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Let Things Ripen Some on Impeachment: Patience Will Be Rewarded
Thursday, 14 December 2006 05:28
by Andrew Bard Schmookler

In the anti-Bushite movement, there is an ongoing clamor for impeachment. Even when someone as ill-suited to being useful for such an outcome as the out-going congresswoman Cynthia McKinney submits a resolution for impeachment, our movement treats that event –which would be regrettable, given the source and her standing in the body politic, were it not too obscure to matter one way or the other– as something to celebrate.

If ever any president and vice president in American history deserved impeachment, I would certainly agree, Bush and Cheney deserve it most richly. And more. And if ever there were a need in America to defend the Constitution and the rule of law by rebuking some would-be tyrants, now is the time.

But to achieve one’s goals, one must act in accordance with the lay of the land. And one must devise one’s strategies with an understanding of the correlation of forces, and with how the flow of time is affecting that balance of power.

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Right now, the most effective strategy might be patience– a kind of “watchful waiting” for a time when this cancer on our body politic might be the more easily removed. For the unfolding of events is working in our favor.

Consider the opinion poll just released, showing the job approval percentage for Bush down to its lowest level ever (30 percent). Just as Bush seemed unassailable –and the media slavishly licked his boots– when this “Mission Accomplished” war-time president was riding high in the polls, and as the fall of Bush’s approval numbers into the 30s tilted the table so that the politicians and the press began abandoning and criticizing and attacking Bush, so also will every further diminution of Bush’s standing with the American people and the rest of the power structure make him increasingly vulnerable to successful attack.

It is the ripe fruit that falls as if of its own accord into one’s hands, hardly needing to be picked. Likewise, now, events are ripening the Bushites on the vine.

It is of course the unfolding scandal of the utter Bushite failure in Iraq –along with Bush’s utter incapacity to confront reality– that is doing this ripening. With everyone from Bush’s dad’s fixer, James Baker, to Henry Kissenger, to Senator Gordon, leading the way off this sinking ship, Bush is increasingly shrinking into a figure to be despised.

As the anti-government conservative, Grover Norquist, once announced his purpose as shrinking government into something so paltry that he could drown it in the bathtub, the increasingly visible debacle in Iraq is now diminishing the Bushites into a foe whom we can ultimately confront with a clear preponderance of power, who poses little threat to be able to turn our efforts to his advantage.

Soon it will be possible for the Democrats to start conducting hearings to further educate the American people on just how we got into this mess in Iraq, and on various other dimensions of the dishonesty and criminality and incompetence of this regime. This will shrink the Bushites still further.

Not only will the regime become weakened by its loss of stature and respect, but there’s a good chance that the American people will also have developed a strong impulse to load onto the Bushites all their frustration and shame and anger at this disaster in Iraq (and at the other parts of the picture fleshed out in the hearings), and cry out for impeachment. Or at least support it when, at the ripe moment, the process is initiated.

After all, the American people do not like losing. They do not like failure. We like to fire coaches who don’t bring us glory; we boo the quaterback who doesn’t get the ball into the endzone. This ritual repudiation of the loser is a way that we have of keeping the onus of the disgraceful defeat from off our own shoulders.

The emerging picture of the Iraq catastrophe seems ideally suited for generating such an impulse in the American people. “It’s THEIR fault. They lied to us. They blundered. Let’s load up the guilt and shame onto the Bushite goat and, through impeachment, drive them into the wilderness.”

Those feelings have, I suspect, just begun to gather momentum.

Patience will be rewarded.


There’s a book entitled The Propensity of Things, by a French scholar named Francois Jullien, that, among other things, draws a contrast between the traditions of China and of the West (in particular, the ancient Greeks) regarding how to defeat an opponent. The Greeks, he said, focused on bold, head-to-head, personal confrontation.

By contrast, in the Chinese tradition, the emphasis is on minimizing the dramatic confrontation, and instead on using “minimum effort to achieve maximum effect”..”simply by exploiting the factors in play.” An example is the famous Taoist story of the butcher, in Chuang Tzu, carving the ox, never going up against bone, and thus never having to sharpen his knife. Thus with the Chinese practice of working with how things are flowing: “Things ‘tend’ of themselves, infallibly, with no need for ‘effort.’”

Whereas the Greeks celebrate the brash warrior like Achilles, who calls out to the Trojans to send out their best warriors that he might confront them and leave their entrails in the dust, according to the traditional Chinese view, says Jullien, “the best general is one whose successes are not applauded” because they appear “easy.”

What makes them easy is that one orients oneself with “the propensity of things.” The trick is to determine as early as possible “the future orientation of events.” Seeing where things are heading, we can ride the wave to where we want to get: “Instead of trying to impose our own preferences on it, we should let ourselves go with the flow of things, adopting the line of least resistance.” We seek to understand the disposition of forces in the world around us, because they are unfolding in “a process that can evolve to our advantage if we make opportune use of its propensity.”

