Grace Time is Over

It's pretty obvious at this point that the Democratic leadership isn't serious about ending the war in Iraq.  They won't defund the war, and keep repeating the meme that cutting off funding for the war means cutting off funding for the troops.

It's time for the blogs to stop giving them a pass.  As Glenn Greenwald wrote:

Over the past month or so, I attributed the muted or even non-existent criticism of Democrats to the very sensible proposition that the new Democratic leadership ought to be given some time, a little breathing room, to figure out what they will do and, more challengingly, how they will accomplish it. It is a complex task to put together a legislative strategy that will attract a coalition of legislators -- Democrats and some anti-war Republicans -- sufficient to command a majority. That is not going to happen overnight, and it would be unreasonable to start demanding that Nancy Pelosi end the war in the first week of her Speakership.

But that explanation really doesn't take us very far any more, because it is clear that Congressional Democrats are not working at all towards the goal of forcing an end to the war. They have expressly repudiated any de-funding intentions, and -- as Chu and Yoo correctly observe -- "two other Democratic Senate proposals that have actual teeth -- one by Russell Feingold to cut off money for the war, another by Barack Obama to mandate troop reductions -- were ignored by the leadership." Democrats are not going to be any closer to de-funding the war or otherwise compelling its conclusion in March or May or July as they are now, and they themselves have made that clear. For that reason, the "let's-give-them-time" justification lacks coherence.

A more formidable explanation for the lack of criticism of the Democratic leadership is pure pragmatic reality -- a Democratic leadership which can barely scrape up enough votes to pass a weak, non-binding resolution opposing escalation, let alone a non-binding resolution calling for an end to the war, would simply never be able to attract anywhere near enough votes to sustain a de-funding bill or a repeal of the war authorization. That premise is (most likely, though not definitely) accurate, but since when have pragmatic considerations of that sort stifled arguments from war opponents, liberal activists, and bloggers for principled action?

Is it time to work to run primary campaigns against Democrats who won't argue for ending the war?  There are immense incentives in DC that play into the status quo.  Democrats think that Bush is going to be blamed for Iraq, and he will be.  But Democrats have power, and that means that Democrats have some responsibility.  It's obvious that no Democrats in DC, with a few exceptions, feel any pull towards withdrawal.  So they are screwing over us, who voted them into office to end the war, and we're enabling them with cheerleading.

We must put incentives in place to stop this madness.  And believe me, it's madness.  I live here.  This is full of crazy people in suits who think that spending $1 trillion on defense a year is a good thing.  And those are the progressives!

UPDATE: Here's a diary at Dkos that elucidates this quite nicely. Steny Hoyer says that Congress won't cut off funding and will never support public financing of elections.

Tags: Democrats, Iraq (all tags)



Re: Grace Time is Over

Lets kick our feet all the way into the primaries.  (snark)

by Yoshimi 2007-02-14 05:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

They often have trouble doing what is right.  We need to build the netroots and transform the Democratic Party.  That means selected primaries.

People power will not be easy, because so much money is alligned against us.  The netroots needs to get serious.  You, Chris, and the others here at MyDD seem to understand that better than some other "progressive" blogs.

The war is not going to be ended before 2009.  So what do we do to try to make a movement for real change while it continues?

by littafi 2007-02-14 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I think this is right, but I would put the emphasis on "selected" in "selected primaries".  Frankly, most of the Dems are good people from a progressive point of view.  It doesn't make much sense to try to go after them en masse.  At the same time, the war is the single most important short-term issue we're facing right now, so something must be done.

And speaking of "doing something", I'd like to point out that one of the reasons the Dems aren't doing the right thing is that, despite their victory in the last elections and the gains of the netroots, Democrats and liberals still operate in a very hostile environment.  When a right wing liar like Drudge has the power to move damaging stories about Democrats into the mainstream media that stay for weeks on end...when the Moonies have more say over what you see in the news than the entire blogosphere...when "journalism" is dominated by people like Terry Moran and Mark Halperin, who are openly eager to "prove" how right wing they are...when the pundits in demand are outright racists like Glen Beck, and no one to the left of Joe Klein (or, at least, anyone willing to call "bullshit" on anything the right wing says) can break through the glass ceiling of the 21st century, it's not entirely unreasonable for Democrats to keep their heads down.

More to the point, when 70% of the country wants the US out of Iraq within a couple of years at most and a majority don't want the war escalated, yet what passes for our modern media repeatedly claim the "centrist view" is to Follow The President, the response from Democratic lawmakers is perhaps more understandable.

Yes, if Dems were much more vocal about ending the war, the news media would like shift their tune somewhat.  That sort of thing can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But as things stand, it's most likely Democrats would take a beating in the court of Public Opinion Makers and their majority could be endangered in 2008.

So, what we activists need to do, desperately, is to develop a new set of smart, effective weapons that can influence the sorry state of our media.  We can't hold primaries for media figures or networks, but we need to be much more aggressive with voicing our opinions, both directly and with our dollars.  Until we break the exclusive ability for the right wing to mainline whatever they wish into the news, results from Democratic lawmakers, who (when it comes right down to it) are politicians--like all lawmakers--will be substandard.

The battle isn't yet won, and the less-than-ideal performance of our footsoldiers (the lawmakers) isn't entirely their fault.

by jonweasel 2007-02-14 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over


Our guys are still scared...  Remember that Republicans are quite serious about lynching us int he streets.  If you don't believe me, read the recent L.A. Times article that says we are all guilty of a hanging offense trying to stop the war.

We have to be patient.  We are not republicans who demand ideological purity.  The next step after this resolutoin will be appropriations funding, and from what I hear, there a re a few tricks up our sleeve to force the president's hand without the "we're defunding our troops" argument.

