The founders, with all their faults were trying to do something profound, they were trying to break with MONARCHY.
It wasn't, that they didn't specifically like King George; they just didn't like "The Divine Right of Kings" as a principle. Despite history not being taught anymore, some of you nevertheless know the phrase "The Divine Right of Kings". It means, for those of you educated more recently, that GOD has obviously selected "THE KING", and if you reject the King, you reject GOD. Simultaneously, since GOD by definition cannot be wrong, the judgment of the KING is likewise infallible. The King (like GOD) exists in a sphere above human frailty and is UNDENIABLE, UNQUESTIONABLE, and from whose awful justice, there is no APPEAL.
There were people who believed that if you denied the infallibility of the King you were also denying GOD, and would be struck down. John quipped, "Luckily they had Ben Franklin on their side, so they knew how to deal with bolts from above". This was an incredibly bold and dangerous proposition. Since religion had previously been woven so tightly to political authority in most monarchies, making this clean break with state religion was part of the rejection of the "Divinity of the King". Furthermore placing the Law above the executive would also work toward reining in those who would otherwise abuse their governing authority. Thus also the theory of balance of power worked to further limit the power of any single branch of government. Each of these steps were crucial in moving toward the shared civic rule of a representative self-government.
They wanted to establish a system of government in this country that could never be monarchical again. One of the most significant points of departure, was to never again, have one man able to send his subjects to war without the support of the people, and their elected representatives. Never to allow one man to unilaterally decide, that he would spy on the people without legal oversight, or without respect of the rule of law. Never again would an executive governing authority be permitted to order torture, or detention of his people without the oversight of the courts. Never again would this country have a King who could by "Royal Fiat", vitiate or throw out the rule of law, with a signing statement and a stroke of his pen. Never again would the people of this country bow down before the whim of a king.
But in America for the last eight years everything the founders fought for and believed, has been trashed, torn apart, and spit on by a group of "rank criminals", who came to office illegally, and never stopped governing illegally.
The Constitution of the United States says you cannot go to war, without a Declaration of War, made by the Congress of the United States. The House and Senate must declare war. Iraq is an illegal war. Nichols then reminded us "I must say to Mr. Obama, the same is true for Afghanistan". The way to spell Viet Nam in the twenty-first century, is Afghanistan. The Afghan people have never been defeated. They beat Genghis Khan, they beat the British, the beat the Soviet Union, not because they're noble, but because, they know those hills and they know how to wait. And inflict terrible damage while they wait.
Addressing terrorism he then stated, "I don't live in some fantasy land. We have to fight terrorism, we have terrible threats to this republic, and we must defend ourselves, but a massive force occupying Afghanistan will not end terrorism, and it will inevitably bring tremendous harm to Barack Obama's ability to govern".
The Constitution says you cannot spy on anyone without legal oversight and a specific judicial ruling. The Fourth Amendment* goes further to state, Congress cannot even pass a law, that says you can spy on people, without these constitutional restraints, it's very strict on this. Senator Russ Feingold chair of the Senate Sub-committee on the Constitution says, every call you make on your cell phone is monitored. Every call is listened in on. If you have internet on your cell phone and send an email, it is also monitored, text messages are monitored. Twitter is monitored. Every email and every electronic conversation monitored in complete contravention of the Fourth Amendment. There is no electronic communication you can engage in today that is not monitored. And yet there is no legal authority for that monitoring. The past eight years the Constitution's Fourth Amendment has been ignored and violated by the Bush Administration which has been engaged in comprehensive, unauthorized, and illegal spying on all electronic communications.
The Eight Amendment** of the Constitution prohibits torture of persons in custody, of the U.S. Government. The language is unambiguous, it issues a prohibition against "CRUEL and UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT." Nichols' ironic comment, "Call me crazy, but I think torture's cruel!" The actions, by the Bush government in Guantanamo, Bhagram, and in the Extraordinary Rendition Centers (Where we take prisoners and drop them off for a third party to torture***) and then after the dirty work is done, collect the bloody damaged remains. These actions are strictly forbidden by The Eight Amendment, and our country has been in direct violation of it, since these activities, which were hatched like poisonous reptiles in the bosom of the Bush/Cheney White House. Under the direct orders of George Bush.
One of the most important reasons for the Revolution in 1776, was opposition to the notion that a King, could unilaterally decide what laws he would and would not obey. The founders opposed the idea that the King could by his whim, decide what laws he would observe. George Bush, has attached over 800 whims, (signing statements) to laws passed by Congress. George Bush, over 800 times, has said that he will not obey these laws, passed by Congress because he has decided he is above the law. We have had monarchical governance for the last eight years. Nichol said, if it was up to him, Congress would be called into session immediately, to IMPEACH George Bush and Dick Cheney.
Nichols made the point, that while some might complain that it's a slow and cumbersome process. He disagreed, saying the founders wanted it simple quick and easy. Like surgery a quick incision, and removal. Impeachment is mentioned six times in the Constitution. You can be impeached while in office, or while you are enjoying any of the benefits of office. George Bush and Dick Cheney after leaving office in January will receive pensions, office and security support and therefore, will be getting more benefits in retirement, than most of us receive in our full working life. Therefore they will remain IMPEACHABLE.
Some might suggest that we might await an International Law Tribunal, or some allied country to draw up charges, and well they might. Nichols very soberly suggested the Bush/Cheney Regime, is our mess and we need to stand up take responsibility and clean it up. "Maybe someone in France, might do the RIGHT THING" he proffered, ironically. "No" he said, "the American people have the power to demand Congress take it's responsibilities seriously. These men must be held to account! Unless we do, their lawless and cruel stain will remain a shadow on our great country.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
*** Part of that whole Out Sourcing & Privatization Mission of the Radical Corporatists from KBR, Haliburton, Bechtel and everyone favorite mercenaries, and Clinton Library Donatees... BLACKWATER.
Additional Links & Materials
Spying on Americans
Bush Regime defends spying
Bush Regime defends Illegal Spying
Spying on Americans - New York Times Editorial
Comprehensive List of George Bush's "Signing Statements"
Bush challenges hundred of laws - The Boston Globe
Presidential Signing Statements - a report by the Congressional Research Service (PDF)
ABA President says Potential Misuse of Presidential Signing Statements poses a Threat...
Interview with Charlie Savage Pulitzer Prize Winner Reporter for his reporting on Presidential Signing Statements
The Charters of Freedom