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Congress, Democratic Party

Glenn Greenwald reads my mind.

… everyone has to answer for themselves these questions: (1) do you believe that the incalculable damage imposed on this country by the Bush administration and its followers (including in Congress) can be impeded and then reversed and, if so, (2) how can that be accomplished? For those who have given up and believe the answer to question (1) is “no,” then, by definition, there is nothing to discuss. You’ ve decided that there is no hope, that you’re done fighting and trying to defend any of your beliefs and principles, and you’re ready to cede the country to those who are in the process of destroying it.

And may I interject, if your answer is no, you may be right. Time will tell. But until time has told, I’m proceeding with yes. That’s the choice I’ve made. If your choice is no I’m not going to say you are wrong, but you might as well stop reading, because the rest of this post is devoted to yes options. And if all you have to add to the comments is no — don’t bother.

But for those who believe that the answer to question (1) is “yes” (and I believe that emphatically), then the answer to question (2) seems self-evidently clear. The most important and overriding mandate is to end the one-party rule to which our country has been subjected for the last four years. Achieving that is necessary — it is an absolute pre-requisite — to begin to impose some actual limits on the authoritarian behavior and unchecked powers of this administration — because, right now, there are no such limits.

And, independently, killing off unchallenged Republican rule is the only possible way to invade the wall of secrecy behind which this administration has operated and to find out what our government has actually been doing for the last five years. Shining light on the shadows and dark crevices in which they have been operating is vitally important for repairing the damage that has been done. If nothing else, a Chairman Conyers or a Chairman Leahy, armed with subpoena powers, will accomplish that.

This is a point I’ve tried to make many times, and it’s nearly always countered by a chorus of whining about how Dems are wusses and they always will be wusses and only idiots support them. Listen, nobody could possible be more frustrated with Dems than I am. But if we’re operating on the assumption of yes, we need the Dems, like it or not. And here’s why:

First, you cannot ignore parties. Political parties are intrinsic to how Congress functions. It matters enormously which party is the majority and which party gets to choose committee chairpersons and set agendas.

What about third parties? Bucking the two-party system isn’t an idea somebody came up with last week. Americans started complaining about the two-party system back when the two parties were the Democrats and the Whigs. Since about the 1830s vast numbers of Americans have worked their butts off to create viable national third parties. They have always failed. I don’t see a 180-year trend reversing itself in the next six weeks.

The reason third party candidates can’t win has to do with how we run elections, in particular the “winner take all” system in which whoever gets the most votes gets the prize. Countries with viable multiple parties have runoffs if nobody gets a majority, and that makes a world of difference. Go here and play with the demonstrations if you don’t understand why this is true.

Even if you could elect a third-party candidate, that person would be helpless to accomplish anything unless he became a de facto member of one of the two parties. And, frankly, even if we could scrape the Dems out of the picture entirely and start over with a dream party of fired-up progressives, given our poisoned political culture our dream party would end up being just like the Dems. We’re not going to get the party we want until we change the political culture, and we won’t get even a chance to do that until we break one-party Republican rule.

I know the Dems are flawed. But here’s an analogy: Let’s say you’ve got a job to do that ought to be done with a hammer. But you don’t have a hammer; all you have is a wrench. You can do the job with a wrench, but it’s going to take longer and the results will not be perfect. But without some kind of tool you can’t do the job at all.

In the real world you might choose to put off doing the job until you can get your hands on a hammer. But let’s say your life depends on doing this job right now. By the time the hardware store opens it will be too late. So are you still going to sit passively until you get a hammer, or do you wrench away?

I see a Dem takeover of Congress this November as a stopgap measure. Even if Dems take both houses of Congress we face enormous challenges to pull the nation back from the brink and restore our pathological political culture to something approaching health. But if the Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress, the task of saving our nation may become impossible.

Time is short. We cannot afford to sit on our hands and wait for the Messiah Candidate to come and save us. We’ve got to work with the tools we have. Once we’ve pulled back from the brink of disaster we can take steps to get better tools.

Here’s another analogy: Imagine you are stranded on your roof in rising floodwaters. Sooner or later you’re going to drown if you aren’t rescued. Yet you refuse to be rescued in an old rowboat because it might be leaky and you are waiting for a helicopter.

