Is Impeachment an Option Now?

Today, I would like to address impeachment. It’s a word being bandied about currently, although more often by Democrats than Republicans, simply because they find it politically useful as a scare tactic, “informing” their supporters that Republicans are evil—that they are essentially racists who hate having a black president.

ImpeachAs a historian and a student of constitutionalism, I understand why impeachment was included in the Constitution. It is a safeguard against those in the executive and judicial branches who flagrantly abuse their office.

If you look at the history of impeachment as it existed in Britain and was carried over to the United States, you have to acknowledge that it is a political tool to curb abuse, and it’s not necessary for the accused to be found guilty of breaking a law. Poor character and a policy of deception that undermines faith in the government are also valid reasons for impeachment and removal from office.

It has been used selectively, primarily against federal judges. Only once has an impeachment of a Supreme Court justice been pursued—Thomas Jefferson tried, unsuccessfully, to remove Samuel Chase from the Court. However, a number of judges below the Supreme Court level have lost their positions through impeachment.

In my opinion, this tool should be used more often against federal judges who violate their oath to uphold the Constitution. Whenever a federal judge decides to declare his/her own law, such as decreeing that same-sex marriage is perfectly constitutional, that judge should be a target for impeachment.

Nixon ResignationAt the presidential level, though, it will always be difficult to impeach. We’ve tried twice and failed. Andrew Johnson squeaked by his impeachment trial by one vote; Bill Clinton remained in office only because not even one Democrat would vote for his removal, despite despicable behavior that demeaned the office of the presidency in a way seldom achieved throughout our history. Richard Nixon would have been impeached if it had come to a vote, but he resigned before that was necessary.

ImpeachableI’m a fan of impeachment in principle. However, there are political realities. We always have to decide if an attempt to remove a president is feasible, or if it will do more harm than good if unsuccessful. No one should question my fidelity to the Constitution or to the value of impeachment. For evidence, I offer my book on the Clinton impeachment. There are times it must be attempted, and I continue to honor those who made that attempt in 1999.

Which brings me to the moment at hand. I’ve heard a number of conservatives, who are justifiably angry over the abundance of unconstitutional actions by President Obama, call for impeachment. They are correct in principle: he, far more than any previous president, has violated his constitutional oath. His goal of transforming America into an image spawned from his own anti-colonial, Marxist foundations, has done substantial damage to this country.

But I’m also opposed, at this time, to any move toward impeachment. I realize I run the risk of being called unprincipled. I beg to differ. Wisdom is never unprincipled.

Obama-ConstitutionFirst, please tell me how we get 67 senators to vote for his removal? If you can convince me on that point, I will be on board. However, as in the case against Clinton, it will be virtually impossible, short of the president murdering someone on live television. Democrats will circle the wagon no matter how disgruntled they are with him.

Then there’s the media. We have to be realistic about how this will be portrayed. As I noted above, the race card will be played incessantly. All you have to do is look at the Ferguson fiasco. You have a thug who robbed a store, then fought with a policeman for his gun, then charged the policeman with intent to harm/kill. What has he become? Some kind of hero. It’s a fantasy, but one that has fanned the flames of violence. What violence might we see if Obama goes through an impeachment process? The media will ensure it, as it comes to his aid.

All the time taken up for impeachment will be a drain on any genuine efforts to curtail Obama’s incipient tyranny. Based on principle, I say that Republicans need, instead, to focus their attention on any and all measures that will keep this president from achieving his aims. What to do?

  • Defund any government agency that is tasked with carrying out his unconstitutional actions.
  • Pass bills, now that Republicans will control both houses of Congress, that will put us back on the path to constitutionalism; if Obama vetoes them, he will be responsible, and all will see his disdain for the rule of law. He’s never been made to take stands before because the Senate, under Harry Reid, protected him from having to decide on proposed bills by never allowing votes on them.
  • Push for lawsuits against his disregard for the Constitution, to show the public just how he has tried to set himself up as a petty dictator.
  • Begin impeachment proceedings against key federal judges who have allowed the government to run amuck.
  • Actively work with the movement to call for a Convention of the States (as authorized in the Constitution) to draft amendments to the Constitution that will further limit the power of those who seek to undermine liberty.
  • Become effective at educating the American people on the principles that form the foundation of our government and the need to abide by those principles.

