Thursday, September 06, 2007

DemocRats

The Poor Man Institute » The influence of Kos on the national Democratic party has perhaps been overstated

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 — With a mixed picture emerging about progress in Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders are showing a new openness to compromise as they try to attract Republican support for forcing at least modest troop withdrawals in the coming months.
After short-circuiting consideration of votes on some bipartisan proposals on Iraq before the August break, senior Democrats now say they are willing to rethink their push to establish a withdrawal deadline of next spring if doing so will attract the 60 Senate votes needed to prevail.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said, “If we have to make the spring part a goal, rather than something that is binding, and if that is able to produce some additional votes to get us over the filibuster, my own inclination would be to consider that.”

Carl Levin is to congressional pushback on pointless, grinding dead-end war as Britney Spears is to responsible motherhood.

Sure, make it a guideline, Carl. You know what, there’s every reason to trust the President when he says he might reduce troop levels, slightly, at some point in the future. When? Oh, well, is never good for you? But yeah, best not to go out on a limb and follow the course of action a majority of the country decided was important enough that they put you in the majority so you could enact it. Can’t be too careful.

Simple it may seem to you and I, but it takes a truly wily pathetic sycophant to understand the complexities of doing business in DC. Its wheels within wheels with Levin, man. That dude’s got the inside dope.

Assholes.

14 Comments:

Blogger sexyretard said...

First off, a majority of Americans did not put the Democrats in power. The majority of Americans stayed home. I don't think midterm voter turnout has been 50 percent since the 1920s. So, a majority of a minority of Americans voted to put the Demoncrats in power, and those voters can't account for 24% of the total population. Sure the public hates the war; I believe the Democrats make a mistake when they assume that this somehow means the public likes THEM.

My frustration with the Democrats regarding the war is that many of them have determined it is wrong to go to war because the war is going poorly. I have a serious moral problem with approving or disapproving the rightness of an action by whether or not it is easy. If it was wrong to go to Iraq, then the current death count has nothing to do with the war being wrong. It would have been wrong if 300, rather than 3000, American troops had died. If, however, the war is morally justified, then body counts don't change THAT either.

I think the problem with Levin and friends is precisely that they have built their political capital on what they are not rather than what they are. While I don't trust the Democrats with universal public health insurance (or with scissors), at least they've finally given us an issue they are actually FOR rather than against.

So, with the previously stated exception, these people really don't seem to have any moral grounding to speak of. I would like to here an honest answer on isolationism vs. interventionism, whether preemptive war is ever acceptable, the role of the national and state governments specifically in preventing another 9/11, etc. Hillary said that if we were attacked by a nuke that we would "retailiate." I wish she'd tell us against who, and whether that would involve nuking innocents.

Was Levin around when we were bombing the Serbs? Sending troops to Haiti and Somalia? Did he call for that to end? Does he want us to pull our troops from South Korea? Or is it OK to have troops THERE because it's going well there?

8:13 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

“First off, a majority of Americans did not put the Democrats in power. The majority of Americans stayed home. I don't think midterm voter turnout has been 50 percent since the 1920s. So, a majority of a minority of Americans voted to put the Demoncrats in power, and those voters can't account for 24% of the total population. Sure the public hates the war; I believe the Democrats make a mistake when they assume that this somehow means the public likes THEM.”
***
A majority of the people who gave a shit did put Democrats in the majority, which, IMO, justifies the shorthand “a majority of Americans.” I’m not so sure I want that other 60% voting, anyway.

I don’t think most Democrats are under any illusion that they were put there because they’re so loveable, although many of them seem to have forgotten already what the real reason was.


“My frustration with the Democrats regarding the war is that many of them have determined it is wrong to go to war because the war is going poorly. I have a serious moral problem with approving or disapproving the rightness of an action by whether or not it is easy. If it was wrong to go to Iraq, then the current death count has nothing to do with the war being wrong. It would have been wrong if 300, rather than 3000, American troops had died. If, however, the war is morally justified, then body counts don't change THAT either.”