Let's also remember that the Iraq war is the "gift that keeps on giving" for us, and it's hard for politicians to want to take that away.  Of course, at some point, that "gift" will become our curse.  It is important that we make THIS administration accountable and responsible, not the next one.



by lordmikethegreat 2007-02-14 07:00AM | 0 recs
I just want to be clear...

...that I'm not "making excuses" for Democratic politicians on this topic (though, as others have pointed out below, the idea that the time has come to condemn lack of action is very likely premature).  But the current media zeitgeist IS an explanation.  To Democratic lawmakers it could very well look like we're asking them to fall on their swords for what can ONLY end up being a symbolic gesture, no matter what, thanks to Bush's veto power.  And if it ends up costing them in 2008, what's the point of it all?

I think that would be an incorrect analysis, but before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, lets at least consider that 1) this may very well be the main analysis with which Dems are being presented and 2) our energies really might be better spent trying to change the environment in which we, and Democratic lawmakers, are fighting.

by jonweasel 2007-02-14 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Personally I don't have a problem with the resolution without teeth.

While I want the war to stop I don't think it is vitally important to stop it right this second.  The  way it is stopped is much more important in my opinion and that will have lasting consequences for decades.

Not only must this war be stopped.  It must be done in such a way that the next war is seen as a political loser.

by sterra 2007-02-14 05:17AM | 0 recs
That's Easy for You to Say

It may not be vitally important that the war end now for you, but to more than 3,000 families it's already too late.

My small town of Swampscott, Massachusetts - just 3 and an half squares miles - just lost its SECOND trooper to this forsaken war, based on lies. That's 2 people who were young and should be alive. That's my sister's classmate for over 7 years and the son of my aunt's friend.

This war is killing people every day. America's losses pale in comparison to Iraq, but even we feel it. We need to get out now BECAUSE it's vitally important. You can't take back a life, and lots of blood is spilling on the sands of Iraq.

by Ryepower12 2007-02-14 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Why is Richardon's proposal not being talked about? He's calling for a repeal of the authorization of force for Iraq, with an end date to that authorization. That avoids the whole "not funding the troops" counter-argument and keeps the focus on the central question: who wants to end the war, and who wants to continue it?

Am I missing something here? That seems like a much better alternative to cutting off funding.

by BriVT 2007-02-14 05:35AM | 0 recs
I agree! Repeal Authorization!

Repeal authorization for the war and make it clear that anything Bush does subsequently he does on his own.  This gives all elected represented (who are still in office) a retake on their IWR votes and then voters can judge what they do and make their decisions when these reps are up for reelection again.

The repeal should be successful if voted upon, since virtually all Democrats now want the war to be over and Republicans cannot be seen voting for a continuation of the war if they want to be re-elected in two years.  So, a repeal vote is a win/win proposition.

by francislholland 2007-02-14 05:52AM | 0 recs
hoyer & warner

Two electoral things you can do that will make the DC crowd pay attention:

(1)Steny Hoyer -- it ought to be possible to find someone willing to primary Hoyer. Probably a young Iraq veteran given the heavy military presence in his distrct. I think the main campus of the University of Maryland is located within his district, too. A Green Party candidate picked up 16% of the general election vote against Hoyer in '06.

(2)Find someone to run against John Warner in Virginia. The DC based press corps gives disproportionate coverage to political events in Maryland and Virginia. Right now, the DPV is fumbling away this opportunity by waiting on Mark Warner (who won't run for Senate because he's angling for the VP nod and would rather be governor again) Recruit a candidate (maybe young Air Force veteran David Englin), the state party establishment is probably too inept and too scared to try to stop you. Heck, you'll probably scare Warner away from running for reelection at all.

by blueflorida 2007-02-14 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: hoyer & warner

Steny Hoyer...  Unfortunately anyone who 'dares' runs against him will have to find this kind of money EVERY TWO YEARS...

HOYER'S WAR CHEST ndus.asp?CID=N00001821&cycle=2006

Consequently, Hoyer is not interested in publicly financed campaigns to give other candidates a chance.  He believes in the philosophy that you can buy your way into a seat in Congress... BTW joined at the hip with AIPAC.

Sirota had a Hoyer post linked via mydd to show you how Hoyer straddles as much as Hillary:

Steny Hoyer Flip Flops on Public Financing of Elections

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has done a big flip-flop on public financing of elections: 14/steny-hoyer-flip-flops-on-public-fin ancing-of-elections

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-02-14 04:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Agree that the Democrats need to move more forcefully.
They really have little to fear from the Republican rhetoric.

On an off the floors of Congress, Republicans make at least 2 claims that make no sense.

"If we don't succeed over there, the terrorists will attack us over here." Do they really believe that terrorists are waiting for some Iraq outcome before trying to hurt us here? If we "win" in Iraq, can we then let our guard down?

"If we fail in Iraq, Al Qaeda will be established in Iraq." Putting aside the fact that our invasion first brought some Al Qaeda to Iraq, we have little to fear if more are present. If they come, let them deal with the civil war there. And what will they gain in Iraq, use of all the nukes and other WMD that are there

Republicans also claim that end the war resolutions undermine the morale of the troops. I doubt that most soldiers are affected greatly by Wahington politics. And if you ask them if they would like to see the end of the occupation and come home, guess what they would say.


by Homer 2007-02-14 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Is it time to work to run primary campaigns against Democrats who won't argue for ending the war?  

This is the anti-Lieberman strategy, right?  I just want to make sure I understand what you're proposing and that I thoroughly consider what the implications are.

