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January 5, 2006

Screw Impeachment!!!

-- by Thomas Leavitt

We've got more important things to deal with - Bush is a figurehead... we're barking up the wrong tree by focusing our energy on him and impeachment, which would be nothing more than a symbolic beheading of the beast, and ultimately change nothing. Bush is not the problem, and centering attention on him distracts from the very real Constitutional crisis his presidency, and our Congress, have engendered via the war on (some) terror.

What is vastly more important, is to reverse the "use of force" authorization that Bush contends gives him (and just as importantly, when you're talking about impeachment, anyone who replaces him) carte blanche to ignore the Constitution's built in checks and balances, and declare non-operative any and all laws he finds inconvenient, as evidenced by today's headline in the Boston Globe (sourced via truthout.org): Bush Could Bypass New Torture Ban - the cynicism of his actions in this matter is appalling beyond measure, and should outrage Americans of all political persuasions, if it could only be brought to their notice.

The "use of force" authorization is the most Constitutionally dangerous cop-out that our Congress has ever passed. By permitting the President to act as if we "at war", without defining who the enemy is, what the terms of "victory" are, or putting any sunset date on the authorization for the use of force, Congress has basically put the nation on a permanent "wartime" footing (as far as I can tell, it will take exactly what I am advocating, an explicit repudiation by Congress, to end it), and decisively shifted the balance of power in our system of government in favor of the executive. Reversing this open-end and Constitutionally dangerous measure, and putting explicit constraints and defined limits on Presidential authority in its place (along with sunset provisions), is the single most pressing public policy initiative we face -- and it is one that should unite sane people of all political persuasions: right, left, center, libertarian, green, liberal and conservative.

... and yet, you hear almost nothing about action on this front, not from the pundits, not from the politicians, not from the blogosphere. Any complaints you hear from mainstream political circles regarding Bush's behavior in office pertain to "abuse" of the power granted him, rather than any fundamental questioning of the nature of the beast. In March of 2002, Michelle J. Kinnucan wrote an article entitled: Rethinking the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force' in which she quotes reservations about the open-ended nature of the resolution by several "reluctant" endorsees.

Where is the rising chorus of concern about the resolution itself? Bush's sole legal authority for his ever more clearly imperial presidency lies in his status as a commander-in-chief during wartime, and the "use of force" authorization. Eliminate that, and Bush's actions become vastly more legally tenuous, possibly to the point where even today's apparently somnolent judiciary might begin to take alarm.

If you're not outraged, then you're not paying attention, and if you don't think reversing the "use of force" authorization is more important than impeaching a puppet President who is nothing more than a proxy for the neo-conservative conspiracy to undermine the Constitution and put in place an imperial Presidency free of Constitutional, legislative, or judicial constraint, then you're REALLY not paying attention.

If anyone out there is listening, if anyone has influence with the 'net and the political sphere's movers and shakers, please do everything in your power to get them to take on this issue and move this meme into the national dialogue.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at January 5, 2006 12:03 AM

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Comments

Amazing that Tom Engelhardt says everything I do, but fails to raise the question of whether we should reverse the authorization for use of force resolution. If it provokes a true Constitutional crises, by stripping the imperial presidency of even the fig leaf of legal authorization, then so be it. Our system of democracy is at stake - the next stage in it's evolution is likely to bear more than a passing semblance to Russia under Putin (whose powers I'm sure make Bush and the neo-cons green with envy).

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at January 5, 2006 12:27 AM

F.....g brilliant analysis, Thomas, even if I say so myself (you can fill in the dots)! Another piece I read recently focused on the fact that the Watergate scandal was really a part of the political elite pushing back against Nixon. One wonders when the same elite is going to start pushing back against GW Bush and his cronies ..

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at January 5, 2006 2:00 PM

They'll push back, when they see a fundamental threat to their interests; that will happen just about the time the average American gets fed up and starts threatening to do something really wild (like vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican... you'll notice that after Perot pulled 19%, the budget got balanced).

You're starting to see the beginnings of this, but the push back is still personalized - that's the key here, to shift this from a discussion of George Bush, the Man, to George Bush, the President - and whether other Presidents should have the same power.

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at January 5, 2006 3:40 PM

This analysis goes deeper than anything else. Congress must end - in a formal resolution - the declaration of war against terrorism (which country is this in the first place? the rest of the world?) to reduce the president's powers and cool his sick megalomaniac ideas. But this can only be the first step. The US president has powers that no other head of state or government in the world enjoys anyway. What is be needed, not only in the interests of the US, but also for the safety and survival of the world, is a new concept of US presidency which is more balanced forcing the president to cooperate with parliament, his country, and foreign countries. This could only be done by a unanimous change in the US constitution which prevents the possibility of just another God-chosen megalomaniac robbing and abusing power again.

Posted by: Michael at January 7, 2006 10:31 AM

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