Sunday, January 06, 2008

responses to Russ Gilfix re Jim Himes

Hi Impeachment people and Greens,
There are two responses to Russ Gilfix's message of January 2 here.
The first, a short one, is from Phyllis Mason. The second, long one,
is from me.

1) Dear Mr. Gilfix:

I have read your exhaustive complaint to Richard Duffee with regard to
his running for office in opposition to Mr. Himes. Mr. Himes may be an
excellent candidate for office in many respects, but to me, anyone who
ignores the matter of impeachment abdicates responsibility and is,
therefore, disqualified.

We have a majority in our present government who is doing just that. We
have the tools. We have the laws. We don't use them. We are a rogue
nation. Anything goes--unless we put a stop to it. We must. We must
not put the cart before the horse with other issues. I want to be proud
to be an American again. I am ashamed now. Impeachment is so vital
(and overdue) that it overshadows every other issue. The elephant in
the living room. We dance around it. I support the impeachment candidate.

Phyllis Mason

2) Russ, et al.,
I address you as you address me because I believe in the basic
equality of persons. We're all mortals and we all suffer, so the
distinctions between us are relatively superficial. I know no other
basic belief that will support democratic action.

You have enlightened me on how a financial advisor views politics.

On December 28 you wrote to the DFA, "As some of you know I have moved
my investment portfolios to a company of my own earlier this year
(wish me luck over today and Monday as I am on the verge of a possible
5th straight year of exceeding 20% growth in the Growth version of my
portfolios). This has impacted my available time for DFA."

When I read that, I thought you were about to say, "Now that I have
more money than I need, I can afford to limit my time doing business
and increase my time working for DFA." But instead you said you no
longer had time for DFA and so a new president should be elected.
Curious. If financial security doesn't give one the leisure for public
life, but instead entraps one in seeking even more money, when DOES
the opportunity for public life arise?

Now you tell me,
"Richard et al,

"In opening let me first clarify that I am an independent, not a
member of the Democratic Party. Typically I register with a party
prior to a primary and then change my registration back to independent
after the general election."

I suppose this is how a financial advisor thinks one should relate to
politics. Your sentence does not really imply that you are not a
Democrat. It implies that you are kind of Democratic outlier or
flanker—you want to be able to affect Democratic politics without
being committed to the party. You could say you are BOTH a Democrat
AND an Independent or that you are NEITHER, or that you're a
fair-weather Democrat, in that you stay in the Democratic Party long
enough to get maximum return on the investment of your time, but you
are not in a position to claim that you are not a Democrat. I'd say
you are an opportunistic Democrat, that you want the power to choose
Democratic candidates.

"MY suggestion that the Green Party (and as local Chairperson for DFA
my suggestion to members of DFA who may be members of the Green Party
or work with members of the Green Party) consider endorsing Jim Himes
has NOTHING to do with the Democratic Party and it has NOTHING to do
with politics as usual."

You seem to be thinking about the Green Party too as if you were doing
financial advising. You may not want to get into it, but you know what
is best for it. I suspect that your suggestion has nothing to do with
Democrats or politics as usual is disingenuous. If you think Green
endorsement of Jim Himes has nothing to do with the Democratic Party,
why is Jim Himes running as a Democrat, why do you change your
registration to "Democrat" in order to vote in primaries, and why was
DFA started by a Democrat? And what is the feature that has nothing to
do with politics as usual? Jumping in and out of parties? Knowing what
is best for other parties?

You know the Green Party is about to have its nominating convention.
Are you saying you know what is best for the Green Party, or for the
country, or world? If you are saying you know what is best for the
Green Party, why don't you join it? If you are saying you know what is
best for the country, do you believe that people should be able to
form parties to represent what they think is best, or do you think the
Greens should operate as a branch of the Democratic Party and should
just endorse Democratic candidates?

"Richard, you confuse a person, Jim Himes, with the Democratic Party."

Jim Himes is running as a Democrat. If he wanted to run as a person,
he'd run as an Independent. I think it likely that he runs as a
Democrat because he believes in a number of positions of the
Democrats, because he associates with Democrats, solicits funds from
them, and believes he has a better chance of being elected as a
Democrat than as an Independent or as a member of a smaller party.
Those ARE marks of being a Democrat, aren't they?

"What it does have to do with is that, in my own personal opinion and
with all due respect, Jim Himes is a far better representative of
progressive values than yourself, a far better candidate to bring
ethics and practicality to bear on all the important issues of the

This is presumptuous of you, Russ. You have talked to me a total of
less than 15 minutes and only on one issue.

