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October 22, 2007

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It's not chess, it's like this Monty Python skit about Hardy writing his first novel

For both FISA & the War the numbers are there.

The Dems do have the option of not approving additional funding for the war. i understand that's a difficult approach and the GOP will demagogue them as "soft on communism", but that's why the Dems were elected - to end the war.

The Dems give the impression that they will fold very easily on most issues. If the GOP continues to force a cloture vote on the Webb amendment, then don't bring a funding bill to the floor for a vote.

We don't blame the Democratic Leadership for not having the votes to override a veto, we blame them for not standing up for the principles we believe in. Why isn't Harry Reid supporting Dodd's filibuster of immunity for the telcoms? Why did they roll over on the Fisa bill? Why did they roll over on the Iraq Funding bill? I understand their political calculation, but at some point these things should become matters of consience. They should stand up for what is right.

Every single Republican filibuster, while frustrating in itself, is also a maddening reminder of all the times the Democrats COULD have filibustered & didn't; & that although we have the majority & they don't, they are still better at blocking very popular Democratic initiatives than we are at blocking less popular GOP initiatives.

The SCHIP veto override is slightly different from a filibuster--we can't force them to pass things with a 2/3 vote obviously. Nevertheless: Republicans maintain party disicipline even when their position is very clearly unpopular & electorally harmful. Democrats can't even when the public is split or on their side. Maddening.

Republicans have no moral compass and will smear and hastle children and the elderly (much like other right-wing nationalistic organizations) all in the name of Baby Jesus.

I'd fear them too!

It's easier to blame Democrats than Right-Wing fanatics.

"Democrats can’t alter the laws of mathematics. If they lack numbers, I don’t understand what exactly they’re supposed to do."

Compromise?

you know another thing the dems should be screaming to the rooftops?

(since in a sense i agree with you, that they should be focusing on making arguments, which they can do, rather than passing legislation, which they cannot do.)

they ought to be getting the american people ready, right now, for the bush tax hikes that are coming down the road.

they ought to be telling people, every week, that what makes your taxes go up is the people who spend the money, not the people who collect the money. and no one has spent more money than george bush.

so the bush tax hikes are already a reality; it's just a matter of when we're going to have to pay them.

this is one of the messages they should be drumming home now, in order to make it clear that when we have to collect more taxes under a democratic administration, it will be because we ran such huge deficits, and squandered so much treasure on pointless wars, under the bush regime.

Compromise?

No. Compromise results in the FISA bill, in a weakened SCHIP, in Mukasey as AG. To tkae the country back, we have to stop the compromises.

On funding, I agree it's different b/c they could block it themselves. But understand that (no matter how distasteful this argument sounds) it would be instant, generation-long political suicide to block war funding cold turkey. i don't like it either - but the american people have a strong, excessive nationalistic streak, and I just don't think they would see the nuance in that.

This is the reality that pelosi/reid face.

I agree on FISA and other things. But that form of chicken is a most dangerous game, particularly among the less-informed-than-blog-readers.

On SCHIP and war funding, I totally agree. But the Republicans screamed bloody murder about Democratic obstructionism whenever Dems filibustered - why aren't Democrats doing the same thing now? It's like the SCHIP strategy in that it's geared to long-term political victories rather than short-term compromises, though if played well it might get some short-term stuff accomplished too.

Same with FISA, which ought to be basic. Especially considering that Pelosi's willing to stand up for the Armenian genocide bill: why not FISA?

Also: Bush tax hikes = genius.

Thank you Publius. I finally stopped commenting over at Big Orange because whenever I'd say something like this, I'd get shouted down. When the numbers in the Senate are 51-49, and one of the majority is Lieberman, there's precious little of substance you can get done.

But there's another group that ought to be catching some hell over this perception of the Democratic Congress as being useless, and that's the press. As many bloggers have noted, there's nothing that can happen that isn't somehow good for the Republicans. That Democrats are doing as well as they are in public opinion--and that's not particularly well--is amazing to me.

The Democrats ran on ending the Iraq War and the American people elected them to defund it.

The American people want out. The military wants out (Ron Paul gets the majority of military members political donations). The people who live in Iraq do not deserve endless chances to get their act together and have proven that they are not capable of representative government. The end-game will be a violent power struggle and the longer we wait, and the more fully-automatic assault weapons we give to Muslim ‘security’ forces, the bigger the humanitarian disaster will eventually be.

But there is that unfortunate fact that the Democrats would have to share the blame in the public relations arena for defunding the disaster. The Democrats are cowards. They deserve no break.

Blocking the war cold turkey is not the only option. They caved almost instantly. They've done NOTHING w/ the appropriations authority--they won't write an appropriations bill with habeas restoration in it; they won't write an appropriations bill clearly stating that attacking Iran is illegal. They're about to confirm Mukasey. The attempts to investigate the worst abuses are spotty to nonexistent. They're not doing what they can on contempt citations. The "impeachment is off the table" strategy was idiotic.

I am not just kvetching--I feel personally betrayed & abandoned by the lot of them. I suppose they can get away with this: I have nowhere else to go with my vote. But long term, I don't think it's wise to have your natural supporters this alienated from your party.

Ogged wrote something good about this the other day:

I and the people I know aren't "the Democrats." The Democrats are a group of politicians and operatives who have their own needs and motives, and they don't "speak for me;" they're merely more likely to speak in ways to which I'm sympathetic than the Republicans are.

There are people who represent me in Washington--some individual politicians; some NGOs; some journalists. The Democratic party, as such, really doesn't. (This doesn't mean I'm tempted by the Greens, either.)

Oh, and don't try telling me about the "American people" forcing us to be cowards without specific poll numbers or recent election results to back it. The American people are a f*cking hell of a lot closer to me than the Democratic majority these days, and maybe the Congressional majority should try to crack the 20% mark in approval ratings before they claim to know the mind of the voter better than I do.

k - this again touches on the crux of the difference between our otherwise similar worldviews/preferences/etc.. i think you have far more faith in the american people than i do. maybe my view is skewed b/c i grew up where i did -- or maybe i'm just scarred by the iraq war. but i just don't put much stock in those polls.

if the gop ran coordinated commercials in districts saying "they voted to free terrorists" or "they cut funding", I think those polls would shift dramatically and quickly.

i'd encourage feedback on this -- maybe i'm too pessimistic. but the iraq war and the 2004 election have just fundamentally soured me on the public. i think they are too nationalistic.

you can't watch a country go from 0 to 60 from July to September 2002 and continue to have much faith in the stability of their opinions.

we do what we can -- and you in particular are to be commended for your efforts. but i tend to blame the public, rather than the Dems (who I feel reflect it in many ways).

That said, they should fight more on Iran and FISA and habeas. But i just don't want to lose sight of the real culprits here -- the Republicans and the american public. none of this would happen if the Dems alone decided these things.

Did you happen to catch the Arar hearings last week? Why is it that even Dana Rohrabacher can't look him in the eye, even by video link, & tell him that what happened to him was justified, & the dismissal of his suit on state secrets grounds was justified? What was it that made so many GOP Congressmen apologize?