Seriously, people who disagree with their representatives ought to run themselves and give the public a choice between the status quo and an alternative.  But that will not necessarily lead to an end to the war.

by francislholland 2007-02-14 05:48AM | 0 recs
Primary Decision Criteria

If we are serious about primarying people to achieve specific policy objectives I think a couple of things need to be made explicit both on the target criteria and timelines.  We as the netroots do not have the financial resources to primary 80-150 Democratic.  Instead a small group of demonstration primaries are what we can afford to mount and show political power.  

So who should we target?  High value targets include the obvious one of Rep. Hoyer, but whom else?  I propose that we target as a class Democratic representatives who hold very, very safe seats that are dominated by liberal and progressive urban voters but the Rep. is not reflecting their expressed preference for getting out of Iraq.

Additionally, as we learned in the Harman primary and the CT-Sen primary, we only need one or two early effective showings, not even wins, although wins are much more valuable, to start getting positive changes in behavior.  So we should be looking at districts that have relatively early primaries.  So that means ignoring California or Massachusetts or Pennsylvania reps for the first round, as the primaries are too late.  

So we need to find three to five very good candidates within the next month or two, get their campaigns up and running, fund them to a credible degree and use the threat of expanding this program to put the fear of a ferocious primary fight into fickle or non-responsive Democrats....

Any ideas where we can get these folks to run?

by fester 2007-02-14 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Primary Decision Criteria

Hoyer won't be easy.  He has the money and the years and years of support from the Maryland Democratic Party and machine.  Not to mention, Al Wynn would be a much better target for progressives in the state.

by andy k 2007-02-14 03:27PM | 0 recs
Richardson should do a Jesse Jackson

Richardson should go to Iran and return with an agreement or olive branch that averts the US/Iran war.  That would raise his profile in the race and focus American attention on his superior foreign policy experience.

by francislholland 2007-02-14 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson should do a Jesse Jackson

Maybe he should learn to fly while he's at it.

by antidoto 2007-02-14 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I also think the Richardson proposal makes good sense.

While running primary challenges to Democratic leaders based on the non-binding resolution seems tempting, I think it is important to remember the political contraints within the Democratic Congress is operating.  It'd be within Democratic power to end the war only if a Democrat was in the White House; resolutions cutting off funds for the escalation, the war in general, or repealing the Authorization for Use of Force may be meritorious, but they would also face certain veto.  Unfortunately, the non-binding resolution is the best the 110th Congress can do.

From the practical side of electioneering, it's also certainly the case that anti-war challengers won't be ousting Hoyer or Pelosi in a primary any time soon.  Primary challengers to true hawks like Tauscher are probably a better way to reshape the party going forward.  

by madorskytapir 2007-02-14 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Then you force a veto.  Make Bush veto it.

And besides, it's easy enough to add it to an appropriations bill and dare Bush to veto it and cut his own funding off at the same time.

by Ian Welsh 2007-02-14 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Correct.  Your point also probably explains the general indifference.

by sterra 2007-02-14 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

It's not just indifference. There's a genuine belief among many people, liberals included, that we can't simply pull out of Iraq. We have vital interests in the region and we have a responsibility to the Iraqis to salvage the operation as much as we can before we leave. Setting a strict deadline or cutting off funding will not end the bloodshed there and quite possibly will embolden the insurgents.

There is very little the Congress can do to drastically change the course in Iraq when the Democrats only have a slim majority. We need to build consensus and take incremental steps. I agree that we need to send a strong message to Washington that we need a better plan in Iraq, but at the same time we should be understanding of the constraints that are inherent in the system.

by PhillyGuy 2007-02-14 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Interesting timing for this diary, as we are in the middle of a three-day debate in the House, to be followed by a record vote that will peel off dozens and dozens of Republicans from Bush's plan.  Congresswoman Woolsey, in a diary that was promoted to the front page, has assured us that this is only the first step.

Of course we all want things to move faster.  The Senate is a frustrating body, but Harry Reid has said this week that he's willing to follow Pelosi's approach, and that's a good place to start.  The fact is that if the Democrats led off with the aggressive position we all want them to take, we'd make it easy for the Republicans to solidify against it, and we'd end up with nothing but a filibuster or, at best, a veto.  That might be awesome for our political prospects in 2008 but it wouldn't end the war.

However, by peeling off as many Republicans as we can before forcing the ultimate issue, we gain more political momentum and there's more of a chance of actually accomplishing something.  There are no guarantees, but it's certainly the smarter approach if the goal is to actually end the war, as opposed to scoring political points while the war rages on.

I really can't believe anyone would question the seriousness of Nancy Pelosi's opposition to the war.  If I were the Speaker, I'd want to punch you in the teeth for writing this diary.

by Steve M 2007-02-14 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

That probably would hurt your hand.

by littafi 2007-02-14 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

The public is way ahead of Speaker Pelosi on this, and yes, I do question her commitment to sparkle-motion. There's a big difference between opposing the war, and being willing to work hard and take risks to end it. We're seeing that now.

Parlimentary procedure aside, the political language and framing of the whole process suggests a Democratic Congress content to let the war be a Republican albatross for the coming 18 months. While that's a great political calculus, it's also, you know, immoral. People dying, lives shattered, etc. Remember that? Yeah. Who's the last kid you send to die or get their leg blown off because we didn't have our shit together?

I'm all for a rolling process, but do you really believe this will happen without outside pressure?  How much juice does Rep. Woolsey have? More than Hoyer? Not on your life.

I agree with Stoller. Fun time is over. We've seen the opening volley and it is seriously watered down. We need to let our representatives know that this does not qualify as "stepping up," that debating non-binding resolution isn't why we sent them to Washington. For crying out loud, the Senate couldn't even get that far. WTF?