Well, folks, the Dems are the rowboat, and there ain’t gonna be a helicopter.

… a desire to see the Democrats take over Congress — even a strong desire for that outcome and willingness to work for it — does not have to be, and at least for me is not, driven by a belief that Washington Democrats are commendable or praiseworthy and deserve to be put into power. Instead, a Democratic victory is an instrument — an indispensable weapon — in battling the growing excesses and profound abuses and indescribably destructive behavior of the Bush administration and their increasingly authoritarian followers. A Democratic victory does not have to be seen as being anything more than that in order to realize how critically important it is.

If at this point you are still thinking you’d rather eat bugs than support the Democrats — fine, but if you answered yes, what options can you offer?

I’ve been reading through the comments on Glenn’s site. One person after another writes no way; Dems cave in time after time; how are they different from Republicans? But none of them can offer an alternative, other than armed rebellion. That amounts to a concession that the nation already is dead. Maybe it is. But armed rebellions are nasty and bloody, and armed rebellion likely would not bring the old government of 1787 back, no matter who wins. There’s no way to predict what will be left standing when the dust settles. I’d rather not go there, thanks.

In the real world, one has to either choose between two more years of uncontrolled Republican rule, or imposing some balance — even just logjam — on our Government with a Democratic victory. Or one can decide that it just doesn’t matter either way because one has given up on defending the principles and values of our country. But, for better or worse, those are the only real options available, and wishing there were other options doesn’t mean that there are any. And there are only six weeks left to choose the option you think is best and to do what you can to bring it to fruition.

That pretty much says it. If you still aren’t persuaded then — Canada is north.

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43 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Spooks  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:07 pm

    I love Canada, but I’m for doing whatever it takes to take back our country from these fascist pieces of crap!

  2. Che Pasa  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:23 pm

    maha please,

    You are over-rationalizing the situation, and you are doing it on the presumption that our political institutions still work.

    I said it at Glenn’s place, and I’ll say it here: “Staying the course” is not the answer.

    We need something different, and the Manichean duality that you and nearly all the so-called lefty blogsters are proposing is the wrong approach.

    You — and Glenn — are asking the wrong questions, based on erroneous assumptions, and in essence you are mirroring the behavior of the Busheviks. They can’t get past their “stay the course” error WRT Iraq, nor can you WRT to Dems, and apparently for the same reason: the opposition hasn’t proposed a solution.

    Reality suggests that our institutions (political and civil) are failing, some catastrophically, and “staying the course” is not the answer to their revival or reformation. 34 House Dems and 12 Senate Dems, along with all but 7 House Rs and 1 Senate R, voted to cede authority to a Tyrant, with full knowledge of what they were doing, and against the wishes of millions of Americans, Americans who are rightly outraged.

    This was a monumental institutional failure the like of which the nation has not seen in the past and the consequences of which are at present unknown, but are very likely grim in the extreme.

    The fact of the matter is that we don’t know yet what the “solution” is, but staying the course has got us to this disastrous position, and we have got to change course.

    It’s hard, very hard, to face these facts.

    But we’ve got to do it. Or perish.

  3. Rev. Mike  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:24 pm

    Canada has too small of a population to resist US takeover if the US becomes an authoritarian/totalitarian state. A radicalized US authoritarian regime could never tolerate an open and free society right on their border. Going to Canda would only delay the inevitable. This must be stopped here. Now.

  4. The Heretik  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:25 pm

    The numbers are the realities. A third party is a teasing fantasy because the opposition party so rarely lives up to its name.

  5. Preston  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:28 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with Maha and Greenwald and, while the Democrats make us stop to wonder, they are all we have to counter a fractious disease in the Grand Old Party. I am sure there are many good and decent Republicans who are as appalled as we are of the depths to which their party (and ours too) have fallen and would like nothing better than to put things right. That means we are not alone in our fight to restore America and American politics to its once glorious and honorable position.

