Anonymous Report This Comment
Date: January 26, 2007 10:26PM
For balances sake (I never say things critical about Democrats here, but that
doesn't mean they don't do anything wrong.... Here's something for balance:
Ten Things Learned Since Dems’ Election Victory
Filed under: Uncategorized — crisispapers @ 3:41 pm
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
The Democrats are off to a rousing start in the Congress they now control. In
addition to the positive agenda items passed quickly, perhaps the most hopeful
symbol of the major changes being made is that Speaker Pelosi is creating a
global warming committee. But beneath the positive surface of Democratic
progress, there are some harsher conclusions that need to be aired. Here are ten
to start the discussion.
1. The Democrats are still way too timid. Often, it seems as if they’ve chosen
to ignore the electoral sea-change that occurred in November. The Dems were a
powerless minority for so long, at times they seem unequipped to deal with their
new majority status and that they can use their atrophied muscles to change
For example, the mid-term election clearly demonstrated that the electorate in
no way supported a continuation of GOP policy in Iraq; Americans want their sons
and daughters and husbands and wives rescued from there as soon as is
practicable. Subsequent polls verify this, with two-thirds of Americans wanting
out. But the Dems constantly are looking over their shoulder, as they did for
years, terrified of being condemned as “unpatriotic” for opposing this
reckless, tragic war that nearly everyone agrees cannot be won militarily in any
Rather than taking giant steps to remove our troops ASAP, the Dems seem content
to take baby steps while timorously asking “May I?”. The effective result is
that the so-called Opposition Party is enabling the war-mongering policies of
the Bush Administration; unless the Dems take quick action on Bush’s
escalation of the war, they will have “surging” American troops’ blood on
their hands as well, one effect of which is that they may well lose the moral
high ground in the 2008 election.
2. The Dems aren’t moving quickly enough on Iraq and seem disorganized. For
example, they have devised a much-too-late, slap-on-the-wrist resolution
denouncing Bush’s Iraq escalation. While hundreds of troops and civilians are
dying each week — and while the first wave of “surging” troops have been
moved into Baghdad — the Dems are still debating and haggling, with their
presidential contenders leading the charge in all sorts of directions. Each
candidate (Biden, Dodd, Obama, Clinton, et al.) has his or her own withdrawal
plan, rather than all agreeing on an umbrella unified approach. Dem chairman
Howard Dean should do some head-knocking here.
Even though Bush for months was denying in public that he had finalized a
decision on altered war strategies, the outlines of his plan were out there in
civic discourse during all that time. The Dems could have begun organizing a
unified resistance right then. The national anti-war groups could have moved up
their planned demonstrations to an earlier date, or helped mobilize massive,
nationally-coordinated “emergency” rallies for the day after the
Administration officially announced its escalation plan; even thousands just
beating on pots and pans in the streets, as often happens in countries abroad,
would have sent a clear message of resistance.
Rove and Bush, who of course had already set the “surge” in motion well
before publicly announcing it, outfoxed the disorganized anti-war opposition,
who chose to ignore all the signs of the war’s imminent expansion. Tens of
thousands of U.S. troops are in the pipeline to join their fellow “surgers”
already delivered there. Meanwhile, the Dems have diddled and daddled getting
the wording just right on a bi-partisan resolution condemning the escalation,
one that is NON-BINDING in any case! Oh, that will make CheneyBush quake in
And the first major national demonstration won’t happen in D.C. until January
27, long after much of the real damage has been done. Recall that PRIOR to the
U.S. invasion in Iraq, more than 10 million citizens worldwide marched in
opposition to what was being planned, warning of the likely consequences. Such
rallies didn’t stop the invasion and occupation, but at least they happened
early enough to help pump-prime and build a nascent anti-war movement, so that
we were up and running by the time the bombs began falling over Baghdad. And
that movement, over a few years time — along with the catastrophe unfolding on
the ground in Iraq — helped educate the American population, and they’ve
been in firm opposition to the war ever since.
The anti-war opposition should be much further along by now, both with regard to
impeding the escalation in Iraq and to helping stop the planned-for attack on
Iran, which could happen anytime in the next few months.