The polls on the war throughout 2002 were much less favorable than the Congressional vote in either house of Congress. Why is that?

Yes, polls shift. You know what? They can also shift in the Democrats' favor. The fact that polls shift 25-30 points based on how you phrase the question ought to tell you that public opinion is not fixed, & there's no reason only the Republicans can shift it. Your strategy is hopeless. Hopeless. It has failed my whole adult life. At best, things will get worse slowly; our countries decline will pause for a while. At worst, you get the last six years.

Follow your strategy & the civil rights movement never happens. The Vietnam War never ends. The women's movement never happens. No civil unions in Vermont, no gay marriage in Massachusetts. No Voting Rights Act. We can't nominate Obama, because America will never elect a black President--of course, if the only way to prove that America is ready for a black President is to already have elected one, then the day will never arrive.

Screw that. Please, if you think that the American voters are that irrevocably stupid & selfish, why bother with politics at all? "America: becoming a heartless empire more slowly & killing & torturing somewhat fewer foreigners than the Republicans would!"--this is what motivates you?

The Democrats haven't done much about torture and Guantanamo, but a tiny group of reporters & underfunded human rights NGOs & volunteer habeas lawyers have actually accomplished quite a bit. The Democrats haven't done much about global warming for years, but Al Gore's movie has influenced public opinion enough that a lot of the presidential candidates actually have good plans. If it's possible for the Republicans to change public opinion for the worse, & for Al Gore & Human Rights Watch to change it for the better, then it's possible for the Democrats to change it for the better too. But they won't try--and so it's a better use of time to try to influence public opinion directly, and hope that the Democrats will eventually follow.

(They're not all bad, of course. For instance, while I realize he probably won't win, I kind of love Jim Neal).

Jeff - if by "take the country back" you mean "enact no useful legislation", I agree with you completely.

The response to not having the numbers isn't to throw one's hands up, or to pass things that are essentially symbolic because one knows they'll be defeated. And the idea that they can pass a load of nothing and blame Republican obstructionism is eventually going to backfire. People are not going to vote them into a bigger majority tomorrow if they see them as being ineffective today. Which they do. Rightly.

Publius, this is emphatically not intended as a gotcha question, and I apologize if it comes out that way. But if the American people are more aligned as you think than as, say, Katherine and I do at the moment, how do you account for the polling of recent years (say, from 2005 or so on)? There are times when I think substantial skepticism about polling is warranted, so if you want to say there's a systematic skew - intended or otherwise - in most major opinion polling to make the public sound more opposed to the war in Iraq, more in favor of government involvement in health care, and so on than it is, I won't say anything like "That's impossible." But I am curious how you reckon the gap between what appears to be the case via polling and your assessment of what the public will actually support.

Look, no one disagrees with that. It's a question of means. But what exactly are Democrats supposed to do?

On habeas, they will vote and Bush will veto. On the war, they will vote and Bush will veto. They can't do anything about this without playing chicken with funding -- and that's a loser. And even worse, it will get more Republicans elected.

But the larger point is that by politicizing these issues, they are doing exactly what you say -- raising public awareness. Shifting consciousness. Doing the things that will make it a reality.

Look - the civil rights movement took 100 years, and even then was an ambiguous success. That's not to say people shouldn't fight, but it's unreasonable to criticize the party FIGHTING FOR THIS STUFF for not reversing everything bad in a matter of months.

Piling and piling on the Dems is the wrong target. Yes, I'm frustrated too. (Despite my cynicism, I care too - otherwise it would difficult to do this as long as I have).

But the American people did endorse torture, abu ghraib, war, and everything else in November 2004. Their doing so leaves a very powerful executive in place that can block everything.

I'm not saying don't criticize, but I think it should be recalibrated to the proper culprits. Now maybe I'm off on the ability of the American people to do the right thing. But my larger point is that people's blame-o-meters are misdirected right now.

The Republicans are the obstacles to progress. They are the source for everything above you've cited. The way to solve is to defeat Republicans at the polls.

This endless tarring of the leadership (who have real swing district issues to deal with) just depresses base and makes the public think there's no difference when there is an ENORMOUS difference.

bruce - i look at elections. bush won. even horribly atrocious candidates like burns and allen essentially got 50% of the vote even despite everything we know.

look at what the idiot republican candidates are saying day in and day out and rudy stills polls very close to all of them.

I also look at the rise of reagan. Military matters are in many ways different from women's rights, civil rights, etc. There's a nationalistic, America-first streak that is on display all across America. See, eg, immigration.

I just think the American people are enormously susceptible to jingoistic slogans and campaigns. More so than racist ones (i think we have made progress on that front).

I'm not saying we need to keep fighting -- I'm just pleading for more understanding about the very real constraints that the Dem leadership is facing.

Hey my old TiO password doesn't work anymore. How do I get an account?

It's not me who's depressing the base. People should vote for the Democratic candidate. But they are not fighting for what I'm fighting for. I know what that looks like, & what it doesn't, & they're not doing it. You might wish to believe otherwise, but don't expect me to believe you or pretend to.

The American people endorsed Abu Ghraib, huh? On one level, you're right. On the other hand, neither Bush nor Kerry so much as uttered the words all through the summer or fall, did they? The Democrats have been worse than the polls for five years now. And your attitude is what will prevent the party from changing.

And your attitude is what will prevent the party from changing.

That's a touch over the line, no?

The Democrats could have stopped the Military Commissions Act. They didn't. They could have put habeas on an appropriations bill. They didn't. They could have filibustered Gonzales. They didn't. They could have opposed the Iraq war from the start. They didn't. They could pass bills on rendition & state secrets privilege--even if those were vetoed, it would give me some confidence that they would be signed in 2009. They haven't. They could make some effort to stop the war with Iran. They haven't. They could focus hearings on detainee issues. They haven't. They could bother to actually get fully briefed on detainee issues. They haven't. They could block Mukasey's nomination. They won't. They could at least vote against Mukasey's nomination. They won't. They could hold impeachment hearings. They won't. They could have at least not made things worse on FISA over the summer. They didn't. They could stop telecom immunity from passing. They won't. The polls on every foreign policy & human rights issue of the past six years, while not what I'd like them to be, have averaged significantly better than the Congressional votes. They compare rather favorably to the polls Vietnam. The polls on immigration are actually all over the place, & significantly better than Congress thought back when Congress was first passing that damn Tom Tancredo bill. You are arguing based on the views of irrevocably stupid, racist, jingoistic, immoral Imaginary Americans who live in your head, and your attitude is precisely what has got this country where it is today.

Why is it over the line? I don't think you actually agree with those policies, but unless a critical mass of Democratic voters thinks the Democrats are selling out worse than they have to & we should try convincing voters of our views instead instead of assuming they never can be, & votes accordingly in primaries, they're not going to change.

I'm just happy it isn't me today. ;)

Publius - believe that our frustration is based on how quickly the Dems gave up. Bush vetoed a war funding bill & then the Dems caved. they should have sent at least 1, maybe even 2-3 more bills up for Bush to veto and state each time that they were funding the troops while Bush was playing chicken with "the safety of our troops".

