Arranology

Archive for the ‘Dump the Dems’ Category

Unclear on the Concept

leave a comment »

Even the brightest of left-wing commentators can’t seem to see the forest for the trees even while they’re explaining what a forest is. Apparently our vaunted “reality-based community” just can’t get its head around the reality of the Dem sell-out to Wall Street.

Take Glenn Greenwald, a very smart guy who’s come closer than most to admitting the obvious.  Here he has little difficulty figuring out the reasons for Republican pro-corporate policies.

There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party — controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country’s vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse — now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity.

(emphasis added)

Yet when it comes to the Dems, he just can’t bring himself to admit what it is so easy to see in the Pubs.

That crisis presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington — the central promise of his campaign — by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington.  Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets.  But, as John Judis argues in his excellent New Republic piece, they completely squandered that opportunity.  Rather than emphatically stand up to the bankers and other oligarchical thieves, they coddled and served them, and thus became the face of the elite interests oppressing ordinary Americans rather than their foes.  How can an administration represented by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers — and which specializes in an endless stream of secret deals with corporate lobbyists and sustains itself with Wall Street funding — possibly maintain any pretense of populist support or changing how Washington works?  It can’t.

My dear Glenn, it isn’t supposed to. OK, it “maintained a pretense” for a number of years and still does play the kabuki you see through like glass when Republicans do it, a sort of pretense-dance that doesn’t fool anyone. So why can’t you see through it when the Dems do it and understand that the reason is identical: the New Democrat is owned and controlled by the exact same interests who own and control the GOP. Otherwise, nothing Obama and the New Dems have done makes any sense whatever, as you said yourself.

But the Democratic Party’s failure/refusal/inability to be anything other than the Party of Tim Geithner — continuing America’s endless, draining Wars while plotting to cut Social Security, one of the few remaining guarantors of a humane standard of living — renders them unable to offer answers to angry, anxious, resentful Americans.

“Failure/refusal/inability”? Just can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, eh? That’s too bad because your and other progressives’ failure/refusal/inability to face the Awful Truth about the New Right-wing Dems is simply going to prolong the agony.

Written by Mick

August 28, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Dump the Dems 14: Now That We Know They’re Just Pubs Without Knives, Where Do We Go From Here?

leave a comment »

If the Healthcare “Reform” Kabuki has done nothing else, it has laid bare the truth of what I’ve been saying for several years now: The Democrat Party is nothing But the GOP in drag. Jon Walker at FDL lays it all out and, as he says, there can no longer be any doubt that voting Democrat is pretty much the same as voting Republican. Same policies, same intense dislike of the “public”, same indifference to what the “public” actually wants, same chickenshit toadying to corporations and the rich, even the same bullying tactics and lying strategies.

After a full year of debate and dozens of excuses, the Democratic leadership now stands naked in their opposition to the public option. President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid all claimed they that wanted one. They are the three most powerful people in Washington and have huge margins in both chambers. It is ridiculous to believe that the public option could not have become law if the leadership really wanted it. Yet, for months, people were lied to so the Democratic leadership could maintain the insane myth that the public option’s death was not their fault, but the fault of some insurmountable obstacle. What this mythic “insurmountable obstacle” actually was has shifted so many times it is hard to keep track.

***

It is foolish to believe that a President, Senate Majority Leader, and Speaker of the House with historically large majorities couldn’t get a public option–which roughly 65% of the country supported–if they really wanted one. Clearly, if they all really wanted to include a public option, they could have done it using reconciliation. To accept their many different excuses of powerlessness requires one to completely suspend reality.

Occam’s razor teaches us the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Here, the simplest explanation is that, months ago, Obama promised to kill the public option as part of a secret deal with the for-profit hospital lobby, and that for months he lied to the American people about supporting the public option while working behind the scenes to stop it.

The same can be said for phony banking “reform”, the phony “jobs” bill, and the upcoming phony Social Security and Medicare “reforms”. As impossible as it may have been for most people to picture 2 years ago, it is equally impossible now to dismiss the reality that Obama is just a black Bush with a smoother rap and a better suit, and the Dems just another corporate-owned conservative “party” and could now fit comfortably as Fellows of the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation (after all, the healthcare “reform” bill they just passed was originally proposed at AEI in ’94). Here’s Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report (via Avedon)

The fifteen month running battle between Obama Democrats and tea party Republicans was never much more real than televised professional wrestling. Like the opposing wrestlers, both sides work for the same bosses, for Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the biggest medical providers. The real health care fight waged by the Obama administration has not been against Republicans, who never had the votes to stop, let alone dictate or pass anything.

The administration’s effort all along has been to pass the worst bill possible, with the greatest amounts of corporate welfare and loopholes, and the fewest protections for patients, while silencing, neutering and coercing the voices of most Democrats, who have favored some form of single payer, or Medicare For All from the beginning.

So comes the question that’s been hanging fire all this time while the people who backed Obama became increasingly disillusioned as his Bushie agenda became more consistent and more open: if both major political parties are really the same party with a slightly different emphasis and marginally different tactics aimed at the exact same goals – keeping the rich happy and fucking over the rest of us – where do we go from here? How do we get a voice in what’s happening, short of outright revolution or getting so rich ourselves we can buy a new party?

There are several options. I discussed the most obvious of them in “Dump the Dems 9“.

The traditional Democrats are there, busting their humps and ready to take the party back to the center-Left, which is where most of the country is at this point. They’re standing up to Obama, they’re defending the Constitution, and they’re doing it without notice from the press when hardly anybody knows they’re doing it…..What if we do it? What if we support them, take over their issues and play them up? What if we work to defeat conservative Democrats who stymie them?

The majority of elected officials in the Democratic party are liberals or populist progressives, yet the party is run by a few conservative Blue Dog obstructionists who pool resources – and votes – with their GOP counterparts. In fact, about the only thing they don’t do with the GOP is caucus with them even if it seems like they do because they always come up with the same TP’s as the Pubs. Yet despite their minority status, these BD’s rule the Democrat party with an iron fist. The leadership are all BDs and they control committee assignments. They determine policy, staff assignments, tactics and floor strategy, and which arguments will be spun to the media.

