A Republic, If We Can Keep It.
The Crisis Papers.
July 24, 2007
Why not impeach?
The Congressional Democrats offered several excuses for keeping
impeachment “off the table.”
One familiar response (even by such estimable Senators as Russ
Feingold and Bernie Sanders), is that following a successful
impeachment in the House, the Senate would surely not convict.
Two replies come to mind: (1) Don’t be so sure of that. When the
impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon began in the House
Judiciary Committee, the Republican Senators were solidly against
conviction and removal. All that changed when the evidence was
brought forth and the public responded. (2) So what if the Senate
fails to convict? When the Republican Congress filed impeachment
charges against Clinton, they knew full well that it would never get
the necessary 67 votes for conviction in the Senate. It would
suffice, they assumed, to drag Clinton’s name and behavior through
the mud. Of course, they failed to correctly anticipate the public
response. In the case of Bush and Cheney, it will be quite enough to
expose their treason and their numerous “high crimes and
misdemeanors.” The Senators who vote against conviction will then
have to justify those votes in the next election.
Another dodge is that impeachment would distract the House and the
as Russ Feingold argues,
“put important issues facing our
country on the back burner.”
But what “issues” are more important than restoring the Constitution
and the rule of law, and saving our republic from dictatorship? Moreover, as Feingold fails to tell us, in any case the Senate
Republicans are succeeding in keeping these “important issues ... on
the back burner.” The devious GOP strategy is to see to it that, by
means of filibuster and cloture, Congress “does nothing,” so that
the GOP can run in 2008 on the charge that this was a “do nothing
Democratic Congress.” If the Senate Republican continue at their
current rate, by the end of this Congress they will have forced 153
cloture votes –
almost three times the previous record.
The final excuse for keeping impeachment “off the table,” is “just
be patient, the term of Bush/Cheney, Inc. will end in January, 2009. And there are strong indications that the GOP will be crushed in the
2008 election, and that a Democratic will occupy the White House. Then, our long national nightmare will be over.”
The almost universal and unexamined assumption that an “ordinary”
Presidential election will take place in November, 2008, is
extremely dangerous. We have always had our quadrennial Presidential
elections, so why not assume that the next will take place in 2008? We must assume that it might not, because the consequences of a
Democratic victory in 2008 would exact an extraordinary cost to the
losers, and because they have put in place the means to cancel
What “cost”? Put simply, the loss of ill-gained fortunes, and still
worse the likely conviction and imprisonment of numerous neo-cons,
Busheviks and corporate fellow-travelers. To prevent which, either
the Busheviks must remain in power after 2009 (presumably by
canceling the election), or the Bush/Cheney regime must be succeeded
by a GOP Administration and Congress that can reliably shut down
investigations and prosecutions. And to accomplish
that, a mainstream media blitz and widespread election fraud will be
What fortunes and what crimes?
The wealthiest one percent of the population has
been given huge tax cuts, while the tax burden of the rest of
the population has held steady. As a result,
from 2001 to 2006,
that fortunate one percent enjoyed, on average, a net
gain of $30,352, while the remaining 99% suffered net losses. (“Net gain/losses” combines tax breaks with share of federal
deficit acquired 2001-2006). With the Democrats in control, the
era of “tax-cut and borrow” will end, and the wealthiest will
once again be required to pay their fair share of federal tax
revenue. The flow of cash from the poor and middle class to the
hugely wealthy will be reversed.
Billions of dollars of “Iraq reconstruction”
funds have simply been “lost,” with no accounting of where they
have gone. But surely, these have gone into the pockets of
corrupt politicians, Iraqi and American, and to numerous “no
bid” contractors. A Democratic Congress and Justice Department
could be expected to relentlessly investigate these losses, resulting, no
doubt, in numerous indictments and convictions.
At last, we would know the identities of the
individuals who disclosed the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie
Plame Wilson. In fact, we are quite obvious now that the culprits
included: Karl Rove, “Scooter” Libby, and Dick Cheney. That
disclosure was a federal crime, which stipulates prison time on
A Democratic Congress and Justice Department
would be able to track down, indict and convict many individuals
who conspired to steal the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections,
and in addition numerous Congressional elections in 2002 and
2006. More convictions would follow, not only of corrupt
politicians, but also their collaborators in the electronic
The American public, fed-up with
one-party propaganda masquerading as “journalism,” spewed out by
five mega-corporations, would at last demand the break-up of
these conglomerates, and a return to local and diverse media. The public, which in fact owns the airwaves, would demand that
the broadcast media obey the FCC requirement that they “serve
the public interest and necessity.” With the abolition of
the right-wing "Ministry of Truth," informed public debate would
Lying to Congress and to federal officials is a
crime that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and many other Bushistas
have clearly committed on numerous occasions, and for which they
would be vulnerable to indictment.
Aggressive war and torture are not only federal
crimes, they are also international crimes. An interesting
feature of these crimes, is that they may be beyond the reach of
Presidential pardons. The International Criminal Court in the
Hague does not recognize Presidential pardons.
There is much more, but this list suffices to make the point: The
Presidential election of 2008 portends a disaster for the GOP, the
Bush Administration, and their corporate sponsors – a disaster of
unprecedented proportions. The losers will not, as in previous
elections, simply find opulent sinecures in “the private sector,”
and comfortable retirement and status as “elder statesmen.” Instead
they will be facing the loss of their ill-gained fortunes and even of
their freedom, as they are brought before the bar of justice.
