasonably objective, just-the-facts assessment. And it certainly doesn’t help when all sorts of other issues — both big-picture and peripheral — are confusing the investigation in people’s minds.

3) Scarlett Johansson re the Hobby Lobby ruling: “When I heard that some politicians were cheering the Supreme Court’s decision to give bosses the right to interfere in our access to birth control, I thought I had woken up in another decade. Like many of my friends, I was appalled by the thought of men taking away women’s ability to make our own personal health care decisions.”

Johansson, working with Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s new advertising campaign, designed a tee-shirt that says, “Hey Politicians! The 1950s called… They want their sexism back!” It proves that the feminist actress, who is enjoyable as the “Black Widow” and in other roles, is just another confused Hollywood liberal when it comes to the facts on this case and this issue. Once more,… no one is interfering with women’s access to birth control or ability to make their own personal healthcare decisions. (Ironically, it’s Obamacare that reduces choices and usurps people’s autonomy.) SCOTUS merely agreed that pro-life companies like Hobby Lobby should not be forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing methods of birth control. Sixteen types of preventive contraception are still covered. Anything that isn’t can always be paid for out of one’s own purse/wallet.

4) “Russian forces have entered Ukraine.”  — President Petro Poroshenko

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-NATO-CRISIS-POLITICSBritain’s Ambassador to the U.N., Mark Lyall Grant, concurs: “Now we see irrefutable evidence of regular Russian forces operating inside Ukraine.” NATO intel reports at least 1000 Russian troops amassing in Ukraine and has provided satellite imagery (from last week) of Russian self-propelled artillery units (i.e., tanks). NATO’s Brig. Gen. Nico Tak said that the highly sophisticated nature of the weaponry make it “extremely unlikely that this sort of equipment is used by volunteers.” The implication there is that Russian soldiers trained on the weapons must be present to assist the separatists. The Bear is on the move. Now, if only President Obama would publicly recognize this as the beginning of an invasion and not merely breeches of “territorial integrity”.

5) Commenter “frogmouth” at Twitchy re Michael Sam getting cut from the Rams: “Without the media hoopla over his “groundbreaking” status as the first openly gay player to be signed etc etc, no one outside of the Rams organization and a few Fantasy Football fan boys would have taken any notice of a mediocre 7th round pick being signed and then subsequently cut before the season begins.”

Exactly. But, now the accusations are beginning to fly that Sam’s release is due to the Rams suddenly becoming anti-gay bigots. Remember when retired Coach Tony Dungy indicated that Sam’s less-than-stellar talent was not, in his estimation, worth the headaches and “distractions” that Sam’s manufactured celebrity would likely continue to produce? (Others called it bigotry. I call it practical wisdom in running a sports team.) I’m betting the Rams organization is starting to get the message.

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Journey of Light + Creeping Superfluid

Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Dr. Jeff Zweerink

I decided to throw a couple more science-bytes at you from astrophysicist Dr. Jeffrey Zweerink. They’re brief but fun bits of science trivia to pack into your “li’l pea brain” (as my friend likes to say). And, if you realize that, technically, that is not physically possible, then we’re on the same wavelength.

1) “We all know that light takes roughly 8 minutes to reach from the Sun to the Earth. But, did you know that the light actually takes anywhere from 10,000 to 170,000 years to get from the center of the Sun, where it was produced, to the edge of the Sun, where then it can actually extend off to the Earth? That’s because, as it’s going through the Sun, it’s bouncing around kind of like a pinball, and it takes (again) anywhere from 10,000 to 170,000 years to make that journey.”

Here’s a cool little video on the subject:

2) “Did you know that there are liquids that will drain up and over the edges of a container and drip out even with nothing pushing on them? In fact, superfluid liquid helium is one of those fluids. As you cool liquid helium, it could be in a container that is well-containing it, and as it makes the transition to a superfluid, it will leak out through holes that it didn’t ‘see’ before, because now it has zero viscosity. That same zero viscosity will allow it to creep up over the edges of the container and drain itself and empty it in a way that no other liquid would behave.”

Here’s a short clip on this one:

Pretty cool! I feel all science-y, now….

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