I’m sure there are more options I haven’t thought of, but those are a start. We will be far more effective if we concentrate our efforts on measures like these rather than pursue an impeachment course that will only end in failure.

It is principled to take steps toward constitutionalism; it is foolishness to take a step that will waste time and energy and ultimately lead to political disaster. It may feel good to vent our frustration via impeachment, but what will it actually accomplish? Unfortunately, I believe it will harm efforts to reverse the course of our government.

I know there will be those who disagree with my assessment, and if anyone can offer valid arguments to offset what I’ve said, I will certainly listen. Right now, though, this is where I stand, and I believe it is a principled stand.

Remember the Constitutional Crisis?

With all the ongoing fallout from Ferguson, some may have forgotten the major constitutional crisis we’re experiencing—a crisis brought on by a president who seeks to do whatever he wishes without congressional approval. It’s also crucial to remember that his recent executive order on illegal immigration was something he said repeatedly he didn’t have the authority to do.

Doesn't Support

He is actively ignoring a central element of the construction of our government:

Porous Borders

Obama’s comments on the Constitution throughout his political career have made it clear he doesn’t really agree with what the Founders established. He’s now trying to correct unilaterally what he considers to be its inherent faults:

Fixed It

The big question that looms before us is not so much what he will do in the future; I think it’s pretty well established that he will continue to ignore legitimate restraints on his authority. The big question centers on the opposition. Will Republicans step up and truly become an effective opposition? Will they take responsibility for moving us back toward constitutionalism or will they instead, out of fear of public perception—manufactured by a media that will do nearly anything to exonerate Obama—shrink into a complacent group eschewing bold action?

Might Blame Us

I’m holding out some hope the cartoonist is wrong.

Obama, meanwhile, goes his merry way, seemingly untouched by dismal approval ratings and the devastating results of the last election.

Still in Office

Sadly, we have to wait until January 2017 to anoint a successor. But if that successor is Hillary Clinton, our national nightmare will not be over.

Lighting the Way

The good news continues. The Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee has pulled back from many of the ads they were going to run on behalf of Mary Landrieu in Louisiana for the runoff election. Apparently, they think it’s not worth the cost. She will undoubtedly be leaving her Senate seat and returning to the private sector.

Also, an update on what I reported yesterday. I had written that the GOP now controls 2/3 of the state legislative bodies. That number is now 70%. So, if you stop and think about the political trend of the country, it is encouraging. Republicans now have the majority in Congress, 2/3 of governors, and 70% of state legislative chambers. If that’s not a wave, what is it?

There’s only one roadblock for a complete turnaround, and it resides in the White House, where the president has infamously said he has a phone and a pen, and he will act unilaterally—something he pretty much repeated in his press conference on Wednesday. Yet most of the voters on Tuesday repudiated that message:

Pen & Ballot

This penchant for acting like he is the government must end. The government established by the Constitution did not authorize the president to be a king, let alone behave as if he has some kind of divine right to do as he wishes, regardless of the other branches of the government and the desires of those for whom the government operates—the people. The message should be clear to him:

New Paperweight

The issue is whether he is listening or even cares to listen. One commentator opined last night that it might be that Obama doesn’t truly grasp what took place on Tuesday, and may not get the full message until he is forced to deal with a Republican Congress beginning in January. I’m not sure that’s the case; I’m more inclined to think he knows what has happened, but just stubbornly refuses to submit to it.

Word is out that he resents having been put on the back burner by his party during the campaign. Little good it did them; the voters still knew who is responsible for our current mess:

Thank You Cards

But one election is not our salvation politically. The nation remains in critical condition spiritually. Government isn’t, and never will be, our savior. Unless we turn things around spiritually, we’re still going the wrong direction:

Handbasket

I pray Republicans will accomplish what they can within the limits of what government is ordained by God to do, and within the constraints of constitutional authority. That by itself, though, will not be enough. The root of our problems has never changed: the sinfulness of man. We must address that with the Gospel if we ever hope to move the nation in a new direction.

Ultimately, it won’t be government that turns things around; it will be the Christians in society. We need to remember that Jesus called us the salt and the light. We need to be vigilant to preserve the good in our society and to provide light on the path toward righteousness and true Biblical justice.

Thoughts on the Syrian Bombing

Just a few thoughts today, now that we’ve begun bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

ISIS Control Map

First, good, in the generic sense. It’s well past time to act. We should have undercut this terrorist organization a long time ago instead of allowing it to grow and fester.

Second, I’m glad to see that some Arab nations are helping. The extent of that help is still unclear to me, yet, if for no other reason than self-interest and survival, they need to be on board.

Third, since I have no confidence in President Obama’s willingness or inclination to see this through to the end, we must pray that the goal is accomplished despite him. He will have the tendency to say something is completed when it is not. Then the problem will arise anew.

Fourth, even if successful, this does not bring the terror threat to any kind of a halt. It has many heads and tentacles. Truly, we must stay vigilant, and there’s no commitment to that vigilance in our government at the present time.

Fifth, let’s be real about why Obama decided to go ahead at this time. This action allows him to appear strong against terrorism. He hopes that will change the trend in the upcoming elections, as Democrats now may look more attuned to the nation’s security. Don’t be fooled; this is probably a political move as much as it is a strategic one for national security reasons.

Sixth, unfortunately, what he has done is unconstitutional. He has no authority from Congress to do this. Under the Constitution, he needed to get congressional approval for any long-term military action, and be assured, this will be long-term. The resolutions following 9/11 apply to Al Qaeda only, not to ISIS. He could have received that approval last week while Congress was in session. He deliberately waited until Congress adjourned so he could act unilaterally. This is simply another in a long string of decisions made by bogus executive authority.

So, in conclusion, while I sincerely hope this leads to the destruction of ISIS, I am forced to say that I have grave doubts that it will do so, despite the hoopla surrounding the startup of the bombing campaign. Bombing alone won’t accomplish the overall goal. Further, the president has acted unconstitutionally and primarily for political reasons. We need to keep all these factors in mind as we go forward, and as we think about the momentous decisions to come in November.

Liberty vs. License: Where I Stand

Comments from one reader of yesterday’s blog post leads me to want to explain something further. Yesterday’s post was concerned with the rush to judgment in Ferguson and the possibility that the greatest potential victim in this entire episode is the death of due process. There has been, in my opinion, too much pre-judging taking place. You saw it in the many nights of protest that included looting and rioting. You saw it in the statement of Missouri’s governor when he said a vigorous prosecution had to go forward. You saw it also in the arrival on scene of Eric Holder, who made it clear he empathized with the protesters. I questioned whether the DOJ would really conduct a fair and balanced investigation, based on Holder’s public position on the event.

Yes, I have serious doubts about the storyline being promoted by Michael Brown’s defenders. First, the main eyewitness was Brown’s partner in the manhandling of a store clerk and the robbery of the store just prior to the fatal incident with the policeman. Is this a trustworthy witness? There are also accounts of the policeman who fired those fatal shots being attacked by Brown. Who is telling the truth? All I’m asking for is an approach that gets all the facts first, then makes a judgment as to guilt afterwards.

I was asked by one commenter if I wasn’t concerned about how the police acted, and that this might be an indication of statist control of society. Let me be very clear here. Anyone who has ever read this blog on a regular basis cannot fail to understand that I sound the alarm on statism constantly. I firmly believe in the rule of law. The end-run the Obama administration always tries to make around the Constitution is a genuine threat to liberty.

That word “liberty” requires some explanation as well. Some people have a terrible understanding of what liberty actually comprises. It is not licentiousness. That’s why I can never be a libertarian politically. Ideological libertarians want nearly a non-existent government, not only in the economic and educational spheres (where I have substantial agreement with them), but also in the moral sphere (where I disagree with them vehemently). They replace the God of the Bible, who has ordained civil government for very specific purposes, with the god “Liberty.”

True liberty always includes personal accountability and a framework, in society, for order. Liberty to do whatever one wants is not true liberty, but license. What I saw on the streets of Ferguson, as business owners had to defend their private property from those who wanted to just grab things for themselves, was license. A police force must stand against those actions. The responsibility of the police is to protect the innocent from those who are out to hurt and destroy.

Did the Ferguson police go too far? There is an honest difference of opinion on that. I suspect that some of those business owners wish the police had been more of a presence than they were. Did the police charge the protesters, killing and maiming everyone in their way?  I didn’t see any footage like that, did you? In fact, they seemed rather tentative at times, worried perhaps about the reputation they were getting. That never would have stopped Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Castro. We are hardly on the verge of a police state, at least at the local level.

