Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Do you want to take it for a test ride?

Used Car Salesman

Buyer: Hi, I'm looking for a car that is less than three years old, has low mileage and is economical.

Used Car Salesman: Oh. Hi there. What about this one? A real beauty, isn't she?

Buyer: Well...

Used Car Salesman: Do you want to take her for a test ride?

Buyer: How old is it?

Used Car Salesman: It's only four years old!

Buyer: And what's the mileage?

Used Car Salesman: let's see, about 128,000 miles.

Buyer: That's quite a bit for a car that's only four years old!

Used Car Salesman: Well, once you're in the driver's seat, you'll fall in love with her. Go on! Get in!

Buyer: It's not really what I was looking for.

Used Car Salesman: It's a sports car! It has racing stripes! And a spoiler!

Buyer: I didn't really want a sports car...

Used Car Salesman: Chicks dig sports cars! You want to meet girls, don't you?

Buyer: Yes, but...

Used Car Salesman: It's a real bargain!

Buyer: Uh. Well, it's a little out of my price range, plus the seats covers are little torn.

Used Car Salesman: No problem, I can see that you are really interested in this car! Hey, I might be able to talk the manager into lowering the price another couple of hundred dollars, because of the seats...

The Department of DefenceThe used car salesman in this example has clearly taken the initiative in this conversation. The customer has asked for a car that is economical, has low mileage is less than three years old.

The salesman has instead directed him to a car that is older than three years old, has high mileage and is not economical. As an incentive for these changes in the customer's criteria, the salesman has stated that it is a real beauty, and has racing stripes and a spoiler.

The salesman has effectively ignored the customers criteria, and instead presented an argument for a completely different kind of car than the customer had intended to buy. Perhaps the car is indeed a bargain, and perhaps racing stripes and a spoiler will help the customer meet girls, but that was not his original intent. In my opinion, it is usually a good idea to suspect an argument that refuses to comply within the logical references that you have set for it.

Perhaps the person you are talking to can provide very compelling evidence that your original ideas about a subject are wrong. In which case you should abandon your original assumptions and become convinced of the new information that they have provided. The evidence must be compelling though. I won't change my opinion on a subject just because the other person sounds like they speak from authority. I want to hear the facts, and how they relate to my original assumption.

I have written about my belief that although I would like to see the president impeached [ 2 ], I just don't think that it is a matter to be taken lightly, and should only be attempted if there is some degree of reassurance that the endeavor will meet with success. I feel that a failed impeachment will only serve as "evidence" to the Republican's and the media that Bush is innocent of his crimes.

DCup [ 2 ], Phydeaux Speaks and most recently Alicia Morgan of Last Left Turn Before Hooterville have all stated that they disagree with me, and for their own reasons. They are certainly entitled to their own opinions, but I still remain unconvinced despite their words. Alicia Morgan specifically directed me to read her latest post, and so I respond to it below. (Just a note, when I last checked, the blog "Last Left Turn Before Hooterville" seems to crash IE6. I've tried it on two computers. It seems to work fine in Firefox.)

First, let me point out that like the customer buying a car, I have criteria for what I would consider to be necessary to start impeachment proceedings.

(1) What will you use as evidence to start the proceeding? Explain exactly what the evidence is, and why the White House can't refute it. Saying that it exists because some impeachment website says so is a lot different than actually pointing to said evidence.

Remember, the evidence has to be at good enough that simple majority of the House of Representatives don't laugh in your face. The evidence has to be so good that the Republicans in the senate are unable to back down from it. Remember Monica Lewinsky's blue dress? That dress was the only thing that turned that impeachment hearing into a shooting war. If you don't have bullets, the gun is useless.

(2) Then you have to explain how to get a two-thirds majority of the senate to vote for it. Explain exactly what you mean in relation to recent voting habits of the Republicans in the senate. DCup posted this great graph:

Obstruction Table

Remember, if you start impeachment proceeding and lose, you won't get a second chance. Also, you will only validate any argument presented by the Republicans that the president is innocent.

(3) Remember that Chief Justice John Roberts and Vice President Dick Cheney will preside at any impeachment hearing. Explain why this will not complicate matters.

Bear in mind that without explaining the first two points, your argument consists of an imaginary event that you state will take place based on phantom evidence that you have not discussed.

