February 19, 2012
Impeach Them All
I was watching a show about the first pharaoh to unite Upper and Lower Egypt. At the end of the show it mentioned how when the pharaoh died...........the entire country mourned.
The thought occurred to me that there hasn't been a President of the United States of America in my lifetime whose death I'd mourn................or that I have mourned.
I remember when it was announced in school that Ronald Reagan had been shot. Someone came to our classroom and told us. The other people in the class were shocked, upset, saddened............I was puzzled. Puzzled because all the kids around me seemed so upset. Reagan had barely been president. 69 days. It's not like he'd done anything important or made an impact on the lives of any of those kids. (This was Mississippi, not California. He hadn't been our governor.) So unless someone in the room was a big fan of Reagan's Bonzo the chimp movies, I didn't see any reason to get upset. From me, respect is earned, an emotional connection is earned. Reagan hadn't done either. No one's going to get it simply by virtue of an office held. It's what's done in office that counts. As far as Reagan's fate, I was indifferent. No, not indifferent. I was thinking if he'd died Bush would become president and during the Republican primary I had favored George Bush, not Reagan.
I didn't like Reagan to begin with and before his term ended I thought he should have been impeached.
I didn't agree with Reagan's policy of waging undeclared war. I grew up with the legacy of Pearl Harbor --- my uncle even witnessed the bombing. And if there's one lesson I learned from Pearl Harbor it's that invading other countries without declaring war first is a sneak attack and it's wrong. And Congress never declared war on Grenada. Now if we had declared war on Grenada and then invaded.........fair enough. (Despite the saying, all's not fair in love and war. There are laws for behavior in both.) As we had never declared war, I was one of the few people in this country who agreed with the United Nations when it adopted General Assembly Resolution 38/7 by a vote of 108 to 9 which said it "deeply deplores the armed intervention in Grenada, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of that State."
However, what I thought Reagan should have been impeached over was the Iran-Contra Affair.
But, it's not just Reagan.
I've thought that every President from Reagan on should have been impeached, convicted and tossed out of office. Then they should have been tried in the criminal court system, convicted and gone to prison. I'd have had every President in the last 30 years end his term sitting in a federal penitentiary. And I think the country would have been the better for it. If we sent a few Presidents to prison, maybe some later ones would be a little more careful in what they do if they knew they might actually have to suffer legal consequences for their actions.
Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush ---- Iran Contra
The Reagan administration sells arms to Iran (violating an embargo) to try to free American hostages held by terrorists. Fifteen hundred missiles were shipped to Iran; three hostages were released and (knowing a cash cow when they've got one by the teats) three more hostages were captured to take their place. Even Secretary of State George Schultz called it "a hostage bazaar." Reagan went on TV and lied about the whole thing, but was forced to retract the statement a week later but continued to say it had not been an arms-for-hostage deal to the belief of a whopping 14% of the U.S. population. Almost half of the money the U.S. got for the arms (12 out of 30 million) went to fund the Contras in Nicaragua in direct violation of the Boland Amendment which specifically limited U.S. government assistance to the Contras.
Reagan claimed to know nothing. The Secretary of State may have been named Schultz, but Reagan proved he was the Sergeant Schultz of the White House, "I hear nothing. I see nothing. I know nothing!" Reagan said he still took full responsibility even if he didn't know anything about anything. Reagan had a funny way of taking responsibility............
Reagan's Secretary of Defense was indicted (but pardoned before trial by Bush when he was president). Reagan's National Security Advisor and Assistant Secretary of State plus assorted members of the CIA were convicted but were all also pardoned by Bush. The head of the CIA was taken seriously ill and died before he could testify, probably the only reason he wasn't convicted and then pardoned by Bush.
Clearly when Reagan said "full responsibility," he didn't mean legal responsibility. He and Bush skated on the whole thing. (Yes, I realize that Bush was vice-president at the time of Iran-Contra. Whether he was impeached for it as vice-president or when he was president is irrelevant to me. I just think he should have been impeached.)
There's no way in hell I believe that happened without the knowledge of president and vice-president. Reagan lied to us, had to backtrack on one lie when he was incontrovertibly caught in it (this is Washington, D.C. ---- you're only guilty of something if you're caught doing it and it becomes public) and kept on lying through his smiles about everything else.
I hate being lied to, especially by someone who thinks I'm too stupid to figure out I'm being lied to. In fact, I think that a president lying to the American people on a matter of this importance qualifies as a "high crimes and misdemeanors" in and of itself and is an impeachable offense.
In school I'd had moments in history class when I lost faith in the US government ----- when I'd learn the government had done things that were clearly against the Constitution. But it was during Reagan's administration that I began my long process of decline in trusting the current U.S. government. (Note: I was too young for Watergate or Ford's pardon of Nixon to have made an impact.)
