Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Righteous talk

Kucinich. I've often thought this guy would make an excellent president, if only he didn't look so unelectable.

Oh I'm not saying that I wouldn't vote for him. He's righteous on the real issues. But I'm not a very good example of the general populace.

I spend my time actually reading - about the issues - and almost never watch the television pundits who crown the 'acceptable' candidates for popular consumption. I've never watched 'Survivor,' 'American Idol,' or even 'Seinfeld.' Its true! And I never, ever, for any reason - other than my daily baseball fix - ever watch Fox.

The idea of 'Fox' and 'news' in the same sentence makes me giggle. I'd sooner get my news from the cartoon channel; I believe I'd have a statistically better chance of finding accurate news on the cartoon channel. Besides... would Bugs Bunny ever lie to me? I think not.

So admittedly, I'm not the best person to ask. But I've heard it said that 'Dennis Kucinich cannot get elected' - because he doesn't look presidential.

I am still waiting for a good definition of the truly 'presidential look.' I'm guessing that John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton had it - whatever 'it' is.

I also hear that - ultimately - Giuliani will be on the ropes because he's often been seen wearing dresses (but then, so has Hillary, so perhaps this is OK.) I have seen it written that Chuck Hagel 'doesn't have a happy face.'

Apparently, and despite much better reasons for questioning his merit (such as waffling,) McCain is now 'too old.' Meanwhile, Obama-the-rock-star may look too young - but hey, in this business, that rock star aura can only help. I'm sure its driving Hillary buggy, if nothing else.

Oh yes, and then there is Hillary. Hillary has Bill (the keeper of the 'presidential look,') the name Clinton... and has raised more money than the Vatican. I doubt anyone in the media is going to question her right to non-stop, continual coverage, in spite of her waffling on major issues, a lack of any honest platform, charisma, charm or plan to end the war.

I suspect the best way to gauge the 'presidential look' mystique is to track which candidates get national media coverage - and which do not. If your candidate isn't drawing any national coverage at all, take a closer look. He or she may not look the part.

And so again, I have returned to that same, odd thought: if Dennis Kucinich is unelectable... imagine how unelectable Abraham Lincoln would be today. Are you kidding? Take a good, hard look at a photo of Abe Lincoln and tell me - would this man last 10 minutes on a television screen?

Even in his own time, the cartoonists had a field day. Lincoln once said: "If I were two faced, would I be wearing this one?" Touche. What Lincoln brought to the people of his time were ideas. Issues.

If we can't somehow find our way back to 'issue platforms' in our time, we're doomed to suffer through an endless stream of stylish, designer, and morally bankrupt politicians in our White House. We need leadership, not hairstyles. If you ever doubt my words, notice how often the television pundits comment on the fact that 'Gore is now too overweight to run for president.'

Yes, the same old 'we've completely missed the boat' media has struck again. Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000; retired from politics and taught college (rather than become a lobbyist or 'cash in' with business ventures;) spent years traveling around the world with a modest slide show, preaching the approaching peril of climate change; helped to turn that slide show message into a world-changing documentary, won an Oscar - and was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize. Talk about spending your time on something that really matters, instead of 'politics as usual.' The media - as always - remains unimpressed. You gotta wonder what the guy has gotta do to earn a little respect from these clowns. Then again, respect from snakes...? Perhaps a waste of time (no disrespect to snakes intended.)

Yes - its sad to say, that in the end, the only thing our corporate media pundits had to say... was that Al Gore, the man, is overweight.

And we wonder why we don't have a viable health care system, why we're mired in an illegal war, are losing Constitutional rights by the day, are hated globally and our jobs are going overseas...

We like our presidents to look like movie stars (which begs the question: how George W. Bush.... oh never mind.)

Truly, both parties are stuffed to the rafters with chiseled, blow-dried politicians -while real leaders are few and far between. That said, there are still a few courageous leaders in Washington (they can be found in both parties.) But they may not look the part.

Then again, neither did that unusually tall, thin man with the high, reedy voice and the stovepipe hat.

Kucinich may not look like Clint Eastwood in 'Pale Rider,' or John Wayne riding in on a white horse - but his words ring of truth. He isn't afraid to tell it like it is. He apparently not only sees, but seems willing to actually address the rampaging elephant in the middle of the room.

"Hey guys... I hate to bring this up... but do you see that elephant over there, snacking on the Bill of Rights? Um... do you think we should maybe do something about that?"

