George Washington Enlightens/ Senator Hatch Cites Reasons to Impeach- Both Timeless
I'm going to offer you some quotations to think about; contrast and compare, if you will. I'd ask you to skip over my commentary if short on time- you'll get the gist, the crucial information from the quotations. Please scroll through- this post feels important for the historical perspective it offers. A needed perspective.
In the neighborhood of 210 years ago George Washington offered advice that fits our times and current situation as "We the People" consider censure for a President who is putting his office at the fore- a power grab that leaves our Constitution "an outdated document" or as Mr Bush reportedly said:
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
Advice from George Washington's Farewell Address:
It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
Senator Feingold speaks to this:
Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who proposed the censure motion and is considering a 2008 presidential run, argued that the Bush administration's insistence that it needed no Congressional approval for its wiretapping program implied that "we no longer have a constitutional system consisting of three co-equal branches of government; we have a monarchy.""If we in the Congress don't stand up for ourselves and for the American people, we become complicit in the lawbreaking," Mr. Feingold said.
Now I'll offer you a quote from Senator Orrin Hatch, not speaking for the Constitutional law of the land, but for his party. After that quote I'll offer you some of his thoughts concerning impeachment- you'll note the grave tone he takes when considering the case of Mr Clinton's lying about a sexual dalliance in office.
First supporting Mr Bush, who he obviously believes can usurp the law of the land, cuz hey, we are involved in the Bush administrations war of choice- and will be for a great many years to come:
"Wartime is not a time to weaken the commander in chief,"Think of it as the "we might lose the big game if we hold the star player to the same rules as the rest of us" moment. He forgets Nixon resigned as working class Americans died in Viet Nam.
I saw some quotations from Hatch concerning the Clinton impeachment case over at Democratic Veteran and read deeply of them, googled about a bit I mean, and really considered what the partisan fellow had to say back then. The old Hatch quotes pretty much say Mr Bush should be impeached. I'll highlight the ones I see applicable. What do you think? Yup, I know, a bunch of reading, made more burdensome by my italics and bolding of text. But he was right, partisan hack or not. Bush and Cheney, by the references Hatch cites, are eligible for impeachment. It is the law.
Hatch Cites Constitutional Authorities
In short, impeachment trials require Senators to act, wherever possible, with principled political neutrality. One question I have repeatedly asked myself during this scandal - when faced with questions concerning the interpretation of the relevant law, the process, the calls for resignation, or forgiveness - has been whether I would have taken the same position were this a Republican President. I have done this throughout the past year and I expect many of my colleagues have done the same.
further into the statement
Of great concern to me is what the standard should be for impeachment in this and future trials. The President's Counsel has argued that the President can only be removed for constituting, what Oliver Wendell Holmes termed in free speech cases, a "clear and present danger." It was contended that a President can only be removed if he is a danger to the Constitution. As such, according to the President's Counsel, removable conduct must relate to egregious conduct related to performance in office. Even if the House's allegation -- that President Clinton committed acts of perjury and obstruction of justice is proven true -- it was argued -- than such behavior does not rise to impeachable offenses because it was private, not public, conduct. In this case an inappropriate sexual relation with a subordinate employee -- was the predicate of the charged offenses.
But such a standard establishes an impossibly high bar as to render impotent the impeachment clauses of the Constitution. I hope that no matter the outcome of this trial, President Clinton's view of what constitutes an impeachable offense does not become precedent. If it does, I fear the moral framework of our Republic will be frayed. If it does, the legitimacy of our institutions may very well become tattered. It would create the paradox of being able to convict and jail an official for committing, let's say, homicide, but not to be able to remove that official from holding positions of public trust.Committing crimes of moral turpitude, such as perjury and obstruction of justice, go to the very heart of qualification for public office.
The overwhelming consensus of both legal and historical scholars is that the Constitution mandates the removal of the "President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States" -- which includes federal judges -- "upon impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors." (U.S. Const. Art. II. Sec. 4). The precise meaning of this latter clause is critical to the outcome of the impeachment trial.
The President's advocates agree with their critics that this standard is the sole standard for presidential impeachment, but contend that the "or other" phrase indicates that grounds for impeachment must be criminal in nature because treason and bribery are crimes or acts committed against the state.
Such crimes or acts must be heinous, they contend, because the term "crimes and misdemeanors" is preceded by the descriptive adjective "high" in the impeachment clause. These advocates also claim that there exists no proof of criminal wrongdoing, that we have evidence of only a private affair unrelated to performance in public office, and that abuse of power related to official conduct -- not present here -- is a prerequisite for impeachment.
Many learned scholars oppose this view. Looking at the debates in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, they note that the Convention originally chose treason and bribery as the sole standard for impeachment. George Mason argued that this standard was too stringent and advocated that "maladministration" be added to the list. James Madison objected, believing that no coherent definition of "maladministration" existed and that such a lenient standard would make the President a pawn of the Senate. The Convention, as a result, settled on the phrase "treason, bribery or other high crime or misdemeanor." It is clear that the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" was considered by the Framers to have a more narrow and specific meaning and, indeed, it is a term taken from English precedent.
Accordingly, many scholars, including Raoul Berger, the dean of impeachment scholars (Impeachment: the Constitutional Problems (1973) ), contend that the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a common law term of art that reaches both private and public behavior. Treason and bribery are acts that harm society in that they constitute a corruption on the body politic. Consequently, "other high crimes and misdemeanors" encompasses similar acts of corruption or betrayals of trust, and need not constitute formal crimes. Indeed, Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 65 makes clear that impeachment is political, not criminal, in nature and reaches conduct that goes to reputation and character. In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries the term "misdemeanor" refers not to a petty crime, but to bad demeanor.
