Thursday, September 20, 2007


Grabbed a copy of The New York Times on my way into the building today (working at a college has a few perks—free NYT is one). I was curious how they were going to treat yesterday's failures in the Senate. Would they give it proper placement? And, would they treat it as a blanket Senate action (like most media seem to be doing) or as Republican obstructionism?

The story and headline was front-page, above-the-fold, upper right corner (in descending order of size/boldness):

Vote Ends Democratic Bid to Alter Leave Plan for Troops

Not perfect, but at least they addressed two major points without having to read the details of the story. In fact, given the strategy actually employed by the Democrats, they cannot complain about this story much. The NYT notes right up front that a GOP minority blocked the bill, and that it was a Democratic plan. I'd have preferred a headline like "GOP Minority Blocks Democrat's Plan to Stop Screwing the Troops" but saying an effort was made and failed was better than some lines I've seen. Let's read on (emphasis mine):
A proposal that Democrats put forward as their best chance of changing the course of the Iraq war died on the Senate floor on Wednesday, as Republicans stood firmly with President Bush.

With other war initiatives seemingly headed for the same fate, Senate Democrats, who only two weeks ago proclaimed September to be the month for shifting course in Iraq, conceded that they had little chance of success.

They said their strategy would now focus on portraying Republicans as opposing any change and on trying to chip away support for the White House as the war continued.

The proposal that failed Wednesday fell 4 votes short of the 60 needed to prevent a filibuster and would have required that troops be given as much time at home as they had spent overseas before being redeployed.

There were 56 votes in favor, including 6 Republicans — one fewer than the 7 Republicans who joined the Democrats in July, when the measure, by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, also fell 4 votes short

First of all, stop "conceding." Period. Ahead of time…After the fact…Fuck that noise. That's a giant "we don't really mean it" signal to Bush and the GOP—and your own constituents.

The key here is above in bold—this is where the Democrat's own strategy fails them—twice. Not only do they lose the vote, they lose the news cycle as well. While it's made clear in this story Republicans are at fault for the bill "dying on the floor" this was never really brought to a vote. This was NOT and up-or-down vote on the proposal, it was a vote to end debate. The Republicans won despite being outvoted by 13, because the Democrats let them. I've already covered this ground:
Because Reid isn't making the Republicans "filibuster" anything. He counts heads and has a cloture vote, which brings debate to an end artificially, and they move on to the next item. Bullshit. MAKE. THEM. ACTUALLY. FILIBUSTER. Make these assholes actually go to the podium and speak. I don't care if they argue their positions or read the phone book, make them earn it. Reid is letting them off easy with an "implied" filibuster. Fuck that.

That's exactly what happened here. All that happened was the Democrats fell short of the 60 votes to prevent a filibuster and end debate. What does Harry Reid do? Throws up his hands and calls it a day. THAT IS FUCKING BULLSHIT! Caving because the Republicans say they are going to prevent the vote and continue debate is exactly what Reid and the Dems should want. As I said in June, MAKE. THEM. ACTUALLY. FILIBUSTER.

Want to cut past the non-stop O.J. coverage and make sure everyone knows what's happening? Make Republicans take to the podium for 24 hours and explain why they don't want the troops to have time at home. Nobody even knows what the fuck happened yesterday.

Oh, and what else happened yesterday? That's right…the Republicans did the exact same thing regarding upholding Habeus Corpus. The NY Times didn't even fit that on the front page. Toast has that one covered.

Why the hell is Reid scheduling these votes on the same day? And what two votes could possibly be more important than restoring a bedrock principle of democracy dating back to the Magna Carta and, short of ending the war, at least making sure troops get to come home for a decent amount of time between tours?

Another consequence of this fake filibuster shit? Creating the impression that it takes 60 votes to pass legislation. It doesn't. It takes 50+1. The Republicans have hijacked the process, and Reid has let them. All the public knows now is "56 votes falls short." It doesn't—56 votes is fucking bipartisan support with room to spare. Reid IS working with a majority! He even had 7 Republicans cross over! If Bush and 40 Republican partisans and one chinless dickweed want to work hard to screw the country, they can do it. But Reid is letting them have it without breaking a sweat.

What unfolded yesterday convinces me the Democrats are NOT serious about any of this shit. None of it. Yesterday was not a "defeat," it was a revelation. It was Congress, the democratic leadership in particular, exposed.

Only one thing will change my mind, Harry—Bring it back. Attach it to the Defense Bill. Force the vote. Make the Republicans filibuster, and then make them vote. Pass the bill and make Bush veto it. Only then will I "concede" defeat, because we don't have the 2/3's to overturn a veto. but by the time that happens the Republicans own it. The Republicans filibustered it. The Republican President vetoed it. It's on them. But barring that, Reid is letting them get away with it.

Next fall do you think anybody is going to remember what happened yesterday? That the Democrats did anything at all? No. Even the next day, most people never heard about it, and those that did, just heard, "Senate Blocks Troop Leave Bill" They lost the vote, lost the news cycle, lost the public's opinion, failed the troops, failed to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution, and they fucked their own electoral strategy.

All in a day's work.

“It means that Congress will not intervene in the foreseeable future,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the Independent who has voted with the Republicans on war issues. “The fact that it didn’t get enough votes says that Congress doesn’t have the votes to stop this strategy of success from going forward.”