Kucinich may not seem the most likely of lawmakers to finally broach the 'I word' on the House floor... but thank heavens he did. I hope he managed to slip around Pelosi and set it 'on the table' before he sat himself back down.

Words that shook the House:

"This House cannot avoid its Constitutionally authorized responsibility to restrain the abuse of Executive power.

"The Administration has been preparing for an aggressive war against Iran. There is no solid, direct evidence that Iran has the intention of attacking the United States or its allies.

"The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, a constituent treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the UN Charter states, "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. . ." Even the threat of a war of aggression is illegal.

"Article VI of the US Constitution makes such treaties the Supreme Law of the Land. This Administration, has openly threatened aggression against Iran in violation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter.

"This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran.

"Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran."

Thanks Dennis. We'd have done this ourselves, but frankly, we're not allowed to talk in the House anymore (we can't even send a retired, highly decorated colonial in there without watching her leave in handcuffs.) We needed someone - like you - to finally stand up and speak our minds.

Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 by The Nation
Kucinich: “I'm Talking About Impeachment”
by John Nichols

Nancy Pelosi's attempt to keep impeachment off the table has already been upset outside the District of Columbia, as grassroots campaigns in states across the country have begun raising the prospect of Constitutionally sanctioning President Bush, Vice President Cheney and members of their administration. More than three dozen Vermont town meetings endorsed impeachment resolutions in early March, and legislators in Vermont, Washington state and New Mexico have mustered efforts to dispatch articles of impeachment from state Capitols to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Now, Pelosi's moves to silence this discussion in the Congress are being upset by a fellow Democrat, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Last week, after meeting with pro-impeachment activists, Kucinich delivered a speech on the House floor in which he said:

This House cannot avoid its Constitutionally authorized responsibility to restrain the abuse of Executive power.

The Administration has been preparing for an aggressive war against Iran. There is no solid, direct evidence that Iran has the intention of attacking the United States or its allies.

The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, a constituent treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the UN Charter states, "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. . ." Even the threat of a war of aggression is illegal.

Article VI of the US Constitution makes such treaties the Supreme Law of the Land. This Administration, has openly threatened aggression against Iran in violation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter.

This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran.

Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.

Now, Kucinich, a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nod, has begun contacting supporters to ask if he should embrace impeachment as a candidate and an active member of Congress.

"For four years I have been working to end this war, including leading the effort to cut off continued funding for the war. There is enough money to bring our troops home and we should do that. But the Bush administration, with the help of some in Congress, wants to pour more money into this war. Worse than that, the Bush administration now is signaling its intention to wage war with Iran. We cannot allow that to happen," writes Kucinich.

"So I'm asking you: Do you think it's time?" he adds. "I'm talking about time for impeachment."

Noting that "we are now have a condition in this country where we are told to take impeachment off the table, and keep on the table a U.S. military attack against Iran," Kucinich concludes: "This situation calls for us to reconsider very deeply the moment that we're in –- where our Constitution is being trashed, where international law is being violated, where our hopes and dreams for the education of our children, for the health of our people, for housing, for our veterans, are being set aside as we go deeper and deeper into war."

Kucinich's analysis is right. Impeachment is an appropriate tool, not only for sanctioning Bush for past wrongs, but also as a threat to prevent the president from engaging in new wrongs.

There will be those who suggest that, as a long-shot presidential contender, the former mayor of Cleveland and veteran peace activist is the wrong messenger. But the initial champions of impeachment are often political outsiders: like the abolitionist Whigs – including a young Abraham Lincoln and an old John Quincy Adams -- who sought to sanction pro-slavery Presidents John Tyler and James K. Polk in the 1840s.

"Radical" foes of the Vietnam War, such as New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug and Father Robert Drinan, a congressman from Massachusetts, were among the first to call for impeaching Richard Nixon. They were eventually joined by a Republican, California Congressman Pete McCloskey, who had mounted an quixotic anti-war primary challenge to Nixon in 1972.

The first members of Congress who dare raise the subject of impeaching any errant executive are invariably dismissed as premature and intemperate. But history tends to view them kindly, just as it tends to view poorly the subjects of their proposed sanctions.

The bottom line is that Kucinich is right when he says: "This House cannot avoid its Constitutionally authorized responsibility to restrain the abuse of Executive power." The congressman deserves credit for recognizing that "impeachment may well be the only remedy" for the Constitutional crisis Bush has created, and for the crises he now schemes to create. And if his fellow anti-war Democrats in Congress are honest with themselves, they will recognize that it is time for the House to start talking about impeachment.

John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

© 2007 The Nation

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