When it comes to tactics, a slight differentiation: IMHO the carrot is probably more important than the stick in the coming six months. We need to pressure those who appease and perpetuate, true, but I think it's more vital to rally around and support those who are actually providing real leadership (e.g. Sen. Feingold, Richardson, Woolsey, hopefully Edwards and Obama, etc).

by Josh Koenig 2007-02-14 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Ia agree with everything you said except the punching part.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I'm not a violent man, for the record.  My point was simply that Matt is calling out the Democratic leadership in a particularly confrontational way, thus provoking something less than a constructive response.  I wasn't in any way trying to suggest that we should try to beat Matt up or give him a noogie for writing this diary.

It's fine to step up the pressure, I have no problem with that.  It's what the base is supposed to do.  But premising that on an assertion that the Democratic leadership is not serious about ending the war seems gratuitously nasty to me.

by Steve M 2007-02-15 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I understand, but it got this diary linked to the political column in the NYT, didn't it?  We all have our jobs to do and he is just doing his.  I'm pretty sure he is a loyal progressive Democrat, just a passionate one, as you say.

I totally agree with you on this issue and I never thought you were really a violent person, just couldn't rate your comment with that remark in it, that's all.  Passion seems to be OK in politics.  I get pretty nasty regarding Hillary sometimes too and always regret it in the morning; until the next time.

Hope to see you posting here more often.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-15 12:36PM | 0 recs
What "Grace" Time is Over ?

My immediate reaction is to join you in your position! Lets turn on the democrats! Yeah, that's the ticket! I'm sure the repuglicans will be glad to espire us on in our effort to tear each other apart! I know, I know, I know! I feel angry and frustrated with the Democrats too, for not having the Balls to stand up and do the right thing. BUT! let's not forget who the real enemy is. I think we have to use our anger in a way that will place blame where it belongs on the REPIGLICANS and BUSH and at the same time giving some firm persuasive Tatesterone to the self neutered Dems on our own side.  

by eddieb 2007-02-14 06:26AM | 0 recs
How to show support for ending the war...

Based on the following quote from Matt's posting:

""two other Democratic Senate proposals that have actual teeth -- one by Russell Feingold to cut off money for the war, another by Barack Obama to mandate troop reductions -- were ignored by the leadership."

It would seem that one way the netroots could show their support for the most aggressive Democratic proposal for ending the war would be to...each send Barack Obama $10 via ActBlue.

We have a presidential candidate who opposed the war.

We have a presidential candidate who has, by netroots description above, a proposal before Congress "with teeth" for ending the war.

If netroots are serious about ending the war, that seems to the perfect nexus for proving it.  

Create an "Obama: Bring the Troops Home" fund on ActBlue so it's clear the contribution is in reward for the most aggressive end the war plan that Congress can actually vote on.

It would be very similar to netroots showing support for Dean's speaking out against the Iraq War and changing the dynamic of the 2004 election.

by BrionLutz 2007-02-14 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: How to show support for ending the war...

You are exactly right.  

The primary candidates are the key.  None of them can win - including Hillary - unless they have a plan for withdrawal.  It's a basic fact.  90% of Democrats disapprove of this war and 63% of ALL Americans want a deadline set for withdrawal.  

These candidates have huge megaphones.  The harder they push for withdrawal, the more pressure Congress will feel.

by owenz 2007-02-14 06:58AM | 0 recs
Obama Fundraising

I want results from Obama, not just using a bill as a fundraising tool, as you suggest.

Why has Obama refused to support the Kennedy bill to defund the escalation?  

I think we should contribute to Progressive Patriots, Senator Feingold's PAC.  He wants to cut the funding for the war.  He also chose not to run for President.

by littafi 2007-02-14 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Fundraising

"I want results from Obama"

1. Result 1: Obama opposed war and got elected on that platform demonstrating good judgement, political guts and the fact that there was electoral support for opposing the war.

2. Result 2: Obama has proposed a bill in Congress "with teeth" per netroots commentator, to withdraw US troops from Iraq quickly before the 2008 election.

by BrionLutz 2007-02-14 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Fundraising

Not until he ran for Preseident.  His 2004 campaign was not about Iraq and he was relatively silent throughout 2005 and 2006, until he decided to run.  

Obama is just too much of a cautious centrist for me.  Yes, he opposed the war in 2002.  Not much since then until he decided he wanted to be President.  Cindy Sheehan could have used his support in 2005.  His celebrity would have helped.  Obama is about Obama, not the movement.

Sounds like he is just right for you.  We're different, so I guess that may be why we support different candidates.

by littafi 2007-02-14 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Fundraising

Because defunding is a bad idea, politically and pragmatically.  Defunding legislation is a warning shot over the bow, deauthorisation makes sense but leaves the legalities open-ended.  Mandated withdrawal empowers the legislature, where we have a majority today and defines the terms and conditions of the end of the war.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

The idea that the Dems, with a bare majority in the Senate (and that resting on Lieberman) were going to stop the war was always extremely improbable. (Especially with polls showing the public may be against the war, but is also against Congress defunding it.)

As long as Bush is in office the war will continue, and Bush will remain in office because the GOP base still supports him. Basically that the war would continue until January 2009 was decided in November 2004 by the American voter. If that voter regrets that now, well unfortunately there are no refunds or exchanges.

Rather than attacking Dems for that, we should be concentrating on ensuring that the GOP is stuck with the bill and a Dem elected to the WH in 2008. That is unless you want the war to continue another 6 years, instead of 2.

by tdraicer 2007-02-14 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Congressional DEMs are probably thanking their stars that they are limited in what they can actually do.  Otherwise, they'd (also) be held responsible in the next election--and if they actually succeed in defunding the war, or forcing a pull-out, they WILL be responsible.

