Saturday, July 28, 2007



Do Your Duty, Lady!

Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing.

In the last few days, since I wrote my first piece detailing the case for impeachment, I have received a lot of feedback from both sides of the political spectrum, as well as a lot of people not known for hugging the soft gooey middle. Except for the abusive comments from wingnuts (tell Bill O'Reilly, no one is nastier than a wingnut, period.), most of them attempted to be useful.

Normally, I get at least a few critical missives that make me think twice about my position. I pride myself on being very open minded, with a keen ability to listen to alternate viewpoints and understand where they're coming from. It really helps to be able to do that, because it's necessary to making the distinction between a conservative with an honest difference of opinion, and a wingnut who just reacts, without taking the time to rub a couple of brain cells together. And sometimes, actual conservatives have an interesting take on things.

But this time, none of the arguments made sense, or were in any way relevant. I want to talk about a few of the reasons people give for not being in favor of impeachment, and address why they are completely irrelevant.

The number one reason given is "We don't have the votes."

Apparently, these people didn’t read the piece very closely, because I did address this problem somewhat.

I simply don't care that we don't have the votes to convict now. It really doesn't matter. No one ever said that doing the right thing was always going to be easy.

I think Democrats should spend their August recess making the case for drafting articles of impeachment. Once they vote on them, the Senate must hold a trial. Don't tell me there are no grounds for impeachment; if the Founding Fathers had been confronted with a George Bush, they would have impeached him without a moment's hesitation. This Administration doesn't value the Constitution, they don't value the rule of law, they have an exaggerated sense of the power they possess under our system, and they have no regard for the people. They created the mechanism of impeachment for two reasons; to remove people who abuse the power given to them by the people, and to remove incompetents from positions where they can do serious damage. In other words, in George Bush, we’ve hit the jackpot.

Impeachment is not supposed to be a political tool, used to get rid of people you don't like politically. The Republicans bastardized the process in 1998, when they impeached Bill Clinton, even though they knew damn well they wouldn't convict him. Yes, you read that right; the Republicans went ahead with a sham impeachment, based on complete bullshit, despite the fact that they didn't have enough votes. But Democrats can't push forward with a real impeachment based on real reasons?

Sometimes all of us, including politicians, have to actually go outside of their comfort zone to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not it's politically popular at the time. (Although half the country already thinks they should be impeached, and nearly three-quarters think they're bad for the country. I don't think it's even necessary to convict and remove Bush and Cheney in the end; at some point, we must put all of their misdeeds into the record, and show the people just what these people are doing to our country. At some point, the American people must be presented with all of the facts, laid out in one very concise presentation. As of today, much of Middle America senses that the Bushies are incompetent, but they have no clue as to what the details are. I mean, 41% of Americans are convinced of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; isn't that evidence enough that real information isn't trickling down enough?

And when that information is presented by way of an impeachment trial, the Republicans in Congress will be faced with a choice. They will have to choose to stand for the rule of law and the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold (yes, it was an oath to the Constitution, not to the GOP or George Bush), or they can choose to stand beside the lamest of lame duck presidents and his crooked vice president. If they vote to convict, they uphold the rule of law, and we get to keep at least some standards for the presidency. If they vote to acquit, in the face of all of the evidence presented, they effectively kill the right wing and the current incarnation of the Republican Party for a generation, and we get either Hillary, Barack or John (or even Dennis?) into office, and we will have a president and enough seats in Congress that we can demand reform and have a fighting chance of getting it…

Either way, we win. We win, because this is a democracy, and we'll have a majority of the American people behind us, demanding reform of just about every mechanism the right wing has broken since 1980. An impeachment trial, win or lose, will expose the government for the crooks they are, and we will have the impetus for a real reform movement. (If, of course, we progressives play politics better than we have in the past. But that's another column for another time…)

The second-most popular complaint (again, among people who didn't read the whole piece) seemed to be "there just isn't enough time."

Between the passing of the Articles of Impeachment and the acquittal of Bill Clinton, less than two months passed. That means, if we can put forth genuine articles of impeachment, debate them thoroughly, and pass them by October, we could conceivably be done with these scumbags by Christmas. But even if we can't, February or March works for me. If anyone is worried that a "President Pelosi" might upset the Democratic nomination process, we could get her to agree to not run for an additional term if Bush and Cheney are impeached and removed. I don't get a sense that she particularly wants to be president, anyway, so she'd probably agree. (Might make Hillary a little mad, though; she wants to be the first…)

Just as an aside, why don't many liberals understand that the reason Pelosi took impeachment "off the table" was so that it didn't look like she was working in her own self-interest? She can't take anything 'off the table'; if the Judiciary Committee brings forth articles, she's not going to kill them. But if you're a potential recipient of the benefits of a particular action, doesn't it make ethical sense to remove yourself from the process, short of voting on it?

Sometimes, you simply must stand on principle, regardless of the consequences. If we don't get rid of them until January 19, 2009, then so be it; the point is to take back the rule of law. This is not about political payback, and it's not about Bush and Cheney, personally speaking. It's about restoring justice to the rule of law, starting with the most obvious breach of it in our lifetime.

