Tuesday, July 05, 2005

July 4, 2205

4th of July Blues

By this point in the Republican revolution I should be rubbing my hands in anticipation of the drubbing these bunglers are gonna get come 2008. I mean Jesus H. Christ; look at the messes they have made already and imagine how bad things will be for average Americans by the next general election rolls around.

You know all this already but for what I have to say today it’s necessary to call the roll:
- In their first four years they not only blew Clinton’s $5.6 trillion surplus,
- Then they added an additional $2 trillion in debt on top of that
- They turned annual budget surpluses into triple digit annual deficits.
- They passed tax cuts that made the lousy-rich lousier.
- They started a war they can’t win on false pretenses.

The list goes on and on, but you get the point. Republicans have demonstrably failed in every key area of governance -- every single one of them.

Nevertheless, instead of feeling hopeful, I find myself feeling increasingly hopeless. Because, even if the Republicans do take a drubbing in the next elections, look what we have to replace them.

I got a note this morning from New Hampshire talk show host Arnie Arnesen. (If you don’t know Arnie, get to know her. She is precisely the kind of progressive voice the Democrat Party needs a lot more of right now. She streams her show off her site. Listen in. You won’t be disappointed.)

Anyway, here’s the rant Arnie found this post on Sirotablog and emailed me this morning:

So far Congressional Democrats have voted for the repeal of the inheritance tax, the bankruptcy bill, the war in Iraq and now this... 28 Democrats joined Republicans to block a crackdown on corporate tax evaders!

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) last night offered her legislation to ban government contracts from going to companies that abuse offshore tax loopholes and evade U.S. taxes. In 2002, DeLauro actually passed this legislation as part of the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security, as Democrats stayed unified, and Republicans capitulated (then the measure was “removed in the final bill.”)

This year, however, 28 Democrats sold out to corporate tax cheats and helped defeat the measure outright.

That's right, when DeLauro offered her legislation this time around, she attracted 20 Republican votes - plenty to pass the legislation if her own party had stood up and done the right thing.

However, 28 Democrats voted against the legislation, siding with the companies that have the nerve to openly abuse tax loopholes.

These companies want to be able to get fat off government contracts, even though they are ripping off U.S. taxpayers at a time of war and record deficits.
Yet, instead of prohibiting those contracts from going to these unpatriotic companies, 28 Democrats joined with 203 Republicans to sell out America and America’s taxpayers and say, in effect, that bilking America is A-okay

Particularly confusing/disappointing was Rep. Rahm Emanuel's (D-IL) vote against DeLauro's legislation. Back in 2003 Emanuel actually penned an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in which he advocated "an aggressive attack on the tax code" that "should start with corporate expatriates."

He rightly chastised President Bush for "blocking Democratic efforts to stop American companies from incorporating through a postal drop in island tax-havens" and said he was appalled that "some corporations are actually rewarded with federal contracts while they move their corporate headquarters to Bermuda" - the very thing that the legislation he voted against would have stopped.

Emanuel also trumpeted himself as a great fighter against these loopholes, telling the Christian Science Monitor that "I think we should be the party of tax reform, massive tax reform, because the code is skewed to those who have lawyers, accountants, and people who can think of schemes. I know of no middle-class family that sets up a shelter in Bermuda to pay for college education for the kids."

Yet, his vote against DeLauro's legislation puts him on the side of those who support rewarding these companies that abuse tax loopholes with government contracts.

Once again, a simple question hangs in the air: Do Democrats really wonder why America thinks they stand for nothing, and why they are thus in the minority?

On almost every core economic issue lately, a handful of Democrats betrays the party and undermines any prospect of developing a message that shows Democrats will stand up for the middle class.

Yep, that's right on target. Of course, in the case of Rahm Emanuel, I’m not a bit surprised. Even back in the days when he was a Clinton family lapdog, it was clear he was just a weasely little fawning opportunist -- they kind of kid who in grammar school would raise his hand at 2.59 PM on Friday afternoons to remind the teacher she forgot to assigned homework for the weekend. Just looking at him makes me want to steal his lunch box.

I wish Emanuel were the exception rather than the rule in his party. But he more representative than unique. He studied at the feet of masters of his party how to play voters for suckers. And now he has finally made the major leagues – he’s finally a major league weasel. (Look out Joe Liberman, Rham Emanuel has his sights set on
your title.)

Anyway, there you have it. Arnie lays it out as well as it can be said. There’s nothing more that needs to be said. No further proof that the Democrat Party has lost its soul.

No, wait, that’s not right. They did not lose their soul. That could be forgiven. After all, redemption for lost souls is always just a heart-felt “I’m sorry” away.

But Democrats didn’t lose their soul, they sold it. Such Faustian contracts have a clause -- no refunds, no returns -- no redemption.

Do I overstate the problem? The weight of four and half years of accumulated evidence would say no, I have not. Oh, did I mention that yesterday the Senate passed CAFTA, the Central American Trade Agreement? The senior Democrat from California, Diane Feinstein, helped pass the measure with her yes vote helping pound another nail into the coffin of American labor and American manufacturing.

Before you simply dismiss all this as just the usual grassroots progressive hand wringing, think about it a bit more for a second. Here we are at time in our national history when the party in power has destroyed America’s reputation in the world, lied to start a war that has killed tens of thousands of full-term humans, plunged the nation into ruinous debt, debt that our grandchildren will have repay and will deprive our children of much of the American dream. They have filled their administration with arrogant, ideological goose-steppers who have imposed their narrow views into our lives, or laws and even our bedrooms.

Yet, instead of manning the ramparts and fighting for the principals upon which their party was founded, Democrats instead became Vichy Democrats, “shocked, simply shocked that gambling is going on” – as they pocket their own winnings.

I’m sorry to lay all this on you, especially this 4th of July weekend. But damn it, I am sick and tired of trying to force the Democrat Party back on the righteous path. It’s time to start looking for alternatives. The choices are, as I see them, these:

- Howard Dean engineers a vigorous purge of the DNC, tossing out deadwood like, Bob Schrum and his ilk replacing them with aggressive grassroots activists from around the country – men and women who have lived real lives, in the real world. Then that new, revitalized DNC’s first order of business should be to conduct a full-scale national candidate audit, identifying which current office holders deserve the DNCs support and which deserve to be returned to private life and replaced by fresh, grassroots progressive candidates.

- Formation of a viable progressive third party. This is chancy business, as third parties tend to attract nutcases like fruitcake attracts ants. Third parties fail when the number of nuts finally reaches critical mass – when the “black helicopter” people become the party’s public face. If any third party is ever going to last more than a couple of election cycles it’s leadership will have to manage this problem better than third parties have in the past. This would require the creation of a solid, sensible and defendable platform and solid, sane and inspirational leadership.

- I hesitate to even offer this as an alternative, but I suppose there may still be time for grassroots voters to put the pressure on sitting Democrats. Though I find it increasingly difficult to imagine the worst of that lot changing their ways this late in the game. But even Vichy Democrats fear one thing more than anything thing else – losing their “precious,” – their power. Maybe, just maybe, if the feel real heat -- not just blogger jabbering like this -- but real heat, they will (even if reluctantly) get back to representing and protecting the interests of just plain folk again. Maybe.

So try to have a nice 4th of July. If you are lucky you might just run into your member of congress at the town parade or fireworks. If you do that would be a good time and place to turn up the heat on him/her. And, if by chance Rham Emanuel is your representative, and he shows up at your town's celebrations, will you do me a favor? Steal the little bastard’s lunch box for me. And tell the moron he doesn’t get it back until he shapes up or ships out. Thanks.

No comments: