Friday, April 14, 2006

Impeachment is Not Enough

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The voices for impeachment grow louder and more numerous by the day. More Republicans are running from Bush than Democrats; it looks like a stampede. But impeachment now will only help the GOP hang on to power. Mere impeachment fails to address the numerous crises that our nation now faces.

Impeachment is not even a good stop gap measure and would most certainly fail to stop what appears to be an imminent nuclear strike against Iran. Impeachment now would only make it easier for the Republican party to retain control of both houses of Congress. Impeachment now would make Dick Cheney President. A Cheney impeachment would make Dennis Hastert President. A Hastert impeachment leaves us with the pro tempore of the Senate. After that –Condoleeza Rice! None of these are attractive alternatives. None of them address the crisis we face.

Bush is very credibly quoted as having said: “The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!” It explains why he has clearly violated his oath of office –an oath he took but did not intend to honor.

So –what’s really needed is not the mere impeachment of crooked officials. What’s needed is a profound sea change throughout American culture. What’s needed is a velvet revolution via a new national convention, a new government re-committed to the principles of our Democratic Republic. What we need to do is to literally write George W. Bush and his entire administration out of a job! In fact, nothing positive can be done to reform until the nation faces an unpleasant fact: our government is rotten to the very core –evil, inefficient, crooked, and increasingly fascist, increasingly contemptuous of the very values we grew up with and revere.

Much has been made of Bush’s ex post facto declassification of information resulting in the “outing” of Valerie Plame. And much has been made of the effects: a subversion of American national security, treason! But as far as I know no one has written about an even worse crime. Bush has required of American soldiers that they carry out war crimes in the name of the United States. It is known that murders took place at Abu Ghraib. If what has been said of Abu Ghraib by the Bush administration itself is true, then those murders were “policy”. The policy itself is criminal but the defense –‘we were only following orders' –does not exculpate.

It is the nature of evil that its commission is never confined to one person, but spreads like a cancer. The war against Iraq, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, the domination of our government “of the people” by the Military/Industrial complex, the ill-advised and often illegal domination of congress by American corporations –all of these things are evidence of a widespread rot literally shot-through American society. And while I especially blame the GOP for rewarding a tiny, radical elite while courting theocrats who most certainly despise our Constitution, Democrats must be faulted for having failed to oppose effectively. Democrats must be faulted for having failed to understand the nature of this threat to Democracy. Democrats must be faulted for having failed to articulate an alternative vision. Someone abandoned his/her post. Someone was asleep at the switch.

The issue is a lot bigger than Democrat vs. Republican, progressive vs. conservative. Only an entirely new paradigm can save America. The America of just one or two generations ago was a different America than the Fox/Walmart America of today. When did we become a fascist nation, espousing fascist values —and why didn’t we see it coming? Howard Zinn asked recently: “What does it take to bring a turnaround in social consciousness - from being a racist to being in favor of racial equality, from being in favor of Bush's tax program to being against it, from being in favor of the war in Iraq to being against it?” That’s the question and impeachment alone won’t answer it.

There are some in this country who believe that war is good for business, but, more properly, good for "war profiteers”. But at a time when the U.S. trade deficit is increasingly an issue, war itself threatens to become America’s chief export. War during Hitler's Third Reich was, similarly, good for business –for a while. Hitler's economy, indeed, boomed –for awhile.

We would like to think that it all turned “bad for business” when the Reich collapsed. But I'm not so sure. In fact, most of the perpetrators of Hitler’s Holocaust got away with it. Despite Simon Weisenthal's best efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice, many of the corporate "war profiteers" were never brought to trial. The Bush family continued trading with Hitler even after America joined the war effort. That's just one example.

The corporate, economic power behind the Third Reich was largely untouched; I.G. Farben, for example, was merely broken up. A conglomerate, many of its "subsidiaries" still do business and are doing fine. One of them is Bayer Aspirin. Thyssen, likewise, still does business in America. The board room criminals who plan and profit from war are little affected it. As Dr. Gustav Gilbert, the American psychologist who interviewed and "analyzed" Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, concluded: evil is the lack of empathy! There is no "empathy" to be found in the board rooms of corporate war profiteers. Empathy has, of late, been demonized ala conservative subverters of the language: those with "empathy" are called "bleeding hearts!"

On another front, impeachment alone will not save the United States from creeping theocracy. The American right wing will still try to force the teaching of religion in public schools, will continue to debunk real science even as they celebrate and advocate junk science like “creationism” and “intelligent design”. The American right wing will still demonize Darwin and attribute to him positions he never took. The American right wing will still strive to make of our country a radical theocracy in which the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell will become American “Mullahs”.

