Friday, June 24, 2011

The House Democrat Revolt That Wasn't

The 70 Democrats who voted today against authorizing Obama's splendid little Libyan war that is not war at first gave me a faint smidgen of hope that the progressive wing of the party is branching off on its own.  They defied Nancy Pelosi for a change.  They didn't listen when Hillary Clinton fed them her guilt-trip spiel that if they weren't for bombing Libya, then it logically follows that they must love K-Daffy.  The "if you're not for us, you're against us" tripe used to sell the Iraq invasion didn't work this time.

 And one New York congressman actually stood up on the House floor and called his president a monarch in the making as far as his bombing adventure is concerned.  Gerry Nadler, whose district includes the 9/11 site, has been anti-war since Vietnam, when he worked on Gene McCarthy's 1968 campaign. (another one of those dreaded "spoilers").  He is also disgusted with Obama's bait and switch Afghanistan withdrawal plan, and wants the troops brought home -- now. He pointed out, rightly, that each executive administration has given more and more power to successive presidents.  Obama seems to believe that he is Commander in Chief of the entire country, when the Constitution merely makes him commander in chief of the armed forces. He actually does still work for "the people" -- if only in theory.

And then, inexplicably, the House voted to pay for the war it just said was illegal. Never mind.

Of course, the ruling class Democrats in the Senate want to bomb Libya for a whole year more, if necessary, so the House voting on the fact that they hated Obama going behind their backs was purely symbolic anyway.  You have to love the message it's sending Obama, though, as he campaigned at this week's factory.  How ironic that his latest factory makes robotics.  How refreshing that at least 70 House Democrats are not pure robots, but bona fide androids with just a touch of humanity still left in their carcasses.

This has nothing and everything to do with Republicans.  Of course the Republicans voted against authorizing Obama to bomb Libya for all the wrong reasons.  If it had been one of their own in the Oval Office, they would have been urging him to invade a dozen more countries and given him a blank check.  Of course it was the Republicans who cheer-led the Iraq War and bankrupted the country.

But they are the known lunatics and the Democrats are supposedly the sane ones -- although by compromising with the GOP on the budget, they're just enabling and colluding with the insanity.  The two parties we have now are the John Birch Society and the Reagan Republicans.  Either Democrats have to start acting like Democrats again after a 50-year hiatus, or the whole party should just implode and allow a new liberal/labor/progressive party to emerge from the ruins.  Right now there is only one Democrat in the Senate, and his name is Bernie Sanders.  And he calls himself a socialist.

Michele Bachmann and her ilk could never have risen to national prominence were it not for the big Democratic sellout.  The vacuum created by the inaction of the so-called liberal class on jobs, the continued bankrupting wars, the deregulation of Wall Street, the infusion of corporate money into national elections, the corporatization of the mass media and the killing of the Fairness Doctrine have left a citizenry so devoid of hope that it creates the perfect atmosphere for the rise of a theocratic demagogue like Bachmann.

Obama, from his waffling on Afghanistan, his capitulation in the name of bipartisanhip to Republicans, his dithering on immigration reform and DREAM Act amnesty, his failure to appoint Elizabeth Warren and protect consumers, his release of oil reserves for pure political expediency, his groveling to Wall Street --is about one thing: his own re-election. We have to stop looking to him, or the plutocratic millionaire-bloated Senate,  for any leadership. We should instead concentrate on voting for representation on the local and state and Congressional levels -- and continuing to organize as progressive groups and to speak out as individuals.

Holding Republican nutjobs up to the ridicule and blame they so richly deserve is fine, but it isn't enough. Not by a long shot.

**Update 6/25:  Some writers are pointing out that the vote against defunding the war was actually a vote against a sneaky provision in it, thus absolving the Congresspeople who voted against authorizing the war and then seemingly doing an about-face.  Glenn Greenwald writes in his Salon column today:  
That was the reason so many anti-war members of Congress -- including dozens of progressives -- rejected the "de-funding" bill despite opposition to the war in Libya: because it was a disguised authorization for a war they oppose, not because they cowardly failed to check executive power abuses.  As Rogin reports, "there were more than enough lawmakers to pass" a true de-funding bill, but GOP leaders -- who have been protecting Obama on Libya from the start -- did not bring that to the floor.
That's the whole trouble with so much of the legislation being voted on these days: the bills are riddles wrapped in secrecy surrounded by enigmas.  Half the Congresspeople probably didn't even realize what they were voting for. Some voted against both measures, some voted for, and some split the difference. Where was House Speaker Boehner in all this?  Probably canoodling with Obama. He was not present to vote on the Libya bills yesterday.


