One If By Land

Progressive political commentary, analysis, and opinion. Showing no mercy to Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. "A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy." Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, October 25, 2004

Die Rehnquist, Die: How the Impending Demise of Arch-Traitor William Rehnquist Could Spell The End of GOP Control Of All Three Branches by 2006

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Maybe it was the stress of knowing that once again the election may end up going to the Supreme Court for a decision. Perhaps it was just a guilty conscious. George Bush's bad karma? Whatever the reason, William Rehnquist chief "justice" of the Supreme Court is in the hospital with cancer, and it looks like he'll be trading in that judicial robe for a funeral shroud. Good riddance.
Some might say that it is wrong to cheer the impending decomposition of a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Generally, I would agree, however, cheering the death of a traitor is perfectly patriotic. Rehnquist and the four other justices who voted with him in Bush vs. Gore are indeed traitors. The legal basis for this charge was established by Vincent Bugliosi in, "The Betrayal of America", written after that decision. The only regret a patriotic American ought to feel about a traitor like Rehnquist's demise of natural causes is that he will never be held accountable in a court of law and punished for what he did. If I were a religious man, I would assume that he is now receiving punishment by the hand of providence, which timed its divine stroke to ensure that his evil will be undone. After all, Rehnquist has lived longer than most people, and by placing George Bush in office has made it impossible for thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners to do the same.
What would the death or incapacitation of Rehnquist mean in terms of the election? Should the election again be decided in the supreme court, it would end in a four - four draw, reaffirming the decision of the lower court which would inevitably have heard the case first. In Florida with its democrat dominated supreme court, this would probably spell the end of Bush's hopes, despite his baby brother's nastiest anti-constitutional machinations. In any case, be the lower court in question a state supreme court or a federal appeals court, it is unlikely to be as partisan as the Rehnquist court, which will become a non-factor.
The long-term implications of Rehnquist's passing would be even greater, assuming a Kerry victory next week. In one fell swoop the Democrats will retake two branches of the federal government by electing John Kerry. After becoming president one of his first acts will be to appoint a new supreme court justice. Depending on which party controls the senate after the election, a bitter confirmation struggle may ensue but eventually a Kerry nominee must inevitably prevail. Thus, the executive and judiciary will be in democratic hands. Sandra Day O'Connor is unlikely to last much longer, as she is known to have been considering retirement since prior to the Bush V. Gore debacle. One can only speculate that she has stayed in the court to protect her legacy, hoping that a legitimate Bush victory would give her an excuse to retire knowing her replacement will be appointed by a mandated president rather than a thief she herself helped to install. Considering her age, poor health, and the hopeless frustration a Kerry win would cause her it is unlikely that she will remain in the court for another four years. So should Kerry win on Tuesday next, we should see a 5-4 liberal court almost immediately and a 6-3 court not long thereafter.
This will also mean the end of Republican domination of the House by 2006. Redistricting cases will be brought before the court regarding the unconstitutional, partisan redistricting plans foisted on the country by the GOP in Texas, where Hispanics are shifting that state inexorably towards a Democratic majority, and Pennsylvania, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by approximately half a million voters but have been gerrymandered into a one-third minority in the House. The House should be in Democratic hands by 2006, and once the Democrats take control of the House Ethics Committee they'll be able to chase out some of the worst of the Republican sleaze who will have survived the midterm elections in their suddenly more competitive districts.
With the Republican control of all three branches of government completely reversed by 2006, it will be time for Progressives to stop holding our noses and voting for the lesser evil, and start pressuring the Democrats for a truly progressive, non-corporatist platform. After all, they wouldn't want to lose out to that loyal opposition party- the Greens. So, from the bottom of my red, white and blue heart I say grow tumor, grow; die Rehnquist, DIE!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A State of Nature

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My apologies for not having updated this blog in the past week. I have just finished the latest piece for the main site, entitled Not Grandpa's Republican Party" about how the Republican Party has betray the ideals of state's rights, fiscal and personal responsibility and international non-involvement that it used to stand for. Writing a serious piece on GOP hypocrisy while Bill O'Reilly's latest sex scandal is in the news has gotten me to thinking, why not write a review of the best, most hypocritical GOP sex and drug scandals, which will be upcoming on the main site. This blog is generally satirical, but today, I'm going to add a serious post. The next one will be funny, I promise.
"A state of nature" was how early Americans in the months prior to the Revolutionary War characterized their situation. They considered themselves to be in a state of nature because government based on the rule of law had failed. The British crown had repeatedly acted with arbitrariness and hubris, going well beyond the rights of the government over the governed. The colonial charters which had established the basis for the governments of the colonies were no longer valid, being derived from the royal authority which had lost its legitimacy. New governments had yet to be formed. The only laws were those of nature; the natural human instinct of the Americans to work together in the face of looming crisis pitted against the ultimate law of nature, that of violent force, on the side of the crown.
In recent weeks it has come to light that election fraud and massive voter disenfranchisement are once again the modus operandi of Mad King George II's bid to hold on to his illegitimate grip on power. In Florida, Nevada, West Virginia, Colorado, Ohio- in nearly every state with the possibility of deciding the coming election the GOP and its allies have been hard at work. They have falsely registered voters, giving them the impression that they will be registered when in fact they will not be. They have destroyed voter registration forms submitted by democrats, disqualified registrations based on everything from unchecked boxes covering redundant information provided elsewhere on the registration form to the thickness of paper on which the registration forms are printed. They have paid college students to vote for Bush on Absentee ballots. They have altered polling locations and threatened to disallow those attempting to vote at the wrong location in the right precinct from doing so despite laws allowing them too do so. The inaccurate, racially biased felon purge lists have returned. Electronic voting machines incapable of allowing recounts and proven to be susceptible to fraud, manufactured and operated by GOP connected companies are being foisted on the public. In Florida, at early voting locations irregularities have already been reported, affecting likely democratic voters almost exclusively. Absentee ballots have been issued without John Kerry's name on them.
Four years ago when the election was decided under similar circumstances, the American people submitted to the idea that as a nation of laws, we must submit to the rule of law and accept the flawed outcome of that election. Since that time, a usurping regime has violated both the law and the constitution which is the sole basis of the law with reckless hubris and disregard. Neither the states nor the people are safe in their legal or constitutional rights anymore. Meanwhile, the regime is subject to neither, and has usurped powers not granted to government under the constitution. They have subverted control of the media, making the free press into a consolidated disinformation machine. They have violated more or less the entire Bill of Rights, with the exception of the 2nd and 3rd amendments. They have allowed all manner of graft, corruption, and in the cases of the Plame leak and Halliburton's dealings with Iran even treason, to be committed by their own while crushing dissenters and political enemies.
The dishonesty and reckless disregard for law and morality of this regime has plunged the United States into the most desperate condition it has faced since the great depression. They have done this without a popular mandate or constitutional legitimacy. Should they legitimately be affirmed in their current position in the coming election, then we will have to simply bite our tongues and continue to work within the law to assuage the damage they are causing to our nation. However, should they again steal they election through fraud, judicial machinations, and violence as they did before and as the evidence clearly shows they are trying to do again as we speak, we will have to accept the fact that we are no longer a nation of laws, and that law has been rendered the tool of the tyrant, not the recourse of the citizen. We will be, as our ancestors were when the excesses of the crown passed all reason and all hope of reconciliation, in a "state of nature". Should that come to pass, it will be necessary for American patriots to respond the way our ancestors did, according to the laws of nature.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Final Presidential Debate Preview, Let's Sue Ann Coulter, Michael Moore's Underwear

One If By Land
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Here is my prediction for how the final presidential debate will go. Dubya will be absolutely brilliant. He'll be more articulate than ever before, and Kerry will be taken aback by Dubya's lucid, logical presentation. Then the transmitter sending Dubya's lines to the hidden receiver will interfere with Dick Cheney's pacemaker, killing him and leaving Dubya speechless (in order words, he'll be struck even dumber). This will be a landmark event in American history, as it will mark the first time in which the death of a vice president has forced a president to take command of the nation. Dubya will then mumble, shriek, whine and scream his way out of a job.
The republican party of Michigan is actually pushing for the arrest of Michael Moore for bribing voters with free, clean underwear. Mike, look at those guys. If anyone needs clean undies, its got to be Karl Rove. Just swallow your pride, give the bad guys some fruit-of-the-looms and let bygones be bygones.
Actually though, this gives me an idea. That shrill, pasty wench Ann Coulter has another "book" coming out. Now, as I recall, in one of her recent books I believe Ann Coulter called all liberals "traitors". As it happens, the definition of treason in the constitution is very clear- you have to either levy war against the United States or adhere to her enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Now unlike the soon to be deceased due to a pacemaker accident during the debate Dick Cheney who set up Iran, Iraq, Myanmar and Libya with hundreds of millions of dollars in violation of U.S. sanctions, neither I nor any liberal I've ever met have done either of those two things. The definition of libel is also pretty, clear and I think Ann has crossed it. So I'm looking for a bunch of liberals who have never committed treason (just about all of us) to file a class action libel suit against Ann Coulter with me. Any takers, please contact me via this blog ASAP. I'm also looking for some right wing stud who isn't- A) compensating for sexual inadequacies by identifying with a strong fascist ideology; B) fat, old, and impotent C) a sexually repressed fundamentalist christian; D) an utter dork E) held back by good taste when it comes to the ladies F) one of those hypocritical right wing closet homosexuals- to shut her the hell up by giving her what she obviously needs. Any takers? Didn't think so.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Presidential Debate Results, Bush Loses Again

