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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Friday-Sunday, January 5-7, 2007
Oversight Comes to DC
"One of the clearest messages of the last election was that the Republican leadership was just AWOL when it came to holding the Bush administration accountable,"
-Rep. Chris Van Hollen (DEMOCRAT-MD) chairman of the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)
So what are you going to do about it, Rep. Van Hollen? If the Democrats decide to bring oversight back into Washington, DC, they stand to be called "obstructionists" by the Do-Nothing Republicans. President Bush and his cronies at Fox News will say the Democrats only talk the talk but will never walk the walk. They'll say that, somehow, all of the failed policies of the Bush administration are the fault of the Democrats and will keep on repeating themselves so that "the propaganda sinks in".
"You have to keep repeating things to catapult the propaganda,"
-President George W. Bush
If by "propaganda" The President means crap, we're already covered in it.
The Democrats are going to make oversight the centerpiece of the beginning of their new House and Senate majority. The American people voted them in more as a result of their disgust with the Do-Nothing Republicans than with their love of the Dems and the party of FDR, JFK and LBJ know it. The American people voted out the GOP because they've done nothing to even begin the process of removing our children from the danger in Iraq. The way I figure it, the Democrats have two years of being called names and having just about every one of their proposals slammed by a Bush administration intent on keeping the status quo. Or as the Bushies like to say:
"Stay the course,"
-Bush and many other Bushies
There will be at least eleven Senate hearing about Iraq right out of the box. The House is now hiring lawyers and investigators to get at the truth. It's called the power of subpoena.
For the first time in twelve years, a Democratic majority in the House of Representative will hold subpoena power. No more allowing energy company executives to take the stand without the threat of perjury hanging above them. No more basement Q & A's where the Democrats could only request that a witness testify. The power of the law is now in their hand and at our, the American people's, disposal.
I can hardy wait,
The American people have spoken and they want something done about Iraq; they want someone to step up and ask the hard questions; they want to know that the future has hope; and they want someone to get the ball moving. That ball's color is blue.
"We will use these hearings to ask tough questions, demand real solutions and keep working to bring this war to a close,"
-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (DEMOCRAT-NV)
I believe that many on the Right side of the aisle feel the same way as their blue counterparts. You have to believe that the honest Republicans - those who wanted to come forward and speak their minds - are looking forward to doing the work of the American people. I know they can't possibly be happy that it's going to come from Democrats, but, if they truly want to do what's best for their country, they have to welcome it, and they're going to have to get on board. It's going to be the only way to get our troops back from Iraq.
"We need to be the watchdog,"
-Rep. Henry Waxman (DEMOCRAT-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
With these Bushies in power, it's more like being a watchdog.
The president still controls the means to increase (or decrease, but we know he won't do that) the troop level in Iraq. There is no way that the congress can force him to bring back the troops sooner than he wants to... and, let's face it, he doesn't want to. Whether it's because he doesn't want to admit a mistake or whether President Bush doesn't want to tick-off his war profiteering "base" of "haves and have mores", there is no urgency at the White House to end a war of choice in Iraq that has now lasted longer than our involvement in World War II. In fact, the Bushies are now talking about adding an additional 40,000 American children to the troops that already are in harm's way in Iraq.
The Democrats are going to have to chance it and deny President Bush the "emergency funds" he will ask for, beyond the budget already approved for the Pentagon, for the continuation for the war. Without these funds, an additional troop increase will have to be paid for by the Department of Defense out of their existing coffers. This will leave them less money for other projects, but will allow the Bushies to "stay their course" in Iraq. And we know that this is just what they will do.
As they have attempted before, the GOP will continue to label the Democrats as not supporting the troops. They'll use that lack of funds as all the proof they'll need Fighting that label by a party bent on divisiveness just isn't as bad as allowing more American children to die in the middle east. It's a bullet they'll have to bite, but they aren't going to bite it alone.
By now, much of the American people know the lies of the Bush administration and most won't fall for it again. Even more importantly, there are going to be Republicans that will join the Democrats in their opposition to the war. Some will oppose it out of conscience while others will oppose it for political expediency - their want to remain in office. In any event, it's my belief that the Republicans who continue their support of Bush's failed policies will be in a great minority. I hope the American people will punish them accordingly in 2008.
Getting Past Bush
There is scant rank and file support for continuation of the Bush Administration policies of excessive military spending, bellicosity toward weak nations, and needless confrontations with friendly powers. The only consensus that exists among Americans today is that our foreign policy is a disaster and it is widely recognized that Bush has failed to utilize American soft power in any meaningful way. Bush policies are bad: First, they are conspicuous failures; Second, they weaken America's strategic position; and Third, they are cruel and morally reprehensible.