History thus demonstrates that acts or conduct that demeans the integrity of the office, or harms an individual's reputation in such a way as to engender a lack of public confidence in the office holder or the political system is an impeachable offense. Justice Joseph Story, in his celebrated Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 762 (1835), made this abundantly clear when he wrote that impeachment lies for private behavior that harms the society or demeans its institutions:
In the first place, the nature of the functions to be performed: The offences, to which the power of impeachment has been, and is ordinarily applied, as a remedy, are of a political character. Not but that crimes of a strictly legal character fall within the scope of the power, (for, as we shall presently see, treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors are expressly within it;) but that it has a more enlarged operation, and reaches, what are aptly termed, political offences, growing out of personal misconduct, or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interests, in the discharge of the duties of political office.
Even though the Framers rejected the English model of impeachment as a form of punishment and promulgated removal as the remedy for conviction, most scholars contend that the Framers looked to English precedent to define "high crimes and misdemeanors." There is a wealth of evidence that a betrayal of public trust or reckless conduct that places a high office in disrepute constitutes "high misdemeanors." The modifier "high" refers to acts against the state or commonwealth. In the eighteenth century, the term "political" also encompassed our modern term of "social." So conduct that harmed society as a whole, or denigrated the public respect and confidence in governmental institutions, constituted "high crimes and misdemeanors."
As such, both English and American officials have been impeached for drunkenness, for frequenting prostitutes, even for insanity, in other words private conduct that is unrelated to official acts. Such behavior is seen as defaming the office that the accused held and diminishing the people's faith in government. Impeachment is thus seen by many scholars as a means of removing unqualified office holders.
Thus, impeachment and removal does not have to be predicated upon commission of a crime. Consequently, impeachment and removal is not in essentially a criminal punishment, a conclusion that is also textually demonstrated by the fact that the Framers expressly provided for later indictment and criminal conviction of an impeached and removed President.
A high crime and misdemeanor -- according to this view -- does not have to amount to a crime or be related to official conduct. Even if President Clinton's acts of perjury were predicated upon lying about a private sexual relation, they still must be considered high crimes and misdemeanors. The fact that the underlying behavior was private in its genesis is irrelevant. Such private acts demean the Office of the President, and betray public trust. Those acts therefore are impeachable.
But I must emphasize that even if the President's Counsel is correct in that private acts unrelated to performance in office are not impeachable offenses, I believe the gravamen of what President Clinton committed are public, not private, acts that are unambiguous breaches of public trust. Perjury and particularly obstruction of justice are conduct that attack the very veracity of our justice system. (Furthermore, I vehemently disagree that the underlying conduct was a purely private concern because the conduct involved a federal employee in a work environment).
Lying under oath, hiding evidence, and tampering with witnesses destroy the truth-finding function of our investigatory and trial system. Perjury and obstruction of justice are particularly pernicious if committed by a President of the United States, who has sworn pursuant to the oath of office to protect the Constitution and laws of the United States. Whether perjury and obstruction of justice can be considered private or public acts is of no moment. They are twin "high crimes" harming the political order and requiring impeachment and removal from office.
A related argument made by the President's Counsel is that a President should be held to a less stringent standard than federal judges in impeachment trials. Because many judges have been removed for conduct unrelated to performance in office, such as Judges Claiborne and Nixon, who were convicted and removed for perjurious statements unrelated to their performance in office, the President is almost compelled to make this argument.
In essence, The President's Counsel contend that Article III's requirement that judges hold office for "good behavior" is not simply a description of the term of office, but a grounds for impeachment if violated. Presidents -- and other civil officers -- are subject to the more stringent high crimes and misdemeanor standard.
Most scholars reject this view. For instance, Michael J. Gerhardt (The Federal Impeachment Process(1996)) testified in the House Constitutional Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee in November that the impeachment standard of high crimes and misdemeanors applies to all civil officers, including judges as well as the President. This is the sole constitutional ground for impeachment. Article III's good behavior provision for judges simply sets the duration for judicial office (lifetime unless impeached). There are simply no differing standards for judges and the President.
Refresh your memory with documents proving Mr Bush and Mr Cheney Lied us into war; After Downing Street.Org has the proof that the war on Iraq was a war of choice.
06/12/05 "The Times" - - MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.Or this related piece:
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
Manning wrote, "The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin."
Both acknowledged that no WMDs had been found in Iraq. Bush raised the possibility of provoking a confrontation with Saddam Hussein. One idea he proposed was placing UN colors on an American U-2 spy plane that would fly over Iraq and draw fire from Iraqi forces. Bush also discussed the possibility of assassinating Saddam Hussein.
Bush did say that he would help Blair win a second UN resolution--and "would twist arms and even threaten," as the memo put it--but that if that effort failed he would still invade Iraq.
Hatch says it clearly: censuring is too good for them. Go to AfterDowningStreet.Org and explore the docments and evidence offered. Go to InformationClearinghouse.info and peruse the key articles. It is a slam dunk.
As George Washington said all those years ago:
Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
That is where we come in. Enlightening our community to the facts. Republican, Democrat, Green or whatever political persuasion, the facts must rule for our country to retain the freedoms we still have.
Washington on "Party Politics"
Hatch and many others put party and sinecures first- note the Democrats quailing, checking poll figures rather than standing for our nation.
Here is what Washington sagely said:
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.c
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.