3.20.2007

jellyfish

Last November I was verbally attacked for not voting in the US elections. Then as now, I don't feel I have the ethical right to vote in the US anymore, despite what is technically true. More importantly to me, I feel the system is fatally corrupt. I believe US elections are a sham, a palliative to present the appearance of democracy, to make us believe things aren't as dire as they really are. I just feel finished with it.

And even if I could stomach the system, I can't stomach the Democrats. They sicken me and the idea of voting for them sickens me further.

Without my help, the Democrats won the day, and there was much jubilation over the supposedly good guys - the better guys, anyway - taking back Congress.

And what has happened since then? For the last four months, the Democrats have had the power to end the war. What have they done?
In what may be the largest supplemental in U.S. history, the House appropriations committee passed a $124.1 billion emergency funding bill – more than $25 billion more than requested by President Bush.

The bill is touted as changing course in Iraq because it requires troops to be out by August 31, 2008. But even then there are four exceptions that troops can remain in Iraq for including "capturing or killing" members of Al Qaeda or other terrorists.

Remember "starve the beast"? That's conservative shorthand for cutting revenue (taxes), which in turn cuts spending on social programs, and supposedly reduces the size of government. How about starving the gargantuan beast that is the war machine? Put another way, has anyone ever heard of a war and occupation ending because it was getting more funding?

This post is coming more from my heart and my gut than from a careful following of every move the Democrats have made, or failed to make. I don't follow news of the US Congress that closely. I read a headline and a few paragraphs and I think, that's just Dems being Dems. What did anyone expect?

So this morning I did a little searching to see if I could find a good wrap-up. Thanks to Alexander Cockburn for providing it.
This last Sunday Harry Reid, the incoming Democratic majority leader in the US Senate, went on ABC's Sunday morning show and declared that a hike in U.S. troops in Iraq is okay with him.

Here's the evolution of the Democrats' war platform since November 7, 2006, the day the voters presented a clear mandate: "End the war! Get out of Iraq!" and took the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives away from the Republicans.

So somewhat to their surprise the Democrats recaptured both the Senate and the House. Then they went to work--to obliterate the mandate.

Read Cockburn's story. It's very good.

Here's an interview with Dennis Kucinich, a true progressive, about what his colleagues are doing.

Another excellent piece is this editorial in The Nation.
The House and Senate have the authority to end the war in Iraq quickly, efficiently and honorably. Claims to the contrary by George W. Bush and his apologists are at odds with every intention of the authors of the Constitution. Which part of "Congress shall have the power to declare war... to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces...to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers" does the White House fail to understand? Unfortunately, it may be the same part that cautious Congressional leaders have trouble comprehending.

With the announcement of spending legislation that includes benchmarks for progress in Iraq, and a plan to begin withdrawing troops if those benchmarks are unmet, Pelosi has begun to define a Democratic opposition to Bush's policies. But she has not gone nearly far enough. . . .

Forcing Americans and Iraqis to die for Bush's delusions for another year while emptying the Treasury at a rate of more than $1 billion a week is unconscionable. That is why House members who have battled hardest to end the war are so frustrated with Pelosi's approach. "This plan would require us to believe whatever the President would tell us about progress that was being made," says Representative Maxine Waters, speaking for the bipartisan Out of Iraq Caucus. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey has been blunter, saying of the legislation, "There's no enforcement mechanism."

. . .

The haggling over compromises points up the flaw in Pelosi's approach: It is too soft, too slow, too open to lobbying mischief and abuse by a President who has done nothing but abuse Congress for six years. America and the world are not crying out for a timeline that might begin extracting troops from Iraq a year from now. Almost 200 American soldiers, and thousands of Iraqis, have died since the Democrats took control of Congress. To accept that the war will go on for another year, at the least, is to accept that the death toll will continue to mount.

Democrats should recognize that the time has come to use the full power accorded Congress in time of war: the power of the purse. As Senator Russ Feingold says, "Some will claim that cutting off funding for the war would endanger our brave troops on the ground. Not true. The safety of our servicemen and -women in Iraq is paramount, and we can and should end funding for the war without putting our troops in further danger."