And, as is frequently the case in the martial arts of the East, part of the task of defeating the opponent is to use the opponent’s own efforts to achieve his undoing. “(E)verything must be designed to paralyze [the other’s] plans and wishes and to force him to work, despite himself, toward fulfilling the aims imposed on him.”

Right now, the Republicans are doing the work of calling the attention of Americans to the catastrophe the Bushites have created. The Bushites are doing the work –Bush with his inability to acknowledge what everyone (but the 30%) now recognize the reality to be, Tony Snow with his continual denials and evasions– of discrediting themselves in the eyes of Americans.

Why get in their way? Why carve the ox by cutting bone when, by going with the propensity of things, we can get the meat without damaging the edge of our knife?

The anti-Bushite movement –fueled by Achillean rage, and drawn to the Achillean love of the dramatic clash– might learn something from the more patient, subtle Chinese approach.

(It may well be good for the movement to work now to develop the grassroots support for impeachment. But the campaign will likely succeed better if the front-burner dramas –the workings of the Congress, for example, where the attention of the main media, and thus of the mainstream of the American public, will be directed– avoid explicit raising of that spectre until things have ripened more.)

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Comments (21)add comment

Jimmy Montague said:

The Mandate of Heaven
There's also in Chinese lore a concept called "the mandate of heaven." A ruler against whom events have irrevocably turned is said to have lost "the mandate of heaven," which is another way of saying his luck has run out and he has thereby lost the support of the people and the right to rule.

Bush has clearly lost the mandate of heaven, but that doesn't mean it was handed off to the Democrats. Democrats have instead been granted an opportunity to gain the mandate of heaven. If they piss away the next two years and allow Bushco to walk free, they will have squandered that opportunity and they'll get their silly, sorry asses throw out once again.
This isn't China. This is the West. And in the West we say, "carpe diem."

Swing voters and Democratic partisans have watched for six long years, hoping to see some evidence that the Democratic Party hasn't lost its spine. Now we hear Pelosi pledge that Democrats won't pursue impeachment and won't use their power to stop the war. It looks to us like we've wasted our time waiting and made a bad bet sending Democrats to Congress this year.

So, Mr. Schmookler, you tell Nancy Pelosi for me and for all of us outraged patriots: "Carpe diem, Bitch! Pick up your guns and fight or get the hell out of Dodge. We're not leaving you any room to wiggle out of this jam."
December 14, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

ddjango said:

Andy, my friend, God love yuh. As far as Pelosi and the DLC are concerned, impeachment will ripen like orange peels in the compost pile behind P Street.

When McKinney submitted HR 1106, it was assigned to committee with no fanfare and most likely will never get another co-sponsor nor see the light of day.
December 14, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Andrew Bard Schmookler said:

Things Proceed in Stages
It is possible, Mr. Montague, that you interpret too much at face value Pelosi's statement that they won't pursue impeachment. She might have said that if impeachment was indeed absolutely excluded from her universe of possibilities. But she also might have said the same thing if her intention was to allow things to proceed in stages. First the hearings, ripening the public climate to make impeachment something a large segment of the population is clamoring for, then the "leadership" following that ripened public sentiment. Had I been advising Pelosi, with impeachment as my goal, I'd have advised her to speak thus in order to keep the topic of conversation about "what evils have the Bushites done?" rather than about "is it appropriate to impeach them for those evils?"

Don’t forget, most of the American people do not yet see what most of us see. Many still do not see the evil. And many others do not see the magnitude and darkness of it. So what we need to be asking is not “What way of proceeding will feel most right to us in the anti-Bushite fringe?” but “What way of proceeding will help move the mass of Americans in our direction far enough to create a public force for sending the Bushite forces off into one form of disgrace and obscurity or another?”

It does not follow that the strategy of going straight for impeachment will get us more quickly to impeachment.

And besides that, we need to keep our eyes on the presumed ultimate purpose of all our actions, and not see any particular goal as an end in itself.

I would propose that our ultimate goal should be to wrest power from the Bushites and to discredit as much as possible the forces they represent. THese are both for the protection of America, for the healing of America, for the advancement of goodness in America.

Impeachment is not, therefore, an end in itself. It needs to be considered in the context of all the ways that things might unfold, and how that will leave things in America. Not easy things to judge.

It might, for example, be more important simply to expose and discredit the Bushites than to remove them from office. Given the length of time involved, their removal might not be as important as it would be justified.

I have no doubt about the justifiability of impeachment. But it does not follow automatically EITHER that going for impeachment is the best way to defeat the Bushite forces OR that even if we commit to the goal of impeachment it would best be achieved by the most direct and aggressive and immediate of attacks.

Choosing the best strategies to achieve one's goals is not all that easy an endeavor, is it?