“So, with the previously stated exception, these people really don't seem to have any moral grounding to speak of.”
***
I agree with the spirit of your comment, but in your sincere disgust with hypocrisy, you are painting with an excessively wide brush: the Iraq War Resolution passed the House 296-133 (81 Dems voted for, 126 Dems voted against), and the Senate 77-23 (29 Dems voted for, 21 voted against). So, 64% of House Democrats and 28% of Senate Democrats (including Carl Levin) voted against the war way back when it took political courage to do so (Maybe I should say that it took a lack of political cowardice, which may or may not be the same thing). I’m all for questioning motives when they have the appearance of being cynically self-serving, but it’s also important to acknowledge that most of the strongest Democrat voices you now hear opposing the war were also opposing it back then.


“I think the problem with Levin and friends is precisely that they have built their political capital on what they are not rather than what they are. While I don't trust the Democrats with universal public health insurance (or with scissors), at least they've finally given us an issue they are actually FOR rather than against.”
***
Yep. Their lack of a unifying narrative is very problematic, but also reflective of the diversity within the party, compared to the relative homogeneity of the Republicans (which can’t help but be a political disadvantage).

“I would like to here an honest answer on isolationism vs. interventionism, whether preemptive war is ever acceptable, the role of the national and state governments specifically in preventing another 9/11, etc. Hillary said that if we were attacked by a nuke that we would "retailiate." I wish she'd tell us against who, and whether that would involve nuking innocents.

Was Levin around when we were bombing the Serbs? Sending troops to Haiti and Somalia? Did he call for that to end? Does he want us to pull our troops from South Korea? Or is it OK to have troops THERE because it's going well there?”
***
I think your penchant for birddogging hypocrisy has led you to insinuate more than you can justify with the facts. That most or all Democrats oppose preventive war does not at all imply that they oppose preemptive war. Nor are 99% of Democrats pacifists whose opposition to the Iraq War would only be consistent if they also believed in bringing the troops home from Korea and opposed going to war against Serbia.

As much as I hate to invoke Greenwald here, aren’t you displaying a bit of a Manichean mindset on this issue? Why couldn’t a non-hypocrite have supported the war at the beginning when he heard about all the candy and flowers that would explode from IED piñatas lovingly placed on street corners by adoring Iraqi freedom-boosters (or maybe about a supposed WMD threat), but now oppose it because the costs in American lives and money have been too great, and the results not all what he was led to believe? You and I may both consider this person an idiot (and therefore highly likely to be an elected Democrat), and to question whether or not he is just being cynical is certainly valid, but I think you assume too much in making that judgment without looking at prior statements, justifications, etc.

2:07 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

"r penchant for birddogging hypocrisy has led you to insinuate more than you can justify with the facts. That most or all Democrats oppose preventive war does not at all imply that they oppose preemptive war. Nor are 99% of Democrats pacifists whose opposition to the Iraq War would only be consistent if they also believed in bringing the troops home from Korea and opposed going to war against Serbia."

For once I'm not charging Levin and Democrats with hypocrisy but rather with a lack of moral clarity. I reckon Levin has never claimed to be a pacifist. I also reckon that Levin has never claimed to be an isolationist.

What I'd like to hear from you and Levin (the appearance of lumping you two together is merely coincidental:) is

1-Under what conditions is it EVER right to go to war?

2-Should the United States have gone to war against Hitler in 1939?

3-If so, why?

4-If so, what was true of Hitler that was not true of Saddam Hussein (and Saddam's bigger mustache doesn't count)

To put it a different way, what constitutes genocide, and if that level of murder is reached, shoudl the US respond militarily?

What I'm looking for from Levin and company is not evangelical Christianity or morally consistent living (which I have enough trouble with as a sexy retarded adult) but rather with a clear and well-articulated ethic of what constitutes acceptable warfare, and a willingness to hold all presidents, Democrat as well as Republican, to those standards.

8:50 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Incidentally, as a rhetorical preemptive device, please let me say that I realize that the stated purpose of going to war with Iraq was not genocide but WMDs that were shown either not to have been there, or at the very least, no to have been there to the extent imagined.

What I am looking for from Levin, Jeff, Germanicus, IHOP, and the French, is a working ethic of war.

8:54 AM  
Blogger International House of Pedantics said...

"1-Under what conditions is it EVER right to go to war?"

Only if we are attacked.
-Pearl Harbor = yes.
-9/11 attacks = yes (though I note if we'd kept our noses out of the Middle East in the first place, those attacks likely wouldn't have happened.)
-WMD (even if they existed) = no. There was no rational reason to believe Saddam had any intentions beyond his immediate borders.