Jay - Ottawa said...

You may write other posts over the weekend, but I hope not. This one deserves to sit at the top of the pile for at least a week.

Today's symbolic vote by House Democrats and others against the imperial presidency may signal a first step in a new direction. Either our representatives take the party back from its lawless leaders, or they begin flocking to a new party, a Third Party Bernie Sanders would be proud to join.

Anonymous said...

More "Big Government" sound bite politics. I was against the war in Lybia before I was for it, or is it the other way around?
At least with Bernie Sanders you only spend money on dairy cows.


Janet Camp said...

Re: Your second to last paragraph.

I came across this in my mailbox today and luckily it's available online. Very prescient I think.

I would like to invite your readers to read this (not real long) and contribute some of their own states' political history stories. Nichols makes a point I think many of us have been trying to articulate. We can build on what's gone before and use it to inspire ourselves and others.

Also, I'd like to invite all of you to join us at the Bob Fest, September 17th! I think it will be very BIG this year. Blogging and commenting are great for venting, but being with other people who share your views and are having similar life experiences is way more real.

Janet Camp said...

Oops, I think I forgot the link to the Bob Fest:

Karen Garcia said...

I actually had to rewrite this whole post. The first version was written before they voted to give the Prez the $ and I said yippee/spoke/wrote wa-a-a-a-y too soon. I should have known it was too good to be true.

Marie Burns said...

"If it had been one of their own in the Oval Office, [Republicans] would have been urging him to invade a dozen more countries and given him a blank check."

We know this to be true, because Mitch McConnell said so. In a moment of uncharacteristic candor, the Turtle said at a breakfast meeting this week sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor,

"I'm not sure that these kind of differences might not have been there in a more latent form when you had a Republican president. But I do think there is more of a tendency to pull together when the guy in the White House is on your side."

That is, had Obama been a card-carrying Republican instead of a DINO, Congressional Republicans would not have said squat about invoking the War Powers Act in regard to our bombing-for-NATO-buddies action in Libya.

But the House's two-step today, in which (1) they voted to rebuke President Obama fo not getting Congressional approval for the Libyan love-bombs, after which (2) they voted to fund the Libyan love-bombs anyway, merely underscores Garcia's main point: that ridiculing & blaming Republicans is not enough. One-hundred-forty-nine House Democrats voted to fund the Libyan effort.

I don't know if those 149 Democrats are besotted with the idea of an old-fashioned monarchy, but that's what we're getting. Let's see if they vote next to authorize funding for some nice crown jewels for the Obamas. Or maybe following in the footsteps of former speaker Newt, they can just authorize a line of credit at Tiffany's. I'm sure of one thing: Michelle Obama would look particularly swell sporting a tiara.

The Constant Weader

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

"Michele Bachmann and her ilk could never have risen to national prominence were it not for the big Democratic sellout. The vacuum created by the inaction of the so-called liberal class on jobs, the continued bankrupting wars, the deregulation of Wall Street, the infusion of corporate money into national elections, the corporatization of the mass media and the killing of the Fairness Doctrine have left a citizenry so devoid of hope that it creates the perfect atmosphere for the rise of a theocratic demagogue like Bachmann." K. Garcia

This is so true. If the Democrats lose in 2012, they have no one to blame but themselves. They haven't offered anything other than a slower death to people who are drowning. When I hear life-long Democrats saying they aren't going to bother to vote anymore or that they are considering voting Libertarian because at least the L's will get us out of foreign wars, that is the death knell of the DNC we are hearing. As terrifying as it is to think of the Republicans winning in 2012, I am beginning to think it is inevitable. And not because people like me are saying we won't give Obama our vote unless he delivers us something. People have lost all hope in this country.

