Join 3,411 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


And Metafilter too! Especially!
January 18, 2004 6:21 PM   Subscribe

When does politics become treason? Lincoln did it...almost. Why shouldn't GW Bush follow suit ? The Neocon Case for Imprisoning and Executing Congressional War Opponents.: ' "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged" - that's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States. ' Right then. Where's the noose? Step this way, my traitorous friends. I'll flip ya' for first in line.
posted by troutfishing (49 comments total)

 
death camps next?
I guess wanting to beat a guy in the next election is treason...

Oh and just to fulfill godwins law (Hitler).
there thats out of the way.
posted by Elim at 6:54 PM on January 18, 2004


If they ever dared to do something like this, it would start a revolution....(I hope)
posted by amberglow at 7:10 PM on January 18, 2004


and let me add a "god forbid!" for good measure
posted by amberglow at 7:11 PM on January 18, 2004


You know, the situation is different from when Lincoln was president. Congressmen were literally taking actions during wartime against the United States-- namely, forming a rival government to Washington's and taking up arms against them militarily.

The only analagous situation to what Lincoln faced would be if a bunch of Congressmen formed an Islamic government running under Shari'a law, and the president wanted to threaten other Congressmen from following suit with the force of law.

The line between politics and treason is clear. And insight mag is full of crap. The sad part about this post is that one of the links is a classic, liberal anti-Bush swipe accusing the Neoconservative movement of equating opposition to president Bush with treason (which, on its face, would seem ridiculous, if one wasn't familiar with some of the speeches from Republican House members). The other link, is, sadly, a right-wing screed that does equate opposition or questions about president Bush's actions with treason.
posted by deanc at 7:12 PM on January 18, 2004


a right-wing screed that does equate opposition or questions about president Bush's actions with treason.

Since its owner recently called for the elimination of homosexuals, I'm not really surprised.
posted by homunculus at 7:26 PM on January 18, 2004


"If this be treason, make the most of it." -Patrick Henry

Personally I consider the preceding three years to demonstrate acts of treason by those currently occupying the White House. Democracy died December 2000.
posted by nofundy at 7:31 PM on January 18, 2004


The sad part about this post is that one of the links is a classic, liberal anti-Bush swipe accusing the Neoconservative movement of equating opposition to president Bush with treason (which, on its face, would seem ridiculous, if one wasn't familiar with some of the speeches from Republican House members).

Um, correction: didn't you mean to say classic libertarian?
posted by y2karl at 8:05 PM on January 18, 2004


When does politics become treason? When the centre falls out and people are no longer able to understand that democracy is pluralist, that democracy is not a case of "the majority gets what it wants, the minority can put up or shut up". That is a shallow and potentially evil interpretation of democracy. Healthy democrary is, in reality, a dialogue where people with different views talk and come out with a compromise that all are happy with. Websters Law Dictionary defines democracy as "Collectively, the people, regarded as the source of government. " Sounds a bit socialist to me, but hey, if the US wants to call itself a democracy, that's what it's all about.

Beware, therefore, of anyone who thinks democracy is about silencing the "other side". That's a good definition of an extremist - someone who's forgotten the best government comes out of a consensus that combines the best parts of "left" and "right" and rejects the worst. Someone who thinks "it's my way or the highway". Someone who feels a certain subset of the citizenry have no right to participate in the discussion (how is that not bigotry?). Someone who really thinks the world would really be a better place under communism, or libertarianism, or whatever other radical -ism they find fashionable that year. Beware of these people, because they're more common than you think on all "sides" politics.

If dissent is really treason, then I'm sure the president should be the only man left standing.
posted by Jimbob at 8:11 PM on January 18, 2004


Yeah, Insight owner Sun Myung Moon -- a warm friend of the Bush family -- not only wants gays to be purged, but he also believes that 12 dead journalists have endorsed him from heaven.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:43 PM on January 18, 2004


wow, lincoln was a bastard.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 PM on January 18, 2004


what we need is a law that allows for the arrest, exile and/or hanging of lawmakers, law enforcers or justices, who wilfully violate the constitution.

also, I really like what Jimbob said.
posted by dorian at 9:14 PM on January 18, 2004


Jimbob - my hat's off to you, sir.
posted by troutfishing at 9:17 PM on January 18, 2004


jimbob has it right, I would only add that it is up the people to make sure it doesn't happen, they have the power in the end... and I don't think they would let this happen, and I think the smart people on both sides know that.
posted by chaz at 9:25 PM on January 18, 2004


dorian's proposal should be a Constitutional amendment.

If they ever dared to do something like this, it would start a revolution....(I hope)

If you'll recall, the revolutionaries LOST in Lincoln's era, and the government has gotten a great deal more powerful since then.
posted by rushmc at 9:26 PM on January 18, 2004


chaz - you are right, of course.

