May 10, 2006

BEING CONSERVATIVE IN A COLLEGE TOWN IS LIKE FARTING IN CHURCH:

Anti-Bush Petition Submitted: Hanover Residents Seek to Put Impeachment Before Voters (Jessica T. Lee, 4/04/06, Valley News)

Residents yesterday handed in two petitions for Town Meeting, each signed by well more than 100 residents, calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Twenty-five signatures are required to petition an article to Town Meeting.

Voters will decide the measures on May 9.


After several mildly silly but civically rewarding hours, during which we debated the merits of buying or leasing a new fire truck, before approving our town budget virtually unchanged, we then got to these two resolutions. They are the product of the folks at our local wealthy retirement home, The Kendall, who were bused to the meeting by the dozen, though they live across the street.

The first resolution was the impeachment one. The gentleman proposing it argued that the President and Vice President are violating the separation of powers and the Constitution by not seeking FISA warrants for spying. Friend Dennis Goodman, who'd put his UN background to good use and thwarted these nutbags last time, made the procedural argument that a meeting of 200 people was about to put the town of 7500 on record as backing a measure more extreme than even Bernie Sanders thinks warranted and that perhaps this wasn't the best forum for hashing out national security law. The general response was that in trying to silence them he showed how we were slipping into dictatorship --I kid you not--and that by failing to speak now we'd have lost the chance when we were renditioned to concentration camps (again, I'm not joking).

I tried the substantive angle and noted that under the separation of powers the executive is tasked to make war and has never been considered subject to court oversight of that power in past wars. Moreover, since Congress explicitly authorized the Administration to wage war against the terrorists, it had certainly ceded whatever powers it might theoretically have. Mr. Goodman noted that at Powerline just today (a blog of Dartmouth alums) they'd written about how FDR followed the exact same standards on separation of powers and domestic surveillance as President Bush:

In Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage, Joseph Persico writes that "[f]ew leaders have been better suited by nature and temperament for the anomalies of secret warfare than FDR." He quotes Roosevelt: "You know that I am a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does." As Persico demonstrates (pages 34-36), President Roosevelt's enthusiasm for intelligence extended to prewar domestic wiretapping of "diplomats, journalists, labor leaders and political activists" in the face of newly enacted statutory bans on wiretapping that had been upheld by the Supreme Court.

"I have agreed with the broad purpose of the Supreme Court relating to wiretapping in investigations," Roosevelt instructed J. Edgar Hoover. "However, I am persuaded that the Supreme Court never intended any dictum in the particular case which it decided to apply to grave matters involving the defense of the nation." Persico summarizes: "In short, never mind Congress, the Supreme Court, or the attorney general's qualms. The nation was in peril." (Persico's reference to Roosevelt's attorney general is of course to future Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson.)


So Mr. Goodman also asked to offer an amendment to the resolution reflecting this fact, but the Moderator said none were allowed. The impeachment resolution proceeded to pass by something like 120 votes to forty.

The next measure on Iraq withdrawal went similarly. The fellow who introduced it though suggested that the withdrawal be via a collaborative effort in Congress and said that since we were morally responsible for the current state of Iraq we'd not be able to cut and run. This time when Mr Goodman offered an amendment that would state that the withdrawal should come at the request of the duly elected Iraqi government the Moderator accepted the possibility of amending the resolution, to great protest from the mob. So I pointed out that the adoption of the prior resolution had, therefore, been illegitimate since we were refused the chance to amend it. She responded that since we'd already voted that was too bad. I asked if we didn't risk sinking into a dictatorship if we didn't follow the proper democratic process and noted how inappropriate it was to eschew democracy in the midst of what these partisans assured us was a last ditch defense of democracy.

At any rate, the old fella carefully explained to his assembled minions that this was the same trick they'd fallen for last time and that if they allowed Mr. Goodman's amendment it would destroy the entire resolution. A younger fellow, who appeared blissfully unaware that Jerry died several years ago, protested that no one knows who the legitimate government of Iraq is. So, I interjected that, not only does the United Nations recognize the government that is asking us to stay but the UN itself has passed subsequent resolutions endorsing the "occupation" and so if we truly want to be collaborative and not cut and run on the Iraqis it seems awfully strange to argue that language that calls for us to withdraw at their request destroys the intent and spirit of the original resolution. That amendment, however, was quickly voted down and then the resolution passed.

So, be warned Bushitler and Tricky Dick II, Hanover has you squarely in its sights and, as one speaker reminded us, it was a town in Vermont that started the impeachment of Richard Nixon. And, all y'all Iraqis better start waving good-bye to the troops, because Hanover--or 1% of it anyway--says we're bringing the boys home pronto.

If we hadn't gotten what sounds like a wicked-cool, shiny-new, $700k firetruck out of the whole deal it would have been a waste of four hours.....