    This morning, in a fit of pique, I sent the following message to Senate and House Minority Leaders Reid and Pelosi, and my state’s Democratic Congressional delegation, Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Charlie Melancon:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I would like to know why you think anyone should support our party’s candidates when they do something as blatantly STUPID as to vote for the Republican’s (i.e., George Bush’s) Detainee Bill? Are you all out of your minds? This bill will do immeasurable harm to our country—what’s left of it—but more importantly, it shields criminals, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, from prosecution. Would you do this for a common, ordinary, run of the mill murder? Of course you wouldn’t. So why insulate someone who has ordered the bombing and destruction of thousands of homes and business and killed tens of thousands of people in a war that can arguably be described as illegal? I can not believe that Landrieu and Melancon would vote for something like this. It is utterly appalling and beyond the pale. Their decision reflects an attitude that is totally contrary to the wishes and desires of the Founding Fathers and there is probably no way to atone for this transgression. Landrieu and Melancon are obviously playing politics for resources to fund recovery efforts in the state, but the price of their politicking will be substantially more than whatever the Republican-led Congress and the Bush administration will ever provide. In other words, they’ve been suckered and proved to the Republicans that they are indeed fools to be lead around by the nose. We need—on both sides of the aisle—people of true integrity and moral courage to do what is right for people. Doing what is right for people will be what is good for the country as a whole.

    My wife and I will be voting for Mr. Melancon [a first-term Congressman who has otherwise done an admirable job and his opposition is a piece of crap] on November 7th; we may or may not be voting for Mrs. Landrieu at the expiration of her term. It will depend on her competition at the time. Democrats are not Republicans and should not try to act like one. In this age of partisanship, Democrats must stand apart and aloof from the mismanagement and elitist behavior of the Republicans while at the same time trying to bring back civil discourse and bipartisanship-in-fact to our politics and government.

    I am a retired Army officer with service in Vietnam. Both of my sons are currently on active duty with the Army and one of them has already served two tours of duty in Iraq. I would never be a party to inhumane treatment of p.o.w.s and I do not want my sons to be party to the mistreatment of anyone. Do you or any of these so-called elected officials have any idea of the ramifications this will have on our society particularly when these soldiers are no longer on active duty? This kind of behavior will undoubtedly be translated into an increased violence in our own population as well as an increase in domestic violence towards women and children.

    Democrats need to get their heads on straight on this issue and all of the others in the upcoming mid-term elections. Thank you.
    —————————————————————————-

    Later today, I will be preparing letters to the editors of our several local and regional newspapers.

  6. chitom  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:44 pm

    I hear you, Maha, and Glenn too. But you have Democratic Senators (not just Joe) and Representatives voting “yes” for torture and spying and non habeas corpus. Even in a majority-party situation, they will be susceptible to Rove-whacking, and might render a de facto majority to The Regime.

    If we mean “fascist” and aren’t just being– how are lefty bloggers characterized?– hysterical and rabid, then we have to insist on clear and steadfast refusal to collaborate, at the least. I do not think the Democratic party is there. Clinging to the Democratic Party (which I am still prepared to do for a while) may be clinging not to a wrench instead of a hammer, but to some pasta (cooked or not). Why not just go to the hardware store?

  7. marcel  •  Sep 29, 2006 @12:56 pm

    Let’s say you’ve got a job to do that ought to be done with a hammer. But you don’t have a hammer; all you have is a wrench. You can do the job with a wrench, but it’s going to take longer and the results will not be perfect. But without some kind of tool you can’t do the job at all.
    In the real world you might choose to put off doing the job until you can get your hands on a hammer. But let’s say your life depends on doing this job right now. By the time the hardware store opens it will be too late. So are you still going to sit passively until you get a hammer, or do you wrench away?

    But what if all you have is a banana, and your life depends on doing this job right now? Sigh.

  8. maha  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:03 pm

    Che — I’m on the verge of banning you for being thick in the head. OF COURSE we need to change course. Please, son, if you are going to take up bandwidth commenting, please say something original.

    Did I say we should support the Democratic Party as it is through thick and thin for the rest of our lives? No, I said that taking at least one house of Congress away from the Republicans in November is a necessary prerequisite to making the changes that need to be made.

    You think you are seeing the big picture, but you aren’t. The fundamental problem is not this party or that party, but a sick political culture that has robbed us of our ability to have rational political discussions and make rational political decisions. Until we change the culture, both parties will be screwed up, and progressive agendas will be a pipe dream. Ending one-party rule is only a mini-step in that task, but it’s a necessary mini-step. We can go nowhere without it.