But I remember the build up to the invasion of Iraq - how, initially, rumors of an invasion were cast as leftist paranoia.

To be thinkable, an act must be mentioned repeatedly in public....at first. I'm waiting on this one. Initially, this was Anne Coulter material. Now, it moves a little forward. Not much, but a little....
posted by troutfishing at 10:16 PM on January 18, 2004


Nofundy - Lets say you are right. Ok. Fine. Where/what are the articles of impeachment? If a list can't be drafted which is reasonable, then your postion isn't really reasonable.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:20 PM on January 18, 2004


Did I miss something? Was war declared, by Congress, while I wasn't looking? If not, then STFU about about special exceptions for anything being legally justified "during wartime."

Unlike, oh, maybe 99% of the world, I actually read the law Congress passed authorizing Bush to commit US forces to a fight (thanks, Mr. MoonPie). It absolutely does not declare war.

And, of course, we all know that only Congress can declare war as far as the US Constitution is concerned, right?

Confidential to Georgie: no matter how many times you say it, your "most solemn duty" is not to protect me from physical harm. Your most solemn duty is the one that you swore to take up in your oath of office: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The Constitution. The Constitution. The Constitution.

Got it?
posted by NortonDC at 10:24 PM on January 18, 2004


Dorian - What do you think would happen to a policeman or DA who fabricates evidence and sends a person to prision for years? How about if said person contracts AIDS - a death sentance as it were?

So far the 'punishment' is you don't get a retirement fund and can't be in the position you once were in. Hardly seems equal to destroying someone elses life. And the local tax-payers get to foot the bill for the resulting damage suit.

If US society can't be bothered to go after politically-low hanging fruit like bad cops, what chance will there be that the people make the laws will say "Sure, make us accountable!"
posted by rough ashlar at 10:28 PM on January 18, 2004


This Insight article brought to you by the Axis of Evil: While Insight's Moon is accusing dissenters of treason, he's selling millions of dollars in automobiles to North Korea.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:29 PM on January 18, 2004


When does politics become treason?

"A growing number of commission members had concluded that the panel needs more time to prepare a thorough and credible accounting of missteps leading to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the White House and leading Republicans have informed the panel that they oppose any delay, which raises the possibility that Sept. 11-related controversies could emerge during the heat of the presidential campaign, sources said."
posted by homunculus at 10:35 PM on January 18, 2004


Part of the problem here is that Lincoln is generally considered to be infallible, when, in fact, he was on the extreme side of the issue of slavery. Worst still, he was willing to use some very undemocratic, unethical tactics in order to get what he wanted.

The South only left the Union because Lincoln was elected with a minority of the vote, after running on an extreme anti-slavery platform. Of the 4,685.561 votes cast in the 1860 presidential election, Lincoln only received 1,865,908 of the votes... less than 40% of the popular vote. Despite this fact, he won over 59% of the electoral vote count.

In other words, Lincoln's election in 1860 was arguably the biggest example of the failure of American democracy, and led directly to sesession, which Lincoln vehemently opposed. If the election was more democratic in nature, with people ranking their choice of candidates between those they preferred the most to those they most vehemently opposed, then Steven Douglas would have undoubtedly have been our president. Out of all the candidates, he was the only one to mount a national campaign.

Lincoln opposed sesession so strongly, that his interference with the CSA's independence and his illegal efforts to garrison and illegally resupply troops in their lands led directly to the Civil War, the most destructive and expensive war in our nation's history. It should be remembered that the first major conflict during the war was an invasion of the CSA across the Potomac River.

Lincoln's administration led to the granting of powers to the executive branch which fly in the face of the constitution and the intent of the country's founders, and while Lincoln also emancipated the slaves, he also failed to make adequate provision for their needs, which led many blacks to be arguably worse off after emancipation than before. His administration also led inevitably to a level of taxation which would have made our founding fathers howl and foam at the mouth.

For those wanting some real perspective on Lincoln, I suggest reading "The Real Lincoln" by Thomas DiLorenzo. It will make you long for a real American revolution and a country whose goal is the perfection of the institution of democracy.

Even our founders knew that democracy in America was a "great experiment", but I'm afraid that in retrospect, we've let them down. Badly...

posted by insomnia_lj at 10:40 PM on January 18, 2004


What "should be remembered" is that the South fired first, and that Lincoln's "extreme side of the issue of slavery" was to oppose its expansion. Not to eliminate it, not even to phase it out. Boy, what an extremist position that was, eh?
posted by NortonDC at 10:48 PM on January 18, 2004


In fact, a relative of mine raised the Confederate flag in the first battle of the Civil War.

