If you have "no place to go," come here!

Say, Kos: "What is the Democrats' plan to restore Constitutional Government?"

[I'd like to leave this up top for awhile, 'til I get some kind of answer. - See Update 1 - Update 2 - Update 3 - Update 4 - Update 5: At last! Somebody gets it! Read more for the YouTube. - Update 6]

[Welcome, Readers of Duncan The Grey. I was starting to think nobody noticed this one. Question: I thought by this time that it would be obvious that Bush wasn't governing Constitutionally. Was I wrong?]

Just asking....

Since I won't be in Chicago, I thought I'd put the Constitutional Question now.

Je repete: Say, Kos: "What is the Democrats' plan to restore Constitutional Government?"

Is the replacement of Constitutional government by tyranny under Bush on anyone's radar? Is there a workshop, maybe? Some kind of panel?

Kos? (Since your mission is to elect Democrats)

John Edwards?



Speak up! I can't h-e-e-e-e-a-r you!

UPDATE 1 After capitulating to Bush on Iraq, it looks like the Beltway Dems are going to capitulate to Bush on warrantless surveillance. Can you believe this shit:

Bush and his spy chief warned that the nation needs Congress' help _ this week.

"Our intelligence community warns that under the current statute, we are missing a significant amount of foreign intelligence that we should be collecting to protect our country," Bush said.

Bollocks. Since when did Bush believe he had to obey the law? And what exactly does he need that he doesn't have? How does he know it's "significant" unless he's already been gathering it illegally?

Aides to senior congressional Democrats and Republicans say they recognize the threat and are willing to pass legislation to address it before Congress adjourns for a month next weekend.

The real threat is going to be some sort of retroactive legalization that one of Spector's staffers, say, is going to tuck in under cover of darkness.

The argument seems to be that email--oh, now the program is email--where "the other end" is in another country need to be surveilled. I've detailed the problems with that stupid meme until I'm blue in the face, and I'm not going to do it again.

Farewell, Fourth Amendment! The Republicans took an axe to your head, and the Beltway Dems, so much kinder and gentler, held a pillow over your head until you suffocated. Assholes. (Oh, the Fourth Amendment says "secure in our papers and effects." Surely nobody can argue that paper applies, today, only to content delivered with dead trees? Email and web traffic are today's paper, and the committees of correspondence of the present day.)

UPDATE 2 I love the JFK speech, particularly the part about social invention -- because, as we've seen, the Conservative movement only seeks to destroy.

However, I also think there is such a thing as human nature, and that humans are capable both of great good and great evil. (That is, both capacities were selected for by evolution.) The history of history's most lethal century, the 20th, should be enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that humans are intrinsically good at heart, if only this or that veneer could be stripped away. (Or, to be fair, intrinsically evil. Like I said, both.)

That is the genius of the separation of powers. As I said:

And the Founders wisely put the separation of powers in place to protect us against the evils of tyranny. As I wrote back in 2005 (“Republicans vs. the Constitution: The problem of evil”):

James Madison writes in Federalist #51:

Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority that is, of the society itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable. The first method prevails in all governments possessing an hereditary or self-appointed authority. This, at best, is but a precarious security; because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties. The second method will be exemplified in the federal republic of the United States. Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects; and this may be presumed to depend on the extent of country and number of people comprehended under the same government.
(via Federalist Papers)

For Madison, evil was to be minimized through the separation of powers: Powers in conflict, doing small evils, are to be preferred to powers united, capable of doing great evil.

So, yes to JFK, but the liberal's "attitude of mind and heart" needs some structural and institutional underpinnings. If this is a "conservative" position, looking toward the past, then so be it. As I recall, the Founders looked to the history of Rome to right the foundational document of the Republican we may not be able to keep.

UPDATE 3. Some alert readers construed this post as an attack. I responded:

I guess I don't see how asking a simple question could be construed as an "attack."

Surely it's a simple question and the Democrats have a simple answer.

And if the Democrats don't have an answer:

1. Best case: Congress lacks institutional focus, and this is the sort of question that crosses committee and interest group boundaries.

2. Next best case: The Republicans have defined Constitutional deviancy down, and the Democrats can't see what's in front of them.

3. Next best case: The Democrats know what's going on, but they've made a putatively rational case that it's not important politically, and the consultants told them that the Constitution has no constituency [What could be more important?]

4. Bad case: They know what's going on, but they don't have the stones to deal with with. [Please, shoot me now]

5. Worst case: They want the powers Bush seized for themselves. [Do you think that's a good idea?]

Now, the Dems can clear up this matter very easily and simply by answering the question, eh?

UPDATE 4: Some slight editorial revisions. I'm still w-a-a-a-a-i-t-i-n-g! Hillary? John? Barack? Anybody?


After the lovely, the talented Girl in the Turtlebeck bra linked to this post, the Dodd campaign called with this YouTube:

Good for Dodd. He wasn't on my radar before, but today, after making O'Reilly look like the loofah-lovin' blowhard he is, and now this YouTube, he's got my attention. Wonder whether he feels he's got to bomb Pakistan, too.



Tomorrow, on the convention's busiest day, an "Ask the Leaders" forum in the morning will feature Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who heads the House Democratic Caucus, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Later in the afternoon, a panel with the Democratic candidates promises to be the highlight of the convention, with Clinton, not exactly the favorite of the progressive crowd, and the rest of the presidential field taking questions from the Net roots.

Wouldn't The Constitutional Question be a good question to ask?

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

No votes yet


chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

perhaps i should go and see if people are leaning towards another celebrity party lovefest with the candidates, or if the critical voices like yours are getting some play.

i'll be in chicago, but not at the convention itself. i will be speaking with those who are, i'll report back when i can.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

democratic 'leadership' in action:

Pelosi sketched her case against impeachment.

"The question of impeachment is something that would divide the country," Pelosi said this morning during a wide-ranging discussion in the ornate Speaker's office. Her top priorities are ending the war in Iraq, expanding health care, creating jobs and preserving the environment. "I know what our success can be on those issues. I don't know what our success can be on impeaching the president."

Democratic Party leaders do not have the votes to pass an impeachment resolution. And Democrats could be judged harshly for partisan gridlock, just as the American people turned on Congressional Republicans in the 90s for pursuing the impeachment of President Clinton.

In the first question of the morning, Pelosi was asked if she supported a proposal by Washington Rep. Jay Inslee ? to impeach beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The Speaker looked down and rubbed her temples wearily. "I would like us to stay focused on our agenda this week," she said. Today the entails finalizing ethics and lobbying reform. Tomorrow it will mean expanding children's health care and boosting Medicare benefits. By the end of the week the House will likely pass an energy bill and legislation will be brought to the floor that reins in the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

Pelosi's no fan of Gonzales or his bosses. "The Administration wants the Attorney General to sign off on what can be collected," she says of the wiretapping proposal. "Absolutely not."

She is greatly disturbed by the lawlessness of this Administration and its contempt for checks and balances. "I take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution, so it is a top priority for me and my colleagues to uphold that." She notes the vigorous oversight hearings held by committee chairman like John Conyers and Henry Waxman.