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Its ironic that conservatives in the administration often deride their critics for being "shrill". I have never heard a shriller sound than the hysterical shrieking that characterized Dubya's second debate performance. He repeated the same tired lies and fantasies, only this time he did so in a high pitched tantrum voice. Remember the argument with your X that made him or her your X? Well, Dubya sounded about that shrill and hysterical. Not only did his lies fail to agree with reality, but his subjects-verb agreement, his singular-plural agreement, they were non-existent as well. Kerry was able to hold back from correcting Dubya's grammar, but after tonight's debate, its pretty clear that Dubya's that much closer to riding the short bus back to Crawford.
Putting Kerry up against Dubya in a debate is analogous to putting the heavyweight champion (back when anyone knew who the heavyweight champion was) up against an also-ran from the special Olympics. The only difference, besides the fact that watching Dubya get KOed is a lot more pleasant, is that special Olympian are sweet, nice kids struggling against terrible adversity and making the most of it. I used to work in a SpEd classroom, and it was always inspiring to see the kids exceed everyone's expectations. Dubya's the opposite- he's the Evil SpEd. He's had no adversity whatsoever- in fact, he's had more priviledge and opportunity than practically anyone else on the planet. Imagine being able to go to Yale and Harvard and graduating without being able to finish a sentence in English. Well, he sure showed us why his Yale transcript doesn't include a stint on the debate team. One has to wonder if he was born this stupid, or if using his brain exclusively as a sponge for so long has anything to do with it. Maybe he powdered his nose once two often, refused to bother reading a book for a few years too long, and let his mind atrophy. Maybe it was that great dope the Worst Lady used to push back in college.
A democrat hasn't had a Bush on the ropes like this since Harry Truman brought Grandpa Prescott 'Hitler's Little Helper' Bush up on charges of trading with the enemy on the senate floor and announced, "I believe this approaches treason". Which brings us back to Dubya and his shrill rantings. At one point he brought up the international criminal court. Whether or not he opposes it on ideological grounds, it has to be considered that he has a personal stake in keeping the U.S. out of it. You see, even though Prescott was able to get off relatively easy back in '43, his estate is now being sued by two pesky holocaust survivors who want to recoup their back wages from their days as slave laborers for the Bush's German interests. That case would be heard in the ICC, if America were to join it. Thought the butterfly ballots were the first time the Bushes' screwed the Jews? Guess again. You see, the Bush family didn't get rich by hard work; it was treason (trading with the Nazis), fraud (too numerous to list, but BCCI, the S&L scandals, and Iran-Contra come to mind); drug dealing (Iran-Contra, Contra side), more treason (Iran-Contra, Iranian side); not to mention some good honest business with folks like the Saudi-Bin Laden Group.
I can't wait to see round three.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Vice Presidential Debate and Other News

One If By Land
The Vice-Presidential Debate and other News

Sorry, I'm still working on getting the main site together, so this blog won't exactly be the magnum opus I'll be remembered for after I'm gone, but I'll give a quick run down of the VP debate and other news.
What I love about this debate was the behind the scenes wrangling. After watching W's 'put me on the short bus back to Texas' performance in the first debate, you just had to wonder why his handlers agreed to stick him in three debates. It makes about as much sensse as Mike Tyson's 8 fight comeback deal, but in Tyson's case even though we know he's in for an ass whipping every time, we also know that A) he used to be great and B) he needs the money. But why let the people get a good, hard look at the real W two times more than they really had to?
The answer is that in exchange for agreeing to three debates, they won the following concession from the Kerry-Edwards camp: the VP candidates got to sit down. I don't believe the bit about trying to throw off John Edwards 'trial lawyer pacing around the courtroom style'. How much of a difference could standing behind a podium make in the strength of his arguments? No, the fact is, Cheney's pacemaker can handle a full on, snarling, (seated) attack, or; it can handle standing up for an hour. He just ain't got the heart to do both. So after sheltering poor W for the last four years, Dick Traitor hung George 'EvilSped' Bush out to dry- 3 times. Apparently, even Karl 'HillBilly Hitler' Rove had to acquiesce in this one.
Edwards started by telling Cheney that he, like his daughter, was not being straight with the country. OK, so he had too much class to say it that way, but I have to admit as much as I like John Edwards that whole 'Cheney loves his gay daughter' bit was a little too awkward and contrived. Then again, that's probably what he was going for, since it left DWI Dick feeling awkward, and reminded all of those fundamentalist nutcases (who I think are the only males left in America who actually don't like lesbians at this point- screwy religion, that) that their hero, yes, indeed, hasn't ostraciszed his daughter for being gay. Chalk up a few votes for Pat Buchanan (is he running again?). Nice going, John! To be honest though I find it hard to believe that Dick loves another human being at all, with the possible exception of W and the folks at Halliburton (and in the case of W at least, human is stretching things a bit).
Cheney continued the tried and true, just keep lyin' and denyin' strategy that's gotten him this far, but this time the press actually bothered to fact check him a little bit afterwards- those terrorist lovin' communists. Of course, they only called him on the whole 'I never met John Edwards before tonight' bit. That was a lie, but not as serious as some of the lies they let slip; its also not as serious as W's classic 'I hardly know Ken Lay at all' whopper from the days when Enron still made news. Speaking of fact checks, the old man got factcheck.org confused with factcheck.com, and accidently sent anyone who bothered to obey his commands to a site run by George Soros with the headline 'Why You Should Vote Against Bush'. Dick, stop drinking before your debates.
In other news, someone shot up a bush campaign headquarters, no casualties inflicted. Oneifbyland officially condemns this ineffectual act of violence. Next time, aim buddy! Use a bigger gun!
Finally, scientist have proven that fundamentalist christians are right when they claim that they are not descended from the apes. Apparently, although most people are descended from apes, evangelicals are a bit further back in the evolutionary chain. You see, as it happens, the apes are descended from them. So technically, they are right.
Sorry if this blog isn't quite up to literary specs, but then I've got my day job to worry about. After all, we can't all be like W, seven months vacation, a guy like Dirty Dick to do your thinking for you- born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a gold spoon up his nose!
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Sunday, October 03, 2004

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ORIGINAL GEORGE W (WASHINGTON) AND THE FOUNDING FATHERS

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ORIGINAL GEORGE W (WASHINGTON) AND THE FOUNDING FATHERS

The questions facing Americans today are among the most serious our country has ever had to decide. The choices we make as a nation in the coming year will affect the destiny of our nation and the world for generations. In order to obtain the best advice possible to aid in considering the issues of the day, I have decided to ask the most prominent of our founding fathers- George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison- their opinions about some of the issues facing the United States today.

Schwartz: Thank you all for coming here to speak with me today, gentlemen. I’m sure that the present generation of Americans will benefit from your experience and wisdom. Don’t worry Col. Hamilton, Aaron Burr wasn’t invited, but I think perhaps you ought to sit on the other side of the room from John Adams (whispered- I think he still has a chip on his shoulder).
Alright, if it’s ok with you gentlemen, I’d like to start with war. Recently, we went to war with a small nation, Iraq- Mesopotamia to all of you classically educated folk, because our president assured us that the Iraqis that it possessed nightmarish weapons and wanted to attack us with them. But after invading Iraq and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis and taking thousands of American casualties, its become obvious that the Iraqi military was a backward rabble and the Iraqis neither posed nor intended any threat to the United States. I know this specific war is a few hundred years after your time, but I’d like to get your thoughts on the idea of preemptive war. President Washington, what do you think of the doctrine of preemptive war?1

Washington: That we should be always prepared for War, but never unsheath the sword except in self defense so long as Justice and our essential rights, and national respectability can be preserved without it;…
Draft of Farewell Address, May 15, 1796

Schwartz: Thank you sir. That sounds like a clear statement against a doctrine of preemptive war. But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. Some people say that this war wasn’t about weapons, it was about controlling the world oil supply, which has become one of the most important strategic resources. We’re the greatest nation in the world- why shouldn’t we become an empire like Rome or Great Britain?

Washington: We shou’d not, in imitation of some nations which have been celebrated for a false kind of patriotism, wish to aggrandize our own Republic at the expense of the freedom & happiness of the rest of mankind.
Draft of First Inaugural Address, c. January 1789

Schwartz: Well said. One particularly controversial aspect of the Iraq war is the cost. At a time when our nation is carrying trillions of dollars in debt, this war has already run up hundreds of billions of dollars in expenses, which future generations will be forced to pay for in a further accumulation of debt. Assuming for a moment that this was a justifiable war, could I get a comment about the economic impact it’s going to have on future generations?

Madison : ….Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on at the expense of other generations.
Universal Peace, National Gazette, February 2, 1792

Schwartz: That’s a very powerful comment, especially coming from a president who served during a war which really did threaten our national survival. And it leads us into the next topic which I want to discuss- the economy. The United States is now carrying trillions of dollars in debt, with a projected deficit of over $500 dollars this year alone, without factoring in the cost of the war. Col. Hamilton, are you alright? Yes, the numbers are shocking, but try to take a deep breath... Yes, President Washington, please go ahead.2

Washington: No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an oeconomy of time more valuable.
Fifth Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1793

Schwartz: I see. You might be surprised to learn that all this comes just three years after our period of greatest economic prosperity. The projected debt for this year alone is over $400 billion, and that’s without figuring in funding of the war. Is this kind of deficit spending justifiable under any principle of government?

Jefferson: …the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
To John Taylor, May 28, 1816

Schwartz: At the same time, the current president is presiding over the largest expansion of the federal government in over fifty years. As one of the original republicans (from the first republican party) how do you feel about this type of big government with an expansive executive branch?

Jefferson: I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.
To Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

Schwartz: In America today political campaigns require millions, in the case of presidential elections hundreds of millions of dollars. In order to finance their campaigns, candidates and parties accept huge contributions from corporations and other special interests. They also raise a tremendous amount of money from the personal contributions of wealthy citizens―90% of which comes from the wealthiest 1% of the population3 . Candidates often appear to vote for or against legislation based on its benefit to the donors to whom they are indebted rather than its possible benefit to society; in some cases this ends up costing the public vast sums of money.

Madison: A government operating by corrupt influence; substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty; converting its pecuniary dispensations into bounties to favorites, or bribes to opponents; accommodating its measures to the avidity of a part of the nation instead of the benefit of the whole: in a word, enlisting an army of interested partisans, whose tongues, whose pens, whose intrigues, and whose active combinations, by supplying the terror of the sword, may support a real domination of the few, under an apparent liberty of the many. Such a government, wherever to be found, is an imposter.
Spirit of Governments, National Gazette, February 20, 1792

Jefferson: …though civil govemt duly framed and administered be one of the greatest blessings and most powerful instruments for procuring safety and happiness to men collected in large societies, yet such is the proneness of those to whom its powers are necessarily deputed to pervert them to the attainment of personal wealth and dominion & to the utter oppression of their fellowmen,…
Petition on Election of Jurors, October 1798

Schwartz: Those are both very strong statements, but after all, shouldn’t the wealthiest members of society, individuals and corporations, have the most say in its government? Aren’t they the smartest, most capable people in society?

Adams: The rich are seldom remarkable for modesty, ingenuity, or humanity. Their wealth has rather a tendency to make them penurious and selfish…
Diary, June 30, 1772

Schwartz: A lot of people would call a statement like that ‘class warfare’. , I must admit that current scandals in big business, Enron, Worldcom, etc. do kind of support that opinion. But, after all, shouldn’t we trust our leaders, especially when they are among our successful citizens? They must understand the day’s issues more deeply than regular people. For example, the neo-cons, maybe the most influential faction in Washington today, are behind a lot of the more controversial policies of the government today. They claim to be righteous, visionary and patriotic, and insist that their critics simply aren’t capable of understanding their visionary ideas.

Adams: ..Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon Foi, believes itself Right. Power always thinks it has a great Soul, and vast Views, beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God service, when it is violating all his laws…
To Thomas Jefferson, February 2, 1816

Schwartz: Those are both pretty extreme statements, Mr. President. But in all societies there are going to be opposing parties along lines of race, religion, class, etc. And it’s inevitable that the wealthiest portion of society will have a disproportionate share of power, isn’t it? If they can’t always be trusted to rule in societies best interests, what can we do? Yes, President Madison, please tell us what you think.

Madison: In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort. 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expense of another. 5. By making one party a check on the other, so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented, nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism.
Parties, National Gazette, January 23, 1792

Schwartz: Thank you. Of course, your first point, establishing political equality among all, could be accomplished through measures like publicly funded elections, but both of the parties in power today seem resistant to that idea. ‘Withholding unnecessary opportunity from a few to accumulate unmerited riches and abstaining from measure that operate differently on different interests’ sound nice, but with the system of special interest political funding that I told you about before that seems unlikely. As far as ‘laws that equalize extreme wealth and extreme indigence’, over the past two and a half decades, the opposite has been happening- the bottom 60% of Americans are earning less and the top 1% are earning more. The current government has cut income taxes on the richest Americans, and corporations, and eliminated the tax on large estates, while cutting programs to benefit the poorest Americans. Moreover, now that one of the two major parties controls all three branches of government, there is no effective check whatsoever on even their most extreme partisan measures.

Washington: Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally
This spirit, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetuated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Schwartz: Thank you President Washington. I think you’ve just pretty much said it all on the subject of parties and factions. The last thing you said, about the ruins of public liberty, was remarkably prophetic, and it leads me to one of the most important issues of the day. In response to an isolated but shocking attack on our nation’s home soil, the government has passed a series of laws called, ironically, the PATRIOT act. This act gives the executive branch and law enforcement agencies unprecedented access to information that seems in some cases unrelated to foreign terrorists- what books Americans read, what they buy, even access to their personal correspondences and documents. It denies the right of habeas corpus, the requirement that the government obtain search warrants, even allowing accused persons to be held indefinitely, with no outside contact, without even being charged with a crime. Furthermore, this and other recent acts allow first amendment acts of speech and assembly to be redefined as ‘terrorism’. Is it right to give up so many of the rights you and subsequent generations of Americans fought so hard to protect because of a single act of terrorism?4

Franklin: Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
This quote first appeared in 1755 in an answer by the Assembly of Pennsylvania to the Governor; and was the motto of Franklin’s Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Schwartz: Thank you, Dr. Franklin. In response to the PATRIOT act a growing number of communities, even states, have passed resolutions condemning the act. Some of the resolutions empower, even instruct local police and officials to disobey the act in cases in which in may be unconstitutional. There have been cases of local police not cooperating with federal authorities. Does the government have the right to pass unconstitutional laws? Since this is a nation of laws, shouldn’t we follow the law until it’s repealed? If you don’t mind, I’ve heard a lot from Presidents Jefferson and Madison already, and considering your leading roles in the opposition to the alien and sedition acts I think we can guess what you might say. I’d like to hear from someone more conservative. Yes, please, Col. Hamilton.

Hamilton: There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act therefore contrary to the constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorise, but what they forbid.
The Federalist No. 78, May 28, 1788

Schwartz: Coming from someone who is generally considered to be among the most conservative, even aristocratic of our nation’s founders, that’s a strong argument against the validity of any unconstitutional law.
We’ve been talking so far about modern America in the twenty-first century, but I’d like to ask you one question about your own era. As you may know, the last election, in 2000, was perhaps the most controversial ever- yes even more than yours of 1800. The current president lost the popular election by a wide margin, but managed to win the electoral vote by a hair under suspicious circumstances. Of course, I can’t ask any of you to comment on the specifics of an election that was held long after you all died, but it brought the issue of the electoral college back into the public debate briefly. Some people claim that your motives in choosing the electoral college over direct popular election were, well, less than pure. Others defend the system, but their arguments don’t hold up under careful examination. I believe President Madison spoke quite candidly on the electoral college at the constitutional convention, and I’m wondering if he’d be willing repeat his opinion for us today?