No matter what your politics, so far, there's only one answer to "Who screwed up Iraq?"

During the next 2 years, getting out of Iraq has to be bi-partisan.  Else, swift-boaters will claim: "America was just about to [talking points here:  "achieve victory," "defeat Islamofascists," "ensure national security"], but the DEMs pulled their usual wussy peacenik stunt!"

by ohms 2007-02-14 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

It doesn't matter if they can't do it.  They have to make a serious attempt to stop it and force the Republicans to publicly filibuster it or veto it.

If the don't make a serious attempt people who voted for them will quite reasonably say "I voted for you to stop the war and you didn't even really try."

When you're elected with a mandate to do something, you have to do it, or give it your best shot.  That's electoral politics 101 and Democratic refusal to actually stand up for own supporters is why they only win when the Republicans put a shotgun to their own heads.

by Ian Welsh 2007-02-14 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I agree with the article and comments and have had this on my mind for several weeks.  Those who ran for election who oppose this war won.  In the minds of everyone this was a mandate.

What are they doing?  In our minds, nothing, or very little.  One would hope there is a method to this delay, but who knows for sure?  We are very accustomed to "empty promises" from politicians, who while running for office promise the moon but once elected never deliver. The "First 100 Hours" was nice and was a giant step in the right direction, but we all know that Iraq was the primary reason Democrats were given control of Congress.

It's as if "we the People" don't matter.  Am I wrong on this?  Are we merely being placated here with the passage of other popular legislation?  We spoke and we said what we had to say very loudly and forcefully.  There was no ambiguity.

Who's listening? Is there really a plan for us to end this war?  Or is this merely "business as usual" inside the Beltway?

Washington needs to get the message that we want our government back.  It belongs to us, you know, and is only loaned to them for a set period of time, on good behavior.  If the Democrats (or certain Democrats) can't or won't deliver, what is the best way to get the message across that we will no longer tolerate this?  How do we go about doing this?

We're told that politicians don't make their decisions based on polls.  Hmmm?  That's a fine line they have to traverse, I'm sure.  If they do, that's pandering; if they don't then they're not following the will of the people.

We ARE the government!!  From the very beginning we told the world that government "of, by and for the People" must bow to the will of the people, or those who are governed have the inherent right to change their government.

I think we can all agree that we certainly don't need to change our government . . . only those who are elected, if they ignore us.

Let the debate begin on how to best reform the reformers.

by Keithb7862 2007-02-14 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: the primary candidates

The primary candidates are the key.  THEY are the ones who need to appeal to the liberal base.  THEY are the ones whose poll numbers will skyrocket when they talk about withdrawal.  THEY are the ones who will respond to pressure.

Obama, Hillary, Edwards.  

They are fighting for votes from a group (Democratic voters) whose disapproval for the war sits at 90%.  A full 63% of all Americans want a deadline for withdrawal.  None of these candidates can win without a withdrawal plan.  And the more they talk about it, the more pressure Congress will feel to follow suit.

by owenz 2007-02-14 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: the primary candidates

Here is Edwards' plan for withdrawal, announced today:

Here's what Edwards says:

"We don't need debate; we don't need non-binding resolutions; we need to end this war, and Congress has the power to do it," Edwards said in a statement. "They should use it now."

Edwards has an advantage insofar as he doesn't have to play nice with Harry Reid or the Senate Dems.  He can simply make demands.  His main disadvantage, of course, is that he can't stand on the senate floor and say these things, the way Obama and Hillary can.

Seriously folks.  There is NO WAY anyone can win the Democratic primary without an immediate withdrawal being the center plank of their platform.  Forget about Congress.  They already got your votes and are going to be cautious.  The candidates CAN'T be cautious.  They are locked in a 3-way death match.

Look, the latest polls have Hillary at 28%, Obama at 24%, and Edwards at 13%.  These people NEED the netroots.  How are they going to get the netroots?  

Move left left left.  Yes, even Hillary.  I expect to see her arguing for complete withdrawal before March 1st.  Just watch...

by owenz 2007-02-14 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: the primary candidates

One of the interesting things that Edwards brings up is that the AUMF regarding Iraq doesn't authorize the President to use the military to police a civil war. So, in effect, Bush has already overstepped his bounds without rewriting the AUMF.

by clarkent 2007-02-14 08:12AM | 0 recs

The day I see Hillary Clinton standing on the floor of the Senate, demanding an end to this war, is the day pigs will fly.

by Ryepower12 2007-02-14 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary?

Let's consider this a friendly wager.

I think you WILL see her advocating for a withdrawal.  Not immiedately, but within the next six months.

Crazy, I know.  But it will happen.

by owenz 2007-02-14 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary?

Us soldiers are dying at the rate of 80-90 per month, Iraqis are dying at the rate of 1200 per month.  The stakes are too high for a 'friendly' bet.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary?


Nobody asked you to be involved with the bet.


by owenz 2007-02-14 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary?

No, that's true.  And I agree with what you said upthread about the role the primary candidates have to play in this.  But I believe for a candidate to put the political timing of their campaign strategy above the urgency of this issue, Hillary for example, waiting six months before advocating a withdrawal, which would help send a supportive message to other Congressional democrats, is unconscionable.  I was just clarifying the stakes, not for you, necessarily, but for any Democrat who sees the war in Iraq in terms of political games theory.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 11:10AM | 0 recs

This is where the blogosphere reveals the completely and utterly dysfunctionally retarded underpinnings of the entire movement.