3. The Dems still believe they can trust Bush to behave reasonably. Example:
Senate Majority Leader Reid originally said he could accept Bush’s
“surge,” as long as the Administration would promise not to “surge” for
very long, maybe just a couple of months. Didn’t the Dems learn anything over
the past six years? A “promise” by Bush&Co. is not worth the toilet
paper it’s written on; these guys, who lied and deceived an entire nation into
war in the first place, will do and say anything in order to get their nose
under the tent, then revert back to their original plan as soon as they’re
4. The Dems aren’t reading the poll numbers. The people for nearly a year now
have been way ahead of their legislators on so many issues, especially on the
Iraq War, with, depending on the poll, two-thirds to three-quarters of the
population opposed to an escalation.
But the Democrats seem obsessed with the fact that Bush still has a healthy
slice of the fundamentalist right with him (maybe 25% of voters) and continue to
worry about being called out by them for opposing this unconscionable war.
Let’s all say it together: We will never bring that fundamentalist crowd to
our side on the war, and we don’t need them anyway. There are enough
traditional conservative and moderate Republicans — and military leaders —
who have deserted the extremists in the White House and abandoned their earlier
support for the war.
In addition, many staunch Bush supporters in Congress and state houses are
peeling off, as they see their prospects for re-election in 2008 diminishing by
the day. They realize that Bush and his war are toxic to their chances for
holding onto their seats and to any chance of the GOP capturing the White House
and/or the House or Senate in the next election. Even Sen. John Warner of
Virginia is deserting the Bush “surge” camp — now THAT is monumental.
5. The Dems seem content with speechmaking in their hearings. They have not used
their subpoena power, there is too much namby-pamby questioning by only one or
two members, and they haven’t raised the possibility of contempt-of-Congress
For example, whenever Gonzales or Rice got cornered in recent Iraq hearings, the
Dems permitted them to dodge and dance around direct questions and to escape
having to present their views; instead, they let them promise (that word again)
to respond in writing, which may or may not ever happen. Judging from the past,
on those rare occasions when the Administration does deign to reply, those
letters arrive a couple of weeks late and the written answers are deceptive or
unresponsive to the questions asked.
Bush Administration officials must be grilled in Congressional committee
hearings thoroughly and in public, for as long as it takes to get the answers
from them. No more escape hatches.
6. The Dems are reluctant to use their ultimate political weapons.I’m talking
about the power of the purse and the threat of impeachment.
Pelosi is especially nervous about House Democrats exercising their oversight
responsibilities by restricting use of funds for the war effort in Iraq, lest
they be accused of “not supporting the troops in harm’s way.” But, if they
could get their act together quickly — before the bulk of the “surge”
troops arrive into “harm’s way” there — the Dems could place at least
some funding restrictions on Bush’s escalation, and divert those and earlier
authorized funds for the purpose of getting our young men and women out of Iraq
in a staged “redeployment” that could begin within the next few months.
For how this all might be done, check out Gareth Porter’s “How to De-Fund
the Escalation” (
www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/01/16/how_to_defund_the_escalation.php ) , and
Michelle Chin’s “Dems Sitting on Power to Curb Bush’s Iraq War
Expansion” ( [newstandardnews.net
] ). The key is to get these bills passed right now
before more precious time slips away.
As for impeachment, as more and more in-depth hearings are held on the various
Bush&Co. lies, corruptions and bunglings, the possibility of introducing an
impeachment resolution should be placed back on the table. It may take a few
months for the various committees to complete their investigations and release
their final reports documenting the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush
Administration, but the evidence will be laid out and should be put to good use
in getting rid of this desperate, reckless crew.
7. The Democrats are complicit in gutting true lobbying reform. The Dems deserve
great praise for getting a raft of new reforms into place, but there are
numerous loopholes that still need to be closed and the Dems and Republicans,
anxious to collect as much money as possible for future races, seem to work
together to make sure end-arounds continue to exist.
8. The Democrats too easily praise Bush chicanery dressed up as something else.
For example, the Dems apparently are going along with the sleight-of-hand
maneuver that disguises the continuation of the Bush Administration’s
widescale domestic spying programs.