Madison: The people at large was in his opinion the fittest in itself. It would be as likely as any that could be devised to produce an Executive Magistrate of distinguished Character. The people generally could only know & vote for some Citizen whose merits had rendered him an object of general attention & esteem. There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections.5
July 19, 1787- Speech in the Federal Convention on Electing the Executive

Schwartz: What? You mean to say that you it was actually a compromise intended to give a disproportionate share of power to the slave states? That is disappointing. But I guess you had no real choice at the time, since you had to accommodate the regional interests of the day. Now that slavery’s been abolished though, I guess it’s up to us living American to reconsider.
Now, as I said, I won’t ask you to comment on any specific events that have occurred since your day, but, I can tell you that throughout our history every major party, but the two in power now especially, have been accused of election fraud at different times. The last two election cycles, including the last presidential election, were definitely no exception. New machines, called computers, are often used in place of paper ballots. The problem is, they can be accessed remotely and the results altered without leaving any evidence. Furthermore, the companies which make the machines all have financial connections with the party in power- including a senator who is part owner of the company who makes the machines used in his own state. In your opinions, is election fraud something we ought to worry about?6

Adams: ..we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties, if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party, through artifice or corruption, the government may be the choice of a party, for its own ends, not of the nation, for the national good.
Inaugural Speech to Both Houses of Congress, March 4, 1797

Schwartz: I see. How much of a threat do you consider election fraud to be?

Adams: Corruption in elections is the greatest enemy of freedom.
A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (begun in 1786, published in volumes 1787 – 1788)

Schwartz: Well, if that’s true, then I suppose that whichever party they support, today’s Americans ought to take a closer look at how their votes are being counted and who they are being counted by.
I know that in your day there were a great number of newspapers, often quite partisan, and that all of you suffered some pretty slanderous attacks from the press. In America today the news media consists of print, broadcast television, radio, internet- but for all this seeming variety six large corporation control most of our media7. These corporations have economic and political interests which may influence the objectivity of their news reporting. One study showed that a large portion of Americans believed erroneous facts about the threat posed by Iraq; errors which, if true, would have justified the war. One television station even assigned election night coverage in the last presidential election to a cousin of one of the candidates. That reporter called the election for his cousin before the votes were even counted. Can I get a few comments on the role of the media in a free republic?

Adams: I hope it will be no offence to say that public opinion is often formed upon imperfect, partial, and false information from the press.
To John Taylor, 1814 (written as part of a series begun in April, 1814, letter #XXXI)

Madison: A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
To William T. Barry, August 4, 1822

Schwartz: That brings me to another topic: education. The state of American education today is deplorable. We have students graduating who are illiterate, who need a machine called a calculator to do basic mathematics, who can’t even find their own state on a map, let alone important foreign nations. Recently, a bill called the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, which, though certainly flawed, did include some good improvements to the public school system. The problem is, that after passing the bill the president has refused to fund it; as an unfounded mandate it’s only making things worse. How important is education to a nation like ours, and who ought to be responsible for funding it- the government, the states, local governments, or individual parents?

Franklin: The good of Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Commonwealths. Almost all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish and endow with proper Revenues, such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the succeeding Age with Men qualified to serve the Publick with Honour to themselves, and to their country.
Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: Printed in the Year, MDCCXLIX, 1749

Schwartz: Men qualified to serve the public? In this day and age, with technology developing so quickly, and with all the influence science and technology have on our lives and international relations, I guess public servants need to be well educated. What about the common people, though? How much education do they need?

Jefferson: I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength. 1. that of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.8
To John Tyler, May 26, 1810

Schwartz: Wait, are you saying that we need education to preserve our freedoms? In America today, there’s a tendency towards both anti-intellectualism and blind patriotism. Do you think that this could be a danger to our liberties?

Washington: …there is nothing, which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every Country the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of Government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the Community as in our’s, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways: By convincing those, who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of Government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people: And by teaching the people to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of Society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temperate vigilence against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.
First Annual Message to Congress, January 8th, 1790

Schwartz: Ok, well you just said a mouthful. Could you summarize what you mean for our modern readers?

Washington: I mean education generally as one of the surest means of enlightening & givg. Just ways of thinkg to our Citizens,
To Alexander Hamilton, September 1, 1796

Schwartz: Alright, so an educated public is essential for democracy- that I can certainly believe. After all, people need to really understand the issues of the day if they are going to have a say in government, or even in choosing the people who do. But who ought to be responsible for the cost of education? Should we all have to pay for schools for poor people? Shouldn’t that be their responsibility?

Adams: Free schools, and all schools, colleges, academies, and seminaries of learning, I can recommend from my heart;
To Benjamin Rush, August 28, 1811

Schwartz: Well, you all seem to agree that education is essential to democracy, and that its important enough that society ought to pay for it so that everyone has access to education.
There is one issue that comes up in regard to schools, and with the current administration it’s becoming a more general issue- separation of church and state. There are religious groups which demand that prayer be allowed, or even required in public school. The current attorney general holds morning prayer meetings that his staff are expected to attend; he’s even rumored to anoint himself with oil on taking office, though I personally find that hard to believe. But many of these religious people claim that you intended the country to be governed by Christian fundamentalism. Was this your intention? What should the role of religion be in government and public life?

Madison: The settled opinion here is that religion is essentially distinct from Civil Govt. and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both;9
To Edward Everett, March 19, 1823

Jefferson: I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, & against all violations of the constitution to silence by force & not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.
To Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

Schwartz: I apologize if the next question is a bit too personal; I know it’s not really a public matter, but I feel like I have to ask you a little about your ideas on religion. After all, there is a religious movement with a powerful political lobby that has a lot of influence over the current government. They claim that every word in the bible is literally true. Furthermore, they claim that all of you believed this to be true, and intended it to be a foundation of our government. So, if it’s not too personal, could I get a few of your opinions on the real meaning of the Christian religion?

Adams: The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated.10
To Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825

Schwartz: You seem to be saying that even though you are a Christian, you don’t believe ever word in the Bible to be divinely inspired. Do any of the rest of you share President Adams’ opinion?

Franklin: As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, …some Doubts as to his Divinity;
To Ezra Stiles, March 9, 1790

Schwartz: Wow, that certainly doesn’t seem like the opinion of a Christian fundamentalist!

Jefferson: The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy so absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
To John Adams, April 11, 1823

Schwartz: Well, so much for all of you having been religious fundamentalists. If you don’t mind, I’d like to finish by asking your opinions on a more mundane topic which has become a major issue in my day- we call it outsourcing. What it means, basically, is that companies- manufacturers, support services, even some of our most advanced scientific industries- close their American factories, research facilities, etc. and move them to foreign countries where they can buy virtual slave labor for a fraction of the cost of hiring American laborers. Some economists claim that it’s just a natural part of the market economy, and that the profits made by American companies outweigh the value of maintaining domestic industry. Since the party most in favor of outsourcing today call themselves Republicans, I’d like to get the opinions of the two presidents from the original Republican Party.

Madison: …there is no subject that can enter with greater force and merit into the deliberations of Congress than a consideration of the means to preserve and promote the manufactures which have sprung into existence and attained an unparalleled maturity throughout the United States… This source of national independence I anxiously recommend, therefore, to the prompt and constant guardianship of Congress.11
Message on Peace Treaty, 1815

Jefferson: Shall we make our own comforts or go without them at the will of a foreign nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns. I am not one of these.
To Benjamin Austin, 1816

Schwartz: Now that we’ve heard from the true Republicans, would anyone else like to weigh in on this issue? Yes, Of course, please go ahead, sir.

Washington: Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence, not to insure a continuation of theei efforts in every way which shall appear eligible.
Eighth annual Message, 1796

Schwartz: Is there anyone with a dissenting opinion? …No? I see. Actually, outsourced industries go beyond just our ‘comforts’. The country receiving the greatest portion of ex-patriot American industry is China. Of course, like you say, many of the products being produced in China are comforts; but we are also exporting our high technology industries, including things called semiconductors and fiber optics, among others, which may also be used in making the modern weapons necessary for the United States to maintain our military supremacy. Some components of some of our weapons systems are actually made in China even though the Chinese have openly avowed to become a rival to our power and many in the Chinese government are actively planning to bring about a military confrontation with us over our support of the democratic nation of Taiwan. I’d like to get an opinion about this particular aspect of the outsourcing issue… yes, President Washington, please give us your opinion.

Washington: …when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and equipping of the public force in time of War…Ought our Country to remain in all such cases, dependant on foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary Articles should, in this mode cost more in time of peace, will not the security and independence thence arising, form an ample compensation?12
Eighth Annual Message, 1796

I’d like to thank all of you gentlemen for taking the time to speak to me today. You’ve certainly given today’s Americans a lot to think about, and I hope that we can all heed and benefit from your advice. I’d hate to think that we modern Americans might let you down after all that you did for us.