***

Bluntly, us liberals, progressives, and populists really don’t have much to lose, especially since the polls are with us, not the conservative Democrats. We could make a HUGE point of backing FDR Dems in primaries against conDems and make sure the Blue Dog is defeated. If we do that in enough places – and it won’t have to be that many – we can return the Democratic party to its traditional, non-corporate roots. You remember? When it used to be on our side?

I wrote that a little over a year ago, and at that time it seemed a viable option. Since then, the Obama/Emanuel Hammer has beaten most of the lib/progs into compliant toadies by making it perfectly clear that anybody who doesn’t go along will be crushed. Even Colorado’s Michael Bennet, a reliable liberal vote up to now, is backing away from his promise to bring a public option bill to the Senate floor after intense pressure from Rahm and the Dem leadership. It has become an open question now whether or not there’s any spine left in the Democrat party, and the idea of a possible internal rebellion seems pretty far-fetched at this point.

What other alternatives do we have if the libs locked inside a conservative party organization aren’t going to stand up for their beliefs (assuming they still have any besides opportunism and expediency)?

Next: Third Parties and What They’re Good For

Written by Mick

March 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

Dump the Dems 13: When Dems Ought to Dump the Dems (Updated)

leave a comment »

The arrogance and desperation of the conservative Democrat leadership has reached such an advanced stage that that leadership is openly disavowing its own members. Yesterday the slavish NYT ran a neat little article about how Obama’s willingness to dump the public option, thereby dumping as well the majority in his own party that want it and the large contingent of liberals and progressives who have said they won’t vote for a healthcare bill that doesn’t have it, thereby splitting the party in two, is actually called “uniting the party”.

President Obama’s speech on health care failed to bridge the gulf with Republicans, but Democrats said on Thursday that the president had largely succeeded in unifying his own party by making a cogent, persuasive pitch to the American public and by casting his plan to overhaul the health care system as a political and moral imperative.

The day after the nationally televised address, in which Mr. Obama signaled that he could accept an alternative to a government-run insurance plan, influential Democrats who previously seemed wedded to the public insurance option hinted that they, too, might be flexible. They included the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Representative Henry A. Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, both from California, and who both, like Mr. Obama, say they still prefer the public option, and view it as crucial to passing a bill in the House.

Pelosi has been amenable for a long time, whatever she said publicly, but Waxman’s willingness to be “flexible” is a big disappointment. It may be that he has just gotten the message Reid/Pelosi have been sending for months: “Fuck the lib/progs and fuck what the country needs & what the voters want. We’re not going to piss off our conservative corporate contributors, especially insurance companies, by passing a bill they don’t want. Period.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

September 12, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Dump the Dems 12: Obama Protects Torturers and Continues to Support Torture as Acceptable Policy

with one comment

Way back in April of last year I wrote that there are some things that are above political loyalty and that the Constitution is one of them. In July I wrote in a post titled “The Constitution Doesn’t Poll Very Well” that noted how busily the Obama Admin and Congressional Blue Dogs were gutting the Bill of Rights. This past February I listed a number of Bush’s illegal powers that Obama was protecting despite his promises for “transparency, accountability and openness”. Now I have to report that Obama has decided to protect the people who retroactively wrote legal justifications for this illegal and immoral policy, defend the policy itself, and worst of all, accept torture as legitimate behaviour once he puts a Yoo-style legal framework around it so we can all pretend it isn’t inhuman.

As the attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., debates whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the interrogations of terrorism suspects after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he is at the brink of a career-defining decision that risks the anger of the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency, one of the Justice Department’s main partners in combating terrorism.

There is no surprise then that Mr. Holder is said by officials to have been resistant at first to the idea of appointing a prosecutor, particularly since the Obama administration has made it clear that it wants to put the issue of interrogation practices during the Bush administration behind it.

***

Mr. Holder has told associates he is weighing a narrow investigation, focusing only on C.I.A. interrogators and contract employees who clearly crossed the line and violated the Bush administration’s guidelines and engaged in flagrantly abusive acts.

But in taking that route, Mr. Holder would run two risks. One is the political fallout if only a handful of low-level agents are prosecuted for what many critics see as a pattern of excess condoned at the top of the government. The other is that an aggressive prosecutor would not stop at the bottom, but would work up the chain of command, and end up with a full-blown criminal inquiry into the intelligence agencies — just the kind of broad, open-ended criminal investigation the Obama administration says it wants to avoid.

(emphasis added)

AG Holder is caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s under pressure both ethically and legally to prosecute torturers yet his boss doesn’t want him to prosecute any of the people who devised and ordered the torture to occur. Glenn Greenwald put what this means succinctly.

[T]he Newsweek reporter who first printed what DOJ officials told him about Holder’s intentions, Daniel Klaidman, confirmed in an interview on The Young Turks that Holder intends to confine any investigations only to “rogue” interrogators who exceeded John Yoo’s torture permission slips while shielding high-level Bush officials who acted in accordance with Yoo’s decrees.  Proving yet again that there is nothing more difficult than satirizing our rotted political culture, here is what I wrote about Holder’s intentions last week:

Holder’s plan, at least at the moment, is — from the start — to confine the prosecutors’ authority to investigate to CIA agents who went beyond what John Yoo and George Bush decreed could be done (“he used more water than Yoo said he could”; “he tied him up for longer than Yoo authorized”; “the room was colder and the freezing water icier than Yoo allowed”). At least if these reports are accurate (and, for several reasons, that’s unclear), anyone who “merely” did what John Yoo said was legal — meaning everyone who matters — will be shielded and immunized.

***

If low-level CIA interrogators — and only them — end up as the targets of investigations because they used m0re water than John Yoo allowed, or turned the thermostat lower than the hypothermic levels which the DOJ permitted, or waterboarded with more frequency than Jay Bybee approved, I wouldn’t blame the CIA for being furious.  It was the regime itself, implemented at the highest levels of our government, that was criminal.  Prosecuting only low-level interrogators who followed the torturing spirit of those policies but transgressed some bureaucratic guidelines would be a travesty on par with what happened with the Abu Ghraib “investigations.”

(emphasis in original)

Worse, by putting the legal emphasis on whether or not the interrogators had exceeded the authority given them by Yoo and Bybee and the other apologists, Obama is tacitly accepting the Yoo/Bybee/Addington/Cheney assertion that a) torture is legal in the US and b) the president can legally order an illegal procedure as long as it is kept within whatever bounds are set by the president. Which in turn means that torture is now legal and that US presidents have the power to ignore treaty law, international law, and domestic law – the Constitution – just as Bush/Cheney claimed they did. It is a de facto rather than de jure assumption of power, quiet, even stealthy. Without facing the issue squarely, discussing it openly, or explaining it clearly, the Obama Admin is simply going to act as if it’s true, thus creating precedent and making it true.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

July 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Dump the Dems 11: Sibelius Says Obama’s Going to Fix It So There Can NEVER Be National Health

leave a comment »

I’m getting a bit confused. On hand #1 Obama says he thinks we need a “public health option” if for no other reason than to take care of the people the insurance companies don’t want. On hand #2, his HHS Sec, Kathleen Sibelius, told NPR yesterday that all public health options are “off the table”, that they ought to be because single payer is “a bad direction to go” and, furthermore (just in case the insurance companies Rahm wants donating to the Democrats next year had any doubts or fears) that the president – the president elected by the people who are the 60+% percent who want single payer – has no plans at all to create one. None. (Via DCblogger at corrente)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says that a single-payer option is not on the table.

“This is not a trick. This is not single-payer,” Sebelius told Steve Inskeep. She added: “That’s not what anyone is talking about — mostly because the president feels strongly, as I do, that dismantling private health coverage for the 180 million Americans that have it, discouraging more employers from coming into the marketplace, is really the bad, you know, is a bad direction to go.”

***

Asked if the administration’s program will be drafted specifically to prevent it from evolving into a single-payer plan, Sebelius says: “I think that’s very much the case, and again, if you want anybody to convince people of that, talk to the single-payer proponents who are furious that the single-payer idea is not part of the discussion.”

(emphasis added)

The single payer option exists primarily as a threat (which is what we said it was), a stalking horse to scare the health insurance companies into line, Sibelius confirmed, even though she admitted that Medicare shows a real public option is demonstrably cheaper. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

June 17, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Dump the Dems 10: ConservaDems Help Republicans Take Over NY State Senate

with 2 comments

OK, so you can’t generalize too much nationally from the fucked up politics of NY state but otoh this is such a shining example of the state of the Democratic party that it’s howling for attention. Two NY Blue Dog Dems just voted with their GOP colleagues to turn the leadership of the Democrat-controlled Senate over to the Pubs. To quote Rosalind Russell, “Ain’t it perfect?”

Republicans regained control of the New York State Senate on Monday afternoon, winning support from two dissident Democrats in a surprise power-sharing deal. The sudden coup effectively ended Democratic control of Albany after five months and allowed Dean G. Skelos of Long Island to reclaim the title of majority leader, replacing Malcolm A. Smith of Queens.

***

The raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Mr. Espada and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a series of parliamentary maneuvers. Democrats tried to stall, storming from the chamber and even turning off the lights, but Republicans continued the session and elected new leadership.

Both Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate said they still considered themselves Democrats.

“Why?” is the question. Not “Why did they do it?” That question is easily answered, at least in the case of Mr Espada.

The shakeup also left Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat, as president of the Senate….

Tom Golisano, the Rochester billionaire who recently announced he was moving to Florida because of New York’s high taxes, played a major role in brokering the deal.

Nothing like a little bribery to liven up your day. Or some pressure from a pissed off billionaire who thinks his taxes are too high. Never mind that he thinks the fact that he has to pay any taxes at all is a shame and a disgrace because he’s so special.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

June 8, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Dump the Dems 9: Dump ‘Em Or Take the Party Back?

with one comment

I hinted before that in the coming discussion about what to do now that the Democrat party is waving its true conservative colors around like a tattered battle flag that’s seen more defeats than Oprah has seen stretch marks, I was going to note before we rushed into deciding which Third Party to support that there was a case to be made for taking it back from the conservative minority that is currently strangling it. This is what I was talking about.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the State Secrets Protection Act of 2008, which was co-sponsored by numerous key Senators [including Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee's Chair (Pat Leahy) and ranking member (Arlen Specter)], and which was approved by the Judiciary Committee last year with all Democrats voting in favor.  That bill, in essence, sought to ban the exact abuse of the State Secrets privilege which the Bush administration repeatedly invoked and which, now, the Obama administration has embraced:  namely, as a weapon to conceal and immunize government lawbreaking (by compelling the dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance) rather than a limited, document-by-document evidentiary privilege.

Yesterday — as an obvious response to the Obama DOJ’s support for the Bush view of the privilege — Leahy and Specter, along with Russ Feingold, Claire McCaskill, Sheldon Whitehouse and Ted Kennedy, re-introduced that bill in the Senate.  When doing so, Leahy made clear that the bill was more needed than ever in light of the actions of the Obama administration.

***

Sen. Feingold explicitly criticized the Obama administration earlier this week for its endorsement of exactly these abusive theories.  Several hours before the Senate bill was introduced, several key House Democrats introduced a similar bill in the House.  The ACLU promptly endorsed the bill.

