“ ‘ARE THE DEMOCRATS GOING TO BLOW IT?’ That all depends upon what the ‘It’ is”

UPDATED: November 30, 2006 The Political Junkies.net

Column No. 130, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

“Are the Democrats Going to Blow It?” is a question on the lips of many, from the most ardent opponents of the Bush Administration (hoping they won’t) and Georgitism, to the Georgites’ most ardent supporters (hoping they will. Some of the latter, like Gingrich, are fighting the last legislative war, absolutely sure that they will.) Well, the answer to that question depends entirely upon what the “It” is. In turn, the definition of the “It” depends entirely on what one’s goals are for the new balance of power in Washington. What those goals are in turn depends entirely upon what one thinks are the most serious problems facing the nation at this time. From my long-time background as a professional health care planner (who knows very well, by the way, that we simply do not do organized health care planning in this country), I know that effective planning for any project starts with problem identification. It goes on to establishing priorities, and then, on to setting goals. Once the goals are set, then one can design a program to achieve them, in the context of available means and resources. At this time, in my view, the goal setting for what the incoming Democratic Congress should aim to achieve should begin with an analysis of the critical wrongs that the Georgites have done to the nation, and the problems they have created for the nation. I believe that in approaching those problems, we have to deal with their substance, not the process of how they came about. Yes, Bush and Cheney have committed impeachable offenses in setting out to destroy US Constitutional Democracy and yes, there are a number of other top Georgite operatives both in and now out of government, from Gonzales and Rumsfeld on down (or up, depending upon one’s point of view) who have committed war crimes and egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions. In turn those violations are violations of the US Constitution (viz. Article VI), again impeachable offenses. While it is most tempting to advocate going after these criminals as the first order of business, I believe, instead, that it is most advisable for the future health of the nation to deal first with what has been done and to begin to fix it, rather than dealing with who did it and try to put them in a fix. The problem list is well known to every reader of TPJ, POAC, or any other progressive political journal: While there would certainly be disagreement on the components and the ordering of those I have included, here are my top seven problems, for each of which the goal is reversal and new beginnings (drawn from my “Ten Commitments” of TPJ Nov. 12 and previous), with one process goal to follow:

1) With the adoption of the “Patriot” Act, the “Military Commissions” Act, and the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act through an amendment without prior notice slipped into the most recent Defense Appropriations bill, the Bush Administration, as I have noted on many occasions in these columns (and many others have noted in many other places), has eliminated the civil liberties protections provided by Article II, Sect 8 and Amendments IV, V, VI and VIII of the Constitution, as well severely curtailing by so doing the provisions of the First Amendment. It has thus established the basis for a dictatorship, which in Cheneyite circles is referred to by the oh-so-innocent-sounding euphemism, “Unitary Executive.” 2) The War on Iraq.

3) The assault on the guarantees of free and fair elections with full access to the polls for every eligible voter and complete and verifiable tabulation of the votes, reproducible on demand.

4) The intended destruction of the role and function of the Federal government as it is defined in the Preamble to the Constitution: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” 5) The creation of the most unethical and criminally corrupt Federal Administration and Congress in the modern era.

6) The whole package of tax-cutting for the richest, borrowing, and spending that has created the huge Federal deficit and national debt, the faltering economy (for most folks), and the yawning gap between the incomes and net worth of the very rich and all of the rest of us. 7) An energy policy designed to benefit the oil companies and other extractive industries first, last, and always, while contributing to the continued destruction of the environment and the acceleration of the global warming process that threatens the future existence not only of our species but of many, many others.