FOOTNOTES

In writing this piece it has been my intention to establish the context of each quote as accurately as possible within the literary framework of an ‘interview’. I had originally intended to include detailed footnotes for each quotation, but to do so would require more space than the original piece. Rather, I would encourage anyone who doubts the contextual accuracy of my quotations to read the originals in their entirety. In the interest of accuracy I have preserved irregularities in spelling and grammar which appear in the originals.

1. The quotations regarding war were taken from the rough draft of Washington’s Inaugural Address and from an essay of Madison’s entitled Universal Peace. Both of these pieces were written in the context of presenting guiding principles to both contemporary and future legislators. Some may argue that the threat of terrorism justifies preemptive action and that we simply have more to fear than they did and thus must react more aggressively. It should be remembered, however, that in those days America was surrounded by the British Empire in Canada, the French in Louisiana, the Spanish in Florida, hostile Indian tribes all along the frontier, and the British, French, and Spanish navies, not to mention the British press gangs which terrorized coastal towns and the Barbary pirates at sea. There were domestic factions opposed to the union, the constitution, even factions seeking reunion with Britain. Indeed, the threats we face today would probably seem trifling indeed to a man like Washington, who nonetheless counseled defensive war only, and only as a last resort.
2. The economy and especially repayment of the national debt were major issues facing the nation after the revolutionary war and the confederation period. Anyone who argues that terrorism and war justify carrying and increasing the current national debt should consider again the constant threats faced by our nation at the time that these quotations were originally written. If balancing the budget was a priority then, it can certainly be a priority now.
3. The statistics on the increasing disparity of income between the top 1% and bottom 60% of the American people is taken from Robert McChesney, The Media Crisis of Our Times, Project censored website, 2003.
4. Should the claims put forth in this piece regarding the PATRIOT act seem alarmist, I would encourage the reader to research the issue thoroughly on their own. The Bill of Rights Defense Counsel and the ACLU websites both contain a lot of information on just how far the PATRIOT act goes in violating the constitutional rights of American citizens. Both the Bush administration and attorney general Ashcroft have continued to push for even greater authoritarian powers, including the introduction of a “PATRIOT II” act. As noted above in (1) the country was under considerably greater threat at the time the bill of rights was written than in the present crisis which some would use to justify its nullification.
5. I was surprised at how little information I could find on the electoral college, for or against, in researching this piece. The only two quotations I did find which dealt with this topic were from James Madison’s speeches in the convention. I have included the more concise of the two, which I felt fit more naturally into the literary format of the interview. It is written in third person because that is the way in which he reported his own speeches, along with the speeches of other speakers which he recorded. Although I considered changing the tense to fit the conversational style of the piece, I opted not to do so as I considered it important not to alter the original quotations in any way. The other quotation on the subject runs as follows:

Madison: The remaining mode was an election by the people or rather by the qualified part of them, at large. With all its imperfections he liked this best. He would not repeat either the general argumts. For or the objections agst. This mode. He would only take notice of two difficulties which he admitted to have weight. The first arose from the disposition in the people to prefer a Citizen of their own State, and the disadvantages this wd. Throw on the smaller States. Great as this objection might be he did not think it equal to such as lay agst. Every other mode which had been proposed. He thought too that some expedient might be hit upon that would obviate it. The second difficulty arose from the disproportion of qualified voters in the N. & S. States, and the disadvantages which this mode would throw on the latter. The answer to this objection was 1. That this disproportion would be continually decreasing under the influence of the Republican laws introduced in the S. States, and the more rapid increase of their population. 2. That local considerations must give way to the general interest. As an individual from the S. States he was willing to make the sacrifice.
Speech in the Federal convention on Electing the Executive, July 25, 1787

As Madison was one of the main draftees of the constitution, perhaps its single most important author, these two candid speeches on the motive behind the electoral college argue against its having any continued benefit in the present day.
6. The senator mentioned in the section on election fraud is Chuck Hagel, republican of Nebraska. He is the former CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and continues to hold stock in that company. Hagel’s campaign finance director, Michael McCarthy, owns ES&S. The other major electronic voting machine manufacturers, Diebold, Votehere, and Sequioa, all have highly suspicious connections to the republican party, and there were strong, though underreported, indications of tampering in both the 2000 and 2002 elections. The issue is covered in Bev Harris’ book Black Box Voting, Plan Nine Publishing, 2003, and is posted on the website www.blackboxvoting.org
7.  The six corporations which control the vast majority of the American media are, in order of dominance: AOL Time Warner (partly owned by the Saudi royal family), The Walt Disney Company, Bertelsmann, Viacom, Newscorp, and Vivendi. The reporter referred to in the section on the media is John Ellis, first cousin of George W. and Jeb Bush, who was Fox News’ reporter during the night of the infamous Florida election debacle of 2000. The study referred to was conducted by the University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks, and is entitled, “Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War.” Its conclusions are a damning indictment of the mass media in general, particular television media, and most particularly Fox News, followed by CNN. More general information on media consolidation is available from Robert McChesney’s, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, The New Press, 2000, Robert McChesney and John Nichols, Our Media Not Theirs: the Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, Seven Stories Press, 2003. NOW with Bill Moyers has been providing ongoing coverage of the recent controversy over further deregulation of the media. There are also several website offering good, up to date coverage of the media consolidation issue including those of the Center For Public Integrity and CommonCause.
8. The second point in the Jefferson quote was the division of counties into hundreds in order to organize schools and other community functions. I have cut the quotation off after the general endorsement of public education. Public education was endorsed over and over by Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Washington, and the quotations I have presented are by no means comprehensive. .
9. Separation of church and state was an important issue, and one in which our founders believed wholeheartedly. One of the best sources for information on both his own and the other early president’s ideas and experiences in dealing with separation of church and state may be found in James Madison’s Detached Memoranda in the section entitled, Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments, (1819). In it, he goes so far as to oppose the appointment of chaplains for congress and the military.
10. As far as their personal religious feelings go, the Adams – Jefferson correspondence provides a splendid exchange of ideas on philosophy and religion by two men who, though disavowing affiliation with any particular denomination, are generally considered to have been Unitarians, or at least to have been closer to Unitarianism than to any other sect. Washington was a Christian, but he apparently viewed his Christian faith in a philosophical bent which was influenced by his involvement in freemasonry and was much more philosophically and spiritually complex than Christian fundamentalism. He also shied away from making overtly Christian references in his public speeches and papers. He refers to the deity as divine providence, our creator, the allwise dispensor of human blessings, etc. rather than Jesus Christ, God, or the holy spirit. I removed the phrase, “with most of the present Dissenters in England”, from the quotation from Franklin’s letter to Ezra Stiles because it referred to a contemporary controversy of their day and in no way altered the intent or meaning of the quotation. It appeared directly before the words, “some Doubts as to his Divinity.”, in the original letter.
11. The entire quote, with the portion removed from the interview text, runs as follows: “But there is no subject that can enter with greater force and merit into the deliberations of Congress than a consideration of the means to preserve and promote the manufactures which have sprung into existence and attained an unparalleled maturity throughout the United States during the period of the European wars. This source of national independence I anxiously recommend, therefore, to the prompt and constant guardianship of Congress.” I removed the reference to the period of the European wars because, although that was one stimulus of the growth of American industry at the time Madison was writing, it is clear that his statement was meant to apply generally and over time, rather than to the short- term post war period.
12. In order to fit into the conversational tone of the interview, and to emphasize the part of the speech which related to the question at hand I shortened the quotation somewhat. The original runs as follows: “As a general rule, Manufactures on public account are inexpedient. But where the state of things in a Country, leaves little hope that certain branches of Manufacture will, for a great length of time obtain; when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and equipping of the public force in time of War, are not establishments for procuring them on public account, to the extent of the ordinary demand for the public service, recommended by strong considerations of National policy, as an exception to the general rule? Ought our Country to remain in all such cases, dependant on foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary Articles should, in this mode cost more in time of peace, will not the security and independence thence arising, form an ample compensation?” This followed directly after the former quote from the same speech in the text. In short, Washington said that the government should encourage private domestic industry without becoming a producer itself except in cases in which the industry in question is likely to be unsuccessful in times of peace but necessary in times of war. It is true that this is a slightly different point than the one I have used it to support, i.e. that outsourcing of industries necessary to ourselves and potentially useful to our enemies in times of war should be forbidden. I feel justified in doing this because Washington made a stronger version of the same case- he essentially said that the government ought to produce any materials necessary in times of war which are not profitable to the private sector in times of peace. To extrapolate from this that he would support maintaining domestically at a lesser profit industries which could gain a greater profit to their owners through outsourcing at the price of national security in times of war is, I believe, justifiable based on the specific text cited and on the attitudes expressed in Washington’s papers and actions generally.

