Kenneth Stremsky responds to Mr. Berg-Andersson's response to his 21 July 'Vox Populi'
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
by Kenneth Stremsky
I liked your comments on my Vox Populi dealing with How to increase membership in the Republican Party.
However, while I do realize that the American people re-elected President Bill Clinton in 1996, I think that- because of what happened with Monica Lewinsky after 1996 and the ensuing impeachment proceedings that the American people will not re-elect a President of the United States of America who is unethical in office if the person the President of the United States of America is running against is not more unethical: I forgot to mention that the ethics of the contender cannot be any worse than that of the incumbent for my prediction to take place. I do believe the people of the United States of America will continue to elect unethical people President of the United States of America: I think most Americans will care more about the ethics of a President of the United States of America after the person becomes President of the United States of America.
In 1992, I voted for Bill Clinton and contributed $100 to his campaign because I thought his public character was better than President Bush's public character: Iran-Contra and President Bush's use of racism (for example, the Willie Horton ad of 1988) ticked me off. After President Clinton did things I considered to be unethical in office, I decided to never vote again for a President of the United States of America who is unethical. If I do not like the people running, I will write in someone's name or "none of the above".
If the stock market continues to nose dive and Democrats decide to use the tactics that are discussed in the Art of War by Sun Tzu translated by Samuel B. Griffith, I believe they will get at least two-thirds of the United States House of Representatives. I do discuss campaign strategy on my website and Democrats and Republicans may benefit from the information... People who have money are more likely to defeat their opponents if they use successful tactics from war, businesses, television, and past political campaigns. I do recommend that candidates study the campaigns of British candidates in the 19th century.
Impeachment will probably only occur if the American people turn on President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. If President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney do not discuss their dealings with the energy industry in great detail and the stock market continues to decline significantly, this may happen. It is also possible that trade wars similar to the ones that caused the Great Depression could take place if Europe and Japan decide to retaliate significantly against the United States of America because of our significant increase in farm subsidies and tariffs on steel. I doubt any Congress will remove a President of the United States of America from office who is not hated by the American people if the person is competent in military matters and/or the person has not committed a significant crime.
I do consider perjury in a court of law on a matter not dealing with national security to be a "high Crime" when a President of the United States of America does it. I do realize that a President of the United States of America sometimes has to lie when national security matters are discussed. If a person does not understand why, I- again- highly recommend the person read the Art of War by Sun Tzu. I believe saying no comment when a question is asked the person does not want to answer is better than perjury. A person may not be made to speak about anything the person does not want to speak about in a court room or any place else because freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak. A President of the United States of America does not have to answer questions from Congress the President of the United States of America does not want to answer because the President of the United States of America does not have to talk about anything that the President of the United States of America does not want to talk about. The President of the United States of America does have to give a State of the Union address because of Article Two, Section Three of the United States Constitution. A President of the United States of America could give a State of the Union Address that says "The State of the Union is good and I am trying to make things better."
I do want a constitutional amendment to be passed that gives voters the ability to remove a President of the United States of America, a United States Senator, or a member of Congress from office via a Special Election. I discuss this topic on my website in my MORE POLITICAL POWER FOR CITIZENS section on part three of my political resume which a person may get to from my website. The beginning of the section says "An amendment to the United States Constitution should be passed that gives citizens of the United States of America who live in a Congressional District the ability to remove from office their Representative to the United States House of Representatives. A Representative to the United States House of Representatives should be removed from office when at least sixty percent of the voters in his or her district vote for the removal of the Representative. An election for another Representative for the Congressional District should take place within two months of the removal. The Representative who was removed should not be allowed to participate in this election. I discuss several amendments to the United States Constitution including amendments that would increase the power of states on part three of my political resume.
A constitutional amendment does not have to be passed that gives Congress the ability to Declare a National Emergency. Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution says Congress has the power "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." Article One, Section Eight also gives Congress the power "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." Congress can just pass a law that says that Congress may only take money out of Social Security and Medicare for a non Social Security purpose or non Medicare purpose when Congress and the President of the United States of America Declare a National Emergency. Congress can always pass a law later on that eliminates this law. A constitutional amendment dealing with a National Emergency is more likely to keep Congress from spending money from Social Security and Medicare for purposes other than Social Security and Medicare.
I do not believe that Civil Liberties should ever be suspended except for the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Constitution does give Congress the ability to suspend the Civil Liberty which is the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Article One, Section 9 says "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
I do discuss many Civil Liberties that the Federal Government infringes on a regular basis on my website. I discuss the Bill of Rights in greater detail on my website than most candidates for elective office. I do not want our Republic to become an Empire similar to the Roman Empire. Civil liberties were infringed during the Civil War and during World War 2 that should not have been infringed. I agree with you that not much has changed since September 11. Our modern War with terrorism began when our Marines were murdered in Lebanon in the early 1980s and we did not do anything significant about it. Our country also decided not to do anything significant after Pan Am 103 was blown up more than a decade ago. People who want to learn why intelligence failures happen should watch the film 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' which is about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
I hope that readers of 'The Green Papers' will check out my website and e-mail feedback to me at . If there are other topics readers think I should also discuss, I hope they will tell me.
