I am opposed to impeaching the President of the United States until concrete solid evidence turns up. The only place I can currently see that happening is around the FISA wiretappings. Impeachment is not a process to recall an inept, incompetent or unpopular President. It is a specific legal process that requires proof of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors".
I was opposed to the recall election in California for the same reasons. Democracy has a morality and that requires that an elected representative or executive has the right to complete their term unless they have committed criminal acts.
It is not enough that they are unpopular to a majority, or a minority. In the case of the recall election in California it was a minority that objected and collected enough signature to recall Grey Davis.
Republicanism requires that the minority accept the majority's will, however they do so secure in their rights as individuals. This does not mean a minority get to gazump an election or an elected position through the collection of 50,000 signatures.
The call for using impeachment as an electoral recall device to take back a 2004 decision is a similar situation. It is more complex with the Bush Administration as the current President has approval ratings that are 1% above Richard Nixon before he resigned.
But this does not detract from the morality inherent in democracy that demands the President complete his term unless discovered to have performed criminal actions. The time to remove the Bush Administration was in 2004 when there was a general election.
While I consider the Bush Administration repugnant, incompetent, inept, dishonest and incapable of good governance; I do not want them impeached unless there is good evidence they committed crimes and misdemeanors. I don't doubt that there has been criminal activity going on, but it can't be a gut feel, it must be proven.
Some of the claims to start impeachment proceedings include that the Administration lied to take American to war. This does not fly as two Senators from the Intelligence Committee voted against the war powers. All it would have taken is for them, despite being gagged on what they had seen, to say, "This is bogus. The intelligence being presented is a lie."
There were many warnings that the Administration was leading with falsehoods. The Knight-Ridder newspapers were exposing it. There were leaks and op-eds on the dishonest nature of the intelligence. There was also the representatives in Congress themselves, who rather than face down a popular President with ratings in the 90% mark, chose to vote for the war. The failure was Congress' as much as the Administration's.
France is one of the few countries that maintains independent intelligence assets that can rival the United States. Most other countries such as Australia, Britain and Germany are dependent on US intelligence.
France was opposed to the war and publicly said that the intelligence the US was presenting was wrong. It was assumed in the US that France was conducting Gaullist foreign policy and trying to counter US hegemony. They were then slurred with the 'freedom fries' and the pouring of French wine down gutters.
France was right. The information, or truth, was out there.
The outing of a CIA agent is another issue. Because of Scooter Libby taking the brunt of that, unless double jepaordy is changed, we will not know if Plame was outed by Cheney. There is also the grey area that the Vice President can declassify intelligence. I doubt it.
There is probably statues or executive orders that force some kind of process to it, but given the US Republican Party Congress of the time and the manner in which President Bush uses executive orders, I am sure that would be quickly changed.
Another issue is torture. This is a good example where the Bush Administration have used the grey areas of convention and precedent to keep the whole process outside of judicial scrutiny. They also used a compliant Congress to pass a bill that allowed the executive to use torturous methods in the McCain bill.
The argument is that this contradicts the UN treaty on it and as such is breaking international law. In the US legal system treaties and statues have equal authority and more recent legislation can over-ride a treaty. Consequently the McCain bill became the authority on torture.
Again this is failure of Congress to act as a check and balance on the Executive. This is a classic symptom of state of exception governance where the legislative gives the executive new opportunities to act arbitrarily and outside of the juridical order.
A common claim is the dereliction of duty when the 911 attacks happened. The image of Bush stupefied in a school classroom with a child's book in his hand for five minutes before he decided to do anything is instructive. But incompetence is not a valid reason for impeachment. It must be criminal.
I am fully in favour of an energetic legislative shaking the executive tree constantly. I also think it is important that the current Congress continue to subpeona and introduce contempt charges when the executive does not comply. It is important that a weak and unpopular executive face a strong legislative with public will behind it to create new precedents should a future George try to push the boundaries of executive authority.
I am fully comfortable with the legislative investigating FISA and any other action by the executive where there is the slightest sniff of criminal behaviour. Once there is proof, then impeachment should begin.
Until then I will be happy with an energetic legislative doing what they should have done four years ago and act as a check and balance on the executive.
From the article:
"We're not the mean waterboarding company that people think we are," said George Brunt, general counsel for the firm, which sells a combination of online and personalized instruction - packaged as "coaching" and running $3,000 to $15,000 - to customers who are solicited by telephone.
"I don't know if this would even be an issue if it weren't for Guantanamo Bay," Brunt said.
"How many times did the CIA even do waterboarding? Three times?" added Dave Ellis, the company president.
"But look at the damage it did to America's reputation," Brunt pointed out. "And it's going to hurt our image."
Sounds like the horse has bolted.
Via the politico McClennan writes
Decrying the Bush administration's "excessive embrace of the permanent campaign approach to governance," McClellan recommends that future presidents appoint a "deputy chief of staff for governing"
What a ridiculous statement. How about the President do the job he was elected for and govern. The major failing of the Bush presidency has been an inability to govern competently. This is the President's job, not an ombudsman's or a deputy chief of staff for the perpetuation of good governance
. Bush has failed as a president because of a lack of good governance.