The traditional Democrats are there, busting their humps and ready to take the party back to the center-Left, which is where most of the country is at this point. They’re standing up to Obama, they’re defending the Constitution, and they’re doing it without notice from the press when hardly anybody knows they’re doing it. (Check the links in Greenwald’s story: NONE of them goes to a newspaper report about this bill, and I couldn’t find a single news story about it in any major news venue – not the Times, the Post, or the AP.) What if we do it? What if we support them, take over their issues and play them up? What if we work to defeat conservative Democrats who stymie them?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

February 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Dump the Dems 8: Obama Won’t Give Up Bush’s Powers

with one comment

For the last year or so I’ve been saying, to much abuse (when I could get anybody to listen at all) that there was nothing accidental about the Democrats’ giving in to Bush, that it had nothing to do with cowardice or political expediency or appeasement. Back last June, late in the process, I wrote this after the FISA betrayal:

Call it a prediction if you like. I knew the leadership would get FISA passed despite the numbers of ordinary Democrats who were against it because the leadership are all in the DLC/BD Alliance and the Alliance believes in modern conservative ideals like the restoration of a monarchy – or at least monarchic powers – in America…. [T]his was no accident. It was deliberate. It was design.

The Democrats aren’t pretending to be like the Pubs to get elected. They are like the Pubs. They’re under the thumb of a minority of conservative Dems who are, like the Likkud in Israel, warping the party to suit themselves and their conservative agenda. Like conservatives everywhere, they don’t care what the people want, they don’t care what the polls say, and they don’t give a rat’s ass what the majority in their own party thinks. Like Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi, they’re going to do what they damn well please and if the membership doesn’t like it, fuck em.

And like the Pubs, these are no longer people liberals and progressives can compromise with. The FISA bill proves it. They will simply adopt the Republican trick of claiming a compromise when what they’ve really done is craft the right-wing conservative agreement the conservative minority demands.

That prediction has been borne out as well. We have just seen that trick played out over the stim pack, and the proof of the Democrat party’s monarchic tendencies came yesterday when, given an opportunity to return to the rule of law, Obama refused to rescind one of Bush’s primary “unitary president” moves toward giving presidents the power of kings. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

February 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm

StimPack Passes Senate with 3 Pub Votes It Didn’t Need

leave a comment »

Can it be any plainer? After all the noise, all the Beltway hoopla, all the insistence that the bill had to be, just had to be, weakened to get GOP votes for passage, it passed. Without them. The only three Republican votes the Senate version got were those belonging to the three “centrists” who were involved in brokering the compromise.

The Senate approved its bill most along party lines, by a vote of 61 to 37, with three Republicans joining 56 Democrats and two independents in favor.

This is why we gave up transportation money? Jobs? Food stamp increases? Extended unemployment protection? For the votes of three people who wouldn’t have changed the outcome? Three people?!

No no,b’s & g’s. We didn’t give all that up for GOP votes. That’s patently obvious. We didn’t need them. 

We gave it up for conservative Democrat votes.

Again:

We surrendered the health and safety of the nation in a dozen different ways IN ORDER TO ENTICE CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS TO VOTE FOR THE BILL.

A bad bill, mind you. A bill that had most of the provisions that would have made a difference ripped out of it to make numbnuts right-winger Dems like John Barrow happy.

Can it be any plainer? Dump the Damn Dems!

Written by Mick

February 10, 2009 at 6:31 pm

What Lieberman’s Victory Means to FDR Dems

with 7 comments

Glenn Greenwald takes a shot at one of Rob’s and my personal bugaboos – the cry from Obama and the DLC/BD Caucus of conservative Dems that there’s been too much hyperpartisanship in Washington. Glenn wants to know “What partisanship?”

Where is the evidence of the supposed partisan wrangling that we hear so much about?  Just examine the question dispassionately.  Look at every major Bush initiative, every controversial signature Bush policy over the last eight years, and one finds virtually nothing but massive bipartisan support for them — the Patriot Act (original enactment and its renewal); the invasion of Afghanistan; the attack on, and ongoing occupation of, Iraq; the Military Commissions Act (authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques, abolishing habeas corpus, and immunizing war criminals); expansions of warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity; declaring part of Iran’s government to be “terrorists”; our one-sided policy toward Israel; the $700 billion bailout; The No Child Left Behind Act, “bankruptcy reform,” and on and on. 

Most of those were all enacted with virtually unanimous GOP support and substantial, sometimes overwhelming, Democratic support:  the very definition of “bipartisanship.”  That’s just a fact.

***

As The Washington Post‘s Dan Froomkin observed at the end of last year:  “Historians looking back on the Bush presidency may well wonder if Congress actually existed.”  How much more harmonious — “bipartisan” — can the two parties get?

He’s right, of course, and regular readers will know how worried we’ve been around here about BO’s naive insistence on what he calls “bipartisanship”, which almost always turns out to mean “doing what the the GOP/DLC/BD Conservative Cabal wants done because they refuse to compromise.” There has been hyperpartisanship, alright, but not on a Pub-Dem split. It’s been coming almost exclusively from the Right along a Conservative-Liberal split – the conservatives in both parties scream about how ANYBODY who doesn’t go along is hyperpartisan. Mention a liberal policy like SCHIP or note how the Medicare Advantage program is little more than a give-away to Big Pharma and suddenly you’re a hysterical partisan who refuses to face reality and compromise [translation: surrender].

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

November 19, 2008 at 10:38 am

“The Constitution Doesn’t Poll Very Well”

leave a comment »