Note that in this enumeration, the lists of the crimes of the individual Georgites do not appear. I certainly do not deny them. For many of them, especially the attacks on the Constitution, I was an early identifier. However, my first priority now is on, as I said, fixing the problems, not fixing their creators. That can come later. But I firmly believe that reversing the Georgite anti-Constitutional tide is the best revenge on them, whether the individuals who created it are ever personally held to account or not. Thus I think that the Congressional agenda should, for example, focus on reversing the direct assault on the Constitution by repealing the Military Commissions Act as written (re-establishing the system in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that had served the nation and our Armed Forces well for decades), the Posse Comitatus Act (re-establishing as law that the Armed Forces may not be used to deal with domestic issues and that each state’s National Guard remain under the sole authority of its respective Governor), and those central elements of the Patriot Act that lead to Guantanamo and on to the Military Commissions Act. As for the argument that this destruction of civil liberties is necessary for “fighting terrorism,” the campaign to repeal these laws can begin with the demonstration, through legislative hearings, that they are not only not necessary for “fighting terrorism,” but actually can get in the way of doing so.

This is an example of goal-setting in relation to the problem list that can be developed for each element of the list above (and for which I hardly have space here). To achieve most of the goals ending US involvement in Iraq, dealing with Republican governmental corruption, re-establishing fair and free elections, and so on, the legislative process is pretty much the same: hold hearings, undertake detailed investigations using the subpoena power that the Democrats now hold in both Houses, and design and pass legislation in turn to deal with the problems. Presidential vetoes will come streaming back. And that leads then to the one process goal: winning the Presidency (while retaining control of the Congress) in 2008. Now, if these are the substantive goals, with the one process goal of winning in 2008, how would the very understandable goal of impeachment serve to achieve them? Poorly, in my view.

Cindy Sheehan, among others, has made a powerful argument for impeachment (Cindy Sheehan: Open Letter to Reps Pelosi and Conyers, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15595.htm). As one good friend of mine, Mickey Walker of Texas, an impeachment supporter said: “The people spoke, despite the big bucks. Now let Congress do the will of the people, and forget the political correctness. Let us not be kind to those who drug America through the briar patch, to those who tried to destroy democracy and our inalienable rights and to those who cared not a whit about human beings. Let those who tried desperately to murder the Constitution be punished instead of shielded because of false sentiment of the ‘higher good.’ The higher good is always accountability. Always.” Indeed it is. And the best accountability in the present situation would be to reverse, or start the process of reversing, the worst of the harms and evils to our nation and the World at large that the Georgites have done over the past six years. I firmly believe that impeachment, while totally justified, would be a very distracting sideshow. It would be very politically damaging for the mainstream Democratic Party, for it would take up an extraordinary amount of time as well as media attention (mainly negative, given the state of the media) that should be devoted to dealing with the substantive issues. The Republicans would just love to see an attempt at impeachment occur as the first order of Democratic Congressional business. The Georgites would be handed the “See, the Democrats are only interested in revenge” issue for 2008 on a silver platter. Further, while indictments might be gained in the House, conviction could certainly not be achieved in the Senate: not enough votes.

Finally, following the above strategy, investigating for the purpose of developing new legislation not simply for the sake of investigating as the Congressional Republicans were so wont to do during the Clinton Administration, may develop a historical imperative for doing what we all would like to see, at some point. In my view, the best hope for impeachment would be for there to be very thorough, and fair, investigations on the road to legislation that would as an apparent by-product also develop unimpeachable grounds for impeachment. It is time to identify the balls in play and keep our eyes on them. Of the list above, the three most important elements in my view are the restoration and preservation of Constitutional Democracy, getting out of Iraq and re-establishing full, free, and fair elections. And so, I have defined my “it,” which reflects the most serious problems our nation faces, which problem list in turn defines what I think the goals of the new Democratic Congress should be. Then, my priorities are established. If these collectively are in fact the “it,” I think that much of the agenda can be accomplished. If that is the list, I think that indeed the Democrats will not “blow it.” I also think that those portions of the legislative agenda that do not make it into law because of Georgite opposition will come in very handy as issues in the 2008 Presidential election. As another friend said: “I’m encouraged, the power of the people still reigns. In spite of attempts to thwart the individual, to grab power with no restraint, we have been, in the short term, victorious. In short, GENTLEMAN START YOUR INVESTIGATIONS!” And then, in control of the Legislative Branch, we can go onto legislation and in that way establish a new beginning for our glorious nation and its glorious tradition of Constitutional Democracy. Once again, we will become a beacon of freedom and liberty for the whole world.

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a TPJ contributing author. He is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author of over twenty-five books. Dr. Jonas has his own website for short pieces entitled “Dr. J.’s Short Shots” (http://shortshot.wordpress.com/). Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Editor for the Moving Planet Blog (http://www.planetarymovement.org/) produced by The Planetary Movement Ltd. UK (http://www.planetarymovement.org/the-planetary-movement/) TPJ’s own Michael Carmichael, President and Chief Executive Officer, a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC (http://www.oldamericancentury.org/), on which his TPJ columns appear regularly, and a Columnist for the webmagazine BuzzFlash (http://www.buzzflash.com/) which publishes an original column by Dr. Jonas every other week or so. Also, most of his “Short Shots” appear first on BF before being put up on his own website. By invitation, Dr. J’s TPJ columns are also posted periodically on the weblogs Thomas Paine’s Corner (http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/) and Bush Watch (http://www.bushwatch.com/).In his book The New Americanism, Dr. Jonas presents his proposal for that “new vision and mission” for the Democratic Party that so many, for so many years, have been urging it to find. A new vision and mission are obviously needed with increasing urgency as with increasing speed and determination the Georgites drive our nation towards frank theocratic fascism. Dr. Jonas finds the needed vision and mission in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The New Americanism: How the Democratic Party Can Win the Presidency is available from Amazon.com (go to “Books;” enter the full title) and BarnesandNoble.com (same). He is also the author of The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym “Jonathan Westminster” this book was originally published in 1996. It was republished with a New Introduction in 2004. Under Georgite rule, the “fictional non-fiction” scenario of this work of “future history” is, most unfortunately, becoming all too real, now almost day-by-day. Both versions are available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com (go to “Books;” enter the title). The 2004 edition is also available at www.xlibris.com (click on “Bookstore,” then “Search” with the title). 2006
Nov 16, 2006 “On Republican IRAQ Policy And Why No Grand Theft Election
(They’re Related)

Nov 12, 2006 “Democratic Ideas: Post-Election 2006”
Nov 2, 2006
“The US Enabling Act, 2006, Part II: Why Bush Wanted It”Oct 26, 2006 “The US Enabling Act, 2006, Part I: What It Is And Some Comparative History”
Oct 12,2006 Democratic Ideas, XIV: Attack On Defense Revisited”
Oct 5, 2006 “Iran Nukes, Revisited” (Expanded Edition)
Sept 28, 2006 “Democratic Ideas, XIII: Controlling The Agenda”
Sept 21, 2006 Reran article dated October 14, 2004
Sept 14, 2006
“Democratic Ideas, XII: Focusing On The Constitution”
Sept 7, 2006 “Let’s Hear It For Strict Constructionism,” V. 3, Part 3”
Aug 16, 2006 “Let’s Hear It For Strict Constructionism, V. 3, Part 2”
Aug 10, 2006 The Dick Durbin Disaster – reran
Aug 3, 2006 Democratic Ideas, IX:, “Let’s Hear It For Strict Construction (V. 3), Part 1”
Jul 27, 2006 “What’s It All About, Alfie?”
Jul 19, 2006 “Democratic Ideas, VIII: Let’s Play Capture The Flag”
Jul 13, 2006 “Ann Coulter: The New Face Of The Republican Party”
Jul 6,2006 “Ideas For Democrats, VII: Bipartisanship On Iraq”
Jun 29, 2006 “Ideas For Democrats, VI: Attack On Defense, II”
Jun 22, 2006 “Ideas For Democrats, V: Attack On Defense”
Jun 15, 2006 “Ideas For Democrats, IV: The Ten Commitments, Re-visited”
Jun 8, 2006 “Ideas For Democrats, III: Dealing The DLC”
Jun 1, 2006 “Ideas For Democrats, II: Why Don’t The Democrats?”
May 25, 2006 “Ideas For Democrats, I: The Vision”
May 18, 2006 “On Conspiracy Theories”
May 11, 2006 “The Significance Of The Tony Snow Job”*
May 3, 2006 “Bush Is Not Hitler, II”