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 10, 2006 12:00 AM
Comments

It could've been worse. You could've been watching Randy Johnson repeatedly walk the bottom of the Red Sawx order, leading to, well, you know.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 10, 2006 1:26 AM

This sounds like it was great fun. Do we have audio?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 10, 2006 1:42 AM

You should have read them Richard Cohen's column from Tuesday while you were at it.

Posted by: John at May 10, 2006 1:55 AM

And I am certain the firetruck will be of more use than these silly petitions.

Anyone else remember the "nuclear-free cities" stuff in the 1980's? Boy, those resolutions really led to the end of the US-USSR nuclear stand-off.

Posted by: Mikey at May 10, 2006 7:59 AM

Mikey:

Sanctuaries--remember them?

Posted by: oj at May 10, 2006 8:03 AM

Can't you get the ACLU in there or something?

Posted by: RC at May 10, 2006 8:55 AM

The NH town meeting form of local government should have been abandoned 30 years ago. It's a perversion of the democratic process and like the Democratic party a tool of the special interests. 120 of 7500 passing the resolution ... what a farce. I've come to hate town meetings as a waste of time and worse. Especially living in a college town.

Posted by: Genecis at May 10, 2006 9:09 AM

Gene:

Baby/bathwater. It's remarkable that we still meet as towns and decide on our budges and taxes and the like. Some partisan lunacy can't detract from that basic glory.

Posted by: oj at May 10, 2006 9:22 AM

I'm curious about the whole "A small Vermont town meeting started the Nixon impeachment" thing. While it's certainly true that any Vermont town meeting can go toe-to-toe with any NH town meeting for sheer nuttiness, I hadn't heard about that one. I think that a small Vermont town voted to impeach Nixon and that Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment, but the the first event had nothing to do with the second event.

Posted by: Bryan at May 10, 2006 9:33 AM

I'm sure sometime in the past 30 or so years a small town meeting in Vermont has also called for the impeachment of Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush 41 as well (or if not there, then the Berekely, Calif., city council). They just couldn't act like the rooster who thinks his crowing made the sun come up in the ensuing years because nothing happened after that.

Posted by: John at May 10, 2006 9:42 AM

Matt:

The Man is hushing it all up. Watch the skies....

Posted by: oj at May 10, 2006 10:30 AM

When I read the "a small Vermont town started the Nixon impeachment" line, my thought was, isn't it interesting that the lefty residents of Hanover think they live in Vermont.

Posted by: pj at May 10, 2006 2:30 PM

Couldn't put over the amendment to purchase a fire train?

Posted by: David Cohen at May 10, 2006 2:50 PM

You kidding, in that Lefty crowd? They hate trains.

Posted by: oj at May 10, 2006 2:54 PM

Sweet!

We can put Bush in the same cell as FDR's rotting corpse.

Posted by: Robert at May 10, 2006 5:58 PM

The answer for this one, then, is to offer a counter resolution that will nullify the previous two. However, make these precautions:

1. Schedule it near the first of the month (SocSec check time!)
2. Schedule a bus trip to Foxwoods or Bohican Sun
3. Schedule a bingo tournament at the home for those who can't get on the casino bus.
4. Invite Dean to speak in the next town over.

This should clear things up.

Posted by: Turk82_1 at May 12, 2006 12:34 AM

But what is it that makes such people hate George Bush so much? Is it that he is bringing such bad news in the form of war that they insist on shooting that messenger? I wonder that the left holds him responsible for the war, as if Islamic Terrorists were something he had invented or bought from Central Casting with money from Big Oil. Bush's War, as if there had been no evil before we set foot in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Has anyone insight on the nature of the loathing, which almost seems spiritual in it's virulence and force? I have friends to whom the merest remark in an "oh yeah? vein in response to the silly stuff they say sends them into Deanian paroxysms of sputtering anger. I am baffled. Please, someone explain.

Posted by: Kate at May 13, 2006 11:50 AM

It's the same way the Right felt about FDR after he ended 70 years of Republican dominance. They'll get over it in twenty or thirty years, just like we did.

Posted by: oj at May 13, 2006 12:23 PM

The issue is not whether a President can be granted authority to wage war. The issue is whether a President can deliberately mislead Congress in order to be granted that authority. Bush knowingly lied about the threat from Iraq and that subverts the principles of democracy that require an informed electorate.

Posted by: Phil at May 15, 2006 7:52 PM

Phil:

No, that isn't the issue. The war authorization wasn't dependent on WMD.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2006 9:44 PM

Kate:

Has anyone insight on the nature of the loathing, which almost seems spiritual in it's virulence and force?
In fact, Gagdad Bob, a clinical & forensic psychologist, has had many excellent posts exploring the intricacies of BDS and leftist mind warp.

Posted by: EW1(SG) at May 21, 2006 4:48 PM
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