What are "progressive values"? I know what the "10 Key Values of the
Green Party" are and I subscribe to them in the exactly the senses and
with the provisos I posted on my website in 2006. But I have never
seen a list of "progressive values." I have no idea why you believe
you know enough about me to judge that I am a poorer representative of
them than Jim Himes is.

From early childhood I heard Martin Luther King, Sr. speak three times
a year at the Germantown Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. His son
started speaking there twice a year when I was 12. I started going to
demonstrations in Washington when I was 14. I led a Nuclear Freeze
group and was the research person for the Alliance to Close Indian
Point. I taught in prisons, a detention centers for delinquents, and
the South Bronx. I went to law school to become a legal services
attorney and worked with homeless families. I studied international
law under the legal staff of the UN teaching at Pace Law School and
compiled a bibliography of the International Law of Peace that is used
in UN training sessions. I taught Law and Poverty, the Philosophy of
Law, and Human Rights Law in India. I co-founded the American-Iranian
Friendship Committee in 2004 when I foresaw that Cheney would try to
attack Iran. You'll find a lot more on my resume. Don't these actions
represent progressive values?

"I base my backing of Mr. Himes via the same approach I always take:
1. my perception of their ethics
2. my perception of how well they can translate an ethical, values
based approach (which happily includes the Constitution and should not
be confused with the purely rhetorical use of the word "values" by
many conservatives) into policy
3. my perception of their ability to use their experience, skills and
intelligence to identify problems and solutions
4. my perception of their ability to be effective in achieving the
goals we are electing them to achieve"
It's your ability to apply your approach that I find lacking. You
might know Mr. Himes better than you know me, but you do not know me
well enough to make the judgment you are trying to make.
"While I agree that the incumbent President and VP should be impeached
what we need is an approach that will actually help bring ethics and
the rule of law to government."

You're equivocating on the first point. If you agree that Bush and
Cheney should be impeached, why aren't you advocating their
impeachment? If you want to bring ethics and the rule of law to
government, the first thing you need to do is to say what you mean and
mean what you say. You SAY Bush and Cheney should be impeached, but
everything else you say implies you don't MEAN it.

I put impeachment first because I believe it is impossible for us
return to the rule of law if we can't even agree that violating it was
wrong. If we do not impeach, future presidents have every reason to
believe that they too are free to violate the law, the Constitution,
and their own oaths of office.

The powers that Bush and Cheney have unconstitutionally given
themselves remain in the toolbox of the executive until they are
removed. The executive can now disappear people, fly us to other
countries, rob our houses, tap our phones, read our emails, open our
mail, incarcerate us, torture us, use the National Guard as a federal
force against the will of state governors, put us in the 400,000
places they have built in detention centers. S. 1959, the House
version of which has already been passed by a 404-6 vote, allows us to
be incarcerated for thought crimes. Meanwhile, Congress has given up
its power to declare war. We violate International Law and Article 6
of the Constitution at will. The President stacks the courts on the
one hand and blocks the power of both the courts and Congress to
investigate on the other. The Vice-President claims to be a separate
branch of government not subject to subpoenas. Private mercenaries,
Blackwater, can murder and kidnap people with impunity. Huge profits
flow to corporations closely tied to Bush and Cheney. Don't you
understand that all of this together constitutes fascism?

Russ, you don't seem to realize that the entire apparatus of a police
state is already in place, that all of its features have already been
used and tested. The reason the 15 minutes you talked to me were
unpleasant for you is that you haven't this in. The fastest remedy I
know is reading Naomi Wolf's "The End of America." I don't find her
particularly likeable because she writes and talks as if she
discovered something other people don't know. But she is a Rhodes
Scholar and her scholarship is correct: every bit of information she
brings to bear on her argument is true and relevant to what she claims
it is relevant to. And her conclusion is true: we are now living in a
police state. The book is just 155 pages and costs just $13.95. You
can read her 10 Easy Steps to Fascism, which first appeared in The
Guardian, at,,2064157,00.html. You can
watch her on YouTube at and a
number of other sites.

"Mr. Himes recognizes that there are many critical issues of political
ethics that need addressing. The abuses by lobbyists, the abuses
against voting rights, the counting of votes, the guilt of both major
parties in perpetrating dirty tricks during campaigns and elections
are just for starters."

Of course there are. But all these issues are not on a par. Most do
not sink so far as to destroy the Constitution.

"While I do not claim you would disagree, you have from the beginning
made impeachment an issue that eclipses all others to a point where no
other issue warrants your consideration."