Now, does that mean I have reached a definite conclusion about the events of that night when Michael Brown died? Regardless of my leanings, which are based on what I have read and seen thus far, I nevertheless would have to continue to suspend any final judgment. If I were a resident of Ferguson, I would have a clear conscience sitting on a jury to decide this matter. I would look carefully at all the evidence and make my final judgment only after reviewing the facts as presented by both sides.

But there are some things that are clear to me:

  • Scripture requires an orderly society based on the rule of law.
  • Government is not a necessary evil, but an institution established by God to restrain evil and maintain order.
  • Rioting and looting are sinful actions that need to be met with the force of the government and put down with a force equal to the sinful actions themselves.
  • Guilt or innocence will be decided in a court of law, not in the media or on the streets by the loudest voices.

This is where I stand, and I make no apologies for my stance.

Obama’s Strange Dichotomy

It’s a strange dichotomy. On the one hand, President Obama is fully engaged, while on the other, he’s about as disengaged as a president can be. What am I talking about? On his watch, government has become more intrusive than ever, yet America has nearly disappeared as a world power. I say that’s strange, but the more I think about it, it actually makes sense in an Obama kind of way.

He believes fervently that government direction and control over people’s lives is “better” for them. Government is wiser and more altruistic, in his view. Consequently, he takes over the entire healthcare system (or at least tries to—the jury is out on that, fortunately) and issues executive orders for things a president has no authority to do. Congress, he claims, is too slow and inactive, so he simply must do all of this on his own. He won’t let a little thing like the Constitution stand in his way. He even dares others to try to stop him:

Sue Me

“I have a pen and a phone,” he warns. “So sue me,” he taunts. Those statements won’t exactly go down as some of the most memorable in American presidential history:

Legacies

For the record, I think FDR’s famous line was rather meaningless, but that’s another entire blog post—I’ll skip my thoughts on that one for now.

So our president seems to want to put all Americans in a stranglehold when it comes to their individual choices and he seeks to amass more power for the executive branch than at any time in the American experience. Yet while he focuses on those goals, the world’s problems don’t seem to engage his attention much at all. America, he believes, has been the big bully in the world and needs to step back now. Mouth the right phrases once in a while—Israel has a right to defend itself—but don’t do anything to interfere with the drift into world chaos. In fact, send your secretary of state over to the hot spots like the Middle East and try to win Israel over to all of Hamas’s demands. This is a serious departure from traditional American foreign policy and a near-desertion of one of our staunchest allies.

What does President Obama do while conflagrations abound all around him? He continues to do what he does best:

Oblivious

And fundraisers—don’t forget fundraisers.

While he lives in his fantasy world of government largesse at home and abandonment of global responsibilities, the rest of us suffer the consequences.

The Border & the Rule of Law

We have a border and illegal immigration crisis. Some want to reframe it as a humanitarian crisis. It has become that, but only because of the greater crisis that faces us—the breakdown of the rule of law. Unfortunately, this breakdown is being propagated at the top. When the chief executive authority in a country doesn’t take the country’s laws seriously, we have a crisis:

Lttle Dutch Boy

President Obama says all the right words about Congress needing to act, but that’s just an act itself. Given the option, I’m sure he would prefer to rule unilaterally without any Congress to get in his way:

Congress Widget

Of course, when he does act unilaterally, as he has done and as he is now threatening to do with the illegal immigration issue, he’s reverting to the threat he uttered weeks ago:

Have a Pen

Why be bothered by a silly old document written more than 200 years ago? Why worry about overstepping boundaries set up by men who had studied the mechanics of government for many years? Besides, who’s going to stop him? With the Senate in his pocket—at least temporarily—and a disdain for the rule of law, he is free to do whatever he desires. He doesn’t really need to worry about impeachment, since there won’t ever be 2/3 of senators who will go along with it, no matter what reasonable arguments are put forward:

Completely Incompetent

Well, actually, a president can be impeached for complete incompetence. There just aren’t enough votes for it presently.

What’s going to happen with the border? I predict Obama will act unilaterally to provide amnesty to millions, the rule of law will become a joke on this issue, and the chaos will only increase. Our temporal salvation lies in enough citizens becoming aware and concerned about this drift. In November, we’ll find out how many have awakened from their slumber.