Strategy of success? Fuck you, Joe. And I hereby give Chris Dodd one-day immunity to come down the hall and beat the shit out of you for your Habeus vote, you GOP sell-out. Your ass should be booted from every fucking committee for your two votes yesterday.
For now, the failed Webb proposal is the closest Democrats have come to bipartisan legislation that would force Mr. Bush to change his strategy. And with Republicans solidly behind the plan outlined by Mr. Bush and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, Democrats have retreated to a firm antiwar stance.

They are no longer entertaining the kind of compromise measures that some Democrats had proposed this month as an attempt to woo Republican defectors, and they said they would instead seek opportunities to hold votes that would more starkly contrast Republican support for the president with Democrats’ demands for withdrawal.

“The Republican leadership and the White House is getting them all to march in line,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who ranks third in the party leadership. “But it is marching further and further away from where America is. We just keep at it. It’s all we can do.

"Retreat to a firm stance?" Whatever the hell that is. This is "all you can do," Chuck? Not by a fucking long shot. It's what you have determined is prudent for the election, which is as disgraceful as any action the Republicans have taken. You've decided that proposing DOA legislation and losing cloture votes to "starkly contrast" distinctions is a way to govern. It's not. It's a cop-out and it's a way to cover your asses and that's it.

Oh, and what's the first thing on today's agenda? A resolution to condemn's stupid Petraeus ad. If that passes I think I'll just shoot myself in the head.

Fuck you guys. I'm done.

UPDATE: Welcome Benenites, and I added a link to my previous post about Mark Kleiman's Defense Bill plan.


Anonymous said...

nightshift here. I only see one flaw in your plan, Furious. You are assuming Bush would veto the bill. I think it much more likely that he'd praise it, sign it, and slip in a 'signing statement' that completely nullified it. The media are fools and would sing his praises for being 'reasonable,' while the blame for troops going on their 5th tour would get partly shifted to the Dems for 'their' law.

Mr Furious said...

I could live with that. All that's going on now is a kabuki dance with everybody going through the motions for their base, with nothing actually happening.

If Bush did it, Congress could take him to Court.

dnA said...

I just want to say nice post, but that I'd be linking to you anyway just because of your blog name.

Rage....taking over...

Chris Howard said...

Nice furiosity!

I don't get it either. I thought that the filibuster had been used historically by the minority to oppose truly odious legislation. It seems the Republicans are doing it as matter of course now. Any major vote requires 60. What the fuck happened to the Senate? If it was this fucking easy, how did Bush get all those judges confirmed and all those shitty bills passed? Why do the Republicans govern like they mean to win and the Democrats govern like weak fucking hamsters? Where is our nuclear option and bogus "compromise"? Why were the Dems "obstructionist" for opposing reactionary trolls dressed up as judges but the Repubs are just going about their business as usual?

S.W. Anderson said...

OK, Furious, while I'm not quite to your stage of being cynical about Democrats treading sewer water with an eye to the next election, I agree with you they should quit this B.S. and make Republicans filibuster — again and again and again, until the Republicans' heads swell up and burst like infected zits.

Re: winning news cycles, I've given quite a bit of thought lately to what it would take for Democrats to consistently get the best of things. Here's what I came up with.

Most of the corporate media associates who pass for reporters any more are so far nouveau-riche gone, so in the grip of career advancement and so the product of right-wing parents and profs, Democrats would have to win the White House and hold both houses of Congress for eight to 12 years. Then, maybe, the media would be almost as tilted in the Democrats' direction, for access reasons if nothing else, as the media are now tilted to the right wingers.

Unless Reid takes some multivitamins and discovers the Joy of Kicking GOP Ass, I'm not holding my breath.

Mr Furious said...

"... not quite to your stage of being cynical about Democrats treading sewer water with an eye to the next election..."

What's it gonna take? If they won't fight for any of the stuff they got beat on yesterday, then what will they fight on?

They ARE knuckling under because they are afraid to be called out in the next election. Guess what. They will be anyway. they were elected to do what they can to stop the war—they are failing.

These are not real efforts. They don't want it bad enough. My Senator (Stabenow) was on the list of "call them, they're on the fence" on BOTH of these things. What the fuck is that? It's called afraid to take a stand until the outcome is known. Then vote when it doesn't matter.

I don't even need to look to know how she voted on the asinine MoveOn Resolution.

Minutes after I finished this post today I had emails in my box from Carl Levin, Pat Leahy and Chris Dodd. Each one of them claiming "This isn't over!" or some such crap, and then asking me for money.

No. Not. One. Fucking. Penny. Ever. Again.

You think I'm happy with you worthless fucks after that little show? I'm not. Win one of these fights or go down swinging, then I'll think about it. Not before.

Mike said...

Great post, Furious. Preach on, bro.

I get instant heartburn as soon as I think about this story. We've got a one-party government, and it doesn't represent us.

Mr Furious said...

I don't even need to look to know how she voted on the asinine MoveOn Resolution.

Shockingly, she voted "no". But twenty-odd other weakling Ds crossed over and voted to suppress political speech.

They should have told Jon Cornyn and the GOP to pound sand with this stupid resolution—that they had their chance to support the troops on Wednesday with a vote that actually did something and they passed.

Moanna said...

I came here from the Mrs Furious site, but just wanna say: what you said.

All of it. Your entire posting. Speaks for me.