The other issues have had my attention for many years. I get few
occasions to speak. I cannot afford to waste what little speaking time
I get on lesser issues when the issues that have turned us into a
police state are not being addressed. If you want to know about other
kinds of issues that interest me, I suggest you read some of the
poetry and essays I've been writing for the last 45 years.

"Worse, you have more than once stated during a discussion in my
presence that no other issue warrants "our" consideration till this
one is resolved."

That's not what I said. What I said is that other issues CANNOT be
resolved without impeachment. Bush and Cheney have made it perfectly
clear that they will not get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, will not be
blocked from attacking Iran, will not allow unconstitutional laws like
the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act to be rescinded, and will
not allow increases in domestic spending so long as they are in

"As a citizen or an activist I thank you for your efforts in
attempting to make this a meaningful issue."

That doesn't sound sincere to me, Russ. Why are you thinking me for
doing something you don't agree with?

"However, as a legislator, especially one that would take office after
the current administration has left Washington, the tone of your
approach and your use of blinders to all other issues actually makes
convincing the public, the politicians and the media considerably more

From what have you concluded that? You have heard me speak in public
twice, both times at DFA, each time for 5 minutes or less. I do not
believe that either time that I damaged the case for impeachment.

"Even as you bring intelligent understanding of the various aspects of
impeachment, by being so dogmatic, by displaying public rage on such a
regular basis as to leave one unsure as to whether you are dirven by
rage alone, you give reason for others to turn their minds off to the
issue and so in a twist of irony play a sort of "dirty tricks" role
effectively making it easier for supporters of the President and VP.

Even Thomas Aquinas argued that unreasoning patience in the face of
injustice is a sign of collusion with injustice. You cannot conclude
that because I am insistent on one point I am insistent on all. Nor
can you blame me for other people's thoughtlessness, carelessness, or
dishonesty. If I had more time to argue my case I could do it with
less urgency. That's why I'm running.

"So, while you give an unsympathetic face (in your public
presentation) to the issue of impeachment and so damage that cause…"

As I've said, I do not believe your first clause. I think probably you
are speaking from hearsay, and I have my guesses about who said it and

"…you do not acknowledge or lay out goals and a road map on other
truly critical issues of ethics and law even as democracy in America
is under siege."

You're claiming knowledge you don't have. There were 170,000 words on
my website in 2006 and there will be more in 2008. For the debates I
prepared arguments on 40 issues. On my fliers there were 9 issues
ranked in order of importance.

"Mr. Himes not only speaks to these issues, as well as impeachment,
but he gives some positive and intelligent perspectives to approaches
and solutions."

Mr Himes is not trying to get you to understand what you don't want to
understand. He's acting as if the world really is what you want to
believe it is. The basic fact I am trying to get you to understand is
that we no longer live in a republic. We live in an empire. Since the
1940's our republic has been hollowed out from the inside by the
demands of ruling an empire. We are now about to lose our last chance
to retrieve the republic. If we fail to impeach, we will have lost it.

Instead of impeaching and trying Bush and Cheney, we are allowing them
to rule as emperors just as, instead of trying Caesar for the capital
crime of bringing the Legions into Rome, the Senate crowned him. The
reason is the same: the Roman Senate and the US Congress both know
that it is impossible for a Republic to rule an empire. An empire
rules people against their consent, and so must resort to massive
secrecy, fraud, and violence. A republic rules people with their
consent and so must maintain minimum standards of openness, honesty,
and tolerance. Just as the Roman patricians had become financially
dependent on tribute from the empire, US corporations and shareholders
are financially dependent on the world the US dominate militarily. We
use the US military as the enforcement arm of an extortion racket
designed to intimidate poor countries into running their economies for
their own needs, and instead to sell their labor and resources to us
in a bargain basement sale because we have forced the devaluation of
their currencies. We cannot retrieve our republic without giving up
our imperial ambitions.

The guilt of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party leadership
in eroding American democracy is a major reason I remain an
independent voter. While we are in some general agreement regarding
the Democratic Party there are many, such as Jim Himes and such as DFA
as an organization, who have not gone along and have stood up against

I'll have to see evidence for that. When did Jim Himes stand up to the
Democratic Party? When did DFA? How much "standing up" did each do?
Did either try to get the Democratic State Central Committee to vote
for impeachment in September? If as you say above, "While I agree that
the incumbent President and VP should be impeached…" why didn't you or
he or DFA try to persuade the 72 DSCC members to vote for Jim Maloney
and Myrna Watanabe's resolution for impeachment? How come the only DFA
member I saw get involved in that was Sal Liccione? There might have
been a couple of others—perhaps David Stevenson or the Winnick's or
the Kimmich's--but where were the rest of you when it counted?