GOP - have no hope with them. i can understand party loyalty up to a point, but even the "moderats" completely back bush on Iraq.

perhaps that's the difference - we have no hope that the GOP will do the right thing, and our hopes are continually disappointed by the Dems.

Katherine is very much speaking for me here.

Things the Democrats could do include forcing real filibusters, and saying as widely as possible, "This is what the Republicans think is more important than rest for the troops, health care for your children, or any review of administrative declarations about who's a terrorist." They could honor holds placed by their own members, and let fewer bills out of committee. They could keep pressing for things we have reason to believe the public wants, and never ever publicly critize fellow Democrats for upholding the rule of law or pointing out that it's the Republicans' fault some crucial need is going unaddressed.

It's true, Bush won in 2004. The public was still coming to terms with things, and of course since Congress decided not to investigate charges of vote fraud, we'll never know just how honest the election was in Ohio or elsewhere. But the Democrats won in 2006 on a platform of peace and justice, or at least a temperate effort to try to get them, and lose popularity whenever they fail to carry through. The media machine is simply no longer decieving people as it did. Bush isn't popular. The Republicans in general aren't very popular. The Democrats could be hugely more popular than they are, simply by following through on very basic promises and well-demonstrated machinery of parliamentary procedure.

It's not that people like Katherine and I expect all that effort would succeed right away. But we do expect people to try, and when they keep refusing to, we feel it appropriate to criticize the lack of efort.

Sebastian, I pretty much agree across the board with your past assessments of what the Democrats could do but aren't doing, too. Just to note an area of agreement, given how often I disagree with you. :)

As I said, I don't particularly have a problem with S-CHIP. It's just: the Republicans obviously are willing to vote against a very popular program because of what their base thinks. The Democrats won't even take the risk of opposing unpopular programs, or programs about which the polls are neutral or swing 30 points depending on how you phrase the question. So don't claim to me that they have no choice--based on the polls, not only did they have a choice, but it ought to have been an easier choice than the GOP stopping SCHIP.

"It's a question of means. But what exactly are Democrats supposed to do?"

They are supposed to impeach.

I'm not saying that in a smart ass way. The Constitution mandates that the President and Vice President should be impeached by Congress if the President breaks the law. They should have been impeached yesterday for re-writing the laws in their favor, fundamentally changing our government!

It really is that simple. I get so frustrated to read conversations by obviously intelligent people, like yourselves, and this simple truth is mentioned only briefly, if at all.

How about all of us that want the wars to stop, want the eavesdropping to stop, want the torture to stop, want the privatization to stop... how about if we all decided to stop fighting these individual issues and fought the one that is causing them all... The Bush Administration.

Email Pelosi and Reid once a day and demand impeachment. Call their offices once a day. Tell everyone you know to do the same and spread the word.

If the American people can just focus on one battle, one goal, I believe (as I think Katherine does) that the American people can and will respond.

The goal of impeachment will not only be a big first step to solving some huge problems being caused by our out of control Executive Branch. It is also the way we can do so via the Constitution, instead of staging public protests, spending money, and or resorting to violence.

Doesn't this seem like something we could rally around?

Jen, I'm in favor. It for sure wouldn't succeed right now, but then it might move public opinion and pressure in good ways. I think I'm not alone in saying that I see stuff like the above as steps along the way to giving Democrats the spine to do what's really right, though.

Bruce - I'm curious why you say it wouldn't succeed right now. I think there are plenty of people in this country that are well aware of all the law breaking and who are terrified of Bush bombing Iran on his own and igniting World War III.

Don't you think that if Nancy Pelosi were to hold a press conference announcing that she's ordering Articles of Impeachment to be filed, and dancing in the streets ensued all over the world, don't you think that might sway some Republican votes?

I know I would throw a huge party... wouldn't you?

And afterwards, after the Articles pass the House (where Democrats do have the numbers), how can the Senate Republicans rationally argue in trial that Bush and Cheney should stay in office? With all the evidence we have?

They really can't.

The American people may still identify themselves as Democrat or Republican, making the smaller battles tough. But 76% of us are done with Bush and Cheney.

I believe it really could succeed.

And even if it doesn't work- how can the Democrats lose? They will be able to honestly tell the American people that they did all they could, and I for one, will believe them. It would also force the Republicans in the Senate to stand on the Senate floor and defend Bush and Cheney. It's a sure-fire way to show the American people just what kind of partisan hacks some of the Republican guys are.

It's a win-win.

Jen, no, I really don't think it would sway the Republican machine. They seem awesomely oblivious. Millions of people in the streets don't faze them, and neither does 75% public opposition to their president or policies. I honestly don't know what can faze them. I do think that impeachment hearings would be by far the best framework within which to mount a general investigation and exposure of the administration, and that possibly it might lead to the public revelation of something that could shake the machine. I think they're worth doing even if that doesn't happen, too - but I don't think that the fact of doing would change their determination at all, at least not at the outset and maybe not ever.

Hey my old TiO password doesn't work anymore. How do I get an account?

Above the top most entry and just below the banner, there is a link that says "Please register to comment". If I remember correctly, you then get mailed a temporary password that you can change to something that you can remember.

Yeah, the Dems in leadership lack the intestinal fortitude to fight for what they believe in. Whether it's because the leadership is effective psychologically broken by the early Bush presidency and thus constantly in the hard-scrabble to maintain something and not realizing that the landscape has changed for them or whether they really just don't have an attack dog spirit, the Democratic party is fairly weak.

That is the descriptive. Now while I'd love to have Democrats go on the offensive - pass the funding bills; but only after Bush vetoes something that is nice and juicy such as increased pay/education benefits/at home time; and use that to hammer; or to force a stage show of a filibuster.

Of course, they got hammered the last time they tried a stunt like that. Mostly because the Democratic Party hasn't learned to control the MSM. The Republican Party has learned something, the MSM is not an impartial observer, it is the enemy and must be treated as such. I hate, HATE typing those words, but observation has dictated that if the MSM is going to be lazy and take the lowest road, then you best be the one digging the lowest road for them to travel.

Sadly, it appears that Clinton has learned this the best. Over the weekend, I heard an NPR report on how she's not doing open Q&A with reporters. The last one was in March. Everything else is a controlled environment.

That seems to be the way the things are going though, it used to be sound bits that the reporters would pick up (and we all bit...err...complained about sound bit politicking) now it is going to be controlled and released sound bit reporting that'll make the news and the highlights.

And Publius, I'm with you on the cynicism. I have no doubt if the Democrats when on the offensive like I, (and others such as Katherine), would like them to, they'd get hammered in the polls. There's no way to frame the narrative of withdrawal in positive terms, and the American people (like most people, I assume) hate a negative narrative about themselves, the "feel-good" nation and all that. So up until push came to shove, I'm sure the people would be all about getting out of Iraq; however, as soon as it started happening, the MSM would have the narrative, and their (understandable) fascination with the negative (damn the ratings war), and the Republican narrative which would reinforce that MSM negative narrative; would quickly make the American public feel like losers, and thus bad, and thus, in my opinion, blame the Democrats for that negative feeling.