Instead of negotiating with Bush to give him another year of his war before facing consequences, Democrats should refuse to write another blank check.

This column by Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times gives the full run-down on the Democrats betraying their base. (Look how he begins the piece! Is it really ironic?)

None of this is the slightest bit surprising, and that what makes it so very, very sad.

32 comments:

redsock said...

Gotta love those Democrats. Vow to stop the war, get elected, then give Bush more $$$ than he asked for to keep the war going.

And people on the left keep falling for this shit. Over and over and over and over ....

And Jonah Goldberg appears to be making sense? ... The end is surely nigh.

M@ said...

Luckily, Goldberg brings up the old canard that fighting climate change will "wreak havoc on the economy". I like how that's now an assumption that needs no backing (just like the assumption that climate change will cost nothing if it proceeds as it has been). So we know it's not an impostor, anyhow.

My father has a saying in business: "Hope is not a management tool." I think it applies here too -- you really shouldn't vote based on the hope that one party will do something different in that system. But with, as you say, a fundamentally broken system, I don't see how things can change. What would an American who won't or can't leave do? It seems more hopeless the more you look at the problem.

orc said...

To be the devil's advocate, it's _possible_ that the Stupid Party has simply decided that now that Maximum Leader Genius has been fatally wounded (remember that this is happening in the fantasyland that is Washington DC, where everyone starts out their day believing at least one impossible thing) that they can play the "lard up the military budget" game with confidence that none of this money will be used to either (a) attack Iran or (b) build Halliburton's new gold-plated executive office building in Dubai (in one of the tax-free zones, of course.)


Your pony? It's sitting in the stable right over there -->

Dick Hertz said...

Well, as I've said before, if the Republicans passed a bill to abolish the U.S. Constitution, the Democrats would agree to phase it out over a seven-year period.

L-girl said...

And Jonah Goldberg appears to be making sense?

Definitely a sign of the apocalypse. But I like to quote a wingnut now and again. Occassionally they are even right. As in, correct.

Luckily, Goldberg brings up the old canard that fighting climate change will "wreak havoc on the economy".

I missed that one in this column. Yes, that's a good one. Destroying the planet, on the other hand - that brings no financial burden. Floods, drought, famine, increasingly violent storms - piece of cake.

But as you say, that's his wingnut calling card.

My father has a saying in business: "Hope is not a management tool." I think it applies here too

That's a great expression!

A while back, I mentioned a blogger who proposed that Hillary Clinton, if elected, would feel she owed women and progressive voters, and would govern more to the left that she campaigns.

I could only say, How's that been working out for you so far? That sums up my feelings about this wishful thinking on the Democrats. Your father's expression is very apt.

What would an American who won't or can't leave do?

The same things I was doing before I left. Either try to force the Dems back to their liberal roots, or try to build a progressive alternative party, or work to revamp the election and voting systems, or all of the above.

It seems more hopeless the more you look at the problem.

It does. And of course that makes it harder and harder to fight.

L-girl said...

if the Republicans passed a bill to abolish the U.S. Constitution, the Democrats would agree to phase it out over a seven-year period.

If you never say another intelligent word on this blog, you have earned your keep many times over, right here. That is really great. I will quote you.

Although because of your 5th-grade-style handle, I will quote you anonymously.

West End Bound said...

Russ Feingold:

One of the very few politicians of any party that actually has a social conscience and makes sense. With all that going for him, there is no way he can be a viable candidate for a national office in the US.

How very disappointing that is . . . .

L-girl said...

With all that going for him, there is no way he can be a viable candidate for a national office in the US.

None of the really good guys are viable for national office - Kucinich, Feingold, Waters - and before them Tom Harkin, Paul Wellstone... those are just a few names that spring to mind. There's usually been a small handful sprinkled through Congress. Voices in the wilderness, but at least they should get our thank yous.

James said...

Luckily, Goldberg brings up the old canard that fighting climate change will "wreak havoc on the economy".

I keep wondering why these devout capitalists don't realize that someone's going to have to develop and market the technology that will be needed to fight climate change. There's a great potential area for investment. Ballard, a fuel cell company in BC, had their stock rise a to many times its IPO value and is still going up, IIRC (unlike dot-com start-ups).

Would-be Canadian said...

If you never say another intelligent word on this blog, you have earned your keep many times over, right here. That is really great. I will quote you.

Thank you, you're very kind.

For another example: Sen. Feingold said that the Democrats would be revisiting the execrable bankruptcy "reform" that was passed at the behest of the credit card companies in 2005. You know, the ones that made it harder for people who get in money trouble to start over? Now that we work our asses off to get them elected? Not a peep. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the same credit card companies who bought, erm, lobbied for those laws also donated money to the Democrats? Naaa . . .

Although because of your 5th-grade-style handle, I will quote you anonymously.

Point taken.

M@ said...

I could only say, How's that been working out for you so far? [...] Your father's expression is very apt.

I'm not opposed to hope, of course, but it's something that inspires and energises, not something on which to base decisions. But I always keep that saying in mind because it's a strong antidote to lazy thinking. I think it appeals to the skeptic in me. (I also tend to think a lot like my father, though, so there's a little bias involved... :) )

I keep wondering why these devout capitalists don't realize that someone's going to have to develop and market the technology that will be needed to fight climate change.

I keep saying this too -- I agree wholeheartedly. I'd like to know why Western governments aren't working to create incentives for development. Maybe they are, but they're far outstripped, I'd wager, to fossil fuel related subsidies.

M@ said...

Incidentally, I am quite aware of the contradiction in my thinking re: hope, in that I tend to (though don't always) vote Liberal, when I know full well they only represent me in the campaign, not in their legislation. I'll thank everyone to refrain from pointing that out.

Would-be Canadian said...

None of the really good guys are viable for national office - Kucinich, Feingold, Waters - and before them Tom Harkin, Paul Wellstone... those are just a few names that spring to mind.

Well, Americans always say that they want a smart, moral person to be president. People of our political stripe have always wanted a progressive president. We had both in Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy's (that's how he officially signed his name and wanted everyone to address him as) first official act as president was to unconditionally pardon all of the Vietnam draft resisters. He also pushed through various pro-environmental tax credits. Under his watch, a number of federal consumer protection laws - that actually had some teeth in them - were signed.

Trouble is, he was elected right after Ford finished out Nixon's unexpired term. In other words, the only way he was able to get elected was by running at a time when people would have sooner elected Fred Flintstone than Gerald Ford. Plus, he inherited a wrecked economy and a country that really was on its knees following the Vietnam quagmire. Needless to say, Alzheimer's Reagan got elected. The rest, as they say, is history.

I have no reason to think that history will not repeat itself. In other words, 2008 is going to be a disaster. The Stupid Party has already decreed that Hillary is the nominee, just as they did with Kerry in 2004.

I'm expanding a bit on Laura's points in her excellent post on this subject. A lot of non-Americans forget is that the progressive bastions of Seattle, San Francisco, New York and similar places do not represent the whole of America. As evidenced by the red-versus-blue electoral map of 2004, the whole of America is populated by people whose view of the world is shaped by Pat Robertson's 700 Club, Faux News, the Washington "Moonie" Times and the Drudge Report. These people take literally the biblical admonition about women being submissive to their husbands, for example. Anyone who thinks Hillary will make any inroads into those places has been toking the BC Bud for way too long.

As they did before, the wingnuts will paint her (I'm not making this up) as a communist, if not a Stalinist, and the red staters will lap it up. Emboldended by this, the RepubliKKKan ticket will consist of another pliant idiot like Bush or Quayle and a Machiavellian sonofabitch like Cheney. If it comes right down to it, they'll steal the election with Diebold's help if necessary.

It truly saddens me to see how far my once-great country has fallen. I just wonder how hard the Canadian citizenship exam is . . .

L-girl said...

I keep wondering why these devout capitalists don't realize that someone's going to have to develop and market the technology that will be needed to fight climate change.