THE CASE FOR TREASON AGAINST DICK CHENEY

THE CASE FOR TREASON AGAINST DICK CHENEY

Article III Section 3 of the constitution states: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
It is the intention of the author to prove in the clearest manner possible that Dick Cheney is in fact guilty of multiple counts of treason as defined by the constitution for acts committed while acting as CEO of Halliburton Co. and in his continued support of that company. It is not the purpose of this piece to reiterate all of the numerous accusations against Dick Cheney or against Halliburton on other grounds- accounting fraud, bribery in Nigeria and Kazakhstan, use of slave labor in Myanmar, insider trading, nepotism, etc. I will not attempt here to make the case that the coup commonly known as the election, or selection, of 2000 in which Dick Cheney was a leading player and beneficiary was treason. Nor will I delve into conspiracy theories- Halliburton was meant to have a share in the Caspian Sea pipeline unsuccessfully negotiated with the Taliban in the months before September 11; some Halliburton subsidiaries have been connected to the Saudi Bin Laden group; Cheney’s defining act as CEO of Halliburton was to buy the liability ridden Dresser, a company connected to the Bushes from the time of Prescott Bush’s well documented trading with the Nazis during World War II. The entire scope of this piece will be limited to presenting a clear, logical case that Cheney and his underlings at Halliburton are guilty of treason as defined in Article III Section 3 of the constitution for trading with Iran, Iraq, and Libya in violation of US sanctions, and for ongoing actions undermining the war effort in Iraq.
It is true that these are not new allegations. They have been presented before by a number of journalists. Until now, however, nobody has seriously contested the justifications offered by Cheney and Halliburton. It has merely been accepted that Cheney and Halliburton’s actions were legal, if morally reprehensible, because they were able to exploit loopholes in US Sanction laws. This defense cannot stand up to real scrutiny, as this piece will prove.
First, let us review the charges against Cheney and Halliburton. Dick Cheney became CEO of Halliburton in 1995 and remained in that position until he left to run for the vice presidency in 2000. He continues to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in deferred compensation from Halliburton: U.S. Office of Government Ethics forms signed by Cheney on May 15, 2002 list Cheney’s 2001 income from Halliburton as $56,717 in “Sr. deferred comp (SEDC) Payout” and 147,579 in “Elective Deferred Salary Payout.” A press release from his own office dated April 11, 2003 states his Halliburton earnings at $162,392 in 2002, as compared to the $190,134 he received in government salary in that year. One year later, in 2003, his deferred compensation increased again, to $178,437. Add to this stock and options worth $10 million, which he was allowed to retain against company policy forbidding his early retirement on pay of the loss of his stock and options. It is unclear whether those stocks and options are part of, or in addition to the $20 retirement package he received on leaving Halliburton. Compare the millions in Halliburton largess to his paltry, less than two hundred thousand dollars a year vice presidential salary and it’s easy to see where Cheney’s loyalty really lies. Perhaps a twenty million dollar a year raise could make a patriot out of Mr. Cheney.
Until recently Halliburton continued to receive lucrative no-bid contracts from the Pentagon. Despite repeated denials (lies) on the parts of Cheney, Halliburton, and the Pentagon itself, a recently leaked pentagon memo proves Halliburton’s Iraq reconstruction contracts to have been awarded due to the direct intervention of the vice-president’s office, making him complicit in any ongoing acts of treason being committed by his former company. During Cheney’s tenure at Halliburton the company was involved in trading with three countries listed as sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Iraq, and Libya.
Libya: Halliburton’s Libyan dealings began before Cheney’s term as CEO. In the early ‘90s Halliburton plead guilty to criminal charges of violating the ban on exports to Libya for the shipment of six pulse neutron generators to Libya via Italy by a former subsidiary, Halliburton Logging Services. A pulse neutron generator is a piece of oil drilling equipment which may also be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Halliburton was ordered to pay $1.2 million in fines and $2.6 million in civil penalties. Although the worst violations, or at least those to which Halliburton was forced to confess and be penalized for, happened before Cheney became CEO Halliburton continues to do business in Libya in violation of US sanction to this day, and did so throughout Cheney’s time directing the company. It is difficult to believe that the CEO of a company convicted of and fined $3.8 million for violations of sanction laws could have been unaware of the continuation of those violations.
Iran: Unlike its Libyan dealings, Halliburton began doing business with Iran during Cheney’s tenure as CEO. Halliburton’s business in Iran is conducted through a Cayman Island subsidiary, Halliburton Products & Services Limited. A Cayman Island subsidiary of a company widely accused of using Enron style shell companies (which are often based in the Cayman Islands) with its headquarters in Dubai active only in Iran is in all probability a shell company set up to look like a foreign subsidiary. Halliburton has also admitted to having three British and one Sweden based subsidiaries which conduct business in Iran (the number of Halliburton’s foreign subsidiaries increased from 9 to 44 under Cheney’s tenure). An investigation by the office of Senator Frank Lautenberg turned up documents sent from Kala, the British subsidiary of the Iranian National Oil Company (NIOC) to the Halliburton subsidiary in 1997 and 1998. Could Cheney have been unaware of the initiation of business with terrorist sponsor Iran during his term as CEO? It seems rather unlikely, considering that his name appears on the list of attendees of a May 1996 conference held in Dallas titled, “Iran in Transition”. Halliburton continues to do business in Iran, earning $80 million there in 2003.
Halliburton’s Iranian business is currently under investigation by the SEC. The foreign subsidiary defense may not be enough to save them in this case, because according to the web site of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control the specific sanction laws against Iran include the following passage: “No U.S. person may approve or facilitate the entry into or performance of transactions or contracts with Iran by a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. firm that the U.S. person is precluded from performing directly. Similarly, no U.S. person may facilitate such transactions by unaffiliated foreign persons.” This clause is specifically designed to prevent the use of shell companies in dealing with Iran, particularly in oil field service, and violations may result in fines of up to $500,000 and 10 years in prison. If the republicans lose the coming election (and fail to seize power again the way they did after losing the last election) this could pose a real danger to Mr. Cheney.
Iraq: It is Cheney’s Iraq dealings which are most clearly chargeable as treason. Halliburton’s subversion of U.S. sanction laws against Iraq are all the more insidious in that as secretary of defense in the first Bush administration Dick Cheney was instrumental in writing the very laws he would violate on assuming his role as CEO of Halliburton. Furthermore, it is these crimes which have most demonstrable aided our enemies, and have undoubtedly funded the purchase of arms and munitions which have been and are yet being used against our soldiers- 0ver 1000 dead and more than 7000 grievously wounded- and counting.
Cheney oversaw Halliburton’s acquisition of two subsidiaries- Dresser Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump in 1998 in a joint venture with Ingersoll-Rand. Both subsidiaries had been trading with Iraq through a French affiliate since 1997, and continued to do so through 2000, when Halliburton sold its stake in both companies. United Nations documents and oil industry executive estimate that the total business conducted by the two subsidiaries amounted to $73 million; with $30 million worth of new contracts being signed after Cheney took the helm as CEO. Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on July 30, 2000, Cheney denied that Halliburton or its subsidiaries traded with Iraq (he lied). Three weeks later, contradicted by a spokesman from Halliburton itself, he changed his story, saying that he didn’t know about the trades. According to James E. Perella, former chairman of Ingersoll-Rand, this is also a lie. Senior Halliburton officials have also contradicted Cheney’s denial. After all, how could the CEO of the preeminent oil field services company in the world, a life long oil man, who had helped to write the laws- and the loopholes therein- not know anything about $73 million dollars worth of contracts with Iraq gained through a joint venture initiated under his direct supervision? Not only is it impossible that he did not know about the Iraq deals, but it is more than likely that they were the very reason he initiated the acquisition of the two subsidiaries in the first place.
None of these accusations are new, and must be familiar to many readers. The final defense offered by the vice-usurper is also familiar to many. It is claimed on behalf of Halliburton in general and Cheney in particular that the trades conducted with Iraq were not violations of U.S. sanction laws because they were conducted by foreign subsidiaries, not by Halliburton itself. Unlike the sanction laws prohibiting trading with Iran, which Halliburton continues to violate, the Iraq sanction laws had no clause allowing sanctions to be subverted through the use of a foreign intermediary. Who was it, one wonders, who forgot to write that clause into this particular set of sanction laws? Perhaps, the author of those laws who would later make millions violating them? Nonetheless, the law was not technically violated, no matter how many tons of explosives, RPGs and small arms that money may have been used to stockpile for use against our troops.
