Dems v Dems: Woolsey’s Little Revolt


In my recent posts about the Democrats I’ve said more than once that the hold of the minority conservative leaders currently controlling the party could be broken if the majority of liberal/progressive Dems currently under their thumb staged a revolt. Well, according to The Hill, one has – in a mild, non-revoltish sort of way.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is encouraging anti-war activists to find challengers to centrist Democrats, with the aim of moving the party to the left and ramping up opposition to the war in Iraq, to the chagrin of top Democratic aides.

“You folks should go after the Democrats,” Woolsey said in response to a suggestion from an activist during a conference call last month organized by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

“I’d hate to lose the majority, but I’m telling you, if we don’t stand up to our responsibility, maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.”

OK, so she’s one legislator. We don’t have a headdress yet but we’ve got our first feather and the first crack in the wall.

Woolsey may be punished for her honesty – Kaplan’s piece notes that unnamed aides to the Democratic leadership “were irked by and dismissive of Woolsey’s remarks” – but she had the guts to say what I think a pile of non-Blue Dog Dems have probably been thinking: “Enough is enough.”

They can read the numbers and they know our patience with the Kabuki is wearing thin. They’re also perfectly aware, since they’re not dolts, that what David Sirota calls “The Innocent Bystander Fable” – repeated ad nauseum by the Democratic leadership and the corporate media – is going to get punctured one of these days and the dam of anger building in a population sick of the war is going to burst, potentially drowning every Dem who used it as an excuse to evade their responsibilities.

What’s the “Innocent Bystander Fable”? In Sirota’s words, “the myth that Democrats have no power to stop the war, despite controlling both houses of Congress.”

The Post writes, “Democrats began their fight against what came to be called the surge with public opinion on their side, but with virtually no real weapons to force Bush to change.”

For reference, here is Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:

“No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

Translated into vernacular, that’s the part of the Constitution that says the Congress – and only the Congress – has the power of the purse. If congressional leaders decided to NOT use that power of the purse, this war would be over.

And let’s be clear on one more thing. You know how we’re hearing all this talk of “we don’t have 60 votes, much less 67 votes” to pass a bill to end the war? The Post regurgitates it, claiming that “because of a Senate rule requiring 60 votes to shut off debate and 67 votes to overturn a veto, Reid faced an almost impossible challenge” to end the war.

Just stop for a moment and flip the argument around. The argument inherently admits that all you need is 40 votes to stop a blank check from passing the U.S. Senate (and this says nothing of the simple fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could simply refuse to bring another blank check war spending bill to the floor of their respective houses of Congress).

So while you may or may not agree that Congress should use its power of the purse to end the war, there is no debate that Congress does, in fact, have the power of the purse to end the war – and thus Democrats who control Congress do have a very “real weapon to force Bush to change.”

And are refusing to use it despite their anti-war posturing. All the phony whining about how they can’t break a filibuster? They don’t have to. All they have to do is collect 40 votes against the next war-spending bill. No money, no war. Even us dumbasses down here on the underside can figure that out, and I think Woolsey, at least, knows it.

She’s absolutely right, too, that the rest of the Democratic majority needs to hear voices attacking them for cowardice, game-playing, whatever it takes. They need to understand clearly that there are going to be consequences. They’re going to pay a price.

Kevin Hayden at The American Street, who provided this link, explains clearly how little this has to do with politics.

Our aim should be to move the country to sane policies that advance the greater good, protect lives, promote human rights and constrain the violent. Any organization, individual or party members advancing the opposite or interfering with these desirable goals is promoting an agenda based on greed, power consolidation or their hold on their elective positions. They are not putting the nation’s interests or humanity’s interests first.

Be they terrorist, politician or corporate CEO, they are our enemies. Not enemies of liberals, but enemies of the majorities, of the Constitution, of humankind, of a living planet.

Enough with the arbitrary definitions by party, which seek to blur the distinction between death dealers and life healers. A RINO is closer to the greater good than a DINO is. In these times or any times, representatives dismissive of American lives, Iraqi lives, Mexican lives or the lives of the majority of citizens in any country do not reflect what American values can and should be, always.

That’s what this is about now. It transcends the war, even. It’s about forcing our political parties to stop acting like the Soviet Duma and start acting like an American Congress, to stop aiding and abetting the shredding of the Constitution and start protecting it, to stop kowtowing to corporate money and start paying attention to the needs of the people. Woolsey’s courageous in-your-face slap at the conservative Democratic leadership suggests that there’s some seething going on under the surface of the Congress, some unhappiness with what Pelosi and Reid are doing. Do your best to FEED IT.

eRobin, posting this time at TAS as well, suggests another way of holding Democratic posturers’ feet to the fire, in this case a specific Dem – Chris Dodd – but her tactic will work for many of them.

Back at her home blog, Fact-esque, Rob took note of the Dodd Amendment

Start withdrawal immediately
50,000 troops out of Iraq by January 31, 2008
Complete re-deployment of combat troops by April 30, 2008
No additional funding for combat operations after April 30, 2008
Make funding for the war during the redeployment period contingent on progress of redeployment.

– and expressed some frustration with Dodd’s lack of action in pushing it.

I was talking about this question tonight with a friend at the weekly peace vigil I organize. We both like Dodd but find this sort of posturing offensive. Is Dodd willing to filibuster alone until he physically cannot continue? Is he willing to call out his fellow Democrats who are unwilling to support him? Is he willing to bring protesters to the steps of the Capitol to rally for an end to this war? Is he willing to commit an act of civil disobedience? Is he willing to wake us up even a little bit? Is he willing to take any step beyond publicizing vain amendments?

Is this a struggle for life and death and the future of our country or is it something less?

So today, at TAS, she urges us to find out.

Chris Dodd has been a leader in the fight to restore America to some sort of sanity once the maniacs who currently run the joint without restraint are done. Now he’s speaking out against the Reed-Levin Amendment. Good for him. It’s a terrible bill. But here’s the thing: speaking out to potential supporters in emails asking for our contact info and a donation is not enough. That’s why I called Chris Dodd for President (202.737.3633) and politely suggested that the Senator take a stand on the floor of the Senate and filibuster this bill until he drops or it drops and a better one has been offered in its place. The young man who answered the phone told me that I was the third person who called with the suggestion.

Call Chris Dodd (202.737.3633) for President and let him know that you will support him if he takes the gigantic risk of trusting the American people.

You wanna help? You wanna make a difference? You wanna know what you can do to stop the madness? Here’s your chance. Call his office and add your voices to ours. Offer your support – and mean it – if he will step up to the plate with more than words and gestures.

And if you think you might be wasting your time, you’re not. I used to live in Connecticut and I’ve been watching Dodd for years. If enough people talk, he’ll listen.

Do it. Do it TODAY (or, as it’s kind of late in the East as I type this, tomorrow morning). As Kevin said, “It’s not about the Party, Stupid”.

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One response to “Dems v Dems: Woolsey’s Little Revolt

  1. Translated, that’s the bit of the Constitution that makes Iran-Contra a treason story. Reagan’s stooges quietly set up a rump government, with its own sources of private funding (not controlled by Congress), and with its own independent military. This was a direct attempt to subvert the Constitution of the United States, a threat to our form of government. And it was somewhat successful, in that all the malefactors got off scot-free, emboldening and showing the way to the felons who now control the Executive branch.

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