In short, I can accept attacking in response to an attack, but only if there are no other potential effective responses. And not every attack merits a military respone. Mayaguez? Maine? Gulf of Tonkin? I suggest none of these incidents meets the level of war-like response. I think our government agreed in one of three cases.

"2-Should the United States have gone to war against Hitler in 1939?"

Short answer: no.

Longer answer: I realize that we had signed mutual non-agression treaties; and I accept we are bound to adhere to our treaties. So, I am waffling a bit post Dec 7. (per my blog motto)

If the question is: did Hitler do anything to the US pre-1940 that merited a response, I am unaware of what that would be. He was a bad guy, no doubt. Awful to the Jews and assorted others. He broke the Treaty of Versailles (which was poorly conceived in the first place), but I wouldn't have gone to war in 1939.

10:37 AM  
Blogger International House of Pedantics said...

"-WMD (even if they existed) = no. There was no rational reason to believe Saddam had any intentions beyond his immediate borders."

clarification: by the above I mean that it was clear Saddam would attack neighboring countries: Iran, Kuwait, Kurdistan (is that a country?), and near neighbor Israel if he spotted an opening. There is absolutly no reason to believe he had any real intentions beyond his neighborhood, despite his verbal threats.

10:41 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Hi IHOP,

Great answer. I'm not sure I agree with it, but I wish to God that the Democrats did.

Right now they want us to get involved in Darfur. I don't quite know what exactly they mean (should we offer backmassages to the people committing genocide?) Perhaps the Democrats are advocating Satyagraha, and perhaps we should send over troops with homespun rather than weapons and have them love the murderers to death?

Had the Democrats had your clarity on the matter of foreign military involvement in the first place, I really think they could have done a better job preventing it.

6:59 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Herr Jeff Danielmann,

I will not be around for discussions of Manicheanism, but if I understand it correctly, is not more than just a good/evil dichotomy, but also a view of good and evil as equal and opposite. I do not believe in a perfect badness, and I damn sure wouldn't say that the Republicans exemplify perfect goodness. Rather than good vs. evil, the issue of Republicans vs Democrats is better characterized as syphilis vs. AIDS. The Republicans are by and large greedy morally repugnant hypocrits who have sent ground troops over to serve as target practice, claim to stand for strong borders but then prosecute agents for shooting drug smugglers in the ass, claim to stand for family values while kneeling in bathroom stalls, visiting whorehouses, divorcing dying wives, etc.

And yet with all of the above, I just don't find them as loathsome as the Democrats. Perhaps it's because no one is fooled into believing that the Republicans really do speak for the common man. People vote Republican because they either want socially conservative policies or hate paying taxes. The Democrats have been able to get people to vote for them because they have the entirely une xceptionally characteristic of not being George W Bush.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

S-Tard,

1-Under what conditions is it EVER right to go to war?
***
If we're talking all-out war here, then under only the most extreme, imminent threat to our country's territorial integrity, and I believe this includes the possibility of preemptive war. The reason for this (and although I didn’t like the book much, Greenwald did a fantastic job of emphasizing this) is that war is really, really bad, mainly for the people in the country that’s being attacked. That’s an idea that doesn’t even seem to occur to the neocons. It should be an option of last resort, rather than a staple of your foreign policy, as it is for the Project for the New American Century assholes who are behind Bush’s crusades.

However, I think limited, multilateral war is justified in cases like Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, when the country being invaded has no capacity to mount an effective defense on its own.

2-Should the United States have gone to war against Hitler in 1939?
***
Yes.

3-If so, why?
***
Germany was a viciously totalitarian state that displayed not only an intent to conquer vast swaths of the planet and a recent history of territorial aggression, but also a material capability to do so again. Germany, of course, declared war on the US after Pearl Harbor, but even if it hadn't, it's hard to argue that its territorial aims and political philosophy did not pose an existential threat to the US in the medium- to long-term. It was almost a textbook example of when going to war is justified, which is all the more reason that the neocons' constant wielding of Chamberlain and 1938 is so disrespectful of the memory of that conflict.