But...are things now so dire as to require such standards of acquiescence to presidential authority? And can GW Bush be reasonably compared to Lincoln?
posted by troutfishing at 10:57 PM on January 18, 2004


The U.S. Supreme Court and The Imperial Presidency: How President Bush Is Testing the Limits of His Presidential Powers
posted by homunculus at 11:01 PM on January 18, 2004


I'm no fan of Bush or neocons, but there seems to be a whiff of nuttiness lurking under the original link. The author seems to think the confederacy was in the moral right and the civil war was unjust. Now, nothing's ever as simple as they teach you in grammar school but one has to wonder if this piece gives the whole story. There were cases of what we would now call terrorist violence in the north by agents of the south and those who were sympathetic to the cause.
posted by Slagman at 7:40 AM on January 19, 2004


Just to clarify -- it's the second link, about Lincoln, with the whiff of nuttiness. The Insight article is out and out bonkers.
posted by Slagman at 7:43 AM on January 19, 2004


It sure doesn't seem to be attracting much controversy though. I find that fact a little odd. But then again - a number of Republicans were slapping charges of "treason" on the anti-war opposition to the invasion of Iraq : more than just Anne Coulter.

The way something is rendered thinkable is for the "nuts" and "hotheads" to float trial balloons first and, if those are not shot down, then that previously unthinkable thing can be slowly insinuated into mainstream discourse.

I see no mainstream media guns at all which are trained on this Insight "balloon".
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 AM on January 19, 2004


Oh, sorry to overdo this, but I think we should consider this:

Sun Myung Moon, the owner of Insight believes that Abraham Lincoln has endorsed him from beyond the grave:

I, Abraham Lincoln, have experienced incredibly wondrous and exciting moments, but I am saddened that there is no communication, or crossing back and forth, between the earthly and spiritual worlds. Without doubt, Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the True Parent of humanity...

That pretty much settles it.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:40 AM on January 19, 2004


Insomnia, it's true that Lincoln did not receive a majority of the popular vote. You make it sound, however, as though a single opposition candidate received the remaining 60% of the popular vote. In fact, the remaining votes were split between 4 other tickets. Although Lincoln received less than a majority, he received twice as many votes as his closest challenger. See here for more information.

Aside from that clarification, it's worth noting in general that the politics of the 1860s and 1870s were very different than today's. Reading the Congressional Globe will demonstrates that even stauch supporters of the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment were, by today's standards, quite racist. For example, Rep. Trimble of Ohio argued that blacks should be allowed to serve in the Union army. Seems reasonable and progressive, right? Read what he actually said:
Mr. Speaker, this is a very important subject. It is now, as it always has been, full of difficulty and embarassment. From the very organization of the government we have had to deplore the existence in our beloved land of human slavery. It has been almost the only disturbing element in our progress as a union. We have this question today, on ot its offspring, which must be met, whether we like it or not. I have not that exalted idea of bravery, the capacity of the black compared with white men, entertained by some other gentlemen. In no respect is he the equal, no can he in any situation become the equal of the Anglo-Saxon. If the black man be far inferior to what we known him to be, is it not our duty in this great emergency to make the best use of him we can? Cong. Globe, 37th Cong., 3rd Sess. 77 (1863).
It's easy to deplore teh attitude of many of the politicians on both sides during the Civil War as racist and write them off. That's one of the reasons we should take a measured view of original intent in interpreting laws from that period. The important point, with respect to this discussion, however, is what deanc wrote: "Congressmen were literally taking actions during wartime against the United States-- namely, forming a rival government to Washington's and taking up arms against them militarily."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:51 AM on January 19, 2004


inksyndicate - Many of the deep pockets bankroller-sugar daddies who spend small fortunes to influence politics are of questionable sanity.

This doesn't really matter though, in the end. Moon is pushing an agenda which dovetails quite nicely with the needs of GW Bush's imperial presidency. Moon's personal nuttiness is irrelevant to that fact. Further, Moon has many cohorts who do not believe themselves to be talking to Lincoln from beyond the grave and who are deadly serious.


Or, to put it differently ; Hitler was insane too. But he was a chillingly effective nut who sure killed a lot of people. Insanity is beside the point, in some cases.