The major points brought up by Alicia Morgan are as follows, but let me first say that this is a response to her post, and is in no way a reflection on my feelings towards her. I may disagree with her, but I enjoy the chance to voice my opinion in a free and open atmosphere and in no way say the following in a derogatory way, as I have only the greatest respect for her.

Morgan: "that we must attempt it nonetheless, for the long-term health of our Constitution."

Zaius: How is a failed attempt to impeach the president going to help the "long-term health of our Constitution" exactly? Without further definition of this point, it merely sounds like a slogan. In my opinion, a failed impeachment will only strengthen the president and the GOP, not weaken him.

Morgan: "What could be more of an impeachable offense than lying our country into war? If that is not an impeachable offense, then what is?"

Zaius: OK, so your argument is that politicians that lie should be impeached. (that is kind of hard say with a straight face!) First you have to prove that they have lied, and second you have to a two-thirds majority in the senate to impeach. this statement does little to fulfill those points.

Morgan: "If the President (and if Bush) gets away with this without a mark, a precedent is set that may never be undone. Precedent is an onerous burden to overcome, even if accidental. Especially if accidental."

Zaius: All the more reason to be sure that the issue is resolved correctly in the first place. Measure twice, cut once.

Morgan: "Even if something is not codified into law originally, precedent can make it so."

Zaius: That statement and the example provided are kind of broad. I don't think I want to go there without some clarification.

Morgan: "We as a democracy cannot afford to let this stand without challenge."

Zaius: The president is being challenged every day. Your argument is either it is done your way (Impeachment right now despite the consequences!) or nothing is being done at all. (It will "stand without challenge.") I don't see that as a valid. You present the subject as an either/or statement, when in fact it is more complicated than that.

Even within that framework, you have not defined your terms. I would say that it is a bad idea to lead an impeachment hearing right now knowing that it will fail, and weaken the Democrats and strengthen the Republicans. I would say that it is a better idea to wait and see if we can sway 16 or so senators later. Their resolve already appears to be eroding.

Morgan: "We seem to be approaching this as if we should only take action if we are assured of a successful outcome. I believe we should take action regardless of whether we are guaranteed success, simply because it's right."

Zaius: Once again, you argument is either/or. If you look at the graph that DCup has provided, it is clear that any attempt right now would be suicide. Your argument must then contain an explanation as to why suicide is a good idea. You cannot really argue that it has even a slim chance of winning at this time.

Let me say again, I argue that a failed impeachment will only strengthen the president and the GOP, not weaken them.

And what will you use as evidence? Any trial is supposed to start with evidence, you are not supposed to find it along the way. That would be against the Constitution.

People don't win or lose trials because they are right or wrong. It's about the law. And in this case, it's about who is voting how in the senate.

Morgan: "Otherwise we are giving our tacit approval and support to what these criminals are doing to us and the rest of the world. We would be establishing a precedent that may be impossible to overcome."

Zaius: You are stating that unless we do it your way and impeach the president immediately, we are giving tacit approval of his actions. This is again an either/or statement. The president is being challenged by the Democratic congress on a daily basis. To say that Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi are in any way, shape or form giving tacit approval of the president is false in my opinion. It is insulting to degree. Can you provide evidence of your assertion? Saying it does not make it so.

Also, a failed impeachment attempt would indeed establish a precedent, but the wrong one. It would strengthen the Republicans. Remember that the Republicans failed to impeach Clinton in the Senate after a huge brouhaha and many months of wasted effort, and they had a larger majority than the Democrats do now. In the end, they did not get what they wanted, and looked like major idiots for their efforts. Clinton ended up being a figure of sympathy, and had a very positive public approval ratings when he left office.

Morgan: "Impeachment is all that's left."

Zaius: No, I don't think it is the only option. I do think it is the best option. But I do say that it is only an option if Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi can pull it off, if they can gain enough support in the senate. I think Pelosi could pass it in the house, but the odds are lot worse for Reid at this time.

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At Tue Jul 24, 09:12:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

It's not about actually "pulling it off." It's about letting them know that we will not put up with their crap anymore.

At Tue Jul 24, 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Splotchy said...

Nicely argued.