Matt Stoller is so outraged he doesn't realize he just advocated running a primary on Jim Webb.

by Stewieeeee 2007-02-14 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Retarded

Webb is up in 2012, moron.

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-14 09:16AM | 0 recs
Have fun

with that primary.

Crux of the matter is, the netroots got someone elected who doesn't even support their agenda.

I'm not the moron, here.

by Stewieeeee 2007-02-14 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Have fun

The fact that a given Democrat does not support withdrawal doesn't mean that Democrat won't support withdrawal in six months.

The Democratic primary will create pressure.  The media's rejection of non-binding resolutions will create pressure.  The netroots will create pressure.  

Dems will come around.

by owenz 2007-02-14 09:35AM | 0 recs
All the means is

Pressure from Blogs and the Media should influence policy.

by Stewieeeee 2007-02-14 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Have fun

Good luck in politics with that attitude.

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-14 10:05AM | 0 recs
Amending the AUMF?

I mentioned this in a comment yesterday and the more I think about it, the more I like it.

Could one possible step be to amend the Authorization for the Use of Military Force so that it includes language limiting it entirely to Iraq itself in order to prevent incursions into Iran or at least make it much more difficult?  Seems like this would call attention to a few serious issues.

1)  Bush/Cheney's lust to expand the war into Iraq.  I don't think most people realize just how badly the administration wants to go in there, and this would call them on it, essentially forcing them to put up or shut up.  If Snow can get behind the podium and say repeatedly they have no intention of going into Iran, then the Democrats can claim it's just a clarification on policy everyone agrees.  The more aggressively they have to defend their ability to go into Iran, the more it's going to seem like war-mongering.

2)  It's a binding re-assertion of Congressional power over the Executive that it's much more difficult to claim demonstrates a lack of support for the troops.  The Democrats can rightfully claim that they're making it impossible to expand the war without its necessity being clearly defined and funded by Congress.

There are other reasons, as well, but it seems like these two in particular could be very important.  Congress badly needs to bring the Executive to heel, and this could be a powerful way to do it.

The biggest objection I can see to - it apart from the usual boilerplate - is administration claims of trying to tie their hands and limit their ability to make war, but that can very easily be turned around by someone like Webb saying "Yes, that's exactly what we're trying to do ... limit your ability to bring more troops into danger."

I'm sure there are issues I'm missing, but I'd really love to hear more from people with a lot more experience than I have.

by L Boom 2007-02-14 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Amending the AUMF?

It's a good idea.  The problem, I suppose, is that it will require a fillibuster-proof majority.  While simply de-funding the war requires only a simple majority.

There is a slim possibility that enough Republicans could sign on.  But Iran will need to become much more toxic as a political issue before that happens.

by owenz 2007-02-14 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

This is one way to go - attack the readiness. I want them to go louder and bigger with it.

Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid send a letter:
According to recent news reports, the Army lacks thousands of advanced armor kits for Humvees that could protect against roadside bombs, the cause of 70% of American casualties in Iraq. In addition, we understand that existing shortages of trucks and other crucial equipment such as jamming devices, radios and other gear will only be exacerbated by the troop surge. Lodging and logistical support is also reportedly in short supply for the newly deployed forces. We hope these reports are wrong, but we suspect they are not.

Mr. President, it is wrong to deploy troops to the Iraqi theater until they have the up-armored Humvees, equipment, lodging, training and other support required to carry out their mission.

by mrobinsong 2007-02-14 07:50AM | 0 recs
video: you have the power trina_video
A Message to Congress by KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL on the power of the purse.

"You have the power - use it!"

by mrobinsong 2007-02-14 08:39AM | 0 recs
Netroots Obama:Out of Iraq Now fund.

"Not until he ran for Preseident."

Wrong again.

Result 1. Obama ran for office in 2004 based on opposition to Iraq war and won election. He voiced opposition to the Iraq war before US invaded and then ran and won on that same issue in 2004.

Result 2. Obama proposed (per netroots) a proposal with "teeth" to get US troops home by 2008.

Even Edwards ("I voted for it before I decided to say I'm against it") and Clinton ("I voted for it and stand by it") supporters should take $10 and put it towards the "Obama: Out of Iraq Now" fund on ActBlue since Obama is the only one in Congress who is running for President and has a real proposal to do exactly what the netroots say they want.

If netroots don't put their money where their mouth is on the out-of-Iraq-now issue, it does give some indication that netroots is a bit hypocritical on the issue...calling for action and when they get it...coming up with rationalizations for not supporting it.

by BrionLutz 2007-02-14 09:57AM | 0 recs
Time to stop supporting the lesser evil

I wrote along these lines last night Booman Tribune, so I'm going to post my comments there below.

The Dem Party is still a party of empire and war, like the Rethug Party: in that respect the Dem Party sides with the Republicans against the American people. That is what the Dems are doing now, by not cutting off funding for the war and holding impeachment hearings.

There seems to be a sense among Washington Dems that if the war is not stopped during Bush's presidency, that will be good for the Dem  Party. In other words, the worse things get, the better. But, as Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, if the Dems inherit the war, it will be politically more difficult for them to end it than it is now.

If they are going to get the Democratic Party to stop being merely a more moderate version of the Republican Party, liberals and progressives are going to have to finally drop their habit of giving in to the Dem establishment "lesser evil" argument, and make it plain that if they do not get a solidly anti-war candidate--someone who has a timetable for complete withdrawal, and makes a solemn promise to adhere to it--we will not vote Democratic. We have to play that card.

Otherwise, the newly elected Dems could pull a bate-and-switch--we wanted to get out of Iraq, but now that turns out not to be so easy, due to unforeseen circumstances--like they give every indication of doing so far into 2007.