    We have a massive task ahead of us. The job of changing the course and remodeling the Democratic party into something that actually supports progressivsm is the bigger challenge, but we can’t even begin until we break the stranglehold of Republican rule.

    Now, unless you actually have suggestions, or even write something that suggests you actually read what I wrote, kindly go away.

  9. sniflheim  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:08 pm

    I know we’re all tired of such analogies, but don’t we look a little like the Weimar left here? Ceding the system is always a mistake.

  10. maha  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:08 pm

    Clinging to the Democratic Party (which I am still prepared to do for a while) may be clinging not to a wrench instead of a hammer, but to some pasta (cooked or not). Why not just go to the hardware store?

    In reality, there is no hardware store. Or maybe there is one, but the shelves are bare.

    It may be that we if we get a Dem majority in Congress they will continue to roll over for the Republican minority, in which case there is no hope. But maybe they won’t. They didn’t always, you know.

  11. moonbat  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:10 pm

    I’ve already come to accept much of what you wrote. I was a Green up till Election Day 2000 and learned my lesson. I’m old enough to remember when being a Republican was a strange curiosity, when they were the ones frozen out of power and lost in the desert, and so I know that people and social groups (parties) can change, and that there is much more potential for change than most people realize. The Dems need not be the hapless losers, and can grow spines and be effective fighers, as Bill Clinton, Keith Olbermann and others continue to demonstrate.

    And I’m very familiar with the idea of using a wrench when you really need a hammer. So be it, get on with the job.

    That said, you better believe I am packing my bags, metaphorically at least (physically moving to someplace like Canada isn’t a serious option for me, but if it were, I’d probably be gone). The situation here is very much in flux and largely out of our control. It’s extremely ominous and there’s no guarantee that anything we will do will be enough to correct it. Of course I am going to fight like hell for the tactical victory we’re hoping for this November. But it is foolish to not be prepared for the worst, given where this country is at, and given the power, ruthlessness, and determination of the crowd running it.

  12. maha  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:11 pm

    Ceding the system is always a mistake.

    Yes, it is, and that’s not what I’m calling for.

  13. k  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:23 pm

    Americans cannot see that their happy little democratic republic has morphed into a corporate controlled theocratic authoritarian state that denies reality. that does not deal with it’s problems. That borrows and spends with no plan for the future, that elects craven politicians who do not uphold their oaths of office but will burn the constitution to get reelected. they are married to an abusive political culture and refuse to admit they don’t have the guts to leave the SOD. They tell themselves that the blood must be on someone else’s hands. It is a dysfunctional family in 100 denial.

  14. Cugel  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:23 pm

    I always wonder about the hyperbolic “it may be too late” comments that appear regularly in left blogs.

    When is it ever too late? Was it too late in Romania when they had Nicolae Ceauşescu?

    Is it too late today in Latin America where people keep fighting for freedom even though they are targeted by death-squads?

    It will become more difficult as we gradually lose all our freedoms and increasingly give the government more and more arbitrary powers of arrest and imprisonment for political “crimes” including protest.

    But, they have no such constitutional rights in other countries and they manage to seize their freedoms by popular uprisings.

    Americans are simply soft. We’ve been too used to not having to try and defend our core freedoms. Now that they are under assault, we tolerate infringements that would (and do) lead to popular rebellions elsewhere.

    After fraudulent and stolen elections why aren’t there tens of millions of people in the streets?

    The truth is that the illusion of freedom dies hard. People in other countries are under no illusion that they have any rights and it makes them angry and determined to do something about it.

    Here in the U.S. we feel like “they can’t do that” or that it’s an “abberation.”

    This feeling is slowly dissapating and more and more people are starting to wake up to the threat. Will it be “in time”?

    In time for what? To prevent the seizure of arbitrary and unconstitutional power? It’s already too late for that!

    To reverse the tide of dictatorship? It’s never too late for that!

  15. sniflheim  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:23 pm

    I was replying to Che et al. Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

  16. temperance  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:25 pm

    Great post, maha. I think we both share the “Glenn Greenwald is reading my mind” syndrome, although sometimes you’re reading my mind and it gets confusing. The outrage against Dems who voted for this truly hideous un-American bill is understandable. But hopefully those who are damning the Dems as sell-outs and those who are rejecting party politics for the Glorious Progressive Revolution will think about it over the weekend and be back on board Monday to fight the good fight for the next 6 weeks. It’s certainly NOT the time for an embrace of a third party, and even talking about it at this point (with 6 weeks to go) is a crucial waste of mental energy (in my opinion).