[T]his is exactly what we are now hearing from the likes of Harold Ford, Chuck Schumer, Cass Sunstein, David Broder, Tim Rutten, and on and on and on — criminal prosecutions for government lawbreakers are far too disruptive and politically untenable and unfair. The only fair reaction is just to vote them out of office or wait until they leave on their own accord. All of the Beltway platitudes are trotted out — we can’t look backwards, or “criminalize policy disputes,” or get caught up in unpleasant battles over prosecutions when we have too many other important problems too solve — all in order to argue that, no matter what happens, our glorious political leaders should never be held accountable in a court of law, like everyone else is, when they break the law.
Why would we expect political officials to do anything other than break the law if we continuously tell them — as we’ve been doing — that they are exempt from consequences? And how can Bush — or Nixon — be criticized for conceiving of the Presidency as being above the law when that’s how our political establishment, including many Democrats, explicitly conceive of it as well?
(emphasis added)
Indeed. And those arguments, absurd and anti-democratic as they are, are being accepted out here far more often than they should be. Too many of us seem willing to hold our noses and allow them to pass even though we’re uncomfortable with the whole idea of an all-powerful president, more like a king than anything a genuine democracy would dream up. Maybe that’s because we’re constantly being told – by Republicans, Democrats, and news commentators at every level and on every medium – that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. David Sirota wrote in this week’s column:
A calculated Jedi mind trick is at work here….
When regular folks talk to friends and neighbors, we sure feel like our desire for privacy, disgust with NAFTA and opposition to the Iraq war are mainstream majority positions – and they are. But then comes the barrage.
Day after day, smiling anchormen, blow-dried correspondents and silver-tongued congressmen follow the Big Lie theory of indoctrination, taking to our televisions, radios and newspapers insisting that crazy is normal, the majority is the minority and – most importantly – the fringe is the “center.” This is no accident.
These voices of the status quo do not want the status quo challenged. They deliberately broadcast messages crafted to get us – the mainstream – to question our mainstream-ness, while convincing politicians that the Establishment’s extremism represents a responsible middle ground.
And, confused, we fall for it. It sounds good – authentic, authoritative. We have little or no ability to read between the lines or hear beyond the words, we’re generally too ignorant to work out the real options in any situation, an ignorance that’s not totally our fault because the opportunistic media doesn’t see fit to tell us much that we need to know convinced as they are that we don’t want to know it. Still, there are a sizable number of people who are seeing through the Republicrat/corporate game to the underlying truth. Here’s Anonymous (his/her email is a cover coming through something called “Gishpuppy”, a site that lets you hide your real email address) on the SenatorObama-PleaseVoteAgainstFISA website answering an Obama defender who thought everyone should vote for Obama because his Supreme Court nominees wouldn’t be as extreme-Right as McCain’s would be:
This single issue is the Bill of Rights. With a politician willing to run roughshod over the Bill or Rights, what’s the point? Who cares who they nominate to the Supreme Court if there’s no Constitutional rights to protect? Without your freedoms from the Bill of Rights, what is it you are defending from terrorists? The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the foundation upon which everything else in American politics is built. So, yes, when it comes to the Constitution I am a single-issue voter and so should every American.
Compromise is not an option.
The sad, sad truth is that it doesn’t. While we sit back arguing over who will make the better SCOTUS nominations (which the GOP will block anyway if they’re Obama’s), both parties – or, as Ralph Nader says, the single party known as the Republicrats – are working their little fannies off gutting the Bill of Rights, which is more than what Anonymous calls “the foundation upon which everything else in American politics is built”, it is the foundation on which all American law is built. Without it we are no different from the dictatorship of Slobovia or the Kingdom of Heineken.
The Republicrats want power. That’s what it’s all about. When DLC Chair Harold Ford spoke at the netroots conference, he basically defended the FISA vote and its destruction of the accountability principle by echoing his hero, George W Bush, “I think that accountability was brought in 2006 when [the GOP] lost in the House and the Senate,” Ford responded said. “And we have only eight more months of George W. Bush…” Or as a Hullaballoo commenter put it, “The Constitution doesn’t poll very well.” Which is the exact same argument the media uses whenever it’s criticized for swallowing the Bush/Cheney manipulations whole and continually parroting the govt line without even bothering to check to see if anything in it is true. Glenn quotes the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer.
[L]et me tell you about a conversation I had with..[NY Sen]..Chuck Schumer. When I asked him why, given his safe seat, and ostensible concern for civil liberties, he didn’t speak out more against the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation programs, he said in essence that voters don’t care about these issues. So, he said, he wasn’t going to talk about them.
(emphasis in the original)
I’ve said this before and I will undoubtedly say it again: if we want to save our democracy from full-bore corporate authoritarianism; if we don’t want to see it become a home for autocratic despots and tinpot dictators like some Central American banana republic, we’re going to have to save it ourselves. If you’re expecting Obama or the Democrats to do it, that’s like expecting a thief to break into your house and leave his money on your dresser – unrealistic.

Written by Mick

July 19, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Dump the Dems 7: Are You Ready to Do It Yet?

with one comment

There is no reason whatever to back the Democrats.

That’s the lesson we learned the past couple of weeks as Barack Obama forever soiled his undies when ordered to by the DLC, and the 4th Amendment was sent packing in a secret midnight meeting the Dem Leaders (Steny Hoyer, Jay Rockefeller, and Sylvestre Reyes) had with the Pubs and didn’t even bother to tell the membership about. The DLC/BD contingent is a minority with a very Pub-like disgust for democracy because it’s so hard to get anything done when you have to convince people to go against their best interests and the best interests of the country. They keep crabbing about the Constitution and stuff (as if that meant anything any more – “9/11 changed everything! 9/11 changed everything!!“), and how can you talk sense to people like that?

Here’s what the Democrats just did:

The new statute permits the NSA to intercept phone calls and e-mails between the U.S. and a foreign location, without making any showing to a court and without judicial oversight, whether or not the communication has anything to do with al Qaeda — indeed, even if there is no evidence that the communication has anything to do with terrorism, or any threat to national security.

As I’ve previously explained, the NSA’s objective here is not simply to surveil foreigners who it already suspects as being part of al Qaeda — it can easily obtain a FISA order as to those folks. Nor is the purpose of the new law to allow warrantless surveillance of international-to-international calls — that’s already legal, too. As is the warrantless overseas interception of calls between foreigners and U.S. persons.

What the agency is seeking, instead, is to be able to intercept foreign communications (i) coming across domestic wires where (ii) NSA does not have probable cause to believe that any of the parties is a terrorist or agent of a foreign power; and (iii) there is a chance that some of the intercepted communications will be with persons in the U.S.