And our ultimate intention IS to do what will best save and repair America from the Bushite evils, isn't it?
December 14, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Yeah, right.
I understand the necessity for investigations. But given what's already known and provable, those investigations shouldn't take longer than a few weeks. My worry is that they'll be dragged out for months and the process will take so long that Bush will leave office before he's thrown out. Perhaps worse, if he leaves voluntarily, charges against him will not be pursued and he won't go to jail.

I want the bastard locked up because I see that letting go of Richard Nixon is probably the worst mistake the Democratic Party ever made. To this day, there are swarms of people who swear that Nixon was innocent or that "everybody does it," or that the investigation was pure politics. He was a felon. He should have been tried. The same is true for Bush. And I see that Pelosi isn't going to go there, and I hear people (you, for example) already apologizing for that failure and it sickens me.

The way to discredit this administration and the people who support it is to have a trial and a verdict. And this administration MUST be discredited and humbled. If all we do is hound them out of office, we've done nothing but hound them out of office. If we want to "save and repair America," as you say, we gotta lock these bastards up. How else to restore the rule of law and persuade wannabe tyrants of the future that America won't be tyrannized?

The Bush brat has premised his entire presidency on the idea that he'll get away with anything he does. He got that idea not just from his upbringing but from watching the outcome of Watergate, Iran/Contra, BCCI, and other such travesties. He needs to go to jail to be convinced that he was wrong. Others of his ilk need to SEE him go to jail. Otherwise, we're lost.
December 14, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
This is not an orchard!
Andrew, I respect your opinion and your right to express it, but I couldn't disagree with you more strongly.

This is not an orchard. Nothing here is gonna ripen all by itself. In my opinion we will never achieve anything of value unless we keep pushing -- as hard as we can, wherever and whenever we can.

We are working against an enormous, vicious, and extremely well-funded propaganda machine, and all the progress we have made so far has been due to pushing against it -- as hard as possible, wherever and whenever possible.

I applauded Congresswoman McKinney for introducing articles of impeachment and -- even after reading your piece twice -- I still think that was the right thing to do.

I wish we had more like her.
December 15, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Andrew Bard Schmookler said:

From the wrong messenger, even the right message can be the wrong message
Dear Winter, Let's see where we disagree about Congresswoman McKinney. Do you agree that with the American public in general she is regarded in a negative light? (E.g., would it surprise you if, of those who know enough about her to have an opinion, more than 75 % have a negative opinion?) If you concede that something like that is probably the case, then the next question is: Do you agree that if someone that people dislike espouses Idea A, the standing of idea A with those people will probably be diminished? And if you agree also with that point: do you agree that if we want this president to be impeached, it is important for the idea of impeachment to gain widespread support among the American public generally?

If you agree with all three of those propositions, then I would think that you'd agree that for Congresswoman McKinney to trumpet the need for impeachment does not help the cause.

One more thing for Montague: I wonder what you have in mind when you say that the Democrats made a huge mistake in letting Nixon go. Just what choices did they make to let him go. He resigned, you know, before he could be impeached. And then President Ford granted him a pardon, which is within his constitutional powers to do. The Democrats did neither of those things, but I believe that those two actions together put Nixon outside the reach of the Democrats, or of any other form of legal prosecution.
December 15, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
Andrew, you ask a lot of questions! ;-) but so do I ...
Hi again, Andrew,

Here are my answers to your questions:
Do you agree that with the American public in general [Congresswoman McKinney] is regarded in a negative light?
She is certainly portrayed in the mass media in a negative light. But does the American public in general regard her that way?

I don't believe the American public in general has any idea who she is. Certainly most of the people I know (as opposed to the people with whom I hang online) have never heard of her.

This does not surprise me, by the way. Most of the people I know have never heard of Sibel Edmonds either. Nor have they heard of Jim Fetzer, nor Chris Floyd, nor indeed are they able to name anyone who has made a habit of speaking out against the president and/or questioning the official story of 9/11. They have never heard the terms "false flag terror", or "unitary executive", or "Military Commisions Act", for that matter.

Is their ignorance a good reason for any critics of the administration to remain silent? I would say "NO". In my opinion, their ignorance is a good reason for all critics of the administration to redouble their efforts.
Would it surprise you if, of those who know enough about her to have an opinion, more than 75% have a negative opinion?
Yes, it would -- if by your use of the word know you mean actual knowledge of actual facts. The few people I know who actually know anything about her love her to pieces.

Congresswoman McKinney has been lied about so often and so viciously in the national media, and especially in the Atlanta-area media, that I wouldn't be surprised if 75% of the people who think they know enough about her to have an opinion, actually know less than zero. In other words, they have more dis-information about her than actual information.

(Incidentally, I question your use of the phrase "know enough ... to have an opinion". As I read the situation, virtually everybody has an opinion about virtually everything, regardless of whether or not they have any actual knowledge about it.)
Do you agree that if someone that people dislike espouses Idea A, the standing of idea A with those people will probably be diminished?
I haven't the foggiest notion. I would like to think that the majority of Americans are bright enough, and/or well-enough educated, to evaulate an idea based on its merits rather than on the public image of anyone who espouses it. But sadly I do not see much evidence to support my sentiment on this point.

I do see people attempting to discredit those of us who still want straight answers about 9/11, for instance, by repeatedly yelling "Jim Fetzer is an asshole!" (Personally I have no insignt into his personality, but I do know that it's irrelevant -- it's entirely possible for assholes to speak the truth and for nice guys to be clueless.) But whether such tactics, which seem transparently obvious to me, actually work with the majority of Americans, I really have no idea.

But I would ask you: Are you implying that anyone who has been smeared for his/her opposition to the president, and whose popularity with the American people is therefore low, should simply sit down and shut up?

In other words, should Congresswoman McKinney have said to herself: "The media have lied about me, and I am not very popular with the sheeple, therefore I would be doing the anti-Bush cause a disservice by speaking out about things I believe to be important."??

If you believe this, and if you are right about this, then there is no point in anyone opposing anything, because (given the current media climate) no popular figure who opposes this administration is going to remain popular for very long. And if unpopular critics are doing their cause a disservice by remaining critics, then we might as well just dig our own graves and jump in.
And if you agree also with that point: do you agree that if we want this president to be impeached, it is important for the idea of impeachment to gain widespread support among the American public generally?
As you can see, I don't agree with that point, nor with the argument you are making in general, but I will answer this one anyway: Impeachment already has widespread support among the American public generally.

Do you read David Swanson? He's had some good columns here recently. In one of them he quotes a survey showing that 51% of Americans support impeachment. Roughly 30% support the president. How much more of a numerical advantage do pro-impeachment people have to have before they start speaking freely and openly about it?
If you agree with all three of those propositions, then I would think that you'd agree that for Congresswoman McKinney to trumpet the need for impeachment does not help the cause.
As you can see, I do not agree with your propositions, and even more importantly, I do not agree with the way you have strung them together. I simply do not see your argument as having much logical validity.

Sixty percent of the voters in the district that elected Nancy Pelosi voted in favor of impeachment, yet she says it's "off the table". Does that help the cause?

John Conyers, who for the past two years has been the strongest voice in Congress in favor of electoral integrity and impeachment, has effectively betrayed his supporters by saying impeachment is "off the table". Does that help the cause?

With all possible respect, Andrew, I think you're barking up the wrong tree.
December 15, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Try it this way, then
I want the bastard locked up because I see that letting go of Richard Nixon is probably the worst mistake the U.S. government ever made. To this day, there are swarms of people who swear that Nixon was innocent or that "everybody does it," or that the investigation was pure politics. Even among those who knew Nixon was guilty, the pardon worked to destroy public trust in government and faith in our democratic system's ability to police itself.

Nixon was a felon. He should have been tried. The same is true for Bush. And I see that Pelosi isn't going to go there, and I hear people (you, for example) already apologizing for that failure and it sickens me.

The way I read you, you'll be content (hell, you'll be pleased) if the Bush crisis crumples into a muddle of hearings, replete with charges and counter-charges, and ends with some particularly nasty underling (say Rove or Libby) spending six months or a year in a minimum-security jail. That isn't what the country wants or needs. And that was true of Watergate, the Iran/Contra affair and the rest. We need to see justice done, but what we get is hearings without end. We see through the sham, all the way to the fact that our leaders and our system can't be trusted.

Why should we believe in the U.S. government? Why should we trust our leaders? Why should we vote in elections, when guys like you work so hard to convince us that the fix is in and the whole damned system is rotten to the core? You want to know why so many people listen to Rush Limbaugh? The answer to that question looks at you every morning while you shave.

You tell us "Less is more; shit is diamonds; take what you can get; sit down and shut up because you don't know what's good for you." And you get your feelings hurt when we tell you you're full of shit. And I say: "Suck it up, pal. You're a four-card flush, all bluff, a bad bet, and I won't lay a dime on any game you sit in because guys who play like you just spoil the action for the rest of us."
December 15, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
This one's for Jimmy
Hey, Jimmy:

I disagree with you (and agree with Andrew) about what happened in the Nixon situation. Nixon resigned and was granted an all-inclusive pardon and therefore could not be tried. (I would have liked to see Gerald Ford impeached for pardoning him, and hanged for his role as FBI mole in the Warren Commission "investigation", but that's another story entirely.)

The big mistake made by "the government", as I read it, was Clinton's failure to go after the criminals who operated with impunity in the GHWB administration, and in the two RWR/GHWB administrations before that. GHWB, Cheney, Dumsfeld, Poindexter and many others should have been hanged a long time ago -- but Clinton wanted to make nicey-nice ... and now these same criminals are in charge. And the national nightmare continues.

Under GHWB they were called "the crazies in the basement". Under GWB they've had corner offices upstairs. If the Clinton administration had prosecuted them for their crimes, things might have been very different.

And that's putting it mildly. You might want to visit consortiumnews.com and read Robert Parry's take on all this. He says it a lot better than I ever could.

And BTW I like you a lot better when you're attacking Andrew's arguments than when you're attacking him personally.
December 15, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Disagree and agree?
You admit the Nixon pardon was a serious mistake (by saying Ford should have been impeached for his action). That's what I was driving at. My facts were wrong but my contention was sound. It's the result of haste in writing these things.

I'm with you on the Clinton thing. But Clinton had his own problems with presidential pardons. Some of the ones he personally issued were morally unsound, which is the best that can be said of them.

About Schmookler, I'm right and I'm wrong again. I'm right when I say that is message is "less is more, shit is diamonds, take what you can get, sit down and shut up," etc. I'm probably right, too, when I say he gets his feelings hurt when I tell him he's full of shit. And I'm right about Rush Limbaugh: people listen to Rush because he drives the nails straight in. Nuance has its place and certainly its value, but where it's out of place it has no value. The public wants, needs, must have heroes and villains to love and to hate, to admire and to jeer at. Rush is successful simply and purely because he gives them those things. Endless hearings produce nothing of moment other than public distrust and cynicism. As soon as Democrats like Schmookler learn what Rush knows instinctively (and I'm not holding my breath while I wait) and act upon that knowledge, right-wing talkmeisters will lose their clout. Until then, the Democratic hold on power is tenuous at best. The public had better see some action and soon. And the Dems had better find som hot-mouthed yahoo like Rush to front their band.

You're right about Conyers and Pelosi: Democrats like them and Schmookler are the Democratic Party's worst enemies, and success in November's election threatens to make them worse still.

I'm wrong to attack Schmookler personally. I don't know him at all. He has impressive credentials and he writes well. Too bad: I've been sick of the song he sings for many years, now.
December 15, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
Has he run away?
I was hopin' our friend Andrew would stop by for a bit of a visit...

What happened, Jimmy? Did we scare him away?

BTW you were right on about the Clinton pardons ;-)
December 16, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

No, he'll be back.
Someone assigned him the task of selling the lunatic fringe (that's you and me) on Pelosi's new and improved ideas about justice and good governance. He'll be back.
December 16, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
If he comes back and I don't notice...
Thanks, Jimmy. It's an honor to inhabit the lunatic fringe with you.

As for schnookums, I just met the guy, I know nut-tink about him. So I'll trust your judgement and keep an eye open for him around here. But ... if he comes back and I don't notice... send me an email, will ya?

wp112263 at hotmail dot com or click the "email me" link on the sidebar at please don't read my blog.

Thanks again and best wishes.
December 16, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Andrew Bard Schmookler said:

It seems to me that in politics there are two main approaches available. One is to do what is emotionally gratifying-- for example, stomping and shouting and getting revenge and assuming heroic postures, etc. The other is to do what is most likely to lead the world to becoming more like how one would like for it to be, by carefully assessing the play of forces, by crafting good strategies that take existing conditions into account, etc.

At times the two overlap a lot. At times they diverge considerably.

I know well the temptation to do the former, but, when the two courses diverse, I believe that we have a moral responsibility to do the latter.

Above, I have shared my best assessment of what the latter requires with respect to impeachment right now. I could be mistaken in my assessment, but in any event, that's the nature of what I'm trying to do.

It could be that those who disagree with my assessment have come to different views by making a good faith attempt to do the same thing, which is to discipline one's (angry) passions for the sake of being more effective and constructive in the world.

But at least in some cases, I suspect that the disagreement comes rather from people's indulging their passions first, and either not really caring about what the consequences would be, or tailoring their beliefs about the world to suit their emotional needs.

Let me add this: I believe these Bushites are the greatest evil ever to achieve power in American history, and it would be immensely gratifying to me if they were impeached, disgraced, made an example to discourage any future such rulers from wielding power as they have. I'd love to see it. And if we can get America on board to do that, I'm all for it.

But my belief is that if the Democrats were to plunge straight ahead right now for such an outcome, they'd not only fail to achieve their purpose but they would strengthen the Bushites.

As I said, I could be wrong. BUt I would ask: is there any among you who would want to proceed in that way if you knew that this would be the outcome?

December 16, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

So you should take existing conditions into account
You're the one at the outboard end of the tow rope. Fifty-one percent of Americans favor impeachment now. Sixty percent of Pelosi's constituents favor impeachment now. Bush has only 30 percent support among the public at large.

So what are you waiting for? You want to give the public time to change their minds, or what?

It could be that those who disagree with my assessment have come to different views by making a good faith attempt to discipline their (angry) passions for the sake of being more effective and constructive in the world.

But at least in some cases, I suspect that the disagreement comes rather from people's indulging their need to be right, and either not really caring about what the consequences would be or tailoring their beliefs about the world to suit their emotional needs.