But Pelosi sees impeaching Gonzales and his superiors as a distraction from the ambitious agenda she has crafted for the House. "If I can just hold my caucus together," she says, "I can take them to this progressive place."

As to whether she fears a primary challenge from pro-impeachment activist Cindy Sheehan, the topic sadly never came up.

who among the dem candidates at kos will speak differently? not too many, i bet.

She is greatly disturbed by the lawlessness of this Administration

Oh my. Chuck Schumer is shocked, shoked that he was hoodwinked about the SCOTUS nominees.

Patrick Leahy regrets there was nothing he could do in the face of stonewalling and illegality from this administration on past investigations.

Even George "Mengele" Bush is sick, SICK over finding out actual torture has been going on. Sadly, this BAD TORTURE is being confused with the GOOD TORTURE he decreed to be legal and, um, GOOD.

That would be the finely detailed, explicitly outlined torture he privately allowed himself the power to use to gather intel, and that's been going on for rilly good pre-emptively applied Gonzo-legalese which is like a fig leaf that covers one's ass as snuggly as a spa towel.

DAMN, all this suffering by our govt leaders and I can't get a word in edgewise to say how much the spectacle of their phony ass suffering makes me puke.

Submitted by lambert on

I've always resisted the label "progressive" because I felt it was vacuous. Progress toward what? Nancy confirms this:

“If I can just hold my caucus together I can take them to this progressive place.”

That's fucking appalling.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

Submitted by lambert on

What the Fuck does she mean, "divide the country"? Last I checked, the country was already divided, but the good news is that only 36% of them are Kool-Aid drinkers....

Just like Nixon. Couldn't hold him accountable because "the country had suffered enough." Infantilized the citizenry and got us into our current plight.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

and that of the "electorally focused" A-list blogs is:

"Shut the fuck up about impeachment you Dirty Fucking Hippies, give your money and devote your time to getting Democrats elected and then everything will be peachy keen.

There will be no need to hold anyone accountable. Impeachment is hard work and risks disrupting relationships with Republicans that we need to maintain in order to 'get things done' for the Corporations that fund all of us.

It is much easier to do nothing of consequence and keep the Dirty Hippies distracted with endless hearings so it looks like something is actually happening."

And BTW I think "Progressive" is a great improvement over "Liberal". Progressive contrasts directly with Conservative in conceptual terms. Sure it's vague but so is any generalization.
Liberal is not any clearer in it's meaning and it has been systematically destroyed as a word by Conservatives over the last 20-30 years.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

I think Atrios is for impeaching Cheney and Bush at the very least.
I also think he's about to decide the current Dem leadership will work as hard to prevent impeachment as the GOP does, not necessarily for any different reasons.

Submitted by lambert on

And indeed "progressive" may be an improvement. But my question isn't answered -- Progress with respect to what?

One could argue, for example that "progress" has been corrupted just as much as "liberal," especially since things as they are, are often regarded teleologically.

Does evolution involve a notion of progress? I don't think so.

For example, is stopping, or even thinking about stopping, global warming, "progressive"?

Necessary, screamingly, hair-on-fire necessary, yes.

Is the restoration of Constitutional goverment progressive? Probably not. In fact, if "conservative" hadn't been corrupted as much as "liberal" and "progressive," I'd argue that it was conservative. "Restoration" is the word I chose deliberately.

Yet, I would argue, it was the best system of government yet devised, until the winger billionaires undertook to destroy it thirty years ago, starting with the Powell memo.

Is removing putative personhood from corporations progressive, conservative, or liberal?

Is stopping the torture (and lynching) of humans and animals progressive, conservative, or liberal?

Yes, no, maybe, some, all, none, either, neither.

Maybe secular humanism is the best term. If only it hadn't been corrupted.

Somethings wrong with the frame...

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I'm proud to say I'm a liberal.

Liberality is the perspective from which this country was founded, and is what made it great. To the degree we turn away from the liberal philosophy is the degree to which America retreats from its founding national ideals and sinks in international stature.

"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."
- George Washington

I highly recommend reading the entire text of JFK's speech to the Liberal Pary in 1960 where he outlines his interpretation of what it means to be a "Liberal."

Here is an excerpt:

Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination
September 14, 1960

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960...

This is my political credo:
I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves...

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies...


Funny how those words hold true today.

I also recommend that anyone agreeing with these sentiments declare "I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal'" whenever someone is heard attempting to use it as a term of disparagement, and explain why liberalism is an ideal to which every American should aspire.


chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

i'd take that. shit, you can even say "strict constitutionalist." the rethugs who claim it are minor beings in the media environment these days, now that the roberts court is as packed as it is.

it's funny, because who would've thought they'd live to see the day when the Constitution of this country became a radical, fringe document (again)?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

then you've already surrendered and lost.

I use progressive and liberal interchangeably, my view a person can’t be one and not the other. I’m very open about being a liberal, wherever I go and whomever I’m speaking with. I often include that I’m an “unreconstructed liberal from 1960’s Berkeley” as part of introducing myself from the podium as well as in casual conversation. Lets people know what to expect right up front, that I’m not in the least ashamed and that they’ll have to be the ones to deal with it.

In many parts of this country the initial response is some sort of putdown, although more tentatively phrased than you might anticipate. Breaks open the conversation in a way that lets me get straight to my social thesis - that we’re all pretty much the same no matter how we label ourselves or each other, the same fears and hopes, the same needs and the same desires, and that we’re all of us getting hosed by the fat cats. It’s a variation on the evangelical proselyzing approach, “Hello Brothers and Sisters, have you heard the Word?”

I am a liberal, and a progressive, and a secular humanist and a patriotic American, and I will never ever stop calling myself by those names because they belong to me and not to fat pasty-face rich boys like Newt or Karl or phony dime-store cowboys like George. They’re the ones who need to be ashamed of who and what they are, not me.

Submitted by lambert on

Again, I ask:

Is removing putative personhood from corporations progressive, conservative, or liberal?

Is stopping the torture (and lynching) of humans and animals progressive, conservative, or liberal?

Yes, no, maybe, some, all, none, either, neither.

In any case, like it or not, words "slip, slide, perish..." After a time, it's not a matter of "letting others define us" anymore. Or, how many proud Whigs do you know?

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

No sense waiting around for others to do it. I’m happy enough with my Webster’s Unabridged, pull that big dog out to settle an argument of definition and even the most belligerent right-winger shuts up.

Terms like liberal and progressive and conservative are concepts of philosophy, of necessity somewhat mutable especially in the effects of personal perspective on specific nodes of application. My progressive may not be the same as yours in every particular, but in general we are focused on embracing change and progress, on meeting and dealing with the future as it comes, where a conservative would rather cling to the past, to the existing structure, in hopes that tomorrow will be much the same as yesterday.

Conservatives are useful to keep around, like a ship’s anchor, for those times when in fact it may be safer or more convenient to temporarily stay put. The rest of the time they should be tethered up short by chains, and only loosed when necessary.

Since you’ve insisted:

“Again, I ask:

“Is removing putative personhood from corporations progressive, conservative, or liberal?”
None of the above. The legal construct of a corporation as a person for the purposes of preserving rights and assessing responsibility is just that, a construct, in and of itself neither good nor bad, progressive or conservative; rather, it is the surrounding laws and regulations and their implementation which may be one or the other. Look to the manner in which the law is applied, not the underlying abstraction.

“Is stopping the torture (and lynching) of humans and animals progressive, conservative, or liberal?”
Those are the wrong philosophical concepts to apply, which is why it seems confusing. Torture and wanton killing are wrong for so many reasons that they transcend political constructs like liberal or conservative. They might find a place within tyrannical authoritarianism but that is just sociopathy dressed up in a robe and crown.

No one sane and decent supports torture, unless they’ve been frightened into acceptance and are therefore victims themselves, transiently deranged and not in their right mind. At the very least, enlightened self-interest argues against allowing torture so as to preclude it’s being used against our selves. If enlightened self-interest isn’t operative, neither are more sophisticated concepts like progressive or conservative.

I refuse to stop using words in ways I know to be accurate because someone else has taken it upon themselves to try and mutilate them. Your “after a time” can be after I’m dead, when I don’t care anymore. Until then I’ll keep using my words to mean what they mean to me, and to Webster’s.

The Whigs in America, as you know, were not a philosophical position but a political party that collapsed precisely because of an internal rupture over philosophy, whether to support the continuation and expansion of slavery or contain and oppose it; if they had had a coherent philosophy they may well have survived. In the UK people still use Whig and Tory to describe the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, so the term is not dead there.

I myself am a proud member of the Whig school of history, so now you know at least one.

Submitted by lambert on

Not my coinage, actually. But if you object, I won't use it.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Conservative" suggests that the ideal America is in the past (if by "America" you mean the Confederate States thereof) or is found in the endangered virtues of the present.

"Progressive" suggests that the ideal America is in the future, that it's the achievable dream that we should strive to realize.

In other words, I agree with systee that this makes "progressive" a fitting parallel to "conservative," though like the commenter no longer known as "BIO," I use "liberal" and "progressive" interchangeably.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

Webster’s Unabridged, pull that big dog out to settle an argument

cf buffy: "you once called me a 'rank, arrogant, amateur.' " (not really, but that's how i felt) and now i get to do the same to you, O dear one whom i love above most commenters. websters is for the kiddies. the real thing is the OED. or rather, anyone who has spent too much time in a language library at a 'top tier' university would say so. i'm sure you know that, but i take immature pleasure in reminding you that there are standards, and Standards.

and "bio" should be reseved for these fine folks, who will also be in chicago this week, while the longhand and correntian specific talent known as "bringiton" deserves his own moniker. in my mind's eye/tongue, i "say" 'bright-on" when i see you, don't ask me why. but Jet and Steve will always be "BIO" to me.

wow! i'm petty, stupid and sophomoric.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Ron Paul.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

There is something in the American psyche, perhaps a fear of being called a mad tinfoil hatter or Godwin's lawbreaker, that makes it literally unthinkable that any party (at least one whose name begins with "R") is truly outside the bounds of constitutionality.

I'm not completely unsympathetic to those who didn't figure this Constitutional crisis out until after they passed the Iraq AUMF and were shocked, shocked that The Decider decided to start his war even after weapons inspectors gained unprecedented access and found no WMD. 'Twas naive or chickenshit (caving to a geographically challenged public and a news media that likes 'em like that).

Apparently Watergate, the Nixon pardon, Iran-Contra, the Starr commission, and a stolen election weren't enough to make the point. But six-plus years of non-stop lying, cheating, killing, and stealing -- what does a fella have to do to get an impeachment around here? What does a signing statement have to sign away to get some legislative action?

Jesus Christ, at long last do the Dems have no sense of smell? 18-century documents make an awful stench when they go up in smoke, don't they?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Relax, my friend, just a tug on your chain to see what would happen. Don’t know you well enough yet to have identified all the buttons.

In all seriousness, it’s always good to question, especially ourselves. What we mean by progressive and liberal is more than a fit topic of discussion, it’s mandatory if you claim to be either one. My point, however ineptly made, was that we, collectively and individually, make a grave mistake by letting our opponents define them for us. If we abandon liberal and progressive as terms we can use with respectability, then they have robbed us of our identity and forced us to the margins, to the shadowy places, the land of things that have no name. I won’t go there.

Dear good Lambert, you may call me by whatever name, or nickname, you choose. I’m not in fact at all satisfied by bringiton, it was just the second thing that came to mind in the mood I was in at the moment. LordoftheUniverse seems to be taken.

Submitted by lambert on

Very in-te-res-ting...

Since it's a Maine lawsuit, I wonder what Moderate Republican Susan Collins thinks about it, and whether Mike Allen will have the stones to raise the issue.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

Shane-O's picture
Submitted by Shane-O on

Governor Bill Richarson has solicited online questions that he plans to answer via YouTube. This is the one I submitted:

Governor Richardson:
The Executive power expansion by the current administration is undeniable - its affect on the Constitution is very troubling. Given the common course of affairs that when a person attains office, he or she is unlikely to relinquish power to others - Will you assure the American people that damages done by the Bush administration to the Constitutional balance of power among the three branches will be put back into actual balance? What specific measures would you undertake to accomplish this goal in your presidency?

Perhaps we should ask this of ALL the candidates?

But what do I know?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

CD, Oh object of abject desire, I am pained beyond endurance that you could ever think I would treat you in such a manner. Have I been stinting in my praise? Insufficient in superlatives? Curses on my keyboard, that it should have in any way caused you the least disquietude.

But the OED for thumping on the ignorant? Overkill, far too big a weapon for the purpose. That, and I don’t own one. And honestly, the OED is, how shall I say this, umm, a bit stuffy, a tad old school, ahh, well, truth be told - conservative.

There, it’s said, as we promised that sad, dark night we parted (even though you begged me to stay) that we would always be truthful with each other. Agreed that the OED is a fine tool, supremely authoritative (other than being badly in need of revision, is OE3 out yet?), a masterpiece of scholarship but, alas there is a but, it’s all broken up into what, 20 volumes plus supplements? Whereas my Webster’s is one big hulking brute of a bludgeon, a two-handed heft, the sound alone when dropped on a desk is enough to cow the most arrogantly ignorant.

Different tools, different uses, as Kitty exclaimed when she pointed the baton towards her rectitude.

Have fun in Chicago, Dyke, and do come up for air long enough to fill us in on whatever interesting might extrude from Kos - including impeachment. (There, by the Goddess, back on thread.)

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

tee hee, it's a good thing i'm not so clear on what you look like, but a certain webster-loving character is going to make an appearance in the next installment of correntian pr0n...

and the OED does have a "jr" version for those afraid of the Big Dog. as for conservative- perhaps the only thing in which i freely confess to being a conservative is in the presentation of the history and nature of a language. that is- conservatives love tradition, and nothing is more interesting to me about a language than the various traditions from which it comes. english is a glory in that way- latin, spanish, english, french, many threads of history can be found in so many 'english' words. if the OED "overemphasizes" the 000s of years of that tradition, i'm sure the webster's folk will keep me up to date on really important new terms like "yadda yadda" and "shizzle."

Submitted by lambert on

So, what's the dictionary definition of "Constitution"? Because Democrats and Republicans alike seem to have forgotten it.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Our Constitution is a self-defining document; my concern, and yours too Lambert if I clearly understand your writing, is more about it being upheld rather than defined. The Founders universally saw it as a mutable document, more of a philosophy of governance rather than a strict model. Perhaps for instruction we might turn to the Declaration of Independence, which more straightforwardly describes the relationship between citizens and their government and what should be done when they are displeased:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Balancing prudence against how far down the road to Despotism the current “long train of abuses and usurpations” has led us is the question, and what can be done short of abolishing to set things aright?

We’ve exchanged on this topic before, and I am still not persuaded that things are as dire as you perceive them to be. I won’t go so far as to say that you’re wrong, just that I’m not yet persuaded. Perhaps being from the West and having met the Democratic leaders (briefly to be sure, but still you can learn something from a handshake and a look directly in the eyes) I don’t see them as they may well appear to you. Goddess knows I’ve been wrong in my assessments of individuals in the past, not claiming infallibility, but both Reid and Pelosi give every appearance of being genuine, caring, decent people with a strong commitment to the rule of law and above all to the Constitution.

Their judgment that impeachment would do more harm than good is certainly arguable and both of them do remain open to discussion, but absent a change in circumstances they are unlikely to change their minds. Calling them derogatory names (not you, but many others), questioning their patriotism and accusing them of corruption are not, in my view, helpful to advancing the discussion.

The Democratic leadership calculus is that impeachment would possibly/probably succeed in the House and certainly fail in the Senate, and that such an outcome would result in strengthening rather than impairing the construct of a “Unitary Executive.” While you and others may reasonably disagree, these are not shallow or ill-informed people but rather very sophisticated politicians with a wealth of experience and a good amount of common sense.

If the people, as evidenced by their open demonstration, want impeachment they will get it. The responsibility for driving such transformational change rests, as Jefferson wrote, properly with the peopleand the people alone. If they do not rouse themselves, then dramatic change will not occur.

My view is that the most certain path to restoring constitutionally protected civil rights is through election of a Democratic president - anything less will only ensure continued abuse by the Executive. Putting a Democrat in the White House is no panacea, to be sure, but it is the necessary step. A failed impeachment effort, to my mind, does not make the same impact. Should you conceive of a way to get another 10 votes for impeachment in the Senate, however, you will find me to be your most enthusiastic supporter.

Submitted by lambert on

Bringiton, re: Direness:

I think in Versailles on the Beltway, things are indeed "dire." Granted, not nearly as bad as they would be if the Republicans still controlled the legislative branch, but still dire. The courtiers there have been well-trained to accept authoritarian rule, and many of them--in the press, as well--are cheerfully taking the perks and implementing it. (The key words Deference and Civility are code for that. As well as Conservative.)

Out in the rest of America, things are not so dire, becauses most Americans haven't been trained to accept being ruled by a monarch, as oppposed to being governed by elected officials who work for them. Our "civil religion"--except for the Kool-Aid drinkers, where the Christianist commissars have systematically eradicated it--remains strong. (This is why the "sheeple" meme is so dreadfully destructive.) Of course, Our Betters have many teachable moments to teach us how to be ruled, 9/11 being one of them, and the next attack that will be allowed to happen that "Chertoff's gut" tells us is coming will provide many more.

You say it yourself about the essential calculus:

accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed

People do have children, and aging parents, et cetera; hostages to fortune. The question becomes "Is this the kind of world you want for your kids"? The thirty-six percenters say, vehmently, no. Unfortunately, the world they did want for their kids is around the twelfth century. FWIW, I think that movement has peaked and is about to splinter on its own contradictions about the use and abuses of power (see "evil," supra), of which the continuing and pervasive sexual predation issues in the leadership of the Christianist movement are the most visible symptom.

So, now the question becomes, can a majority push back with equal intensity? I hope so.

As far as Reid and Pelosi, you write:

[B]oth Reid and Pelosi give every appearance of being genuine, caring, decent people with a strong commitment to the rule of law and above all to the Constitution.

Come, come. Surely you're not falling into the trap of reducing structural issues to personalities? What next, cleavage? I'm sure there were many Senators in the late Roman Republic who had equally strong commitments to their Republic, but even though they loved their kids, didn't kick their dog, shed a tear at the sight of a kitten, they didn't "keep" their Republic.

Regarding their "calculus" that only passing a bill of impeachment without securing a conviction would strengthen the unitary executive: Got a link?

As far as impeachment and elected Democrats, you make a good case, but I really think it has to be done now. Ask yourself: Which scenario cements the monarchy ("unitary executive") in place more firmly? #1: Election of a Democrat in 2008? Or #2: the election of a Democrat in 2008 and the House passing a bill of impeachment, even if the Senate turns it down?

I'd say it has to be door #2, and I'd bet that it would even make the Democratic margin greater. Ask yourself: Can the House build an airtight case, and can they make the people understand? I'd say the chances are 100% for the first, and good for the second, even given the parlous state of our famously free press. Plus, you know that once the impeachment train leaves the station, people we don't even know about will hop on board, come forward with new evidence, etc.

So, the House passes a bill of impeachment, it's air tight, YouTube videos everywhere, and it gets voted down in the Senate.

And so fucking what? Why did that happen? Republican Obstructionism, which is already playing well for us, and has the great advantage of being true.

And what are the Republicans obstructing? The Democrats trying to protect the Constitution, the foundation of our way of life.

I'd say that's a scenario that would not only pull us back from the brink of losing the Republic, it would put the Democrats back in the saddle for a generation or so. Especially when a Democratic President gets elected (and is allowed to take office) and rips out all the authoritarian machinery that the impeachment process exposed. (Notice here, how impeachment helps us hit the ground running.)

But if Reid and Pelosi don't want to be remembered as the FDRs of their day, well, that's up to them....

NOTE On the "elect more Democrats" meme or these, see Shystee on the Overton Window, especially the tug-of-war metaphor and "the importance of extremists."

NOTE Bringiton, the "snarl" about dictionaries was meant to bring the thread back on track. Which it did.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... that we should carpe the diem and move to restore the Constitution now (impeach, fix legislation, etc.), there will be a massive difference in a Democratic presidency:

The press will be tearing her/him down every second. Also, the Dems will lose every court challenge 5-4, not with just cause but just 'cause.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

This’ll be brief, not that I want to be brusque, just a busy day.

Please don’t make the mistake of confusing an acceptance of reality with approval. Sometimes life just blows. When it does, you want to be very careful to avoid doing things that make it worse. See Sarah's post on "Critical Incidents and the art of skydiving blindfolded." 9/11 was one of those times, and everything BushCo has done only made it more so. We are in chronic crisis mode, drives people to want to do rash things in an attempt to get relief.

Also please don’t confuse my interpretation of the Democratic leadership’s positions and thinking with an across-the-board endorsement, it isn’t. But to paraphrase the great Donny Rummy, you go into a political struggle with the party you have in office, not the party you want.

Come, come. Surely you’re not falling into the trap of reducing structural issues to personalities?
Surely you’re not being dismissive of good character? Seems to me as important as it gets. If good character isn’t important to you, I’m honestly not at all sure we have any basis for communication. I seriously suggest you rethink that position.

What next, cleavage?
Undignified. You can be a better person. Disagreement on tactics is no excuse for that sort of insult. If you want a serious discussion (see Snarl) then be serious.

Regarding their “calculus” that only passing a bill of impeachment without securing a conviction would strengthen the unitary executive: Got a link?
You want a link to my opinion about the opinion of others? I’m bewildered. Where’s your link to support your opinion that impeachment with failure to convict is beneficial, either to constitutional restoration or securing a Democratic majority and the presidency? If we have to start providing links for every honestly expressed opinion these posts will be 50% links by volume.

I’m not the only one with reasonable doubts about impeachment under current circumstances:

Circumstances may yet change, and maybe very soon depending on how the political chess game goes. If the investigations force meaningful discoveries, if Bush/Cheney make a wrong move and expose themselves in a way that offends the public enough to get them openly outraged instead of miffed, impeachment may still happen. If you want to organize a March for Freedom and Liberty, with pitchforks and torches and tar and feathers, it could help and would certainly be great fun. If it fails to drive The Evil Ones from office, well, in your words, “so fucking what?”

NOTE: Snarl understood and respected, yes? See how understanding, responsive, responsible and contributory I am? How can you even think about disagreeing with me?

Love to play more but must work. Have a great day.

Submitted by lambert on

1. I'm not "dismissive" of "good character," but personal testimonials, even yours, that Harry and Nancy are good people, and a dime, will get you a cup of coffee when we're talking about preserving or restoring a system of government. Or do bad things never happen to good people? Or do good people never end up doing bad things? (I've written my "Wild About Harry" post a number of times, BTW.)

Further, "good character" plays right into the SCLM media narrative about trivial personality traits that--surprise--always trashes Dems (shorthand: "Cleavage," which I'm sorry you feel is not Dignified).

Worse, "good character" plays into an especially subtle, noxious, and pervasive authoritarian meme--derived from airport bookstore business best sellerdom and the idea that "government should be run like a business"--that what the country needs is "good leaders." (Even YearlyKos buys into this, with its "Ask the Leaders" conference, today. Why not, say "Ask the Candidates"? Use titles, not "leader"!) In fact, the country needs "good leaders"--like Madison, Jefferson, FDR--in a good system, which I identify with Constitutional government.

So, as far as "good character," as I believe I said of Clinton, long ago: I don't care if he drags a three-legged stool from under his bed at night, climbs up on it, and fucks the goat he dragged out of his closet if he does his job as President. (Well, actually, I do, because the goat couldn't consent, but you see what I mean.) Same thing with Diaper Davy Vitter and the Book of Haggard 6:9. I don't care about their "bad acts," though the Christianists, in their endlessly repeating and self-reinforcing infinite loop of self-imposed sin and forgiveness, care deeply. I care about Vitter's acts in his role as a Senator. I care about Haggard's acts as a theocrat.
2. You wrote:

The Democratic leadership calculus is that impeachment would possibly/probably succeed in the House and certainly fail in the Senate, and that such an outcome would result in strengthening rather than impairing the construct of a “Unitary Executive.”

I responded:

Regarding their “calculus” that only passing a bill of impeachment without securing a conviction would strengthen the unitary executive: Got a link?

You answered:

You want a link to my opinion about the opinion of others? I’m bewildered.

Well, yes. I took the words "The Democratic leadership calculus is that" to mean that you were summarizing what Pelosi and Reid had stated elsewhere. I was especially interested in a link because while I do recall reading, in my travels, about their calculus, I had not recalled their calculus being linked directly to reinforcing Bush's putative unitary executive. (Others expressed that opinion, but I didn't recall that Reid and Pelosi had.) But if you were simply giving expressing your views on what their views might be, then, as you say, there will be no link.

Where’s your link to support your opinion that impeachment with failure to convict is beneficial, either to constitutional restoration or securing a Democratic majority and the presidency?

There's no link, and none called for, since indeed it's my personal opinion ("I really think it has to be done now"). There is a chain of reasoning, which I notice hasn't been given even the cursory response ("Ask yourself") that a comment might call for...

Perhaps I need to make this into a post, with more evidence. Call that comment, for now, the view of an informed citizen who's been watching impeachment sagas very closely for a decade or so. Eh?

NOTE And back to the real point of this post. I hear Dodd saying Constitutional government should be restored. Hillary? Barack? John? Kossacks?!?!? Surely this is not a hard question to answer?

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

I don't read Atrios every day so you may be right. Has he said so explicitly?

I've seen diarists, even front-pagers at DKos advocate impeachment, but Big Orange himself not so much, as far as I know.

I was perhaps unfairly lumping in the A-list bloggers with the Beltway Dem Politicians above.

But my overall impression is that the B-list bloggers are a lot more vocal and fired up about impeachment while the A-listers don't mention it or treat it as an inconsequential annoyance.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

the B and C listers really want impeachment now.
I think it's maybe too late, if the rampage against Clinton is the model. But perhaps I'm not looking hard enough.
Pelosi and Reid are career House members, with seniority and stuff. Collegiality and professional courtesy being what it is, I'm reminded about the old joke involving sharks and lawyers ... or was it attorneys and barracuda?

Submitted by lambert on

Because with Bush, the case is already made. Sure, experts have to cast it into form, but the record is built.

The Clinton impeachment was ginned up, so it took longer. They tried WhiteWater, there was nothing in it, Fisk was ready to shut it down, they had to bring in Starr, then it morphed into Monica... Very time consuming.

We could do it in a couple months of hearings, I would say. By which I mean, the House returning a bill of impeachment.

IIRC, the Hyde and the rest of 'em knew the Senate wouldn't vote their way, but they went ahead and did it anyhow. So, I guess the precedent is there....

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

CD, excuse me if this is discussed above (too many freakin comments). Actually maybe this is a given for everyone, but how the hell can Pelosi get away with this stuff?

  • “I take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution, so it is a top priority for me and my colleagues to uphold that.”

  • Her top priorities are ending the war in Iraq, expanding health care, creating jobs and preserving the environment. “I know what our success can be on those issues. I don’t know what our success can be on impeaching the president.”

    WTF.. Jebus, reporters are really, really stupid. Do you think they realize that this executive branch is moving at warp speed to ensure permanent corporate profiters are at the helm of all this "priorities" she has. Plus the ol' veto pen makes all her "important work" pretty damn useless.

    There is ironically only one thing that isn't a wast of time. Restore law and order in this country. Remove the world's biggest liar and sleazebag from the TOP JUSTICE official position.

    The must know the fix is in for the next election, or they wouldn't let this go on.

  • Submitted by lambert on

    Destroying Constitutional government was been the goal of the winger billionaires since the Lewis Powell memo in the 1970s. And they spent the money to build the infrastructure to get that done. And with Bush--and the scorched earth policies they will pursue no matter what--they have almost achieved that goal, and may have achieved it.

    Can't Nancy see, can't she understand, does she have any basic minimal awareness, that if we don't have Constitutional government and the rule of law, that all these "progressive" gains are a house built an sand? (Matthew 7:26) An illusionist's conjuration?

    And can't the Kossacks see, can't they understand, that although Dodd fucking with O'Reilly is importnat, and that the media critique is important, that Dodd's stance in favor--God save us, that we've come to this point--in favor of Constitutional government is far, far more courageous and interesting??

    What's wrong with these people?

    No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

    DBK's picture
    Submitted by DBK on

    When the Democrats capitulated on the Iraq emergency funding bill, that was pretty much it for me. I see now, on warrantless surveillance, that I was right. Today I saw that Holt has agreed to compromise HR 811, the bill to make electronic voting machines secure. The conclusion I reached when the funding bill passed, and which has been borne out subsequently, is that the Democrats are no different from the Republicans in any way. Not one iota. Don't tell me about abortion rights. Fucking Feinstein just voted to let that Leslie what's his face fucking judge get voted on by the Senate for confirmation. Another Bush Nazi judge getting another promotion. My position now is "Fuck the Democrats". Kos and his crowd don't want positive change. They just want to be bigshots and go to the cool kidz parties. Well, good for him. He's done well and used the new technology to make a good living. I can't fault him or complain about him for that. I refuse, however, to continue to enable the Democrats, who are the same as the Republicans, to continue to run their con on me. They can con other people if they like, and they do like, but I'm not being conned any longer.

    Though I haven't thought of myself as a Big-D "Democrat" for probably 30 years...

    My personal political ideology would, in a civilized nation, be called "Social Democrat." But there is NO PLACE in the USer political discourse for that theory or practice.

    bringiton's picture
    Submitted by bringiton on

    And the fugitives from NIMH here at chez bringiton are scurrying around like, well, rodents on a French Roast overdose. It is moving day.

    Lambert, dear fellow, we are communicating at cross purposes. Surely my fault, bloggolalia is not my native language, I was raised on live debate and the time lag is killing me. It’s not unlike conversation underwater, loud and indistinct all at the same time.

    As to the character issue, I cannot follow your reasoning. Minor perversities are not the issue, but rather core values. These are, IMHO, absolutely critical. I cannot understand how else we would evaluate others. My opinion, Reid and Pelosi are at their core good people. I believe that on average, over time, good people will tend to do predominantly good things and fundamentally bad people will behave badly, in both their personal and public lives – you like to quote Macbeth: “Truth will out!” Maybe I’m just worn down but any more a few good people are all I hope for.

    The issue for me around your “cleavage” crack was I found it off-putting to have it directed it at me – that was undeserved. I’m all for cleavage, if I had some I’d look at it all the time. If I had……..well; never mind, mustn’t get off thread.

    As to links, I do try to put them in when I think something needs referencing, and you will admit I’ve been pretty diligent about that. I will try to be more specific in identifying my opinions vs “facts.”

    The calculus of the Democratic leadership is what it is. You, and I, may disagree. By all means, voice your opinions. My issue is around the questioning of their character as opposed to disagreeing with their reasoning. A small point, perhaps, but again IMHO it isn’t helpful to castigate the character of someone you’re hoping to persuade to agree with you. If, on the other hand, you concur with posters above that Pelosi and Reid are lost causes, no different than the VRWC Republicans, well, we have a much larger problem than impeachment to grapple with and may need to revisit that whole business of armed insurrection you’ve so clearly stated is “off the table” (and there I paraphrase.)

    Lastly, before I leave for a couple of days and so escape without possibility of further immediate conversation, a return to the original topic of the thread: a loyalty oath. Saints preserve us. Has it come to this? Isn’t the totality of the public record sufficient?

    I am aghast.

    Submitted by lambert on

    I don't think we're talking at cross purposes; I just don't agree with you. In fact, I vehemently disagree.


    As to the character issue, I cannot follow your reasoning. Minor perversities are not the issue, but rather core values. These are, IMHO, absolutely critical. I cannot understand how else we would evaluate others.


    In fact, the country needs “good leaders”—like Madison, Jefferson, FDR—in a good system, which I identify with Constitutional government.

    Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody is fit to be trusted with power. Not the Conservative "best and the brightest," not your or my best and the brightest.

    The reason the "good people" and "good character" and "good leader" memes are so very, very destructive is that they elide this essential idea that power must always be checked no matter who possesses it.

    Let's focus on the system, please. Not the personalia. See Clinton, goats and, supra.

    No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

    vastleft's picture
    Submitted by vastleft on

    For all the Democrats' imperfections, they aren't as bad as the corrupt, valueless GOP, and they're our best means for ousting the neo-cons from power, getting Supreme Court justices who don't hate the freedom of ordinary Americans, and so on.

    That Nader "no difference" bullshit is at least as dangerous in 2007-8 as it was in 2000.

    That said, I heartily agree with Lambert, that we need a healthy return to an American Constitutional government, because power does eventually corrupt, as it corrupted the Dems in the 60s into their misguided policies re: Vietnam.

    Sarah's picture
    Submitted by Sarah on

    and a whiff of it corrupts preventatively?

    But I do see your point, lambert, because human nature is to see the advantages. Politicians' nature is to seize the advantages, even if you have to make them up out of thin air.

    Reid being the best available I have no quarrel with.
    Last night's PBS interview, however, made me doubt Pelosi, because the willingness to give away everything needful to gain some small perceived collegiality is ... heartbreaking.

    vastleft's picture
    Submitted by vastleft on

    ... the protocol of decorum uber alles would be dropped, but no.

    With the most basic values of our country, the lives of our troops, and much more hanging in the balance, many Dems are still seduced by the siren songs of "collegiality," civility," "non-partisanship" and "support the president in a global war against a concept."

    With all due respect to Daniel D-Day Simpson, we should get mad. Howard Beale mad. Because decorum ain't fixing anything.

    Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

    The very form of government in America is Liberal. A democratically elected republic is in itself a Liberal concept. The entire nation is based solely on Liberalism. Therefore, if you hate Liberals, then you hate America.

    The Revolutionary War was a fight between Liberalism and Conservatism. Conservatives were called Tories and Loyalists. The Conservatives then and now hate actual Freedom and much prefer living under an Authority.

    So when you hear Conservatives spew their hatred for Liberals and all things Liberal, remember that they are saying that they hate the Republic, they hate Freedom, and want to force us to submit to an Authority that will tell us how we are allowed to live.

    dr sardonicus's picture
    Submitted by dr sardonicus on

    My definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" are as follows:

    A liberal is somebody who would destroy the government in order to preserve democracy.

    A conservative is somebody who would destroy democracy in order to preserve the government.

    Bush v. Gore established once and for all what had long been suspected: that the stability of the federal government trumps all other concerns, including the democratic process itself. The Democratic Party for the most part accepted this decision, figuring things might go the other way around next time. So by my definition, nearly all officials at the federal level are conservatives.

    ...for the rest of us

    kelley b's picture
    Submitted by kelley b on

    Pelosi feels gifted with the extent of anti-Bu$h feeling.

    Somehow it did not sink into her that the Democratic Congressional victory of 2006 was a simple underestimation by Rove of how big the anti-Bu$h feeling was in this country.

    The Rethuglicans tried to steal it, but they didn't try very hard. If they hadn't been so drunk on their own Kool-Aid, it would have been a very different story. You could say 2006 was an accident: a little democracy happened to leak through.

    In 2008 they will be trying very hard indeed.

    Liberal or conservative, all candidates will meet the corporate standards of the private equity and security firms that feel entitled to own us all.

    No Hell below us
    Above us, only sky

    Mimus Pauly's picture
    Submitted by Mimus Pauly on

    It's not about whether impeaching Bush and Cheney will be successful. It very likely won't be. Judging by the current makeup of the Senate, the Democrats don't have the sixty votes they'd need. But so goddamned what? The republicans didn't have the sixty votes they needed to oust Bill Clinton -- and he was impeached just for lying under oath about what he did with his pee-pee.

    Bush and Cheney lied America into a war it had no business launching, and the results have been disastrous from just about every angle you can look at it from. Don't tell me impeachment is off the table for these two war criminals.

    At the very least, initiating impeachment proceedings would show that the Democrats actually care about restoring a balance of powers in Washington and bringing wrongdoers to justice. Even if they fail, at least they can say they tried. Hell, half the country is in favor of impeachment. The voters gave the Dems majority status in Congress. What's their problem?

    Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

    "What is the Democrats' plan to restore Constitutional Government?"
    This is the ONLY question. If they don't restore our constitutional government with its checks and balances there are no other questions - nothing else matters. We will remain a fascist tyranny.
    Any candidate who has not made this the main theme of the campaign just wants the crown and thrown and should be cast aside. They do us no good at all.
    I can't believe I found this site and someone asking the question that I have been screaming whenever one of my "liberal" friends says it will all be ok 'cuz a dem will win - AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH - are they not any paying attention at all?

    Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

    Pelosi whines she doesn't have the votes for impeachment?
    I thought the Constitution of the United States says "shall impeach". SHALL as mandatory, no choice, no worry about the votes or Fox news or re-election - SHALL IMPEACH!!!
    The $80 million ho needs to go.

    bringiton's picture
    Submitted by bringiton on

    would be helpful? Just a suggestion, since I can’t at all figure out what it is exactly that you are vehemently disagreeing with. I’ve never once in my life suggested anything other than the need for robust checks and balances against unfettered governmental power. Yet you seem to be under the impression that you need to chastise me for that very position. Not I; you must have me confused with someone else.

    You say in one place that “In fact, the country needs “good leaders”—like Madison, Jefferson, FDR—in a good system, which I identify with Constitutional government.” (Assume here you mean the US constitution, not just constitutions in general.) But then you say that the focus should be on the system and exclude the personalia. Again, I’m confused. Are you saying that a sound system will prevent any harm being done by “bad” people? Grant, Reagan, Nixon, Bush pere et fils would all demonstrate otherwise, unless you’re also arguing that the very constitution you want upheld is insufficient for the task of containment – in which case, why would you want it upheld rather than changed? - and that is where I start getting very, very dizzy.

    I’m going to stick with my view that we need good people AND a sound system, and that the constitution we have is pretty good when it’s respected (an Equal Rights amendment and doing away with the Electoral College wouldn’t hurt).

    When bad people get in power they don’t respect the system. The people who have been in power for quite some years now have no respect for the law or the constitution or any aspect of human decency – they are criminals. They need to be removed from power. Good people need to take their places. That will only happen if the people, collectively, demand it.

    What do the American people say about impeaching Bush?

    USA Today/Gallup Poll. July 6-8, 2007. N=1,014 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

    "As you may know, impeachment is the first step in the constitutional process for removing a president from office, in which possible crimes are investigated and charges are made. Do you think there is or is not justification for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush at this time?"

    There is justification: 36%
    There is NOT justification: 62%
    Unsure: 3%

    So that’s the peoples’ position. Should Congress respect it? What is the constitutionally responsible course? If you’re running a political party and want the people to elect your candidates for congress and the presidency, is it smart politics to go against the opinion of 62%? If you believe that the next election could well determine whether or not the nation continues as a constitutional democracy with protected rights for the citizenry, should you risk alienating 62% of the electorate by acting against their wishes? Would that be supporting the constitution?

    As far as what the Democratic candidates think about rolling back Bush’s claimed/seized unconstitutional powers, I’m not sure what you can expect to get from them now that hasn’t been said before. All of them have held or now hold federal offices that come with an oath to uphold the laws and protect and defend the US constitution. If they meant it then, why does it need repeating? What is gained? If they were lying then why wouldn’t they just lie again now? What is gained?

    In this thread, and in many others, it has been suggested that the Democratic leadership is in league with the Republicans in some sort of Corporatist authoritarian conspiracy, or that Democrats simply lack the courage to stand up against Republican authoritarianism. If either of these judgments are correct we’re in big deep trouble, and neither asking questions nor writing blogs is likely to change anything for the better: to regain control the people will have to undertake the Political Action That Dare Not Speak Its Name Here.

    If, on the other hand, there is a difference and Democrats are actually trying as best they can to deal with the god-awful mess that decades of all but uninterrupted criminal VRWC governance has produced, then castigating them for not doing so faster is at best unhelpful.

    Electing a Democrat to the presidency is the only hope, perhaps the last hope, for restoring constitutional law and citizen rights. Every effort must be directed to that end. Anything that endangers that accomplishment must be opposed. My opinion.

    And in breaking news, it appears that Democrats are going to give Bush what he’s asking for in eavesdropping, but with a short leash. Covers their asses for the next three months against blame for whatever the hell is going on with terror strikes (if anything) and time to have a fuller debate, in public, with hearings, etc. etc. Not immediately satisfying, very frustrating, I agree, don’t blame me. If you think Pelosi and Reid like eating Bush’s crap, well, I believe you’re mistaken. Just doing what they felt they had to do to position the party for ’08, which is all that will matter in the longer term. My opinion.

    Oh, and Feinstein, someone mentioned her, sigh, never been a DiFi fan, she fell into political perpetuity from a local supervisor job when SF Mayor Harvey Milk was assassinated and like Giuliani with 9/11 she’s ridden on that horse ever since. I sometimes hope she’ll retire and then I think of what we might get instead and oh I don’t know, every six years I hold my nose and vote for her as the least available evil. Not everything is always as it ought to be. No reason whatsoever for letting ANY Bush judicial nominee get confirmation. None. I shall write her a stern message which she will ignore, daft old bat.

    Midnight. I am now going to shower off the day’s grime and get some sleep. Another day of pack and haul awaits upon the morrow.

    Submitted by lambert on

    All I can do is read the words that are in front of me. Perhaps, when I reread this thread and on reflection, the responses you make will seem more on point, the lack of clarity in my own writing will appear more visible to me.

    The "they took an oath of office" strikes me as particularly weak defense--possibly based, again, on those pesky and all-answering personal characteristics? Or perhaps you believe that the Republican party is, in fact, governing Constitutionally? I want to see action that lives up to the oath, and answering the question that starts this thread seems to me to be a simple and obvious beginning.

    It is good, though, to have a robust defense of the Democratic Party mounted, at least in those areas were it can be mounted; the blog needs it. Good luck with the grime; I'm travelling, and so will be off for awhile.

    NOTE Re "authoritarian" and "conspiracy." You're confusing a cast of mind and a straw man. At least among the Fellows, the notion of a "conspiracy" comes under the heading of Shystee's "emergent conspiracy." No CT here, as it is commonly understood. As far as "authoritarian," I can't see much room for doubt that we are dealing with such in the Conservative movement and the Republican party. See much of Greenwald's writing; and John Dean's Conservatives without conscience. Here, again, I think you may be in the midst of a conversation that haven't recognized as being such.

    No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

    Submitted by lambert on

    Because, for whatever reason, I can't get an answer to the simpler question that is the topic of this thread.

    "What is gained"? Um, recognition there's a problem? Recognition that something needs to be done? Some indication that they don't plan to keep those powers for themselves? Destroying the Republican brand for a generation? Sheesh.

    Is it really "elect more Democrats"? Seems so.

    Is that enough?

    No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

    vastleft's picture
    Submitted by vastleft on

    ... is necessary but not sufficient.

    Your question is a vital one, but if people (such as DBK and WGG above) choose to hear it as "both parties are the same," that interpretation/position begs a reminder that half the job at hand is in the subject line of this comment.

    You're spot-on, Lambert, reminding the Kosians and the pols who suck up to them that there's another passel of work to be done that mustn't be shirked if this republic is to stand.

    bringiton's picture
    Submitted by bringiton on

    are among the hardest things to do well. If there has been confusion I’ll take full responsibility, this is not my natural milieu.

    Definitions, everybody can make their own but then the communication part collapses, so Webster’s for me because I have one. Others may choose a reputable source of their preference but somewhere there has to be a reference. When I say “conspiracy” I mean two or more people communicating with each other, directly or indirectly, in the furtherance of an act, generally in secret and generally towards nefarious ends. There is in fact a VRWC, Hillary was right and she doesn’t get enough credit (and yes it’s possible that she’s been co-opted but its also possible she’s infiltrated for the purpose of destroying them – guess we’ll see.) Recognizing the VRWC isn’t the same as believing there are little green men buried in the sands of Roswell. Sometimes the bastards really are out to get us.

    Sorry to read that you see the oath of office argument as weak. A lot of people take their oath very seriously. That it has been devalued, no argument; criminals will do that. Not to make an overly broad generalization but I will, Republican office holders, now at pretty much every level of government, deliberately lie when they take their oaths – their intent is to subvert, not support, the law and the constitution. You’re correct that the meaningful element is in people’s actions, not their words. The Republican Party has shown itself by its actions to be an authoritarian criminal enterprise, an unholy alliance of theocrats and corporatists that needs to be stopped. We agree on that, at least.

    Pity also that you are uneasy with the valuation of good character in political life. While there has been subversion of the term (Scooter Libby is not a good man who made a mistake, he’s a serial criminal who got caught – repeatedly; he’s a bad man.) Let’s work on that, good people are in short supply, there ought to be a way to recognize them and support their efforts while they are still alive. (By the way, Monroe was a good man and an excellent political theoretician but a lousy president; had it not been that the British were also fighting Napoleon we would have gotten our butts kicked in 1812 worse than we did.)

    As to “Democrats” and “plan” didn’t Will Rogers have something to say about it? I hear lots of outrage and disgust from Dems towards BushCo’s behavior, perhaps not as coherent and focused as one might wish but this is the Democratic Party, not given to lock-step orderliness and yes, some idiots have snuck into the tent.

    Mixing metaphors, if you’re adrift on an ocean full of sharks with only one paddle, then that will be the paddle to use – however shabby it may be. The Democrats are that paddle, the boat is our constitution, and we have a long hard row ahead. Best to take care not to break that paddle. (My opinion.)

    Safe journey, Lambert.

    If Democrats cannot be trusted NOT to continue, or appropriate the tools of the Bushevikian attack on the Constitution in the name of National Security--and they CANNOT be so trusted, as the discourse here and elsewhere makes abundantly clear--then I fail to see how electing MORE Democrats protects us.

    How is it different from saying 'elect more GOPubes'?

    Unless the Dim candidate pool can find it in its collective self to totally and utterly repudiate the tools the Busheviks have wrung into being from the blood of the Constitution, I fail to see how electing more of them is any safeguard to our liberties.

    Jim Webb--arisen angel of Dumbocrat courage--voted for the Spy powers, you'll have noted.

    vastleft's picture
    Submitted by vastleft on

    Our odds of returning to Constitutional democracy will be great under Giuliani and another Repub Congress. I wish I'd thought of that.

    By gum, everything's exactly the same under Bush as it was under Clinton, isn't it?

    there's a useful rhetorical strategy. Wish I'd thought of it.

    Voting for Democrats in the hopes they're gonna be less dangerous to the Constitution is, imho, not a lot different from voting for GOPubes under the same constraints.

    There is nothing in the character of either "party" that leads me to trust 'em with the powers the Busheviks have stolen.

    vastleft's picture
    Submitted by vastleft on

    ... for keeping the corrupt, valueless GOP out of power -- i.e., voting for the other major (flawed but not demonstrably near as bad) party -- is, indeed, absurd.

    It makes good sense to hold the Dems' feet to the fire re: numerous issues including reversing the incursions on the Constitution and Geneva Conventions, ending the Iraq War, etc., and stopping the goddamned accommodations to the worst adminsitration ever. But that "can't tell any difference" meme is as toxic as a Superfund site. If you can remember an administration that actually believed in the Superfund. Hmm, when was that...?

    Submitted by lambert on

    Seems to me the Dem [cough] leadership would rather pass a midnight law handing Bush all the surveillance power he wants on FISA and blow town for vacation than do the right thing Constitutionally.

    If the Beltway Dems take their oaths seriously, they certainly have an odd way of showing it.

    [I'm sending this from a foreign country! Hi NSA! Hi George! Hi Nancy! Hi Harry!]

    No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

    vastleft's picture
    Submitted by vastleft on

    Lambert, a serious question: can someone more schooled on the details than I explain what Pelosi and other Dem House leaders did -- or should have done -- re: this vote?

    As noted in the Kos piece you linked to in your "Heel" post, the Blue Dogs were the major culprits. Seems we should actively target them for replacement in the '08 primaries.

    Submitted by lambert on

    That one was planted, and the Dems let it grow, and then it bit them--assuming that they weren't entirely cynical--in the capitulation on the Iraq supplemental.

    Same thing here. The most charitable explanation is that the Blue Dogs needed some cover. And the time to provide them with that would have been months ago, with oversight of the warrantless surveillance program that's an order of magnitude faster and more thorough than what we got.

    Instead, the Democrats, from the Speaker and the Majority leader on down, seem to have, again, being as charitable as possible, no understanding that they're dealing with a criminal regime that is seeking even more power as a way of avoiding being held accountable for their crimes. The Dems persist, as process types, in believing that legislation is important, that comity can be restored, that the times are in some sense normal. Some institutions would rather die than change...

    No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.