    Here’s part of what I think Dems need to do: hit the righties directly on the political terrain that they think they own: GWOT, national security, and supporting our troops. Joe Conason has a really interesting article about the effectiveness of the VoteVet ads and why they’re scaring the republican congressional candidates who thought they were safely wrapped in the flag.

  17. Susan in Iowa  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:25 pm

    I am tired of the whining about Democrats. Say whatever you want about the Beltway Dems. It will mostly be true. But so what? Talking about third parties is just pollyanna time, and don’t get me started on Ralph Nader.

    We have 39 days to go, and an opportunity to save something. In the words of Ben Franklin: ” a Republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” Maha and Glenn Greenwald are right. This election will determine whether we can keep it, or continue on our trajectory toward a one-party fascist state where dissent is not allowed.

    If you care about your country you will vote for Democrats, you will get all your friends to quit whining and vote, you will give money to congressional candidates in close races, (all of mine are going to Selden Spencer in IA-4), and you will do everything in your power to help the Democratic Party get out the vote. This will be no Democratic landslide, I believe. It will be many close elections in districts like the one I live in, where the game is turnout.

    And one more thing. Not every Democrat is Joe Lieberman. I have been busting my ass for a Democrat who is a doctor, a humanitarian, and a deeply moral and progressive person. Painting “the Democrats” all one color means you aren’t paying attention.

  18. Preston  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:34 pm

    Re comment by Che Pasa. “Cutting and running,” if that’s what anyone would propose, is certainly an option, but it is not the option that most Democrats would choose. Of course, “staying the course,” as it were, is an option only in the sense of doing the same thing while expecting different results. Again, an option that only those who can’t or won’t look past their nose will choose. Professor James Fearon testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations on “Iraq: Democracy or Civil War?” on 15 September 2006. Dr. Fearon, of Stanford University, is a noted researcher on the politics of civil war . The gist of his testimony holds little promise for the administrations “stay the course” or “ramping up” options, which Fearon describes as nothing more than “delaying tactics.” In a nutshell, Dr. Fearon submits that while the administration’s fiasco is unlikely to produce the desired results, a complete withdrawal of US (coalition) forces would leave the country in a state similar to Lebanon from 1975-76. In his estimation, only a gradual withdrawal, lasting from 18 months to maybe 3 or more years, at this point, will offer any hope of a settlement. Fearon’s concluding statement was,

    We should not give up on the prospect that Iraqi political leaders will manage to make deals and provide services in such a way as to gain peace and security for the country as a whole. But we should make it clear, at least privately, that their time to do so is limited. In the interim, we need to plan for the possibility that a democratic Iraq that can stand on its own is not going to take root while we are there. This means planning to put ourselves in the best position to influence for the good the evolution of a civil conflict that only Iraqis have the power to end at this point.
    ———————–

    Militarily speaking, there is such a thing as a strategic withdrawal, which our generals and their civilian leadership seem reluctant to even consider. If they feel that way, then they need to resign because they are not doing their job and making their decisions in the interest of American security.

  19. chitom  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:35 pm

    Just read Glenn’s full post. The most encouraging thing he said was,

    I think there is one other point that needs to be recognized about yesterday’s vote: In 2002, virtually all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls in Congress (Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, Graham) voted for the Iraq war resolution, because they thought they had to be accommodationist in order to have a chance to win.

    But this time, all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls in Congress (Biden, Clinton, Feingold, Kerry) voted against this bill, because now they know that they can’t be accommodationist if they want to win the nomination. Call that the Joe Lieberman Lesson. That is genuine progress, no matter how you slice it. Is it glorious, tearing-down-the-gate-with-fists-in-the-air Immediate Revolution? No. But it’s undeniable incremental progress nonetheless.

  20. phil  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:56 pm

    I think it is absolutely necessary that the Democrats rally around a candidate that is “bullet proof”. One that can be admired and judged “fully” capable.

    Repubs love to see the Demos offer “Eastern, Liberal Senators”. Makes it so easy for them to attack.

