Posts tagged Congress

Gosh that’s tough

In a footnote on a generally appalling post, devoted entirely to abusing anyone who might have the temerity to hold the doing-worse-than-nothing Democratic Congressional majority in general — or Nancy Pelosi in particular — to account on matters of principle (a post which makes itself completely impossible to reply to with anything other than more abuse and facile sarcasm, because the post does not, at any point, identify any particular person or action that is being targeted, and so offers no basis for serious discussion), Anthony McCarthy has this to add:

Volunteering in a political campaign, seeing what they go through, I’m sick and tired of hearing people run down our [sic] politicians. They are just about all dedicated to pubic service. Few moderate to liberal Democrats serving in elective office at the national level couldn’t be enjoying a much more comfortable and profitable life pursuing a wealth-making career. With considerably fewer headaches. You think it’s such a bed of roses, try getting yourself elected. Try dodging the bullets and balancing the pressure groups.

It must be so hard on them.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is out there trying to dodge metaphorical bullets. If she doesn’t make it past those metaphorical bullets, then, sometime in early 2009, she’ll be demoted to a mere Representative, or might even have to look for a new well-paying white-collar job. Meanwhile, near Mosul, a woman and a child failed to dodge some actual bullets, when U.S. soldiers opened fire on their car.

They died.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A woman, a child and two gunmen were killed by U.S. forces conducting a military operation targeting al Qaeda in northern Iraq, the military said on Sunday.

It said U.S. forces fired on a car carrying suspected militants that refused to stop near the northern city of Mosul on Saturday.

… Iraqi and U.S. troops launched a major offensive in northern Iraq on Saturday against al Qaeda militants in the region.

— Dean Yates and Sami Aboudi, Reuters (2008-05-11): Two civilians killed in U.S. operation in N.Iraq

Those non-metaphorical bullets were paid for by the United States government. The reason that they keep getting paid for is that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi keeps on voting for the government to keep paying for it, and has used her considerable power and influence, both under parliamentary rules and through back-room party politics, to make sure that her fellow Democrats in Congress also go on voting to keep paying for it. (She is about to do her damnedest, along with her other political cronies, to do this yet again, and is trying to figure out how to ramrod the bill through Congress as quickly as possible.)

This war would be over if Pelosi didn’t choose to spend the past year and a half safeguarding her political career at the cost of perpetuating a murderous and disastrous occupation, which she herself recognizes as a bloody failure. The reason for this disgusting policy, forcing me and millions of other antiwar Americans to pay hundreds of billions of dollars over this past year and a half, for a war now almost universally recognized as a catastrophic mistake and an unrelenting failure, is that doing anything different is widely thought, among Democratic power-brokers like Pelosi, to be political suicide. (That’s the melodramatic metaphor that politicians and their enablers like to use to describe an act that will probably cause you to lose some measure of political power that you’d otherwise have some hope of seizing and holding onto. Thus it is endlessly used to justify, or excuse, politicians who sacrifice the very things that they supposedly wanted the power in order to achieve for the sake of the power itself. Thus, by rhetorically equating a hold on political power with life itself, power is treated as if it were an end-in-itself rather than what it is, a mere means to further ends, which are always more important.)

Let me tell you a story about something that happened less than 40 years ago. On April 9, 1970, the New York Assembly passed a new abortion law, which repealed almost all government restrictions on a woman’s right to choose abortion. The vote was extremely close. In fact, it was so close that the final round of floor voting resulted in a 74-to-74 tie. Without a tie-breaking vote, the repeal bill would be defeated, and the New York state government would go on coercing women in the name of forced pregnancy. But just before the clerk could declare the bill officially defeated, an upstate Assemblyman named George M. Michaels got up and took the microphone. He was a Democrat representing a conservative district, and while he was personally pro-choice, he knew that most of his constituents were anti-abortion, and would be outraged by a vote for the abortion bill. Here is what he did.

George Michaels (voice shaking): I fully appreciate that this is the termination of my political career…. But Mr Speaker, what’s the use of getting elected, or re-elected, if you don’t stand for something? … I therefore request you, Mr. Speaker, to change my negative vote to an affirmative vote.

So the bill passed. Abortion was completely decriminalized. But Michaels was right: it was the termination of his political career. He was running for re-election that year, and within weeks of the vote his political party formally announced that they were abandoning him. Two months later, Michaels was defeated in the Democratic Party primary. George Michaels’s political career was over. But abortion is still legal in the state of New York.

It’s one of the most admirable and important things an elected politician has ever done in the United States. And it was a deliberate act of political suicide.

Those who would never think of doing something like that, who dismiss the very idea of political suicide out of hand, with a shudder or a sneer, and who make self-pitying pleas about how much it would cost them to take some kind of stand — which is to say, sanctimonious excuses for clinging to power, no matter how much they sacrifice and betray in order to keep it — are worth less than nothing as political allies.

Further reading:

Reformist overtures

Saturday I got a letter from the Las Vegas Area Democratic Majority Drive, an attempt by the Democratic Congressional leadership—which already has a majority but has been doing nothing or worse with it—to drum up money for an even bigger do-nothing majority through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Here’s the letter I got:

From the Las Vegas Area Democratic Majority Drive

Dear Mr. Johnson,

As 2007 comes to a close, the Democratic Party is working night and day to overcome President Bush’s misguided policies and stubborn resistance to our ideals and policies, but if we keep working together and keep fighting, we can continue to make progress, taking America in a New Direction.