Mere impeachment will not restore the Bill of Rights —the very foundation of our freedom. How many times were the families of American servicemen told that their young men had made the ultimate sacrifice at Normandy and the battle fields of Europe for the ideals of American freedom. If that were so, why is the Bill of Rights now demonized by the GOP, Bush, and the right wing in general? Why are the Bill of Rights under seige by an unconstitutional domestic spying scheme for which Bush has no legal authority under the Fourth Amendment? And most recently, MSNBC warns of an emerging national secret police:

...America’s Secret Police?

An informal panel of senior Pentagon officials has been holding a series of unannounced private meetings during the past several weeks about how to proceed with a possible merger between the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a post-9/11 Pentagon creation that has been accused of domestic spying, and the Defense Security Service (DSS), a well-established older agency responsible for inspecting the security arrangements of defense contractors. DSS also maintains millions of confidential files containing the results of background investigations on defense contractors’ employees.
Evil is insidious but also —as we were told so profoundly by Hannah Arendt —banal. [See: Eichmann in Jerusalem] Don't expect Dick Cheney and George Bush et al to reveal themselves by snorting fire, projectile puking green bile, or cackling maniacally when they nuke Iran. Would it were so easy! The reality of evil is more mundane. If fundies can explain the universe with "God did it", they will justify wars of aggression with "God has ordained it!” And even then, Bush's gang of NeoCons lied this nation into war. As Voltaire put it: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

Considering the fact that corporate crooks now rule our nation, global warming seems irreversible and a nuclear strike against Iran may be imminent, one is reminded of this bit of gallows humor:

The doctor told his patient:

"My God, man, you're going to die in five minutes!”

"Gee, Doc!!!! Is there anything you can do?"

"I could boil you an egg!?!"
'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission



Anonymous said...

Well I don't agree with your reasoning with respect to impeachment. It would not be the act of impeachment itself that would save America, but it would be an indication, if it were done honorably, that We the People are finally willing to take responsibility for what has come to pass and now understand that our freedom and our heritage depends on our courage and willingness to defend the rule of law; and that we do not intend to let such arrogance and criminality succeed again

It is foolish and dishonorable to suggest that we should not enforce the rule of law because the outcome would unattractive or difficult.

All who have committed impeachable offenses should be thrown out

Impeachment would suggest to those who are left standing that they are subject to the rule of law too and any deviation from it will be carried out at their peril.

Stand up and take responsibility. Doing nothing as this author suggests is not an honorable path to take.

Unknown said...

"It is foolish and dishonorable to suggest that we should not enforce the rule of law because the outcome would unattractive or difficult."

That's not my point at all. My point is made in the headline: Impeachmen is not ENOUGH!

Impeachment, in other words, doesn't go far enough. It is not a panacea. A post-impeachment world will not be sudeenly hunky dory again. There is no quick and easy route back to Eden.

Secondly, there is the question of timing. Impeachment, being a half measure at best, is not worth relieving the GOP of a tar baby of their own creation.

Why should Democrats pay for crimes perpetrated by the GOP.

At last, lest you think I am soft on "impeachment", I support removing, with arrests where possible, the entire crime syndicate that has taken over our government. I favor criminal, felony trials for Bush —specifically his violations of U.S. Codes; section 2441.

And, at last, I favor turning Bush over to the Hague for war crimes trials. But NOT if it means letting the GOP continue to destroy Constitutional law in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

AW, MAN! How come you saved the best for last? There's no "if" about it! There are AT LEAST 50 indictments outstanding for the president, his father, the vice president, half the cabinet, members of the corporate media, certain CEO's, certain military brass, etc. All this came down last summer, and I've been trying SO hard to spread the word! I totally agree with you that impeachment is not the answer and may even be counter-productive for the reasons you explained. As I see it, the question is not what to do, but who has the authority and/or influence to do it!

Unknown said...

Susan, where can copies of these indictments be obtained? One of the reasons I favor a new national convention is that it could not only write George Bush and his entire gang of crooks out of a job, it could mandate a grand jury to consider returning such indictments.

According to the late Sen. Sam Irvin of Watergate Committee fame, such a national convention (provided for by Article 5 of the Constitution) could literally re-create the nation.

Some people fear such a covention ...and rightly so. But when a sitting President declares "The Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper" there is no longer a downside risk in the creation of such a convention.

End The Duopoly said...

I do agree that impeachment would only be a first step in giving us a government that does not betray the national interest. The root of the problem is a political system controlled by a tiny elite that places their interests above the national good. Until we create a principled 3rd party alternative will we begin to right this ship.

Unknown said...

John, you are correct. The tiny ruling elite is powerful because they are rich. In our system money = power. I would be hard pressed to name a single member of Congress who spent less on his/her campaign than his opponent. GOPPERS have known at least since the ascension of Ronald Reagan that he who spends most gets elected. This fact is borne out by even a cursory study of the campaign expenditures of "winners". Wealth thus translates directly into pure political power.