    Surely the Democratic Party can come up with a candidate that can win. Or can they? Last election I offered George Mitchell/Hillary Clinton as an example of gaining back the White House for the next 16 Yrs. Anyone else got a suggestion for 2008? What else can we do but get out the vote for 2006? The candidates are chosen and the game has begun.

  21. moonbat  •  Sep 29, 2006 @1:57 pm

    If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to paste in a comment I saw over at Digby today, by someone named shargash:

    “Great post, Tristero. The sound we just heard were the prison gates clanging shut. Nothing much very bad physically has happened yet (unless you’re a brown-skinned Muslim, of course), but it can and will happen. The government has turned from our protector to our jailer.

    “Catastrophe is coming, and it is going to be very bad. There is a perfect shitstorm brewing out there that’s going to make all America look like the Iraqi Police Academy. Between American warmongering and the world’s reaction to it, the three-pronged debt crisis, American incompetence, American faith-based superstitions, peak oil, and global warming, a world of hurt is coming, and we are unprepared for it — except that we’ve just authorized our government to do anything (and I mean anything) to preserve order.

    “However, with destruction comes the opportunity for renewal. There will be upheavals and unrest. There will be violence. How will America react to this?

    “We could do what we did during the Great Depression and vote out the scumbags that brought it on us. Or we could descend into a Khmer Rouge-like nightmare. Wait till people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Then we’ll see what the national character is really like.

    “You know, I’m not really surprised at our descent into fascism. The tendencies have always been there. I’m 54, and I’ve seen it all my life.

    “But I’m shocked at the speed with which we fell. I’m shocked at the triviality of the causes of the fall. I’m shocked at the meekness of Americans in accepting it with barely a twitch.

    “I’m shocked, but I don’t intend to go down without a fight. I’m not optimistic, however, that there’s much we can do until enough people are homeless and hungry (and until they start torturering white people), except maybe to keep the candle lit.”

  22. Che Pasa  •  Sep 29, 2006 @2:40 pm

    maha, please.

    Obviously there is a serious disconnect between what I write and what you read. As I’m sure you would say there is between what you write and I read.

    At this moment, I don’t think we can solve that.

    But in time, we should be able to better appreciate one another’s perspective.

    I hope we’ll have that opportunity.

  23. maha  •  Sep 29, 2006 @2:54 pm

    Che: I’m just saying is that if all you have to tell me is how awful it all is, you can save yourself the trouble. I’ve been blogging about how awful it all is since 2002. I bet I could come up with more reasons why it’s awful and bleak and apparently hopeless than you can.

    I’m just saying that there’s a ton of work to be done to turn it around, and a necessary first step toward that goal is X. Unless you have an alternative to X, don’t waste my time and yours complaining about X. And don’t tell me that X won’t solve the problem; I know it won’t solve the problem. I didn’t say it would. I’m saying that without X it’s going to be a damn lot harder to solve the problem. Yes, X is flawed. Sometime down the road there may be time and opportunity to fix the flaws in X, but now is not the time.

    By pointing out the obvious flaws in X, which we can all see very plainly (we’re actually a bright crew here, you know), you’ve written nothing that shows me you have the faintest glimmer what I’m talking about.

  24. fshk  •  Sep 29, 2006 @2:59 pm

    We need a system overhaul, but in six weeks we’ve got an election and then 2 more years of Bush. So we also need a short-term solution.

    Glenn’s late-made point about the presidential hopefuls maybe having learned their lesson is encouraging. Also encouraging is the hope that a Democratic Congress might at least lead to a stalemate. You get Democratic majorities in both houses and maybe Congress generally will stop just rolling over for the president. Maybe it sends a message to the Beltway Democrats that we, the people, don’t support torture, we don’t support the war, we don’t support any number of other terrible bits of legislation that are getting passed these days. But even if a Democratic majority simply prevents Bush from getting his way, that’s a better alternative than two more years of horror as Bush’s power goes unchecked. Then we can worry about making bigger changes in 2008.

  25. John Palmer  •  Sep 29, 2006 @3:03 pm

    There is one, and only one, consolation to this bill.

    The Fifth Amendment only applies if you can be charged with a crime for your testimony. By giving immunity to torturers, it sets the stage for compulsory testimony. Once Bush shows he’s a cowardly criminal by signing this legislation, we cand demand the truth.

