Impeachment Helps the Democrat Cause
by JBS President John F. McManus
Hardly a day goes by without someone or some group insisting that President Obama should be impeached and removed from office. Reasons for such a step include the President’s use of executive orders to make law, his refusal to enforce existing law, spying on citizens by the National Security Agency, the debacle in Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and more. These and other Obama deficiencies are real.
But impeachment by the House isn’t likely to be followed by conviction in the Senate. The Republicans in the House can approve impeachment with a simple majority vote. But getting two-thirds of the Senate (67 in number) to convict their president isn’t realistic. The Senate is currently top-heavy with Democrats and expecting them to oust their party leader is expecting something that isn’t realistically possible. And practically everyone who clamors for impeachment knows this.
So why is there so much discussion about impeachment? Two answers follow. The first is that some Republicans feel that calling for such a process impresses voters in their districts. Incumbents seeking reelection or ambitious outsiders hoping to win nomination and election for a House or Senate seat believe that the public is disgusted with Obama to the point where they want him removed. If pressed about the possibility of success, even these impeachment pleaders would have to admit that the goal they seek is unlikely to be achieved. In almost all cases, these GOPers are playacting while getting some media attention which is their real goal.
The second reason why impeachment is being discussed is that Democrats themselves are raising the issue. They want to paint Republicans as deeply partisan ogres who are ganging up on a wounded president. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently pointed out that some Republicans (John Boehner for one) are even planning to sue the president “on a path to impeach” while she and fellow Democrats are busily working to “create jobs.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claims that some Republicans are “hoping to get into office to impeach the president” soon after they win election. But even MSNBC’s Chris Hayes suggested that impeachment talk might “be a masterful stroke of Democrats running a false flag operation.”
Occasionally, realism surfaces. Congressman Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has labeled calls for impeachment “foolish.” He believes that Mr. Obama and his advisors want the impeachment process to move forward because it will fail while it generates sympathy for the president. He believes that this “is the only chance the Democrat Party has to avoid a major electoral defeat” in November.
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.), the newly named House Majority Whip who recently replaced primary loser Eric Cantor, notes that Democrats are capitalizing on talk of impeachment with fund-raising appeals. He adds that Democrats “will do anything they can to change the topic away from the president’s failed policies.”
Summing up: Impeachment by the House will not lead to conviction and removal of the President by the Senate. And Democrats dearly want calls for impeachment to continue because they help the Democrat cause.
Another Way To Police the World
by JBS President John F. McManus
On Sunday, July 27th, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appeared on the CBS “Face the Nation” program and said something the American people wanted to hear. She then promptly contradicted her own pronouncement.
After agreeing that “the world is a mess,” and that its current travails are less important to most Americans, she registered her opinion that the people in our nation don’t want the U.S. “to be the world’s policemen.” Amen to that! But Albright, who probably would never have come even close to expressing that conclusion when she was holding her high office (during the final years of the Clinton presidency, 1997-2001), followed her sound assessment of the thinking of most Americans by completely reversing it. She said, “What has to happen is we need to really work harder on partnerships.”
Partnerships? Wouldn’t partnerships with other nations involve us in whatever squabble any one of them might find themselves? George Washington urged that our nation “steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” Thomas Jefferson cautioned against “entangling alliances.” John Quincy Adams stated that America’s policy should not have us roaming the earth “seeking monsters to destroy.” But Madeleine Albright wants our nation to tighten relationships with other countries via “partnerships” which are the very opposite of the wise counsel given by America’s early leaders.
In 1949, Secretary of State Dean Acheson led the charge that persuaded Congress to approve creation of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Originally linking the United States and Canada with 14 European nations, the treaty has been expanded in recent years to include a total of 28 nations – with others clamoring to sign up. NATO’s 14 brief articles include this whopper: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all….” Not only that, the treaty makes note of the fact that the organization derives its authority to exist from the Charter of the United Nations that requires all of the alliance’s actions to be duly reported to the world body.
The on-going conflict in Afghanistan is a NATO project. Whatever happens or fails to happen there is NATO’s call, and the current leader of NATO is Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The alliance’s Military Commander is General Knud Bartles, also from Denmark. Talk about a “far cry” from the thinking of America’s early leaders.