"I do not see much difference on the issues except that again Mr.
Himes approach and character make him a much more effective person on
these hugely important issues."

You couldn't say this if you'd read my website last year or listened
to me debate. First, I do not believe Jim Himes has articulated a
position on setting currency value by purchasing power parity value.
Next, I'm not aware that he wants to shut down our military bases in
other countries. Third, I'm not aware that he wants us to strictly
adhere to our international obligations under all of our
treaties—including our obligations to eliminate our nuclear stockpile.
Fourth, I'm not aware that Mr. Himes believes that the Democratic
limitations on automobile emissions are far too little too late—as I
do. So please fill me in on all the things you believe Jim Himes and I
agree about. I like Jim Himes. But he hasn't said anything that would
make me say, "Gee, I guess I can rejoin the Democrats now. There's no
need for a Green Party." In particular, he has not made ANY commitment
even in the DIRECTION of impeachment.

I don't want to attack Jim Himes. I want to attack Shays. But the fact
that I don't want to attack Jim Himes doesn't mean that I share so
many of his beliefs that I think he'll say and do everything the
Greens and I want to say and do.

I think you are short-sighted not to perceive that my running will
help Jim Himes more than it will hurt him, whether he adopts
impeachment positions or not. You're acting as if this is going to be
a three-way race and I'll be getting votes only from people who would
otherwise vote for Jim Himes. That's untrue. The Libertarians will be
in the race, and they will be drawing off votes from Shays' right
flank while I'm drawing off some from his left flank. Some votes may
move from the Democrats to me, but others, because of me, will move
from Shays to Himes as well as to me. And my presence in the debates
will increase the time that leftish sort of issues get aired. Without
me, Phil Maymin will be increasing the time that Republican sort of
issues get aired, and Jim Himes will be left with one third of the
time to confront two opponents.

While both you and Mr. Himes show qualities of intellect, Mr. Himes
shows it through more than a rote understanding of law."

A rote understanding of law? I'm a lawyer, Mr. Himes isn't. I've
taught law. He hasn't. I've taught the Philosophy of Law. He hasn't. I
spent five years studying philosophy. He hasn't. I've published
articles on law and the philosophy of law. Has he? You're making this
up out of whole cloth, Russ.

"He demonstrates depth of understanding, of dealing with issues where
conflicting rights or conflicting goals test the ability to assess and
develop solutions."

That's good. But if I'm no good at this myself, I wonder why, in 1988,
I got the American Jurisprudence Award in Administrative Law.

"He does it without compromising his ethics and without alientating others."

Whether he alienates others you might know, but I would think that
whether he ever compromises his ethics is not really something you are
in a good position to know. I'd need to talk to him a long time to be
able to think I knew that.
I occasionally alienate some people. The world is not full of people
who agree. Some people have serious disagreements because they have
conflicting interests. I feel a moral obligation to be on the side of
people who traditionally get short-changed. Our country has lots of
institutionalized hypocrisies I think should be pointed out to people
who benefit from them. I'm sorry to hear that Jim Himes never
alienates anyone. If that is true, I suspect he is unwilling to offend
people who have unjust power, and so I wouldn't want him to represent
me or people I love.

"Your intellect has not been publicly illustrative of an ability to
find solutions or avenues to creating consensus or agreement."

I don't think you know about my intellect. I have more than enough
university credits to go from high school to a PhD twice. I think the
problem is that you assume you know as much or more than I do about
what you have talked to me about, and so you haven't realized that
that you should be taking what I say more seriously than you do.
Because you underestimate me, you think you know things about me that
you don't know.

"Being "right" even with all the legal understanding you articualte
does not overcome the alienating qualities of your approach."

Russ, I'm not sad to have alienated you. You appear to believe you
should be able to get 20% on your investments, as if that increment
were the result of your own intelligence rather than the labor of the
people who create that value, or persuading customers to pay more for
the goods they buy than the goods are worth. You appear to think that
manipulating money is actual labor. You advocate jumping in and out
of organizations without any commitment to them. You defy the Law of
Diminishing Returns, which states that the actual benefit derived from
expenditures is inversely proportional to the income level of the
expenditure. Consequently you squander on yourself resources that
other people need to stay alive. You appear to think you should be
able to make important decisions for yourself and others on the basis
of paltry and faulty information. From what you write, I believe you
are an arrogant man, Russ, so I don't mind alienating you.