Better yet, the progressive Democratic blogosphere must build bridges with the Green Party, and express interest in anti-war Green candidates. (Nader--the only anti-war candidate in the presidential election of 2004--was not even invited to speak at the recent demonstration in Washington, even though he was in town. That is scandalous.) If the Dems do not nominate a true, firm anti-war candidate, the progressive blogosphere should support the Green candidate, if he is anti-war, and make it clear as quickly as possible that it will do so.

This is the way politics works if you want to take your party back to the people. It is time for the netroots to start setting the agenda, and not the DNC/DLC. In order to do that, playing the Green Party card has got to be part of the overall strategy. The Dem base has got to get over its reflexive falling for the standard Dem Party lesser evil ploy.

If the Dems do not impeach Bush and Cheney and let them serve their full term instead, I will see that as the last straw, the final betrayal. (I mean at least holding impeachment hearings; if they can't get enough Rethugs to cross party lines, so be it.) At that point, I will owe them nothing. They will have made the blood stain of the Bush regime on our republic and its history indelible.

by Alexander 2007-02-14 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Time to stop supporting the lesser evil

green party? lolz

by andy k 2007-02-14 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Sorry folks but from where I sit I see the Democratic majority, with a few significant exceptions, working pretty consistently to achieve a binding withdrawal from Iraq.  Reid took Warner-Levin out of the Senate and into the House quickly after failing on cloture and there is, for Congress, almost a sense of haste in getting something non-binding through the House and back into the Senate with enough momentum for cloture.

The Republicans who opposed Warner-Levin in the Senate have been in a bit of ruction ever since, witness the letter by seven of them to Reid and McConnel, and there is a good chance to get this non-binding resolution through.

Meanwhile, S.433, Obama's bill, which makes a very interesting read, now has two sponsors, and it, or something like it, may soon be debated and follow the path of the non-binding resolution.  Obama's bill is actually written to be implemented without disasterous consequences and is so fairly positioned around provisions of the ISG report and the stated objectives of the Bush administration that it would be hard for Republicans to dispute it.  Yet it imposes fixed deadlines if the objectives are not met, and we can safely assume they won't.  Quite clever, really.

I am not sure what your expectations are, and pressure, and support, from the netroots will only help, but it seems to me that there is a considerable effort underway to get this kind of legislation through Congress.  It is a duty of common purpose of our legislators and ourselves to bring this war to an conclusion as soon as possible, let the chips fall where they may.  We need to understand this process to support it.

I have noticed numerous dairies here on the legislative progress of these bills, notably by skeptic06, which have received little or no comment from posters and am wondering if we are as well informed about this process as we might be.

Incidentally, I personally believe defunding, in spite of the historical precedents of McGovern-Hatfield, is not the way to go.  And we all realise a presidential veto is likely but so be it.  

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Us soldiers are dying at the rate of 80-90 per month, Iraqis are dying at the rate of 1200 per month.

Why reject the one thing that would work - defunding the war - in favor of withdrawal proposals that will surely be vetoed?  Isn't stopping the war more important than purely symbolic votes?

by owenz 2007-02-14 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I believe defunding the war without specifying the terms and conditions of withdrawal should be considered only as a last resort.  The potential for mischief on the part of the Republicans is considerable.  There seem to be plenty of allocations floating around that could be used to pursue the Bush administrations objectives in Iraq through creative accounting, leaving Congress powerless to do anything but try to follow the money.

Furthermore the Bush administration may be motivated to put troops in harm's way just to discredit the Democrats and nobody wants that.

I take your point about the veto and I think that defunding must remain an option but I am not so sure a demoralised Republican Congress wouldn't override a veto on withdrawal if the legislation was framed in the terms described above.  I would be most happy to discuss this further as this seems a substantial point of disagreement among progressives and other Democrats.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Democrats need to get their house in order.  Then they need to set a deadline for withdrawal, which is what 63% of the country currently wants.  Then they need to force a vote on it.  

If they win in the House and have a clear majority in the Senate (i.e. passage is stopped only by a Republican fillibuster), then you look at defunding.

Harry Reid should let Pelosi lead this charge, since Dems can actually win in the House.  Win your House votes, then focus all the pressure Senate Republicans.  

Sound about right?

by owenz 2007-02-14 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Yes.  And I believe that the current debate in Congress is headed that way.  I personally believe that the prospects of a withdrawal bill are reasonably good and that it should be presented as exactly what the Republicans challenged us on, a practical proposal which mitigates against disaster and accusations of irresponsibility.  If it reaches the White House, even if vetoed, it will have a significant impact on policy and the conduct of the war.  This could actually benefit the troops on the ground and would certainly forestall any future escalation or broadening of the war.  Not to mention the primaries.

Frankly I think if the public debate at such a juncture was handled properly and the withdrawal plan was sober and sensible that it would indeed be possible to get an override in Congress.

Failing that, defund.  The only problem with defunding is that it is so hard to manage the process in a way that retains control by Congress, and funds already have been appropriated.  Any suggestions?

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 01:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Agree with most of your points.  Realistically you are not going to be able to defund the war in 2007.  For one thing, funding through Sept 30, 2007 is already set from last year's appropriations bills.  The only way to defund now is to rescind the existing appropriation which is not likely.  We should start a pullback and phase down as part of the 2008 funding process.

Additionally, once we start to pullout of Iraq it will take 6-12 months since you can't remove troops and equipment overnight.  It takes time buildup and breakdown forces in any conflict.  

