Eating a little crow, part 1
OK, OK. Munch, chew. I'm eating crow.
I was substantially wrong in my Nov. 4 essay about how big the vote for Democrats would be in the midterm election. I thought the Dems would get a small majority in the House and stay a couple of seats behind the Republicans in the Senate. Although I hedged a bit on the Senate, I did not anticipate the size of the Democratic win there.
Think I'll hold off on eating the promised raven and buzzard, however.
With each day it appears more likely that the change in Congress come January will involve party names and committee chairs but not much in the way of substance, certainly not enough to make progressives happy. If I'm wrong on that, as I was on the number of people calling themselves Democrats who were elected, I'll finish the black-feathered feast -– in maybe a year.
I was wrong for two reasons, I think.
The first was that though I was very aware of a deep anger in my part of the country about what the Bush crowd has done to this country – and not only in Iraq – I didn't fully appreciate how far that anger had spread into the Southeast, the West and even into the South.
Secondly, I guessed wrong about how far the Republicans would go with fraud and manipulation of the electoral system. They played some nasty games, all right, but they didn't go all out, and I think that was a deliberate strategic decision. Like some people who are closer to the action than I am, I still think there's an element of setup here.
(There were some pockets of major fraud, and the fact that the corporate media have chosen to ignore that fraud does not bode well for '08 and beyond. The boobs of the press decided some time back that we – or they – are better off not knowing about such things.)
The Republicans are stuck with Bush, but they're obviously no longer enamored of him, and they're going to have to establish a considerable distance from him before the 2008 election. (Bush? Bush who?)
Further, they know Iraq is a disaster, but they haven't a single idea about how to get us out – certainly not how to get out and also save face. Many think the best thing for their '08 chances is to turn disaster cleanup over to the Democrats and then blame them for the whole thing. The same with Afghanistan, where the Taliban is staging a comeback, and with other foreign policy screwups, looming economic problems and several other issues. We are on the brink of a very ugly time; may as well set up the Democrats to take the blame.
Republicans squatting all over our government created the messes, but they'll shake their fingers at Democrats and shout “Bad dog!”
I'm pessimistic about the Democrats' ability or willingness to fight effectively, or to use their present public support and act on the numerous and in some cases gigantic threats facing this country and the world. Thus my concern about substance in the next Congress.
Have you looked closely at who got elected under the label Democrat?
There are some good people, but there also are a substantial number of phonies who really belong in the party of George W. Bush.
A whole lot of them are Joe Lieberman clones. The 2007 Democratic freshmen class includes way too many anti-abortion crusaders, too many supporters of anti-gay legislation, “gun rights” and tax breaks for oil companies. There are far too many people who look at the rapidly accelerating global warming disaster and turn around to embrace the pollution industries' lobbyists.
Same is true of many returnees, of course. They gave Republican Joe – excuse me, Democrat Joe -- or, ummm, Independent Joe – a cheering damned standing ovation when he appeared on the Senate floor after the election.
We still have mean-spirited old Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii (actually of the state of Corporation) boldly promising a New York Times reporter that there will be no reduction in the distribution of pork, no cut in earmark spending or other methods used by long-tenured Congressional members to gather spoils unto themselves while defrauding the American public.
There are dozens of so-called Democrats in the new Congress who voted for the invasion of Iraq, for laws that make it almost impossible for honest but overextended Americans to declare bankruptcy. The same people made it possible for corporations to make such declaration for almost no reason, and thus shed union contracts and other legal obligations.
An even dozen of the returning senators who call themselves Democrats (oh, excuse me; good ol' Joe is now an "indpendent") voted for Bush's torture bill.
Washington teems with squads of Congressional Dems who sat mute, or worse, while our health care and educational systems have sunk toward the levels of the 1880s. There are dozens who played on the Bush team, and the Clinton team before that, as they gave the American economy away through NAFTA and a bunch of other agreements that sold American jobs cheap to industrialists who are only a step away from being slavers. (If you know anything about the conditions under which millions of people labor for American-run companies in poor places in the world, you know that is not just hyperbole.)
A few hours ago, as I write this, I filled out a survey sent to me by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC wanted to know what I (and many thousands of others, I'm sure) see as the major issues that should be addressed by the new Congress. It could legitimately be classified as a push poll. Among several major issues notable from their absence were pork spending, campaign reform, habeas corpus, torture and “special rendition.” Mention of environmental protection was brief and downplayed.
You're looking for progress? From those bozos?
Tell you what: It's possible, but only if we and all the organizations that actually won the election for the Democrats (as opposed to the party itself) are all over the Democrats, old and new, all the time, every day.
The indications right now are that with the help of the entrenched party leadership, they're all set to sink into the same old comfy ways of doing business by doing the business of big business. More on that very soon.