George and the Giant Impeach
We live in a land known as the United States of America. We have a leader called the President. President, that's a pretty word. His name is George Bush. The people hire their President. In other lands, they have a leader called a King. He wears a crown on top of his head. It's a pretty crown. It's a shiny crown. People in those lands do not hire their King. When the King is a boy, he is a Prince. The Prince becomes King when his daddy, the King, dies. President George Bush has a daddy. He is still alive. President Bush did not have to wait for his daddy to die to become President. That's because we live in a land where there is no King.
In the land of the King, the King doesn't have to follow any rules. He makes up his own rules. He doesn't have to brush his teeth before he goes to bed. He can say Thursday is now Saturday. He can tell everyone to wear their socks on their head. He can even attack another land ruled by another King. Even if the other King didn't attack or threaten to attack this King. He doesn't need a reason to do anything. It's good to be the King.
In our land, the President cannot do anything he wants. He has to follow the rules. Just like you have to wash your hands and put away your toys before dinner. The rules are written in a book. The book is called the Constitution. That's a big word. Can you say Constitution? The Constitution was written long ago, by wise men with white hair and little round glasses. They came to this country on ships to get away from the land of the King. They were treated very badly by the King. If they disagreed with the King or didn't do everything he said, even if it made no sense, they were punished, even though they were not children and the King was not their father. They didn't have their freedom. So they came to our land, and wrote the Constitution, to give people freedom. Instead of the King who can do anything, they said we would have a President who must follow the rules. They built 2 houses where people would write the rules for the President to follow. One of the houses is called the House. That way it would be easy to remember. Inside the House live the Representatives. Another big word. That means the people hire them to make the rules. The other house is called the Senate. Inside the Senate live the Senators. They used to play baseball in our land. Now they play hockey in the land called Ottawa, above our land. When they have free time, they also make rules for the President to follow. The President has a lot of rules to follow.
The President lives in a white house. It is called the White House, so it would be easy to remember. Even though we are not Kings living in castles, they say a person's house is his castle. That means the President can't come into your house unless he knocks. And you don't have to answer. So one rule the President must follow is that he may not spy on the people unless there is a special reason. It's not nice to spy on people. It says so in the rule book. The special reason is that if some people are doing or planning to do bad things, the President can spy on them to catch them before they do something really bad. But since he is a President and not a King, he does not decide by himself if the person is a bad person. Otherwise, the President could spy on people or even punish them just because he didn't like them, even if they weren't bad. So the President must get permission from the court. The name of the court is FISA. Now, a King also has a court. It's a big room where he is entertained by musicians, magicians, dancers, and a jester. The jester wears a funny hat with bells, and he makes funny jokes. The jester is a funny man. But in our land, we have a different court. It is not a funny court. The men and ladies in the court wear long black robes. That way, we know that they are not funny.
President Bush has been spying on people in our land. He says they are bad people. But we don't know who he spied on, or if they are bad people, because he never got permission from the FISA court. A year ago, he said he was getting permission from the court when he spied on people. That was a lie. It's not nice to tell a lie. Now he says he didn't have time to get permission. But the FISA court is very fast. Lots of times, it gives permission in just a few hours.
Last time the bad people did a really bad thing, President Bush did not act so fast. Instead, he read to the children from another book. The name of that book is My Pet Goat. It's a short book. It has pretty pictures of goats. Goats have long white beards, just like the old men who wrote the first book, the rule book. Don't you wish you could do whatever you wanted with no permission, just by saying you have to do it right away and don't have time to ask for permission? Even if the President has to spy on the people right away and cannot wait for the court just a little bit, just long enough to read My Pet Goat to the children, he is allowed to spy on the people first, as long as he asks permission later. He gets three days to ask permission after spying. That's an easy rule to follow. Don't you wish you could do something first, like go to the movies or get ice cream or beat up your little brother Johnny, and then ask for permission later? The court named FISA gives permission to spy on people in our land almost every time the President asks them. President Bush's daddy and other Presidents have asked the FISA court to spy on people over ten thousand times. That's a lot of times. It's almost a jillion. And the FISA court has said no only four times. Don't you wish your parents had said no to you only four times? The FISA court is a very nice court.
In the rule book, if the President does a bad thing, like spying on people without getting permission from the FISA court and then lying about it, he can be punished. His punishment is called "impeachment." That's a pretty word. It sounds like he gets to eat fruit. But it's not nearly as much fun. If the President gets impeached, he can lose his job. The people who can punish the President are the people who live in the two houses, the Representatives and the Senators. But if they like the President, and belong to the same club as him, they may not punish him, even if he did a bad thing. The last President did a little bad thing and he was impeached. The Representatives and Senators did not like him as much, and most of them belonged to a different club. President Bush did a much bigger bad thing and he may not be punished. Is that fair? If you spill your milk and get punished, and your sister Mary throws a glass full of milk at your dog Fluffy and does not get punished, would that be fair? You cannot fire your parents. But in our land, we can fire our Representatives and Senators and hire new ones. When we do that, it's called an election. That's a pretty big word that sounds like Constitution.
President Bush does not want to be impeached. No one wants to get punished. Instead, he says the person who told everyone that he was spying on people without permission should be punished. The person was a newspaper named New York Times. The newspaper can say anything it wants, as long as it is the truth. It says so in the rule book. In the land of the King, the newspapers do not have this freedom, so people there don't know when the King does a bad thing or tells a lie. The King likes it that way. President Bush said it was a secret that he was spying on people without permission from FISA. When you break the rules, don't you wish you could keep it a secret, so no one would find out and you wouldn't be punished? Don't you wish the person who told on you would be punished instead, so that they would never tell on you again? But it never works that way, does it? If you do a bad thing, the person who tells on you is doing a good thing, because if you get punished, you won't do the bad thing again. Rules are made so we know which things are bad things that we're not supposed to do. Not long ago, President Bush and his men in the White House told a secret, about a woman named Valerie Wilson. It was against the rules to tell this secret. But the President and his men say they should not be punished for telling it. They never want to be punished, even though they keep breaking the rules.
The bad people who are planning to do really bad things could never take our land or our houses or our rule book away from us, because we are very strong. The rule book makes us very strong. The only people who could take everything away from us and turn our lands back into kingdoms are Presidents who act like kings by breaking all the rules, and Representatives and Senators who like the President too much or are having too much fun to punish him, because they are playing baseball or hockey or watching other people play baseball or hockey from giant boxes in the sky.