The new law allows the NSA to do this, by permitting what David Kris has called a form of “vacuum-cleaner” surveillance that (in the words of the new law) “target[s] . . . persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

Under this new standard, there’s no need that the surveillance have any connection to al Qaeda, or terrorism, or even to national security. The only substantial requirements are that someone overseas be a “target” and that one “significant purpose” of the surveillance be to acquire “foreign intelligence information” — which is very broadly defined to include most anything that occurs overseas and in which the federal government might have an interest (including information necessary to protect against the full range of foreign threats to national security, and information with respect to a foreign power that is necessary to the national defense or foreign affairs).

That’s what Democrats have done. Not Republicans, not Stalinist Commies. Democrats. Specifically, the DLC-run leadership. The message is clear: as far as the DLC/Blue Dogs are concerned, FDR Democrats – liberals –  are a thing of the past and from this point on the New Democrats – conservative DLC Democrats – are running things to suit themselves and if you don’t like it, wha’d’ya plan to do about it? Vote for a Republican? By gawd, they’re even worse! Hah! You’re stuck.

No, we’re not. We have options. The best one is to defeat the damn GOP conservatives who have infiltrated the party and grabbed hold of all the leadership positions. The Blue Dogs MUST go down to defeat if we are to replace the New Democrat party of autocrats and corporate stooges with Old Democrats who believe in stuff like universal health care, worker and consumer protections, the Constitution, community, and generosity to those less fortunate. (The Blue Dogs would run the less fortunate over in a truck if they were lying dying on the road because, after all, the BD’s are really Republicans and to a Pub anybody lying in the road deserves to be run over with a truck as a lesson not to lie in roads.) “Compassionate conservatives” my heiny. As we know know, that’s an oxymoron. Conservatives are never compassionate, and anyone who is compassionate isn’t a conservative.

The second possibility – don’t laugh – is to build a Third Party. And yes, it’s possible. Difficult – very difficult – but possible. And you know what? To be effective, it doesn’t even have to win, only scare the New Democrats into thinking they might lose.

The important thing is that we must be ready to Dump the Dems. If we’re not, neither of these options will work because they’ll have no reason to pay any attention to us.

Are you ready yet? What’s it going to take before you’ll be ready to risk a Pub win in order to get your party back? I really want to know. It’s fish or cut bait time.

Written by Mick

July 10, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Dump the Dems 6: The Fisa Betrayal

with 3 comments

This has been a week of disappointment for those who still believe Democrats are substantially different from Republicans and Obama is the most different of all. The passage in the House, by a Democratic majority, of the abominable FISA Act gutting the Fourth Amendment right to privacy while pretending to protect it, followed by Barack Obama’s unprincipled acceptance of such a bill for political purposes, has sent shock waves through the progressive community. They’re still reeling from it in a sense, so maybe it isn’t fair to expect them to come to terms with the betrayal so soon. OTOH, given a little time to get used to it, they’ll probably start finding excuses to justify it and that’s not good. It will simply postpone the day of reckoning and we can’t afford any more blindness.

I have to wonder how much more it’s going to take for people to make the final leap from the earnestness of rationalization to the realization that there’s nothing to rationalize. Glenn Greenwald and dKos’ Hunter are both skirting the edge of that realization but can’t yet bring themselves to accept it, probably because they don’t want to know how bad our position as citizens really is after two Bush terms and two years of a Democratic Congress acting like Republicans in everything but name. Greenwald:

What the Democratic leadership is saying is quite clear: we will continue to trample on the Constitution and support endless expansions of the surveillance state because that is how we’ll win in swing districts and expand our Congressional majority…. The only objective of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer is to have a 50-seat majority rather than a 35-seat majority, and if enabling the Bush administration’s lawbreaking and demolishing core constitutional protections can assist somewhat with that goal, then that it what they will do. That’s what they are saying all but explicitly here.

 This is the standard rap and it comes from GOP TP’s as old as Reagan: the Democrats are opportunists who revere polls, believe in nothing and will do anything to win. The other usual memes have to do with Democratic incompetence and/or cowardice, but Hunter comes as close to dispensing with these excuses as any prog I’ve read yet.

 [T]his one was an absolute no-brainer, the one thing that the Democrats, no matter how stunningly incompetent, humiliatingly ineffective or bafflingly capitulating they may be, could manage to win simply by sitting on their damn hands. But no; it took serious work to lose on this one. Serious, burning-the-midnight-oil work to manage to quite so cravenly negate their own oversight duties.

And that is why this will not be forgotten anytime soon. A caucus willing to go to these lengths to satisfy the illegalities of the Bush administration is not one that can easily be defended. It is understandable that it would take a great deal of courage to enforce Congressional subpoenas. We can understand that voting against funding for the war could be risky, if we were to presume that Bush would simply keep the troops in the Iraqi desert to rot regardless of funding.

But this one? This petty, stinking issue of granting retroactive immunity to companies that violated the law, such that they need not even say how they violated the law, or when they violated the law, or how often, or against who, and the whole thing started before 9/11 so it is clear that terrorism wasn’t even a prime factor for doing it — that whole mess is now absolved, no lawsuits, no discovery, no evidence allowed to be presented?

No, that one is indefensible. It is indefensible because it requires not just passive acceptance of a corrupt administration performing illegal acts, but legislators actively condoning those acts with the stroke of a pen. The Democrats are determined to set themselves as partners in committing crimes, then absolving them; there should be nothing but contempt for such acts.

(emphasis added)

 

 Hunter realizes that they worked at it, realizes the lengths the Dem leadership went to suborn its own party’s representatives, and dismisses the whole idea of “passive acceptance”, yet he focuses on the indefensible nature of the betrayal rather than the reason for it. Maybe he’ll get to that later.

Indeed, it is indefensible on its face, a decision for which there is and can be no excuse or acceptable rationalization. The Democrats openly and shamelessly sold us down the river. The question is, as always, why? Is it cowardice? opportunism? mere election strategy?