For six years, the Democrats have done little to stop Bush’s unconstitutional
grab for dictatorial power, especially his refusal to obey the law that says
that all eavesdropping on American citizens’ phone calls and emails must first
be authorized by the top-secret FISA Court. Now, with the Democrats in charge of
Congress and with appeals courts about to take up the various court cases aimed
at overturning the Administration’s domestic spying, Bush suddenly claims he
will obey the FISA law, and the naive Democrats claim a “victory.” (See
Glenn Greenwald’s “Nothing to Celebrate.”) ( [glenngreenwald.blogspot.com
But apparently what happened is not that the Administration has agreed to go to
the court for such warrants, but it most likely got one of the FISA judges to
grant blanket authority for Bush to continue to spy on American citizens
whenever he feels like doing so. It’s bad enough that privacy of American
citizens is being violated regularly on a massive scale, but if the
Administration, as some surmise, also is spying on its political enemies through
this program — with no detailed oversight by court or Congress — we may
never find out what happened.
The Democrats need to get to the bottom of this issue, especially on who may
have granted the blanket approval and on the implications of giving the Bush
Administration a free hand to spy on American citizens. The Dems should not
tolerate evasions and lies and half-truths from Attorney General Gonzales. In
addition, the court cases against this domestic spying must proceed so that the
constitutional issues can be joined. Gonzales, not incidentally, has asserted
that judges should bow to the commander-in-chief’s will (
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16668110 ) in all national-security matters.
9. The Democrats too easily accept the “framing” terms of the Bush
Administration. For example, so much time has passed since the bombing of Iraq
in 2003 and the establishment of American hegemony there that the Dems hardly
ever revisit the original motives and lies that took the country into war and a
neo-colonial occupation. How Americans were bamboozled into Iraq is regarded as
“old news,” and the focus is on the latest Bush atrocity or in how to get
our troops out.
But the neo-con policies that got the U.S. enmeshed in its current unwinnable
quagmire in Iraq derive from the same warped ideologies that are taking us
deeper into that war and moving us inexorably into an attack on Iran and maybe
Syria as well.
Sen. Kennedy has it right when he urges Congress to call for a vote on a new
Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq (AUMF), since the old one is now out
of date and was based on phony rationales in any case, such as the supposed
presence of WMD in Iraq and Saddam’s supposed ties to 9/11. It’s long past
time to have this debate on Bush’s war policies that are so endangering
America’s national security, especially the Bush strategy of “preventive
wars” — i.e., attacking countries that are of no imminent threat but who
might years or decades hence be antagonistic to America.
Similarly, Sen. Reid says devoid of an AUMF, Bush has no legal foundation to
attack Iran. And, not incidentally, has anyone seen any demonstrable evidence
justifying either the escalation in Iraq or the planned attack on Iran? Nope.
Just the usual agitprop, assertions and scare tactics from Bush&Co., very
reminiscent of the weeks before the “shock&awe” attack on Iraq in
10. The Democrats do not go after Bush&Co. at their most vulnerable spots.
One of the major ones is the Administration’s having devised unconstitutional
rationalizations for torture as official state policy. Legal-advisor toadies
like Gonzales and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, under Rumsfeld’s tutelage, came up
with the cockamamie theory that a president is effectively beyond the law
whenever he says he’s acting as “commander-in-chief” during “wartime.”
Since the “war on terrorism” is a never-ending, non-conventional one, that
rationale means that Bush can act as a dictator in perpetuity, ignoring laws
passed by Congress, ignoring the Constitutional protections under the Bill of
Rights, whenever he wants.
Yoo and Gonzales and the others concocted a policy authorizing torture of
detainees either in prisons in the U.S. or Guantanamo, or in foreign countries
such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or in secret CIA prisons in a wide variety of
nations abroad, or sent in “extraordinary rendition” to countries that
specialize in extreme torture methods. The Democrats need to focus on getting
those policies reversed and the government once again under Constitutional
So, those are my ten. No doubt, you could come up with your own list of shames.
The point is that the Democrats finally are in a position to do something about
them, and they’re moving way too slowly in confronting these key issues.
If the Democrats want to take back the White House in 2008 and hold onto the
House and Senate, they’d better get cracking, before they waste the mandate
and momentum supplied them by the voters last November. And before popular anger
and revulsion set in among the progressive Democratic base to the point of
considering switching to a third-party.
Those of us interested in significant change need to put Democratic leaders’
feet to the fire and keep the temperature of the coals hot. #
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government
Check this out: Brilliant and straight to the point:
I recommend it VIGOROUSLY.
I know there are right wing dipshits here that won't like it but that doesn't
make it any less true.