I could be wrong. But I ask you: would you want to wait to impeach if you knew that waiting would either strengthen the Bushites or weaken the Democrats?
December 16, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Andrew Bard Schmookler said:

Dear Mr. Montague, You needn't treat me as the enemy, you know. As should be clear from what I've said that I'd welcome impeachment, and be in favor of going full speed ahead if I thought it would work. I've been denouncing the evils of this administration full-time for a good while, and I've been using the word "evil" and words like "criminal" and "lawless." And I wrote a variety of pieces earlier this year to focus on how these Bushites have violated their oath of office.

About that 51 % of the American public that favors impeachment... I've heard that number, but haven't seen the poll, or just what was asked. I've seen some framing in terms of "if it were determined that the president did this or that, would you favor impeachment?" That's different from, "Are you already in favor of impeachment?" Do you know how that question was framed?

Perhaps I've been made too cautious by watching how American politics have worked for the past 14 years. Particularly with the Rovian era, where it seems that even when opinion polls show that most Americans favor a position that is more or less that of the Democrats, the actual political fall-out from the issue once battle is engaged has quite consistently worked to the Bushites' favor. (THe big exception, now is Iraq, because the people can see that the president's policy is such an utter failure.)

So I'm inclined to want the artillery to weaken the enemy as far as possible before charging into their lines. Maybe a charge could work now, but I am doubtful.

My doubts derive from what I've witnessed in America in recent years from the American people and from the corporate media. The media may, like rats leaving a sinking ship, no longer act like a propaganda arm of the regime. BUt they still seem deeply complicitous or simply clueless when it comes to the depth of the Bushites' depravity and of the threat to the Constitution this presidency has embodied. Since the Democrats' victory in November, they've continued to inspire a profound lack of confidence about how they would treat the Democrats' bringing the Bushites to justice. So any effort in that direction would likely be upstream in terms of the media environment.

And then there's the American people, whose acquiescence in the demolition of our constitutional democracy has been one of the most disturbing things I've ever witnessed personally. It has actually shaken my faith in humanity at a rather deep level. THe widespread public indifference to the revelation (a year ago today!?) of the BUshites' criminal and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping, and to America's official endorsement of torture, etc., make me very doubtful about how much one could rely upon that supposed 51% support for impeachment.

And then there is the Democrats' seeming inability to present their case powerfully and to defend themselves against bogus attacks. Democratic leaders asked by those corporate media reporters about this do-nothing Congress, just to name one example, have not been adept enough to turn the question around to point at the Republicans who, after all, have controlled this COngress from beginning to end. If they aren't skilled enough to avoid that kind of bum rap --I think of INspector Cluseau being convicted of being the Pink Panther-- I don't know how much confidence we should have about their ability to parry the attacks from the Republicans and the media should they go down the impeachment road.

I myself have written about how impeaching a president who has violated the very core of the Constitution is VERY different from impeaching a president who misbehaved with a woman not his wife. But most of the media commentators still lump impeaching Bush together with impeaching Clinton, and since the latter worked badly they condemn the former as a misguided and partisan move like the other.

As for the idea that I might be indulging my need to be right, Mr. Montague, that one doesn't even hold together logically. How could the reason for my writing this piece be that I feel a need to defend the ideas that I express in this piece? Or were you just referring to my comments here, where --in the face of presumably superior arguments-- I stubbornly refuse to abandon the demonstrably foolish ideas I articulated in the main essay?

In any event, I know that the world is complex enough that my best judgment on this impeachment-strategy issue could be wrong. Is the possibility that you might be wrong something you're prepared to concede?

BTW, John Dean --who has been a very powerful voice against these Bushites, from his WORSE THAN WATERGATE onward-- has written an interesting piece (which I will be posting on my own website tomorrow) in which he declares, "There Is No Chance Either Bush or Cheney Will Be Removed From Office." (He goes on to call for the impeachment of lower-level Bushites, and the idea has some charm, though I will be articulating some questions about his argument in that posting tomorrow.) Dean's main point is that the votes are simply not there, in the Senate, for the 2/3 one needs to convict Bush or Cheney.

That's certainly true. But it does seem to me possible that if the public gets sufficiently aroused against the BUshite crimes and lies to make it seem politically too costly to defend Bush, the votes might eventually be there.
December 17, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
"I'm Looking Through You"
Dear Andrew:

In a debate, if we ask our opponent a series of questions and he answers us and asks some questions of his own... and if we then carry on as if he hadn't spoken at all, fail to acknowledge his answers, fail to address any of his questions... the judges notice, and they're not impressed. It shows them we're either unprepared or we lack logical support on our side of the question, or we're otherwise reluctant to engage our opponents on issues we introduced into the discussion ourselves.

If instead we indulge in ad-hominem attacks against unnamed others, for instance implying that our opponent's arguments are emotional whereas ours are logical, shifting the field rather than dealing with our opponent, judges notice that too. They call that approach "slippery".