Albright pointed to the Ukraine crisis without noting that the U.S. is already involved through supplying weaponry to that nation’s government. And Ukraine’s officials have already expressed interest in joining NATO. They obviously want U.S. committed to being their defender.
What do treaties like NATO produce? It’s worth noting that the U.S. Constitution’s required congressional declaration of war before militarily entering a conflict got bypassed in the Vietnam struggle. The U.S. involvement there obtained its authorization from a NATO duplicate called SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization). What our forces did or were prevented from doing in that costly struggle was determined by SEATO.
The favored policy of America should be “non-intervention.” It’s not isolationism; it’s good sense.
A final curious note must be mentioned here. Albright’s choice of the word “partnership” likely was deliberate. U.S. leaders are promoting passage of economic partnerships with the European Union (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP) and Asian/Pacific nations (Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP). Just as NAFTA unnecessarily involved our nation in many ways with Canada and Mexico, these new “partnerships” would entangle the U.S. with many more nations economically and politically while diluting sovereignty even further. Passage of both should be blocked. But be forewarned: The word “partnership” is the current coverup for treaty, alliance, or free trade agreement. And Madeleine Albright, who really favors more entanglements, surely knows why she chose it.
“How Are Those Who Represent You Actually Voting?”
by JBS President John F. McManus
How many Americans have no idea about the votes their congressman and two senators register? If you answered “few,” you’d be correct. If you answered “very few,” you’d be even more correct.
Even good citizens who watch what a candidate for office says, especially when he or she is up for reelection, don’t have much of a clue about how that person has performed in office. They all talk a good game but few back up the rhetoric. Something is needed to show what the record is.
Twice a year The New American magazine, an affiliate of The John Birch Society, publishes the “Freedom Index.“ All members of the House and Senate are rated according to their votes on ten key issues. The ratings are awarded based on how well the office holder adheres to the U.S. Constitution. Those who stand by their oath get 100 percent ratings. Those who don’t honor their oath get less with quite a few scoring a complete zero.
If a measure calling for some form of foreign aid comes up, and a congressman or senator votes “Nay,” that earns a plus ten. There is simply no authorization for foreign aid anywhere in the Constitution. A vote for foreign aid earns nothing. And so it goes for all 435 House members and all 100 senators although the measures in question will not always be the same for each house of Congress.
The “Freedom Index” frequently demonstrates that there’s very little difference between liberal Democrats and “progressive” or neo conservative Republicans. A congressman or senator showing up at a town hall meeting back in the district is frequently bombarded with questions from constituents about why he or she voted for more restrictions on gun ownership, raising the national debt ceiling, additional EPA regulations, more funding for food stamps, and more.
In the latest “Freedom Index,” appearing in the July 28, 2014 issue of The New American, the average score for members of the House is 39 percent and the average in the Senate is a paltry 28 percent. This means that most members of Congress are voting constitutionally only a fraction of the time. Some members in each House actually scored zero, meaning that they ignored the Constitutional limits on their powers 100 percent of the time.
High scorers in the House with 100 percent included Stockman (Tex.), Duncan, (Tenn.), Sanford (S.C.), Jones (N.C.), Amash (Mich.), Huelskamp (Kan.), and Broun (Ga.). No senator scored 100 percent but the high scorers included Lee (Utah) and Paul (Ky.).
An online version of the “Freedom Index” is housed at TheNewAmerican. com. Take a look and then bring it to the next meeting of your congressman or senators. The people we elect to serve us in high office must be made to stand by their oath to support the Constitution.
Iraq’s Christians Attacked by Militant Islamists
by JBS President John F. McManus
Early in July 2014, for the first time in 1600 years, there was no Catholic Mass celebrated in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. Islamic militants calling themselves the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) had taken control of the region. They immediately targeted the minority Christians, many of whom fled north into territory controlled by Kurds.
On June 29th, the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, told his followers from the pulpit in Mosul’s Great Mosque how to proceed with establishing a caliphate (an Islamic state) with him as its religious leader. “Do jihad in the cause of God,” he urged. “If you knew about the reward and dignity in this world and the hereafter through jihad, then none of you would delay in doing it.” Al-Baghdadi’s followers performed as directed.
