Friday, July 26, 2019

Omar's BDS failure.... so far

We see you, Rep. Omar, and are not that stupid. We affirm the US alliance with Israel and reject your BDS maneuvers.

On July 16, 2019, Rep. Omar of Michigan (D) proposed a  bill in congress to support BDS against Israel.  That bill was expressed as a civil rights bill, to protect the right to boycott as a civil right.  The bill says:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) affirms that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution;
(2) opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad; and

(3) urges Congress, States, and civil rights leaders from all communities to endeavor to preserve the freedom of advocacy for all by opposing antiboycott resolutions and legislation.

So, that's no so bad, right?  The bill will never see the floor of the House.
Why?  Because her bill is not a civil rights bill, it is a BDS bill against Israel even though it doesn't say it.  The BDS movement seeks to specifically target Israeli economic, political, social and academic institutions and individuals in Israel and throughout the world.  It punishes one side of the conflict while simultaneously denying that side's right to peaceful participation in the global community.  It is a bill based in prejudice against Israeli's and blind sweeping support of Palesitinians as a whole, regardless of their own particular political or social views and actions.  It would protect a terrorist, and fire a painter or poet.  The U.S. House of Representatives is not that stupid, and saw right through her efforts, despite her sardonic inclusion of the holocaust in her preamble to her bill.
In fact, one week later on July 23rd, a bill opposing the BDS movement against Israel passed the H. Res 246.  This bill passed by a vote of 398-17, with 5 "present":
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) opposes the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel, including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel;
(2) urges Israelis and Palestinians to return to direct negotiations as the only way to achieve an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
(3) affirms the Constitutional right of United States citizens to free speech, including the right to protest or criticize the policies of the United States or foreign governments;
(4) supports the full implementation of the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–296; 128 Stat. 4075) and new efforts to enhance government-wide, coordinated United States-Israel scientific and technological cooperation in civilian areas, such as with respect to energy, water, agriculture, alternative fuel technology, civilian space technology, and security, in order to counter the effects of actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel; and
(5) reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states—a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state—living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.

In other words,  boycott divest and sanction is against any reasonable effort to achieve a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict for all sides.  For now, the U.S. Congress is absolutely clear on that topic.  But note the 18 votes against the resolution, and wonder... is this the beginning of a slow creep for BDS?  Is this the beginning or the end?

Representatives who voted against HR 246.  Keep an eye on them, as they are often in the news:
Carson (IN)
GarcĂ­a (IL)
Lee (CA)
Watson Coleman

The 5 Representatives who voted "present" (an abstention):

Davis, Danny K.
Johnson (GA)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

My only post on impeachment

The question of the President's impeachment is on my mind.  I write here not to advocate, but to process.

The only "Jewish" issue involved is the morality and ethics of one who is charged with a legitimate duty fulfilling that duty in their private lives.

Can someone who breaks shabbat teach shabbat (yes)?
Can someone who eats treife supervise kashrut (no)?
Can a president who breaks the law enforce the law (not objectively, no)?

The question of k'tocho ba'aro - one's inside should be as one's outside speaks to trust and hypocrisy.  Nevertheless, I write here to put it down - and perhaps to leave it behind - in my own thoughts.


The Power of Impeachment.

United States Constitutional sources:

Article 1, section 2:  The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article 1, section 3:  The Senate shall have sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Article 2, section 4: 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.


History of actual impeachments voted by the House:

1868 - Andrew Johnson, for violating an act of Congress in how he fired a member of his cabinet.
1998 - Bill Clinton, for lying under oath and obstructing justice in an investigation, both about his personal sexual life.

Both were tried in the Senate, and not convicted by the 2/3 majority required.  No president has ever been removed from office by this power of Congress.  Under threat of impending impeachment, President Richard Nixon chose to resign and be pardoned by his immediate successor, President Gerald Ford.

That's it.  No other president of the United States has ever been impeached by the House and (therefore) tried in the Senate.


My feeling about the Presidency and impeachment:

What are "High Crimes and Misdemeanors?"  I believe that either a high crime, or a misdemeanor can be sufficient for legitimate impeachment.  When Clinton lied under oath, and attempted to obstruct justice, he was a legitimate target for impeachment.  Why?

A sitting President is the chief executive for the enforcement of the law.  He/She must be beyond reproach in observance of the law.  But, if he/she commits a misdemeanor (let's say, shoplifting or possession of a small amount of marijuana), should he/she be removed from office?

A sitting president may not be tried by any authority other than impeachment.  The DOJ has a firm policy that the sitting president may not be charged with crimes or misdemeanors in any setting other than the House.

Therefore, while I supported President Clinton politically, I believed that his impeachment was both petty and legitimate.  Before asking if it was necessary, I will comment on Trump.


My feeling about President Trump and Impeachment. 

I believe that, objectively speaking, it is absolutely clear that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice regarding the Mueller investigations.  I also believe that he did so in a manner that is both similar to, and more serious than the second article of impeachment against Bill Clinton.  As such, he is also legitimately subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Now, words really matter here, because the constitution says the President "shall be" removed upon impeachment and conviction.  Does that mean that the House shall impeach?  I.e. the House must impeach?  Not, it doesn't.  Article 1, Section 2 affirms the House's "sole power," which means it is entirely within their prerogative to do it or not, regardless of the preponderance of the evidence.  That means, to re-use Trump's example from his January 23, 2016 campaign speech, he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue as a sitting president and shoot somebody and the House would not be forced to impeach him.

My own conclusion is that any president who is accused to have obstructed justice should be impeached and tried in the Senate.  Like any other accusation of wrongdoing, there is a process by which the accused is exonerated.  In this case, that can - and should - only happen in the Senate.  I also believe that this will not occur.


What I don't like.  I don't like that Nancy Pelosi is making this a hedge bet for the political future.  I recognize that the current situation in the United States is polarized and "everyone" believes that "everyone else" is acting only out of political/tribal loyalty.  Pelosi is politically astute and knows that the Republicans will not convict Trump of any article of impeachment in the Senate.  Therefore the only reason to impeach him in the House would be for political gain, and it is not clear that the Democrats would gain politically from that.  Therefore, for political reasons, she is not supporting impeachment.  I really don't like that point of view.

Is she right? Yes.  Is she politically right?  She probably knows a lot better than me. But I believe that she is wrong as a matter of ethics.  I believe that there is an ethical mandate to bring the matter forward to trial. It is serious and it is real.  It should be recorded in history as such.  Sometimes the right thing to do has nothing to do with probable outcomes.

So that's it.  I believe obstruction of Justice is a legitimate cause for Articles of Impeachment.  I believe that Trump has clearly met the criteria for obstruction of justice. I believe he should be impeached, and then tried.  And if he is not convicted, the rule of law will have been observed. Sometimes guilty people are not convicted.  Of course, as I said, it won't happen.


Having gotten it off my chest, moving forward I support those who call for impeachment, because it is the right ethical stance.  But our leaders in government will not act on it, and time is precious.  I will work on other things.