The Watering Hole; Thursday July 31 2014; IMPEACH!!!

Impeachment: the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house. ‘Impeachment’ is also a word that’s been spoken and heard more often in the last couple of decades than in the previous history of the United States. Three Presidents, Wm. Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama have been threatened with removal. Clinton was, in fact, impeached by the House but served out his term because the Senate (even with a Republican majority) refused to convict.

According to informed and wide-spread opinion, George W. Bush was indeed impeachable on multiple offenses, but even after Democrats achieved a functional House majority in the 2006 Congressional elections, no action was taken.

Today, Barack Obama is, according to un-informed and wingnut opinion, very definitely impeachable, and the threats to do so — particularly with the Tea Party faction — are gaining in popularity as the 2014 elections approach. Should the Republicans manage to both maintain their House majority and gain a Senate majority come November, the chances of impeachment will likely elevate accordingly.

Following is a closer examination of details, an overview of each of the three consecutive presidencies in which the word “impeachment” became operative. It is perhaps curious that of the three, only one enjoyed any level of the justification specified in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution . . .

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.

. . . and it was never acted upon.

In order of occurrence:

Immediately following 1998’s elections, the lame duck GOP-controlled House went after Bill Clinton by initiating impeachment proceedings, and on December 19, 1998 Clinton was impeached by the House on two charges: perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice. The (Republican-controlled) Senate did not convict, however, and Clinton served out his full second term.

The next President, George W. Bush, was, over the course of his two terms, accused of numerous impeachable offenses, and the impeachment option started to pick up speed in the summer of 2006 when it began to appear that Democrats might win an electoral majority in the House in the upcoming fall elections. On August 29, 2006, Dave Lindorf at PoliticalAffairs.net bluntly contrasted the folly of Clinton’s impeachment by summarizing the bulk of informed opinion as to why the impeachment of Bush should proceed. Lindorf wrote:

“Clinton’s offense was simply lying under oath about an adulterous affair.

“Bush, in contrast, has admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ telecommunications without a warrant, in clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (New York Times, 12/16/05). Beyond that, documents show he okayed torture of captives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, contravening the Third Geneva Accord on treatment of prisoners of war, an international accord that was long ago adopted as U.S. law (Human Rights Watch, ‘Background Paper on Geneva Conventions and Persons Held by U.S. Forces,’ 1/29/02).

“He has blatantly subverted the Constitution by claiming the right to ignore (so far) 750 acts duly passed by Congress (Boston Globe, 4/30/06). He has defied the courts in revoking the most basic rights of citizenship-the right to be charged and tried in a court of law (Guardian, 12/5/02). And the evidence is overwhelming that he knowingly lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and about Hussein’s alleged link to Al-Qaeda, in order to win public and Congressional approval for his invasion of Iraq (Center for American Progress: “Claims vs. Facts: Iraq/Al-Qaeda Links”).

“These and other Bush offenses pose direct threats to the Constitution and to the survival of the Republic, and yet, despite widespread concern and outrage among the public about many of these actions, not one major corporate news organization has called for Bush’s resignation, the initiation of impeachment proceedings, or even for censure . . .”

On May 7, 2006 Patricia Goldsmith of Long Island Media Watch (a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group) summarized potential impeachment charges against George W. Bush when she wrote:

“The push for impeachment acknowledges two simple truths: we can’t wait for 2008, nor can we live with BushCo’s legacy. That is to say, we must not only remove GWB, but we must remove all the devices and stratagems his administration has used to subvert the Constitution including: signing statements and the concept of the unitary executive; the abrogation of the Geneva conventions, the concept of enemy combatants, extraordinary rendition, and Guantanamo; pre-emptive military attacks; warrantless spying on citizens; the unlabeled exchange of government propaganda for news; and much more. These illegal maneuvers should not be available to future presidents of any party.”