I am running for elective office to get the issues discussed. I doubt I will win elective office in the future because the candidate who is most likely to win elective office only discusses a few issues and spends a great deal of money on a campaign. I am not accepting campaign contributions at this time from anyone besides myself because I have not been able to find a campaign treasurer who will accept contributions from others and who is willing to risk paying the high fines the Federal Election Commission is able to impose on campaigns. I do hope to spend a great deal of money discussing the issues in the future. I do hope that readers of 'The Green Papers' will ask members of Congress to create a Federal Campaign Treasurer Commission.
Richard E. Berg-Andersson rebuts Mr. Stremsky's response to his response:
I will here only directly address some of the issues you have raised in your response to my response that deal with what both you and I discussed in relation to your original 21 July piece for this site's 'Vox Populi' section.
I do not at all share your optimism that Americans will no longer (it seems, if only by implication, you think as a result of Bill Clinton having been impeached, though- of course- not removed from office) re-elect an unethical President of the United States if the major challenger is as, if not- hopefully- more, ethical than the incumbent. It seems to me that your belief is not borne out by careful observation (for example, the polling data from during the Clinton years); nor is it well borne out by historical experience!
In 1972, Republican President Richard M. Nixon was facing re-election and his opponent was George Mc Govern, then a Democratic Senator from South Dakota. Now I dare say that, all things being equal (as well as given the historical record), Senator McGovern could quite probably be considered to have been more ethical than President Nixon but McGovern was- or at least those who were his most ardent (hence, more visible) supporters were- also well left of the political center of that time (or at least- rightly or wrongly- perceived as being so); it should be no surprise (and certainly did not come as one back then, as I recall) to learn that Nixon won re-election by a landslide.
Now many reading this will point out that, at the time of the November 1972 Elections, the full extent of the so-called "Watergate Affair" was not yet known-- but we Americans did know about what the Nixon White House was trying to palm off as a "third-rate burglary" (for the Watergate break-in per se was being discussed in the media during the course of the Fall campaign) and we also knew (if we only had wanted to know and accept the fact) that Nixon had long been known as a master of so-called "dirty tricks"; certainly, we also well knew (unless we had spent the First Nixon Administration hiding under a rock somewhere!) the attitude of the President and, in addition, his Vice President- Spiro Agnew- toward the media in general and the admittedly not-so-loyal opposition (this being, of course, the Democrats) in particular. One did not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there was likely some significant lack of ethics in the Nixon White House, even if one did not yet know just how dark and deep that unethical side of things had actually gone!
During the 1972 Fall campaign (I was 16 years old at the time and was too young to vote but I did, nevertheless, have a keen interest in the political news of the day-- an interest that one sees fairly well reflected in my work on this very website and one that goes back well over three decades!), a number of "card-carrying" Republicans as well as nominally independent Republican supporters of that time whom I personally knew- including my father (one of the former) and my maternal grandfather (one of the latter)- told me, during the Fall of 1972: "Even if there should be anything much more to this 'Watergate' stuff, Nixon has to beat McGovern"... admittedly this is anecdotal evidence but I have not since seen any significant and credible historical evidence that this attitude did not at all reflect the "bell curve" of popular opinion during the waning months of 1972! The election results are largely proof of this in and of themselves: Nixon WAS right- there WAS a so-called "silent Majority" and those whom I quoted earlier in this paragraph were part of it and voted for Nixon in droves!! When I would- as, later, more and more of the full light of day began to shine even into the darkest, dankest corners of the"Watergate" scandal- point out to either my Dad or my Grandpa one of those ubiquitous post-1972 bumper stickers reading "Don't Blame Me!... I'm from MASSACHUSETTS!!", they would each sigh a bit and then say to me something to the effect of "Well, it's a good thing Nixon won anyway".
Much the same thing could be said for the Impeachment of President Clinton. Clinton was largely viewed as at least somewhat unethical well before 1996 (you didn't need to know about Monica Lewinsky to discern this): 'Whitewater' was a ubiquitous story during Clinton's first term, as was 'TravelGate'; in addition, Clinton's womanizing was well known and oft-reported (though I don't know a single Democrat personally who all that much cared about this, at least as it affected him or her while in the voting booth!). Republican challenger Bob Dole tried to use the issue of Clinton's perceived lack of ethics in the 1996 campaign and still lost! The simple truth of American Politics is that, if Incumbent A is an unethical person who, nevertheless, is within the "bell curve" of the political spectrum (as both Nixon and Clinton were-- despite what can only be described as the political equivalent of the psychological phenomenon known as "projection" ["We're extreme--- so they must be, too!"] on the part of their respective opponents), he or she is going to be able to beat Challenger B, no matter how virtuous the challenger might be, if that challenger is even a smidgen too far to the left or right (or perceived to be so, even where such perception is- indeed- wrong) of the mainstream of the American polity. Overall, Nixon was seen as closer to the center than McGovern in 1972; likewise, Clinton was seen as closer to the center than Dole in 1996-- ethics had little to do with this result and it also matters not just how true or untrue these perceptions by the average voter (as reflected in the election returns) actually were (future historians will sort this all out better than we who lived through these events!).