And, Janet, just a response to your saying you won't vote for Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic Primary because he is not qualified to be President. All I can say is he is a hell of a lot more qualified than Obama was when he took office. At least DK has some integrity and progressive ideals. Do I think DK will win in the Primary if he runs? No. But I think a vote for him in the Primary would send a message to the Democratic Party that there are rumblings in the ranks. While I understand your pragmatism about not voting for someone other than Obama in November 2012, I can't believe that a "safe" vote in the Primary would be something you are against. We can’t consistently vote against Progressive candidates who don’t sell out and then wonder why a Progressive candidate won’t stand up and lead our party.

Sadly, I have to agree with Jay that a loss in 2012 will be the only thing to shake up this country and the Democratic Party enough to change. I hope it will not be too late and our rights won’t be so eroded by 2016 that Progressives can rise up out of the debris to form a viable option to the Corporation Party.

mac gordon said...

In defense of an 'old-fashioned- monarchy'. At least the monarchs led their troops into battle!
Frankly, at this point the history of the US of A, a return to the monarchy couldn't be any worse than the rabid nonsense, laughingly called called our 'government'!

Anonymous said...

here's the good news....

Gay marriage passes in New York!


Janet Camp said...


I wouldn't vote for DK in a primary or anything else. He does not represent enough people to be credible. He has many flaws in my view. This is just a personal take, not a condemnation of him as a candidate. If Russ Feingold is not going to challenge Obama in 2012, then I don't think anyone else credible is going to either. I think we just have to tough this out for four more years and just be glad we (hopefully) will not suffer under a President Bachmann or Romney or whoever they come up with. I am looking to 2016.

I cannot stress enough that if we want to elect a truly Progressive candidate we have a lot of work to do. A few protest votes in a primary is not going to achieve any Progressive goals. We have to bring lots more people into the Progressive movement--there simply are not enough of us. There are enough Democrats, but many are "moderate" and would not self-describe as Progressive or liberal.

The best thing that could happen is for Wisconsin Democrats to win the recall elections--that would be a concrete success that could spread to other states and truly send a message that will be heard. It could give some momentum to Progressives and reduce timidity among Democrats.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Glenn Greenwald in his post of June 25 gets into the inside baseball of the congressional revolt -- and it was just that -- against the executive's unauthorized war (or "whatever" with bombs and other non-hostilities) in Libya.

The vote was over a PARTIAL defunding of that splendid little whatever in Libya. Voting for a partial defunding would have constituted congressional approval of the war by implicitly approving funding for some of the war making costs that were excepted from defunding in the bill -- what Obama and most Republicans really wanted.

True, there may have been good reason to limit SOME of the funding by voting in favor of the partial defunding bill. Kusinich voted for partial defunding. But, as already mentioned, curbing war funding only partially, would have served as backdoor approval of the Libyan whatever. Most House progressives voted against the defunding bill for that reason, not because they were cowardly.

The whole business turns out to be more than a congressional shot across the bow for the White House, which was seeking legal cover for its Libyan whatever. The White House took a hit with that vote, and is now even more clearly in bold noncompliance with the War Powers Act. The House of Representatives just said so by not swallowing the half empty glass of poison.

Karen Garcia said...

Sorry my link to the Greenwald Salon story wasn't showing up too well in my update to my post. For some reasons the links lose their bold highlighting after awhile. Thanks for explaining this further, Jay. Meantime I'll try to find a fix to the links visibility issue.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Oops. I missed your update of yesterday, read Greenwald this morning and commented just now redundantly.

Karen Garcia said...

Jay -- You are hereby forgiven. You did inspire me to improve the links, which are now in a lovely Bright Blue. I am still figuring out the techno-minutiae of blogging -- I am not too swift on the computer and have had to call the kids for help on more than one occasion.

Gerald Rubin said...

Karen, I am a new Follower of Sardonicky. I believe that both your political analysis and clear writing style are seconds to none, including the likes of Glen Greenwald, whom I love. You have a way to distill the facts into a clear writing style that is very easy to comprehend and very convincing as well. I would like to see you blog expand greatly in readership. It would truly be a major asset to the Progressive cause into a country that is headed for doom if our downhill course is not soon changed.

Ciara said...

Karen, this is such a great post. The couple of paragraphs from "The two parties we have now are the John Birch Society and the Reagan Republicans" and on are particularly excellent and on the money. Thank you!

Karen Garcia said...

Thank you, Gerald and Ciara, for your kind and encouraging words.