When 45-year-old retired army officer Maan Abou, a Christian, asked the newly established ISIS court in Mosul if the threats against him and his family were accurate, he learned that “the man there told me that I should leave my house, car, money and properties behind.” Christians were told they had three choices: convert to Islam, pay a huge fine and live as slaves, or be executed. A few have converted, most have fled.
Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, approximately 1.5 million Christians, mostly Catholics, called Iraq their home. They could trace their ancestry back almost two millennia, well before Mohammed was born. Though he was surely not a paragon of freedom, Saddam Hussein’s leadership of the nation saw Christians living side-by-side with Muslims and others in relative peace. All that changed during the past decade that saw Hussein’s regime toppled and him executed. Fewer than 500,000 Christians remain in their homeland — even they are fleeing.
Iraq’s Shiites now fear the rising power of ISIS which is led by the Sunni faction. When there are no Christians left in the country, the Sunni-Shiite rivalry will surely escalate. If ISIS becomes dominant, neighboring nations, even those Muslim-controlled, would have much to fear.
The United States, still dependent on imports of oil from the Middle East, would be wise to develop its own oil and gas findings with great haste. Dependence on the Middle East cannot be counted on.
Australia Leads the Way; America Should Follow
By JBS President John F. McManus
Three years ago, the Australian government led by Prime Minster Julia Gillard bowed to the questionable claims of environmentalists and imposed a carbon tax on large companies. Any company releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere was required to fork over a hefty penalty per ton of emissions. However, on July 17, 2014, the Australian Senate followed the lead already taken by the nation’s House and approved a measure repealing this onerous tax.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who succeeded Gillard in 2014, saluted the legislature’s wisdom. He had campaigned for the office on a pledge to do away with the assault on carbon dioxide emissions. Repeating what he stated in his campaign, he called the now-cancelled measure a “useless destructive tax, which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living, and which didn’t actually help the environment.” As expected, opponents of the repeal insisted that doing away with the carbon tax would adversely impede efforts to address climate change, the new label for what was formerly known as global warming.
Only a few weeks earlier here in the United States, President Obama endorsed a plan created by the Environmental Protection Agency to have states devise plans to reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced by coal-fired power plants. Approximately 40 percent of the electric power generated in the U.S. comes from burning coal. If the EPA’s regulations are imposed, the effect on energy production nationwide will be enormous, and the loss of jobs by coal miners and others in coal-producing areas will be catastrophic. So, too, will jobs be lost when the cost of energy formerly generated by coal skyrockets.
Addressing the EPA plan, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) stated, “The Obama administration must think our country … can operate on windmills.” Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said of the EPA’s targeting of carbon dioxide emissions stated: “Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible.” He added: “If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar, and economic uncertainty will grow.”
The great bugaboo targeted by environmentalists and the EPA, of course, is carbon dioxide. No one doubts that burning coal to produce energy puts the substance into the atmosphere. But when pressed to address the scientific fact that carbon dioxide is absolutely essential for plant growth and therefore a definite good, the fright peddlers seek to change the subject into claims about rising sea levels, droughts, and severe weather outbreaks – all supposedly resulting from human activity and carbon dioxide.
Australia has shown the way. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is correct about the effects of the carbon tax in his country. The same effects would be seen here. But proponents of a similarly destructive measure would have the U. S. impose its own counterproductive tax on carbon dioxide emissions. U.S. leaders don’t like to admit that anything can be learned from some other country. But if enough Americans merely inform our officials what Australian officials have just done, the damage a carbon tax and the related war on coal can be avoided.
An Enemy of the U.S. Constitution Passes
By JBS President John F. McManus
After a career that saw him teaching at Williams College in Massachusetts for 40 years, Professor James MacGregor Burns entered into eternity on July 15, 2014. Widely heralded as a champion of numerous left-wing causes he never abandoned, he authored 20 books and influenced many thousands of students. Friends and admirers have always lauded his works, especially his biographies of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. For what he wrote about FDR, including a slight slap on the President’s wrist for not tying our nation more tightly to the USSR during WWII, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. In 1958, he won the Democratic Party nomination for a seat in the U.S. House for the First Congressional District in Massachusetts, but was soundly defeated in the Fall election.
