September 12, 2005

Rob McKay of Huffington Post: Repair Damage Caused By Hurricane Katrina ... By Impeaching Bush

From Rob McKay of The Huffington Post:
While it's impossible to calculate exactly how responsible the Bush Administration is for the 'man-made' death and destruction, where does the lethal force of nature end and the failure of public systems to save lives begin? It's certain that President Bush perpetrated a level of malign neglect that is treasonous.

Treason, simply, is the betrayal of one's country. Pilfering millions from New Orleans' levee repair project to pay for a war based on deceit is a national betrayal. Sending one-third of Louisiana's National Guard and much of Mississippi's to Iraq is a national betrayal. Failing to declare a national state of emergency or to halt the 'shoot to kill' policy of law enforcement which replaced orders to 'search and rescue' is a national betrayal.

Bush's willful neglect of the people of the Gulf Coast amounts to criminal negligence. Bush appointed former PR handler, Michael Brown, to head FEMA after the guy was asked to resign from the International Arabian Horse Association. It's clear that ensuring the safety of our country during a time of national crisis is as important to Bush as an equestrian contest. He didn't put anyone with experience managing disaster at the head of FEMA because, in short, he could care less. Bush doesn't want a strong FEMA. He doesn't want a functional public sector. His only interest in government is to exploit the public good....We must not only ask what Bush could have done to prevent and still must do to repair the damage; we must also ask ourselves individually and collectively what we can do to dethrone Bush.

May the survivors of Katrina remind us that this will require sweat and sacrifice. May the survivors of Katrina give us courage and fuel us with an outrage we've never felt before. It's time to do and give more, far beyond the capacities we thought we had before the hurricane struck. It's time to rise up like a flood surge and summon up the power to hold Bush accountable by removing him from office.
What an ignorant moron. Mr. McKay is so blinded by his hatred of George W. Bush that he is incapable of making even a rational argument. Overall, Mr. McKay's column is nothing more than a thinly-veiled temper tantrum. Here is a thought to Arianna Huffington: How exactly do you pick columnists for the Huffington Post? You may want to reassess that strategy.

Can Bush be impeached as a result of Hurricane Katrina or the associated relief efforts?? To explore this rather bizaare argument, it is useful to first analyze the standard for impeachment set forth in the United States Constitution. Article II § 4 of the Constitution provides as follows: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." This is a legal standard that the Democrats - of all people - should be able to recite verbatim by now (after several years of explaining how purgery and obstruction of justice did not amount to "high crimes and misdemeanors). Is this standard met?

No bribery of George Bush has ever been demonstrated to have occurred in connection with the Hurricane relief efforts. As such, the analysis must turn to whether President Bush committed treason or high crimes and misdemeanors.

Treason is legally defined as providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

Mr. McKay ignores the legal standard for treason in favor of a much simpler standard. Mr. McKay alleges that treason is the mere "betrayal" of your country. How does President Bush betray his country you may ask? Mr. McKay alleges that Bush pilfered "millions from New Orleans' levee repair project to pay for a war based on deceit". However, there is no truth to such wildly absurd claims. According to the Washington Post, federal money, which was allocated to fund Louisiana's hurricane prevention efforts, actually increased during the first five years of the Bush administration. Does Mr. McKay believe that Bill Clinton should have been impeached for not providing adequate funding for hurricane prevention efforts? After all, Bill Clinton's administration budgeted less for hurricane prevention than President Bush. Unfortunately, the facts are that the Louisiana politicians -including Senator Landrieu (Democrat)- diverted substantial amounts of aid provided by the Federal Government to other pet projects. Should Senator Landrieu and other state representatives be removed from office for their role in diverting funds? Of course, Mr. McKay is silent as to that ... they, after all, are Democrats.

Moreover, Mr. McKay alleges that Bush betrayed his country by negligently sending "one-third of Louisiana's National Guard and much of Mississippi's to Iraq". Clearly two-thirds of Louisiana's National Guard were available. Should a U.S. President never be able to divert a National Guard unit outside of a particular state to fight a conflict? That is absurd. Clearly, the President is given the power to control the military and allocate its resources as he may see fit. Regardless, President Bush had the rest of the entire military available to respond to the disaster. While relief may have been slower than some would have preferred, no one has shown that relief, once it got there, has been inadequate. Finally, Mr. McKay alleges that Bush was criminally negligent by "failing to declare a national state of emergency or to halt the 'shoot to kill' policy of law enforcement which replaced orders to 'search and rescue'" Unfortunately, Mr. McKay conveniently fails to mention that (a) the local law enforcement is controlled by the local authorities - not the Federal Government and (B) Louisiana and Mississippi were declared to be under a state of emergency - unless he means that entire nation should be under a state of emergency... which, of course, makes absolutely no sense as only two states were affected

Mr. McKay ignores the legal standard for treason and, as such, never demonstrates how any malign neglect (a fact which is never substantiated) or criminal neglect gave aid and comfort to an enemy (an enemy, of course, which is never specified).

As the claim of treason is unavailable, Mr. McKay's only hope for impeachment would be to allege that (a) Bush was criminally negligent and (b) such criminal negligence amounts to a "high crime or misdemeanor".

Was Bush criminally negligent? The only time Mr. McKay even bothers to allege any sort of negligence (other than the "betrayals" I have already dismissed) is to mention that Bush appointed Michael Brown (the now departed FEMA head). However, he fails to explain why this was negligent. Mr. McKay would have to prove that Michael Brown was not qualified (a fact that he assumes due to his disrespect for Mr. Brown's previous work), that President Bush should have known he was not qualified, that President Bush should have forseen that Michael Brown would lead to damages(good luck convincing anyone other than the most hardened Bush hater of that), and that damages were actually and proximately caused by such a hiring.

While I have already refuted the basis given by Mr. McKay for his claims that President Bush was negligent or criminally negligent, the article never addresses whether criminal negligence is a high crime and misdemeanor. Therefor, what is a "high crime or misdemeanor"?

Unfortunately, there is no well-settled law as to what constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor for purposes of impeachment. Under most interpretations, a President must have committed an actual, indictable crime to be subject to impeachment and removal from office. President Bush has never been charged or indicted with any crime. Does Mr. McKay cite a particular law that President Bush has violated? No, of course he does not. That would require actual work on his part.

Clearly, however, President Bush would have to be shown to have some culpability for any damage caused (i.e., that any criminal negligence caused the damage). This is where the case would absolutely fall apart. Mr. McKay admits that President Bush's culpability is impossible to prove by stating that "it's impossible to calculate exactly how responsible the Bush Administration is for the 'man-made' death and destruction". As such, any impeachment effort would not likely be successful. Put simply, it would be a waste of time, effort and money. So, after spending the time to write a column advocating impeachment, he essentially includes a caveat that would destroy his case.

Of course, where is Mr. McKay's outrage for Mayor Nagin or Governor Blanco-the local officials that were responsible for overseeing hurricane contingency plans (including evacuation and relief)? Where is his outrage for the Louisiana representatives that diverted funds earmarked for the protection of New Orleans? Mr. McKay is absolutely silent as to them. Mr. McKay evidently does not want to draw the public's attention to the representative's, Governor Blanco's and Mayor Nagin's performance. Afterall, these local officials, who were responsible to the citizens of New Orleans and failed most miserably in managing the evacuation and local relief operations, are Democrats.
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