Decided Fencesitter: I think you're confusing what the media would say the American public are thinking/feeling, and what the American public are actually thinking/feeling. See Krugman, Greenwald, et al, on the split between the "national media" and the general public.

i'm starting to think that the Dems (esp. the leadership) aren't really as weak as they seem. rather, i think they actually want votes to go the way they do, as matters of policy. in other words, they're really out of touch with the Dem base. that's a big problem.

publius, I used to think like you do, but I have changed my mind to some degree.

True, as Katherine says, there isn't much they can do to override a veto like on S-CHIP. but at least they didn't not vote it originally because Bush was going to veto.

Yes, they can pass bills and Bush can veto. Great, go ahead and do it. Force Bush to veto and put him on the spot.

Force Republicans to actually filibuster instead of giving the media a chance to say that Congress fails to act.

Scream from the roof tops about Republican obstructionism.

Stand up behind Dodd's hold.

Force the Webb amendment to the floor.

Don't talk about what can't be done, focus on what can be done.

The estimable Erick Erickson of Red State took the Huckabee camp to mild task in a recent post for not spell-checking their press releases:

"We are at a time in our country where honest, conservative, innovative, thoughtful, clear, and decisive leadership is of the utmost impotance(sic)"

Substitute "progressive" for "conservative" and we arrive at "so it is".

As for the American people, the prospect of at least 24 years (since the 1988 election) of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton trading off the Presidency must make them collectively feel like the Faye Dunaway Mrs. Mulroy(?)character in "Chinatown":

my sister, my daughter, my sister, my daughter .........

They are waiting for someone to give them a good slap to break the monotony.

The estimable Erick Erickson of Red State took the Huckabee camp to mild task in a recent post for not spell-checking their press releases:

"We are at a time in our country where honest, conservative, innovative, thoughtful, clear, and decisive leadership is of the utmost impotance(sic)"

Substitute "progressive" for "conservative" and we arrive at "so it is".

As for the American people, the prospect of at least 24 years (since the 1988 election) of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton trading off the Presidency must make them collectively feel like the Faye Dunaway Mrs. Mulroy(?)character in "Chinatown":

my sister, my daughter, my sister, my daughter .........

They are waiting for someone to give them a good slap to break the monotony.

You folks could probably use a good slap to break the monotony of my multiple postings.

Not once, but twice, I misspelled "Mrs. Mulray", as "Mrs Mulroy".

Short form: what Baskaborr said.

Long form: they should make the Republicans own, lock stock and barrel, every bad policy of the last six years.

Iraq, FISA and every other refusal of intelligence oversight, telco amnesty. SCHIP, refusal to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, banning importation of drugs from Canada. The Military Commissions Act. Outsourcing security operations to private companies. Neglect of domestic infrastructure.

Take your pick. Find the 100 least popular policies of the last six years, put legislation on the table to roll them back, and then make every Republican party-line-voting lemming go on record. If it gets through Congress, let Bush veto it. Follow up every vote and veto with a press conference advertising, loud and long, the fact that the Dems tried to make a change but the Republicans wouldn't let it happen.

Then, let the Republican members of Congress go back to their districts and run on their record.

SCHIP is, or should be, just the tip of the iceberg.

I see john miller has just made this point upthread. Well said.

Thanks -

I'd like to see the Democrats do more and bette politicaltheater with their majority, but I don't think they have the votes to get much of anything substantive done.

The notion that they can force the war to end simply by refusing to pass a supplemental appropriation is naive. Until they get the votes to impeach and convict Bush and Cheney, they can't enforce such a decision.

As for the notion that the Senate Republicans are honest men and women who will be constrained by the evidence to vote to convict Bush and Cheney if they are impeached--well, nothing about the hitsory of the last 27 years or so supports such a conclusion . . .

Russell, I wish that the FISA revision, telecom amnesty, and the MCA were among the least popular policies, but unfortunately I don't think the public cares much about civil liberties. There are far too many people who think that if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide, especially if the policies are affecting mainly a bunch of brown people who aren't like them.

That's not to say that I don't think the Democrats should be acting to reverse those policies, just that it's not an easy battle. But you fight for civil liberties with the public and media you have, not the public and media you wish you had.

I agree entirely with rea and russell. We need better political theatre for the next 12 1/2 months, making the Republicans own what they have wrought. On the other hand, voting to cut off funds for the war is political suicide, plain and simple.

I also agree with Bruce Baugh on the effect of international demonstrations in favor of impeachment. In fact, I don't think he goes far enough. International support for impeachment will most likely strengthen Republican resolve to prevent it, not weaken it.

All Right-Wing Nationalists need are a steady 25%-35% a squishy 25%-30%, you know the "moderates" and they get much of what they want.

By the way, all the "moderates" and "hawks" who were defending Israel's bombing of Lebanon for two kidnapped soldiers...why aren't you telling the Turks to get off their butts and start bombing Kurdistan?

All in the name of moderation and strength and all that.

Russell, I wish that the FISA revision, telecom amnesty, and the MCA were among the least popular policies, but unfortunately I don't think the public cares much about civil liberties

I agree. So, don't make it about civil liberties. Make it about the money.

The Patriot Act and subsequent laws increased and expanded the level of reporting that financial institutions were required to make to the government. So, now, if you make an investment with your broker, move some money around at your bank, or even just have a good day at the track or the casino, it gets reported to the feds, whether you like that or not. Dig into the details and you can make a story that will make lots of folks uncomfortable.

I did some political work around USAPA a few years ago. Nobody cared all that much about Muslim Americans being locked up, about phone tapping, or about federal agents sniffing around libraries. Everybody was bugged by the all the new information they had to give their broker, banker, or insurance agent every time they did anything with their money.

It's a story that plays damned well in Peoria.

There's also this. Between 2003 and 2005, something like 140,000 national security letters were issued by the FBI. NSLs are used by the FBI to seize "any tangible thing" about a person of interest. They're 100% free of judicial review of any kind. If the FBI wants it, they write an NSL and they get it, and the party they get it from is not allowed to reveal that the "thing" was surrendered, or even that they received the NSL.

Between 2003 and 2005, 140,000 NSLs were issued. Does anyone think there are 140,000 terrorists in the US?

That pretty much always bugs people too.

It's not hard to make the case. Put that in front of people every day for about six months, then put some legislation on the calendar to roll it back. Let the Republicans vote against it, then let them go home and explain why they need to know why Mr. Smith made $1,000 at the track.

Thanks -

Bruce and Dantheman - you guys are right. International celebrations in favor of impeachment probably won't sway Republican opinion. But what about celebrations and pressure from their own constituents? Anything is possible...

Either way, that wasn't my main point. The idea I wanted to get across is that there are only two possible outcomes from an impeachment trial: Bush and Cheney get thrown out of office or the Republicans will have to openly defend Bush's presidency, destroying their chances of re-election as long as their competition has a TIVO. The Democrats have nothing to lose.

And if it makes the terrified Democrats feel more comfortable, I watched the Frontline episode called Cheney's Law that aired last Tuesday (available to watch for free at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/) and I truly believe that if Cheney alone were to be impeached, the nightmare would be on it's way to being over. Bush is just the cover guy (obviously - the man can barely form a sentence). Cheney's the brains of this operation.