A mere one percent of the nation's population controls a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth. Hence, they enjoy a disproportionate influence over the levers of government. Wealth is power. Especially so in a right leaning society in which the rules are written to favor the wealthy.

Even Adam Smith recognized that "...wherever there is great property there is great inequality." Though Smith is most often quoted by ideological capitalists, Smith himself recognized the dangers inherent in class-biased governmental policies. He acknowledged some two centuries ago "...the very end of [government] is to secure the rich from the poor." The GOP has taken that to extremes.

Smith predicted that "masters" with greater power would conspire to pay "labor" as little as possible. Ronald Reagan proved Smith to be correct. Reagan is famous for having broken the power of labor unions. And among the most repugnant of his many legacies is the fact that following his tax cut of 1982, ONLY the upper 20 percent of the population prospered. And of that upper 20 percent, the top one percent prospered obscenely. Every other quintile but the top, LOST GROUND. That trend abated but slightly in Clinton's second term. It has resumed with a vengeance under Bush. It will be our undoing.

By any measure, then, the gap between rich and poor has grown very nearly exponentially throughout the industrialized nations. A report by the United Nations Human Development organization reveals that between 1960 and 1990, the world's upper quintile [the richest fifth of the population] increased its wealth from 70 percent to 85 percent. The lowest quintile almost fell off the ladder, dropping from 2.3 percent to 1.4 percent. The trend is ongoing.

The income of the top quintile compared to that of the bottom quintile rose from 30-1, to 78-1. Not merely income but net worth is concentrated in the hands of some 358 billionaires world wide. Their consolidated assets are worth more than the annual combined incomes of some 45 percent of the world's total population.

Growing inequality during periods of general economic growth disproves conclusively a favorite GOP myth, or more properly, GOP LIE and that is "supply side economics" often called "trickle down theory" by its detractors. Trickle down theory is pure bunkum. It is a myth perpetrated by the very, very, very rich for the purpose of making it possible for them to STEAL from everyone else by hijacking and exploiting the power of various governments that they control through sheer wealth, raw economic power, and, hence, political influence. It's a heist!

A. Citizen said...

Good post! Seems like we are on the same wavelength. Impeachment is indeed not sufficient.

We need to, and are I believe starting to, re-build the progressive movement in this country. Grassroots, netroots, Governor Dean, all can and are playing a part in this.

My current meme: Drive the Republican Party into the Sea!

And send Biden, Schumer, Hillary, Kerry et. al. wit 'em.

Love the Hannah Arendt reference. See my post "The Face of Evil".

Jennie said...

How entirely corrupt are the neocons? Would the surviving neocons encourage a constitutional convention in order to create a new, twisted government and nation to completely legitimize what they have done and have yet to do? That is my fear of holding such a national constitutional convention.

George W. Bush's grandpappy was influenced greatly by Hitler and the Third Reich in his day. I just wonder how much of that rubbed off on his younger generations, and what kind of bedtime stories Prescott Bush told to his grandkids. They must begun a lot like this:

Once upon a time, in middle Europe, a great and mighty ruler led the land in a grand commission to create a superior state and overcome the world...

They must have ended like this:
... it is up to you, my dear children, to finish what the great ruler started...

I think that the quest overrides any thoughts of impending impeachment for Bushco. Thus, the Iran conflict will diminish such impeachment thoughts and, unless people are willing to stick their necks on the line, Bush will likely stay in power past his term. Oh, wait. After the constitutional convention, there will be no presidential term limits. The president determines when he steps down, as national security and international conflicts dictate, they will say. They will reason that international conflicts cannot appropriately be resolved when the head of the most powerful country changes every eight years or less.

The new national symbol for the neocon USA will likely resemble what is found on a bottle of rat poison.

Unknown said...

"The new national symbol for the neocon USA will likely resemble what is found on a bottle of rat poison."

That was, I believe, the "logo" for the Nazi SS. I chose that symbol illustrate my archived article: "For Bush, the State is Absolute"

Nazism has its roots in Hegelian "absolutism". And, interestingly, Hegel was the primary influence on Marx who borrowed from Hegel the materialist "dialectic". So is not surprising that NeoCon "conservativism" is akin to Socialism, specifically NATIONAL SOCIALISM, ie Nazism. It is in fact, a socialism of, by and for corporations for whom defense and other government contracts make them the sole beneficiary of a totalitarian form of government. In America, corporations have the same rights as do individual, though a corporation is, in fact, nothing more than a legal abstraction.

Bush seems to have taken this process to its final stage: a merger of the corporate community with government itself. Dick Cheney is both Halliburton CEO and the power behind Bush's dictatorship.