Meanwhile, Fox News (online and during the runup to the Nov. 2006 elections) offered advice to the Democratic Party after apparently concluding that Democrats had a good chance of assuming post-election control of the House:

“Step one would be for the Democratic leadership to definitively put to rest any loose talk of impeaching President Bush. They should say in one and two syllable words that impeachment will not happen once they are in the majority and thus take away a potential rallying cry for the beleaguered Republicans.”

Fox eventually got its wish when, around the time the election results of November, 2006 had become operational, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) laid the entire GWB impeachment thesis to rest when he announced, “Speaker Pelosi and I have made it clear that this Congress is not going to proceed with impeachment, and is going to focus on critical issues facing our nation, such as healthcare for children and the war in Iraq.”

Enter President Barack Obama, clearly the most Republican-despised President in all of history, a President for whom dreams of total and complete failure have defined the entire political aspiration of today’s extreme right wing-driven GOP. Obama’s use of the Presidential executive action tool — his attempt(s) to get at least SOMETHING accomplished in spite of the least productive Congress in the nation’s history are consistently viewed as “dictatorial” at best, impeachable violations of the Constitution in their unfounded rhetoric.

Sarah Palin placed her familiar ignorance on full display when she recently wrote, on Breitbart.com (in part):

“President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.

“The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

In late summer of 2013, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) laid out his own reasoning concerning Obama’s potential impeachment when he warned that if Republicans should decide to force the U.S. to default on its debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling then it “would be an impeachable offense by the president.” Right. OK. Uh huh.

Gohmert is far from alone as an incumbent in support of impeachment, however. Here Is a List of Republican Incumbents Who Support Impeachment — I suspect it’s far shorter than it will be post-election IF the Republicans should happen to preserve their control of the House AND gain a majority in the Senate. Such points obviously don’t make their logic any more profound even though it’s probably predictable, given their post-election fevers in 1998.

Still, there’s a recently-emerged “other side”, a position that in all probability is based on legitimate fears that pre-election hype concerning impeachment (for clearly spurious reasons) may well jeopardize Republican chances of (a) gaining a majority in the Senate, or perhaps even (b), maintaining their majority in the House, by ‘inspiring’ more electoral support and enthusiasm amongst Democratic voters. Therefore, the new talking point, as spouted by John Boehner on July 29th 2014:

“We have no plans to impeach the President. . . . . Listen. It’s all a scam asserted by Democrats and the White House.”

Glenn Beck also blames Obama and the Democrats for using the impeachment “scam” as a means of diverting attention from the President’s failures — Immigration, e.g.

The bottom line, in summary, reads something like this: Each of the last three American Presidents — two Democrats and one Republican — have been accused of having committed impeachable offenses during their respective terms of office. Of the three, however, only one — Republican George W. Bush — actually engaged in policies which demanded a closer look because of their extremely dubious constitutionality, and even though several of the offenses were clearly of Article II Section 4 context, no official charges were filed.

Makes one wonder if these days the most compelling impeachable offenses are simply those which are the most sententious, i.e. each and all of those moralizing and self-righteous pithy aphorisms which seem to flow steadily from the mouths of the far right wingers. Or maybe it’s even simpler. Could it be that their sole perceived impeachable crime is nothing other than the President’s political party affiliation? Or, horror of horrors, the President’s skin color?

Stay tuned.

OPEN THREAD

 

 

 

Advertisements

Watering Hole: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 – Rant from CT

I have a friend who is a retired professional writer and she posts “rants” on Facebook.  With her permission, I am posting her most recent rant.

I love the way some people make up definitions of words to suit their own purposes.

Yesterday in the Reading Eagle a woman carrying on about the current focus of Tea hatred, the children coming across the border, said the word refugee means someone fleeing from a state of war. So these kids aren’t “refugees.”

I got out the ol’ Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which defined “refugee” as someone fleeing from a country because of danger or persecution. No mention of war as a prerequisite.

The woman went on to lecture that kids in our own country need help. After all, the economy is bad and so on and so forth.

When I read that, I started thinking about kids in our own country, too. Just probably not the same kids she was thinking about.