And sometimes brain damage isn't a bad thing.

If the Bush administration's detention & surveilllance policies are so very popular, why are they so determined to prevent the public from ever learning about them?

Not that these are easy calls where the public overwhelmingly supports us already, like S-CHIP. But I think that a majority is at least open to persuasion. I'd estimate that 1/3 is 100% behind the President in whatever he might choose to do to The Terrorists, 1/3 of the country is pretty sick about these things by now, and 1/3 could go either way. In Congress, the "100% behind the President group" is much larger, and the "pretty sick about these things" group is 10% of Congress at the absolute maximum; probably closer to 5%.

The Democrats have nothing to lose.

In a nutshell.

Thanks -

Jen Clark,

"there are only two possible outcomes from an impeachment trial: Bush and Cheney get thrown out of office or the Republicans will have to openly defend Bush's presidency, destroying their chances of re-election as long as their competition has a TIVO."

Umm, no. As a third outcome, large portions of the public decides (with substantial pushing by the SCLM) that the Democrats are trying to tie the hands of the President in wartime, causing the Democrats to not merely lose the impeachment vote, but be take less seriously as a party who is looking to defend the country, crippling their chances for the next couple of decades.

"The Democrats have nothing to lose"

If they really had nothing to lose, they would be doing it. As it is, it would be just one more thing to fail protractedly at.

Stark apologizes.

*Sigh* Can we get the Democrats in power a spine? Even just one to share amongst themselves similarly to Perseus' sea hags.

Dantheman - that sort of attitude is the source of the nation's problems (not the election of George Bush by a record number of people, most of which don't live in liberal urban areas).

publius,

Not disagreeing with you, but we need to talk about getting Democrats elected with the SCLM and voters we have, not the ones we would like to have.

d - i agree with you - i was being sarcastic

"that sort of attitude is the source of the nation's problems"

I'm unwilling to believe that realism is the source of our problems.

At this point, there are two basic ways to get more voters than you have: 1) Suck people out of the middle by polarizing; and 2) Depolarize and take control of the middle. Choice number one is the source of a lot of our problems. I think it's time to try choice number two.

When I miss obvious sarcasm, it means I'm way too emotional about an issue ;).

But it does seem like a lot of Democrats are supporting further polarization.

"I hope that with this apology, I return to being as insignificant as I should be," he finished in an emotional, breaking voice.

wait, the The Onion write that for him ?

The Congressional Democrats seem to assume that the next POTUS will be a Democrat. I cannot imagine any other assumption that justifies their refusal to cut off funding for the occupation of Iraq now. The strategy seems to be: let's elect a Democratic President, and THEN we can wind down Dick and Dubya's Excellent Adventure.

But suppose, just suppose, that Giuliani (or, god help us, McCain) is President in 2009. Will a Democratic Congress STILL be timid about its power of the purse? Will Reid and Pelosi still be pretending that they need to over-ride, rather than not fund in the first place?

The Democrats in "marginal districts" seem to believe that the price of keeping their seats is continuing to "fund the troops" as long as a Republican President pig-headedly keeps them in Iraq. If these Dems are correctly gauging their constituents, what does that imply about the likelihood of a Republican winning the White House next year? And if a Republican does, how the hell do these (presumably re-elected) marginal Democrats vote to cut funding for the NEXT four years?

--TP

I'm glad the terrible threat of someone saying something mean about the president has once again been put down.

The polls on impeachment now compare favorably to the polls on the Clinton impeachment. The GOP lost seats in the 1998 midterms in part because of the impeachment mess, whereas 2006 went extremely well for the Democrats. The GOP hasn't exactly been out of power for 20 years for impeaching anyway. And there's no question we have a stronger case on the merits--& much of it probably isn't yet known to the public. But there's no arguing with the imaginary reactionary voters in liberals' heads as excuses for inaction.

Tony, there's a huge difference between supporting "cutting off funds for the troops" (as it would be spun in the media) and voting against a presidential candidate who thinks the occupation is going great and wants to continue it. Also, "marginal districts" are completely irrelevant to electing a president -- only states matter,

And if Giuliani or McCain is elected, then yes, it's highly unlikely Democrats will be able to end the occupation, since the public will have effectively demonstrated their support for continuing it indefinitely -- not to mention that if the election goes that way Democrats will probably have even less control of Congress than they do now.

"As a third outcome, large portions of the public decides (with substantial pushing by the SCLM) that the Democrats are trying to tie the hands of the President in wartime, causing the Democrats to not merely lose the impeachment vote, but be take less seriously as a party who is looking to defend the country, crippling their chances for the next couple of decades."

First of all, this argument is contingent on how well the Democrats can make their case to the American people. As soon as the crimes of the Bush administration make prime time coverage, I don't think there is any way that the Democrats will be punished by the public for taking action. This is not an impeachment based on a blow job. This is based on tangible crimes which have resulted in American (and Iraqi and Afghanistani) deaths and severe damage to the Constitution.

But that's really irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is the Constitution, which is being dismantled by the Bush Administration, and which every Congressional representative took an oath to defend.

The Constitution requires that Congress impeach in this situation. Acting (or not acting) to protect the electoral ambitions of any political party instead of protecting the Constitution is a violation of their oaths of office. I personally believe it borders on treason.

One of the reasons the Republicans in Congress sicken so many of us is that they put party and elections over the Constitution and the welfare of the American people. If the Democrats fail to impeach for the reason you put forth, they're no different.

The American people are not complete morons... don't you think the Democrats might be punished for this?

you know, with the stark thing, i just wonder:
what kind of pressure do they put on these people? how, and by what means?

i had the same question with durbin, and for that matter with the various republican apostates who were swiftly brought back into line (john di iulio, john snow, the guy that cheney shot).

somehow, and i really don't know how, the republican machine is able to instill unbelievable amounts of fear and dread into people. grown-ups. people who are fairly powerful in their own lives.

i mean--what in gods name do they do to people--threaten to kill their children?

it's very puzzling to me. i just cannot imagine what sorts of penalties could be brought to bear that would cause grown-ups to crumble like that, short of literal torture.

it's also indicative of a huge disparity in power between dems and reps. but since i don't know what concrete form this republican power takes--phone calls from voters? threats from donors?--i don't even know what dems would do to even it up.

baffling. and of course, depressing.

Jen Clark,

"First of all, this argument is contingent on how well the Democrats can make their case to the American people. As soon as the crimes of the Bush administration make prime time coverage, I don't think there is any way that the Democrats will be punished by the public for taking action."

Since I view the SCLM as being largely complicit in the Bush Administration's actions, I think you are starting from very false assumptions.

Dantheman - I see no reason to continue to discuss what the public as a whole would or would not do. I'm tired of the crystal ball...

What do you think about my actual point regarding the Constitutional obligations of our Congress?

Kid, Stark's statement (saying on the House floor that troops were being sent "to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement") was a lot less defensible than Durbin's, but regardless I agree that it is surprising how effective they are in getting people to back down and it's insane how the Republicans are able to whip up these frenzies for censuring people.