What's the difference between real-time debating and online discussion? If we do something slippery in real-time, only the people who are present at the time, and paying close attention, are going to notice. If we do something slippery online, the evidence is there for all to see whenever they come along, and it sits there for quite a while.

Just a word to the wise, eh what?


I am not angry. Do I seem angry? Au contraire, mon ami. I am too cold to be angry. I am not young and foolish nor am I blind to the difference between tactics and strategy on the one hand and emotional outbursts on the other. I'm a chess player; I'm thinking as many moves ahead as I can. This is not revenge for me. This is about using the constitutionally prescribed remedy at a time when it is badly needed.

The way to get the public behind impeachment is to start doing it. That -- and nothing else -- will force the complicit corporate media to cover it. They wouldn't dare not cover it, would they? Maybe. But in any case, the procedure that will work, the procedure that has worked, the procedure that makes the most sense -- tactically, historically -- is to start holding their feet to the fire in that big round building in Washington, and gradually eventually the sheeple will come around to some approximation of the truth about the evil lawless criminal administration and its evil lawless criminal ways and they will put pressure on their so-called elected representatives who will all of a sudden realize that voting for the president could cost them their jobs, and then all sorts of favorable dynamics swing into action.

It always works this way: the American public was nowhere near this upset at RMN when impeachment proceedings were begun against him, but nobody said "let's wait until the people are behind us". That's why they called them "leaders".

Dean says the votes are not there. Perhaps he fails to remember that the votes were not there against RMN either, but after his criminal conduct was made THE ISSUE and American citizens learned more and more about it the votes began to materialize. By which I mean, die-hard elephants were sending word to the oval office telling the neurotic little man, "I can't vote for you." Elephant leaders from both houses went to see RMN and told him "your support is vanishing".

And that's why he resigned. And that's how it was done. And that's how it's always done. That's why they did it that way then. And that's why it makes sense to do it now --jor as soon as possible.

Or in your words, we can use impeachment proceedings themselves as a means to ensure that
the public gets sufficiently aroused against the Bushite crimes and lies to make it seem politically too costly to defend Bush.
December 17, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

leadership, Schmookler style
Schmookler says: "And then there's the American people, whose acquiescence in the demolition of our constitutional democracy has been one of the most disturbing things I've ever witnessed personally."

What Schmookler fails to realize is that he's one of his supposed acquiescent majority. He doesn't seem to understand that if he waits for a majority to come to his door and demand that Bush be impeached, Bush will never be impeached.

There are three kinds of leaders in this world. The first is the spiritual sort, like Ghandi, whose style does not apply here. There is the mover and shaker sort, the leader who sees what needs to be done and then takes action. They go out and make speeches and persuade, cajole, shake people up, and in every way mobilize support for the necessary action. Then there's the guys like Schmookler: They think of themselves as leaders but in fact they don't lead at all. They wait for the mob to stampede in one direction or another, then they run like hell to get out in front of the action and keep running to stay there. If the stampede achieves anything of substance, the pretend leader takes credit for that. If the stampede fails, the pretend leader quickly points out that he never advocated taking any action at all. I call the Schmookler style "following from the front." Others have a less-polite term for it.

For the record, Mr. Schmookler: I predicted that the Democrats were sellouts as far back as Sept. 15, 2006. I did not vote for the Democrats because I knew precisely what they would do if the got elected. I wrote:

"It will be bad for America if Democrats gain control of Congress this fall. Any changes they make will be superficial. Democrats voted for the so-called USA Patriot Act -- twice. They voted for war with Iraq four years ago and, as a party, refuse to admit either that their Patriot Act is a travesty or that their war is unwinnable. Instead they claim that George Bush is abusing the powers they gave him. They argue that George Bush is losing their war. They claim they can do better. They don't want to repeal the Patriot Act or end the war immediately. Instead they're quiet about the Patriot Act while they argue loudly that an immediate end of their war would be disastrous for Iraq and send bad signals to the rest of the world. They urge a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces. But the fact is that both the Patriot Act and the Iraq war are huge cash cows. Once they hold the reins of power, Democrats will take just as much money from defense contracts as Republicans take now. An immediate end of the war profits Democrats nothing, whereas their proposed 'gradual withdrawal' gives them two more years to get their share of the profiteers' boodle. Toward that end, Democrats probably will not impeach George W. Bush but will use him instead as a pissing post. While Democrats wallow in lobbyists' loot, they'll blame BushCo for the ongoing carnage."

You can read the whole post here: http://cyanidehole.blogspot.co...t-you.html

How did I know what the Democrats were up to? Given their record of the past 26 years, how could I not know? I don't vote third-party because I want to. I vote third-party because there's no other patriotic choice. I refuse to wait until the situation ripens, as you say we all should, simply because I know that the situation is already WAY PAST overripe, far gone into just plain fucking rotten.

