Atheists & secularists, like anyone else, will sometimes speak of what gives their life meaning and purpose. It might be fighting against religious dogma, or helping people think rationally, or spending time with their family, or "making the world a little better place", or... whatever. Note that these are self-imposed "purposes" or "meaning", often involving leaving some sort of intellectual or philosophical legacy. But, is this really consistent with their worldview? Have you ever heard of Lawrence M. Krauss or Glenn D. Starkman? Even if you don't run in scientific circles, you may be familiar with Krauss, who is a well-known ...
"Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning or judging between good and evil are in this manner revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity." -- Pastor E.L. Bynum In our last "episode", we began to address the issue of what it means to "judge" others. Specifically, we took a practical, nonsectarian look at why people cry, "Don't judge me!" and why we should, in fact, make fair judgments about others' behaviors & beliefs, always with the welfare of them and others around them in mind. Now, what about Christians, in particular? Aren't we supposed to be extra loving and kind and ...
If you are at all familiar with Christian apologetics, whether engaging challenges from non-theists or from Christians with different views, you know that the topic of pain, suffering, and death is a major issue. (In fact, Darwin's struggle with this was the impetus for developing his theory.) These things are considered "evil", so the question is "Why would a 'good' God make a world full of pain, suffering, & death for His creatures to endure?", or "How could God include pain, suffering, & death (for millions of years) in His 'very good' creation?" The Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) solution is that none ...
Welcome to the 3rd and penultimate installment of this series, in which I explain how self-deluded I have been about my own hatred and bigotry regarding, well, just about everyone but straight, white, white-collar males between 18 & 65 years of age (or thereabouts). Where was I? Oh... [caption id="attachment_1341" align="alignleft" width="225"] Pro-choice Activists[/caption] 7) I hate women. And it's not just because I'm single. (Or, should that be the other way around?) ;-> In particular, I think most of today's "feminist" positions and causes reveal a certain level of narcissism and another excuse to play the blame game for ones woes, real ...
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." -- Abraham Lincoln "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... Are you freakin' kidding me?!! Do we really have to listen for 4 more years to this pompous, Marxist ...
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." Of course, I had my suspicions about what she was referring to. There are some nasty stains on Christianity's record. But, I also ...
"I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother." -- Mitt Romney, in an op-ed piece in The Boston Globe (7/26/2005) In "The Pro-Life Position: Just One Question", I argued that if the unborn is indeed a member of the human family, no matter how small or odd it looks, then "no justification for killing it is adequate." But, then I left a footnote saying that there are rare exceptions to that rule. So, I figured I may as well address those now.... When the ...
Part 1: Firm Foundation "I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam." -- Popeye, the sailorman Given the subjects that I usually read and write about on this blog, critical thinking really comes in handy. Not that I'm some great logician or anything. Far from it! But, over the last few years, I've been exposed to the discipline of informal logic by some pretty darn good thinkers. (At least, I think they are.) I've noticed that I am now more apt to notice logical errors & fallacies when reading or listening to someone's arguments for his/her position on a ...
[caption id="attachment_1464" align="alignleft" width="300"] Original Star Trek bridge crew[/caption] I remember when, many years ago, I first found out that the cast of the original Star Trek series did not always get along and a huge part of the problem was William Shatner's ego. Star Trek was one of my all-time favorite TV shows (and the movies and the books), and Shatner was a favorite actor when I was growing up -- right up there with Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, and later Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I., fame. So, I was understandably disappointed to find out my "heroes" ...
"[S]cience and religion are two essential components in the search for truth. Denying either is a barren approach." -- Dr. Martin Andreas Nowak, mathematical biologist Once upon a time (actually, it was about a year ago) in a land far, far away (OK, it was here in NE Florida), I had a brief but interesting discussion. I had been taking a few skills & personality assessment tests, which involved identifying what I thought my strengths & weaknesses were, figuring out my personality traits, etc. While discussing the results with a couple family members, the religiously-agnostic one noted, "Huh! You consider yourself ...
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.
It 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”?”
““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.””
“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’.””
“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….””
“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
““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).
“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
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.
Next, 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….
It 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!
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,
“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”
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.
Have 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.
The 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.
“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.
To 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?
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.
“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.”
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.
Clinton’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.
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.
1) 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
Britain’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.
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….