Coming late to the party, I know. And I rarely comment. But this post is in my view so massively strategically wrong that I can’t help responding – particularly since Publius tips his hat to strategic thinking – think “chess not horse races” right?

So at the outset, the baseline proposition is that the Dems do not have over-riding numbers and so ought not to be held to account for not ending the war, etc. Let alone that the GOP appears to be the only party capable of using parliamentary maneuvers to their advantage. The issue isn’t whether the Dems can completely win, but rather that so far, in every major head to head confrontation, the Dem side has completely collapsed without extracting even modest concessions. From the GOP standpoint, then, never budging is the obvious tactic. Unless and until the Dems are ready to allow something important to stall, they will completely lose, and they will lose all the way, every single time. And the damage from that is obvious, irreversible and extensive.

But you say – look to the future. “[t]here are going to be fewer and fewer Republicans in the next session.” Even if true, that is very weak recompense for failing to mitigate the damage now being done. But even more, I suggest that looking weak is going to get you knocked out of power quickly – especially if you are a “softy Dem.” And as for specifics, the electorate will simply never remember any of these “points” the Dems are supposedly storing away. SCHIP isn’t the issue of our time – it is the war. If SCHIP were so important, the approval ratings for Congress wouldn’t be where they are now. So these desired future benefits are hardly secured.

Worse yet, the capitulation strategy leaves the Iraq withdraw to the next POTUS and Congress, who will likely be a Dem/Dem controlled. That withdraw will almost certainly inject uncertainty into the middle east. Uncertainty = risk = higher oil prices . . . the economics of which will, I suggest, be horrible news for whatever incumbent is in power. And it will be the incumbent at the time who suffers – not the Bush Legacy.

So for me, it is indeed difficult to understand how any defense of the “capitulate strategy” is strategically defensible or why any but the least strategically minded would opt for it.

Jen Clark,

"What do you think about my actual point regarding the Constitutional obligations of our Congress?"

Very little. It would be far worse to try to impeach over this and fail than to sit on one's hands and wait for the end of the Bush Presidency. It would be treated as vindication for what Bush has done.

And since I view the chances of success in impeaching Bush at somewhat less than slim...

What do you think about my actual point regarding the Constitutional obligations of our Congress?

I know this was meant for Dantheman, but I would say that, while I am sympathetic to your feelings, that particular assertion is, in practical terms, meaningless, even if true on some level.

“[t]here are going to be fewer and fewer Republicans in the next session.”

one wonders how many votes they'll need before Reid and Pelosi decide to play hardball on anything.

of course, to repeat what I said above, that assumes Reid and Pelosi aren't perfectly happy with the outcomes they're getting now. and on the face of it, i think assuming that they do like what they're getting now is more plausible than assuming they are embarrassingly incompetent at using the rules of the system for their own favor. after all, they did manage to get themselves elected to some pretty powerful positions, and that doesn't usually happen to people who can't fight for what they want.

kc--
yes, less defensible than durbin's quote (which has now been repeated nearly verbatim by the president's nominee for a.g.).

more defensible than things that limbaugh, o'reilly, beck, and coulter say every day of the week.

part of my curiosity simply is entirely at the level of mechanics. *what* exactly is it that stark and durbin were responding to? phone calls from constituents? emails? phone calls or emails from donors? threats from the white house? the kidnapping of their children?

i mean--here we sit out in left blogistan, convincing each other with ten sound arguments every day, and we *cannot make the needle budge* as far as visible effects of our activities on the national scene. for all of our efforts, we have practically zero evidence that anyone even listens.

so what the hell are we doing wrong? what levers of power are we overlooking? what levers of power did stark's opponents have access to?

if this was an old-fashioned civics lesson, we would learn how votes are counted and bills are passed, to understand the mechanics of the procedure. i want the analogue of that: what is the procedure for making an elected official pee his pants on the floor of the house?

it would be very interesting to hear a first-person expose from someone who works in stark's office about what's been happening the last few days. what is the sharp end of the stick?

it's very puzzling to me. i just cannot imagine what sorts of penalties could be brought to bear that would cause grown-ups to crumble like that, short of literal torture.

FWIW according to someone who called Stark's office here is the explanation:

I called Stark’s office in DC to complain about his apology. The person answering the phone told me that Stark had no choice; Stark was told before the vote was taken that should he not apologize, the vote to censure would pass. According to his office, that is the only reason he apologized.

Oooooooh censure, how scary. Note how the GOP sent its useful idiots in to do the knee-capping

fledermaus--
okay, that's interesting info.
stark's choice now strikes me as utterly bullshit--i myself would wear such a censure as a badge of honor.
but at least this anecdote fleshes out the picture a bit.
and in another way, it doesn't help at all.
since now the question just becomes:
what pressure was brought to bear on that putative majority of congress that is alleged to have been ready to censure him?

and why the *fuck* can't we duplicate it?

I'm afraid for our future in this country if it is not "practical" for our Congressional representatives to follow the Constitution. I must say that I'm terribly disappointed to see my fellow "ordinary" Americans talking as if they're politicians and making excuses for the members of Congress to not do the Constitutionally mandated thing (impeachment).

If we don't have minimum standards for our politicians, how can we possibly expect our politicians to hold themselves to any kind of standards?

Isn't the Constitution the one thing that all Americans can agree on?

Can't we all stop being pundits for a few minutes, read the Constitution, and follow the founders?

"It would be far worse to try to impeach over this and fail than to sit on one's hands and wait for the end of the Bush Presidency."

It might not work, so screw it.

This is madness. We're in deep sh**.

Kid, there's a difference between what's appropriate to say on the floor of Congress and what's appropriate to say on talk radio. I doubt even the right-wing noise machine would have been able to whip up much outrage over someone making the same statement Stark did on Air America (though I'm sure they'd try). Stark violated the posting rules.

Jen, I don't necessarily agree with Dan's argument (I go back and forth), but it's not "It might not work, so screw it." It's "It will almost certainly make things worse by encouraging further lawlessness, so unfortunately we'd better not try it."

Jen Clark,

""It would be far worse to try to impeach over this and fail than to sit on one's hands and wait for the end of the Bush Presidency."

It might not work, so screw it."

Please learn reading skills, including those that include reading the whole comment, before responding.

OT -- I am _so_ glad this is not my year to go to the lawyers conference my company sends me to occasionally. They just put up an announcement:

"ICSC SAN DIEGO LAW CONFERENCE CANCELLED
Based on the latest and urgent information on the San Diego fires, which have resulted in a state of emergency, and the need for hotel rooms to accommodate an increasing number of fire evacuees, the ICSC Law Conference, which had been scheduled for the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego California, October 23-27 has been cancelled. Further information will be provided to all registered attendees later this week."

Unfortunately, my boss is already there, and cannot get a plane back.

Very little. It would be far worse to try to impeach over this and fail than to sit on one's hands and wait for the end of the Bush Presidency. It would be treated as vindication for what Bush has done.

Much more than vindication, I'm afraid. If Bush skates through impeachment, just imagine what precedent that will set for every President to follow.

(Not that I think the precedent we're setting now is much better. Eh, time wounds all heels, or so I've heard.)