The functional insane can wreak havoc on the greatest scale.
posted by troutfishing at 8:53 AM on January 19, 2004


monju_bosatsu - thanks for the historical exegesis. I didn't feel competent to go there.
posted by troutfishing at 8:54 AM on January 19, 2004


If you think lincoln was bad, how about those "reconstuction" projects.

trout, do you have a picture of that flag or a link to one like it. (the one raised by your ancestor)
posted by clavdivs at 9:13 AM on January 19, 2004


clavdivs - Alas, no. My nutty poet-genius-recluse uncle dug up that geneological fact. I believe him but then - it's an entertaining claim to believe! The titillating part of the story - for a Yankee - was clear : my distant relative hoisted the flag for Dixie, so the tale goes. I'm curious now - I'll look into it and let you know if I can find anything more substantive.
posted by troutfishing at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2004


Confidential to Georgie: no matter how many times you say it, your "most solemn duty" is not to protect me from physical harm. Your most solemn duty is the one that you swore to take up in your oath of office: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Indeed.
posted by rushmc at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2004


This doesn't really matter though, in the end. Moon is pushing an agenda which dovetails quite nicely with the needs of GW Bush's imperial presidency. Moon's personal nuttiness is irrelevant to that fact. Further, Moon has many cohorts who do not believe themselves to be talking to Lincoln from beyond the grave and who are deadly serious.

No, you're absolutely correct. I think the only reason Sun Myung Moon has avoided serious scrutiny for his right-wing extremism -- and I mean extremism far beyond Bush's -- is the "look, it's a nutty cult!" factor. Plenty of people in his organization are deadly serious and sober.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:58 AM on January 19, 2004


Oh look, a pheasant.
posted by clavdivs at 11:17 AM on January 19, 2004


When does politics become treason?

When our representatives lie to us?
posted by Blue Stone at 11:43 AM on January 19, 2004


Can somebody explain to me why we don't hear more about Rev. Moon? I mean, somebody with pockets as deep as his, doing business with N. Korea, and supporting the republican party...I mean, I hear about Soros backing MoveOn.org once in a while...but you almost never hear about Rev. Moon.

What gives?
posted by taumeson at 12:10 PM on January 19, 2004


taumeson-
All Moon wants to do is exterminate homosexuals (not a big deal), whereas Soros is a dirty LIBERAL. 'Nuff said.

Oh, and troutfishing:
I've always chosen to believe the claims by my family that a relative rode with Quantrill, although it certainly means I was descended from terrorists. So your ancestor raised a flag, but how many innocent Kansans did they kill? That's what I thought. Wuss.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:36 PM on January 19, 2004


Taumeson,

I've spent the last year trying to figure out that question. For some reason it's very hard to get editors interested in the Sun Myung Moon story, even though it's golden potential campaign material. There's sex, hate speech against gays, women and Jews, kitsch, and pagan demagoguing that should offend any religious Christian -- i.e. "tear down the cross" ceremonies.
posted by inksyndicate at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2004


This, my friends, is why opposition to the second amendment is dangerously naive.

And no, this is not a troll.
posted by coolgeek at 8:41 PM on January 19, 2004


Agreed.
posted by homunculus at 8:49 PM on January 19, 2004


NortonDC: Unlike, oh, maybe 99% of the world, I actually read the law Congress passed authorizing Bush to commit US forces to a fight (thanks, Mr. MoonPie). It absolutely does not declare war.

Are you kidding?

Like Joe Biden, who wrote the bill authorizing the use of force against Iraq, said, it absolutely was a declaration of war.

It doesn't need the magic words "we declare war" to be a declaration of war.
posted by wrffr at 2:17 AM on January 20, 2004


Go read it. It explicitly depends on a section of the War Powers Act that defines what happens when the Congress has not declared war, because Congress did not declare war.
posted by NortonDC at 6:01 AM on January 20, 2004


coolgeek - those founding fathers may still be a bit ahead of us, on some counts. NortonDC - Since you seem good in this area, when was the last time the US actually declared war (officially) ? I'm truly curious - I wonder if it's part of the development of the imperial presidency, that congressional declarations of war are becoming unecessary.

Or - are we perpetually at war?. We've been in a state of emergency for quite a while now, I've heard. Why not a perpetual state of war too?

Ignatius - Oh yeah? My ancestors were cannibaLS and burned people in cages! Hmmm.....reilly.....maybe yours did too. Well, I'm related to Emily Dickinson! She threw rocks at the neighborhood children, and screeched at them from her bedroom window. She was fierce.
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 AM on January 20, 2004


You win. But perhaps in this generation my family can recapture our old disgusting ways.

Which way to Lawrence? I hear that Kansas has WMD.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2004


When does politics become treason?
Iran-Contra
posted by roboto at 12:48 PM on January 20, 2004


Ignatius - Dave Niewert kicks ass. [ hi, dave ]
posted by troutfishing at 9:57 PM on January 20, 2004


roboto - the Bush clan has cornered all the best options in conspiracy.
posted by troutfishing at 9:59 PM on January 20, 2004


« Older Are You A Metrosexual?...  |  Hunting and gathering in your ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments