Saturday, December 15, 2007

Keith Johnston's message & Duffee reply

Hi, Impeachment and Green Folk:
I have invited anyone and everyone to debate the issue of impeachment
and related issues. On the Fairfield Green list, Keith Johnson has
stepped up to the plate. I answer below.

On Dec 15, 2007 1:45 PM, Keith Johnston <> wrote:

> I appreciate Richard Duffee's argument that "Constitutional issues are
> intrinsically the most important issues a
> government CAN face, so they should be confronted squarely." For our form
> of government to maintain long-term viability, and to retain (or regain) our
> position as a shining beacon of freedom for the world we cannot shy away
> from examining how our government's actions have impacted us, and whether or
> not these actions are consistent with our Constitution. It is by necessity
> a discussion that will be complex, and require more than bumper-sticker
> slogans.
> However I have a concern about an entire political platform being built
> around the most serious form of punishment/correction the Constitution
> provides for: impeachment.
> I have been, and remain a supporter of the argument that Bush and Cheney
> have committed impeachable offenses. It is a sad statement on the current
> Congress that they have been unwilling to explore this issue.
> But let's jump ahead to January, 2009. Bush will be out of office. A new
> President and administration will be assuming responsibility and power, and
> a new Congress will be sworn in to uphold the Constitution. There will be
> no one there for a Green candidate to impeach.
> I think that to run a Congressional campaign on a platform that emphasizes
> impeachment, however noble the reason, it will have a negative impact on the
> party, and do nothing to position the party for future races. The argument
> that the Constitutional issue must be faced squarely will be lost, and the
> party will be viewed as one that is only against things (in this case Bush),
> instead of one that is for something constructive.
> Take the recent Bridgeport mayoral election as an example. Chris Caruso and
> Bill Finch battled it out in the primary. Caruso had outlined several
> issues that I thought were positive and could help Bridgeport to move
> forward. Finch on the other hand outlined a more generic political position
> that seemed almost cookie-cutter in nature. For me it was Caruso, not
> Finch, who had more of a vision of Bridgeport could be. But I voted for
> Finch, as did the majority. Why? For me it was because Caruso was never
> able to articulate his vision. He couldn't get past that Bridgeport was
> corrupt, and that he needed to sweep city hall clean of all of the criminal
> and corrupt elements that were there.
> I was with Chris on that point. OK. Great, so we'll elect you and you do
> the house-cleaning. Now what? Let's hear more about your vision. What
> would he come back with? More points about how city hall was corrupt. That
> was his platform, and no matter how many other things he may have had to
> offer his platform was that city hall needed to be reformed. He came off as
> being against the status quo, rather than for a positive and constructive
> new city. His campaign was always about the negative.
> I suggest that the Green Party more carefully considers the current
> political landscape before running a pro-impeachment campaign. There are
> many Democrats who are frustrated by their party's lack of leadership in
> Washington. They are looking for leadership, they are looking for
> progressive's, and they are looking for a fix to our current political
> quagmire. In short, they are actively looking at third parties.
> The Green Party should view this as an opportunity to create a positive
> image of the party and its core values. Economic issues will be front and
> center of the campaign come January 2008, with Healthcare bridging the gaps
> between moral imperative, financial strain, and our basic quality of life.
> Green have a tradition of advocating for Universal Healthcare. The time is
> right to emphasize that point.
> What about Personal/Global Responsibility and Ecological Wisdom? Human
> activity has affected the environment in a negative way. As a country we
> have almost accepted the science behind global warming, but there are vocal
> minorities, especially in the media, that cast doubt on this at every
> opportunity. Greens should take the lead on this issue. The debate needs
> to shift from the validity of the science to a discussion of solutions,
> including answers to questions from those who doubt (Is eliminating our
> carbon output going to harm us? Are we going to be worse off with different
> energy technologies? The answer to both is no. But Greens need to expand
> on these points.)
> This constructive platform approach will be beneficial to the party in the
> long run. It will present it as a viable party with real solutions to real
> problems that people can relate to. It will be especially beneficial to
> future candidates as they run for local and state offices as voters will be
> able to see them not as representing the party that is only against
> something. Instead they will be from the party that stands for something.
> Keith Johnston

I answer:

Hi, Keith,
What statement made you believe that I had or advocated a one-issue
platform? A congressional candidate has to answer any question that
arises in debate. Last year I had written positions on about 40 issues
and my campaign flyer had 9. I used to teach the philosophy of law, so
I've had to study a lot of issues.