Bill Clinton ---- Perjury
The one president on this list that actually was impeached though, regrettably, he wasn't convicted. The only legal consequences Clinton suffered from his perjury were a $90,000 fine and having his Arkansas law license suspended for five years which also caused him to be automatically suspended from the US Supreme Court bar.
How the Whitewater investigation of the Clintons' Arkansas land dealings became an investigation into a president's sex life with a White House intern is a path so winding I get dizzy just thinking about it. I've often wondered if Ken Starr ever felt like a perverted Peeping Tom or if he was too busy being gleeful that he "got" the president to experience any distaste for his prurience as he learned where Clinton liked to put his cigars. I have had this argument with a number of people. No, I don't believe the questions should have been asked. Having been asked under oath, Clinton, president or not, had a legal obligation to answer them honestly........the same as the rest of us. Presidents are supposed be presidents under the law, not above the law.
That Clinton did not answer the questions honestly, that he perjured himself and obstructed justice means not only do I not have a problem that he was impeached, I regret he wasn't convicted by the Senate, tossed out of office, tried in court and sent to prison. I think having an ex-president of the United States serving a five year sentence in a federal penitentiary for perjury would have let everyone in this country know that we take perjury seriously and not even the most powerful can get away with it.
George W. Bush ---- Iraq War
After the attack on 9-11, President George W. Bush wanted to invade.........Iraq. Since he had no justification, it took him a while to get his wish. But he finally did invade Iraq in 2003 at the cost of thousands of American lives (more American lives than were killed in 9-11) and at least one hundred thousand Iraqi lives with one estimate higher than one million Iraqi dead.
This targeting of Iraq was an act so bizarre I said to people that we were never going to find out the real reason for the Iraq invasion until W got on some psychiatrist's couch and worked out his daddy issues. And I said it at a time when the invasion enjoyed wide popular and political support. I was saying it back during W's propaganda lead-up to the war which built that widespread support.
The claim that W's administration made was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the administration attempted to link Hussein's Iraq to Al Qaeda and 9-11. Afterward, what enjoyed widespread support was the use of the term "cherry-picking" to describe how W's administration misled the American public and the US's allies as both claims proved to be false. So which one of us was right........the rest of the country or me? Who's your daddy now?
Barack Obama ---- Murder of an American citizen
On September 30, 2011, Barack Obama's administration deliberately targeted and killed an American citizen without trial and without due process in direct violation of the Constitution the president swore to uphold.
This was decided in a secret proceeding and documented in a secret memo. To quote the New York Times, "The document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis."
Basically we have a president in Obama who feels he only has to follow the Constitution when he wants to follow the Constitution. When he really, really doesn't want to follow the Constitution, he doesn't have to. He'll just paint some thin legal abracadabra over it. (Much like Bush and Cheney acting like waterboarding and those other interrogation "techniques" weren't cruel and unusual punishment ---- which I will believe they believe on the day they volunteer themselves and their families to undergo those same techniques.)
Anwar al-Awlaki was accused of a lot. Accusations aren't proof. Our system of justice is based on proof and conviction (the kind in a court of law, not the kind you feel deep in your heart or soul or mind). Al-Awlaki may have been guilty. I'll even make a leap and say he probably was guilty. So go grab him and put him on trial. The government clearly knew where he was at. (And, no, it wouldn't have been easy. To quote Cheney..........."So.")
Instead what he got was murdered, and what we got was the government basically saying, "Trust us. He was a bad guy." That doesn't cut any ice with me. I don't trust the U.S. government. Trust has to be earned. And the U.S. government has done the opposite of earn my trust. To quote a childhood favorite, Encyclopedia Brown, I trust the U.S. government "as far as I can throw a cheesecake underwater." The only thing I trust about the U.S. government is I trust that We, the People need to keep a very close eye on it and get much better control over it. (Here in America, there's only one "institution" I trust even less than the U.S. government and that's the institution of "big business.")
And part of keeping an eye on the government and getting better control over the government would be to have impeached, convicted, tried and imprisoned each of those presidents.
When that long ago Egyptian pharaoh died, maybe the entire country did mourn. Or maybe there were some people who weren't in mourning. I don't know. I do know that when the next former President of the United States dies, there will be people in this country who won't be sad when he dies. No matter what hyperbole the news media will say about a nation in mourning, there will be some in this country who will treat the death with anything from contempt to rejoicing. National mourning stopped when we stopped having national leaders, stopped having a national consciousness, and started having partisan ideologues in office and on the streets.
July 19, 2012 Addendum
I was looking at my web traffic monitoring log and saw this interesting visiting from the Executive Office of The President. Yes, that President's office. I wonder what Bing search led them to this piece and what that person thought of it.
For more of my political views read "4 Proposed Amendments to the US Constitution," "Why "Birthers" Are Idiots," "Anchor Babies Away!" or "Social Insecurity." Though this site has a lot more non-political pieces than political ones. Please take a moment to check-out the Archive.