While it is not unusual for people to vote for the least of two evils
or to vote for a candidate as a way of making a statement, this race
actually has a candidate that is worth voting for. Not because he
belongs to any particular party but because he appears to have all the
key ingredients to make a truly strong, truly good legislator. Voting
for Mr. Himes does everything we hope to when we, as progressives,
cast our votes. We make a statement and we elect a person we will want
to reelect. It is rare to find someone this strong, to find someone
who, finally, truly measures up."

These are vague generalities, Russ. I don't know if they are true or
not. But you're jumping the gun. What you are talking about is a Green
nominating convention, and Mr. Himes is not a Green. After the Greens
decide what they want in the way of a congressional candidate, then
it's time to argue that Mr. Himes is better than the Green candidate.
For that matter, you'll need to argue that he is better than the other
Democratic candidates too.

The very name the Green Party chose when it first organized indicates
that it has some serious concerns on issues affecting the entire
planet. Jim Himes has been of like mind on most if not all of these
issues as can be seen in the actions of his daily life as wel as in
his political positions. Mr. Himes is far better at furthering those
causes that helped to bring together people who in good conscience
could not remain silent in the face of the enormity of those

Explain to me how you know that Jim Himes is a better for the Greens
on environmental and ecological issues than I am. My own interest in
marine biology began when I started working in the Academy of Natural
Sciences in Philadelphia. I worked there after school and on weekends
from the age of 7 to 14; the curator paid me in shells to do the 19th
century tasks of taxonomy modern researchers no longer do. I earned
101 credits in science and am an 8-credit senior paper short of a
degree in environmental science from SUNY at Purchase. I have
permanent New York teaching certifications for chemistry, biology,
earth science, and general science. My record on environmental issues
goes back 27 years, to 1981, when I began protesting the release of
10,000 gallons of radioactive water from Indian Point. I attended my
first meeting of the Green Party in 1983. I earned a certificate in
Environmental Law from Pace Law School; that was 26 graduate credits
of work and included a year under Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. working for
the Hudson River Fisherman's Association suing to protect the Hudson
River. I did not own a car from 1996 until August, 2004—when my family
insisted I get one because public transportation here is so much worse
than it is in the India they were accustomed to.

"Richard, my response concludes with a request that you yourself
become familiar with Jim Himes as a candidate."

I've talked to him in person twice and in public once. I've emailed
him and responded to all his emails. He hasn't answered my last
personal email or my open letter email. I've looked at his website. I
have invited him to send whatever he wants through me to everyone I
send emails to. I've invited him to speak at the Green Party
nominating convention on the 13th. I will read anything he wants me to
read up to 1000 pages. I will answer whatever he wants me to. The ball
is in his court.

"If you do so beofre the Green Party makes its decision you may find
that you will end up agreeing with me that Jim Himes is an unusually
good candidate."

I will believe he is a good candidate when he takes the action his
oath of office will obligate him to take: to impeach those who commit
"high crimes and misdemeanors, treason, or bribery." How can I call a
candidate "unusually good" when he hasn't even shown he will fulfill
the MINIMUM criteria—his oath of office?

Three months ago I sent Jim Himes a list of 9 actions I consider
consistent with the intention to impeach. He hasn't responded. If he
wins, he can co-sponsor a bill to impeach on January 3, 2009, giving
him 17 days to impeach. If the in-coming representatives are serious
about impeachment, they can accomplish it in that time. Whether they
accomplish it or not, they can advocate prosecution. Whether the
prosecute in US courts or not, the new Congress can give the
International Criminal Court jurisdiction and let it prosecute. In the
meantime, the new Congress can rescind every unconstitutional law the
Congress has passed since January, 2001. It can retrieve its power to
make war from executive hands. It can close Guantanamo Bay—both the
prison and the military base. It can close all its rendition
operations. It can close the 400,000 units of detention centers it set
up for a "national emergency."

I can go on for some time on the subject, Russ. You seem to think
impeachment is a peripheral issue because you don't seem to realize
how far fascism has eaten into this country.

I pledge my allegiance to a republic, not an empire, and I'm serious
about it. It's not trivial. So long as Jim Himes acts as if it is
trivial, I can't support him.

"It is my hope that you may even decide to back his candidacy both
within the Green Party and in the general election."

I've made my terms clear from the beginning.

"Please note that there is nothing in my reason or reasonings that
compels anyone to vote "Democrat"."

I don't see that. You are arguing for a Democrat who gets funds,
connections, and support from the Democrats. That will only cease to
be true if Jim Himes announces he is an Independent. You pretend to
know what is best for the Greens and the Democrats without committing

Russ, I've answered everything you have said to me. Please feel free
to answer everything I have said to you.

Hope to hear from you,
Richard Duffee