4-If so, what was true of Hitler that was not true of Saddam Hussein (and Saddam's bigger mustache doesn't count)
***
How about his *much* bigger moustache? In short, the difference is capability. Iraq posed no reasonably serious threat to the territorial integrity or safety of the US.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

S-Tard,

"And yet with all of the above, I just don't find them as loathsome as the Democrats. Perhaps it's because no one is fooled into believing that the Republicans really do speak for the common man. People vote Republican because they either want socially conservative policies or hate paying taxes. The Democrats have been able to get people to vote for them because they have the entirely une xceptionally characteristic of not being George W Bush."
***
This is bullshit. Loads of people are "fooled" into thinking that Republicans speak for the "common man," whoever he is. It's been 20 years since Republicans started using rhetoric designed to appeal to this elusive "common man," low wage workers, rednecks, hillbillies, etc. You rely on a cliché that is long out of date. Your attribution of clear-minded intent to Republican voters, and your claim that Democrats are just voting for Not George Bush, are completely belied by the fact that Democrats were getting close to 50% of the vote nationwide long before anyone knew who George W. Bush was.

Democrats obviously have a tougher time with message control. How much more easily digestible is

"government = bad"

than

"the private sector does a better and more efficient job in most spheres of the consumer economy, though some large-scale services, such as healthcare, utilities, education, mass transit, etc., are better viewed as social infrastructure that strengthen the private sector and provide a basic quality of life for even the most disadvantaged citizens"?

The fact that the former sentiment fits better into a 30-second soundbite doesn't mean that Democrats are being sold a bill of goods. Rural voters vote in their perceived interests largely for Republicans, while urbanites vote in their perceived interest largely for Democrats. To claim that the urbanites are getting suckered while the Republicans are getting what they paid for is just absurd.

You prefer Republicans to Democrats for the completely valid reason that Republicans are largely pro-life, and you have made no secret of the fact that abortion is The Issue for you. That kind of consistency is completely admirable. Beyond that issue, however (and realistically, feeling as you do about it, there should be no "beyond that issue"), claiming that Republicans are somehow more honest in their self-presentation than Democrats just doesn't pass muster.

10:04 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Jeff,

Forgive me. I don't think that they are more honest in their self-presentation; rather, I think that the public is less duped by their self-presentation than it is of the Democrats.

When people support the Republicans, they do so in the expectation of certain things that actually happen (Bush tax cuts, conservative jurists).

I don't think that anyone is going to tolerate Republicans claiming that there are "two America's." The public would see right through it. Yet they don't see right through it when John Edwards says that there are two America's and conveniently neglects to share with the class how firmly entrenched he is in the one he is in.

I think one reason you don't hear as much about conservation from Republican leadership is, again, no one would buy such a product being sold by them.

I lastly don't think that the public thinks that elected Republicans are generally family men who live the ideals that they insist on being codified into law.

Meanwhile, most anyone would be quite surprised to find out that Obama's wife makes 375 large as Vice Presdient of UC hospitals, or that John Edwards' dad worked in the mill because he was one of the owners, or that Al Gore's house uses more energy than Bush's, or what have you. The public's distrust of the Republicans is quite well founded (you are right that my love for them extends only as far as their support for life--Giuiliani will never get my vote); what I wish I saw more of were common people staring the Democrats in the eye and insisting they actually do something. This universal health care, whether a good idea or a bad one, is at least something that the Democrats are willing to do. Perhaps when taxes go up for a program that also means more people will get medical care, we'll actually have a national debate on priorities that's a bit more erudite than "what did Bush know about WMDs."

3:31 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I lastly don't think that the public thinks that elected Republicans are generally family men who live the ideals that they insist on being codified into law."

Well, they certainly don't anymore, to the lasting chagrin of Republicans.

"Meanwhile, most anyone would be quite surprised to find out that Obama's wife makes 375 large as Vice Presdient of UC hospitals, or that John Edwards' dad worked in the mill because he was one of the owners, or that Al Gore's house uses more energy than Bush's, or what have you."

I don't think people would be surprised to hear these things, except for the thing about Edwards's father, which isn't true. Again, you seem to be relying on stereotypes that are about 30-years old and holding Democrats to a standard they don't espouse.

Where in the Democratic platform does it say you can't be rich, or rise up from being a millworker to a plant manager (which is the real story of Edwards' father)? Democrats want those rich people to pay more taxes than Republicans do, but that doesn't mean they're anti-wealth.

As a former communist union organizer, I can tell you that, to my great frustration at the time, American workers--even very low-paid workers--are not class warriors who want to eat the rich. They don't want to be treated unfairly, of course, but the vast majority of them do not begrudge people success based on their efforts (unless it's one of their co-workers). We have gone back and forth on this before, but you can't apply principles of Christian poverty to secular groups that don't share that commitment, then call them hypocrites or phonies.