I was thinking about kids I saw standing in the middle of a godforsaken snow-covered desert on a Navajo reservation many years ago. Torn clothes, little food, missionaries and government workers living in beautiful houses, grand pianos in their living rooms. Those kids need help too. They always have. Ever since we invaded their country and took everything they had, they’ve needed help. Ever since we took their uranium to power our addiction to electronics, they needed help. Ever since we won their land from them, fair and square, first by poisoning them with smallpox and booze and then by taking any arable land they had left by murdering those who tried to stop us, they needed help.

But those weren’t the kids this woman was talking about. And it occurred to me that’s why these haters are so afraid–because all hate stems from fear.

Oh, these good Christian folks might fear the wrath of God. But I’ll tell you what.

They fear Karma even more.

This is our Open Thread.  Time to Speak Up!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 28th, 2014: Childhood (and history) Lost?

The development where Wayne and I grew up sits atop a hill overlooking the Middlebranch Reservoir to the west, and used to be part of the Tilly Foster Farm to the north. When my family moved there in the late ’50s, we were visited by cows, sheep and goats from the farm, as our road was the closest to the farm’s property. Several acres were left undeveloped between us and the farm, which made for an enjoyable childhood spent roaming the woods, climbing trees and building ‘forts.’

While we were growing up, the farm mostly had horses; at one time, I remember, they had a Secretariat foal at the farm, and were a bit uptight about security: I pulled into the entrance once to take a picture, and within moments, a cop car arrived. For a while, it was closed as the county decided how best to utilize the property. Until a short while ago, the farm was run as a living museum, with old tractors and other farm equipment on display, as well as various breeds of cows, sheep, chickens, pigs,etc. The goal of the farm was to showcase rare American farm animals.
tilly foster sheepTilly Foster Farm 2012tilly foster goats 2tilly foster donkeytilly foster calves

Now, however, for some reason the county has decided to close the farm. Although the new caretaker just took delivery of newborn chicks for the farm, it is uncertain exactly what is ahead. According to one commenter at the farm’s website, a carnival was held there over 4th of July weekend. A terse notice on the museum’s ‘Welcome’ page states:

“The Society for the Preservation of Putnam County is no longer managing the farm. All of the rare American farm animals have been sold and we will not sponsor any more events at the farm.”

Hopefully the farm will be reopened as a living museum again. For us locals, the history of our area would be done a great disservice if this beautiful landmark were to be ruined for the sake of ‘progress.’

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

Sunday Roast: San Francisco

I grew up just across the San Francisco bay, in a town called Alameda.  My dad was in the Navy, and he managed to allow us to live in one place for about seven years, by alternating being stationed on the base at Alameda and being stationed on the USS Coral Sea.  At that time, it was the longest time I’d lived anywhere in my life!

Watching this video, it made me remember how much I loved the Bay Area.  So much history, beautiful scenery, and amazing weather.  I remember watching from across the bay as half of the Transamerica Pyramid was built — the top half, obviously.  🙂

I left Alameda in 1989 — having moved back there as a married woman with one child, and another on the way — moving to Salem, Oregon just a few months before the Loma Prieta earthquake.  The only reason I had the TV on that afternoon was because of the World Series game between the A’s and the Giants.  Even though I’m not a baseball fan, I had to watch this particular series!

I walked out to the living room to see how they could possibly have such a quiet lead-in to the first game.  That’s when I saw raw footage of the Cypress freeway collapsed in on itself, and just stood there in shock.  I’d driven out of the Bay Area just a few months before, on the lower deck of that freeway, and I knew what that road was like at rush hour — packed.  The Portland news guy was narrating the raw footage, and I was going absolutely batshit, because he just didn’t understand that the Cypress was a double-decked structure.  A lot of people died on that freeway the day of the earthquake, but a mere fraction of the number that would have died, if not for the historic World Series starting that afternoon.

