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"Impeachment, Bribery and Eminent Domain"

Recent news has forced us to recall how Richard Nixon left office. These amount to details of ancient history for many current citizens, but nevertheless much can be learned.

Two young reporters and an anonymous government source called "Deep Throat" held center stage. Impeachment proceedings were under way. Suddenly the president resigned, after stating flatly in an address to the public, "Your president is not a crook!"

He must have been something, or done something, or he wouldn't have resigned. But we'll never know what, because the resignation was allowed and the impeachment proceedings were halted before we learned all the details of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" he had committed. I thought it was a mistake at the time. He should have been impeached, and tried. He probably would have been convicted and then turned over to the prosecutor for indictment, conviction and sentencing, and then we would all have known exactly what kind of presidential behavior the people of the country were not going to allow.

But, no. He resigned, and his successor, President Ford, himself appointed by Nixon to be Vice-President, because Agnew had resigned [!], pardoned Nixon, without telling us what for, after he had sworn to a Congressional Committee, "There was no deal."

That was a lot of lying, and a lot of permitting of lying. Nowadays one has the same sinking feeling in the gut -- they are all still lying. The Downing Street Memo proves conclusively that Bush knew that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, and that the U.S. planned to invade anyway, after doctoring the evidence and the "intelligence."

A burglary at Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate seems like small potatoes compared to starting a very bloody and expensive war under false pretenses. That, dear Reader, really is an impeachable "high crime." So where are the impeachment proceedings? Nowhere in sight. Where is Sam Ervin, now that we need him? Where is the groundswell of popular disgust and protest for all this needless bloodshed and expense?

I'm afraid the answer lies in the fact that bribery is no longer a serious crime. There is no one to initiate impeachment proceedings because there is no one who hasn't been bribed by the armament industry. So much money is in the process of being stolen, and so many high-level persons are in on the theft, that there isn't even any talk of impeachment. So the dying, and the spending, and the stealing will go on, and on.

That's alarming, and the Supreme Court has added salt to the wounds of the common people of this country. The Constitution of the USA says that the government can take a private citizen's land and home "for public use." It's been called the right of eminent domain. A road, a school, a public hospital -- the government can take your house, if it stands in the way. The right was abused, many of us thought, in the name of "urban renewal," in the 60s and 70s all over this country, including right here in Albuquerque. The barrio named Barelas was particularly hard hit. Several downtown parking lots, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and some open bosque space took the place of people's modest and sometimes run-down houses.

"For public use," the Constitution says. Now the Supreme Court has interpreted "public use" to mean upscale condos and shopping malls, which will add to the local property tax base. This means that the developer can bribe the local city council, since bribery is no longer a serious crime, and take your house, calling it "dilapidated," or "run-down" or "not-up-to-code," whether it is or not. They can take your home, bulldoze it out of existence, and put up a Walmart or whatever they please.

Pictures on the TV, from Long Branch, NJ, showed houses that are not in any sense "run-down," that have been condemned. Recent pictures from Zimbabwe, show the bulldozers knocking down, not only the squatters' shanty-towns, but also solid well-built neighborhoods. Mugabe is not only indulging in "urban renewal;" he's punishing those barrios that voted against him.

It's a good thing that that old myth which says, "It can't happen here," is still holding. The wealthy must be glad that bribery has been removed from the list of punishable crimes. It's a bargain. You can buy a Congress-person, or a city council-person for a fraction of the benefit available.

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Copyright © 2005 Harry Willson

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