Dinosaurs. Plus anything called "environmental" must be bad. I find it so odd that wanting clean air, clean water and to possibly leave a few resources (and an earth!) around for future generations is considered "leftist". What does that say about the right?

L-girl said...

Although because of your 5th-grade-style handle, I will quote you anonymously.

Point taken.


Whoa, I never imagined my snarky comment would have such an effect. I'm glad it did though. I think you'll find that people will take your comments more seriously now.

Now besides three Jameses, we'll have a hyphen to keep track of. :)

L-girl said...

I'm not opposed to hope, of course, but it's something that inspires and energises, not something on which to base decisions.

Hope is essential. Without hope, there's no life - no change - and certainly no activism.

But if you've tried something 20 times and it's never produced the results you're after, hoping that it will on that 21st try is not a plan.

L-girl said...

Americans always say that they want a smart, moral person to be president.

They do?

L-girl said...

It truly saddens me to see how far my once-great country has fallen.

You might want to ask yourself when it was great - and if it was really great, or if you were just more gullible and less educated at that time.

L-girl said...

To the commenter "edwin": I removed your comment because it violated my commenting guidelines. If you want to try again without the implied insult, please feel free.

Would-be Canadian said...

You might want to ask yourself when it was great - and if it was really great, or if you were just more gullible and less educated at that time.

Yes, that is a question I've wrestled with. A lot of people romanticize, say, the 1950s. I personally don't see what's so great about a time when domestic violence was rampant and unchecked. The same was true of child abuse, but we just called that "character building." Oh, and let's not forget that abortion was illegal and girls were sent away to have their babies. And we had that whole, you know, segregation thing. Since that only had to do with our "tinted brethren," though, it was no biggie, right?

In sum, we had all the same social problems back then, but they just weren't talked about. Is it a coincidence that nothing was done about them then? I think not.

So I take it you're of the belief that the American experiment was an abject failure from the very beginning? I'm starting to come around to that point of view myself. Next on my reading list (when I'm not out answering the call of the wild) is going to be Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States."

Would-be Canadian said...

James said...

I keep wondering why these devout capitalists don't realize that someone's going to have to develop and market the technology that will be needed to fight climate change.


You're forgetting that American businessmen and corporations tend to be extremely shortsighted. They think only about a return for next quarter. The idea of considering a new business model that will take years to implement is utterly foreign to them. What do they do? What else? They deploy their armies of lobbyists to block any reforms. We might ultimately end up nibbling away at the edges, but any real and substantial reforms are sunk.

This is what happens when we have the finest government money can buy.

Would-be Canadian said...

L-girl said...

Americans always say that they want a smart, moral person to be president.

They do?


To a person, yes, I think so. But look who we end up with over and over again.

Would-be Canadian said...

L-girl said...

Whoa, I never imagined my snarky comment would have such an effect. I'm glad it did though. I think you'll find that people will take your comments more seriously now.


I post as that on lots of other boards. Most people think it's funny. I even get comments like, "should I get you some ice for that?" After my sinus surgery, someone said, "I'll bet'cha it's more like Nose Hertz now, isn't it?"

edwin said...

I must admit some confusion over the implied insult. It certainly wasn't my intent to do so, unless you are referring to Bill Clinton. In his case, I wasn't really trying to insult him either, but to make a historical point. Please accept my apologies.

L-girl said...

Edwin, my apologies, I must have misinterpreted your comment. I thought you were insulting another commenter.

You're free to insult Bill Clinton here anytime! (Although I didn't see anything about him in your post.)

Anyway, sorry about that. Please post away.

L-girl said...

You might want to ask yourself when it was great - and if it was really great, or if you were just more gullible and less educated at that time.

Yes, that is a question I've wrestled with. A lot of people romanticize, say, the 1950s.


That I can't see at all. How could any time before 1964, and during Jim Crow, have been great?