Get hip, Schmookler: the horse you're peddling isn't dead any more. It's fertilizer. Find a live one or eat it yourself.
December 18, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Andrew Bard Schmookler said:

Relishing the war mode, rather than working together, is not a good sign
When someone like Jimmy Montague writes about me, "Then there's the guys like Schmookler: They think of themselves as leaders but in fact they don't lead at all. They wait for the mob to stampede in one direction or another, then they run like hell to get out in front of the action and keep running to stay there," I guess I know what kind of rules of discourse apply.

This piece of mine --about the strategy for impeachment-- argues for patience in this instance, so Montague feels entitled to mis-characterize my entire nature, not to mention career. It's an irresponsible way to score points, even if it bears no real relationship with the truth. (It reminds me of how the Bushites were so eager to mischaracterize that lame joke of Kerry's, which was about Bush's defects, to score political points by pretending that it was disrespectful of the troops.)

Other readers can test the veracity of that characterization by checking out what I've been writing for the past couple of years at www.NoneSoBlind.org, and I've got a history of what I've stood for that goes back 35 years, and is articulated in books that can be found readily enough on Amazon.com You'll find there's no such pattern whatever in what I've had to say either about battling these BUshites, or more generally in relation to the challenges facing our civilization.

Just as important as finding out whether my nature is as Mr. Montague describes, as a two-fer readers can also test the character of the one who declaimed this characterization.

I wrote to Mr. Montague that he needn't consider me an enemy, but it appears from his conduct that perhaps he does so need. (I also asked if he would concede, as I did about my own position about impeachment, that he MIGHT be wrong. That invitation, too, seems to have been ignored.)

So it seems I'm still be treated as the enemy. Not wrong, mind you. Not just making faulty judgment. But someone worthy of attacking, as a person.

I am not, of course, the only enemy. Look how eager he is to claim how prescient he was about the depravity of the Democrats: "For the record, Mr. Schmookler: I predicted that the Democrats were sellouts as far back as Sept. 15, 2006." You'd think that his prediction had already been confirmed. He's triumphant about what hasn't even happened yet. Is there some sort of pleasure in identifying so many bad guys?

I expect this pre-maturely declared prescience will be at least partially confirmed, but I don't expect him to pay much attention to the ways in which it has been disconfirmed. Too much invested in the black-and-white worldview, in which indeed all shades of grey are black. What do you think the chances are that, even if the Democrats do some important things to combat the Bushites, Mr. Montague will grant that they exceeded his expectations, and that it turned out to be an important and good thing that they gained a congressional majority?

I'm not interested in this kind of enmity. It takes two to enter into civil discourse, Mr. Montague,and my having no way in which to engage in such discourse with you, I wish to engage with you no more.

I expect you will disregard my request for disengagement, and to do so with some glee. Perhaps you'll tell yourself that you're not going to let some running-dog like Schmookler get off so easily with his craven politics and his pseudo-righteous ideas about defeating evil and building the good.

But your kind of discourse, from what I have seen of it, strikes me as part of the problem and not of the solution.

In a posting recently on Smirkingchimp, I closed with the statement, " pledge to do my best to pose such challenges as constructively as I can; and, understanding that not everyone will like what I'm saying, I only ask that those people respond in the same spirit." To which a respondent on that site wrote, "Sounds like a plea for civility. Good luck with THAT Andrew."

What is interesting in that response is that it contains the insight that connects "civility" with a "constructive spirit." I call it an insight because one of the essential dichotomies to be found in such forums as this is between those who approach our problems in a genuine attempt to improve things (a constructive spirit) and those who focus on the venting of their angry feelings.

Although outrage can be a useful fuel for constructive action, ultimately the building of a better world is not achieved that way. And that's why civil discourse is a sign of political health, and the uncivil discourse of insult and abuse is just part of the problem.

ONe of the chief signs of evil of this BUshite regime is that it brought divisiveness and conflict into every realm it touched: it created strife and division in the international sphere, and it created polarization and a degradation of civil discourse here in America.

Part of repairing the damage done by these Bushites is to get past the politics of sheer conflict and Us vs. Them. That's part of how evil does its work in the world. Finding shared ground, finding ways of make constructive conversation across divisions possible-- these are part of defeating the Bushites and their destructive ways.

By their fruits shall ye know them. War and conflict are not the fruits of goodness of spirit.
December 18, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
By their fruits shall ye know them.
Good point, Andrew; and thanks for saying so. Your silence in my direction is the sort of fruit from which valuable knowledge can be derived. So thanks for that, as well.
December 18, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

There's the rub.

Your request for disengagement is hereby granted. I'm tired of your whining about being told off, though I know how it feels. I've been told off myself a time or two and expect to be told off a few more times before I die. I think of it as something that happens to people who hurt someone else's feelings, accidentally or on purpose, which is another way of saying that being told off is something that happens to everyone once in a while. I can live with it. You should learn.

For the rest of it, I feel the same as you: "your kind of discourse, from what I have seen of it, strikes me as part of the problem and not of the solution." If you have your way, Bush will walk.

I'm out of here.
December 18, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

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