April 25, 2005 “Bush Is Not Hitler, I”
April 20, 2006
Some Thoughts On The ‘Immigration Problem'”
April 13, 2006
“The Georgite State Of The Union Address Revited”
April 6, 2006 “A Firebell In The Night: The So-Called ‘Gay Marriage’ Amendment, II”
April 2, 2006
“A Fireball In The Night:
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Feb 22, 2006 “The German Reichstag Fire of 1933 and 9/11: Some Comparisons. A Revisit,
Part II”

Feb 16, 2006 “The German Reichstag Fire Of 1933 And 9/11: Some
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Feb 9, 2006
A Comment On The Democratic Alchemy,’
Appearing In The American Prospect”

Feb 2, 2006
Vengeance Is Mine, Saith The LORDJan 26, 2006 “George Bush And The Doctrine Of Original Intent”
Jan 19, 2006
“Let’s Hear It For Original Intent (Version 2)”
Jan 12, 2006
“A Quick Visit To Mexico”
Jan 5, 2006
“Why The Patriot Act, Redux: Fascism In The Here And Now, Cont.”
Dec 22, 2005 “Why The Patriot Act, Redux: Fascism In The Here And Now”
Dec 15, 2005 “An Iraq Exit Proposal”
Dec 10, 2005 “Exiting Iraq, The Georgite Way”
Dec 1, 2005 The Future Of The Democratic Party, VIII:
A Politically Viable Progressive Position On The War”
Nov 25, 2005 “The Future Of The Democratic Party, VII: ‘The Ten Commitments’”
Nov 17, 2005
The Future Of The Democratic Party, VI: An Organizing Proposal For Progressives”
Nov 10, 2005
“The Future Of The Democratic Party, V:
There Is No Middle Ground”

Nov 3, 2005
“On The (Possible) Indictments.”Oct 27, 2005 “The Future of the Democratic Party, IV:
Bush, Bennett, Miers, and the DLC.”

Oct 20, 2005 “The Future Of The Democratic Party, III:
First Thoughts On Dealing With The DLC.”

Oct 13, 2005
“The Future Of The Democratic Party, II: On The Republicans”
Oct 6, 2005
“The Future Of The Democratic Party, I”Sept 29, 2005 “The Bush Flood, And The Georgites: New Orleans, III”
Sept 22, 2005
“On The Great New Orleans Flood Of 2005, II”
Sept 15, 2005 “On The Great New Orleans Bush Flood Of 2005, I”
Sept 8, 2005
“Let’s Hear It For Original Intent”
Sept 1, 2005 “An Iraq Solution”
Aug 25,2005 “Some Thoughts On The Atomic Bombing Of Japan”
Aug 18, 2005 “Why God Sent Us George W. Bush”

Aug 12, 2005 “John Bolton And The Nuclear Option II”
Aug 5, 2005 “The Significance Of The Karl Rove Speech”
July 28, 2005 “Iran Nukes, Revisited”
(Expanded Edition)

July 21, 2005 “Iran Nukes, Revisited”
July 14, 2005 “The Dick Durbin Disaster” A Follow Up
July 7, 2005
The Dick Durban Disaster”June 23, 2005 Why All Of This Repression Abroad?”
June 16, 2005
Not Very Intelligent Design”
June 8,2005
“Pat Buchanan’s “What If, “III?”
June 2, 2005
Pat Buchanan’s ‘What If,’ II?”May 26, 2005 “Pat Buchanan’s ‘What If?'”
May 18, 2005 The Schiavo Case, V: The Attack On Science”
May 12, 2005 “Possible Explanations For Bush-Behavior On And Around 9/11″
May 5, 2005 “Bill Frist’s Declaration Of War”
April 28, 2005 “The Schiavo Case, IV: The Definitions Of Life And Death”
April 24, 2005
“The Schiavo Case, III: Further Legal Considerations And Their Political Implications”
April 14, 2005 “The Schiavo Case, II: William Bennett And The Beginning Of The End Of The Separation Of Powers”
April 7, 2005 “The Schiavo Case And The Locus Of The ‘Police Power'”
March 31, 2005 “John Bolton And The Nuclear Option”
March 22, 2005 Of “Moolahs,” Putin and Bush
March 17, 2005
Georgite “Freedom And Democracy”
March 10, 2005 “We Won’t Have To Worry Any More”
March 3, 2005 “Iranian Nukes”
February 24, 2005 “Going Nuclear In Iran”
February 16, 2005 “The Georgite Social Security Scam: Bases For Suspicion”
February 10, 2005 “The Georgite Version of ‘Freedom and Democracy’ ”