Allan and I once had a long conversation about this, and I posted about it somewhere - I'll try to find it. We settled on the mid-1970s as the high point of democracy in the US. Post-Vietnam, and although equality was still imperfect (of course), civil rights, the women's movement, and the fledgling gay liberation movement were at least underway. To my mind, it has to be somewhere between 1975 and Reagan. Perhaps 1978 was the apex.

So I take it you're of the belief that the American experiment was an abject failure from the very beginning?

An abject failure? No. Not at all. I just know that it's never lived up to the promise of its beautiful founding documents. And that it's been dragged closer and closer to those ideals by people's movements, to the great consternation of the ruling elite. And that at about 1980, it started moving in the other direction, and has continued moving in that direction since then.

Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States."

Zinn is a true hero of mine, and that book is amazingly revealing. If I may make a suggestion, you might want to read a chapter at a time, and take breaks with other, lighter reading in between. The beginning is especially very heavy - the Native Americans, then slavery.

By the way, I seriously doubt Howard Zinn would characterize the American experiment as an abject failure, either.

L-girl said...

I post as that on lots of other boards. Most people think it's funny.

Well, each to her own. I can tell you people around here don't, at least the regulars.

edwin said...

I haden't slept all night. I don't have a record of what I said and I do not see what I was responding to. Do I even have the right site? I was sure that Bill Clinton was in there somewhere. Who knows. Anyway, my ability to write coherently sometimes leaves something to be desidred. If I write something that is open to interpertation in a way that I did not mean, then I'm not going to complain too hard if it is pulled. In fact I may think that you are doing me a favour.

James said...

I find it so odd that wanting clean air, clean water and to possibly leave a few resources (and an earth!) around for future generations is considered "leftist". What does that say about the right?

Well, you know, Jesus is coming and he's going to want to know why we didn't finish things off. Like when grandma comes and finds that you only ate half of your third helping of pie. "Didn't you like it? I worked all day on that!"

Or, as Ann Coulter put it: "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"

You're forgetting that American businessmen and corporations tend to be extremely shortsighted.

I'm not, actually. Ballard put up huge returns in very little time.

That I can't see at all. How could any time before 1964, and during Jim Crow, have been great?

No country has ever been truly, unambiguously great. The best you can hope for is "better than expected for the time period", really.

Which is a good start.

L-girl said...

Edwin, thanks for your understanding.

. . . .

No country has ever been truly, unambiguously great.

I agree, absolutely.

The best you can hope for is "better than expected for the time period", really.

Which is a good start.


That's true. And of course it depends on what you're viewing as greatness. Many Americans measure greatness in terms of military strength, which seems to me as stupid as measuring a person's greatness by how much wealth he's accumulated, or how much celebrity he's achieved.

What's best about the US was brought by people agitating against the government. James, I remember talking about this with you - how I'm always so struck by that much of what makes Canada good was brought about by people within the system, like Tommy Douglas or Pierre Trudeau. The US and Canada are very different that way.

MSS said...

Actually, Democrats have not had the power to stop the war, because even if a cut-off resolution could get out of the House (it would not, but if), the Senate poses a serious obstacle. There are only 48 Dems currently in the Senate. Johnson is recuperating, and there are two independents. Sanders would vote to end the war. Lieberman? I don't think so!

So, as much has I wish it were true, the votes to end the war simply are not there.

By the way (and this is for redsock, first comment), there was never any promise by the Democratic Party, per se, to end the war. Some candidates, yes. But it was never the party message. Again, I wish it were otherwise. But it's not.

L-girl said...

Actually, Democrats have not had the power to stop the war,

I disagree. If Democratic leadership applied sufficient pressure, they could get the votes. There could be a snowball effect. They might even get a few Republicans.

But we don't know, because they didn't try.

By the way (and this is for redsock, first comment), there was never any promise by the Democratic Party, per se, to end the war. Some candidates, yes. But it was never the party message. Again, I wish it were otherwise. But it's not.

They were voted in because of the public's continued and increased disapproval of the war. You know that as well as I do. A promise "per se" by the "Democratic Party"? No, of course not. But there was public opposition to the Bush agenda, specifically the war, and that's how they regained control of Congress. Then they tanked. As per usual.