That’s why I’m asking you to join other leading Democrats in the Las Vegas area in supporting the Democratic Majority Drive with a generous gift of $15, $25, $35, $50 or more today.

In the face of fierce resistance from President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress, the Democratic Majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has already strengthened House ethics rules and passed landmark legislation—repealing billions in oil industry tax breaks … lowering student loan interest rates … reducing prescription costs for people on Medicare … funding stem-cell research … raising the minimum wage … and holding the Bush Administration accountable for its disastrous policies on the war in Iraq.

But despite public support for these initiatives, President Bush is vetoing key parts of our agenda for change. Meanwhile, the Republicans are already targeting newly elected House Democrats — many of whom won in Republican-leaning districts — hoping to regain their stranglehold on the House in 2008. That’s why your support now is so vital.

As the official campaign arm of Democrats in the House, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is our nation’s only political committee dedicated to strengthening our Democratic Majority in the House—by standing with Democratic lawmakers targeted by the GOP … recruiting strong challengers to take on vulnerable Republican incumbents … providing our candidates with financial and strategic assistance … and running political ads in their districts.

With your support today, we will be able to stay on the offense to increase our Democratic Majority and help elect a Democratic president in 2008. Your help will be critical to providing the resources needed to mobilize Democratic field activists early and turn out voters in key districts.

Mr. Johnson, the elections of 2006 were the first critical steps toward a Democratic victory that strengthens and expands our Majority in Congress and takes back the White House. Now I ask you to help finish the job and win an even bigger victory in 2008—by joining other Democratic leaders in the Las Vegas area in supporting the Democratic Majority Drive.

Thank You,

Rep Chris Van Hollen
DCCC Chairman

I marked the enclosed contribution form $0.00 and referred them to this enclosed letter, which I mailed them today, postage courteously paid by the D.C.C.C.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen
Chair, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
P.O. Box 96039
Washington, DC 20077-7243

Dear Rep. Van Hollen:

Yesterday I received a direct mail solicitation from you as part of the Las Vegas Area Democratic Majority Drive, asking me to donate money to the D.C.C.C. I am writing to inform you that, under the present conditions, I cannot donate in good conscience, and I have joined a Democratic Donor Strike against both the D.C.C.C. and the D.S.C.C. (http://www.democrats.com/donor-strike-2007).

While I have contributed both votes and campaign donations to Democratic candidates in the past, I have been deeply disappointed by the refusal of Democratic leadership and the Democratic-controlled Congress to live up to the promises that brought them into the majority in the 2006 elections. In your fund-raising letter, you write that the Democratic Party is working night and day to overcome President Bush’s misguided policies, and claim that the Congressional Democrats have already been holding the Bush Administration accountable for its disastrous policies on the war in Iraq. But under the control of Democrat Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives and Democrat Harry Reid in the Senate, the Democratic Congressional leadership has repeatedly shown, by its actions, that either it agrees with the Bush administration’s misguided policies, or else will do nothing to check them. For example, every penny of funding for the catastrophic war on Iraq must be approved by the Democratic Congress, and if you refuse to continue funding the war, President Bush has no power to continue it. Yet the catastrophic war in Iraq rages on because Congressional Democrats have supported Bush’s demands for unconditional and unlimited emergency funding to continue this appalling war over and over again. They have faced no fierce resistance from President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress, because they continue to capitulate to every demand of Bush and the Republican war hawks. That is not even a failure; it is complicity.

In light of the Democratic leadership’s actions, I will not support, or donate money to, either the D.C.C.C. or the D.S.C.C., under any conditions, unless and until the Democratic-controlled Congress stands up to the Bush administration and accomplishes these four goals:

  1. Restricting any new Iraq funds to a safe and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops—not another penny for occupation or the Bush-Maliki enduring security guarantees;

  2. Passing legislation explicitly prohibiting any use of funds to plan or execute a pre-emptive attack on Iran, and repealing the post-9/11 Authorization of Use of Military Force that Bush and Cheney believe authorizes them to attack Iran or any other country they please, as well as to wiretap all our calls and emails without warrants;

  3. Fully restoring key civil liberties by strictly outlawing warrantless wiretapping and torture, closing Guantanamo, and restoring habeas corpus;

  4. Completing the investigation of White House crimes by using inherent contempt to compel testimony by current and former White House officials

If my help will be critical, as you claim in your letter, then I urge you and your fellow Democrats in Congress to make that help possible by demonstrating your commitment to these four goals. And I mean demonstrating your commitment by deeds, not by words. You can begin immediately by refusing to allow Congressional Republicans to attach tens billions of dollars in unconditional funding for the war on Iraq to the 2008 defense budget. I urge you to do so.

Sincerely,
Charles W. Johnson
Las Vegas, NV

No union with war-mongers, spiritually or politically.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of [Babylon], my people, that ye not be partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

— Revelation (KJV), 18:4

Rad Geek responds to your concerns in five words or fewer #1: Dennis Prager on Keith Ellison’s swearing-in

Dennis Prager, Townhall.com (2006-11-28):

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam [sic] , the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible.

Speak for yourself, please.

Jackass.