Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Deconstruction of Impeachment

Revise priorities. Select goals. Identify destinations. Construct a road map. Measure progress with waypoints.


Needed: a good political cartographer.
Toward the end of his reign as the "Iron Chancellor" of Germany, Otto von Bismarck quarrelled with his Kaiser over a number of issues, one of which was Germany's lagging behind other European powers' grabbing of overseas empires. At one point, the exasperated Chancellor grabbed a rolled map off his desk and asked the Kaiser, "Do you want to see my map of Africa? I'll show it to you." The Kaiser was surprised to see a map of Western Europe presented to him. Bismarck continued, "Here is France, Here is England, Here is Russia, and in the middle of this circle, here is Germany. This is my map of Africa."

As I drove home yesterday, Senator Mike Gravel was interviewed on the Randi Rhodes Show and unfolded for me, over my car radio, his map of impeachment:

Senator Gravel proposed:
Recognizing that under our Constitution the power of the Congress is superior to the power of the President. . . Congress should pass a law making the war in Iraq illegal. Failure to comply with the law would be punishable by 5 years in jail – without possibility of parole. That includes the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Treasury. All are required to follow the law, as is any other American citizen.

Of course, once the law is passed by the House and the Senate, President Bush will veto it.
Mike Gravel’s strategy further calls for
Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the veto override to a vote every day at noon (7 days a week, without congressional vacations), forcing the media spotlight to shine on those congressional representatives who are failing to override the President’s veto and are thus prolonging the war.
Gravel's explanation continued:
The strategy is designed to give the American people time to become aware of Congress’s activities and weigh in about the Constitutional confrontation between Congress and the President. Ultimately, pressure from their constituents will produce a two-thirds majority sufficient to override the President‘s veto. (When the law is filibustered in the Senate initially, the same procedure would apply.)
Gravel dissed current Congressional efforts as self-delusional, self-defeating and a source of great confusion for the American people:
Thus far Congress’s efforts to curtail the Iraq war have given us a non binding resolution and an embarrassing 'Symbolic Vote'. Now they’ve capitulated to President Bush on the proposed 2008 deadlines for troop withdrawal.
Finally, impeachment is a major distraction:
Many Americans want to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and they should be impeached. But that’s a lengthy process; and given the narrow majority held by Democrats, impeachment is unlikely. Meanwhile, our soldiers and Iraqis are dying every day America stays in Iraq. There will be ample time to pursue impeachment and possible criminal charges once our troops are safely home.
Senator Gravel is a legislative strategist. He served two terms in the U.S. Senate fighting for causes unpopular in Congress and winning against the odds. His accomplishments include ending the military draft through a Senate filibuster and hastening an end to the Vietnam war by reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record from the floor of the Senate. As I recall, a publisher could not be found. Only after Gravel's 'stunt', did a publisher take on the project. I say this to point out that Gravel is not asking Pelosi and her peers to do anything he wasn't willing to do in his own time.

I don't know if Gravel's strategy will ultimately deliver a timely end to Bush's occupation of either Baghdad or Washington. But, if his road map is adopted in the Senate and the House, Progressive forces will no longer dissipate their attention, energies and resources floundering around on peripheral issues which obscure the central obstacle impeding the future restoration of our once great American Republic.


Bush and Cheney must be forced to eat their misbegotten occupation of Iraq before they are excused from the table on
20 January 2009.

24 comments:

  1. Gravel has a point. 66% of Americans would decrease the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, or remove all its troops from Iraq. However, only by a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq.

    Interesting.

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  2. What?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The power of our Congress is "greater" than the power of the President? Who knew?

    What a concept!

    Gee, should we tell Congress?

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  3. It ain`t gonna happen.

    They are not leaving Iraq.

    The plan from both sides, wants a force of at least 40,000 there as their 'draw down' force.

    That would be in a couple of years.

    You people are barking up the wrong tree.

    Just sublimating your anger, and revulsion is not enough.

    Your political system is against the American people. All of it.

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  4. I am in debt to Red State Philly Impressions for introducing me to the Friedman Unit.

    Atrios was writing about the The Six Monthers and invented the Friedman Unit (F.U.) which he named after the famous NYT Columnist who has always called for six more months' of patience in Iraq. The Huffington Post nominated the F.U. as the best new (for 2006) neologism. Not to be confused with the MFU (Metric Friedman Unit) to be used when Friedman expanded his interval to either 10 months or 10 years. Whatever. Atrios writes that in Iraq, policy makers don't

    ". . . know how to unshit the bed. . . . what will they say when yet another six months has passed? Do they even give it any thought? I fear not. They just keep punting the issue downfield. Bush has already said he's leaving it to his successor, which sadly means that anyone who wants to be his successor is by definition even more nuts than presidential candidates usually have to be to want the job . . . . when Iraq is as bad or worse of a clusterfuck as it is now . . . I fear again that the Democratic establishment is just wishing the problem away.

    It's not going away.

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  5. A typical Gravel statement: telling the truth. Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the veto override to a vote every day at noon (7 days a week, without congressional vacations)... to override the President’s veto and are thus prolonging the war. That's poetry. I'm with you 100% Emily. The stem cell vetoes alone are enough to make me want to fly to D.C. to visit my Congressman.

    Too bad Pelosi and Reid don't start exercising Congressional authority. The House Dems clearly have not taken advantage of their opportunity as the House majority, and I'm furious at Pelosi who's backing down from a good impeachment fight.

    Skip, I already know what you're going to say. I agree given the immense Iraq Embassy being built by Halliburton and KBR: clearly, the U.S. is not leaving Iraq anytime soon. War is making lots of money for Cheney, Bush, and all the rest of the Halliburton stockholders.

    Hell, I'll even provide proof. In 2005, Halliburton, the Texas energy giant once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has seen its stock price more than triple in value...March 2003, Halliburton's stock was selling for $20 per share. The stock price at the close of market activity on Monday was $66. NYSE listed their stock price on 7/6/07 at $34/share, but only because the company formally "split" with subsidiary KBR, which is listed at $27.69, and started at $19/share. So, the company split created an even larger dividend for the stockholders: $61.69 as of Friday.

    In 2005, Halliburton's stock quadrupled since March 2003 to March 2006. Halliburton has moved its headquarters to Dubai, which has no extradition treaty.
    From Halliburton Watch. Those are the cold facts.

    I'm still going to rage against the each new insult to the American people propounded by this regime. The Halliburton/KBR issue sickens me.

    Your comment is on target, vigilante. Americans are wishing the problem away, and it's not going anywhere. Great links, vigilante; interesting posts.

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  6. For the record, here is the draft of Senator Gravel's
    UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ ACT
    and here is his
    detailed strategic plan
    for a (much needed) Consitutional crisis.

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  7. Great Gravel! A protest AND a plan to get us out of this bogus war. He may not win, but he might just change the issues that the candidates present to the public.

    Sorry for the long Halliburton post, but this data needs to be exposed and condemned whenever possible.

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  8. Very informative post, Vigil. Gives me a whole new perspective on Gravel that I admittedly did not have. He's right, and it makes me even more apoplectic at the wet noodles in Congress. Someone at least came up with some hardball tactics.

    Thanks.

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  9. Great idea from Gravel. Would it be realistically possible to get a 2/3 majority to override the veto? That is, assuming Congress has the political courage to get this going and the stamina to see it through.

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  10. "Sorry for the long Halliburton post, but this data needs to be exposed and condemned whenever possible."

    Stella, you have exposed that they are wildly successful. That may make some players here run out and buy their stock, or others try to start their own version of that company. We reward bad behavior.

    " adynaton said...

    Great idea from Gravel. Would it be realistically possible to get a 2/3 majority to override the veto? That is, assuming Congress has the political courage to get this going and the stamina to see it through. "

    You are dreaming...
    War profiteering works for both 'sides'.
    Can you understand that the Congress is the problem ?
    Our political system itself is the problem.

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  11. BTW, the legislation provides for the removal of the original authorization of use of force in Iraq (Oct 2002).

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  12. Adynation, if you read the detailed strategy (follow my last comments' links):

    Success in actually passing the law is one thing; almost equally important is the process which will serve as a barometer where votes will cumulatively measure the war opposition. Also, (even if it fails passage) as long as it is pursued, it will provide clarity to the voters in November 2008.

    Gravel knows what he's doing because he has been this way before. He's our elder statesman when it comes to getting out of stupid fooking conflicts.

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  13. I get the idea of this being a rallying point or even a bluff of sorts, but it would have to have some chance of actually succeeding, however small and in theory, to work. Otherwise, it can be dismissed as crazy talk by whatever noise machine controls public opinion today. And when it comes to the kind of political survival on which the strategy relies it's crazy to align oneself with crazy talk.

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  14. Clearly opposition to the war is growing steadily and gaining strength.

    Gravels approach seems to me to be a side step. With the September Report just two months away and a new appropriation bill to follow, the fastest and most direct approach is the direct attack on funding.

    But Republican's are starting to worry about Impeachment... not through Gravel's convoluted approach, but the doggedly persistant direct attack of John Conyers. See Michelle Malkin's main entry today. They are getting worried and rightly so....

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  15. CRAZY TALK? Gandhi described the historical cycle of CRAZY TALK:

    First they ignore you,
    then they laugh at you,
    then they fight you,
    then you win.

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  16. Vig, Gravel omitted the first step: how to overcome the filibuster to get it in front of Bush to veto.

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  17. Tommy, Gravel's Strategic Plan charts the same roadmap on cloture votes as it does on veto override votes. Follow my links in above comments and you will read:

    The lynchpin of this plan requires that the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader in the Senate set up protracted and repetitious cloture votes and veto override votes to give voters at home sufficient time to understand, absorb and then react to the votes of their senators on cloture in the Senate and to the votes of their representatives in the House and their senators in the Senate to override the President’s veto.

    Undeniably, this requires leadership, persistence and toughness. Gravel is only asking of current Democrats what he was willing to do 3 1/2 decades ago. Congress needs to show what it's got. Either members are going to measure up to their oaths of office, or they're not. The low esteem in the polls Congress has won to this point is due to the fact the American people have not been impressed up to now.

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  18. As LTE mentioned above, Gravel's UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ ACT goes to the meat of Bush's outrageous invasion and occupation of Iraq:

    5. The Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq (H.J. Res. 114), approved by the House of Representatives on October 10, 2002 and by the Senate on October 11, 2002, is hereby repealed.

    We are beyond the point where anyone can afford to 'make nice'.

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  19. While I find impeachment unlikely, in large part because of a weak and ineffective Congress, I do find it more likely that Bush will start gradually decreasing the number of troops in Iraq. I would be surprised, however, if he decreased them to below pre-surge levels. He always maintained that the "surge" would be "temporary" so it will look as if he is sincerely reducing the number of troops, when in fact all he is doing is returning the number to the status quo.

    The majority of Americans want a lot of things, including stem-cell research, an end to the war, and etc. The fact is no one is listening to what the majority of Americans want and therein lies the rub.

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  20. Yes, the war must be ended and I believe Bush and Cheney should be held accountable for their crimes!

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  21. Arianna Huffington says, Democrats Can't Wait Around for GOP Defectors to End the War

    . . . .no matter how many Republicans abandon the president on Iraq, it is Democrats who must seize this moment and take the lead in bringing our troops home.

    . . . . while Republican defectors from Bush's war policy need to show they're serious with their votes, Democrats need to show they're serious by giving the Senate a bill to vote on that would actually end the war.

    . . . . So far, . . . . proposals look like a mixed bag -- and run the risk of taking the focus off where it belongs: pushing a concrete plan that includes binding start and end dates for withdrawal.


    Americans

    . . . aren't entitled to "a new debate" -- they're entitled to a new policy. The American people have had plenty of debate on the issue, and they have chosen sides. They want us out of Iraq.

    . . . Ambiguity and political cover are the last things Congressional Democrats should be embracing -- unless they are hoping to see their approval ratings fall even lower.

    Are the Republicans who are turning away from the president serious about ending the war? We won't find out unless Democrats are willing to step up to the plate and swing for the fences.

    Ending the war in Iraq is not going to be easy. But it will be impossible unless Democrats provide some real leadership.

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  22. Whew! Vigilante, see if you can't get a You-Tube of Barbara Boxer on the Senate Floor. She's currently on CSPAN. She's bringing fire and brimstone.

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  23. Advice to Dems:

    When a lot of Repubs start calling for impeachment, you are going to look awfully stupid for sitting on your hands all this time.

    Obstruction of justice, going to war under false pretenses, domestic spying, outing CIA agents.

    Dem response: meh.

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  24. Hello.

    Thank-you, Mike, for your filibuster to end the draft!

    Would you be willing to spread the word about www.draftresistance.org? It's a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts.

    Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.

    Thanks!

    Scott Kohlhaas

    PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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