Here, then, is why the defense is constitutionally invalid, and the reason why Cheney and his Halliburton underlings are guilty of treason as defined in the constitution. Article III Section 3 of the constitution clearly states that, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against Them, or in adhering to Their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Here then are two clearly defined modes of treason. Cheney, of course, did not levy war against the United States (or, for that matter, against the North Vietnamese, but his cowardice is a separate issue). Did he then adhere to Hussein’s Iraq, giving them aid and comfort? . Conducting such lucrative business with a regime against the will of the world’s only great superpower must constitute “adhering” to that enemy. Especially when the vital nature of prohibited oilfield services to sanction starved Iraq is taken into account. For a poor, sanction starved regime to receive $73 million dollars worth of services, services which allowed the regime to stay in power and to stockpile the very weapons even now being used to murder our soldiers and marines, this goes well beyond “Aid and Comfort”. Without the proceeds generated by those services, Saddam Hussein may have fallen from power without a fight. Surely, he found Halliburton’s Aid very Comforting indeed, under the circumstances. Even if his regime had been able to remain in power, he could never have afforded the vast stockpiles of guerilla small arms and explosives, or paid the wielders of those arms. One can only speculate how many of our young men and women died by weapons purchased through money generated by the Aid and Comfort provided to Saddam Hussein’s regime by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton; how many Fedayeen salaries were paid via Dallas, Texas.
Nor may it be argued that Iraq was not an enemy at the time of the trades in question, even if they were an enemy of our own choosing who posed no immediate threat to our country. After all, we had just fought one war with Iraq during which Cheney served as secretary of defense. Our airmen constantly patrolled Iraq’s skies and bombed its military installations. We were the main force behind the maintenance of UN sanctions against Iraq. Precedent in treason cases does not require that the enemy adhered to be the object of a formal declaration of war. Consider the most famous case of treason in our history, after that of Benedict Arnold. The Rosenbergs were convicted of treason for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union despite the fact that there was not then, and indeed has never been, a declared state of war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, or any other incarnation of the Russian Empire. Numerous others were convicted of treason for passing secrets to the Soviets during the Cold War, because despite the fact that we were not actually at war in a legal or actual sense they were clearly and undeniably our enemies. The Cold War, it should be noted, cost the United States far fewer of her youths than the Iraq war has to date. In fact, if one were to calculate a body count for the acts of treason committed by Benedict Arnold, the Rosenbergs, and Aldridge Ames and add them together it would come to less than the number of American soldiers and marines killed and maimed by an Iraqi resistance which might never have been able to take the field had it not been for the treason of the man who sits unelected in the office of the vice president.
Article III Section 3 further states, “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Considering his history of lying, stonewalling, and obfuscation it seems doubtful that Dick Cheney will ever confess in open court. James E. Perrella is one witness, and its hard to believe that if subpoenas were issued to executives from Halliburton, Ingersoll-Rand, Dresser Rand, or Ingersoll Dresser Pump, not to mention officials at the UN oil for food program and perhaps former Iraqi technocrats as well, at least one more could not be found.
The constitutional definition of treason has clearly been met, and yet, Cheney cannot be prosecuted as a traitor because although he adhered to, gave Aid and Comfort to our enemies, he did not violate the law. One may ask how this can be possible. The answer is simple: it can’t. The laws exist only within the bounds set by the constitution, and the powers to make, amend, and interpret the law may never exceed the charter under which they were granted. Any law which is unconstitutional is null, void, and invalid; any power assumed to make such a law by a constitutional officer- even one who was legitimately elected- is also invalid, as it would be exceeding the clearly defined limits on his powers set by the constitution. The first amendment guaranties freedom of religion. Imagine a law prohibiting Judaism, or mandating that citizens of the United States have the freedom of religion only so long as they practice a polytheistic faith which includes animal sacrifice among its rituals. Such a law would clearly violate the first amendment, and would clearly be unconstitutional and invalid. No legislative act, executive order, or Supreme Court decision could create, legally enforce, or uphold such an act, because it would not be within the limits of their delegated powers to do so. The difference between the fist amendment and Article III section 3 is that the first grants a right to the people and restricts the actions which the government may take, whereas the latter restricts the actions which any citizen, public or private, may take. The principal that the constitution remains superior to the law and may not be contradicted thereby remains the same in either case.
Let us examine one more hypothetical analogy, to a constitutional amendment which, like the article defining treason, is also wholly prohibitive in so far as it restricts the actions which the government may take. The third amendment is as follows: No solider shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. This may seem like a historical oddity to the modern reader, but in fact the Quartering Act must have been by far the greatest imposition upon our ancestors of all the Intolerable Acts. Imagine that a law were to be passed during peace time stating that soldiers could not be quartered in any house, pursuant to the third amendment, unless they were assigned to that house via a foreign real estate agent hired by an officer of the American government for that purpose, with all the logistics of the quartering being carried out by the foreign agent rather than by the American officer by whom he was hired. Nobody in their right mind would contend for an instant that this law was constitutionally valid, nor would it be stood for by those whose homes were being imposed upon. Why then should we stand for the loss of American lives caused by the treachery of Halliburton? Is not the loss of a son or daughter a greater imposition than an unwanted houseguest?
The same principle applies to the case of sanction laws, or loopholes therein, which allow an American company, through shell companies or foreign subsidiaries, to trade with an enemy with whom American companies and individuals are prohibited from trading because to do so exceeds the authority of the legislature by contradicting the constitution. Adhering to the enemies of the United States, giving them Aid and Comfort, is Treason. The definition is written plainly, in simple English without embellishment or condition. No construction or sophistry may be offered up which will change that fact. The executive branch, of which the secretary of defense is a member, is empowered under the constitution to carry out the laws- not to subvert them. No executive act or act of legislation may allow what is otherwise forbidden under the constitution. No law or executive act may empower the government to quarter troops in private homes in peacetime; to cancel elections; to prohibit exercise of the freedom of religion, speech or the press; or, as in this case, to trade with the enemy for profit at the expense of troops in the field, as our troops have been since the first Gulf War. Aid and Comfort are simple concepts; Adherence, if an old fashioned word, is also a simple one. $73 million in prohibited services to an enemy regime that could not have obtained those services elsewhere certainly violates the constitutional prohibition against treason. Unbelievable denials and blatant lies can’t answer for the blood and treasure we have spent, and are yet spending.
Further charges may be brought against both Cheney in his role as vice-usurper and against Halliburton for the war profiteering they are conducting in Iraq. Despite more denials (lies) a recently released pentagon memo has confirmed what few ever doubted- that Cheney has been behind the award of no-bid, cost plus contracts to Halliburton despite Halliburton subsidiary KBR’s having paid two million dollars in fines for over billing the Army. The over billing occurred while Cheney was CEO. Who in their right mind would have given a cost plus contract to a company so recently found to have over billed on just such a contract? Yet, from fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2003 Halliburton moved from number 19 on the Army’s list of contractors to number 1- while Dick Cheney remained on the payroll.
We now have reports coming out of Iraq of Halliburton’s serving rotten food to soldiers, and having continued to do so even after having been caught and forced to promise to improve. In addition, for rotten every meal they served, they were found to be billing for three (fresh) meals. Some other methods of inflating the cost to taxpayers: buying and importing the most expensive Kuwaiti gasoline they could find; abandoning $85,000 trucks as soon as they got a flat tire and replacing not the tire, but the entire truck; instructing employees to fill out time sheets for 12 hour days, when the employees admit to having done nothing all day. Halliburton has failed to perform some jobs, performed others so shoddily that they may as well not have done them at all; in every case costing the taxpayers more than had the military performed the work itself. The corruption and incompetence of Halliburton has turned the Iraqi population against the U.S.; it has drained funds which could have been used to supply body armor to soldiers who died because they were sent into battle without it. Funds which, used for reconstruction, could have given jobs and hopes to Iraqis who, in the absence thereof have taken up AK-47s and RPGs- often purchased through funds provided by Saddam’s Halliburton dealings. Halliburton, in short, is killing our men and women and sabotaging the war effort. They have been allowed to do so due to the personal intervention of Dick Cheney, a massive abuse of power even if Halliburton were not so insidious. This too may be said to be giving Aid and Comfort to the Iraqi resistance. If it isn’t treason, it certainly is war profiteering on a scale unprecedented in its brazenness and its deleterious effect on our military. During the writing of this piece the army has deemed in necessary to review at least some of Halliburton’s no-bid contracts; this only goes to reinforce the case presented herein.
Finally, I would like to remind the reader that, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, Cheney’s response was that he had, “Other priorities”. He ought to ask the families of the thousand dead American soldiers and marines what the “other priorities” of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers were. He ought to be forced to visit the hard black wall, not far from the office he has stolen and so treacherously abused, and read the names of 58,000 other young men whose “other priorities” were left on a foreign battlefield. Then he ought to be marched to the gallows and hanged as the greatest traitor in the history of our nation

References:

Halliburton is a Handy Target for Democrats, Robert O’Harrow Jr., The Washington Post, September 18, 2004.

