Tuesday, November 15, 2005

November 14, 2005

Full Stop .. Full Stop!

I spent the long weekend thinking about damage control. No, not the countless damage control operations underway within the Bush administration now. I was thinking about what we, the nearly 60% of Americans who believe President Bush is doing a bad job, are going to do now. Bush has three more years at the wheel. How are we going to keep this guy from creating any more messes we, our children and grand children will have to clean up.

I'm serious. We need a damage control strategy, and we need one fast. I wrote a piece many months ago entitled, "Obstructionists of America, Unite!" I suggested that sometimes obstructionism can be the passive aggressive exercise of true patriotism. I must have floated the idea too soon because the response to that piece was underwhelming.

Not now though. If ever there was a time to employ massive obstruction, it's now. After all the damage the Bushites have already done, are we really going to just let these Typhoid Marys continue infecting everything they touch, everything Americans consider dear?

I proposed back then that House and Senate Democrats stop running from Republican charges they are being obstructionists, and instead turn obstructionism into a virtue. When Republicans accuse them of obstructing administration plans, programs or appointees, instead of launching into some convoluted, triangulated response, just thank them for the compliment.

Then use the opportunity to ask them why, in light of the administrations abysmal track record, they are not helping obstruct this out of control wrecking operation. In case they forgot, or weren't paying attention the last five years, hand them this list:

First-term Damage Report

They blew the Clinton $5.6 trillion surplus
Cut taxes by nearly $2 trillion benefiting mostly wealthy earners.
Ran up national debt to over $8 trillion - and growing $3.5 billion a day.
Created record high energy prices and record high earnings for energy companies
Started a war on false pretenses.
Global warming is on a tear (just ask the folks in Florida and Louisiana.)
Treats real scientists the same way the Catholic Church treated Galileo.

And he's not done. We know now that George W. Bush is not trainable. What we see is what we get – and that's exactly what we're gonna get for three more years unless we stop him. Under our system of government, the only legal way to stop a sitting President is to block his every move and abscess him off from the body politic.

We must especially stop him from creating damage that will persist long after he's finally out of our hair. That means stopping him from stacking the Supreme Court with right-wing Christian Ayatollahs. The confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito is certain only if Democrats allow it to come to a vote.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 - A coalition of liberal groups is preparing a national television advertising campaign against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. that seeks to move the debate over his selection beyond abortion rights and focus instead on subjects like police searches and employment discrimination, several leaders of the coalition said. (Full Story)

If Senate Republicans try blackmailing Democrats out of filibustering Alito by trying to change Senate rules – the "nuclear option" – limiting the filibuster, Democrats should shut the whole damn place down again, just as Harry Reed did two weeks ago. Then, once behind closed doors, tell Republicans that if they persist with the nuclear option Democrats will shut the Senate down everyday from that day forward until they relent. Nothing will get done. (Which is win in itself, considering most of what the administrations wants to get done shouldn't get done anyway.)

But real obstructionism is not for sissies. Democrats are going to have to be ready to confront the GOP counter-attacks. They will accuse Democrats of everything from "hurting our troops overseas," to "giving aid and comfort to terrorists," to "putting all Americans at risk," to flat out accusing them of being "unpatriotic."

To which Democrats must respond, "bring it on." Unpatriotic you say? Well Mr./Ms. Republican explain this to American voters:

* How patriotic is it to get US kids killed to fulfill some neocon wet-dream of democratizing the Middle East?
* How patriotic is it to lie to the US Congress, to the United Nations and the American people to justify that deadly fool's errand?
* How patriotic is it to get over 2000 America kids killed just so we can turn Iraq over to convicted embezzler, serial liar and human scum like Ahmed Chalabi?
* How patriotic was it to appoint a certifiable imbecile to run America's lead emergency response agency?
* How patriotic is it to turn America's once robust middle class into a bunch of underpaid Wal-Mart serfs?
* How patriotic is it to allow nearly 50 million Americans, men, women and children, face life without even the most basic health coverage?
* How patriotic is it to saddle working families with skyrocketing energy prices while energy companies pocket obscenely large profits? (Might this be why they insist on keeping secret the Vice President's energy task force proceedings?)
* How patriotic is it to toss tax-cut crumbs to hard working Americans while giving the already wealthy windfall tax cuts?
* How patriotic is it to stand by while your nation runs secret dungeon-prisons offshore and tortures foreign prisoners in America's name?
* How patriotic is it to let large drug companies monopolize the market on life-saving drugs and then pass a law prohibiting bankrupt Medicare from negotiating lower prices for such drugs?
* How patriotic is it for top administration officials to lie to a federal prosecutor?

Democrats should tell GOP attackers they will be happy to explain to them why obstructionism is patriotic just as soon as they answer those questions. That is, if they still need such an explanation.

This is THE moment.

The time is at hand for Democrats to either prove to us they are up to leading and governing. But it's not that clear to them yet. A debate is raging at the highest levels of the DNC. One side-- let's call it the Hillary faction – argues that taking clear-cut positions on divisive issues is dangerous. They contend that Republicans are screwing things up so much that Dems need do nothing but wait until the next election. By that time, the Hillary faction argues, voters will be so disgusted with the GOP they will turn them out of office in mass. (Voters in Louisiana, where politicians of both parties are famous for their lack of ethics, have a saying when they turn one party out office: "It was just time to let the fat hogs out and the lean hogs in." )

The other faction, call it the Feingold faction, argues that America can't wait that long. That Democrats need to take unambiguous stands against this administration's ruinous policies. And then they must steel themselves to fight the predicable counter-attacks, which by now they know will be both personal and vicious. (Sissies need not apply.)

This is where the rubber of real politics meets the road. It's Profiles in Courage time for Democrats. If they are not willing -- or able -- to lay down on the tracks and stop such a provably disastrous, wrong-headed, ideological juggernaut, then they are not worthy of power themselves. And, if Democrats can't even stop further damage, how can we expect them make the tough decisions it will require to fix what the Bushites have already screwed up?

Memo To Democrats:

Blah, blah, blah. For five years, blah, blah, blah. Talking isn't governing. Talking isn't leadership either. Enough with the talk! Time for action. Just do it. Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. No pain, no gain. So unless you feel the burn you're not trying hard enough. Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct.

Stop them. Stop them now before they infect the Supreme Court. Stop them now from further harming to the environment that sustains us all. Stop them now from channeling yet more national treasure into the bank accounts of modern-day Robber Barons. Stop them now from turning America's once-proud working class into indentured workers and Wal-Mart into America's company store.

Stop them. Stop them. Stop them now! Bring them to a full stop. Then run out the clock.

Enough already! No more. No mas. Basta!