“The Coming 2nd Civil War (Unless),” No. 6

Feb 3, 2005 “WMD Discovered — In Washington” Jan 27, 2005 “Comparing George W. Bush And Adolf Hitler”
Jan 18, 2005 “The Bush Second Inaugural: A Preview” “The Coming 2nd Civil War
(Unless),” No. 5

Jan 13, 2005 “The Georgite Concept of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law”
Jan 6, 2005 “The ‘Unless’ Of The ‘Coming Second Civil War’ Series; Part II”
Dec 30, 2004 “The ‘Unless’ of the ‘Coming Second Civil War’ Series, Part I”
Dec 23, 2004 “The Real Meaning Of The ‘Faith-Based Presidency;’ Part II”
Dec 15, 2004 “The Coming Second Civil War (Unless)”
Dec 9, 2004 “The Real Meaning Of The ‘Faith-Based Presidency’ ”
Oct 28, 2004 Why The Patriot Act?”
Oct. 21, 2004 “The Cheneys’ Daughter Flap”
Oct 14, 2004 “George Bush’s America”
Oct 7, 2004 “The Debate”
Sept 30, 2004 “Four 800 Lb. Gorillas In The Campaign Room”
Sept 23, 2004 “Fixing The Kerry Campaign, 9/15/2004”
Sept 16, 2004 “Lessons From Japan. Part II: Successful Occupations”
Sept 9, 2004 Thoughts On the Third Anniversary of the Tragedy of 9/11/2001″
Sept 2, 2004 “Lessons From Japan, Part 1”
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August 18, 2004 “The Best Of Dr. Jonas”
August 12, 2004 “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign, VI”
August 5,2004 “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign, V”July 29, 2004 “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign, IV”
July 22, 2004 “Some Thoughts For and About The Kerry Campaign III”
July 15, 2004 “Some Thoughts For And About The Kerry Campaign II”
July 7, 2004 “Some Thoughts For And About The Kerry Campaign,I”
July 1, 2004 “Counsel To The President”
June 24, 2004 “ ’You Know me Al:’ On the German Reichstag Fire of Feb. 27, 1933
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June 17, 2004 “ ‘The Ralph Nader Problem’ — A Re-run plus”
June 10, 2004 “Ronald Reagan’s Legacy”
June 3, 2004 “’You Know Me Al:’ On The Reichstag Fire Of Feb. 27, 1933 And The
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May 27, 2004 “On Fascism — And The Georgites”
May 20, 2004 “On John Ashcroft — And Jefferson Davis”
May 13, 2004 “Karl Rove’s Personal Political Notebook”
May 6, 2004 “Possible Explanations For Bush Behavior And 9/11”
April 29, 2004 “On George Bush and Religion, Part 2
April 22, 2004 “What Condi Rice Might Have Said”
April 8, 2004 “On George Bush And Religion”
April 1, 2004 “Some Political Thoughts For Senator Kerry”
March 25, 2004 “Brief Essays”
March 16, 2004 “You Know Me Al: The Iraq War — So What Was It About, Anyway?
March 11, 2004 “A Word (Or Two) On Ralph Nader”
March 4, 2004 “A Firebell In The Night”
February 27, 2004 “On Doctor Dean”

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