Now, the third rationale is the most interesting to me. I actually had a couple of people write and say something to the effect, "well, what if this turns into a game; they impeached us, so we impeach them, then they do the same to us, and it becomes a cycle."

Well, what if?

First of all, I'm no conspiracy theorist, but in my opinion, Republicans were attempting to inoculate the next Republican president when they impeached Clinton. They didn't necessarily know that the next president would be George W. Bush (although, given the massive election fraud in 2000, maybe they did), but they did know that the next wingnut they elected would act in extraordinary ways. So, isn't it possible that they used that impeachment to make the public more reticent to engage in another one anytime soon? And if we allow them to get away with that concept, how gullible are we? We have to go after bad guys who get into office. If we end up with five impeachments in a row, then we need to look at our electoral process, and ask ourselves why we keep electing such assholes. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't get rid of them, just because we keep impeaching people.

Besides, the last impeachment was political theater, while this one would be a valid impeachment for valid reasons. This time, the exercise is not an attempt to "get" a president politically, nor is it an attempt to get rid of someone we don't like politically. I couldn’t stand Reagan or Bush 41 at all, but I was ambivalent about their impeachment. I probably wouldn’t have minded seeing more heads roll over Iran-Contra, but compared to the current bunch, the Reagan bunch were pikers. In the Reagan Administration, investigations were conducted, heads did roll, and there were lots of firings. The current administration sees every investigation as a major pain in its ass, and no one's ever been fired for doing anything wrong, although a few have been forced out for siding with the Constitution over their "fuehrers" Bush and Cheney.

Think about it this way. If you cared about your job, and your "legacy" to even the slightest degree-- hell, if you cared even one little bit about your promise to "bring honor and dignity" back to the White House-- how tolerant would you be of the crooks and liars inside of your administration? Ethical people would find it embarrassing to know that someone under them had betrayed the trust of the American people. Think about the various important yet unanswered questions regarding impropriety in the Bush Administration thus far; why would any ethical person not want to clarify any of these? (There are so many, I can actually list many that I didn't list in the first impeachment column…)
• Who in the Bush Administration assisted Enron in its attempts to escape blame for the largest corporate fraud in history? When it found out that Enron's illegal dealings resulted in millions of people losing billions of dollars in retirement savings, why was there no serious attempt to recover as much of that money as possible?
• What happened at those top secret meetings featuring Dick Cheney and top energy industry executives, and by what authority has Cheney continued to refuse to divulge the details of those meetings?
• Why did Bush wait seven minutes to even react after terrorists attacked New York City? Why has there been so little of the assistance promised in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks actually provided?
• Why does this Administration continue to hold hundreds of prisoners after nearly five years, without charges, without trial, and in most cases, without counsel? And is such disregard for the basic principles of justice out of a sense of keeping the country secure, or a reflection of their disdain for the rule of law?
• In the run up to war, why was there such a massive operation to lie about the rationale for invasion? Why hasn't anyone been held accountable for the "faulty intelligence" which led to more than 30,000 American casualties, and as many as half a million or more Iraqi civilian deaths?
• Who is responsible for the estimated tens of billions (some would say hundreds of billions) of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse by contractors in Iraq? In one very glaring example of fiscal irresponsibility, $8.8 billion dollars was "lost" several years ago by several contractors, and there was no accountability for that. No-bid contracts worth billions have been handed over to campaign donors, and the Vice President is still being paid by at least one contractor that has seen billions in profits from its operations in Iraq.
• And, in one of the most shocking events in American presidential history, who is responsible for the coordinated effort to smear a political opponent, by revealing the identity of his wife, a CIA undercover operative? And why has no one ever been held accountable for that?

So many actions by this administration rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors" that it's difficult to count them all. And we must do something about it. For six years, a rubber stamp Republican Congress neglected its oversight responsibilities, and the Democrats are now forced to play catch-up. This will be a condensed process, it will be an intense process, it will interfere with the presidential race, and it will cause all sorts of accusations to be thrown at Democrats; accusations of "partisan political theater" and trying to 'get' Bush and Cheney. But at this point, none of that matters. Much of what the government is allowed to do is based on precedent; and we cannot allow these people to set a precedent that allows a future administration to do the same sorts of things, and get away with it.

As I'll show in my next piece on impeachment, the drive to impeach these people is no longer the talk of a bunch of Commie leftist pinko liberals; a fair number of conservatives have joined us. And why not? This administration's actions transcend cheap partisan politics and labels. Every chance they get, these fools carve out an exception for themselves in every law they see, and they have issued a series of executive orders that are far more reminiscent of Saddam's Iraq than the land of the free and the home of the brave. In fact, Bush's last executive order, which is featured on this very blog, was issued July 17, and essentially asserts that the president (see, that’s the funny thing about executive orders, they're not president-specific) has the power to unilaterally decide that you are undermining the effort in Iraq and, without hearing, can just seize all of your assets.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking;

"I haven't done anything, so I have nothing to fear."

Those of you who believe that should know; the word "gullible" appears in no dictionary. Anywhere. You can go look; I'll wait.

