Have we reached a "teachable moment" yet?

January 28 / 29, 2006

The Impeachable Mr. Bush
An Aggregation of High Crimes and Misdemeanors

What will it take for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to be held responsible for a multitude of political crimes, recklessness, prevarications and just plain massive ongoing mismanagement of the taxpayers government?

The first step is to aggregate these travesties so they add up to a more comprehensive judgment. Then, together they confront us with an awful truth -- that our present system of constitution, law and checks and balances have failed to be invoked by the elected and appointed officials of our Congress and our Courts. This is happening even though the polls have been dropping on the Bush regime for over a year and are now quite negative on many important questions.

Consider the following sample of irresponsibility and flouting of the law and then ask yourself how much more will it take to start holding the Bush/Cheney crowd of serial fibbers and dictacrats accountable? Is there ever to be a tipping point in the Washington world of spineless Democrats and supine Congressional Republicans worried about Bush losing the 2006 elections?

1. The drug benefit boondoggle, starting January 1, 2006, has been by all reports maelstrom of confusion, deprivation, gouging and misadministration, leaving many sick people in a frightening limbo. That is Bushland messing up big time while giving the gouging, long-subsidized profit-glutted drug companies hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade paid by the taxpayer.

2. Katrina! The breaching of the levees was predicted at least over a year before and warned about just before the Hurricane hit by federal officials but ignored by the Administration. Bush's godliness complex let him give the public the impression that the destruction was an unavoidable Act of God, when it was an avoidable disaster of Bush. The White House earlier had cut the Army Corps of Engineers budget designed for hurricane defense in the New Orleans area. The Corps itself is not blameless, but its commander in chief is, after all, George W. Bush.

3. Bush-Cheney plunged our country into an endless war-quagmire in Iraq on an often repeated platform of falsehoods, cover-ups and deliberate distractions from the ignored necessities here at home. Tens of thousands of American have lost their lives, their limbs or their health over there and casualties of innocent Iraqi adults and children are much more numerous. Already costing hundreds of billions of dollars, the mismanagement of this war of choice is the material of hundreds of Pentagon audits, Congressional reports, official admissions, firsthand press reports and Congressional condemnations by the respected Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"Iraq Rebuilding Badly Hobbled", U.S. Report finds, "is a recent front page headline in The New York Times-- one of many such headlines in recent months. The corporate contractors, such ass Halliburton, will set records for waste and worse as the facts spill out to the people.

4. The impeachable George W. Bush imperiously asserts that he will continue to violate federal law and place the American people under any surveillance that he chooses to impose without ever using a Congressionally approved procedure which requiresfor a quick and secret court warrant that is even permitted to be retroactive.

He and his pitchmen claim that they are pursuing terrorists. But the National Security Agency's (NSA) electronic dragnets are enveloping millions of people, flooding the FBI with what that agency says is mountains of indiscriminate undigested data that are useless.

Besides, as of the end of 2004, Bush and John Ashcroft, his then Attorney General had arrested 5000 people on suspicion of terrorism, jailed them, most without charges, and then proceeded to strike out. Two were convicted and the convictions were overturned in Michigan. The Bush scorecard, according to Georgetown Law professor David Cole was 0 for 5000! Does this record qualify for chronic abuse of legal process or is it just sloppy law enforcement designed to produce political press releases?

5. Bush pumps "the ownership society" and opposes attempts to give investors the power that should accrue to them as owners over the self-enriching managers of the giant corporations. As a result, big time corporate executives keep vastly overpaying themselves, through their rubber-stamp Boards of Directors (starting at $7200 an hour in 2002 and upward for the CEOs of the top 300 corporations). Warren Buffet called runaway executive compensation and stock options a central cause of cooking corporate books and undermining jobs and their own companies' financial stability.

6. Cutting life-sustaining programs for needy children, sick adults and regulatory health-safety protections for most Americans while reducing the taxes of the richest one percent, including his own and Cheney's taxes, invites Biblical condemnation. He has left many Americans defenseless from preventable hazards here at home, while he plays the providential Viceroy of Iraq. At the same time, Bush's forked tongue touts "the safety of the American people" as his highest responsibility.

7. He encumbers young children with taxes (who will have to pay the debt) through massive federal deficits brought about significantly by huge numbers of corporate handouts, giveaways, subsidies and tax escapism. That's one way of leaving children behind.

8. Mismangement and underfunding implode his educational distraction called No Child Left Behind. Just ask the Republican state of Utah or millions of teachers beset with constant, vapid standardized multiple choice tests created by corporate consultants.

9. He huffs and puffs about spreading democracies around the world while condoning and encouraging the shipment of whole American industries and jobs to the communist Chinese dictatorship, and other dictatorships on which he continues to lavish such globalized policies.

However, his boomeranging foreign policy may yet turn him into an unintended patron saint of elected Islamic theocracies.

These and many other documentations of his tortured tenure can demonstrate what their aggregation can contribute to motivate the American people toward holding him and Cheney accountable to them under the rule of law. But don't count on the Democrats leading. They blew another election -- Congressional and Presidentially -- against the worst Republicans in American history.

Aggregation, my fellow citizens, is up to your independent minds and judgments to absorb and act upon.

Have we reached a moment when from our observations we have come again to basic doubts and questions? The doubts and the questions are no more than the normal course of history for any nation; in a democracy they must become public or we cease to be a democracy. Have we reached a point where we are able to turn to those we know have acted and thought on principle for decades and yet are still, fortunately, among us, thinking publicly, sober, hard-working, thinking men, like Ralph Nader?

To put it plainly, the nation is again bought and sold by a cabal of special interests with no agenda but the corruption of the government's defense against them on behalf of the public. The definition of patriotism is at stake. Is it to be blind loyalty to lying leaders whose wars impoverish us, kill our children,destroy our land, air and water, and sow seeds of hatred against us for generations, just for the enrichment of the friends of the regime in power? Or is it to be a defense of the land of our fathers against the financial, political and cultural manipulations of their fathers?

Unity in stupidity is bound to fail. We have land to repair, industry to rebuild, employment and education to regain against this latest regime of the most selfish businessmen, plundering the national treasury for lack of invention.

Why should the federal government bail out another American automobile manufacturer? These are ruined, idiot corporations, going the way of the railroads 30 years ago. They have no heart, soul or genius -- all that remains is the numb-nut knuckle-headed greed of executives. An instructive trial in Houston begins tomorrow on Enron.

In the seething anger and anxiety overtaking us there is gold if resentment can become a question, a legitimate political question, the sort of question that formed and united the nation and has saved it from time to time in its history. This is one of those times to sober up and remember moral, political roots. No god can help us but we pray sincerely on our knees, not parading in some damn Washington cathedral. No king or dictator can do anything but harm us.

"These are the times that try men's souls." -- Thomas Paine, The American Crisis (1783)

American souls have been tried, tested and found sound in crisis. We have known great pain, suffering and compassion for one another in times of crisis -- even when gripped by the most profound disagreement. The political ground we walk on was made of this. It is solid, rocky and steep. There is no other way but passive reception of despotism and the death of liberty.

Can we come to realize again that Nature is neither friend, enemy, or laboratory victim? Can we come to realize again that Nature, including the human nature that demands liberty, is simply stronger, even than George W. Bush's "Amer'ca" ? Can we come to realize that the incredible achievement of our industrial, financial and military power is our weakness? Can we turn our back on imperial hubris before that Armageddon Day University of California scientists labor so diligently to make ready while Bush's kept preachers spread religious terror wherever they go? Can we turn our back on the illusion of fusion and The Rapture? Do we have the courage to face the damage we have done and begin to support the genius to cooperate with Nature, including repairing and restoring the human nature run riot in our current political economy? And, maybe that way, find our way back to God?

For those of us who lived through the Vietnam War semi-conscious, we never doubted Richard Nixon's patriotism or his intelligence, however much we disagreed with his murderous policies and came to believe, patriotic and bright as he was, he'd been driven mad by that thing. He spied on us. Dark, dirty city alleys could look like sanctuaries in those days. But you knew the man. Basically, he was one of us in his particular, brilliant, twisted way.

This Bush is a spoiled, silly boy, playing with WMDs. He is not one of us. Arab tribes outwit him and outfight him as easily as Indian casino managers outwit Pombo. This boy is way above us. He has lived in a world of privilege and protection unavailable to any but the richest, most vulgar Americans. We don't know him; he don't know us, and that's the way he likes to keep it. How many people did he have executed in Texas? This boy don't know nothing but sick games.

To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ass for a lion. -- Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

Americans have inspired friends like Paine throughout our history. We have been loved for our fortune and that great, initial moment of wisdom. De Toqueville loved us and bent the best of his critical mind to warn us against ourselves. Really, it was only Dickens, and a century later D.H. Lawrence, who felt the need to puncture us. Lawrence saw in our greatest writers a tendency to hate humanity. Dickens found our frumpery. We have had to defend ourselves and have produced able defenders and formed a literature unique in its affectionate criticism. We sympathize with Captain Vere when Billy walks the plank. This is not Stendhal or Flaubert or Dickens. In Melville we meet the agonizing torment of a new kind of individual, radical enough and not quite European. It took the Algerian Camus to properly introduce him to my generation. Stephen Crane described the worst war in history to that time in Red Badge of Courage. Our first real love story, forbidden naturally in our Cotton Mather-dominated, official culture, was The Scarlet Letter, retold recently in cowboy by Annie Proulx, "Brokeback Mountain."

My favorite of all American characters remains little Wall Street Snopes, age 10 or so, staring through the knothole when the dry corn hit the feed trough and the spotted ponies exploded the barn in Faulkner's Hamlet. Little Wall Street stood there through it all, left with nothing but a disappeared knothole.

Nobody in the world described the universal moment of anxiety at twilight in a cityu as well as James Baldwin. And it's beautiful magic when the bass player brings Sonny back into the music.

It took the Czech, Milan Kundera, to put it so succinctly: the Tom Paines of the world describe our individual rights but our novelists create individuals, filling in the sillouettes -- the people that walk that steep, rocky trail. There are people -- a lot of them in America today --that more badly than they realize need to read Sherwood Anderson just to get a glimmer of where they came from. Have the questions about American society posed by the novels of John Dos Passos or John Steinbeck really been answered? We need to read Charles Olson and William Carlos Williams again -- it's a lot cheaper and saner than nuclear war.

But you can begin by just reading the poet down the street. You could fall in love with your own soul without really understanding what happened that made it such a good day again.

Bill Hatch