Everyone in public office takes an oath to defend the constitution
against domestic enemies. Consequently issues that bear on that oath
should determine whether an individual is qualified to hold office.
This is not true of other issues. When I say I will run on an
impeachment platform I mean that I regard impeachment a more important
issue than my own candidacy and than any other issue I can raise. I
believe the same is true of everyone else: under the circumstances,
any candidate who does not demand impeachment should be disqualified.
It is a mark of the deterioration of our govenment that one cannot
find universal assent to this proposition.

Next, when you jump to January, 2009, you apparently believe you are
jumping to one date. You are not. Congress convenes on January 3. The
President takes his or her oath on January 20. Bush and Cheney CAN be
impeached by the next Congress. It is a matter of political will.

Third, on January 21, 2009, there will be plenty of people to
prosecute. Bush and Cheney have not only committed high crimes and
misdemeanors, but thousands of counts of ordinary crimes. The Senate
will be in a position to ratify the Charter of the International
Criminal Court so that no one in the future can do with impunity what
Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and so many others have done. Congress
will be in a position to reclaim its war-making powers, which it never
should have given away to the President, who has no constitutional
claim to them. Congress will be in a position to repeal the Patriot
Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Violent Radicalization and
Homegrown Terrorism Act, the enabling legislation for Guantanamo, to
reconfirm FISA, to limit the powers of the CIA, NSA, and FBI, and on
and on. ALL of these issues are directly related to impeachment
because they will be FAR easier to accomplish if our legislators will
have sufficient integrity to admit that Bush and Cheney were wrong in
the first place. But if the equivocate on the basic issue,
impeachment, they are unlikely to restore the rule of law and

I disagree that arguing for impeachment will weaken the Green Party. I
believe the Democratic Party has weakened itself by failing to address
impeachment and that the Green Party has already strengthened itself
by taking impeachment on. The Green Party first voted for impeachment
in July, 2003, and made it a platform item in January, 2006. When I
ran in 2006 the strongest positive responses I got were always to the
issue of impeachment.

I think it is always dangerous to worry about appearances before one
worries about substance. You think that public perception of
impeachment will damage the Green Party. But public perception is
largely shaped by the corporate media. If we obey the corporate media,
we are lost forever. It is our job to speak the truth and help people
to understand it, not to throw up our hands because people have been
deceived and then deceive them in turn.

I am sorry you voted for Finch if you believed Caruso had the better
case. But I have no idea why you seem to believe that by criticizing
Caruso you are somehow criticizing me. If you have evidence that I
have no vision or cannot articulate one, I hope you'll tell me.

On my website last year I had an analysis and commentary on the 10 Key
Green Values. I share them--and with some competence. In law school I
earned a certificate in Environmental Law. I took 101 credits of
science and am one paper short of a BS in environmental science. I
trained for a year under Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., doing suits for the
Hudson River Fisherman's Association. For three years I was the
research person for the Alliance to Close Indian Point.

I believe thoroughly in universal health care--and have a personal
stake in it because I have no hearlth insurance. If you attended the
debates last year you would have seen me argue for universal health
care: though only one country has higher per capita income than we
have, 26 have greater longevity. UNICEF just found the US to be THE
worst developed country for children.

Our health care fiasco is just a small portion of what is most
fundamentally wrong with this country: of ALL developed countries, we
have THE greatest difference between the rich and the poor. 90% of the
country transfer have their wealth siphoned to the richest 10%. The
Law of Dimninishing Returns implies that any transfer from the poor to
the rich decreases the benefit of money while any transfer from the
rich to the poor increases its benefit. We live in defiance of this
well-known economic law, and we all suffer for it because are
resources are wasted on people who don't need them while those who do
need them to be happy and productive people are denied them.

You say you think these are the real issues and that they are
disconnected from impeachment. About the first you are completely
right, but about the second, completely wrong. The REASON we need
impeachment is that Bush and Cheney's crimes against the Constitution
have ALL been designed to increase the dominance of the rich over the
poor, abroad as well as at home. We have the crisis we have because
Bush is destroying the legal apparatus of republic to substitute
secretive, fraudulent, arbitrary, and violent executive power for the
openness, honesty, and tolerance necessary for a functioning republic.
To separate the country's structural issues from its substantive ones
is a serious mistake because neither can be understood without the

I hope you will consider my position.
Richard Duffee