    I do agree, we don’t have a choice right now. We need the Dems more than they need us. But god damn it, we have to change that.

    I will say this much, because I’ve said it before, and it remains true today.

    We might be facing the terrible forces of hatred, supported by lies.

    But love is stronger than hate, and the truth stronger than lies… and the greatest lie ever told is that a single heart’s love can’t make a difference.

    We can’t do it alone, but by god, we can, and will, do it together.

  26. Che Pasa  •  Sep 29, 2006 @3:38 pm

    maha please,

    It looks to me like you are still responding to posts I haven’t written and points I haven’t made.

  27. Swami  •  Sep 29, 2006 @4:20 pm

    Well, I’m voting a straight Democratic ticket with no questions asked come November. It’s the only option available.

    I gotta say..I’m absolutely floored that the sycophants in Congress could pass a torure bill.. They have no concept of the damage they’ve done to America’s moral standing in the eyes of her own people, and the mockery of justice they have inflicted upon the civilized world.

    I’m ashamed for America. And I have no part in this abomination that is being foisted on my country. It’s not me, and it’s not my America.

  28. clbrune  •  Sep 29, 2006 @4:44 pm

    I’m new to this forum, hello.

    I agree with maha and Glenn. This latest bill is shameful, and folks can complain about Democrats all they want, but stark reality says that our nation needs a Democratic majority.

    Rep John Conyers made a statement on his blog that I feel (hope) is accurate:
    “If we can take back the majority, the Democratic leadership will never have a vote on approving torture, spying on our citizens, or suspending habeus corpus.”

    To extend that a bit, I would wager that if the Democratic party had been in the majority in 2004, any bill such as this would never have even seen the light of day.

    There ARE differences between authoritarian Republicans and what the Democrats can do/offer.

  29. Donna  •  Sep 29, 2006 @4:50 pm

    Again, I examine, why the rush for this piece of legislation? It is mainly to cover this criminal administration’s butts, and perhaps secondarily to pretend a last-ditch Bush win to throw a bone to his base of idiots.
    By this hurried butt-covering legislation, we get a glimpse behind the scenes of what the Republicans really face: just as they understand perfectly well that they’ve already lost Iraq through their dear leader’s incompetency [all spinning aside], they understand perfectly well that they will be losing Congress because they pasted themselves like patsies to GWB. They are in long-range damage-control mode for the Republican party, hoping to find a way to thwart the likely ‘crimes against humanity’ charges against the Bush team by passing a retroactive ‘legalization’ of what the Supreme Court has already judged to be illegal and unconstitutional. I can just hear the whispers of reality among the party bosses: “Because we love America and our party, we have to act now, our last chance, before this election, to forestall or frustrate what is coming down the pike in uncovering and prosecuting all of what Bush and Cheney, et al, have wrought.”

    Why am I conjecturing this way? This legislative event smells off to me. I am seeking a logic that will explain the sudden reversals of major players like Warner and McCain and would explain the dismissal of what all the JAGs had to say in testimony.

    I am horrified that Congress would try to legalize abuse of basic human rights, but I am not convinced that we are headed to fascism…….notwithstanding the truth that Bush and Cheney are in love with power over others. I think we are just watching a sort of pre-court plea bargaining set-up.

    BTW, I absolutely am with the Democrats. And, [#25] John Palmer, your statement is so beautiful: “Love is stronger than hate, and the truth stronger than lies…and the greatest lie ever told is that a single heart’s love can’t make a difference.” Thanks for that.

  30. maha  •  Sep 29, 2006 @5:03 pm

    It looks to me like you are still responding to posts I haven’t written and points I haven’t made.

    Then learn to write. And stop annoying me.

  31. roman eos  •  Sep 29, 2006 @5:47 pm

    BB,

    Tks you for this post.. I read only opening and guess from my own earlier assimilations what you say is mutual with GG..

    on this basis I would say constructively to those who consider they can do better than existing parties, then by all means do so. Build the same in non-election years. In election years align. Always participate in whatever democracy is available.

    when this new party/ies numbers are big enough then maybe alignment will become others’ pre-occupations..

    in building phase/s standout, what you say is what you do is what, collectively, your party stands for..always on understanding and responsibilities of whatever dynamic has been reached..

    now maybe I find time to come back, read some more..

    best

  32. Baddkonig  •  Sep 29, 2006 @5:51 pm

    This is a first post for me. I feel that all (or most) of you are alot smarter that I am. I just want to thank MAHA for inspiring me to not give up on OUR country. You are a rose in a sea of thorns.