I haven’t been back there in over 25 years, but I’d love to visit San Francisco and the East Bay again.  I’d drive around the narrow streets of my old hometown, even though the base has been closed for many years, and the military housing I lived in is gone.  I noticed that the Myth Busters are making use of the old runways and my high school pool, so that’s pretty awesome.  Then I’d drive across the bridges, down Lombard Street, catch a cable car to China Town (if they’re still running), visit Coit Tower, where the ladies of the Officer’s Wives Club — led my my mom — hung a giant yellow ribbon, to welcome home my dad’s ship after the war, and I’d walk around Fisherman’s Wharf.  From what I could see on the video, it looks like they’ve spiffed up the piers and wharf area quite a bit.  Weird.  I liked it as it was.

Well, enjoy the video.  It brought back a lot of memories for me, as you can tell.

This is our daily open thread — What places do you miss?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 26, 2014: This Week In Crazy Right Wing Libertarian Talk

Cindy Lake wants to be a commissioner in District G of Clark County, NV. And she wants to because…it’s YOUR money. Good one, Cindy Lake. A more compelling argument I’ve yet to hear. Especially from you. Cindy Lake believes she has earned an important endorsement, that of Dr. Ron Paul.

​”Cindy Lake has worked for years as a citizen to fight for limited government and more personal liberties. She has also been a great supporter of mine. I am proud to endorse Cindy Lake for the Clark County Commission in District G.”

Vote for Cindy Lake because she supports me, way over here in Texas. Now who could argue with that? Besides me? Look, Ron Paul is a Conservative Libertarian, while I’m a Liberal Libertarian. We’re as different as Milton Friedman and Mohandas K. Gandhi. Ron Paul often has the right final opinions, but often for the wrong reasons. He rightly opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not because they were based on lies and misinformation, but because he opposes using the military anywhere else in the world. He opposes giving foreign aide to Israel (which usually takes the form of loans that are forgiven, so they can buy military weapons to kill innocent children; don’t get me started on what’s going on in Gaza, because this post is about insanity in America), but that’s because he opposes foreign aid to everybody. He’s sometimes right, but for the wrong reasons. So having him endorse you is not necessarily as good a thing as you might think.

But does that alone earn her a spot in This Week In Crazy Right Wing Libertarian Talk? No, of course not. It’s her stance on fluoride and chemtrails that does. Cindy Lake says on her website that she will “work to lower water rates and improve water quality.” What she doesn’t say is what that means. She is one of those folks who believes that the fluoridation of our water is a huge government conspiracy to…you know, I’m not quite sure what the motivation would be to poison all of us systematically, but that’s what they claim the government is doing.

Don’t let the scaremongers scare you. There’s good reason to doubt them, and little reason to believe them. Just because you won’t accept evidence that your crazy theory is false doesn’t mean you’re right. And the whole nonsense with chemtrails is a good illustration of that. The problem with trying to argue against the Great Chemtrail Conspiracy Theory is that it’s about a secret government plot, so naturally there would be no proof that they’re doing it. Which makes it perfect fodder for a conspiracy theorist like Cindy Lake. But chemtrails are nothing more than ordinary condensation trails, not unlike the cloud of breath you exhale on a cold day. I ridicule the idea that the federal government is spraying chemicals on us from these high-flying planes because what would be the point of doing that? From so high up, there’s no way they can be sure that the people being targeted are the ones getting sprayed. The wind could easily push anything being sprayed twenty miles away and poison, or whatever they were trying to do, the wrong population of people. It’s an extremely unreliable way of conducting any kind of experiment. And the idea that it still might be happening because it’s theoretically possible that they could do this makes for a ludicrous proof. Just because nobody can prove it’s not happening doesn’t constitute proof that it is happening. And falling back on the “government is hiding all the evidence”-excuse does not mean you have a persuasive argument, either. There’s a very perfectly rational explanation for why there’s no proof that the government is spraying us from 30,000 feet – it isn’t really happening. And the worst thing any Democracy can do is elect people who believe this nonsense to public office. They should be getting treated by the government, not put in it.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about chemtrails, fluoridation, your precious bodily fluids, or anything else you wish to discuss.