And well they know this. Worse still, they may be in a position to
prevent it. And here is how they might:
Bush’s “National Continuity Policy, issued May 9, states, in effect,
that in the event of a “catastrophic emergency,” which might mean a
terrorist attack or natural disaster, within "the homeland” or
abroad, the President could, as a “unitary executive,” seize near
dictatorial powers. This means that another hurricane of Katrina
size, or a Richter-7 earthquake, or even a massive civil disobedient
protest, could trigger the onset of a Bush dictatorship.
in the recently issued executive order, Bush has decreed that
due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to
the national security and foreign policy of the United States
posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of
Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction
and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian
assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the
United States to take additional steps with respect to the
Accordingly, the federal government may seize
All property and interests in property of any
person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in
consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of
Defense, to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of
committing, an act or acts of violence...
Is the organization of a mass demonstration an “act
of violence”? And what is to be done with individuals who give “aid
and comfort to the enemy.” Last week, Defense Under-Secretary of
Edelman sent a letter to Hillary Clinton, warning that
Premature and public discussion of the
withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy
propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in
Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon
Is Senator Clinton in danger of losing all her
property, and perchance her freedom? “Of course not, they
wouldn’t dare.” Quite so. But “they wouldn’t dare” is
not a sound guarantee against arbitrary abuse of power by the
government. Once upon a time, we had a Constitution to protect
our freedoms. But Bush has told us that it is "just a piece of
paper." And, in his administration, it appears that it is
And note too that phrase, “or to pose a significant risk.” Here we
have nothing less than an excuse to prosecute “pre-crime” – the mere
possibility of criminal conduct. This nightmare option, vividly
portrayed in the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” is a fundamental
feature of totalitarian regimes.
Add to this, the “Military Commissions Act” which effectively
abolished habeas corpus for suspected terrorists and
“terrorist sympathizers.” Protest the Iraq occupation, and you might
be labeled a “terrorist sympathizer” and thus subject to arbitrary
arrest and indefinite incarceration without access to counsel.
Bush’s “decrees” (“executive orders”) are noteworthy for their
vagueness, and Bush is notorious for reaching far beyond the letter
of the law and of treaties. He claimed that he had United Nations
permission to attack Iraq. He did not. The infamous Congressional
authorization for the Iraq war was contingent upon a written
“determination” from the White House. As John Dean clearly points
out, Bush’s “determination” was a pack of lies, and failed to meet
the conditions of the authorization. It was, says Dean, an
impeachable offence. (Worse than Watergate, 140-156).
Can Bush seize totalitarian power, triggered, perhaps, by another
terrorist attack, real or connived, or by a natural disaster, or by
an attack on Iran?
Who is to stop him? The federal judiciary?
Bush owns it, as we have seen with the recent Supreme Court
decisions, and the dismissal of the Plame/Wilson civil action
against the Busheviks. The Congress? Bush has said, straight out, that he will
ignore any and all Congressional subpoenas for documents or
testimony. And acts of Congress, as we well know, are (as Bush said
of the Constitution) mere “scraps of paper.” For with his “signing
statements,” he has said, in effect, “I will obey or not obey this
law as I see fit.” Thus, unless it forcefully reclaims its
Constitutional powers and independence, the Congress will be reduced
to the status of the Supreme Soviet under Josef Stalin.
Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under
Ronald Reagan, has noted with alarm that Bush and Cheney, fully
aware that electoral catastrophe faces the Republicans in 2008, seem
utterly unconcerned with this prospect, or with the likelihood that,
under ordinary (i.e. honest) electoral conditions, a Democratic
President in 2009 is a near-certainty.
Do they know something that we don’t know?
Roberts thinks they might. He strongly suspects that the
Busheviks are expecting, counting on, and perhaps even preparing
some interim catastrophe that will once again unite the country
behind “the Commander in Chief,” and provide an excuse to cancel the 2008 election.
In short, he suggests that the near-universal belief that in 2008
there will be another election just has there have been for the past
220 years, may lead us all to “the end of Constitutional Democracy.”
Perhaps not. Perhaps this will be an ordinary election, resulting in
large Democratic majorities in Congress, and a Democratic
Administration. Following that, a roundup, prosecution and
imprisonment of numerous scoundrels who have defiled our government
throughout the two full terms of Bush’s presidency.
But do we dare believe this?
Don’t bet your freedom and our republic on this comfortable
assumption. Be prepared for a desperate grab for permanent,
dictatorial power aimed, among other things, at protecting the
corporatocracy, the acquired wealth, and the freedom from
prosecution of those now in power, and who have acquired the means
to seize total power.
What, then, is to be done?
First of all, keep the pressure on Congress to begin impeachment
proceedings against Bush and Cheney.
says that with three more Congressional sponsors, he will
initiate impeachment proceedings. But yesterday,
confronted in his office by Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson, Ray
McGovern among hundreds of protesters, Conyers apparently reneged on
that promise. Contact Conyers at 202-225-5126, or your member
of Congress at 202-224-3121.
Spread the word, far and wide, that we must expect another “Pearl
Harbor” event, followed by a call for “unity behind the President”
and the seizure of dictatorial powers. The more the public
anticipates this beforehand, the more likely that the public will be
able to resist it.
And let us all fervently hope that if a fake “remember the Maine!,”
or “Gulf of Tonkin attack” is in preparation, that someone in the
know will have the courage and patriotic motivation to expose it in
Surely there is much more that we the people can do to inoculate
ourselves against the demise of our freedom and the onset of
Share your ideas! Send them to
email@example.com, and we will
Ben Franklin was right: we have a Republic if we can keep it. And we
may be on the verge of losing it.
Copyright 2007 by Ernest Partridge
Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications
Conscience of a Progressive:
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org .