Old Business: War on Islam
Old Business: War on Islam
The news tells me that Osama bin Laden has another recording out. In this one, he makes use of the politically potent slogan, “War on Islam.”
He must be right. There must be a War on Islam going on in this country. After all, almost nobody mentions Allah in the public square. We do not have children pledge allegiance to Allah, nor do we require readings from the Quoran in our schools. We even allow schools to serve lunch during Ramadan, when people of faith should be fasting during daylight hours. We are not posting the 5 pillars of Islam on our public buildings and in our public schools. Plus, every once in a while, our citizens say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” – either option being an attack on Islam.
According to some very popular arguments that I am familiar with, these things all indicate that we are, indeed, engaged in a War on Islam.
The only other interpretation that we could possibly draw is that the things that I mention in that paragraph above are not, in fact, indicative of a war on anything.
Old Business: Windfall Profits Tax
Democrats are pushing for a windfall profits tax against oil companies because of the money they are making from high-priced oil.
Now, imagine that you are a citizen in a village when a famine hits. The price of food goes through the roof, because there is not enough food to go around. As a result of this famine and the resulting high price, the Mayor comes up with a plan to force hunters, gatherers, and farmers to pay a special tax.
The high price – and high profits – are nature’s way of telling the people to go out and get some more of whatever is in short supply. The plan to tax hunters, gatherers, and farmers is a plan to penalize those very people who are in the best position to get the community through the shortage. Famine is a poor time to be punishing those who are working to find additional food.
New Business: Impeachment Resolution
There is a rule in the House of Representatives that states that a state legislature can call for the impeachment of a President by submitting a resolution to that effect.
Resolutions to that effect have been introduced in California and in Illinois http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-impeach24.html .
This blog is not concerned with political strategy. I have absolutely no interest in entering into a discussion of what would benefit or harm the Democratic Party. Nor do I have an interest in evaluating the probability of success for such a resolution, or how to increase or decrease its chances. This blog is concerned with matters of principle. As a matter of principle, there is a strong case to be made in favor of such a resolution.
Impeachment: The Main Case
The main argument in favor of impeachment is that, if this Administration is allowed to get away with all of the things it has done that are contrary to the principles of freedom and democracy, then this will establish a precedent for all future administrations.
It is commonplace for a President and his administration to look back on the actions of a past President in order to justify his actions. They look back on things like, "This is not unlike what President Lincoln did at the start of the Civil War," or "This is simply another version of the Monroe Doctrine."
The fear is that future generations, who look back on the Bush Administration, will find justification for any level of tyranny and abuse that may appeal to such a future President. He has spied on Americans without a warrant, imprisoned Americans without trial, ordered the invasion of a sovereign state under false pretenses, overseen the torture of prisoners sometimes until death, kidnapped the citizens of allied countries and hid them in secret prisons where there are no protections from courts, sometimes torturing hidden prisoners for months before determining that they must actually be innocent.
The only way to make it the case that these policies not be used by future Presidents is to make it clear that they were not tolerated from this President. If we, the people, stand in opposition to these abuses and usurpations, then we send a message to future Presidents and to future generations of citizens that, as citizens, they have certain rights and not only an opportunity, but a duty, to stand up for those rights against any who may seek to usurp them.
It is important to note that impeachment itself is not a statement that the President did something wrong. It is like an indictment by a grand jury. It is used merely to state that sufficient reason exists to formally investigate whether the President performed actions worthy of being removed from power.
The actual trial and determination of guilt or innocence would take place in the Senate.
In this context, I will not prejudice this Senate’s decision by saying that the President should be found guilty. That has the same moral quality as saying, "The defendant should be given a fair trial and then hanged." The verdict is not mine to give. It belongs to the Senate after due consideration of the available evidence.
I said that this is not a blog for discussing political strategy. However, the principles mentioned above suggest a particular strategy that would be the most fitting and proper.
There is one powerful reason to suggest that the House of Representatives impeach, and the Senate should hold its trial, before the next election. This way, if it should be discovered that there is sufficient cause to remove Bush and Cheney from office, the Presidency itself will stay in the hands of the Republican Party.
If the impeachment and trial take place after the election, we risk the possibility of the impeachment and trial being held under Democratic rule, and end by transferring power from a Republican administration to a Democratic administration. This would taint any verdict with the charge that impeachment was an act of partisan politics, not of principle.
Of course, this assumes that the Republicans in the Senate are even capable of giving the evidence a fair hearing and coming to a just conclusion. There is an excellent chance -- some may say a certainty -- that a Republican Senate could never convict a Republican President.
The Hitler Comparison
On this matter, I have a question. Assume that Hitler managed to get elected as a party's nominee for President and managed to get himself elected. Let us assume that this was done using a very-well funded and carefully orchestrated public relations campaign that made him seem like an all-around good guy. It is only after he got into power that he started to reveal his true intentions.
My question to party loyalists is, "At what point would you turn against this Hitleresque President and put principle before party?"
Let me be clear -- I am not saying that Bush is as bad as Hitler.
My argument is that a President does not have to be 'as bad as Hitler' to deserve to be removed from office -- even by members of his own party. Somewhere, there is a line, beyond which a President may not step. Hitler stepped so massively over that line that it is difficult to find a true comparison. However, this means that a President can be 'not as bad as Hitler', and still deserve to be removed from office.
This is a question about the moral character of the Republicans who now serve in the House and Senate. "Are you the type of person who would follow a Hitleresque President, as long as he called himself a Republican? Or is there a point at which you will say that he has gone too far, and call him up short?"
My guess is that most Republicans would support a Hitleresque Republican President even to the point of defending a 'final solution' that killed millions of innocent people. My guess is that most Democratic partisans would do the same thing to a Hitleresque President that called himself a Democrat. At least for those on the Republican side of the isle, this is their chance to prove that I am mistaken.