Stark violated the posting rules.

Yeah I remember when Dick Cheney tearfully apologized to Sen. Leahy for his intemperate remarks back in 2004. Rules only work when both sides follow them.

No time to post, but after a quick read-through I'd like to offer heartfelt thanks to Katherine, john miller, russell, and Huh, among others.

The impression being left with Democratic and independent voters (who share the D policy preferences much more than the R) is that virtually no one is fighting for them and their interests. Instead, they see constant capitulation, defeatism (mental capitulation in advance), and fearful apologetics. It feels as if almost nothing has changed since 2002.

kid bitzer, my guess, and it's only a guess, is that a lot of the Congressional Democrats, and quite possibly Hillary, did not want to spend the next 2 weeks on talk shows defending Stark's hyperbole. So it was the Democrats who put pressure on Stark, not the Republicans.

I think they made exactly the wrong call. Part of the GOP's success is due to its extremist stalking horses. People like Coulter and Limbaugh, and even politicians like Ted Stevens, make extreme statements that move the bar. The rest of the party can say anything, so long as it's less provocative than that. And so the bar keeps moving rightwards, to the point where the mainstream left sound like nuts to the average voter out there in the heartland.

The Left used to know how to do this. Rev. M.L. King owed some of his success to the fact that he was seen as the nice alternative to Malcolm X, for example. Granted, it can go too far -- the 1968 Chicago police riots helped kill Humphrey's candidacy, for instance (thanks so much, Mayor Daley). But there is a lot more tolerance for wild-eyed dissent than the party seems to think.

Stark's over-the-top comments provided a rare opportunity to get an extreme view real play in the SCLM. If we had let it stand, we might have taken a few lumps short-term, but long-term, it would have opened up space in the conventional conversational spectrum to say things a little more to the left of consensus reality.

But then, I suspect most Dem Congressmen wouldn't know a leftist point of view if it came up and bit them on the...nose.

Dan- don't insult my reading skills. I read your (entire) comment and I believe it to be madness. That's not a personal assault on you. Just your comment.

I apologize if my previous words seemed a bit harsh, but I think you all can sense my frustration.

That said, NOT impeaching, with all the information we have, is a vindication of what Bush has done. Bush and Cheney being able to remain in office until January 20, 2009 sets the same terrible precedent, that all this law breaking by the Presient is ok. The situation will be no different if impeachment fails, so what's the harm of giving it a try?

But if it succeeds, that will tell every other President that follows that Bush's behavior was unacceptable. Letting him stay in office certainly doesn't send this message.

I'm amazed by these arguments, saying that the situation will only get worse with impeachment. Exactly how much worse can it get? We are in two wars, going on a third. It's confirmed that the Bush Administration is spying on us. Our climate is out of control (I say as I literally watch my hometown burn) and the Bush Administration will do nothing about it. The Bush Administration has filled the Justice Department with their own cronies. The list goes on...

And impeachment is going to cause more lawlessness? I don't see anything slowing them down now.

No one in this administration has been held responsible for anything. They haven't even been brought up for censure (but Pete Stark has for telling the truth). At the very least, it would be on the record that we tried to bust these guys and, hopefully, the impeachment proceedings would suck up so much time that the Bush Administration would be too busy to start another war or cause any additional damage to our Constitution (I think we can all agree that the chances of the Bush Administration doing any good in the next 15 months are slim to none).

And as for Congress, yes, an impeachment proceeding will take up most of their time too. But Bush just vetoed kid's health care, basically, because he could. Since Congress isn't getting anything done anyway, they might as well give accountability a whirl.

Since Congress isn't getting anything done anyway, they might as well give accountability a whirl.

Hear, hear.

As for the fear that the public would be against it once the media filled their heads with lies...that's exactly backwards. The one chance progressive views have to get through the minefield of the SCLM is to stage an event so big that even Fox has to cover it and give some airtime to the arguments on both sides.

Instead, we're running away from the fight because we might not win.

"He either fears defeat too much, or his reward's too small, who dares not put it to the touch, to win or gain all."

Jen Clark,

If you read my comment, and understood it to say "It might not work, so screw it.", then assuming that your reading skills were poor was the charitable interpretation. I won't make that mistake again.

As to the rest of your comment, you seem to assume that the majority of the country has the same political views that you do, and therefore the only reason they are not doing what you think is best is due to some character flaw on their part. Dealing with the world as it is, and not how we want it to be, can be frustrating, but is typically the path which leads to greater ability to make changes.

Fledermaus, Cheney may have been on the floor when he cursed Leahy, but he wasn't addressing the House. I don't believe the rules govern conversations in the chamber. If they did, the conversation would be pretty strange, since members couldn't address each other directly and would have to keep referring to "the Gentleman from Vermont" and so on.

Cheney's behavior was clearly outrageous and uncivilized, and maybe the Democrats should have made a bigger stink about it, but the situation is not parallel.

Wow, Dantheman- seems like I hit a nerve.

If insulting me makes you feel better, have at it. I can't read. You're right. You win.


That said, NOT impeaching, with all the information we have, is a vindication of what Bush has done. Bush and Cheney being able to remain in office until January 20, 2009 sets the same terrible precedent, that all this law breaking by the Presient is ok. The situation will be no different if impeachment fails, so what's the harm of giving it a try?

The goal here is not to flail away at some sort of moral victory over George W. Bush. Nothing in the past seven years - not even the drubbing the GOP got last November - have stopped them going to the mattresses to defend the President or his policies. They haven't stopped spectering now, why would they if he was impeached?

No, the GOP has shown many many many times that they're willing to live and die by Reagan's Eleventh Commandment. The precedent Bush has created is not that you can play games with the Constitution and get away with it. Its that as long as your party has your back you can play games with the Constitution and get away with it. That is the message the Democrats need to defeat, because if we don't it will resurface again and again and again.

The only way we're going to stop Bushism is by breaking the GOP as it stands now. The Republicans have to learn that you can't screw around like they have been and get away with it. Its not a lesson they'll learn easily or quickly either. They didn't learn last November, and a failed impeachment - and that's exactly where impeachment would lead - would only give them a morale boost when we need to be kicking them in the teeth.

All the current GOP understands is power. How to get it, and how to use it to get more of it. Elections don't intimidate them, shows of force don't intimidate them, and failed impeachments certainly won't either. he name of the game now is not just winning elections, but winning them big and winning them continuously. Only when the GOP finds itself out in the political wilderness and sharing a pup tent with the British Tories, then maybe they'll start to smart up and return to reality.

kid bitzer, my guess, and it's only a guess, is that a lot of the Congressional Democrats, and quite possibly Hillary, did not want to spend the next 2 weeks on talk shows defending Stark's hyperbole.

This analysis sounds 100% plausible to me. If true, how stupid can they be.

Stark didn't say anything anyone hasn't heard at the dinner table at least 100 times over the last five years. Nobody out here in the real world was shocked.

Here's the way the Democrats did not spin it.

"While I don't endorse Rep Stark's choice of words, it is nonetheless true that the war in Iraq is costing us $12 billion a month. That is more than a quarter of a million dollars a minute."