    Well, I think one thing we can all do is to stop giving the Corporations, who are (trying) keeping the Republicans in power, our money$$. We need to be very selective with the products we buy. We need to stop using energy (ie.;gas, electricity) frivolously. Can somone please compile a list, or direct me to one that shows who the ‘enablers’ are ?

    We need to boycot these Corporations. We need to reach out to whoever will listen to the TRUTH; Family, freinds, co-workers. We need to vote for Democrats, because the donkey is the only one willing to give us a ride.

  33. Commander Ogg  •  Sep 29, 2006 @7:04 pm

    Let us cut thru the fertalizer. If Bush gets his Republican majority in both houses, he will, not might, not maybe, but he will get to appoint a 5th Justice to the Supremes in the next two years. The Supreme Court will be a rubber stamp, just like Congress. Civil rights, the Constitution and the rule of law will be replaced. Again, not set back, not altered, but replaced.

  34. Thanatos  •  Sep 29, 2006 @7:40 pm

    I find it interesting that so many people here think the Democrats are the key to opposing Bush’s regime. With the possible exception of the Clinton Administration, most democrats and republicans say they stand for different things, but once the reigns of power are seized do the exact same thing. Put more money into the pockets of the rich, letting the poor get poorer, letting the middle class bear increasingly more of the budgetary needs of running government, if thats is what you call it, and whether they are Republican or Democratic, the words change, but the same things happen. I mentioned the Clinton Administration because it had also was more of the same, except it had left a rather sizable surplus, which was immediately squandered by the Bush Administration. So in the end, I ask, what is the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans?

    The answer is none.

    It’s the citizen’s right and duty to overthrow a government when it does not follow the wants of the people, so maybe it’s time the American People do what they have to do, hmmm?

  35. r4d20  •  Sep 29, 2006 @9:03 pm

    As a Republican who hates Bush, I can’t fathom why people would vote third-party.

    Bush made a deal with the Republican Congress soon after 9/11, “Don’t fuck with me on the military stuff and I won’t fuck with your pork-barrell spending!”, and the last 5 years has been the result of this deal. Massive Debts and an incompetent president given free-reign over everything even remotely connected to “defense”.

    Is it “almost too late”? No. Will the cost of rolling back the Bush legacy increase over time? Yes. The only way of stopping this machine before 2 more years pass is to give one more both houses to the Dems so that they can use their position to slow down or stop things like this disgrace of a “torture bill”.

    Furthermore, as a republican who spent years reading Horowitz, etc. I can honestly say that it is only a matter of time before they start using anti-terror powers against political opponents – their heady mixture of insecurity and aggressiveness almost garauntees it.

  36. r4d20  •  Sep 29, 2006 @9:48 pm

    It’s the citizen’s right and duty to overthrow a government when it does not follow the wants of the people, so maybe it’s time the American People do what they have to do, hmmm?

    ..he says, waiting for someone else to pick up the gun first.

  37. Nathanael Nerode  •  Sep 30, 2006 @3:14 pm

    Actually, there is an option other than armed revolution.

    Peaceful revolution. It’s difficult. It means that hundreds of thousands of people will need to declare the government illegitimate, refuse to cooperate with it, and have massive street protests. It *will* lead to many of us being murdered by the Bushites. However, that will decisvely turn public opinion, which can lead to the resignation of the government through sheer pressure.

    I expect it to be necessary. I hope you’re all ready.

  38. Nathanael Nerode  •  Sep 30, 2006 @3:15 pm

    “but once the reigns of power are seized do the exact same thing”
    Thanatos, this is crap. The Democratic Party, even when in power, does not kidnap and torture people. The Republican Party does.

    It’s as simple as that.

  39. notmax  •  Sep 30, 2006 @9:53 pm

    Excellent, and complements (and is complemented by) others, such as:

    Big Vlad, Little Vlad

    The time to shout “No, enough” is now. The danger to the republic is real. Every voice, every action can only help.

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