A life-long advocate of restructuring the U.S. Constitution to steer more power to the Executive Branch, Burns issued a 1984 work entitled “The Power to Lead: The Crisis of the American Presidency.” In it, he urged a rewrite of portions of the Constitution during the forthcoming bi-centennial celebrations of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the 1789 ratification of a new Constitution, and the 1791 addition of the Bill of Rights to the new “law of the land.”
Obituaries characterizing Burns as a forward-looking thinker mentioned his “The Power to Lead” but failed to call attention to its truly controversial (revolutionary?) plans for America. It was in this book that Burns wrote of his disdain for the American system of limited government, preferring instead creation of an imperial presidency vested with greatly enhanced powers. He wrote:
Let us face reality. The framers [of the Constitution] have simply been too shrewd for us. They have outwitted us. They designed separate institution [branches] that cannot be unified by mechanical linkages, frail bridges, tinkering. If we are to “turn the founders upside down” – to put together what they put asunder – we must directly confront the constitutional structure they erected.
With his several proposals for restructuring the Constitution already well-known, Burns was nevertheless named co-chairman of Project ’87 calling for “appraisal of this unique document” during the period surrounding its 200th anniversary. Later, a Committee on the Constitutional System (CCS) containing 15 members of its board who held membership in the Council on Foreign Relations (out of a total of 41) relied on Burns’ suggestions for reconstructing the Constitution. Many of the CCS bigwigs even promoted the idea of a constitutional convention.
Somewhat of a realist, Burns later suggested that the constitutional changes he advocated might possibly be enacted “following a stupendous national crisis and political failure.” Later Democratic allies have similarly pointed to opportunities to enact change during a real or contrived “crisis” that could befall our nation.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, and continuing to this day, threats to the Constitution posed by Burns and others, whether radical amendments or a complete overhaul via a constitutional convention, have been successfully blocked by the efforts of The John Birch Society, its affiliated magazine The New American, and several allies. While the plans of James MacGregor Burns weren’t enacted, the fight to preserve the Constitution continues.
Forbes Calls for Defunding the IRS: A Better Solution Exists
by JBS President John F. McManus
Another of the many scandals coming out of Washington deals with heavy abuse of power by the IRS. In years gone by, IRS threats against American citizens were employed by Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Steve Forbes states in Forbes magazine that the previous illegal use of the IRS to target political enemies amounted to small potatoes compared to what has occurred since 2010. The Editor-in-Chief of the magazine that bears his name says that the Obama administration has used the tax-collecting agency to wage a mini-war against “ordinary citizens who have spontaneously come together in countless organizations to fight the current administration’s egregious policies and threats to liberty.” He’s absolutely correct.
As a result, Forbes calls for defunding of the IRS with the only reason for its continued existence being “a handful of clerks to process refunds.” He doesn’t say what government agency would be left to collect legitimate “taxes, duties, imposts and excises” as noted in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, there has to be a collector of properly levied taxation.
But Forbes is certainly correct in pointing to illegitimate power possessed by the IRS. Over many years, countless Americans have refused to be involved in organizations – or even to speak out as an individual – to oppose harmful government programs and policies. Many Americans won’t openly admit their fear of being audited by IRS snoops should they speak out or send donations to groups the administration doesn’t like. But doing so should be an unquestioned right of anyone. This effect of the IRS is why this agency’s overriding power is more useful for the federal government as a “people controller” than as a revenue collector. In other words, the IRS has all but cancelled for many the First Amendment’s guarantee that raising one’s voice or financing some group is a God-given right. No law has been passed to abrogate everyone’s right to oppose government programs and policies. But none is needed so long as a threat from the IRS continues to hover over anyone who might otherwise be involved in opposing a multiplicity of government’s outrageous activities.
Yes, the IRS is government’s hammer to be used against virtually anyone or any group. A reining in of this power is absolutely necessary. Let us suggest, however, that the best way to accomplish this goal is repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, the personal income tax. Then, no American could be cowed into silence because of fear of being audited. Then, many more Americans would be willing to fight against their own government’s many threats to liberty.
Steve Forbes is right to point to IRS abuses. But there’s a better way of removing its power. If more Americans could be made aware that canceling unconstitutional federal agencies would result in paring down the government to 20 percent its size and 20 percent its cost, then the Sixteenth Amendment could be repealed and America would again be the land of the free.