Firm’s Iraq dealings Greater than Cheney has Said, Colum Lynch, Washington Post, June 23, 2001.

http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/bushcorpltr72402.pdf

Halliburton Subpoenaed Over Unit’s Iraq Work, Matt Daily, Reuters, July 19, 2004.

Dick Cheney’s Slimy Business Trail, Robert Scheer, Salon, July 17, 2002.

Contractor Served Troops Dirty Food in Dirty Kitchens, Agence France Presse, The Taipei Times, December 14, 2003.

A Discreet Way of Doing Business with Iraq, Carola Hoyos, FT.com site, Nov. 3, 2000.

E-Mail Boosts Calls to Probe Halliburton, Cheney, Reuters, June 1, 2004/09/11

The Republican War Against Vietnam Veterans, Stewart Nusbaumer, Intervention Magazine, August 15, 2004.

“This Week”, ABC-TV, July 30, 2000.

“This Week”, ABC-TV, August 20, 2000.

Halliburton Planned for Oil Rewards from War, Jason Leopold, Scoop Media, May 14, 2003.

Halliburton Iraq Ties More than Cheney Said, NewsMax wires, June 25, 2001.

President Bush and Halliburton Corporation: Taking Care of his Own?, prepared by Campaign Money Watch, September 14, 2004.

The office of Congressman Henry Waxman has produced copious materials on Halliburton and continues to pursue the company for its treacherous misdeeds despite pressure from the vice president’s office. Twoifbysea would like to salute the Congressman for his doggedness and determination on this issue.

TERROR AND LIBERTY

TERROR AND LIBERTY

Since September 11th we have been told that in order to defeat terrorism we must sacrifice some of our most fundamental rights as Americans. The PATRIOT Act, the increase in domestic surveillance, the muzzling of the media and the branding of dissenting speech as treason have all been justified by the illegitimate regime ruling America today and the sycophants who bark their message on corporate media. With all the false bravado of angry poodles, their pet ‘commentators’ insist that this surrender of our freedoms is necessary to defend our freedom. The idea of canceling the upcoming elections should terrorists strike has even been raised by the usurpers who have more to fear from ballots than from bombs. When answered with the words of Ben Franklin or Franklin Roosevelt, leaders in times of greater peril than UBL could ever dream of posing, we are told smugly that times are different, and that different times require different limitations on sacred liberty.
Times are different now than they were when our founding fathers risked war and anarchy rather than surrender the fundamental principals of liberty and democracy. I will examine the differences between then and now in order to prove that to sacrifice the legacy of courage and liberty handed down to us from the first generation of Americans, and through the generations which have come between, would be to betray both those revered ancestors and the descendants who will one day look back upon us in judgment. I will not attempt to imitate the elegant style of Jefferson or Madison, or to construct complex academic arguments for lawyers and philosophers to ponder over. I will present my case in simple language because the case is a simple one. Let us consider just how different the times really were when our founding fathers demanded that the new constitution be amended to include a Bill of Rights, and decide who was faced with greater terror.
America in the decades after the revolution was a poor, disorganized debtor nation surrounded by hostile empires. To the North, in Canada, the British, still hoped to regain the land and prestige they had so recently been forced to quit. Their army was the greatest in the world at the time; their empire the greatest the world had ever seen. Their fleets were the most numerous and powerful in history. They could proudly claim that Britannia ruled the waves; that the sun never set on the British Empire. They impressed our seamen to man their ships as if we were yet their subjects; they incited and armed hostile Native American tribes along our borders. A second war against the British, to confirm our hard won independence was inevitable, and when it came the newly built capitol was burned to the ground and the President and his cabinet sent in flight as the White House was consumed in flames. It was a feat I doubt that Al Qaeda will ever match. President Madison did not see fit to rescind the Bill of Rights even as he watched his home burn, fleeing on horseback. The war ended with the enemy routed in New Orleans and Washington D.C. was rebuilt.
The British were only one of several European empires who looked on the United States as fertile ground for conquest. The French, our allies in the revolution when we shared a common enemy, held Louisiana and still ached from the loss of Quebec, where they could expect the loyalty of unwilling British subjects. Their ships outnumbered and outgunned our own, and indeed, a ‘quasi-naval war’ was fought between the two nations in the 1790s. They also had their allies among the Native Americans. They had wealthy colonies in the Caribbean in which the deployed an army with the purpose of invading the United States. Indeed, it was only a fortuitous epidemic which decimated the French army intended to be our conquerors.
The Spanish still held Florida, from where they incited bands of desperados and hostile Native Americans to harass our southern frontier. They held South and Central America in and iron grip which threatened any future expansion of the United States. They too possessed a greater navy than ours; indeed, any one of the three great European powers could menace and perhaps destroy the Atlantic trade on which our economy depended. Our trade was further endangered by the ruthlessness, cruelty and avarice of the Barbary pirates.
Where European empires did not control our frontier, hostile Native American tribes were a constant terror. It may be fairly said that we earned their hostility through our own, and that the cruelty of their tactics in war was no greater, perhaps even less than the cruelty of ours. The fact remains that the terror and brutality they inflicted, slaughtering entire towns, kidnapping and maiming in the dead of night, were far more terrifying than the threats posed by Islamic fundamentalist groups who have succeeded in only one major attack on our soil- and that through the incompetence of a regime un-elected and unfit to lead.
Our infant nation faced domestic enemies every bit as lethal as the foreign ones described above. The country was full of tories who wished to reunite with Great Britain, some of who commanded considerable wealth and controlled popular newspapers. A nation so full of immigrants was easy for a spy from anywhere in Europe to infiltrate. There were factions who wished to see the states separate into minor confederacies; factions vying to install themselves as aristocrats and monarchs over the new land. Tensions between states threatened to lead us into wars amongst ourselves. America was burdened with a crushing national debt, and a national government too weak and enervated to deal with a single one of the threats facing the new nation. Finally, the threat of mortal illness was more real to our ancestors than we in our climate- controlled, sanitized world can ever possibly comprehend. It was the norm for even the most privileged of families to fill the family plot with the bones of children lost to disease.
Faced with all of this, our founding fathers refused to accept the security of a constitution promising a strong national government and a road to greatness unless that constitution were amended to include a Bill of Rights. Even faced with terror, anarchy, and poverty they could not bear to sacrifice the liberties which had led them to walk the hard road of independence. The courage of those first Americans to call themselves Citizens of the United States rather than subjects of King George has been an inspiration to every generation of Americans since. They refused to surrender a single liberty to terror- that is why our country is great today.
Compare the catalogue of terror described above to the threat of today’s terrorists. Al Qaeda has succeeded in one major attack on American soil due more to gross negligence on the part of a particularly inept executive branch which will soon be replaced than to any prowess of their own. They have succeeded in a few smaller attacks on our interests and allies overseas; and have been harried around the globe in return. They are not a state on which to levy war but a band of gangsters to be hunted down like common criminals. They have done less harm to our economy, our environment, or our military than the very Bush Regime which holds them up as a bogeyman to scare us into surrendering liberties which endanger tyrants far more than they aid terrorists.
If you truly believe that the current crisis requires us to sacrifice our liberties and the principals of our constitution then you are a coward, and a traitor to every generation of Americans who has striven fearlessly to make our nation great. You dishonor the memory of every American whose life was freely given on a foreign battlefield to protect freedom in every hemisphere. You dishonor those who serve today. If you would sacrifice liberty for safety, would sacrifice democracy for the tyrannical kleptocracy of the current government; if you would be a subject of King George because you are afraid of a motley band of barbarians then you are the one who doesn’t belong in America. Go where you will to find safety, but leave the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. The Free and the Brave won’t miss you.