The conversation is no longer about Stark. Any normal person hearing that will have the phrase "quarter of a million dollars a minute" running through their heads for the next week. I know I will.

For most folks, that's more than their house cost them. It's probably more than they make in a couple of years. What are they getting for that quarter of a million bucks?

How long is this going to go on? How much will it cost when all is said and done? Why isn't the situation improving? When will it end?

Why the hell are we there again?

Those are the questions that leap right to mind when the phrase "quarter of million bucks a minute" is uttered. Whether you have a support the troops magnet on your car, or not. Everyone knows what a quarter million dollars is, and what it will buy.

Imagine being Congressman Smith, (R) Springfield, heading back to your district for some meet and greets, all proud of yourself for voting to censure Stark. The first question at the first town meeting will be, "Is Iraq really costing us a quarter of a million dollars a minute?"

Good luck to Rep Smith.

This is not "political theater". It's just stating the facts in plain language. The facts speak for themselves, they don't need any dramatization.

As it is, it would be just one more thing to fail protractedly at.

Doing nothing is also a way to fail.

Thanks -

"The impression being left with Democratic and independent voters (who share the D policy preferences much more than the R) is that virtually no one is fighting for them and their interests."

Welcome to my world. At least the figurehead leaders for the people that most outsiders would think of as 'your side' are only 40% insane rather than 90% insane. [Sigh]

KCinDC,

Well that was just one example. I've got plenty more. If I had the time or inclination - or if I thought it would make the slighest bit of difference - I could search the records from 1992-2000 and find stuff said on the floor about Clinton that makes Stark's remarks look like kindergarden taunts.

Funny how all these 'new rules' seem to have popped up since the dems regained control. Suddenly 60 votes in the Senate is standard practice "upperdownvote!!!!!!!" and all these civility rules requiring censure.

Doug- I hear ya. You make a great argument and it's definitely one to think about.

Got a question for you (or anyone else reading)... what do we do about the next 15 months? My concern is the damage that will be inflicted by Bush and Cheney before the next election. Will Bush enact NSPD-51? Will he bomb Iran and start World War III? Will our privacy be completely gone?

Precedent and all the moral/Constitutional arguments aside, what can be done other than impeachment that will tell Bush and Cheney that they are not Supreme Masters of the United States?

Jen, it's not the primary point you seem to be trying to make, but you're wrong to claim that therre are situations in which Congress is constitutionally obligated to impeach the president--the constitution says nothing of the sort.

The constitution permits but does not require impeachment and convcition of the president in the preset situation.

IN a slightly different context, the concept is called, "prosecutiorial discretion" . . .

Bush and Cheney are going to serve out their term of office, not matter what we or our shakey congressional majority do. Forget them, anyway--they're rapidly headed for the refuse heap of history. The question for us instead is what tactics will best serve to change the course of the country.

Argue tactics vigorously, by all means--but don't be so quick to attack those who disagree with you on tactics but share your goals.

I hate this war. I want it brought to an end as soon as possible. For that very reason, I'm very skeptical of schemes that might the war to an end quickly if they work--but that aren't likely to work--and which have a potential significant downside if they fail.

Jen, why on earth do you think impeachment will prevent Bush and Cheney from doing any of those things? Even if I believed in the fantasy that 17 Republican senators will vote to remove them from office, I'm a little afraid that pursuing impeachment would make it more likely that they'll bomb Iran while they have the chance, and to derail the impeachment.

I mostly agree that impeachment is the right thing to do, but this part of your argument makes no sense to me.

I'd be interested in some citation from the fall of 2006 of successful Dem candidates offering either denial of funding, or immediate (or near immediate) cessation of the war.

I strongly suspect that most of the campaign rhetoric would be very similar to the current positions of Sens. Clinton and Obama.

On impeachment, it's much more stark. I'd be surprised if more than a handful of candidates offered anything positive at all on this.

It's ugly, and I'm far from satisfied with what's going on in, and coming out of, the Sausage Factory. That said, the notion that some kind of clear mandate was given and is being flouted is, imo, simply ahistorical.

With publius, I'm afraid that the current majority (of the population, of likely voters?) in favor of ending the war would break apart at the first sign of trouble. I still think the leadership could have and should have played harder ball -- but I note that we haven't see Defense appropriations yet either, and so there's no sausage yet.

But people who think that the positions of the party as a whole are going to match the positions of the currently most liberal members (much less the most liberal supproters) are going to be disappointed every single day.

I'm not trying to attack anyone. I had one post earlier that I wrote in pure frustration and I apologized for that anger, but I do think that this is the exact situation that the founders imagined when they put impeachment in the Constitution. That's more accurately the point I was trying to make.

I see your point though. I know we all have the same goals, but there's more urgency with some of us than others. I'm in the age group that has friends being sent off to fight these wars, so my urgency is admittedly higher than most.

The thing is, I'm truly afraid of the damage that will be inflicted to our country in the next 15 months, and impeachment seems like the only way to stop it. All other solutions I hear being spoken about all involve waiting until 2009.

But what if that is too late?

We know that Bush and Cheney have had an agenda and it started pre-9/11. We know that they were spying on us without warrants starting at least as early as February 27, 2001 (Quest's CEO testified as much). We know that they were hell-bent on taking us to war in Iraq. We know Cheney is hell-bent on taking us to war in Iran. We know they are allowing quite a large private military to be built (with taxpayer money). We know about NSPD-51.

We know these guys have some kind of plan for our country, but the picture is still too blurry. They keep so much secret from us. It's hard to predict the actions of people whose motivations you can't understand.

The thing we do know, though, is that they have an impressive pattern of actions that increase their own power. My fear is that they have something planned that will allow them to keep it.

I can't stop thinking about NSPD-51.

So, here's the source of my "impeachment passion". I fear that we will regret sitting on our hands and waiting for the end of the ride with these guys in charge of the steering. I'd hate for us to look back 5 years from now and say, "If only we had done something when we had a chance."

At least the figurehead leaders for the people that most outsiders would think of as 'your side' are only 40% insane rather than 90% insane.

Seb, do you mean that, regarded collectively, 40% of the Dem leadership is insane; or that each Dem leader is, individually, only "mostly sane"?

I agree with Charley.

Look - my bottom line on this is that 98% of the things people are upset about will go away with a new president. The entire executive branch will be replaced. Realistically, that's the single best way to change our policy.

I didn't mean to be snarky (but I don't think I drew first blood on that front), but much of people are advocating above would simply give the presidency to Rudy or whoever the GOP nominates. And nothing will change - at best.

Are there some things to fight harder on? Of course - the telecom immunity is insane and is a sop to money. They can fight harder on Iran too.

But these unending attacks for not achieving the impossible are, to me, unfair. And I'm also exhausted with personal attacks for allies simply disagreeing on tactics to achieve shared goals.

The goal now is to win the Presidency. That will end torture. That will end rendition. That will end the Iran war. That will do everything. Unfortunately, the Electoral College requires candidates to win in places like Ohio, Florida, etc. That's teh Electoral College we have.

But there's no need to personalize policy and strategic disputes. Particularly with such alienating anger toward friends

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Whatnot


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