Democratically elected representatives need to stop using politics and democracy as an excuse and just govern competently as they were elected to do.
Then again the Bush Administration is known for its lack of policy and consequent inability to govern. It is not surprising.
In the Boumediene vs Bush case [pdf]
the US executive argued that the constitution was not a blanket document which inhibited the executive's operation. The constitution, it as argued, was limited in application by territoriality and citizenship.
The prisoners were placed in Guantanamo Bay, which is Cuban territory, in order to place the executive's action in a grey area of constitutionality. The one American citizen that was caught in Afghanistan was quickly given a civil trial; leaving non-citizens in Guantanamo. The Bush Administration argued that the constitution did not apply as it was non-American territory and non-citizens; consequently those detained had no political rights and the were no prohibitions on executive action.
To constitutional liberalism and republicanism this is a repugnant argument as it is the enunciation of a state of exception within a constitutional system. The US Supreme Court found that the Bush Administration's argument was repugnant to common law, past court decisions and existing constitutional practice.
The Government's sovereignty-based test raises troubling separation-of-powers concerns, which are illustrated by Guantanamo's political history. Although the United States has maintained complete and uninterrupted control of Guantanamo for over 100 years, the Government's view is that the Constitution has no effect there, at least as to noncitizens, because the United States disclaimed formal sovereignty in its 1903 lease with Cuba.
The Nation's basic charter cannot be contracted away like this.
The Constitution grants Congress and the President the power to acquire, dispose of, and govern territory, not the power to decide when and where its terms apply. To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say "what the law is."
The US Supreme Court's ruling places the constitution as a restriction on any government action and that constitution is not bounded in its application by either territory or citizenship.
With the Bush Administration coming to a close what are we to make of foreign policy during that period? It is commonly supposed that a cabal of neo-conservatives hijacked the normal state policy apparatus and enforced radical policies on America. Certainly PNAC and neo-conservatism were discovered after the rush to invade Iraq was pushed through the mass media. But both those groups based their policy around American global hegemony and the maintenance of the hegemon. That is not really that radical, it is how super-powers have acted since the beginning of time.
White House from photogeneric's photostream.
Probably the best idea we have of neo-conservative foreign policy is from an article by Irving Kristol
. Where he almost bmusedly discusses the neo-conservative approach to foreign policy. Again, it is not really that radical. It is based upon national patriotism, distaste for world government (UN etc), the friend-enemy distinction in international relations and finally that American interests are global, not national;
Finally, for a great power, the "national interest" is not a geographical term, except for fairly prosaic matters like trade and environmental regulation. A smaller nation might appropriately feel that its national interest begins and ends at its borders, so that its foreign policy is almost always in a defensive mode.
A larger nation has more extensive interests. And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns.
This can be construed as an idealogical justification for the defence of democratic Israel from the monarchies, oligarchies and dictatorships of the Middle East. In conjunction with the friend-enemy distinction it can possibly be seen to aim at Saddam Hussein as well.
But what of American interests being global? Neo-conservatism, like conservatives from the 19thC see the collapse of the nation that ensures the freedom of the seas - formerly Britain, now America - as an essential role in the global order .
Consequently the maintenance of American hegemony becomes an altruistic and necessary policy. Currently the US maintains it position at the top of the international pile through its industry and culture which are massive consumers of finite energy resources. In addition, a one party state in China is now challenging the US for these resources.
The Carter Doctrine has been around since the 1970s and states that the US will go to war to ensure the security of its energy supplies. This is not a new thing and it is possible many decades of US policy makers have become used to the idea of some kind of US military intervention in the Middle East would happen.
After the attacks on New York on September 11th a US national security document included the doctrine of pre-emption
, which can be called the Bush Doctrine. This enabled the US to strike another country based on the assumption of terror threats:
We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by: ... defending the United States, the American people, and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders.While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country;
By 2002 there were the doctrines in place to strike into the heart of the Middle East with US military power. The political sell of it was a different matter. The Bush Administration went quickly from freedom and democracy, to nuclear weapons, to mushroom clouds, and so forth. In the end they settled on the Schmittian policy of vilifying their political opponents.
So how radical was the Bush foreign policy? The main incident the Bush Administration will be remembered for will be the invasion of Iraq. Here the cassus belli was tenuous at best and an outright fabrication at worst. The complete schmozzle of policies after the invasion immediately discredited what good will remained for America.
Where did the policy for the invasion of Iraq come from? The Bush Doctrine allows for the pre-emptive strike against nations based on terror threats, but Iraq did not satisfy this. Neo-conservative foriegn policy allows for the friend-enemy distinction which Hussein obviously fell on the wrong side of. But not enough to invade a country and place American military power at risk.