9:04 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Jeff,

Mea culpa. Mill manager and then consultant. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

"Democrats want those rich people to pay more taxes than Republicans do, but that doesn't mean they're anti-wealth."--Jeff

Well, duh. You mean that Kohl and Rockefeller are not anti-wealth? I never would have thunk it.

"American workers--even very low-paid workers--are not class warriors who want to eat the rich."

Perhaps not, but "tax the rich" is always a popular slogan with those who are not rich. Unfortunately, increasing payroll taxes or gas taxes would hurt people regressively.

I don't mind paying taxes for the general welfare (I just wish they were spent in a more accountable manner). At the same time, I rather enjoyed the Bush tax cuts, and, as a percentage of my total tax bill, my tax cuts were very, very significant. Katie and I always get a kick out of hearing that the Bush tax cuts only helped the rich, because we must be rich.

My point is that the Democrats are generally viewed (ask 95% of my students) as people who can relate to the common man. How anyone believes that Mr. Kohl can relate to Mr Tard I haven't the foggiest. Their solutions like increasing the gas tax show that they have no idea what the common man goes through, despite the illusion. They (the royal "they" I realize that not everyone backs every tax increase)think that my family must be rich because we benefitted from the tax cuts, and they have no idea how much a 50 cent gas tax would hurt my family's budget.

If the Democrats really cared as much for the little guy as they are perceived to, they would sound a lot more like the Green Party than they do. I'm not calling the Democrats hypocritical on taxation and social welfare (I reserve that for the environment); I am saying that they are way more out of touch than people suppose they are. They have found some political capital out of public health care (and as well they should, it's proving to be the bane of my existence as I would have ditched my job by now otherwise).

Are the four wealthiest Senators Republicans or Democrats? Now, ask that question to people you meet, and it will probably be about 90% of them will say that the wealthiest Senators are Republicans (I do it in my classes all the time, and not once has a student guessed that the wealthiest Senators, Kohl, Rockefeller, Kerry(I usually leave his name out as it's a giveaway) are indeed Democrats. That's telling me that the perception of the public, of the Democrats, is off.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Sexy,

"Perhaps not, but "tax the rich" is always a popular slogan with those who are not rich."
***
But mostly with those who are super-rich, apparently, by your analysis of the relative wealth of Democrat legislators.

"Unfortunately, increasing payroll taxes or gas taxes would hurt people regressively."
***
Reagan imposed the largest payroll tax increase in history. Beyond that, as if the massive spending spree Bush is engaged in isn't going to affect taxpayers regressively--with a "unified budget" (thanks to LBJ, of course, and all the Reps and Dems who came after him and didn't fix it), raiding the general fund means more subsidies from SS and payroll taxes.

As for the tax issue generally, talking with Republicans (especially working class Republicans) about taxes always reminds me of one of the first home visits I ever did as an organizer. It was a campaign to organize the workers at the Louisiana Convention Center and Superdome, and I had come to the house of a young woman and her family on the outskirts of New Orleans. I showed her that unionized workers doing the same job for the same company in nearby Mississippi, and earning about 25% more than she was. She was very interested, until I explained to her what the dues structure would be (about 1% per month). She said, "No one is gonna take my MY money from me!" Mind you, she didn't disbelieve me that she would get a big raise if they got the union--it was just that nobody was going to take her money from her! For the next 15 minutes I tried in vain to explain the math to her. Her father sat at the same table, and finally said to me, "I've been trying to explain things like this to her for 10 years--you think you have a chance?"

The only taxes Republicans seem to understand is the one imposed by the government, whereas the "tax" that is implicit in the lower job growth, the lower income growth, the increased future interest payments as a result of higher deficits, etc., that characterize Republican administrations more than Democratic ones, just don't count. It's great that you got a tax cut that made a difference (how did it compare to the Clinton cuts you got or would have gotten?), but did they really have to cut taxes for billionaires by so much during wartime?

But finally, you find Democrats more loathsome than Republicans because most Americans think Democrats have less money than Republicans. That's your right, I guess. I'm fine with criticizing both parties for failing to live up to their promises, but it's my belief that Democrats are objectively better for working class people (though not enough) than Republicans.

3:25 PM  

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