If you give the government that kind of power, odds are they will use it. And if they take all of your assets, how do you plan to fight it? The wingnuts spent the 90s stalling as many Clinton-nominated judges as possible, and they spent the last six packing the courts with their own kind. Of course, it won't get that far, because you won't be able to afford a lawyer. You have no assets, remember? And keep in mind, wingnuts; the executive order doesn't expire when Bush leaves office. What if President Hillary decides to make the claim that everyone who has an assault weapon is aiding and abetting terrorism, because she's unilaterally decides that she wants to confiscate them, to make sure terrorists can't possibly get hold of them? Something tells me you'd probably want her impeached, and rightly so. And if President Obama ordered every preacher's assets taken, because he was sick of them ragging on gays, you'd be calling for his ouster, as well.

And you know what? We would be right there with you, because it's an abuse of power, no matter who's doing it. This may come as a shock to many on the right, but there are many issues that transcend simple politics, and which are simply either right or wrong, not right or left.

And right now, there is no excuse for not impeaching these people. The Constitution demands it.



At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two points to add:
1) When the Watergate Hearings began, the votes for impeachment were not there. It was only after the Congressional hearings and testimony revealed some of the crimes of the Nixon administration, that the number of Senators in favor of conviction on impeachment articles began to increase. After the testimony of people like John Dean, Alexander Butterfield, and others, the votes to impeach WERE there. We are in a similar position now. If the impeachment process were allowed to move forward, who's to say the votes to impeach would not mount up as the crimes were laid out for all to see. Public pressure would mount. Some Senators might even reaquaint themselves with their consience. There are differences between Nixon and the Bush Crime Family, however. Even Nixon, in the end, and it amazes me that I can say this, had enough respect for the law and our Constitution left to, unlike Bush, ALLOW his staff to testify before Congress, AND, to resign when he saw that he would be impeached. All indicators on Bush lead to the conclusion that he would NOT do either. He already has refused to let his staff honor the supeonas. He also would not fear losiing his hefty presidential pension, as Nixon would have had he not resigned.
2) It becomes more apparent every damn day, that Democrats who are not in favor of impeachment, fear and have a lot to lose, if Bush is impeached and a tidal wave of REFORMS ensued. Democrats like Pelosi are not Progressives. They LOVE the status quo. They drink from the sme trough of lobbyist corruption that Republican congresscreeps do. They are not reform-minded individuals. If Dems like this do not get behind impeachment, they are accomplices and accessories after the fact in the crimes of the Bush administration. START THE PROCEEDINGS! And, if Obama or Clinton or whoever are not any better, impeach them too. The choice should be theirs and they should pay the penalty if they choose unwisely and contrary to the laws of the land, the Constitution, and the needs of the people. Let these Beltway slimeballs get impeached yearly until they get the message. It can't become any more of a circus than it already is. Impeachment is a positive, not a negative, act and must be seen that way.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right: There IS no excuse for not impeaching and imprisoning this band of criminals.

Yet the SPINELESS DEMOCRATS won't do it. They disgust me.

I just can't see any reason to vote Democratic in ANY election. If I'm going to have a "representative" who acts like a scumpublican, why shouldn't I just take the scumpublican? At least they won't raise my hopes in vain.

No, no Dems this time around. No vote, and no money either. Fuck them all, those worthless chickenshit bastards.

I'll probably vote Gravel in the primary, and for the Green Party in the general. The Green Party (bless them!) has been calling for impeachment for years. Clearly they are more patriotic than the SPINELESS DEMOCRATS.

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing: I WILL send money to Cindy Sheehan's campaign, as soon as it gets off the ground. In fact, I think I'll subscribe, send money every month.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Milt Shook said...

Pretty pictures you added. The only one I take exception to is the "Impeach Cheney First" one... I think they should be tried at the same time, and booted in the same vote.

It's too hard to separate them, anyway. Is it even possible to pull Dick's hand out of the dummy's ass?

Milt Shook

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hold the president accountable. He should be first, and it's great to include Cheney with him. But it's time to HOLD the prez ACCOUNTABLE!

At 1:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impeachment takes only a simple majority. Conviction of course requires more. And as you pointed out impeachment itself can be done very quickly. It would appear that the Democrats feel they have more to gain by not impeaching bush and cheney. I do believe that 7 years of spying on Congress has allowed bush to pull a J. Edgar on most of our representatives. As history bears out it gave the head of the FBI incredible power and longevity.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Milt Shook said...

Anonymous, I kind of disagree. I think two things are causing the Democrats to wait just a bit. The first one is that there's a bare majority in the Senate (actually, the Dems are in the minority on something like this, with Tim Johnson still sick and Lieberman standing beside Bush on everything), so it's going to be a tough road to conviction and removal, and they only get to do it once, as they see it. I don't think it's any blackmail or anything, I think it's pure and simple pragmatism gone wild. They seem to think they're walking on egg shells, and they have to stop it.

There are no eggshells here. Impeachment is the obvious solution to everything, and even if it fails to convict, it will unmask this government for what it is, and I think at least 18-20 Republicans will turn, if only to save their party. Seriously, we're looking at the end of the GOP for a generation; they can't want that...


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