Bush has not been an activist in foreign policy, any such claim rests entirely on his having started two wars. In all other respects his stances have been reactive, sluggish and unperceptive to, if not downright dismissive of, the interests of our allies and friends abroad. The Bush Administration has limited American foreign policy initiatives to a handful of small and insignificant countries.
Every Bush foreign policy initiative has failed to achieve its stated goal and now requires enormous additional inputs to avert disaster. Conversely, no Bush policy enhances American security, diplomatic or economic strength in a manner proportional to its cost and the dangers it exposes us to.
Think back to the beginning of the Iraq invasion. What reasons did the Bush Administration give for invading?
-Find and destroy the WMD: mission accomplished.
-Depose and punish Saddam Hussein: mission accomplished.
-Prevent Iraq from threatening its neighbors: mission accomplished.
-Install self government through elections and a constitution: mission accomplished.
With all the stated objectives of the invasion already accomplished what are still doing there? Clearly the Bush Administration has a hidden agenda.
As Bush Administration's foreign policy team blunders from one disaster to the next, other countries throughout the world are rethinking their relationship with us and realigning their regional and global political, economic and diplomatic postures to compensate for our vastly diminished ability to project power. The next Administration will certainly have to deal not only with global perceptions of a greatly weakened America, but with the fact that militarily, economically and diplomatically American power is in disarray. Democrats in the Congress will begin to delineate and plan for this sea change in our international posture.
As the Democrats now control only the Congress, it can be anticipated that their efforts to define our problems and devise means to deal with them will be excessively rhetorical, partisan and simplistic. This is the nature of Congressional government. It will be up to the informed public to see past the rhetoric and use the '08 political process to choose an experienced, tough, strong leader to implement sensible policies to repair the damage of the Bush years.
Even paralysis resulting from an excess of rhetoric and partisanship on the part of Congressional Democrats until '08 will be less harmful to American interests than the continuation of Bush's failed policies.
It is time for the advocates and supporters of Bush initiatives to leave.
George W. Bush has failed in his mission as President of the United States and as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Before September 11 he ignored the warnings about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s plot to commit terrorist atrocities on American soil. He has failed to protect and defend the United States.
When Osama bin Laden was cornered in his Tora Bora hideout we paid the Afghan warlords to capture him. Bin Laden paid them more and remains at large. He passed up an opportunity to capture and punish bin Laden.
We have spent and are still spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq. We have destabilized Iraq, delivered it into the hands of our enemy and strengthened the hands of the terrorist states Iran and Syria. Our show of force in Iraq was dramatic and we toppled Saddam Hussein from power. However, it distracted us from the mission in Afghanistan.
The Russians see us as soft and weak, believing that we have repeated their mistake in Afghanistan and upped the ante in Iraq.
The Administration’s answers include a stubborn refusal to look at the facts, questioning the patriotism of their critics, exposing our intelligence agents, torture, illegal wiretaps and now claiming the power to open our mail without a warrant. The President is trampling the Constitution he has sworn to uphold and defend.
Russia, Iran and Syria see us as bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq and feel emboldened. We should declare victory in Iraq and pull back to bases in Iraqi Kurdistan and aircraft carriers in the Gulf. This will save American lives and defend American interests.
What Did They Say? What Did They Do?
Wondering what the Members were saying as they cast their votes for Speaker Pelosi? So were we! C-Span didn't carry the audio during the roll call, but here, from the press coverage, is a sampling of what the some of the Members did or said as they cast this history-making vote:
"Just as the biblical Esther was called to save the nation, I cast my vote for another woman called for such times as these."
-Bobby Rush (D-IL)
"On behalf of my three daughters, Nancy Pelosi."
-Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
"Congresswoman Hirono cast her vote for Pelosi in memory of the late Rep. Patsy Mink who, years ago, predicted that Pelosi would one day become Speaker."
-Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
"The first woman, a daughter of Italy, Pelosi."
-Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
"As a native of San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi."
-Sam Farr (D-CA)
"It is my pleasure to cast my first vote in this House for Nancy Pelosi."
-Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
"Today we make history for a new America. Enthusiastically for Nancy Pelosi."
-Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
"In the name of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks, and in the name of Jesus, Nancy Pelosi."
-Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
"Por el poder de la mujer, Nancy Pelosi." (By the power of the woman, Nancy Pelosi.)
-Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
"For the empowerment of all women in the world, and individually because you really deserve it, Nancy Pelosi."
-Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
Congresswoman Tubbs Jones cast her vote for Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Then she did a jig that appeared to be the cabbage patch.
-Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH)
"Maryland's favorite daughter, Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi, California's pride."
-Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
"On this historic day when the eyes of the nation are upon us and on our history, I am very proud to cast my vote for the young lady from California, Nancy Pelosi."
-John Lewis (D-GA)
-Forwarded by Robert Scardapane from Parag Mehta, the Director of Training for the Democratic Party, from the DNC blog
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