At Tue Jul 24, 11:11:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Dr. Monkerstein: I respectfully disagree. A failed impeachment (and if attempted right now, there is no doubt that it will fail) it will not tell the Republicans "that we will not put up with their crap anymore." It will send the opposite message. A failed impeachment will only be used as validation for their criminal actions. How could a failed impeachment have any other effect or send any other kind of message?

Splotchy: Thank you, sir!

At Tue Jul 24, 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

I agree that it's a matter not taken lightly. I think one of the major facts is that Cheney and Roberts will preside. Think the Rehnquist court acted in a partisan manner in the 2000 election? Just watch this bunch of hacks and flunkeys.

Part of me loves seeing more bad news for them every day as they twist in the wind.; What's agonizing, though, is that part of the bad news every day is more American deaths, and more Iraqis killed. The upshot-- as much as I'd love to see it, I'm not certain there are clear "smoking guns" for impeachment; it's like top mobsters-- they cover themselves with layers of underlings willing to do their dirty work and take the rap for them.

You're right in pointing out that impeachment is not the only option. The spillover from this disasterous administration has been the American middle class beginning to open their eyes. I suspect the next few elections, the Dems will make gains. They're doing the right thing-- they're going on the attack. If I weren't happily married already, I'd be stalking Nancy Pelosi. And god bless Harry Reid.

And hopefully there'll be some changes in American political culture; the elitists who say that there's no difference between the parties. We've been paying since 2000 for that belief among "Independents."

At Tue Jul 24, 08:20:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

I should add, great frickin' post!

At Tue Jul 24, 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Well, you know how those beltway types love the tit-for-tat? Can you imagine the bruhaha when President Ziaus starts galavanting around Washington with some Lesbian do-gooder on his arm? Or cruising up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in an open MG with Sandra Lou at his side ... the secret service doing their very best to keep the pace? Hmm, impeachment proceedings against Clinton, against W; my take is that the good doctor doesn't want to risk retaliation once he wins office by jumping on the impeachment bandwagon now.

At Wed Jul 25, 07:37:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Johnny Yen: Ha! I agree with everything you say! Right down to stalking Nancy Pelosi, and blessing Harry Reid! You are truly an ape among men, Johnny Yen! You are so going to be part of my administration!

And those that say that there is "no difference between the parties" have indeed found every bite of their own words more than a bit difficult to swallow at this point. I grow weary of those that feel like they are "sophisticated" because they eschew their own party depite all reason. Logical dialog about Democratic policies is a good thing, I don't always agree with the party's position on some subjects - and say so, but tearing down the democrats because it is somehow "elite" or "intellectual" is just shooting yourself in the foot.

Mark: I am offended, Sir! There is nothing untoward about my relationship with Sandra Lou! And how dare you call Ms. Gregarious a "do-gooder!"

At Wed Jul 25, 05:04:00 PM, Anonymous duros62 said...

Intellectually, of course, you're right. We don't have clear cut evidence, we don't have the votes, we don't have the courts or the Justice department. Impeachment now is not a good idea or a forgone conclusion and would only strengthen the 26%'ers.

Emotionally, I wanna see 'em swing for treason. Today. Next week at the latest.

2009 can't get here fast enough.

At Thu Jul 26, 02:23:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Indeed. There is nothing that I would like better than to see Bush and Cheney impeached. I keep hoping and praying that Reid and Pelosi find a way.

At Fri Aug 03, 07:43:00 PM, Blogger Alicia Morgan said...

I appreciate your arguments, and they are valid. I only have a few quibbles - for one, it is not merely the lying that I object to or find heinous. It is not possible to be in politics and not lie occasionally. To pretend otherwise is absurd. Otherwise I would have been on the impeachment bandwagon for Clinton.

What I find unforgivable and eminently impeachable is the lying to take us into war pre-emptively. We have always had a policy against pre-emptive aggression. Yes, I know we've done it before, but never on such a blatant scale. It's the lying about the need for war, rather than just the lying, that makes the difference for me.

And I am curious as to what options are left to us. Hearings?
Subpoenas? They laugh in our faces, snap their fingers under our noses, and ignore the law, refusing to even show up to say why they're not answering any questions.

And a failed impeachment would not set a precedent - that precedent has already been set by the Repubs.

By the way, it's so refreshing to have a real dialogue!


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