I think Obama has it right.  Set a realistic withdrawal date and start the process of getting out.

by John Mills 2007-02-14 11:32AM | 0 recs
Time to stop supporting the lesser evil

>The Dem Party is still a party of empire and war, like the Rethug Party: in that respect the Dem Party sides with the Republicans against the American people. That is what the Dems are doing now, by not cutting off funding for the war and holding impeachment hearings.

If I thought it would do any good I'd just say, "Grow up." This is the attitude that gave us Bush in the first place. In fact the last six years have proved definitively that the difference between the two parties is enormous.

The most important issue facing America is not Iraq, it is getting the current far-Right GOP out of power, and keeping them out of power for, well, ever. Which is going to be very difficult when a solid third of Americans share their worldview, and not going to be made easier by those who value their personal sense of ethical purity above the reality that democratic (small-d) politics inevitably involves compromise and that no government ever has or ever will fully meet one's ideals.

by tdraicer 2007-02-14 10:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Yeah, Matt--why don't you lead the charge, right over the cliff-- Nader 2008! Come on, the House IS debating the war--turn on C Span. Give Pelosi some credit. Feingold, Dodd, and now Edwards all want to cut funding of the war. Watching this 4 year long train wreck is incredibly frustrating, but blaming the Democratic Party is off base. IMHO

by FP 2007-02-14 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I think it's important to read Greenwald's full article.  He's not blaming the Democratic Congress alone.  He is also pointing the finger at the netroots:

"[O]ne sees relatively little dissatisfaction, and almost no anger, directed at the Democratic leadership for its refusal even to force a vote on genuine war-ending measures. It is unclear why that is -- perhaps there are good reasons for it -- but those reasons are difficult to discern, and these seem like questions worth examining."

The netroots shouldn't be getting all high and mighty about the Congressional Dems' hesitancy on this issue.  If we want beninding withdrawal resolution or defunding efforts, we need to communicate that to the Democratic Congress.  And as Greenwald's piece makes clear, that hasn't happened...yet.

With that in mind, the netroots should be offering Congressional Dems a mix of pressure and support.  Dems need to know that the Democratic base will have their back if they take these risks.  Candidates like Obama and Edwards deserve credit for talking about withdrawal.  Hillary should receive pressure to do the same.  

If the netroots makes its desire clear, Congress will start to respond.

by owenz 2007-02-14 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

I totally agree, any suggestions for a list of recalcitrant legislators and a constituency based email campaign?  I think this could be very effective, especially for constinuents with Rebublican representatives and senators.  I would love to see the netroots take this up as a campaign with specific objectives and metrics on performance.  It is easy enough to get the voting records and the calendar of upcoming actions.

I can think of a few things to say to my junior Senator from NY.  I have already sent her a couple of emails on the subject.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Grace Time is Over

Just an update on the Obama bill, I notice in THOMAS it is now listed as HR.787 in the House and has twenty-one co-sponsors.  This looks very promising.  Does anyone know anything more about the likely prospects for this legislation and when it may be reported to the floor for debate?  This could be very interesting.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 12:18PM | 0 recs
It's the same text

Where a single House bill number appears in the Related Bills line of the THOMAS bill page for a Senate bill - or vice versa - it usually means that the same text has been introduced in each house.

HR 787 will go nowhere without leadership sanction. (Ergo, it will go nowhere.)

S 433 Obama can offer as a nongermane amendment to what (he fondly believes) is a must-pass bill. Which would be fun.

by skeptic06 2007-02-14 02:04PM | 0 recs
Glad To See Your Post

Sorry, but I have heaps of questions on this.  Why will HR 787 not get leadership sanction?  What would have been the point of introducing it to the House and getting sponsorship?  Is this a tactic or just a public relations exercise?  Did Obama do this or others?

What upcoming bills could Senator Obama attach S433 to?  Is he the only one who can do this or could, for example, Leahy or Sanders?  If it is refused as a nongermane amendment does that kill it altogether?

It is frustrating trying to follow all of this without a bit of insider coaching.  Thanks for your responses.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Glad To See Your Post

On HR 787, just my sense. Main supporting 'evidence': the leadership seems to be going with a one-two of the nonbinding res first, followed by the Murtha proviso. That's more than enough to be getting on with.

Sponsorship of deadbeat bills (almost all of them) is indeed for PR, showing a bit of leg to lobbyists who might come calling, dating agency for potential logrolls with other MCs - all sorts.

Typical on a subject like this is for loads of different plans to get put into bill form, in the hope of getting some of it copy/pasted into what eventually gets enacted - quite often two or three Congresses down the line.

The idea of the nongermane amendment in the Senate is to give ordinary senators a limited opportunity to bring legislation to the floor. (The Majority Leader controls the floor by reason of the practice whereby he is always recognized ahead of any other senator.)

The usual maj leadership tactic is to make a motion to table, which kills the amendment on a simple majority vote. If the amendment passes that test, it is usually then passed on a voice vote.

Amendments can be filibustered though - I'd expect that, if anyone (it doesn't have to be Obama) offered S 433 as an amendment to, say, HR 1 (9/11 bill), and the amendment survived a MTT, the GOP would filibuster the amendment.

In the Senate, germaneness is not generally required of an amendment; most notably, nongermane amendments are not in order during post-cloture debate, or to appropriations and reconciliation bills.

I must write a book sometime...

by skeptic06 2007-02-14 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Glad To See Your Post

Thanks for your responses, I really appreciate it.  Seems the Obama bill is a deadbeat failing nogermane shenanigans.  I have so much to learn about our legislative process.  It is all about the leadership and that makes sense, really.  So, assuming that the Murtha proviso is the flavour of the month with Pelosi, according to your post, and that there is no other way of getting a bit of teeth into things let's hope it flies.

If you do write a book I'll buy one.  Cheers.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 10:03PM | 0 recs


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