I should think if that’s all it was it would be bad enough but Hunter has his finger on what I’ve been saying for some time when he writes, “The Democrats are determined to set themselves as partners in committing crimes.” Yes, Hunter. I know. They are. Two months ago I wrote in “Dump the Dems 5“:

 

At some point, if you don’t draw a line in the sand and declare “this far but no further” you become a dictator-enabler, an anti-democrat. A Traitor. You may hem and haw and delay until the question is no longer debatable, but when that moment is reached you MUST stand and fight or be accounted a coward, a sell-out, a Traitor to democracy. If you do not, then you and your party – the party that goes along with you – MUST be rejected by democrats because you have betrayed everything they stand for and allied yourself with monarchists who want to return kings to their thrones and send the people packing back to the fetid serfdom from which they emerged 250 years ago.

One CANNOT be a democrat – or a Democrat – if one believes in or supports or aids the reinstitution of monarchy. That ought to be self-explanatory. That it isn’t any more is one of the great sadnesses of Bush’s sad reign.

Call it a prediction if you like. I knew the leadership would get FISA passed despite the numbers of ordinary Democrats who were against it because the leadership are all in the DLC/BD Alliance and the Alliance believes in modern conservative ideals like the restoration of a monarchy – or at least monarchic powers – in America. As Hunter clearly now understands, this was no accident. It was deliberate. It was design.

The Democrats aren’t pretending to be like the Pubs to get elected. They are like the Pubs. They’re under the thumb of a minority of conservative Dems who are, like the Likkud in Israel, warping the party to suit themselves and their conservative agenda. Like conservatives everywhere, they don’t care what the people want, they don’t care what the polls say, and they don’t give a rat’s ass what the majority in their own party thinks. Like Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi, they’re going to do what they damn well please and if the membership doesn’t like it, fuck em.

And like the Pubs, these are no longer people liberals and progressives can compromise with. The FISA bill proves it. They will simply adopt the Republican trick of claiming a compromise when what they’ve really done is craft the right-wing conservative agreement the conservative minority demands. Whether you take Greenwald’s position or mine, the antidote to this poison is the same: either defeat the BD’s or treat the whole party as if they were Pubs and fight them.

Written by Mick

June 23, 2008 at 10:51 am

Dump the Dems 5: The Main Democratic Principles (1)

with 5 comments

Two short statements before we begin:

  1. This is not intended to be anything like an exhaustive list, only a beginning for a list I hope will grow like a tree with the addition of many branches connected but spreading in all directions.
  2. My primary purpose is to set down, as clearly as possible, some of the Principles which I believe trump all and every convenient political excuse for doing nothing or worse, doing the opposite because we can convince ourselves it’s expedient. There are such principles and it’s time we acknowledged them. (All Hail Chris Dodd!)
  3. My secondary purpose is to help foster the apparently near-lost notion that politics is about something greater than re-election. In a democracy, it is the ultimate expression of justice, mercy, and community. It is about organizing and then manifesting the common good. It is about resisting abuses of power, whether from corporations, the military, foreign enemies, or the government itself. What it is NOT about is its own perpetuation at the expense of democratic principles and/or social comity.

Principle 1: The Law and the Constitution

While one can certainly argue about various interpretations of parts of the Constitution, the one Truth which must be considered incontrovertible is that the Constitution is the foundation of the nation’s legal structure. Two hundred years+ of precedent and legal opinion rest on that foundation, and while it is neither desirable nor practical to cleave literally to everything in it – it is a document written by fallible men, after all – it is dangerous and potentially destructive to ignore it altogether.

Far worse is the idea that a single politician – the president – has either the authority or the power to re-write portions of it without the consent of the governed (that’s us, people). That contentious, not to say arrogant, belief is contrary to the very meaning and purpose of the document. To insist that the president can do such a thing is to insist that the president is a monarch, not a subject of the people but a dictator who can make his own laws – the very condition against which the Founding Fathers rebelled and which caused them to write the Constitution in the first place.

The Constitution is and was from the very beginning an attempt to enshrine in law the concept that “the just powers of the executive derive from the consent of the governed” - not from the material and possibly accidental acquisition of power, whether military, financial, or political, but from the active consent of the community and its people. To maintain (much less act) otherwise is a violation of American law so breathtaking in its extremity and its contempt for the source of American society that it MUST define such a one as totally and utterly un-American. In other words, a Traitor.

There can be no compromise here. One CANNOT be at once a believer in democracy and at the same time award – or even be willing to tolerate – the assumption of monarchic powers by the executive branch (the president) and the concomitant loss of power by the legislative and judicial branches. There is room for interpretation and compromise with regard to exactly where the lines of power are drawn, but there is NO room for unilateral assumption of such power, especially by an executive so classically ignorant of democratic principles that he doesn’t even know what they are.

There can be no compromise here because to compromise about fundamental precepts is tantamount to declaring them non-operational. That in turn is tantamount to declaring that our democracy is no longer democratic because it is no longer governed by core democratic principles. It is now an autocracy with a monachic or dictatorial leader who may conduct himself by acknowledging the will of the people or in complete defiance of it, as he wishes.

In other words, that we have denounced our 230-yr-old “experiment in democracy” and gone back to empowering a functional monarchy – that we have willfully and deliberately traded our president for a king.

It may be said that the lines between one and the other are blurred, not easily defined. In many cases that may be true, but not in all. The Bush “signing statements” in which he added, like a king, codas that said he acknowledged the law but had no duty to obey it, should have sent up Red Flags all over the country. There is no ambiguity about what he was declaring, nor any confusion about what he meant: they were bald, flat-out rejections of the legislature’s power over the executive, direct and unarguable repudiations of fundamental Constitutional law. He should have been impeached for the very first one.

And even if they had been less obvious and incontrovertible than they were, they should still have occasioned an argument in the Congress – and in the press and public – over what they meant and whether they’d gone too far. There was no such argument (except in progressive blogs).

Why not? Because the so-called “opposition party” decided it wasn’t politically expedient. Despite our hopes, now that they’re in power they continue not to think so. This is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE. As pre-Nazi Germany eventually learned to its sorrow, it isn’t possible to sell out some of your core beliefs and still survive as the society you once were. You have fundamentally altered its nature with your gutting of centuries-old law in order to placate a power-hungry dictator you’re afraid of, and fear doesn’t excuse disemboweling your civilized principles simply because it’s “expedient” and “practical”.

At some point, if you don’t draw a line in the sand and declare “this far but no further” you become a dictator-enabler, an anti-democrat. A Traitor. You may hem and haw and delay until the question is no longer debatable, but when that moment is reached you MUST stand and fight or be accounted a coward, a sell-out, a Traitor to democracy. If you do not, then you and your party – the party that goes along with you – MUST be rejected by democrats because you have betrayed everything they stand for and allied yourself with monarchists who want to return kings to their thrones and send the people packing back to the fetid serfdom from which they emerged 250 years ago.

One CANNOT be a democrat – or a Democrat – if one believes in or supports or aids the reinstitution of monarchy. That ought to be self-explanatory. That it isn’t any more is one of the great sadnesses of Bush’s sad reign.

Written by Mick

April 30, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Dump the Dems 4: What Would It Take to Rescue the Democratic Party?

with 6 comments

Alright, we’ve laid the groundwork, examined the dilemma, and heard the two main sides of the argument. The time has come to ask practical questions about what can, if anything, be done.

$$$

Whichever side of this debate they come down on, I think everyone agrees that the core of the problem is $$$.

The stranglehold maintained by the relative minority of Democrats in the Democratic Leadership Council and the Blue Dog Alliance is made possible primarily by the overwhelming superiority of the GOP $$$campaign donor$$$ advantage over the past 25 years. The GOP, which represents and is employed by Corporate America, has enjoyed a 3 or 4-1 advantage in fund-raising for national and state-wide campaigns. A LOT of that money has gone into Rovian attack ads against Democratic candidates, as well as into outright efforts to sabotage likely Democratic voters and to steal close elections. For example, the paid Republican mob in Florida that intimidated Dade County election officials into cutting short their vote count were bought and brought there with RNC funds donated by corporations.

The DLC/BD Alliance has successfully made the argument to recalcitrant Dems that if they don’t want to go back to losing election after election, they have to be able to compete with the GOP monetarily. To do that, they have to present an agenda that is not unfriendly to potential corporate donors, and to do that, they have to dump their traditional concerns over labor rights, environmental issues, worker safety, and a host of other issues that had alienated corporate donors in the past.

The result of the Clinton success in the 90′s was to cement the power of the DLC/BDA in the party, pushing it further and further to the right until we now have a party that is, a majority of the time, philosophiocally indistinguishable from the GOP. It pushes the same agenda, it just doesn’t go as far as the Pubs are willing to go. The GOP is willing to dive off the cliff blindfolded; the Dems are only willing to push to the edge of the cliff, hoping it won’t collapse beneath them but otherwise doing nothing to move away from it or shore it up.

To rescue the Donkey party, therefore, first requires an all-out assault on the corporate-owned campaign financing system. In order for the Dems to return to who they used to be, there has to be a level campaign playing field, and as long as the rich own the Pubs, there won’t be…unless…we can manage to force public financing of campaigns on an unwilling and reluctant pair of political parties.

The most intensive of these efforts so far came in the 90′s with McCain-Feingold, but through compromise, tricks, and lengthy negotiation, the legislation was riddled with so many loopholes, exceptions, ifs, ands, and buts that by the time the vote came it was all but worthless. In the ensuing years, both parties, especially the GOP, simply ignored it or used one of its multiple loopholes to get around it.

If the Dems are ever to be Dems again, public financing of campaigns must become a reality and a strict limit placed on the raising of outside money by either party. I’m not going to go into the manifest benefits of forcing the parties to work with equal amounts of money, they’ve been repeated often enough that most of us know them by rote. Nor am I going to play devil’s advocate and repeat the myriad problems with enforcing such a law should we ever get one passed. Those are also too well known to need repetition.

What I am suggesting is that if we can’t pass and enforce a tough campaign finance reform law, there is ZERO chance that either party will EVER be anything other than a corporate subsidiary. With corporate $$$ dominating the campaigns and therefore the candidates and their campaign agendas, both will have to bow to corporate demands. To claim anything else is either hopelessly naive, naively impractical, or the result of blind denial of modern political reality.

The DLC/BD Alliance

When our liberal/progressive movement has succeeded in breaking the hold of corporate money on the election system, we’ll still be faced with breaking the hold of the DLC/BDA on the party. They aren’t going to go quietly. They have determined the course of the party for almost 2 decades from positions of power. They’re not going to let loose of that kind of power just because we don’t need them any more.

It will be necessary for us to work against the worst offenders – the Clintons, Rahm Emanuel, Harry Reid, Silvestre Reyes, Jay Rockefeller, et al – possibly to the extent of supporting Republican challengers if Democratic challengers lose in the primaries. We MUST be prepared to take it that far and they must KNOW we will take it that far. Otherwise the DLC/BDA will simply undercut the efforts by insisting, as they have in the past and are doing right this minute, that we can be taken for granted because, you know, we have nowhere else to go.

This is a powerful argument. It tells lazy, cowardly politicians (and most who aren’t one are the other; many are both at once) that they don’t actually have to change anything they’re doing because there’s no real threat to their incumbency; that we are so anti-GOP that we won’t vote for a Pub against a Dem no matter how often that Dem votes with Pubs. Joe Lieberman is the Poster-Boy for that snake oil even as we speak. As long as that is what the Dems believe, it is the corporationsn they rush to placate, not us.

Unity

In order for any of this to happen, we will first have to forge a coherent strategy and an alliance of our own wherein liberal and progressive activists agree to put aside their differences and – most importantly – agree to concentrate, for the good of the country, on recognizing and supporting priorities that may result in the sidelining of their pet projects.

The Democrats simply will not respond to a demand for change from the left unless a formidable organization is behind it, ready to work against and vote against any Democrat who doesn’t support the Main Principles of the New Movement.

(Next: “What are the main principles?”)

Written by Mick

April 2, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.