Bush often talks in speeches of freedom and democracy and how America is bringing it to Iraq. There was also the hope that it could shake up the region and democracy could flower across the Middle East. The opposite has happened with Iran becoming more powerful for having an American neighbour in Iraq. The freedom and democracy reason is weak as it was one of the constantly shifting political sells during the run up to the war. I don't doubt Bush and others hope for it, but it is not enough to justify an invasion policy and its consequent cost.
The only other alternative was that it was strategic in an attempt to secure American energy supply with the establishment of a geographical stake in the Middle East along with a political, economic and militaristic one. In this area the Bush Administration was not radical as it followed on from a doctrine that dated back to the 1970s. It can also be construed that this process was to ensure American pre-eminence economically and in global affairs.
Naked Capitalism cynically argues
that to maintain the pretense of the United States being free market a bank must be allowed to fail - and soon. This will offset the lending window the Federal Reserve established and the using of approximately five trillion of US taxpayer money to capitalise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since they were on the brink of insolvency.
After Freddie and Fannie, Paulson cannot be perceived to be rescuing another firm, particularly a private company that plays no special role (as far as most people are concerned) in things they care about, like housing. Unlike Bear, Lehman is not a big credit default swaps protection writer. That was the exposure that led the powers that be to worry about a systemic failure. Even though Bear and Lehman are similar in size, their business mix differs in ways that makes Lehman dispensable. In fact, Paulson almost needs to let a financial player fail to prove that he is not a toady of the industry.
So Lehman is the most likely candidate for being allowed to fail. The free marketers in the media and administration can point to Lehman and say, "See, the market works, banks can and do fail. We don't bail them out." Except of course when they do. I suspect Yves Smith will be correct about the politics surrounding the free market pretense.
So incompetent it is scary, the US fed has allowed banks to fund their liabilities in subsidiaries with depositors funds
. From naked capitalism:
"Note that many banking experts, post the S&L; crisis and now, recommend the reverse, "narrow banking", which requires banks to invest depositors' funds only in the very safest assets. This is the exact opposite of the sort of regulatory measures needed to improve the health of the banking system. Expediency trumps soundness.
What a horribly useless Administration and Federal Reserve. If this mess wasn't picked up during Greenspan's early tenure and the Clinton Administration, then it should have when the Bush Administration came into office. The political and fiscal incompetence is seeping into criminal - especially when it is other people's money such as taxpayers and depositors.
I am really having trouble understanding this. At the height of the subprime lending I did not use that form of mortgage. I payed the 20% down and then took a fixed rate mortgage. I am fiscally wary most of the time and the subprime mortgages seemed to good to be true. Turns out that was true, not for lenders, but for investors in those securities.
I can understand the wish to create a financial product that will enable those that cannot get into a fixed rate loan to have access to a higher risk mortgage; but that does not allow for the fraud that went on around it. Nor does it get policy makers off the hook for allowing dodgy financial practices to occur at these shadow lending institutions and banks such as Bears-Stearn and Lehman.
Most of the policy makers and overseers move back and forth between Wall Street and Federal Government. It should not have been a surprise for these bankers to see. We could argue conspiracy, self-interest, etc but the Federal Reserve is a permanent institution that should have institutional memory and public interest.
The avoidance of this issue must have been a deliberate policy choice. Given the use of public money to bail out the collapsing US financial sector it was a bad policy.
The idea of specialism takes into account that there will be information asymmetry. The specialist will be able to understand more in their field than a generalist, plus the specialist will be able to make sense of more information relating to that speciality that a generalist may miss, or not understand.
That is all fine but it breaks down in democratic politics as the generalists get a say - even if indirectly - and since the majority determines who is in government, not to mention what constitutes social stability, specialism needs to walk a fine line in explaining actions to the general population. So when you see legislation that contains language like this
Sec. 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency
It is not good. Not only is it a blank check, and not only does it make no attempt to explain the treasuries actions or put it under scrutiny, it is also classic state of exception stuff; where the legislative aids the executive in subverting the doctrine of judicial review. This means law becomes politics and the judicial has to fight to maintain its relevancy. It is not good.
We are seeing subsidy after subsidy of taxpayer money being thrown to the financial sector in what is a trillion dollar wealth transfer from the American public to those that have poor business acumen. This is the worst of all worlds. The failed businesses are being propped up, the US government is buying junk at market price without equity
and when everyone knows it is worth pennies ... what a failure of government.
It is like New Orleans and Katrina all over again; just this time in the financial sector and not the emergency response arm of the Administration.
We are seeing arguments that it is the end of neo-liberalism, but really it should be an argument for the end of bad governance. Apparently there were regulatory mechanisms in place
to stop the over the top leveraging of the firms like Lehmann Brothers, but that was foregone - due to bad governance.
Cunning Realist writes
: "While the economic cost will be huge, the real damage from all this will be psychological. Bailouts are now an indelible part of our [American] national identity."
Central to this has been the loss in confidence in government.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;