How much more convincing do you need?

by Ogi Overman

Normally this would be my annual MerleFest column. Normally I would be trying to put into words the awe of seeing the three finest practitioners of their respective instruments on the face of the Earth – Tony Rice on guitar, Bela Fleck on banjo and Jerry Douglas on dobro – on stage at the same time; of the angelic, chill bump-inducing quality of Alison Krauss’ voice; of the hypnotic thrill of being among the herd with Donna the Buffalo under the big tent at the Dance Stage; of the realization that our own Carolina Chocolate Drops produced the biggest buzz around the grounds since the Rankin Family’s debut some 13 years ago.

Normally I would be attempting to wax poetic about this being my annual spiritual retreat to the place where people live forever, where disparate cultures rub up against one another without colliding, where strangers embrace one another under the universal umbrella of music played passionately and well.

But these, brothers and sisters, are not normal times. Sadly, tragically, these are the most abnormal of times. When founding father Thomas Paine penned, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” his words were meant as a justification for the American Revolution, but taken in today’s context they could well justify another revolution, this one from within the very governmental form that he espoused. In today’s context, the tyranny is not from Britain or from any other outside force, but from within.

Pogo put it in more contemporary form: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

We, the body politic, have allowed it to get to this point. Every one of us is complicit, even though the degree of variance is wide. Good men, to paraphrase Edmund Burke, have done nothing, which is allowing evil to triumph. We debated, wrung our hands, gave the benefit of the doubt, trusted our elected leaders even when the elections were dubious, worked within the system, wrote columns, cajoled, were astounded and ashamed. We prayed that things would get better. And when they didn’t, even with a Democratic-controlled House and Senate, we did all the above yet again.

And we got exactly the same results. We discovered – as if this should have been any great discovery – that Premier Bushcheneyrove cares not one twit about the will of the American people. Little by little it was revealed even to those who felt it was the right thing to do to support their president that they had been duped, abused and lied to. Now, realizing that their trust was misplaced, their confidence eroded, their faith all but used up, what is the American electorate to do? Now that it has been disclosed beyond any shadow of doubt that Bushcheneyrove and all their lieutenants – including the one who stripped away the last vestige of this administration’s credibility, former CIA director George Tenent – planned to invade Iraq long before 9-11 and shaped the evidence to fit their ideologically-driven pretext, what should be our response? What, I ask, are we to do?

First, it is folly to think this regime will listen to reason. The cold hard truth has never been able to prick their bubble of moral certitude before, so there’s no reason to assume it would now. If Nixon perfected tell-the-big-lie-and-stick-to-it, this rogue’s gallery turned it into an art form. If watching Cheney spin the “slam dunk” sham on “Meet The Press” was painful for Tenet to watch, how do you think the families of the 3,346 killed and 24,912 wounded (as of April 29) in Iraq felt?

That leads to a second folly: appealing to their higher selves. Megalomaniacs have no higher self – they’re it. When I hear Laura Bush say no one hurts more than the president over this war it makes me want to vomit.

The third folly, tempting though it may be for me, is to think mass demonstrations will have any effect. The only thing that will bring back the ’60s is for the draft to be reinstated, and I don’t think even Bush is that stupid. Besides, he is so insulated from the real world that if it didn’t get coverage on Fox, it didn’t happen.

So, short of the revolution Thomas Paine advocated, what are we to do? The only mechanism at our disposal is impeachment, pure and simple. My new best friend, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, has introduced proceedings against Cheney, so now it’s time to go after the big dog. Tactics vary, but my feeling is that Speaker Pelosi is the key. She can’t push it herself, in that she would become president, but somehow a proxy must be found to get it before the House Judiciary Committee and let the fish fry proceed. Write, call, e-mail, visit and badger your congressman. Some of them, believe it or not, are on our side; they just need a little kick in the gittalong.

I’ve heard it argued that there is not enough time left in Bush’s rule to initiate impeachment hearings. I say there is not enough time left not to. Given the evidence, it’s a slam dunk.

Ogi may be reached at, heard Tuesdays 9:30 to 10 a.m. on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen Fridays 6:30 to 7 a.m. on ABC45 and Sundays 10 to 10:30 p.m. on MVY48 on “Triad Today” hosted by Jim Longworth.