I don't see any convincing evidence that the American polity has suddenly had some kind of epiphany in the last four to six years (since either Clinton's Impeachment or his earlier re-election) that will keep them from voting this same way again someday. I personally think much too much is made of Presidential Ethics in the first place: many a flawed man has served fairly well in Our Nation's Highest Office and numerous are the virtuous who have been largely failures. But, when it comes to brass tacks, Americans are electing a Candidate for Public Office- not a Candidate for Sainthood- whenever they step into the voting booth and the results of a particular election are going to reflect this as much, if not more, than anything else!
I, too, consider perjury committed by a President of the United States a "high Crime"in terms of Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. The problem is that the best of the four Articles of Impeachment brought against Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives back in 1998- that which charged him with just such a "high Crime" in his first Grand Jury testimony (that in the then-still active Paula Jones case)- was one of the two Articles voted down by the full House! The Republican managers/prosecutors then had to go into the Impeachment (really a Removal) Trial in the Senate with a much weaker case against Clinton than they might otherwise have had.
Not that it would have made all that much difference anyway, for the political winds were against the Republicans in the first place: as I myself wrote in my 22 May 2002 Commentary " STUPID ADMINISTRATION TRICKS":
Bill Clinton was such an easy target for Republicans re: the Monica Lewinsky and the other scandals plaguing that Administration because, as a Democrat, he was really no better than the chief minister of a quite large bureaucratic State- at least in that Party's own political theology; the reason the Republicans then failed so utterly in really laying a glove on Clinton is that they were so hung up on their own political theology of an "elected King" as President that they plumb forgot that, during most of the 1990s, the vast majority of Americans DIDN'T want such a "King" and didn't all that much mind such a somewhat rumpled "Prime Minister" in the White House: it was a classic case of "not seeing the Forest for the Trees" which transformed a major victory by the GOP in the 1994 Midterm Congressional Elections into the ignominy of that Party no longer having functional control of an essentially still-tied Senate while "jes' barely hangin' on" in the House as we approach the Midterm Congressional Elections 8 years later!
It remains true that Impeachment, while- yes- a legal process, is also a political process! It is for this (political) reason that I hold that the Impeachment of Bill Clinton was one borne of "stupidly believing in the efficacy of their own press clippings" and was, in the main, an "altogether silly exercise". Again, to quote my "card-carrying" Republican father (a man who has never voted for a Democrat in his entire life, mind you!): "Nothing was more stupid and wasteful than the Impeachment of Bill Clinton"... admittedly anecdotal evidence from many Republicans across the country suggest that my Dad is not all that alone. In the nearly 3 years this website has been on the Internet, I have gotten just as many e-mails from Republicans agreeing with my father as I have from the rabid anti-Clintonites who feel they were cheated out of the political equivalent of a good public hanging back in early 1999; more to the point, I see no credible evidence that most Americans wanted Clinton removed from office via the vehicle of Impeachment. The Republicans in the 105th and 106th Congresses were, on this issue of ethics, woefully out of touch with many in their own Party- let alone most of the American People in general!
At the same time, I still don't see the Democrats winning two-thirds of the U.S. House this coming Fall, no matter what political strategies they use, how much the Republicans might still be "out of touch" and what might come out about President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the now little more than 3 months before General Election Day: the political math just isn't there for the Democrats to pick up nearly 80 seats in that body! First of all, you have had reapportionment, which has shifted a fair number of seats from more Democratic to more Republican areas (for example, New York and Pennsylvania- where Democrats generally have done well- have each lost 2 seats while Arizona and Georgia- clearly Republican territory- have each gained 2 House seats as a result of the 2000 Census: this math is repeated in relation to many more States)- so it will be that much harder for the Democrats to gain whatever they might, in fact, gain come November. Secondly, I don't think that the political side of the recent corporate scandals will rise to the level of an equivalent of "Watergate" (at most, it might rise to the level of an "Iran-Contra", if that!), so I don't currently foresee the American people "turn[ing] on" Bush and Cheney- as you yourself put it... and certainly not before this coming 5 November!
A couple more quick notes before I close... The restrictions re: the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus were placed in Article I of the Constitution because, presumably, such suspension was intended to be exercised by Congress; instead, it was to be suspended- most notably in both the Civil War and World War II- by the Executive Branch (I will here say no more, because this might very well be the stuff of a future Commentary of mine!). This brings me to my other quick point: I most heartily disagree that a President can so blithely ignore answering the questions of Congress (even though- yes, you're right: he technically has the same "right to remain silent" that we all have!). Congress has Power of the Purse; it's very simple, really: "If you don't answer our questions about it [whatever "it" happens to, in fact, be], how are you then going to pay for it?"